There are over 87 million blogs published on WordPress.com every month.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, your content has to be powerful. It has to drag people in, entertain them, and get them to take action.
If it isn’t, all your hard work will have been for nothing. Instead of making a big splash, it will be just another drop in the ocean.
So how do you make it more powerful? How do you take a piece of content and turn it into something that not only gets read but gets results as well?
That’s what this article is about. I’m going to show you 10 actionable copywriting tips you can use to turn a bland piece of content into a powerhouse of an article.
1. Make them experience it
Ever seen master storytellers at work?
It’s amazing how they can capture your attention and make you forget what’s happening around you. When they’re telling a story, it feels like you’re in that story.
And the cool thing is: your brain thinks you are. When someone tells you a story, your brain couples itself to that of the person telling it. You don’t just imagine what they’re saying, you experience it as well.
It’s that ability to generate emotions within your reader that makes storytelling so powerful. If you can make people experience what you’re saying, your content will stand out head and shoulders above your competition.
Now, turning every article into a story that’s worth an Emmy nomination is going to be a challenge, to say the least. But there are a couple of ways you can add more storytelling elements to your content.
Researchers in Spain found that when they gave test subjects metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice”, the subject’s sensory cortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for perceiving texture through touch – lit up.
Use strong verbs
Strong verbs can help you visualize an action. Saying someone “slammed his fist on the table” is a lot more powerful than saying someone “put his fist on the table”.
2. Use the power of open loops
In 1927, a Soviet psychologist by the name of Bluma Zeigarnik was sitting in a restaurant with her colleagues when she noticed something weird. When their waiter took their order, he remembered every single one without a problem.
But once they were done eating and everything was paid for, the waiter couldn’t remember what each of them had for dinner.
She decided to study this in greater detail and found out that people have a much easier time remembering unfinished tasks. In psychology, this became known as the Zeigarnik effect. In copywriting, it’s known as an open loop.
Open loops are everywhere. From advertisements to movies to blog posts. If you’ve ever watched or read any form of entertainment, you’ve encountered open loops.
They work incredibly well because they instill curiosity and create anticipation for what will come next. When someone opens a loop, we want to close it so it’s off our mind.
They aren’t hard to create. In fact, you’re doing it every time you write a headline. Headlines are the most basic form of an open loop.
Unfortunately, that’s the only time most people use them. If you sprinkle in open loops throughout your content, it packs a bigger punch. You can use them in:
Adding open loops to the intro of your content can be one of the best ways of getting people invested in your content.
Adding open loops to your subheads will help pull in the people who just scan your content and move on.
3. When in doubt, read it out loud
A good way to make your content more powerful is to start reading it out loud. This is because, unless you practice speed-reading, you use your inner voice to read words “out loud” in your head.
This is called sub-vocalization and it makes it easier for your brain to understand what you’re reading.
By making sure it sounds good, you’re making it easy for your readers to digest what you’re saying. They’ll be able to focus on the message instead of the words.
Reading your content out loud also helps you iron out any kinks in your content. You’ll quickly realize when paragraphs don’t work when sentences are wonky, or when words don’t flow.
4. Use the rule of three
The rule of three states that ideas and concepts presented in threes are more interesting, humorous, and enjoyable.
It’s another one of those things that are used absolutely everywhere. It gets used in:
- Jokes (“A German, an Englishman, and an Australian walk into a bar…”)
- Movies (The good, the bad, and the ugly)
- Declaration of Independence (Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)
The reason it’s so effective is that humans have evolved to recognize patterns. They help us make sense of all the information that’s thrown at us. Three is simply the smallest number needed to form a pattern.
It’s that combination of brevity and patterns that make it so powerful.
The rule of three has a couple of benefits:
- It makes your content easier to understand
- It makes your content more persuasive
- It makes your content more poetic and fun to read
5. Use deliberate repetition
Have you ever listened to some of history’s most important speeches and wondered how they managed to make them so powerful?
Speeches like Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” have the ability to touch people at their core, to create movements, to give people hope.
One reason they’re so effective is that they use deliberate repetition. At certain points in the speech, the speaker repeats certain words or phrases. Take this speech from Winston Churchill, for example:
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.” -Winston Churchill
You can apply this to content as well. Adding deliberate repetition to your content adds flair and makes it more dramatic and makes it stand out from the crowd.
This does a couple of things:
- It adds rhythm and flair to your content
- It makes it more dramatic (more emotional)
- It makes it more memorable
6. Start with a punch, end with a kick
In 1962, a psychologist by the name of Bennet Murdock conducted an experiment where he gave a group of people a list of words. Afterward, he asked them to recall as many words as possible.
He found that when people had to recall items from a list, they’re more likely to remember the first and last items. The first item because it gets the most attention, the last item because it’s the most recent. This became known as the serial positioning effect.
When you’re writing content, your intro and your conclusion are the two most important sections of them all.
Your intro gets the most attention and needs to drag people in. Your conclusion is the last thing people see and contains your call to action.
7. Use short first sentences
55% of your audience only reads your content for 15 seconds or less.
It sucks, but it’s the truth. They check out the headline, subheads, conclusion and then decide whether or not your article is worth it. If it isn’t, they’ll leave.
Now, if writing is a hobby of yours, this is something you can live with. But if your income depends on people reading your stuff, a statistic like that can make you start sweating bullets.
Legendary direct response copywriter Joseph Sugarman realized early on it was crucial to drag your readers in from the start. If your intro failed to get someone’s attention, the rest didn’t matter.
One of the ways Joe managed to get people reading is by writing very short first sentences. He figured that if you can get someone to read your first sentence, they’re more likely to read the second one. If they read the second one, they’re more likely to read the third one and so on.
Jon Morrow from Smart Blogger does this really well. His first sentences are usually so short you can’t help but read them. What makes it even more powerful is that he opens a loop that we can’t help but close.
8. If you have to choose between clear or clever, choose clear
Did you know that 80% of ads shown during the Superbowl have no impact on sales?
Even though they have a huge reach and a higher than normal percentage of people paying attention to them, they don’t do anything sales-wise. Why?
One of the reasons is that, during the Superbowl, advertisers work overtime trying to make their ads as entertaining as possible. And often times, they succeed.
The problem is that people end up remembering the ad, but they have no clue what product it was for.
With content, you can fall into the same trap. You can end up writing an article that makes you sound smart, but no one knows what you’re talking about.
If you have to choose between sounding smart and delivering a clear message, choose the clear message. There are a couple of ways you can make your content more clear and concise:
- Use simple words
- Use short sentences
- Use an active voice
- Put the action in the verb
There’s cleverness in being clear. If you can boil down a complicated topic into easy to understand chunks, you’re doing an amazing job.
9. Use delayed transitions
Transitions bind sentences and paragraphs together. They make it easier for your readers to go from one thought to the next. For example…
“You want to make your content more powerful, but you don’t know how.”
The sentence above uses the word “but” as a transition. It takes two different thoughts and turns them into a sentence.
A delayed transition is a little different. With a delayed transition, you stick the transition at the beginning of a sentence. For example…
“You know you need to grab people’s attention if you want them to keep reading. But you don’t know how. So you check out what other people are doing.”
The main advantages of these type of transitions are:
- They allow you to use shorter sentences, which improves readability.
- They open a small loop we want to see closed.
- They add a level of unpredictability to your content, which keeps people on their toes.
Here’s another example, this time from Copyblogger:
10. Steal your reader’s words
Every audience has its own sayings, its own inside jokes, and its own language. If you can replicate the way your audience talks, your content becomes instantly more powerful.
Now the question is: how do you figure this out?
The best way is to just talk to them and ask them what they’re struggling with. Specifically, you want to know:
- What goals they’re trying to achieve.
- What pain they’re trying to get away from.
- What obstacles are preventing them from getting to their goals.
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to write content that connects with your reader on a deep level.
But what if you’re just starting out and you don’t have anyone you can interview?
In that case, you can still figure out how your target audience describes their problems by going to Amazon and checking out the reviews for books related to your niche.
Nothing beats talking to your customers, though.
Stop letting your content be ignored
Now that we’ve gone over 10 copywriting techniques that will help make your content more powerful, it’s your turn to implement them.
Here’s what to do next:
- Pick one or two techniques from this list.
- Implement them into your next piece of content.
- Let me know in the comments which one helped you the most.
Guest Author: Robin Geuens is a freelance copywriter who helps online entrepreneurs write better content. You can download the powerful content checklist to see how you can make your content pack a bigger punch.