Copywriting Formulas for Engagement: How to Engage with Your Customers

Robyn Kyberd
Mar 3, 2019 · 7 min read

Most people know how to write and type, but not many know how to copywrite.

Contrary to popular belief, copywriting is a marketing skill that may take years to cultivate. One will likely go through a lot of copywriting mistakes before becoming an expert.

The good news is that there are copywriting formulas that will help anyone make the perfect copy. These formulas act as a guide that will help a copywriter remain true to the goal.

That is to encourage the audience to do what you want them to do. It may be to buy your product, read an article, or share a post.

If you want to improve your skills now, follow the copywriting formulas below.

1. Benefits > Features

It’s tempting to list down all your products or services’ features. However, that’s not the best way to engage with your customers. Mention the direct impact of the features on the customers’ lives instead.

Rather than saying, “This product has a new technology that consumes less energy,” say, “This product allows you to save on energy costs because of this new technology.”

Customers are more interested in how a product or service can improve their lives. You can still mention a key feature, but make sure the audience understands how their lives will be better because of it.

A good formula for this is FAB or Features-Advantages-Benefits. Start your copy with the feature, then follow it with its advantage over the competition. Then, tell the people why having the product or service is good for them.

2. Attention-Interest-Desire-Action

The AIDA copywriting formula is a proven-and-tested strategy across all forms of media. It’s effective on the radio, TV, sales page, email marketing, and more. It’s about holding the attention of the readers and piquing their interest enough for them to take action.

First, you have to get their attention with a few words. It could be something like “Sneak peek!” and “Surprise sale!” It could also be a key feature of the product, like Apple’s “Lightness strikes again” on the MacBook Air product page.

The next step is Interest — feed your readers fresh information that appeals to them. It could implement a subtle approach to a problem, and it should also augment the headline.

Then, make them have the desire to get your product or service by stating its features and benefits. You may have to provide proof to back up your claims, which will strengthen your copy further.

Once you’ve reeled them in, you can then prompt them to take action by using a clear-to-action. Add a link, encourage them to share the post, or if you’re in a sales page, make your CTA a clickable button.

3. Before-After-Bridge

This formula presents a problem, a scenario after solving the problem, and the bridge connecting the two. The “Bridge” is your product or service. The “After” describes a key benefit that solves the problem in “Before.”

Here’s a short example of a copy that uses this formula:

“With today’s state of daily traffic, getting a cab is near impossible. Imagine being able to hail one from your mobile phone on demand. Download the app now to get a ride.”

With this formula, the benefit of the app is clear to the readers. It also paints a good picture of the problem/s it will solve if you download the app.

This works because it targets 2 motivations that drive people’s behaviour. People take action to chase pleasure and to avoid pain. In essence, this is the application of Sigmund Freud’s Pleasure Principle in marketing.

4. Problem-Agitation-Solution

This is like the BAB formula for customer engagement, but it presents the solution in another way. Instead of describing a world with the problem solved, it describes a world where the problem persists.

To see how different it makes a copy, let’s spin the BAB example above:

“With today’s state of daily traffic, getting a cab is near impossible. You’ll have to deal with other people trying to spot an empty taxi, and you’ll lose precious hours in a day, delaying your much-anticipated sleep. There’s an app that can hail a ride for you, though — download it now.”

There’s also a variation of PAS with an added part: Discredit. Between A and S, you discredit other solutions to make your product more appealing. In the case above, you could insert something like, “Taking the bus full of drunk strangers is not an option, too.”

5. The 5 Issues You Should Solve

Readers will come up with various reasons to not buy your product, but it all boils down to 5 issues: money, time, doubt, need, and lack of confidence about your brand.

To make a great copy, aim to solve at least one of these. If you can solve all 5 in one copy, though, that’s even better.

Write something like, “5-minute workouts to lose weight” or “Best gifts for under $20.” The first one solves the issue of lack of time, while the second one solves the issue of a small budget.

Customers might also find they don’t need your product or service, so give them a reason why they would. Create an ideal scenario wherein they’ll feel compelled to buy the product or share the post. The copywriting formula below will help you with that.

To solve the other 2 issues, list down the features that will convince them that they will work as promised. Provide proofs, and provide reviews to make your brand more trustworthy.

6. The 4 C’s of Copywriting for Engagement

All of your copies must pass this 4 C’s, whichever formula you choose to use. It must be: clear, concise, compelling, and credible.

Start with the first C — Clear. Make sure it’s clear to the readers who have no inside knowledge about the product or your company. Will they be able to deduce the benefits of your products or the types of services you offer only by reading that one post?

It must concise as well, but don’t mistake it to mean “keep it short.” Of course, if you can hit all the C’s with a short copy, that’s even better. However, don’t take out the necessary information in order to be “concise.”

The copy is compelling if it presents benefits to the audience or solutions to a problem. To boost credibility, make sure to be specific with your facts. Don’t make general statements you can’t prove in order to be vague enough.

Don’t use guesstimates, as well, such as “most people like our service.” Use statements like “86% of those who tried our services came back for more” or something along those lines.

7. The 4 P’s of Marketing

The 4 P’s of Henry Hoke Sr. for marketing is also applicable to copywriting for social media. First, it creates a Picture wherein visitors can insert themselves in. Then, It states a Promise of ending that picture or bring it to life.

The third is Proof, which will support your Promise. This is where reviews may come in handy; a demonstration of how you will keep your Promise is also ideal. Last comes Push, which urges the reader to do something, such as contacting you or clicking a link.

There’s another variation by Ray Edwards, which is only a little different. In this variant, you have Problem, Promise, Proof, and Proposal.

Instead of painting a picture for readers, it instead states the problem outright. This may be more appropriate when you want to be concise. It’s easier to do as well, as painting a bad picture might come off as scammy.

It’s less aggressive in its CTA, too, as it doesn’t “Push” the audience to do something. Rather, it suggests an action, like “Get ready to meet your idols.”

8. Accounting the Audience’s Natural Curiosity in Copywriting Formulas

Curiosity is human nature, and in marketing, exploiting it seems to be a powerful strategy. There’s this “curiosity gap” that makes people feel deprived, prompting them to find that information that will fill the gap between what they know and what they don’t know.

This is why you see clickbait articles that may not even answer the question in the headline. Many people know of them, but despite so, many still can’t resist finding out the answer in one click.

A good example of a post that isn’t “clickbait-y” is, “She’s a former waitress, and now she’s the CEO of her own clothing company. Sometimes, a little help is what we need to move forward.”

It doesn’t scream clickbait, but it does create a curiosity gap in readers, prompting them to know more. How did she get from here to there? What help did she receive to achieve what she has achieved?

Learn More About Marketing

These copywriting formulas are effective ways to make a connection with your readers. Practice often, and experiment to see what works with your brand and audience. There’s more to marketing than copywriting, though; visit our blog to learn more.

Do you want to discuss effective marketing strategies? Contact us today and let’s help you form a strategy.

Strategic Optimisation + Growth consultant for lean start-ups and change-making entrepreneurs enabling them to grow their business in a sustainable and profitable way. My super-powers are business optimisation, CX, SEO, and leveraging data insights for business growth. #fuelledbycoffee

Originally published at on March 3, 2019.

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Robyn Kyberd

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Business Development & Optimisation Consultant with a serious soft spot for CX, Digital Marketing, SEO and Analytics.

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