MASSIVE EXPLOSIONS! …Or 5 Ways to Grab Attention in Your Copy

Joanna Wiebe Copy HackersBy Joanna Wiebe
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PPC ads need ’em. Blog posts need ’em. Email subject lines need ’em. Landing page headlines need ’em.

Qu’est-ce que c’est?

ATTENTION GRABBERS! Uber-prominent messages that grab your prospects’ attention!

If you want people to notice your message and stick around long enough to take in the details of what you’re offering, you need to grab their attention.


Usually with a fantastic headline. Watch this short Copy Hackers video tutorial on moving from ho-hum to attention-grabbing copy:

In that video, I walked you through 2 ways to grab your visitor or prospect’s attention. Here, quickly, are a grand total of 9 ways to grab attention – without having to put your offering on sale or resort to skeazy tactics.

1. Use Word Pictures (as in video) – Use a metaphor or personification to bring your copy from vague to tangible.

2. “I never thought it would happen, but” (as in video) – Your copy is the completion of this statement. If you have the space, you may want to use the introductory text, too.

3. Cram 2 High-Value Points into 1 Small Space – For example, I just received an email with this subject line, which I quickly acted on: Webcast with Steve Krug on 5/22: Space is Limited!

4. Be Paradoxical or Juxtapose 2 Ideas – In a sea of “find your perfect match” PPC ads, wouldn’t you notice “Ugly Dude Dating Guide”?

5. Embarrass Your Mother – If yo’ mama wouldn’t want you to say it, it’ll probably get our attention… Within reason!!!

You don’t have to go crazy with 1000s of different ways to capture your prospect’s attention.

You just have to find the right one for your particular audience… and go for it! Obviously, testing these attention-grabbers – on your site or in tweets – can go a looong way…

Agree? Disagree? Still think AIDA makes copywriting sound easier than it is? Post your thoughts below, and let’s chat…


About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

  • Love learning by video. Thanks!
    P.S. Snap looks super interesting (pop-up banner). I could see small startups really getting value from this offering.

  • chris desilva

    Nice refresher. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jo, this is fantastic. Love the simple transitions too!

  • I love the video with great actionable content as well. Usually videos at 8 minutes long lose my attention way to fast, but I paid attention the whole time.

    Would love to see a video now taking those steps further and using subheads to start converting the attention into interest

    • Thanks, Matt! I tried hard to keep the video short, but I’m wordy sometimes. Next time: 5 minute goal. 🙂

  • DesignHandyman

    Thanks for the video, Joanna. I always learn something new with you.

    • Yay! Thanks. 🙂 I keep meaning to use your site – such an awesome idea for a service.

      • Thanks Joanna for your kind words. 🙂 I’m not going anywhere, so I’ll be here when you need me.

  • Great post! I love that you’ll be doing more videos! 🙂

    Attention is a super cool topic, I like the AGO acronym. What I find most interesting (and challenging) is the transition from attention to interest. Knowing when I’ve said enough, and where to begin the next step in the process… and the next two as well.

    I see plenty of headlines on sites or ads on TV that get a lot of attention, but don’t really make me too interested in the product or service. Super Bowl commercials are some of the best examples. Companies attempt to make the funniest most memorable commercial, often with little impact on sales.

    In a future post, could you explain more about how to take some wacky, fun, attention-getting ideas and connecting the dots through the rest of the persuasion process?

    • I agree — it’s important to know how to move people from attention to interest and onward. AIDA works great as a way to write single pages, letters or emails… but it’s harder to apply across different touchpoints and media. I’ll definitely make ‘connecting the dots’ a future post!

  • Awesome vid cheers J

  • Very helpful post and video. Well done. I plan to try this out soon. Finding this quite difficult, but you showed me again that I must keep thinking out of the box. And yes, AIDA makes copywriting sound easier than it is. I’ll take this as far as I can on my own and then seek professional help!

    • hahaha — “seek professional help”. Maybe I’m the only one who read that as a suggestion of madness, but I like it. 🙂

  • Very cool, Jo! Keep these coming, very helpful.

    • Will do, Aaron! Keep reading and commenting. 🙂

  • Great post. From concept to application. Cheers!

  • Tony

    Hey Joanna, nice video, excellent content (as always) and sweet performance. 😉
    What video camera are you recording with? IPhone, if so there is a trick (adapter and mic.) to improve your sound quality a little.

    Anyway – keep posting. Enjoyed the vid.


    • The sound quality is a work in progress. The mic is ordered, but it hasn’t arrived yet… so I had to use the built-in mic of my Nikon D7000 (which is notorious for being a less-than-ideal mic, as awesome as the camera is). I didn’t want to wait for the mic to arrive to make my first video though! 🙂 Thanks, Tony!!

  • Whiteboard Friday eat your heart out! Studio looks great and the video came out really well.

    On the subject of “testing with tweets” or PPC ad headlines etc, have you had much experience with things like feedback army or pick fu? I did a big experiment a couple of years back and blogged about it[1] when I was redoing the Decal CMS website and whilst the results all seemed really useful, I always had this sneaking suspicion that perhaps it wasn’t replicating the “Real world” closely enough. I haven’t experimented much with it since then but I’d be intrigued to hear your opinion.


    • haha — Whiteboard Friday is my inspiration and aspiration. 🙂 One day, one day….

      I haven’t used Feedback Army before, but I met the guys at PickFu — awesome guys — at Microconf 2013, and I’m sure we’re going to be using them going forward for loads o’ stuff. In fact, Mr. Dooley, we may be using them to get quick feedback on the Kyvio creative. 🙂

      • Yeah the pick fu results were way easier to interpret right off the bat. I love that they have the comments below them.

        Interestingly, though, I wrote this little PHP script to help me “quantify” the feedback army results:

        It lets you go through each response in a web interface and correct poor formatting, set “sentiment” (ie. positive, negative, neutral) and indicate whether or not people got the point. The results were actually kind of intriguing:

        Especially the “sentiment” – because the corpus of data was much larger than I could have generated if I were just surveying people I knew or had easy access to, I thought that the fact one of the voicings produced significantly fewer negative, and significantly more positive, sentiments that it really made the case quite well.

        So although pick fu was MUCH easier to use, I actually felt as though the feedback army data provided more comprehensive insights (also both channels concurred that “Voice 1” was the best, so that helped).

        In the end it didn’t make any difference because the whole thing failed miserably and I never sold a damned thing but it was still a very interesting exercise. I just wasn’t sure if it would hold to scrutiny from the “pros” like you and lance 🙂

      • hahaha! I love how you wrap that story up: “I never sold a damned thing”. Werd. Been there. At least you tried hard to validate beforehand — silver lining, right? 😉

      • “I never sold a damned thing” will be the title of my memoirs

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