The Secret to Writing Texts That Sell
How to turn your text into a marketing tool
There’s a ton of advice out there on how to write “selling texts.” What we are offering you is not just another scheme or a set of guidelines. We will tell you what works in practice, and why it does. It’s very simple, but it can be revelatory for you — just as it was for us.
Still, we do have to start with schemes and guidelines. This will help you understand which paragraph contains the information that makes sure your text sells. So let’s have some theory, but not too much: we don’t want to bore you.
A selling text is basically advertising copy built according to a specific algorithm. It showcases the advantages and benefits of the product (or service), helping the customer solve their problems and ease their pains. A selling text turns a random visitor into a client.
Selling text algorithm
The headline grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to learn more about the subject.
The part of the text that contains the most important focus: the customer’s problem and “pain,” as well as ways of solving it. This should be presented in a way that triggers an emotional response.
Logically laid out reasons why your client needs to solve his or her problem.
4. Facts & proof
The part of the text that demonstrates and proves the necessity of purchasing the product or service.
5. Forestalling objections
The text that foresees and overturns any objections the client may potentially have.
A promise of excluding the risks.
7. Limited options
Restrictions such as “Discounts effective only through December 25,” “Stocks are limited,” and similar tricks telling the customers to hurry up.
8. Call to action
The final chord of the text instructing the client what exactly they have to do.
Selling text formula
The basic formula of the marketing copy has been unchanged since 1898. It’s the widely known AIDA model:
In theory, it looks nice and simple: you see, you desire, you buy. (Or you write a selling text, publish it, and wait for the customers to show up in droves.) Piece of cake, right? Not really: in practice, lots of people just go to the website, skim through your immaculately written text and… leave. So what’s wrong? And can you do anything about it?
Before you start calling all the marketing experts, copywriters and analysts, make sure you haven’t missed the most important thing.
People naturally tend to “try on for size” everything they encounter in the world around them. If we can’t picture something, we ignore it, as it doesn’t really make a dent in our thinking and doesn’t affect us emotionally.
Reread your text carefully. Does your description of the offer plant an image in the reader’s mind? Can the reader picture him- or herself owning your product?
Here’s a good example. The same watch is offered by two similar online stores at the same price.
Here’s the first offer:
And here’s the second one:
The second store sells almost twice as many watches as the first one! Why? Because when a customer sees the hand wearing the watch he visualizes his own image, picturing the watch on his own hand. And it looks good! The same watch in the first photo doesn’t trigger these feelings. People still buy it, but mostly because they have already seen someone else wearing it or because they’ve encountered a more visual ad. But what if your product is new and not yet popular?
And no, this is not about adding a photo to your text. This is about the text itself. If you can make it graphic enough so that your customers can picture themselves enjoying your product, a high conversion rate is practically guaranteed. Like a smart salesman’s speech, a good selling text is full of vivid, convincing imagery. Listening to it or reading it, customers can literally see “before” and “after” pictures of themselves in their mind.
A visual image pushes people to make the decision.
Research by Wolfgang Köhler, one of the founders of Gestalt psychology, has shown that people form associations and images even if they don’t understand the gist of what they’re being told. We constantly create pictures in our minds. A selling text is a tool that helps customers see the right picture, one that’s desirable and attractive (or revolting, as the case may be).
Images form at the D level of the AIDA pyramid. Or they don’t. All the proclamations of “Hurry while stocks last,” “Time-tested quality,” “We care about you,” and so on will leave your audience cold and uninterested unless you manage to create an attractive image. Conversely, if you’ve been successful in creating a vivid image and the customers have “tried it on,” there’s a lot they’ll be willing to overlook in your text: typos, filler passages, and other assorted sins. Nothing will stop them from getting what they want if you’ve managed to implant a craving for it by using visualization.
There are some selling propositions that don’t seem, at first glance, to be conducive to vivid imagery. For instance, a store that sells auto parts or components. But even in this case, it’s a good idea to use images. “Our bearings roll like cheese in butter” may sound ridiculous, but it’s much more effective than “Our bearings are the best.” Even a silly-sounding advertisement can be a memorable attention grabber.
To make someone interested and willing to go the distance, you must affect their emotions. An emotional response is instantaneous and intuitive, with logic and reasoning always lagging behind.
Only strong verbs, associations, and metaphors can carry an emotional charge. Adjectives are pointless filler that will only drag your text down.
This is a universal language that’s understood by nearly everyone. It’s based on associative thinking and can always be counted on to work unless you overdo it. A good example is the Woodbury Soap Company’s slogan: “Skin You Love to Touch.” Coupled with a touching picture of two young people locked in an embrace, it was a brilliant marketing ploy. Soap sales rose tenfold.
Sensual language should be used appropriately and sparingly because vulgarity doesn’t help sales. Vulgar language may attract 10 people but scare away 100.
You might think it’s about being logical in your wording. While that’s an obvious requirement, it’s not what we mean here. A selling text should engage the reader logically. It should be logically convincing to make them do what you need them to do.
Target audience language
A selling text is written for a specific target group (core audience). And every group speaks its own language. Before you start writing your copy, take some time to study your audience, its problems, desires, ambitions, and customs. Otherwise, you will be neither heard nor understood, even if you follow all the rules for writing “texts that sell.” This also applies to the image you’re creating. If you know your target audience well, you won’t have any trouble creating an image that speaks to it directly. Keep in mind, for example, that a female audience is more emotional while a male audience is more logical. What’s exciting to young people may be shocking to the elderly. And so on. The image you’re creating should be based on marketing analysis, not on your writing ambitions. Only then will you get a gratifying response from your audience.
This is a key point, so beta testing would be a great idea at this stage. A well-chosen image gets you high conversion rates and vice versa. This is the most important part of copywriting.
You don’t need to be a good writer to write a selling text. But it’s essential to get a measure of your audience and offer it exactly what it wants. A selling text is not an end in itself or a collection of pretty words; it’s a tool for creating a bond with your specific target audience.
Every target group has its own values, desires and ambitions, which means they have different motives for performing the desired action. A middle-aged conservative man will not be interested in things that fascinate a young and curious novelty seeker. So the text should highlight different advantages depending on the specific audience. Understanding your target audience’s values and desires helps you offer specific advantages to each group.
When choosing reviews of your product, it pays to follow the same visualization principle. Some people confuse emotional reviews with graphic ones. “Wow, these shoes are so cool!” is emotional — and also completely useless. “My feet don’t get tired in these shoes, even though I’m a courier and have to walk a lot” is much better. Here, we have a clear image that anyone can appreciate by imagining themselves wearing uncomfortable shoes. Graphic reviews always elicit a better response from users.
Being reasonable means you don’t have to blindly follow the rules. Your business may be special. Textual visualization will be pointless if you need to describe the product’s technical specs. In this scenario, your audience expects concrete facts and numbers. So, describe the product’s features using logic and proof instead of pictures.
Creating mind images and pictures should be appropriate. In this case, a photograph of your product accompanied by a list of technical specs is the best image.
When writing your selling text, remember it will be broken down into blocks and thus read in separate chunks. It’s essential to maintain a logical connection between the chunks/blocks to ensure uninterrupted flow of information.
Here’s a sample text placement in blocks:
Whatever template you use for your selling text, the copy itself must maintain internal logic, structure, and consistency. Namely:
A striking, attention-grabbing, informative headline should ideally showcase the advantages of your offer.
This is the introduction that contains triggers to instantly interest and intrigue the user.
- Offer (main body of text)
An enticing offer with rich imagery. Reasoning and forestalling objections. Price, guarantees, incentives. This is typically a psychologically unified block visually divided into chunks.
Create an image that can be owned!
- Limitations / Bonuses
The information that your offer is valid for a limited time only should encourage the customer to make the decision. Incentivizing bonuses, discounts, and giveaways should also go in this block.
- Call to action
An explanation of what steps the user has to take to get what they want.
The layout problem
Unfortunately, a bad template, i.e. a poor website layout, can be very detrimental to the content. Always try to place the text in keeping with the optimal sequence, and make sure designers and developers are on the same page. Ideally, the content should be created before design and development, but this is not always viable in practice. So you’re forced to fit your text into an existing layout. Bad zoning hampers readability.
An unprofessional design does not take text readability into account, which can make even the best-written selling text a commercial failure. A text can be ruined if its logical structure is broken up to fit the design, if the font is unreadable, or if there are distracting design elements.
- A successful selling text is based on a core image — a mental picture that is graphic, memorable, and grabs the attention of the target audience. It’s an image that the reader can try on, “make it their own.” This is the fundamental difference between a “selling” image and an abstract one. (Watch on the hand vs. just the watch.)
- Each target audience needs a specific visual image (or its text description). The text should be emotional, logical, and moderately sensual. By using the audience’s specific language we create an image that’s attractive to the given target audience.
- A selling text should be well-structured and free of fillers. Use short, strong verbs, and positive associations. The headline and lead must pique the reader’s interest. It’s essential to engage emotions, logic, and feelings to convince the users of the offer’s validity.
- The structure and formatting of the text are extremely important. Poor formatting ruins the readability of the copy. If you need to fit the text into a set template, make sure to keep it consistent within each block, maintaining logical priorities and coherence between the chunks. Content creators must work together with designers and developers to get the message across the way it was meant to be perceived.