All the Copyhackers courses are internet marketing centered. Which is great. Because you are or will most likely write copy in the online space. Joanna, as a copywriter, novelist, and online business owner has practical experience in all that she does. You will learn everything you need to become a conversion-focused copywriter with the Copyhackers courses.
Joanna Wiebe is the original conversion copywriter. And probably the top copywriting teacher on the internet. She is the founder of Copyhackers, an online school, and a blog that has made thousands of students better copywriters.
She has written copy for BT, Canva, Glowforge, Intuit, MetaLab, Prezi, SAP, Sprout Social, and VWO. She has helped 70,000 people at early and growth-stage startups, small and huge businesses, international agencies, and indie establishments with their copy.
Introduction to copywriting
Copywriting is a unique type of writing. It’s of no use if it just sounds good or it’s “creative”. Copy has to sell. So forget about adornations and all that fluff. If it sells it´s good copy. If it doesn’t sell its bad copy. As simple as that.
Basic copywriting rules
Basic rules of copywriting that apply to every single piece of copy you write.
- You are not your customers— get outside of your head. You are writing for them not you.
- Learn as much as you can from your customers.
- Your page mirrors the prospect. Use Amazon, Yelp, and Trustpilot reviews to find their concerns and how they speak.
Your job is to listen. Because high converting copy always starts with your prospect.
The 5 stages of awareness
We need to know what stage your prospect is when they arrive at the page, email, or any other form of content. The more aware someone is, the deeper they are in the funnel, and the more likely they are to buy.
There are five stages of awareness.
- Unaware: hasn’t identified or experienced the pain yet. They might experience it one day or they don’t notice it yet. But at some point, they will experience the pain. Branding/content/advertising helps them understand the pain they might be experiencing. (Pain refers to something that can be improved in their life).
- Pain aware – feels the pain but doesn’t know solutions exist. “I don’t know anything about your solution. I am just feeling the pain”
- Solution aware: felt the pain and discovered the solutions exist for it. They don’t recognize your product is the right solution for them. But they know solutions exist.
- Product aware: they know your product is one of the solutions to the pain.
- Most aware – they know your solution is the best solution for their pain.
Keep in mind: By the end of the page you need to move the prospect to the next stage with your copy The job of a copywriter is to take prospects for a ride along these stages of awareness until they buy.
You will know the stage of awareness my prospect is in by the page where they landed on.
The rule of one
Before writing a word you need to understand your:
- One reader
- One idea
- One promise
- One offer
Although thousands or millions could read your copy. It’s best to write for only one person. Your ideal customer. It doesn’t mean you have to exclude other segments, they can still be in your head. They are just not the people you are writing for.
You need to understand who your ideal customer is. If you still don´t, ask, and listen.
Keep in mind: You should write your copy targeted at the 20% of your traffic that’s most likely to become customers. Your ideal market segment.
One big idea
Everything you write needs to have a big idea.
The big idea is the argument that gets your prospect to do what you want them to do. Everything you write is fed by that idea. It’s your North Star. The one big idea applies to everything you write. Remember to have just 1 big idea. Such as save time, not save time and money.
An email should have one big idea . A blog post should have one big idea. A landing page should have one big idea. Every single piece of copy has to carry one big idea–no matter how small the piece is.
There is one big thing your prospects want and you need to show them you can give it to them.
Something you guarantee your customer will get if he buys your product.
Example: Domino’s pizza promises a 30-minute delivery or free pizza.
This is a great promise. It’s tangible (30 minutes), it´s deliverable, and it is something your client values (who doesn’t want pizza delivered fast?).
Buyers don’t want to feel like fools, they want to feel like you are the fool. People believe businesses are trying to separate fools from their money. So convince them it’s the opposite.
Everything you write needs to have one offer. The offer is where you are leading your prospects to. The offer is what you want them to do with your copy. Remember, you are writing for the, to take action.
Long form vs. short form copy
Long-form content such as webinars and long sales pages can move a prospect through all the stages. Rarely happens in a single session though. The pain must be very big for someone to act immediately.
You should use long copy if you want to move prospects through all the stages of awareness on a single page. For example, from pain aware all the way to most aware.
What is conversion copy?
Conversion copy is not about “wordsmithing”–although if your copy is well-written it has higher chances of selling. Copywriting is writing to get people to say yes. To act. To buy.
To do that copywriters rely on voice-of-customer data, frameworks, formulas, and persuasion techniques. We need to understand better than anyone the reader’s context (what is happening in their mind at the moment). If our offer matches where they are at the moment and where they want to be in the near future then they will take action.
So remember to write with the audience in mind. The quality of the writing matters but the one thing the reader should see on the page is themselves (not your nice words). If you care more about writing then consider taking a seat at the novelist’s table. If you care about selling with your writing then copywriting is for you.
Key things when writing copy:
- Your copy is like a good salesperson.
- You are selling prospects a better /happier version of themselves.
- Join the conversation already happening in their heads.
- It’s all about your prospect.
- If you are not clear and specific people won’t understand the message.
The secret sauce of conversion copywriters
AB testing is what separates the newbies from the pros. It’s crucial for conversion copywriters because online you can AB test almost anything.
When in doubt, always test. Your gut may give you the right answer 70% of the time, but testing will give it to you 100% of the time. The more you can test the more your chances of getting a win. In copywriting and online marketing you have to test, test, and test again.
Barriers to conversion
- Management: C-levels and management are more likely going to be barriers to conversion.
- Inertia: You make it impossible for the prospect not to act today (scarcity and urgency).
- Your prospects want to spend money on other things.
- Multiple buying decisions: When filling a form if you need to click on a “buy now” button more than once that’s a barrier for a buy decision. You want customers to make the buy decision only once.
Conversion copywriting process
Below is the actual process you go through while writing copy for a client or your own business.
There are 3 phases when writing copy:
- Research and discovery: You find out as much as you can about your customers.
- Writing: You write.
- Testing and learning: You launch your copy and see if it sticks.
Then you go back and do the same for the new copy. It’s a continuous loop.
Research and discovery
Don´t just dive into the writing. First, get to know your one reader as best as possible.
How to get to know your reader?
- Review mining/testimonials
Get involved in the research process. You need raw data to find your message, the language you should use, the problems your clients have, and how they describe the ideal world they want.
Once you have the data, drop everything into a document. This will help you develop what you are going to write.
The result of this process is informed, data-driven copywriting (conversion copywriting).
Now you write. At this point, you have collected a variety of messages. You are going to break the page into sections that allow you to match the one reader’s stage of awareness and then get her to act.
You need to know the order in which your messages appear on the page for your 1 reader. This depends on the reader’s level of awareness and intent.
The “letter exercise”
This exercise will train your persuasion muscles. You can use the exercise for real copywriting assignments or to practice. (This exercise even appears in the series Madmen.)
Write a letter to convince your friend to buy a product. The letter can become a very rough draft for your landing page/sales letter.
This is how you do it:
- Go into do not disturb mode for 20 minutes.
- Grab a sticky note and write these 3 things for only 5 minutes:
- Feels (what the person you are writing to currently feels when they arrive at the page.
- Knows (what they know about the product already)
- Wants (outcomes and benefits they most want to make their life better).
Stick the note to your monitor. You have 15 mins left. Now, write a letter to a friend you know well. Give them a name and gender. Convince your friend to do what you want–buy a product, get a free trial, subscribe.
You can use what you wrote as a draft for your copy. Writing a letter will help you understand the journey. It can also be the first draft of your landing page.
This is your first draft. It doesn’t have to be clear, or grammatically correct. Don´t think. Drink. Nah I am kidding…Just write. Put ideas on paper. You will have time to edit later. Spend as much time as you need at this stage. You will be surprised by what comes out. Sometimes it’s really good.
Copywriting formulas serve two purposes. First, they make your writing more likely to sell by moving your reader towards an action. Second, they make writing easier because they guide you. Copywriting formulas give your writing direction.
So there is no reason not to use them. By the way, don´t worry, your writing won´t look formulaic.
Let’s look at some of the most used copywriting formulas.
AIDA stands for Attention, interest, desire, and action.
- Attention: Grab your reader’s attention by breaking a pattern.
- Interest: Get people interested enough to take action.
- Desire: Make them want what you sell using social proof, measurable outcomes, and demonstrations.
- Action: Compel your reader to take action with an attractive offer.
This is perhaps the second most used copywriting formula.
PAS stands for Pain, Agitation, Solution.
- Pain: Start by addressing the prospect’s most pressing problem.
- Agitation: Then you push on it.
- Solution: Offer him your product as a solution.
What to write in your landing page?
This is a page layout that helps you write. Divide your page into two parts. The top 10% and the bottom 90%. Joanna calls it the 90/10 rule.
- The top 10% is focused on expectation matching.
- The bottom 90%: focused on expectation exceeding.
What to write in the Hero section
The hero section is the first 500 px of your page. It can include the headline, sub-headline, short description, call to action, video, and eyebrow copy (precedes the headline you can use it to insert a keyword).
The job of your headline is to move prospects down the page. To the sub-headline and so on. We don’t “need” other stuff such as videos or sliders.
The bottom 90% is all about exceeding expectations. You matched the stage of awareness in the first 10% now you need to move the prospect towards the next stage. You explain how you will help her achieve this next stage.
Your prospect is like a train, and they are stopping in different stations to reach their destination (which is the purchase). Your copy is the engine that moves the train closer to the final station.
Write visually appealing copy
Your copy needs to stay out of our visitors’ way. While also being present. It must help them make decisions.
The content of your copy is as important as how you present it. Think about Starbucks. Their coffee is not the best. But their service, branding, and venues are pretty good. This allows them to charge a premium price for their average coffee.
Turn features into tangible benefits
One of the foundations of copywriting is turning your products or services features into tangible benefits.
Benefits > features
What’s it in for me? Is a question that your prospects will always ask when you show them a feature. Features are just a means to an end. You have to communicate with the end in mind. That’s what makes them buy.
Prove your claims
Everything you say is more powerful when you prove it.
Answer any question the prospect might have with your copy. After reading your copy your prospect should know everything. Don’t leave any “so what´s?” hanging around.
To be a good copywriter you need to think like a lawyer. You need a strong case for why someone should buy something. To make your case stronger, prove it. Don´t tell, show. Take a good statement and make it believable by proving it. People want to know why they should believe in you.
You can use screenshots, demonstrations, testimonials to prove your claims. You can also offer free trials of your product or service.
Blank for your blank
Compare something new to something your prospects already know. It’s easier to communicate a point like this. This is why every new startup is pitched as the Uber for (blank). This makes us think less. Because we already know what Uber is.
In the first blank use something prospects know well and recognize–like Uber. The second one is tied up to something valuable for them or to how they see themselves.
Connect with your target customer
Personality, voice, and tone are all used to connect with your customers. The most admired copy has a distinct personality, it should be unique but it should also appeal to the target customer.
According to a survey these companies produce the most admired copy:
- J peterman
What do they all have in common? Personality, voice, confidence, and clarity. It´s “The copy of cool” Check out their websites, emails, ads, and any other marketing assets. You will understand why they have the most admired copy.
Include them but don’t rely on them. They can help you present features, benefits, and outcomes. Bullet points should be teasers, not tell-alls (peak curiosity and then build up).
A mega list can include All the features of your product or a bunch of use cases for a service.
Improve your bullets with fascinations
Bullet lists are just a format. Anyone can write a bullet list. Copywriters know better. They write lists that draw readers in. They are called fascinations. Fascinations make bullet lists 10x more powerful.
Fascinations were used by legendary copywriters John Caples, Claude Hopkins, Schwartz. And many others.
Unlike any other point on a bullet, fascinations tap into Interest and Desire. Remember AIDA?
When writing fascinations:
- Practice writing fascinations while you are learning about the product/service/solution.
- Vary your lists (short, long, teaser) 3:58 remaining.
- Tell facts in some of them
- Giving them something builds trust.
- Don’t worry if your fascinations are long.
- Forget short. If you need to use a long list to persuade people, use it.
The close: reduce friction
As your prospect approaches the moment of truth (he’s ready to buy). Your job is to reduce friction as much as possible. When the close is near you need to lower the prospect´s risk of taking your offer.
At this point, you just need to ask for the sale! Then make it very easy for prospects to buy.
It’s astounding how many online businesses miss this. They make it so hard for customers to buy that it seems they are doing it on purpose. There’s nothing worse for an online business than having a prospect that is ready to buy but not being able to.
Intros and conclusions
When writing any piece of copy, soft, pointless warm phrases are unnecessary. We call this warm-up copy. Get rid of it. Joana calls it: the stuff you write before writing what you want to write. Don’t waste words!
When the copy is clear you don’t have to think about it.
You need to make people pay attention—not confuse them. We don’t want them to roll over the words. Your copy should make eyes stick. Clarity does not necessarily mean polish. Just be precise.
- Instead of writing “time” use “hours” or “minutes”.
- Use the Blank is blank formula.
- Use the most basic sentence structures. Clarity means simplicity.
- Clever is not necessarily clear.
- We don’t need to keep things as short as possible. Fewer words do not always equal more clarity.
Persuade with real numbers
Get very specific with examples, examples of outcomes, titles of your ideal customers, your product´s features, pains and solutions, actions people are about to take.
Specificity works because it makes your copy more authentic. It helps you to prove your claims.
Always choose specific instead of broad.
Social Proof is one of Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence.
Go through your copy line by line and think if a customer, influential person, or business can reinforce it? Would it be more credible if someone else said it?
Social proof is more credible if the right person says it. And the right person is not always a copywriter.
Disclaimer: This summary is not in any way associated or endorsed by the course creators or their affiliates.