How to Keep Your Reader Engaged, from Headline to CTA

Content creation can feel a lot like spinning plates. Once you have one element rolling along, there’s another you need to attend to, and another, and another … Let’s go through a complete piece of effective content for your business, from headline to CTA. On Monday, I described the difference between clickbait and a damn good headline. You need a headline that grabs attention if you want someone to open your content, but you can’t abuse your power as a headline writer. Check out the post to get a 3-step tutorial for writing better, audience-focused headlines — starting today. Do you know how to write a damn good headline? How about insightful, persuasive content that delivers on your headline’s promise? Then you might be a match for our Content Marketer Certification program! It’s a powerful tool that helps you position your business for greater success. And if you earn a […]

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5 Ways to Convert More Prospects by Making Your Case

Your headline draws them in, while your opening copy maintains the magnetic hold. The express benefits give them hope that they may have found the solution they desire. And then you ask for the sale with an explicit call to action. A total win, right? Then why are you still disappointed with your results? You’re doing a lot right, and that’s why you make some sales. But you could be selling a lot more if you take the time to make your case. Here’s what I mean. Your headline, lead, and benefits are promises. When you make assertions about your product or service, you subsequently need your prospect to believe you. Now, this is where content marketing helps immensely. When you provide value with the right information before asking for the sale, people naturally view your offer with a more positive frame of mind. Even with that established trust, however, […]

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Clickbait or Damn Good Headline?

When I review applications from students in our Certified Content Marketer training program, I get to read some great content. And giving feedback on headlines to make them more powerful is one of my favorite parts of the process, because no one will ever know how good your content is if your headline doesn’t show why it’s worth someone’s time. The problem is: specific, benefit-driven, intriguing headlines can be mistakenly associated with clickbait — headlines designed to trick someone into clicking on an article, podcast episode, or video. Conscientious content marketers want to avoid that stigma. But too often that leaves us with vague headlines that don’t attract the right people and don’t show that you have the exact solutions they need. I have a remedy for this predicament. In fact, it’s a simple truth: If your content delivers on your headline’s promise, it’s not clickbait. Period. Persuasive headlines started […]

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Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips for Writing Well

Who better? Many business people faced with the task of writing for marketing purposes are quick to say: “Hey, I’m no Hemingway!” But really, who better than Hemingway to emulate? Rather than embracing the flowery prose of the literati, he chose to eschew obfuscation at every turn and write simply and clearly. So, let’s see what Ernest can teach us about effective writing. 1. Use short sentences Hemingway was famous for a terse minimalist style of writing that dispensed with adjectives and got straight to the point. In short, Hemingway wrote with simple genius. Perhaps his finest demonstration of short sentence prowess was when he was challenged to tell an entire story in only 6 words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” 2. Use short first paragraphs See opening. 3. Use vigorous English Here’s David Garfinkel’s take on this one: “It’s muscular, forceful. Vigorous English comes from passion, focus and […]

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Compare Apples to Oranges (In This Case, It’s the Smartest Thing to Do)

We’re having dessert before dinner this week — and it’s a healthy bite too: apples and oranges. While my post on Monday and Kelton’s post on Tuesday share the power of persuasive writing and how to put it to work for both your business and your clients’ businesses, we have an extra special nugget of wisdom in Sonia’s post on Wednesday: Remember, you can compare apples to oranges in persuasive writing. Don’t compare the cost of your $39 online course to other online courses — compare it with a $499 in-person seminar that delivers the same results. It’s common to over-think when we’re looking to stand out. Instead, try Sonia’s apples-to-oranges tip to discover the “no-brainer” reasoning that will help someone say “yes” to your offer faster. Talk with you next week! — Stefanie FlaxmanEditor-in-Chief, Copyblogger Media Catch up on this week’s content 3 Resources for When You’re Ready to […]

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Are Sales Slipping Through Your Fingers? Close the Deal with Logical Benefits

Emotional benefits of your offer trigger the “me-want” response. They create desire — but creating desire isn’t usually enough. Unless you’re selling a purely emotional product like fashion or music, you also have to give your reader enough logical ammunition to justify the purchase to himself. This is where logical benefits come in. These are all the rational, intelligent reasons we have for buying the stuff we want. You hook prospects with the heart, but you close the deal with the head. Logical benefits aren’t necessarily about logic The funny thing about logical benefits is that they’re often important for a very emotional reason. Your customer’s “me-want” reaction is warring with a “what if I’m an idiot?” insecurity about buying the wrong thing, spending too much, or outright getting scammed. Most people are terrified of feeling foolish. They’re anxious about the possibility of spending money and later feeling like a […]

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3 Resources for When You’re Ready to Take Control of Your Writing Career

The struggle when I started my freelance writing service business looked like this: I was fascinated with crafting words that accurately conveyed a message. I knew that offering basic content writing services for businesses — filling up pages with words — would not pay high rates. And I completely understood why filling up pages with words was not valued. Nothing is worse than paying for a service that doesn’t produce results. When writers charge low fees for content writing that doesn’t persuade prospects to take action, two dangerous things happen: It’s difficult to support yourself through your writing services. Your clients don’t make new sales. If a client thinks that the money they paid you was a waste because they didn’t make it back in sales, they’ll view you as interchangeable with any other writer — and there’s probably someone else who charges even less than you for a comparable […]

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10 Ways Specificity Helps You Build a Profitable Audience

If you’re building a business with content marketing, you’ve probably noticed that the attention span of your audience is shrinking by the second. We’re all on the verge of an attention meltdown. This can be a huge hurdle if you’re trying to effectively engage your audience and get your products or services in front of them. That means you have to use every writing tool you can to gain and keep audience attention. Believe it or not, a return to solid writing fundamentals — and more specifically, specificity — can get you out ahead of the competition. One small note before we get started … If you only read one section of this article, read this one Specificity is especially helpful for writing your headlines. Remember the 80/20 rule: 8 out of 10 readers will read your headline copy but only 2 out of 10 will read your entire post. […]

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3 Resources to Help You Take Control of Your Writing Career

The struggle when I started my freelance writing service business looked like this: I was fascinated with crafting words that accurately conveyed a message. I knew that offering basic content writing services for businesses — filling up pages with words — would not pay high rates. And I completely understood why filling up pages with words was not valued. Nothing is worse than paying for a service that doesn’t produce results. When writers charge low fees for content writing that doesn’t persuade prospects to take action, two dangerous things happen: It’s difficult to support yourself through your writing services. Your clients don’t make new sales. If a client thinks that the money they paid you was a waste because they didn’t make it back in sales, they’ll view you as interchangeable with any other writer — and there’s probably someone else who charges even less than you for a comparable […]

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Writing Advice: Trick or Treat?

Happy Halloween! I have two tricks — or two treats — for you, depending on how you look at it: Realize your creative potential. Schedule the right amount of time to do excellent work. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard — and it’s about finding a specific type of balance that’s critical when building a portfolio. Professional writers learn the essential techniques that have helped grow their mentors’ careers, but they also find their own way forward by developing the habits and methods that work best for them. Progress Guide: Try This When you read Tuesday’s post, you’ll find that legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz said, “Learning the craft and doing the research are the hard work.” Writing can be the impossible work. If you’re looking to write more consistently: Stop asking questions and start writing. (More about this in Monday’s post.) Commit to writing five days a week, even […]

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Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference

A unique selling proposition (USP) is the reason people do business with you and not someone else — a winning difference that sets you apart and makes you the only real choice. Traditional marketing advice will have you lock yourself in a cave for weeks listing all of the features of your business, translating them into benefits, then somehow finding that one compelling point that will differentiate you from everyone else you could possibly compete with. These days, your winning difference depends more on who you’re selling to more than the features of what you’re selling. You need to stake out a favorable position in the minds of those you’re trying to attract, even while turning the wrong people away. If you have a firm grasp on what your ideal customer looks like, then you can do some simple exercises to discover your own winning difference. Three five-minute exercises to […]

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How to Kill Writer’s Block and Become a Master Copywriter in Only 3 Hours a Day

Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz created a system of working that, before he was finished, enabled him to write nine books (including the classic Breakthrough Advertising), dozens and dozens of successful ads, and countless articles for well-known publications all over the world. He did it all by — in his own words — writing only 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. And he did it in style. As one of the highest-paid copywriters of the 1950s and ’60s, Schwartz lived very comfortably in Manhattan. He became a world-class art collector and a respected Biblical scholar. His technique for getting copy written is offensively simple. Here’s the thing: I know what you’re going to say about this. “That’s so obvious.” Or … “Yeah, thanks for wasting my time. I’m a serious copywriter and this is insulting.” That’s fine. Ignore this approach at your own professional peril. Or, use it and […]

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How to Motivate People to Buy

If you’re in business, someone’s got to buy something for you to make money. At least last time I checked. And if you’re sick of hearing that people buy because of emotion, well then … that would be a strong emotional response to a logical assertion, no? But I hear you. Over and over you’re told that people buy according to emotion, and it seems not to make sense when it comes down to selling your products and services. Maybe that’s because you’re thinking about emotion in the context of feelings rather than motivation. And that would definitely be confusing, because it’s not feelings you’re after. In fact, provoking feelings can kill the sale instead of prompting it. Nothing more than feelings … (fail) Feelings are magnified, messy, and often misunderstood forms of emotion, and that makes playing with them potentially dangerous. What we’re trying to do is motivate people […]

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How Introverted Writers Transform into Business Professionals

There’s a well-loved myth out there that if you do something reasonably remarkable and distribute passionate content, you’ll automatically have an audience who will support you in style for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do anything scary. Like sell, for example. Now if that works for you, that’s terrific. So does it? The painful truth is that there are lots of trusted, loved, and wildly influential smart people out there who are working like maniacs creating amazing content. And who are nonetheless still broke. It’s easy to think that if your audience loves you, all that love will translate automatically into paying customers. But if one of your goals is a financial payoff from your content, you still have some work to do. You have to offer something they want Your Aunt Frances loves you very much, but if you’re a Prius dealer and she’s more […]

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How to Make Your Writing Real

In this day and age, substance matters. What you say must be meaningful to the people you’re trying to attract. Your content must solve real problems and satisfy real desires. So why should it matter how you say it? The reality is, how you say it has always mattered, and it matters even more today. For content marketing, it’s basically the difference between success and failure. You’re in a battle for attention. A headline that doesn’t specifically convey a compelling promise results in content that is too often simply ignored. Beyond that, your copy has to hold that precious attention, sentence by sentence, until the conclusion. Even the appearance of your content on the page matters when trying to make a substantive point. Finally, the way you convey information, no matter how independently valuable, affects everything from clarity to engagement to retention at a psychological level. Your ideas and advice […]

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5 Easy Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang

What’s the second most important part of your blog post after the title? Master copywriter Eugene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece — the headline and the opening paragraph. Just imagine how disappointed you’d be after crafting a killer headline for your post, only to lose readers with an opening that failed to carry the momentum. A great headline mixed with a weak opening is like inviting someone into your house, only to slam the door in their face as they approach. So, here are five ways to open your post that will capture the reader’s imagination and pull them deeper into your content. 1. Ask a question Opening your post with a question is a rhetorical device (hence, the “rhetorical question”) that creates curiosity and gets the reader thinking. Thinking equals active engagement with your writing, and that’s a very […]

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Does Your Marketing Copy Have Earfeel?

  Each line of copy on your websites and in your advertising should have a job. That job may be to help communicate the value proposition. Or it may be to reduce anxiety. But don’t let the necessity of function blind you to the importance of form in the headline. At the end of the day, it is communication. And so your copy needs a certain earfeel. After all, great advertising and branding doesn’t just get a point across. It gets the earfeel just right. Whether it’s a headline (“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”), a tagline (The Ultimate Driving Machine), a credo (Truth Well Told) or an organization name (Wounded Warrior Project). This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter. What is earfeel, and why is it important? If you’ve never heard the word earfeel before, don’t feel […]

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Get It All Now: Best of the Best Sale Is Open

If you’ve been reading the blog and listening to Copyblogger FM the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that we’re going in a different direction with our education platform. And yet, we still have a ton of current training products that are vital to your digital marketing and sales skill set. So what to do? We’ve decided to retire our current educational lineup next week … but not before making it all available to you one last time at a great, low price. Which you can take advantage of right now, because our Best of the Best of Copyblogger Sale is now open. To join our private education community for digital entrepreneurs, professional writers, and content marketers, just click the button below: Get the Best of the Best of Copyblogger “Copyblogger is the bible of content marketing.” – VentureBeat This is your chance to establish a strong educational foundation that […]

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The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want

I want to tell you a story about two women. One is my hairdresser and the other is my massage therapist. Of the two, I have a stronger connection with my massage therapist. I see her more often, she’s closer to my age, and well, there’s just a certain bond that develops when you get naked that often with a person. But my hairdresser once asked me to recommend her for a “best of” list our local TV station was running. She didn’t cajole, bribe, beg, threaten, or promise me a free haircut. She just said, “Hey, if you think about it, would you mind logging into this site and giving me a review? I like her, so I went home and did it. Took me about three minutes. A few weeks later, I noticed that my massage therapist had a banner over her business saying that she was mentioned […]

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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of the Delta blues musicians from the 1930s — took his second-hand guitar and went down to the crossroads in the middle of the night. When the young plantation worker returned home, his guitar skills had taken a quantum leap. The overnight improvement in Johnson’s playing wasn’t just significant; it was supernatural. Something strange happened down at that crossroads. Word got around that Johnson ventured to the crossroads to meet the Devil himself, and sold his soul to become the best blues guitarist who ever lived. Sure enough, less than a year later, Robert Johnson was the king of the Delta bluesmen, and created, played, and sang the greatest blues anyone had ever heard. Johnson is now known as the “Grandfather of Rock and Roll,” and has influenced artists ranging from […]

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