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One of the most common mistakes marketers make is underestimating the importance of strong copy. A lot of marketers will focus on the strategic aspects of marketing (where to place ads, which SEO keywords to use, which viral marketing tactics to use), while ignoring the verbal aspects (word choice, tone, flow). This is truly a fatal mistake, because your written material is usually the first exposure customers will have to your products and services online. Strong copywriting is one of the most valuable assets you can possess online. But what differentiates strong copy from weak copy?

Strong Copy Speaks to the Heart

The most important feature of strong copy is that is speaks to your readers’ dreams, desires and aspirations. Strong copy may speak the language of facts and logic, but it takes a back seat to the language of emotions. Have you ever seen one of those advertisements that uses a perfect combination of popular music, colorful images and catchy slogans to create a positive association with the product being advertised? Believe it or not, you can create the same effect with text alone, by using words that evoke strong emotions in readers.

Consider this example:

You are a marketer, responsible for promoting a new cologne that uses a combination of forest scents and male pheromones to help men attract women. Which of the following lines do you think would hook potential customers’ interest more?

1. “Androme uses androsta-4, 16,-dien-3-one, popularly known as Androstadienone, which has been demonstrated in clinical tests to elicit high levels of cortisol in female test subjects, compared to control groups. If you wear AndrArome outdoors, you stand a good chance of attracting female attention.”

2. “Androme is a revolutionary new  cologne that uses Androstadienone, a male pheromone with a clinically proven ability to drive women wild. Just apply one squirt of AndrArome before you go out, and watch as women give you that deep, lustful gaze reserved for rock stars and college football captains.”

These two passages say essentially the same thing, but one uses the language of logic, while the other uses the language of emotion. Can you tell which is which?

Strong Copy Uses Awesome, Eye-Catching Headings

Another feature of strong sales copy is that it makes intelligent use of eye catching headings. Believe it or not, the most important feature of a heading is not relevance or informational value, but the ability to stand out. In his book “Advertising Secrets of the Written Word”, Joe Sugarman talks about how he experimented with using arbitrary headings like “Scrambled Eggs”, “Working and Playing” and “Success and Good Things.” When Joe used these “outrageous” headings, he got 20% more sales than he did when he used headings relevant to the actual content of the ad. Not only that, but nobody even questioned his choice of headings; people accepted these over the top attention-grabbing headings as natural, even though many would point it out if Joe’s copy had a tiny spelling mistake. This is not to say that you should use outrageously over-the top headings like Joe did, but the point is obvious: eye-catching beats bland-but-informative every time.

Strong Copy Arouses Curiosity

Perhaps one of the most overlooked qualities of great copy is its ability to arouse curiosity. Good copy arouses curiosity through a variety of means, including evocative language, eye-catching headings, leading questions and points of information. Evocative language paints the images and stirs the feelings that make the reader want to read more. Eye-catching headings make the reader wonder what you’re going to going to say next. Leading questions (“what if I told you this?” “what would you say to that?” “wouldn’t you say that…?”) direct your readers’ train of thought, so that they want to stay on the page. Points of information (quick facts)  surprise the reader and make them wonder what else you have to share with them. Used in combination, these four tactics can arouse a curiosity so powerful that it will leave your customers DYING to try out your products.

The quality of your copy can make or break a product launch, an e-mail list, or even your business. The standards for copywriting are higher now than ever before; however, you have the choice of choosing an expert writer whose copy will command attention and create interest for your products. When choosing a copywriter, make sure to ask for writing samples, and yourself three questions about each candidate: 1, do they write for the mind or the heart?; 2, do they write eye catching headlines?; and 3, do they arouse curiosity using evocative language, leading questions and points of information? If the answer is “yes to all three,” you can be sure the copy they produce for you will move product.