Okay, let’s jump right in:
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing but generates three times as many leads. No wonder that more than 80% of specialists actively invest in it.
The only problem (and it’s, in truth, huge!):
Competition is super high, and marketers admit it becomes more and more challenging to produce engaging content that would motivate, persuade users, and convert. And not only is this challenge about choosing suitable topics or keywords, but it’s also about deciding how to represent content assets for users to get interested and want to follow you.
That’s where talented copywriters come in place. They know that while a visual representation is mission-critical for brands to hook users, words are the most forceful instrument to engage and motivate them.
In this article, you’ll find 12 simple yet effective copywriting formulas to take your content marketing endeavors to a new level. Using them in blog articles, social media posts, and sales copies is a sure-fire way to impact your target audience and their buying decisions.
So, let’s get this show on the road.
12 Copywriting Formulas to Use in Content for Consumer Engagement
#1. Write for one person
All copywriters know that we need to create every content asset for the target audience. To understand these people, marketers do quantitative and qualitative research to create a persona we all know as a fictional representation of an ideal customer.
This person is exactly whom you need to focus on for your content to engage and convert.
But there’s one small catch:
Forget about demographics and other “in-default” features of your ideal customer when writing.
Sure, it’s great to know that you write for a 25-year-old lady from Chicago who’s in love with shopping, books, and Ryan Gosling. But on top of all that, you need to understand her psychology, fears, goals, pain points, and experiences.
Behavioral, not demographic factors will help you craft compelling content for your target. Write if you speak to one person whose emotions, motivations, and frustrations you understand.
All this influences your target’s ambitions and decisions. Once you learn your buyer persona inside out — you’ll understand how to structure your content piece and what words to use so that your audience would read your message right.
#2. Speak their language
While some experts actively address the SEO software market to focus on keywords to use in content, copywriters aim at addressing user needs in texts. They proceed from content trends and the intention behind every content piece they craft, carefully choosing corresponding lexical items and meanings.
Speaking of content trends:
Authenticity, conversational marketing, diversification, and social consciousness call the shots today. They specify what and how to communicate in marketing content for positive outcomes.
Speaking of content intent:
When writing a text, always think about what you want to reach with that. Do you plan to improve brand awareness and warm up your relationship with the audience? Do you want them to take any specific action? Or, maybe you intend to educate the audience or entertain them with your content piece?
Either way, avoid overusing sales language in your messages. Write conversationally, be friendly, and make sure you’ve already identified your brand voice and tone to craft your marketing content accordingly.
The ideal variant would be to develop your brand voice guidelines, like Uber, Starbucks, MailChimp, and others did, to address them each time you need to write a new content asset.
#3. Use a hook in the first paragraph
You already know the power of the first sentence in your content, don’t you? It’s precisely what hooks readers, motivating them to keep on reading and learn more about what you have for them.
Attention span is super short today: You have 5-8 seconds to engage users and make them want to continue reading your text. Also, users have to overcome content shock to opt for your text rather than others’. More than that, the first paragraph of your content is an instrument to increase dwell time, thus influencing your page’s visibility and rankings in search engines.
All this makes the first paragraph of your content super essential for user engagement. But how to write it to make it work?
While writing hook types are many, two formulas from seasoned and respectful SEO/marketing specialist Brian Dean (Backlinko) are worth trying today:
1) The APP formula, aka Agree, Promise, Preview:
- First, give a concept a reader would agree with, showing that you understand their problem.
- Then, promise that you know how to help them and have the instruments for it.
- And finally, preview what they’ll get if they decide to continue reading.
2) The PPB formula, aka Preview, Proof, Bridge:
- Tell what’s in there in your content piece.
- Proof that it’s worth checking.
- Build a bridge for a reader to keep on investigating.
#4. Make titles super catchy yet relevant
Your content title is the first thing a user sees to decide whether it’s worth checking the rest. More than that, studies confirm that most people would share your article based on its headline, even without reading it!
Experienced copywriters and marketers have already developed a few headline formulas that work best for user engagement. In short, your title should be intriguing yet clear and relevant to what you will tell in the content body.
And here go some more practical writing tips to follow:
- Use numbers
- Add power words, aka those evoking emotions (more on that below)
- Tell the audience what they’ll get (steps, advice, formulas, tips, reasons, etc.)
#5. Use power words
Power words are lexical items that make your content sound emotional, influential, and persuasive. Writers engage readers with their help, and sales copywriters — influence customer decision-making, motivating them to buy.
We call these words “power” because they communicate strong meanings and trigger an emotional response from people who read or hear them.
Given that power, a writer needs to be careful when choosing which words to consider for their message to communicate the desired reaction. A reader’s response can be either positive or negative, depending on what you make them feel: fear, interest, safety, disgust, curiosity, etc.
Speechwriters are big fans of such words as they persuade the audience and motivate them. Just look at the excerpt of Winston Churchill’s famous speech:
There are three groups of power words:
- Seductive. Copywriters use them in sales texts or marketing emails to engage people into action. Examples are words like new, how to, limited, free, instant, and others.
- Emotional. Their goal is to grab a reader’s attention and hold it throughout the text. The ambassador of such words is copywriter Jon Morrow, actively implementing them in his writings and encouraging others to do the same.
- Sensory. Active and descriptive, these words relate to human senses, helping readers “see,” “hear,” “smell,” or “taste” your content. Copywriter Henneke Duistermaat explains them best:
“Sensory language helps readers experience your words, almost as if they’re present, right in the middle of your story. What’s more, sensory details add personality and flavor to boring content, helping you stand out in a sea of grey voices that all sound the same?”
#6. Consider neuro copywriting tricks
Legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman made it all clear in his book on how to write powerful advertising copies:
Copywriting is a mental process of reflecting your experiences, knowledge, and ability to transfer them to paper for selling a product or service. In plain English, a copywriter gets inside people’s heads with proven mental hacks, engaging and motivational enough to compel them to act.
That’s what neuro copywriting is.
And here go the tricks to use in content for positive results:
1) Use numbers and consider beneficial adjectives in headlines.
While numbers make headlines super clear for readers to understand what they’ll get inside, adjectives answer the “Why should I care?” question, describing the benefits of your content.
Look at the headline of the article you’re reading right now: simple and effective are two adjectives explaining why it’s worth your attention.
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The last one has one adjective but two numbers, which is also a great neuro copywriting trick to try.
2) Ask questions and use quotes in subheadings.
You know that users don’t read but scan online content, trying to understand if they can relate to it and if it’s worth their attention. So, make it easier for them to see what they’ll find in your content:
Questions make it clear what answers readers will get, and quotation marks make it look more solid.
But please don’t make subheadings only questions or quotes; mix them for better readability and engagement.
As for neuro copywriting tricks in the content body, consider active verbs, above-discussed power words, negative meta language, and supporting your copies with data.
Negative meta language is about words appealing to a dominant human motivator: fear. The fear of loss, failure, or missing out are a copywriter’s good friends. But make sure you don’t overuse them in copies to prevent the opposite effect.
#7. Tell stories
The power of storytelling in content writing is hard to overestimate. Given that a human brain retains the information through stories and emotions, not basic statistics and facts, the best (and only) way to engage people is to tell them a story.
No matter what content type you create — a blog post, a landing page, affiliate articles, or social media posts — a narrative is what helps connect your brand to the target audience. Stories allow others to see the world through your brand’s eyes, understanding how they can relate to it.
Storytelling is about your brand authenticity. It makes your ad content look more human, communicating your vision and values, not only a product itself. It helps you evoke the desired response from a consumer and encourage them to act.
#8. Address human psychology
Appealing to basic instincts in your writing, you can influence readers’ emotions, motivations, and behavior. These instincts are our subconscious needs appearing in the brain’s limbic system; and, according to the personality theory, they are three:
- Self-preservation: is about safety, health, and a secure environment. Users will respond to content assets that help them achieve it. (That might be a reason why lifestyle blogs are so popular.)
- Social: is about status, personal value, approval, and accomplishments. Craving fame and success subconsciously, users will respond to any content that proves they are cool or helps them reach it.
- Sexual: is about attraction, connections, people, and adrenaline.
How to use them in writing for better engagement?
First, you can use so-called “tasty” words whenever appropriate, even if your content has nothing to do with food. Just ensure they look and sound well-placed there.
Second, do your best to share content that would help the audience find answers: tools, strategies, tips, hacks — these are sure-fire ways to engage them.
Also, give them actionable content that is easy to implement. Our brain is lazy, so we subconsciously look for fast and straightforward solutions to our problems. (Back to the title of this article again: The word “simple” is a signal that everyone can do that.)
#9. Answer a “So what?” question
When writing your content, always think of a “So what?” question readers will ask while consuming it.
Why should they care? What’s there in your blog article, social media post, or sales copy to make them want to listen and follow you?
Copywriting tactics to consider here:
- Make your content actionable.
- Prove its value to the audience; write with user search intent, social proof, and data in mind.
- Create a feeling of exclusivity, making the audience feel special or a part of some exclusive group.
- Establish your brand as an authority in the field.
Long story short, make your content meet Google’s E-A-T guidelines and provide “reasons why” for the audience to engage with it.
#10. Make your content sound persuasive
Online persuasion is about understanding your target audience inside out: their needs, objections, how they speak, and so on.
Advanced personalization and content consistency are critical here, but you can also appeal to a few copywriting tricks experts use, leveraging certain aspects of human psychology. These are persuasive techniques that work best:
- Reciprocity: We are more likely to do good for someone who does good for us without expecting anything in return. Sharing in-depth, valuable, and free content with the audience, you create a feeling of indebtedness, therefore engaging them in giving something back (a comment, a share, a subscription, etc.)
- Scarcity illusion: We give a higher value to something limited or what might run out soon. Changing people’s mindset from “Do I need it?” to “Will I need it anytime in the future?” can make your content more convertible.
- Social proof: We’re more likely to do something if others consider it popular or worth trying. That’s why customer reviews, testimonials, social media feedback, or comments from influencers in the niche are a must-have element of landing pages.
Whether you write a return policy, landing copies, or a text for newsletters, it needs to sound persuasive enough for readers to get engaged and want to learn more.
#11. Remember about content flow
This one is super short yet clear:
When writing your content asset, think of its usability for readers. They won’t spend much time trying to understand what you want to say and they’ll leave your page; so don’t make it challenging to scan and navigate:
- Use transitional words to improve the content flow.
- Forget about overcomplicated words, terms, professional jargon, slang, etc. Do your best to use simple language.
- Write in active voice.
- Use short sentences and paragraphs.
- Remember visual elements: images, screenshots, GIFs, videos, infographics, and others.
#12. Add a CTA. Always
Okay, let’s face it:
Others won’t do anything unless you ask.
So, even if your content is not about direct promotions or sales, do your best to add calls to action for visitors to understand “what is next?” after they’ve read it.
With proper CTAs, you can:
- Drive engagement: ask questions; invite users to comment; offer them to tag friends, share your content, like it, or tell a corresponding story
- Drive website traffic: invite to visit your website; encourage to learn more and share direct links to check
- Drive conversions: invite to subscribe or download your freebie; hook with limited options; write a call to order your service or buy your product
As you see, the words we choose and how we use them to build marketing messages significantly impact the target audience’s content perception and buying decisions.
So now that you have this ultimate list of writing tactics at hand, feel free to use it as a cheat sheet each time when in need of choosing the most appropriate writing formula for your content asset.
Ready to start?
This article’s featured image comes from Glen Carrie on Unsplash.