June 7, 2019 | Sean Foo
Copywriting is all about grabbing your reader’s attention and making them convert, but with the amount of competition out there today, it’s getting much more difficult to do so!
While you might be tempted to throw out every copywriting technique you know onto your sales page, doing it wrongly will hurt your conversions instead!
Are you throwing out limited-time offers?
Maybe you are asking personal questions (that you think are effective)?
Telling stories packed with social proof?
All these techniques are powerful in the right situations and you know what they say in Spider-man: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’.
You have to use them carefully.
Handle With Care!
At the heart of any effective copy is a defined structure that leads the reader through a well-planned journey of their pain points to the solution on offer.
…all the techniques, tricks, tips and hacks in the world will not help!
But if you have the basics of copywriting down, let’s explore the 6 dangerous copywriting techniques that work amazingly well when used correctly…
…but just downright harmful when utilized without care!
Also known as the fear of missing out, FOMO is a powerful conversion technique used at the end of the sales copy, usually in the call to action, to get your reader to convert.
‘Reserve Your Spot – Only 30 Slots Left!’
‘Take 50% Off This Holiday Season!’
‘First 100 Customers Gets Free Delivery’
While it does help create a sense of urgency to push your customer to take action or fear missing out later, it shouldn’t be abused.
Using this correctly will lead to higher conversions and sales, however slapping this on wrongly could negatively affect how people will view your product and your brand!
Don’t be Fake & Don’t be Vague
While inspiring urgency is great, you need to be genuine about it and not just utilize that technique for the sake of higher conversions.
Trust me, it will backfire!
The first sin is being fake.
If you are selling physical products that are of limited stock or ultra-exclusive, using FOMO is a great way to inspire action from your readers.
However, if you decide to produce more products and sell them off at a later date, you will damage your brand’s reputation – no one likes a bait and switch!
Now, if what you are selling are digital products such as e-books or courses, using the FOMO technique could backfire badly as:
– Customers aren’t stupid, they know you could always re-release the digital product at a later date easily.
– E-products are less tangible and have a lower perceived value than a physical product, especially when you attempt to slap the exclusive label on it.
The Second Mistake is Being Vague.
It is important to be crystal clear when it comes to your sense of urgency technique.
You want to give your customers all the information they need to believe your FOMO technique is genuine – and if it is genuine, people will take action.
Tag Heuer does this perfectly when it comes to their range of limited-edition watches.
Their copy emphasizes the fact their watches are released only once with a clear declaration of no re-releases once they are gone, no second chances.
By also not explicitly mentioning the exact number of watches, this helps to build up anticipation and a sense of urgency to push the reader to buy now – after all, they might be gone within the month!
2. Using Bullet Points To Grab Attention
Any decent marketer knows that reading through huge chunks of text and paragraphs can get rather stale, boring and just painful to the eyes…
…and in today’s age of goldfish attention spans, a poor user experience = clicking away.
You don’t want that!
A simple solution is to use bullet points. Bullet points allow you to condense benefits, features and key arguments into a series of points that are easily digestible.
After all, a single point can condense all the content of a paragraph.
Even Bullet Points can be Abused
One of the biggest mistakes in utilizing bullet points is overusing them.
Take a look at the example below – which looks neater and friendlier to you?
It’s quite obvious to see that by just slapping on multiple bullet points one after another, it tends to be overwhelming to the average reader to digest.
Bullet points are not just used to shorten an idea, they are best used to present the most important information in your copy that will result in a buying decision.
That can include:
Anything more than 5 bullet points at once is risky and could negatively affect your reader’s experience.
ExpertSecrets’s landing page shows a perfect use of bullet points in their sales copy.
The bullet points here are used to showcase the benefits of the product, supporting the overall goal of ‘helping you change someone’s life’.
The bullet points here are used to justify how the product can turn your end goal into reality.
Still want to use tons of bullets? Is there a way to do it?
Yes, but it takes a lot of copywriting effort and formatting effort like the example below from Ben Settle’s email sign-up page.
Essentially each of the bullet points below is a benefit based quality headline that is attention-grabbing and value-adding – making it enticing enough for the reader to read on.
Note the bolded formatting for every odd-numbered point? It’s these small things that help to pave the way for a better user experience.
When your prospect is reading through your copy there are probably a hundred things running through their minds…
…and a big portion of it will be doubts if your product will suit their needs.
While you definitely have to address potential objections that revolve around the credibility of your business and solutions through utilizing social proof such as:
Going into too much detail can actually scare your customer – you start creating problems when there was none, to begin with.
One great example in the sign-up offer when it comes to selling Saas.
A smart objection to pre-empt and address is whether there will be a free trial for the customer to test-drive your solution.
Another good objection to handle is whether the free trial will require any credit card details to get started – People are more willing to try out your software if they don’t need to go through the hassle of entering their credit card information.
Hence a Call To Action of ‘Try Us For Free For 30 Days! No Credit Card Needed!” would be a smart technique to use.
However, if you were to follow it up with further details such as pricing as this to pre-empt them about future pricing won’t be a smart move.
Just imagine: ‘Try Us For Free For 30 Days! No Credit Card Needed! Subsequent Months Will Just Be $69.90 Monthly!”
This opens up a whole can of worms – even before your customer tries on your software, the price they see at the end might scare some of them off before they realize the true usefulness of your solution.
In this case, this isn’t a real objection that the typical customer will have and placing it here will lower the effectiveness of your Call To Action.
Addressing potential objections have to be done precisely by knowing your customer persona well.
Close.com does this well with their final call to action section. They address the 3 core potential objections their customer has and nothing else:
Addressing objections is important but only touch what is necessary.
Learn more about the core objections every business has to address in our guide here!
One of the most widely used technique is to ask your reader a question in your copy.
While it is one of the most powerful copywriting tools to engage your reader’s mind and emotions, spurring their imaginations…
…ask wrongly and you will cause a disconnect with your reader!
There is a big challenge that you should be aware of before you attempt to use questions as a copywriting technique.
You won’t exactly know how they will answer the question
You aren’t a crystal ball reader (neither am I) and presuming you know howt each individual reader might respond at a single given moment is quite crazy to be frank.
Take this question for example:
“Is Saving Time The Most Pressing Concern In Your Startup Today?”
While there will definitely be a segment of readers that will identify with this, other segments will probably disagree.
For some, it might be hiring the right people. For others, it could be money.
Leading with such a closed question is faulty and dangerous, if you are trying to get your reader to see your point of view.
They can only answer with a yes or no – that means there will be little incentive to continue reading. That means you have ZERO opportunity to convince them.
The reader will likely think the page is only about saving time and just click away if they aren’t interested in it.
So how do we solve this?
By using open-ended questions.
‘Which of These 3 top business killers are you facing right now?’.
This question doesn’t even mention the usual concepts of saving time or money and leaves the reader wondering what information is left.
It creates an open-loop whereby your prospect has to read on to fulfill his desire for an answer.
ExpertSecrets starts off their landing page by asking a question that is open-ended to actively spur their reader’s imagination.
They recognize that not everyone might be solely motivated by money itself but what money can bring – freedom, a sense of satisfaction, mentorship pride.
By letting their readers wonder, they inspire curiosity for them to continue to read the rest of their sales copy before answering it much later down the landing page.
While it is true that many people are cautious about buying online and require a level of safety, just slapping on a money back guarantee isn’t the solution.
Many B2C and B2B businesses tend to use money back guarantees as a tool to push away any final doubts and get the sale in, but there are two problems with this.
A) You might devalue your brand or service
This is especially true if your product or service is premium and delivers a lot of value. A money back guarantees, in many cases, can lower your overall sales and conversions.
After all, if this company is so credible – why must they resort to such tactics?
B) You could get clients with buyer’s remorse
Want to get the sale only to give a refund a few weeks later?
With money back guarantees, the type of clients you might get are kind that aren’t sold on your product and brand.
They might just try out your product without experiencing the full benefits and send it back for a refund – wasting your time and resources!
There must be a better way!
Selling products to the general consumer? Opt for an item exchange instead.
If you are selling services such as Saas or digital products, giving free trials or samples are a great way to build trust while still preserving your brand’s credibility and prevent the headache of a refund.
Barbox, a monthly subscription box service of doggie treats and toys, cleverly uses an item exchange satisfaction guarantee on their conversion page instead of a direct cash refund.
Not only do they help address any doubts their customer might have, but they also standby their promise of ensuring every customer can be heard and will be addressed.
Storytelling and narrative copywriting is on the rise and it’s no wonder why – they work!
Crafting a story is one of the best ways to identify with your reader through a journey they can relate to.
But the key is to create a story that is not only tailor-made for their persona but something that they can see themselves in.
Your Story Needs To Be Relatable & Attainable
It doesn’t matter how grand your story is or how wonderful the result of your solution is if your customer believes it can’t happen to them.
The story’s struggles to success must be parallel to their own and the resolution you attain must be something they would like to achieve as well.
Instead of your usual corporate history speech, Warby Parker opted to tell a story of their beginnings.
By carefully crafting a story that identifies with the pain points of their customers, their story is one that easily allows the reader to relate to their brand and mission.
From bringing back childhood experiences of expensive glasses to identifying a common enemy that is dominating the industry, Warby Parker’s story hits on many fronts with the reader.
This makes their brand one that cares for their customers and one that is fighting against the establishment (a rebel) for better and cheaper eyewear.
All the 6 techniques we covered are incredibly powerful and should be used in your copy to push for those hard-won conversions.
However, always be aware of how best to use them – there isn’t a magical technique that will boost your conversions in every situation.
Worry not, we have you covered with some of our awesome in-depth guides!
Learn how to write effectively for B2B clients in our guide here.
Optimize fully your landing page with our copywriting checklist to maximize those conversions.
Learn from these 18 awesome copywriting examples from the top brands and get inspired.
We’ll be more than happy to help!