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Ever receive a perfectly-timed marketing email or come across digital ad content that seems like it was written just for you? When this happens, it can seem like copywriters must be psychic to create such on-point content. Spoiler alert: they’re not psychic. Rather, they’re marketing professionals with a great understanding of the psychology of copywriting.
So, exactly how does a copywriter know just what to write to increase conversions? How do they turn regular words, that everyone can read and understand, into marketing gold?
In large part, it’s because professional copywriters have a strong understanding of some of the basic principles of human psychology. They are then able to apply these principles to their writing, which makes it more engaging and effective.
This article will walk you through 10 easy tips for how to use the psychology of copywriting to create engaging, effective content for your small business’ target audience:
So, let’s dive into understanding the basic psychology of copywriting so that you can write great content for your business, too!
One expression we love is this: “the art of conversation is the art of conversion.”
Always remember: people do not want to be lectured at. Being lectured at is off-putting.
Rather, people want to feel like you’re taking the time to speak directly to them, that you are taking an interest in them, that you see them for who they are.
If you write content that makes your audience feel as though they are part of some faceless crowd you’re lecturing to or if you take too aggressive of a tone, you risk your audience getting their backs up and being put-off by your content.
On the other hand, audiences find brands that speak in a casual, relatable tone to be more comforting, more relatable, and more appealing.
So, to write effective copy for your digital marketing content, you will first need to master the art of having a conversation with your audience; you will need to learn how to communicate the value of your brand and the benefits of your product in ways that are engaging while remaining conversational and that make your audience feel included.
By starting a conversation with your reader and keeping the tone more casual, you’ll be making them feel as though a friend — someone who has their best interests in mind and who cares about them — is talking to them.
In turn, that same part of your audience’s brain will fire off (as though they’re speaking to a friend). And, when the mind thinks it’s talking to a friend, it’s more likely to trust the speaker.
So, by mastering the art of conversation in your copywriting, you will be better able to build trust with your audience.
And trust leads to conversion.
So, conversation leads to conversion, too.
This is the first tip for how to use the psychology of copywriting to create great written content for your brand: master the art of conversation.
It’s simple: people do not want to feel that you’re trying to play them, that you’re trying to manipulate them, that you’re just trying to do whatever it takes to get them to say “yes” to you.
Rather, people want to feel like you’re being honest, authentic, and fully transparent with them.
Many people already believe that ads are “the enemy,” that the people behind the products are only after something, trying to trick the audience into spending more money.
While this attitude is understandable given some of the questionable marketing techniques that have been employed by big brands over the years, we’ve seen more and more brands pivot their marketing content so that it is actively striving for transparency and authenticity.
In the modern world where people are more educated and marketed to than ever, it is generally best to give your audience some credit and count on them being able to recognize deceitful or manipulative tactics.
If your audience picks up on something dubious or manipulative in your copy or if it comes across as too aggressive, they are likely to become wary of your content.
So, always remember to be honest, authentic, and transparent in your writing. Your audience will thank you, they’ll connect better with your brand, and you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing you’re not a marketing villain.
Another simple principle of human psychology is this: most people don’t want to be told what to do.
And so, it’s no wonder that it’s been shown that reminding people that they have absolute freedom of choice is a huge win for them.
For example, think of content that says something along the lines of “we know you want to choose the right [product] for your home, and we know you have plenty of options.”
Your audience will be thinking “why, yes. I do!” and will likely appreciate this recognition — after all, it helps to further show that you understand them.
And you don’t necessarily need to come out and acknowledge your audience’s power explicitly.
Rather, as a copywriter, this is something you can (and should) keep in the back of your mind while creating your content.
With this recognition of your audience’s agency in the back of your mind, you will be able write your copy in ways that acknowledge your audience’s freedom and buying power without coming right out and saying it.
Basically, your own recognition of your audience’s freedom and buying power will help to ensure that your writing doesn’t come off as conceited or too pushy.
In other words, it’s totally okay to show your audience that you know they can ultimately choose to do whatever they want to do, that they can say “no” to you.
Not only will your audience appreciate your acknowledgement of their freedom and recognition of their buying power, but you are also showing them that your intent is not to manipulate them, compel them, or otherwise trick them into taking some sort of action. This further improves your credibility by reinforcing your commitment to transparency and honesty.
So, one other simple tip you can keep in mind is this: people like to be reminded that they have absolute freedom of choice, so don’t be afraid to acknowledge this in your written content.
People like to feel seen, heard, understood, valued, cared about (yes, even by brands they purchase from!).
By putting in the time and effort to really understand your target audience — their needs, interests, desires, values, fears and worries, you will be able to write copy that speaks to them on a more personal level.
And this will allow you to establish a personal connection with your audience; they’ll go from feeling like just another number in your accountant’s latest spreadsheet to feeling like someone you’re actually interested in understanding and serving well.
By showing your audience that you understand them and their needs, you’ll be able to show your audience that you’re on their side and that you can see things from their perspective, which can further improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
So, in writing your brand’s content, always try to encourage your audience to establish a personal connection with your brand.
Have you ever just jumped into reading an article without scanning the contents first?
Probably not. Because, let’s be honest: we all scan.
And when we scan a piece of writing, we are making a decision about whether we are going to move ahead with reading the whole thing.
Well, what informs this decision?
Usually, it’s whether we believe this article has the information we are looking for.
So, you’ll want to do everything you can to help your audience determine quickly and easy whether your content has what they’re looking for.
For this reason, it is very important that your writing is divided by clear headings and subheadings wherever possible.
For longer pieces of writing, like articles and blog posts, it’s also ideal if you include a table of contents at the top that your audience can use — ease-of-access features like this will be appreciated and earn you some points for keeping your audience’s needs in mind.
Fun fact: when the brain sees large chunks of dense writing, its tendency is to avoid reading that content.
So, you’ll need to ensure that your writing doesn’t get too bulky. You’ll want to break up your written content into short, eye-catching bits of information.
To do this, you’ll want to use lots of headings, bullet points, short sentences, short paragraphs, infographics.
Avoid thick blocks of text — you’re not writing an academic article from the 1940s.
A well broken-up article with eye-catching subheadings and helpful visual guides is far more appealing than something that looks like it’s from the heart of “Moby Dick.”
So, when you’re writing copy for your own small business or your small business clients, you’ll want to keep your copy short, sweet, well broken-up, and as visually appealing as possible.
Here’s another fun fact about human psychology: studies have shown that, when we’re shown a straight list of words, we have little difficulty recalling the first few and last few words, but we have great difficulty recalling the words from the middle of the list.
Unfortunately, the same goes for articles and other forms of digital marketing content.
This means that, when we read or skim an article, we’ll take with us what we saw at the beginning of the article and end of the article but will have more difficulty recalling what was in the middle of the article.
While we may not be able to recall verbatim what the beginning or end of a longer piece of copy said, we will typically be able to remember the gist of what was communicated.
So, knowing this, you will want to ensure that you keep the ideas or content you care most about at the beginning and end of the content you’re writing — near the top of the page and the bottom of the page.
This means that, if you’re writing an article or blog post, it is especially important that you make full use of your opening and closing paragraphs to drive home the key points you want your audience to take away.
No matter how strong your middle content is, the beginning and end of your article are the places you’ll be able to make the most impact because these are the places your audience will be most likely to remember.
So, be sure to position your written content strategically, open and close your articles strongly, and don’t forget to include your call to action where it will be seen and remembered.
First off, it’s important to keep in mind that our brains have to make way more decisions in a given day than we typically realize.
Starting from when we get up in the morning, our brains are constantly trying to figure out what to do next. So, to help prevent burnout and ease the strain of decision-making, the brain relies on some nifty “shortcuts.”
One of these little shortcuts that the brain relies on to ease the burden of decision making is the use of repetition.
We can explain it like this: if an idea is repeated over and over, that idea starts to seem more and more accurate over time. And, the more accurate something seems, the more likely something is to be true. And, of course, if something is true, we are more likely to believe it or choose it.
In other words, our brains give more credence to an idea that is repeated over time.
For example, studies have shown that people trust statements that have been shown to them over and over far more than they trust the same statement being shown to them only once.
One common way of achieving this in copywriting is to tell your audience what you’re going to say, say it, then tell your audience what was just said. If executed correctly, this strategy isn’t as irritating as it might sound and can be helpful in establishing repetition in your marketing content.
The takeaway: because of how our brains work, if a statement is made consistently to someone over time, that person will be much more likely to come to trust your statement.
So, our first lesson here is that cleverly repeated ideas stick with people. (And our second lesson is that this is one of the reasons why it’s so important to be consistent with your marketing strategies and let your campaigns run for the right amount of time.)
We generally remember hit songs quite easily — their catchy tunes, song lyrics, the messages they convey.
Why is that? Is it simply because we like them?
Sure, that definitely helps. But why does this type of content leave such a lasting impression on us? Why do some songs get stuck in our heads and others don’t?
Well, to start with, melodies that are catchy “stick” better in our brains.
And melody need not be purely instrumental — there is a clear melody in tone. For example, think of some of the nursery rhymes you learned as a child (e.g., “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”).
Similarly, lyrics that flow effortlessly and that contain rhymes stick better in our brains.
So, human brains like melodies, rhymes, and rhythms, and these are elements you can incorporate into your writing without the need for musical accompaniment.
Chances are, there are a few jingles or slogans you’ve heard in commercials or played over the radio that are stuck somewhere in your brain.
For example, consider slogans and jingles (e.g., Nike’s “Just Do It” or McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It.”).
With or without a corresponding musical jingle, some of the world’s biggest brands have come up with catchy, brand-appropriate content that makes use of short, rhythmic, and sometimes-rhyming words to come up with catchy messaging that’s just as easy to remember as a nursery rhyme or song.
And the fact that you can recall these jingles and slogans proves that they work in a way similar to hit pop songs — if you write them correctly, they will be noticed and will leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Even if you’re not looking to write something short and punchy like a slogan, jingle, or short piece of ad material, you should still try to make your content flow naturally, ensuring your ideas are connected, your sentences are easy to ready, and that you establish a clear, consistent brand voice for yourself.
So, like a hit song, good copy is written to be catchy, poppy, fun, and memorable.
We know, we know: hearing “practice makes perfect” probably makes you cringe. But it’s an unavoidable and eternally true premise.
Even if you follow the previous nine tips, the reality is that you won’t become a copywriting wizard overnight.
So, be sure to practice copywriting as much as possible.
And, while you’re practicing, you’ll also need to learn how to edit your writing.
Rarely in life will your first draft be your final draft. But it can be hard to pick out errors in our own writing or be honest with ourselves about what’s working and what isn’t.
So, after you write your first draft, we recommend taking a deep breath and stepping away for several hours to a day. Use that time to focus on something else, keep yourself distracted. That way, when you come back to your writing, you’ll be coming back with fresh eyes and a clear head.
Also, even if you don’t currently have the budget to pay to have a professional copy edit your content, we recommend having a friend or colleague read through your work and provide their feedback.
Copywriting is both an art and a science: while writing compelling narratives and creating catchy jingles involves some amount of talent, it also involves a great deal of research, planning, and practice.
Developing content that speaks to your particular target audience and that calls them to action requires thorough analysis of current markets, your competitors, and your ideal consumers.
You will then need to use your findings to craft content that speaks to your audience on a personal level, addressing their desires, interests, and pain points.
But, of course, your audience first needs to have an interest in what you’re saying — you need to get their attention, generate interest in your and your product, then pull them through the marketing funnel.
So, to create effective, engaging content for your brand, you will want to become familiar with the basics, then master these 10 tips:
It’s simple: the more time you dedicate to learning how to create content that sells, the better it will sell!
For more guides and other resources, you can check out our blog here.
Or, for a free, no obligation quote for our content editing and proofreading services, you can get in touch with us here.