copywriting for marketing

Copywriting for Marketing Collateral that Converts

“Conversion” is a pervasive theme in many of my digital marketing articles. It takes a lot of factors to make even a small difference in the number of visitors/readers who take the action you want from an email, landing page or piece of content. The copy you use in these marketing pieces may be the most important factor. I put together a few of the different frameworks I use for crafting quality content with the intention of converting readers to a call-to-action (CTA).

Let’s take this copywriting for marketing piece by piece: 1) headline, 2) body copy, 3) CTA. First, let’s get some assumptions out into the open:
copywriting for marketing that converts

  • Your email, content and landing pages aren’t about you! It’s about them. So talk about what’s in it for them rather than telling them what you want. It’s about talking about how they will feel after buying your product and what they get out of taking the action you want.
  • Your copy makes a massive difference. Stream of consciousness writing rarely works well in terms of conversion. Utilize a structure to keep readers engaged in your emails and get them to see your CTA.
  • Perfect your emails over time – using quantitative performance metrics and tests – to maximize your conversion rate. You send so many emails that will tell you what your recipients respond to.

Let’s use an example for this exercise: leadership training programs from a company called C4G. Typically a C-level executive or someone from Human Resources looks for this type of solution.

Headline or subject line

The first objective is to grab attention. This is done with your email subject line and/or your headline. The main component of an attention-grabbing headline is the benefit or the result the reader will receive. For example:

Turn your managers into leaders

Innovative new leadership training that works

Two additional components will also compel your readers to engage: 1) indicating when the reader can get the benefit and 2) overcoming a common objection. Let’s add on to our headlines above:

Turn your managers into leaders in two short weeks for less than you think

Innovative and affordable leadership training that works in less than 21 days

For the right audience, this message tells you what the result will be and how quickly it can be delivered as well as addresses concerns over price. It might help to list out all the results and all the objections and then run tests with different combinations to see which ones resonate. This exercise can also be leveraged for search engine marketing ads, social posts and other compressed copy areas.

An interesting opening

You have their attention so now your objective is to get them interested and wanting to read more. It’s too soon to jump into your solution – it will turn a lot of readers off. First you have keep them reading by peaking their interest. You can do this a few different ways:

Share interesting and relevant facts

According to a recent study, 51% of leaders claim that outsourced leadership training programs were ineffective at creating long-term changes.

Describe a problem and highlight the negative effects of the problem

We keep putting our mid-managers through training to get new skills but, despite spending all that money, we still have the same leadership issues we thought would be corrected.

Create rapport with the reader through a common concern, challenge or desire

I spent 15 years in Human Resources for a high-tech firm. During those years, most of our attrition and complaints were related to poor management styles and poor leadership practices.

Ask for agreement about an issue

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that it’s unrealistic to expect your managers to become natural leaders without a deliberate training plan.

Write a story

You can also use a story here. Stories naturally engage the reader and enable you to deliver a good amount of detail by making the reader curious about your story’s conclusion. Here’s an example:

That morning, I remember feeling so excited to receive our “employee engagement” survey results back. I had a strong feeling they were going to crush last year’s lackluster results! 15 minutes into the meeting, however, and it was clear… we were heading in the OPPOSITE direction. How could I have been so naive? How did I not see this coming? As we got into the results, I noticed that all employee scores were up except for the people under our CIO. He was not very popular with his team, apparently. Their biggest qualm was that they didn’t trust him! All the leadership training we sent him to never addressed trust. That’s when I remembered C4G’s “authentic leadership” program.

Set up the CTA

At last you are ready to reveal your solution. Your objective here is to make the reader want what you have to offer… right now! In other words, desire. There are a few tactics I like to use at this point. You can rely on one of these but don’t attempt to use all of them – find the right combination of tactics and mix it up when one approach doesn’t get the results you want:

Highlight the problem and implication

You need to bring the problem that you solve into light. The reader has to see and agree that the problem needs to be addressed. This requires not just stating the problem but also indicating the implication of that problem.

You know that employee engagement can always be better but did you know that even a small decrease in employee engagement can lead to a dramatic decrease in production which can have a serious impact on revenue. Small changes have a big impact!

Show what life will be like once they have the solution

People purchase items, whether for themselves or for their company, for emotional and psychological reasons as much as for features and benefits. Tap into that emotional side by describing how great life will be after their purchase. Don’t just list the immediate benefits of having the product or service but also the personal desires that come with it. See the second sentence below for an example.

Lower turnover, higher employee productivity and best of all… outstanding employee engagement survey results! On top of that, you come out looking like the hero.

Make a promise

A promise isn’t saying, “If you aren’t satisfied then your money back!” Here, a promise is presenting a cause and beneficial effect that seems like a fact. It’s to give the reader confidence what they want can be delivered – great for overcoming common obstacles.

It turns out you can dramatically increase your employee engagement and retention when your leaders and managers seem more “human” and approachable.

Make them confident that they can solve the problem

You spend all this time talking about the problem so you need to empower the person that they can affect that problem and the solution is as easy as purchasing your product or service.

Fortunately, there is a way for managers to develop an authentic leadership style that builds trust with employees.

Provide social conformity

“Social conformity” involves showing your reader that your offer has helped others. B2B marketing would use corporate client logos. Small businesses can do that too but should really look for a testimonial. If you have a particularly good quote from an online review then display it on your page and make it stand out. If that quote speaks to your main value proposition or overcomes a common objection. Here’s an example:

I attended their “Emerging Leaders” workshop and was blown away! They really got to their heart of our leadership pipeline challenges and delivered so much more value than our last leadership training.

Show results

Showing others who use your product or service is not the same as showing the results that those others received from your product or service. Quantitative results (read: big juicy numbers) are very strong here.

One pharmaceutical client reported a 23% increase in their overall employee job satisfaction quarterly report!

List the specific things they’ll get

You want this to be an attractive list that makes the cost of your offer seem like a good deal. Lists work well. Make each item descriptive and make sure they are relevant to your target audience. An alternative is to list the benefits the reader will receive instead of (or in addition to) a list of the tangibles.

Here’s exactly what you are going to get with our free consultation!
30 minutes of 1:1 time with an expert.
Practical tips on the direction you should head.
Refined set of clear goals and success metrics.
A personalized quote and next steps you should take.

Create sense of urgency and why the problem needs to be addressed

urgency through scarcity
Here’s where I like to call upon Dr. Robert Cialdini’s ethical persuasion techniques. You can read about them in his book Influence. I was actually introduced to the book from a friend who was a professor in the Psychology department at the University of Texas.


We’ve been focusing on registering for a free consultation but there are other types of CTAs that will work in this model:

  • Product discount
  • Read a blog article
  • Complete a survey
  • Download a report
  • Register for a webinar
  • Signup for an e-course

The CTA is the final but most important piece. In digital marketing that CTA starts with a click, oftentimes to a form or to a page that provides more detail about the offer. Here are the fundamentals to follow with your CTA.

Make it obvious

If you reader only scans the email, your CTA must make it clear what to do. This is where a brightly colored button with some simple copy is the tool of choice.

Give the reader multiple chances

A big button is a must but it’s important to sprinkle CTAs throughout the page, especially if you are using lots of copy. You can repeat the button at the bottom and you can place multiple text links. That makes it easy for the reader to take action as soon as your copy has done the trick.

Sprinkle in social proof

Here’s where I like to put social proof as close to the CTA as possible. A rotating series of testimonials underneath or above a form is my tactic.

Stamp the CTA with urgency

If you can create some form of limitation then use that in your CTA or very close to it. Limitation or scarcity includes “only 24 hours left…” or “only the first 100 people…” Put that line within your CTA hyperlink copy and on your CTA button.

At the end of the day, we’re talking about a simple formula and a few rules of thumb for connecting with readers and moving them to action. This goes for any copywriting for marketing or sales needs on email, website, blogs, landing pages, etc. You have something important to offer so make it easy for other to say “yes” with these tips.


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