Five Rules for Great Copy

Rhett Morgan
August 5, 2015 ·
Five Rules for Great Copy

Every investment in your site should lead to a return, but it’s easy to overlook one of the biggest investments tools for enhancing conversion–your copy. Copy seems very basic from the outset, but it is very complex form of marketing. It explains your services, describes your products, and offers up more information. But your copy should also be persuasively leading users to your goals.

Convert often focuses on helping you with details like color, design, proper calls to action, user interface, and other aspects of your site that can easily lead to better conversion rates. All of these things remain just as important, but it’s also good to take a step back and think about the bigger picture: is your copy as a whole working in line with other elements to give you the best site possible?

In a recent webinar, Liston Witherill, copy hacker at Good Funnel, outlined the five basic rules that all copy should follow in order to produce better returns. Take a look and think about what rules your site is playing by.

the five basic rules that all copy should follow in order to produce better returns

1. Speak to Your Audience

Building copy that is persuasive starts with a simple, but important transition from speaking about yourself to speaking to your audience. You should be addressing them directly and their pain. That doesn’t necessarily mean a literal physical pain, but rather the reason why they initially have come online, searched in Google, or looked up your site. What’s bothering them or what do they lack? It’s important that you grab their attention and move the focus of your copy away from you and toward the pain that you might be able to solve. As Liston Witherill says:

Above the fold, you don’t want to talk about yourself in any way that doesn’t support the core value that you’re delivering to your clients. Demonstrate that you’re understanding they’re in pain.

2. Provide Proof

Copy needs to go beyond telling people that your services will help them. It should prove it to them. There are three strategies for offering up proof that your product is effective and at some point, your copy should hit on all of them:

  • Authority
  • Scarcity
  • Social

Authority means that other respected figures have embraced or endorsed your site because users will then equate you with news sources or companies that they already use and seem to trust you. Scarcity is often used as a high pressure sales tactic, leading the potential customer to believe that there are only a few items left and they need to act fast. This can work well in certain situations, but you can also translate it to a larger scale by simply informing people about how you are different–how is your product the only one like it.

Social features really bring both of these strategies into play with an added dimension. Social proof gives your site authority and makes it seem special, while bringing that message from users that your target audience will relate to. Make sure that your copy includes testimonials from your ideal customer and hard numbers about how many people like them already love your product.

Provide Proof

3. Get Emotional

Through your social proof and carefully worded acknowledgement of customer’s problems, your copy should already be charged with emotion, and that’s a good thing. However, it’s not enough for the bulk of your copy to be filled with appeals to your customer’s emotions. That needs to start right from the headlines and tags on your page. Studies have shown that a majority of people will never move beyond the headline when they’re reading, so you need to make sure that every one of your headlines will grab the reader from an emotional level and get your point across fast to inspire them to keep reading.

4. Clear Before Clever

Your copy should be easy to read and understandable before you try and stretch it into something fascinating or even catchy. Especially for those sites that have a highly technical or specialized products. Vendors spend more energy making sure that their formatting and structure clearly organizes the information. But you should try to arrange your copy in a user-friendly way so that different groups you are trying to reach can easily find the page relevant to them. Once you have succinct, it will be easy to follow copy in a place that you can work on being more clever and interesting.

5. Have One Single Goal

Before you take all of this into consideration in rebuilding your copy, you need to start by asking yourself what the goal is. What is your call to action for each page? Do you want people to share your service on social media? Buy a product? Join a mailing list? Each piece of copy should be building to one action.

When you start by considering what that action is, it becomes clearer and easier to speak to your audience about why they should do it, give them proof as to why you’re the best, make it emotional, and draw a clear, easy to follow path straight to your call to action. That’s how your copy can really engage your audience and bring you to the conversion you’ve been looking for. If you want to know more about the subject, you can watch the webinar here.

Originally published August 05, 2015 - Updated January 05, 2022
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Rhett Morgan
Rhett Morgan Rhett Morgan is a freelance writer, translator, and content developer based out of Austin, TX.

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