Copywriting

The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever)

Because only rookies write from scratch…

We’ve pulled together every single copywriting formula we’ve ever seen to create the ultimate guide – the most complete handbook – to copywriting formulas.

This one post will help you write all your copy faster and with greater likelihood of success.

You should be using copywriting formulas whenever you write anything.

They eliminate the guesswork that makes a lot of bad copy bad copy.

They will help you face the Blank White Page without cowering. They’ll help you generate A/B test ideas faster. They’ll help you pinpoint what’s going wrong in a button… in a headline… or even in a video script.

First and Fast: How Do Copywriting Formulas Make Copy So Much Better?

You start with a formula for what you’re trying to write:

  • A web page in general
  • A long-form sales page
  • A video sales letter (VSL)
  • An email
  • An ad
  • A tweet
  • A blog post

That starting-point formula will help you organize your messages for most persuasive impact.

Once you’ve got your messages organized, you start working through the elements on the page, VSL, email or blog post you’re writing. You use formulas to write a better:

  • Headline for a page OR a post (they’re different!!)
  • Value proposition
  • Testimonial
  • Bullet list
  • Block of body copy
  • CTA or button copy
  • Subject line (for emails)

You’re 90% of the way to complete when you have these pieces sorted.

From there, it’s a matter of optimizing your copy by applying persuasion principles like these, using the proven better copywriting practices found throughout this blog, and adding in a few of the fancy-pants copywriting techniques I share in my copywriting courses.

We’ve also added, for your writing pleasure: generators! If only because they’re entertaining.

NOTE: Copywriting formulas work best when you use them with copy research.

Copywriting formulas for web pages in general

Most copywriting courses are based around one or a few formulas. So here are the Coles Notes versions of those classes, starting with the legendary…

AIDA

Attention – Jar the reader out of their boring ol’ lives

Interest – Engage their mind with unusual, counter-intuitive or fresh info

Desire – Engage their heart so they want what you’re offering

Action – Ask them to take the next step

Think about one of your lead-gen pages or an opt-in box. Moz does this well:

Moz copywriting formula at work

A lot of businesses address the A, I and A in AIDA… but forget entirely about the D. Take this landing page hero as an example:

No desire in AIDA

Where’s the D?

It takes patience and confidence to spend a little time building up the D. Apple has more than enough confidence to work on the D. Actually, check out how well Apple uses the first three steps – AID – and totally delays the final A:

Apple copywriting formulas in use

All down the page, the visitor gets dose after dose of AID, which builds incredible anticipation for that “buy” button. …And you thought Apple was just about design! Clearly, you don’t sell f***loads of beautiful product without being incredibly good salespeople.

See more examples of how to use AIDA here and here, and learn about its origin (if you’re particularly geeky) here.

AIDCA and IDCA

A variation on AIDA, AIDCA goes like so:

Attention

Interest

Desire

Conviction

Action

You can see that AIDCA simply adds in a pre-close moment of “conviction.”

Conviction is intended to help skeptical audiences get over their skepticism. As Andy Maslen puts it in this book, convince prospects that it’s safe to act because what you’re saying is true. Do this using:

  • Testimonials
  • Endorsements
  • Statistics, data points or figures
  • Demoes
  • Guarantees

To get IDCA, you just drop Attention from the start. Why would you wanna do that? Because sometimes you’ve already got their attention – so you don’t need to start again. You just need to hold their attention, and you can do this by piquing their interest.

So when might you use IDCA over AIDCA?

When you’re driving from an email or an ad, where you’ve already grabbed the prospect’s attention. The landing page may not need to grab attention again. So sweep straight into interest, like Lawrence Bernstein does:

Copywriting formula used by Bernstein

Danny Iny’s 6+1 Formula

Described in detail here on Smashing Magazine, Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing also offers a spin on the AIDA model. His isn’t in acronym form, which I kinda dig because I’m very skeptical of acronyms – they’re just too convenient.

Here’s how Iny’s six-step formula goes:

  1. Consider the context
  2. Grab attention
  3. Move the reader swiftly to desire a solution to their problem
  4. Present the consequence of failing to act, which Iny calls “the gap
  5. Present the solution, telling only as much as is necessary to get to the next step
  6. Call the prospect to act

The +1? It’s to be credible throughout and always.

What I particularly like about the formula – aside from context and credibility (which are generally unspoken must-dos) – is the gap.

PAS

Dan Kennedy called PAS the most reliable sales formula ever invented. Popularly used in everything from tweets to long-form sales pages, PAS goes like so:

Problem – Present the problem your prospect feels

Agitation – Poke at that problem until it’s visceral

Solution – Present your solution to the agitated problem

Here’s PAS at work on a Ramit Sethi page:

Ramit Sethi PAS copywriting formula

Sean Mitchell offers this variation on PAS:

Problem

Agitation

Discredit – Discredit other solutions

Solution

And, for the same reason Bic made these pens, I assume, Lisa Manyan offers PAS “for women”, which she calls CSI:

Challenge (the problem)

Solution (the solution)

Invitation (the CTA)

The only reason I’m including that “for women” formula – when it offends every part of me – as if problems aren’t things women solve a hundred times a day – is because I set out to document every copywriting formula I came across. So voila.

4 Ps (2 variations)

Okay, so there are two takes on the 4 Ps.

Here’s the first. Credited to Henry Hoke Sr., it is based largely on the idea of a promise:

Picture – Create a vivid scene prospects can easily put themselves in, whether about an existing pain or an aspirational future

Promise – State how your solution will end that painful scene or bring that aspirational scene to life for them

Prove – Support your promise! What are the consequences if you fail to do as promised? Who else has already seen you keep your promise, and how? What can you demonstrate to skeptics that your solution is easily going to ensure the promise is kept?

Push – Nudge the prospect to take action

And here’s the second, which I prefer. Ray Edwards describes it in his free course:

Problem

Promise

Proof

Proposal

As you can see, it’s very similar to the first variation of the 4 Ps. But Edwards replaces “picture” with “problem”, which I personally think is better if you’re using the 4 Ps copywriting formula to write a home page or lead-gen page, where painting a picture for your visitor may actually come off as slightly scammy.

I also prefer Edwards’s “proposal” to “push” because the word “push” is rather aggressive. We should be assertive with our CTAs. I haven’t seen cause to be aggressive or push people to act.

Here’s the 4 Ps at work on a landing page for Winter Garden Yoga:

Yoga studio using copywriting formulas

ACCA

Pitch Perfect luvvers in the crowd might call this one ACCA-awesome. Or, more likely, non-profits and people trying to rouse the hearts of a disconnected crowd will find this copywriting formula quite useful.  

Raise awareness about a problem

Increase comprehension of the problem by explaining it

Create the conviction to do something about the problem in your prospect

Call them to action

You’ll recognize this formula in many SPCA, World Vision and similar marketing efforts.

AAPPA (or PAPA)

The part I really dig about this formula, which is credited to Victor O. Schwab, is its focus on proof. So often formulas leave proof implied, and that’s dangerous. Here’s how this one goes:

Grab the prospect’s attention.

Show them the advantage(s) of using your solution.

Prove what you’ve just said.

Persuade.

Move them to action.

That said, I find this formula challenging in two ways.

One, the advantages come too soon because – as far as this formula tells us – the problem hasn’t really been stated yet, has it? So advantages of what? It’s not clear. The only thing that came before “advantages” was “attention”, so does this formula require you to draw attention by stating the problem in order for you to solve it next and, in the same breath, show the advantages? If so, then why not call it PAPPA: problem, advantages, prove, persuade, action.

Second, I don’t dig the “persuade” point. The proof is, in so many ways, persuasion. That does not mean that persuasion is always proof; just that proof is – if it’s doing its job – persuasive. So what kind of persuasion was Schwab looking for in the fourth part of this formula? Loss aversion? Future pacing? It seems strange and superfluous to include “persuade.”

Which brings us to the formula I’d propose to replace this one: PAPA:

Problem

Advantages of solving the problem

Proof that you can solve it

Action

Drip’s really wonderful long-form home page is a great example of PAPA at work:

Get Drip copywriting

QUEST

I love a good “ideal for” statement, so I love that QUEST starts by qualifying the prospect:

Qualify the prospect

Understand where they’re at (show them this understanding)

Educate them on a better way

Stimulate them so they want that better way

Transition them from where they are to your customer

Here’s an old-school ad by the legendary Gene Schwartz that illustrates QUEST at work:

QUEST formula for writing copy

SLAP

If you’ve got something relatively inexpensive to sell, SLAP can come in handy when you’re laying out your messages, likely on a shorter page:

Stop the prospect

Make them look (i.e., read)

Make them act

Get the purchase

Let’s put aside the fact that, if you’re going for the sale, that is the action, so “act” and “purchase” don’t need to be separate. Aside from that, SLAP works well for offers like Groupon deals:

groupon copywriting

AIDPPC

Yet another take on AIDA, this time by the legendary Robert Collier. Great for sales letters but useful anywhere you’re trying to sell and you need a trusted sales sequence in place to work off of. It goes:

Attention

Interest

Description

Persuasion

Proof

Close

The first two parts of this copywriting formula are exactly like AIDA’s first two points. But desire is unpacked (helpfully!) into three core elements:

  1. Descriptions, likely of the solution but also of the problem, the status quo, the challenges of not switching – anything that fleshes out the story
  2. Persuasive elements, like loss aversion, testimonials, future pacing
  3. Proof (e.g., demos, testimonials, endorsements) that the solution can do what it claims to, and can do it like no other

So if you’ve struggled with the “desire” part of AIDA, try AIDPPC instead.

5-Point Copywriting Formula

A really simple formula, this one’s good for lead-gen and landing pages. You could also get away with using it to guide a one-pager site. It’s attributed to Jack Lacy.

  1. What will you do for me if I listen to your story?
  2. How are you going to do this?
  3. Who is responsible for the promises you make?
  4. Who have you done this for?
  5. What will it cost me?

AICPBSAWN

As an acronym, this is completely ridiculous. Makes me chuckle. When someone throws down AIDA in a copy review session, counter them with, “Well Aicpbsawn holds that desire is made of…” and see what happens. Quick way to shut down Mr. AIDA.

Here’s how this mouthful (explained well by Buffer) works, from top of page to bottom:

Attention – Biggest benefit, biggest problem you can solve, USP

Interest – Reason why they should be interested in what you have to say

Credibility – Reason why they should believe you

Proof – Prove what you are claiming is true

Benefits – List them all

Scarcity – Create scarcity

Action – Tell them precisely what to do

Warn – What will happen if they don’t take action

Now – Motivate them to take action now

You might think this could only work for a really long page. But here’s how quickly you might use this formula up on a typical home page:

Hero section:

Attention: Headline

Interest: Subhead and paragraph or bullets

Credibility: Testimonial and row of client logos

Screenshot block A:

Proof: Crosshead, paragraph, captioned screenshot

Benefits.

Screenshot block B:

Proof: Crosshead, paragraph, captioned screenshot

Benefits.

Screenshot block C:

Proof: Crosshead, paragraph, captioned screenshot

Benefits.

Close:

Scarcity: Limited beta, etc.

Action: CTA or button

Warn: Single click-trigger below CTA

Now: Short testimonial from person who’s glad they acted fast

That’s not a very long page at all.

But you’d cover off all of the key parts of this useful formula.

Importantly: you’re not asking for the user to sign up, buy or start a trial until the end. I know this is very, very hard for most of us to do. Hero sections simply have buttons. But should they? Are your prospects ready yet? If you’re finding that you get a lot of unqualified folks starting trials – that is, users that fail to activate or that churn out after 1 sign-in – then that prematurely placed button could be to blame. Consider removing the CTA from the hero and writing the page with a traditional copywriting formula in mind instead.

Copywriting formulas specifically for long-form sales pages

You just read about AICPBSAWN, which is great for landing pages and long-form sales pages. Many of the formulas in the preceding section can and should be used for all sorts of pages.

The formulas in this section are best suited to landing pages – like lead-gen or opt-in pages – and long-form sales pages. That is, they may not be appropriate for home pages.

Bob Serling’s Power Copywriting Formula

Let’s start with the biggie! I found this one here and was blown away by the level of detail. It’s a mere 36 steps long.

Start with these 4 prereqs:

  1. Quality product
  2. Customer profile
  3. Credibility
  4. Offer

From there, follow these 32 steps one by one:

  1. Conduct exhaustive research.
  2. Rest to let your ideas percolate.
  3. Create a comprehensive list of features, facts and figures.
  4. List every benefit.
  5. Create an irresistible offer.
  6. Create a great guarantee (i.e., don’t be ho-hum about this critical risk-reducer!).
  7. Write an attention-grabbing headline.
  8. Draw attention to key points using color.
  9. Limit the number of graphics.
  10. Hook the reader with a no-holds-barred opener that starts delivering on the headline.
  11. Eliminate early objections.
  12. Create enticing crossheads throughout the piece.
  13. Make your prospect feel their pain deeply.
  14. Eliminate their pain.
  15. Establish your credibility.
  16. Lock in that credibility with “an insider benefit.”
  17. Provide unquestionable proof that your solution delivers.
  18. Break your copy into readable chunks.
  19. List the benefits of using your product.
  20. Summarize the key benefits.
  21. List the features of your product.
  22. Go above-and-beyond with the package you’re offering.
  23. State the price.
  24. Call to action.
  25. Add a piggy-back offer to boost average order value.
  26. Minimize risk.
  27. Close by summarizing the major benefits.
  28. Add a PS.
  29. Make it easy to buy.
  30. Eliminate all distracting links.
  31. Let the copy rest.
  32. Revise for maximum impact.

Star Story Solution

A hugely popular copywriting formula, Star Story Solution is character-focused and short. So it’s most obviously applicable on lead-gen pages, especially for personality brands and info products.

Introduce the star of the story

Tell the star’s story

Present the solution that helped the star achieve big things

A classic example is the late Martin Conroy’s WSJ letter, where the two men are the stars, their stories (which are nearly identical) make up the core of the ad, and the solution is clearly presented at the end:

WSJ letter formula

Although this is character-driven, it doesn’t mean that Star Story Solution needs a human to be the star of the story. If you’re introducing a new product or feature, that could be the star – as long as its story creates interest.

Early Apple ads demonstrate this formula at work. Read this one:

Apple copywriting in ad

The star is your child. (Well, the star is really you. Ultimately, the star is always you.)

The story is quickly told: nerdy kids have to fight nerdy kids to get some Apple time at school.

And the solution takes a good long while to be explained – but it is, of course, a new Apple computer.

The Seven-Step Copywriting Formula

Bob Stone offers up this formula, which is created specifically for sales pages:

Step 1: Make a promise based on your most important benefit.
This should happen in your headline or first paragraph.

Step 2: Immediately expand upon that benefit.
Don’t waste time and attention on backstory and warm-up copy. Keep the momentum of your hook alive.

Step 3: Tell the reader exactly what they’ll get.
I like to break this into 2 groups of “what they’ll get”: the tangibles and the intangibles. The tangibles are the components of the product itself (e.g., 37 downloadable HD videos), and the intangibles are the changes to their life (e.g., the time-saving power of knowing a proven system).

Step 4: Support Step 3 with proof.
Proof includes testimonials, endorsements, case studies and demonstrations.

Step 5: Tell the reader what they’ll lose if they fail to act.
Agitate the unpleasantness of their current situation, and help them see their miserable future if they choose to ignore this offer.

Step 6: Prepare for the close by rephrasing your prominent benefits.
Get prospects itching for the button to click by reminding them of the top benefits.

Step 7: Incite immediate action.
Self-explanatory.

To me, Stone’s formula is missing a lot between Step 2 and Step 3 – where we’d normally want to build up to the solution – so I prefer it more for lead gen pages.

The Nine-Point Copywriting Formula

Also for sales pages, this formula is courtesy of Frank Egner. Use it like so:

  1. Grab attention with a headline.
  2. Follow with a lede that inspires.
  3. Clearly define the product.
  4. Give a success story or case study for the product.
  5. Add testimonials and endorsements.
  6. List special features or value-adds.
  7. State your value proposition.
  8. Move the prospect to action with specifics and urgency.
  9. Finish with a postscript.

12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Template

I trust Marketing Profs, so I’m a fan of this sales letter formula, which David Frey described on the Marketing Profs blog. Frey explains that this template is intended to overcome objections methodically. But you be the judge:

  1. Get attention
  2. Identify the problem
  3. Provide the solution
  4. Present your credentials
  5. Show the benefits
  6. Give social proof
  7. Make your offer
  8. Inject scarcity
  9. Give a guarantee
  10. Call to action
  11. Give a warning
  12. Close with a reminder

Perry Belcher’s 21 Part Sales Letter Formula

If there’s a name that’s synonymous with contemporary direct response, it’s Perry Belcher. Yeah, the guy behind the Belcher Button, which you’ve surely seen on many a sales page:

Belcher button copywriting

This sales letter formula leaves nothing to the imagination. If you’re seriously uninspired and you wish you could afford to hire someone to write your page for you, use this and send Mr. Belcher a thank-you note later. (Courtesy of the Copy Ranger)

  1. Call out to your audience (e.g., actually say whom it’s best for)
  2. Get their attention, likely with a big promise headline
  3. Backup the big promise headline with a quick explanation
  4. Identify the core or most painful problem they’re experiencing
  5. Provide the solution to said problem
  6. Show pain of and cost of development of solution
  7. Explain ease-of-use
  8. Show speed to achieve results
  9. Future pace (i.e., help the prospect visualize their vastly improved future)
  10. Show your credentials
  11. Detail the benefits of the solution (emphasis on detail)
  12. Insert social proof
  13. Make your offer (which need not be a special offer – just an irresistible one)
  14. Add your bonuses
  15. Build up and amplify the value of the solution + bonuses
  16. Finally reveal your price
  17. Inject scarcity (if any)
  18. Reduce risk with a guarantee
  19. Call to action
  20. Give a warning
  21. Close with a reminder

Importantly, out of 21 steps, the call to action is #19. This is a very big deal. I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but you should not be in a rush to supply a CTA. Yes, people will click CTAs that appear early – but are they ready for it? Wait until they’re ready. Just. Wait.

Need more examples?
Check out this post by Julie Boswell

HELLYEAH

Brian McLeod uses HELLYEAH like so, as described here:

Holler and get their attention

Empathize with their pains (usually by sharing yours)

Lambast the things that led to the problem in the first place

Legwork – prove you’re not full of it

Yes, you have the solution for them

Educate them on why your solution is best

Action – give them a clear action to take

Handle lingering doubts or objections

If you’re like me, you may be rolling your eyes right now. I don’t blame you. Not at all. But, awkwardness of the acronym aside, this formula can work on pages where a more aggressive style is best. That usually means a long-form sales page.

PASTOR

I only recently heard of Ray Edwards, so I haven’t tried his PASTOR formula or seen it before. But he makes a good case for using it, so here you go.

  1. Person, problem, pain.
  2. Amplify the consequences of not solving the problem and eliminating the pain.
  3. Story, solution, system.
  4. Testimonials.
  5. Offer. (He adds to spend 80% of your offer talking about transformation. Good tip.)
  6. Response.

(BTW, “response” means “call to action.” Which is yet another example of why I loathe acronyms.)

Copywriting formulas for video sales letters

A video sales letter (or VSL) is more than a sales letter on video. Video is a different medium, so use the formulas designed for that medium. And research top tips, like autoplaying, removing video controls and using longer VSLs, not short ones.

Because examples help, here’s an evergreen VSL by Ryan Deiss. He also sells his formula in that video, so if these free formulas don’t work for you, scoop Deiss’s formula up for $47.

The Jim Edwards VSL Method

This is explained in detail here, with examples. I’m giving you the gist below:

  1. Open with a shocking statement.
  2. State the problem and why it’s a big deal.
  3. Agitate the problem.
  4. Push the agitation even further, taking it to a deep emotional level.
  5. Introduce the solution.
  6. Highlight your credibility so people know why they should listen to you.
  7. Prove that what you’re saying is true.
  8. List out the biggest things they’ll get, including features and benefits.
  9. Specific reasons not to procrastinate but rather to act now.
  10. Close by asking for the purchase and reinforcing benefits.

Common Video Sales Letter Template

Courtesy of Copy Ranger, this VSL formula features 3 calls to action, which is interesting because it’s rather aggressive (but potentially necessary):

  1. The “Attention Grabbing Greeting”
  2. Identify the problem and promise to solve it
  3. Establish scarcity
  4. Agitate the problem
  5. Provide your solution as THE solution
  6. Present the features and benefits of the solution
  7. Your first call to action, this one based in satisfying a desire
  8. List off your credentials, including proof, results, examples, testimonials
  9. Explain your guarantee
  10. Your second call to action, this one appealing to their logic
  11. Warn of FOMO with the looming deadline and scarcity
  12. Your final call to action, this one based on FOMO

Headline writing formulas

Truth: I never write a headline without consulting a swipe file of headlines. These formulas are based on the swipe files of hundreds of copywriters.

You already know how important headlines are. I’m not gonna quote Ogilvy or point to the dozens of copywriting books that hold that you should spend the majority of your time writing your headline. I will, however, tell you this: every “subhead” and crosshead down your page needs the same amount of attention your primary headline gets.

So:

  1. Read this post on the steps to crafting a better headline, and
  2. Consult the following formulas not just once on a page but every time you write a line of copy that acts like a headline (including summary headers and crossheads).

{Product Name} is a {product category} that {different thing it does best}

This one is commonly used by TechCrunch. Nice and clear.

Fitness app:
Tep is an adorable fitness tracking app that works like a tamagotchi.

Writing software:
Airstory is writing software that lets you send great ideas straight to your document.

They All {Did Unpleasant Thing} When {Unexpected Thing}, But When {Ideal Result of Using Unexpected Thing}!

Selling stationery:
“They all looked at each other when I said I’d host the shower,
but when they saw the invitations!”

Selling art school:
“My dad didn’t say a word when I told him I was going to art school.
But when he walked into my gallery!”

Starting your own business:
“Everybody scoffed when I applied for a patent,
but when I made my first $100K!”

Who Else Wants {Most Desirable Outcome or Benefit}?

Fitness:
Who else wants to look great naked?

Real estate:
Who else wants that classic neighborhood experience?

Invoicing software:
Who else wants to know when their client has viewed their invoice?

The Only {SEO Keyword Phrase} Made Exclusively to {Most Desirable Outcome or Benefit}

Ski vacation:
The only ski vacation designed exclusively to turn beginners into pros

Project management software:
The only task management software made exclusively for remote workers.

Invoicing software:
The only invoicing software made to do your billing for you.

The only {product category} that doesn’t {objection or anxiety}.

Accounting software:
The only accounting software that doesn’t come loaded with a hundred pointless features.

Accounting software:
The only accounting software that doesn’t require an accountant to work it.

Now You Can {Do Something Desirable} {Counter to Expectations}

Email marketing software:
Now you can sell to your list without “annoying” them

Family coaching services:
What if you could raise a family without giving up your career?

Now You Can {Do Something Desirable} {Great Circumstance}

Email marketing software:
Now you can sell to your list and keep them coming back for more

Family coaching services:
What if you could raise a family and earn six figures a year?

We Promise You This: {Highly Desirable Result} Or {Consequence}

Gym membership:
We promise you this: lose 30 pounds or we’ll pay for a month at a different gym

Literary agency:
We promise you this: if we can’t get you a publishing contract within 6 months, we’ll find you new representation.

Here’s the {Best Adjective} Way to {Solve a Problem}

House cleaning service:
Here’s the affordable way to treat yourself to more free time

House cleaning service:
Here’s the eco-friendly way to get your home squeaky-clean

{Eliminate pain in an unexpected way}

Tax preparation:
File your taxes while sitting on your hands.

Teeth whitening:
Get rid of coffee stains with your phone.

{Do desirable thing in an unexpected way}.

Team chat:
Complete more projects – faster than ever – by chatting online.

Breakfast networking events:
Impress your boss by showing up for work late.

{Notable person} shows you how to {do notable thing like they do}

Caregiver’s course:
England’s best-known butler explains the art of perfect invisibility

Writing course:
James Patterson show you how to write bestsellers like he does

{Service name} is a {service category} that {amazing outcome for end users or decision-makers} without {objection or anxiety}

Dental service:
Pearlman Ortho is a teeth-straightening studio that gives kids confident smiles. Without fear of being “metal mouth.”

Online cabinet warehouse:
Harbor City Kitchens is a cabinet warehouse with 1000s of options – and no pressure.

You’re tired of {objection or anxiety}. But you {desired outcome}. So it’s time you met {Product name}.

Specialized pillows:
You’re tired of groggy sleeping pills. But you need a good night’s sleep.
So it’s time you met Cool Comfort body heat regulating pillows.

Unknown-brand headphones:
You’re tired of overpaying for brand names. But you want a sick audio experience.
So it’s time you met Pakmo Headphones.

Alternative birth control:
You’re tired of remembering to take The Pill. But you aren’t ready to get pregnant.
So it’s time you met the Nuvo Ring.

{Do something} like {world-class example}

Conversion course:
Run A/B tests like Peep Laja does.

Content course:
Promote incredible content like Brian Dean does.

Endorsed skincare:
Moisturize your face like Katy Perry does.

Are You Still Wasting Money on ______________ (Without Anything to Show for It?)

Free shipping app:
Are you still wasting money on shipping charges (without anything to show for it)?

At-home exercise machine:
Are you still wasting money on a gym membership (without anything to show for it)?

Legal doc software:
Are you still wasting money on a lawyer (without anything to show for it)?

Have a / Build a {Desirable Thing} You Can Be Proud Of

Counselling services:
Have a lasting, loving marriage you can be proud of

Business services:
Build a seven-figure business you can be proud of

Cosmetics:
Get long, natural-looking lashes you can be proud of

Get the {Unusual Adjective} Power of {Product Category} Without {Pain}

Crazy Egg software:
Get the astonishing power of eye tracking technology… without the high costs

Online marketing service:
Get the unfathomable power of Facebook advertising… without the confusion

Get Rid of {Problem} Once and For All

Accounting software:
Get rid of your accountant’s fees once and for all

Personal coaching:
Get rid of that nagging voice in your head once and for all

Cosmetic surgery:
Get rid of your sagging jowls once and for all

{Do Something Hard} in {Period of Time}

Piano-tuning app:
Tune Even the Oldest Piano in 15 Minutes or Less

Running training:
Finish a marathon in the time it takes most people to run a half-marathon

9 Out of 10 {Group Members} Can’t/Don’t ____________. Are You One of Them?

Software for writers:
9 out of 10 novelists can’t remember the birthdays of their main characters. Are you one of them?

Freelancer-matching service:
9 out of 10 marketers don’t like their freelancer’s attitude. Are you one of them?

Make Your First {$} in Just {Time}

List-your-services marketplace:
Make your first $100 in just 24 hours

Real estate flipping:
What if you could make your first million dollars in the next 12 months?

How to Permanently Stop {Painful or Embarrassing Thing}, Even if You’ve Tried Everything!

Botox injections for sweat:
How to permanently stop wet armpits from ruining your day. Even if you’ve tried everything!

How-to-negotiate course:
Permanently stop feeling underpaid and underappreciated, even if you’ve tried everything!

{Known Competitor} {Does This Undesirable or Unimpressive Thing}. {Your Brand Name} {Does This Highly Desirable or Impressive Thing}.

Writing software:
Scrivener requires expensive training courses just to use it.
Airstory is easy to use from the moment you sign up.

Online payments:
PayPal charges as much as 10% every time you send any amount of money.
But with NewPay, send an unlimited number of payments for 1 flat fee.

Can your {current solution} pass the _______ Test?

Writing software:
Can your writing software pass the Nanowrimo Test?

Dating app:
Can your dating app pass the Kid Sister Test?

You are {comparative} than you think

Bank:
You’re richer than you think

Brain-training game:
You are twice as smart as you think

Let {your product} work on your {noun} for just {time period}

Workout machine:
Let the Ab Booster work on your abs for just two weeks

IT service:
Let our technicians work on your network for just 48 hours

Investment book:
Let our ideas work on your brain for just 20 minutes

Overcome the {Unexpected Culprit} That Keeps You {Unpleasant Thing}

Weight-loss book:
Overcome the body chemical that keeps you fat

Debt counselling:
Overcome the social pressures that keep your credit cards maxed

Is it worth {low price} to you to {get outstanding result}?

Weight-loss book:
Is it worth $2 to you to banish cellulite forever?

Social media software:
Is it worth typing in your email address to get instant access to a Facebook post scheduler?

{One word.}

Advanced micro technology:
Tiny.

Anti-aging cream:
Young.

{Objection.} But/And it works.

Low-budget training video:
Ugly. And it works.

Teeth-straightening appliance:
Expensive. But it works.

Find more about all these headline formulas on Copyblogger, on Unbounce, here, here and here.

Headline formulas for use on lead-gen pages, for marketing ebooks or for blog posts

These are based on my favorite headlines in the history of headlines. See them at play in old-school ads, on sites like Upworthy and in posts like this one by Crazy Egg.

The Ultimate Guide to {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}

What Everybody Ought to Know About {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}

X Lessons I Learned from {Person or Unusual Experience}

To the {role} who will settle for nothing less than {world-class outcome}

Break all the rules and {world-class outcome}

How Your {Service Provider} Is Ripping You Off.
And What to Do About It Right Now.

I Found a {Adjective} Way to {Get Incredible Outcome}

See why we have an {adverb} {adjective} {social problem} in just {short time}.

{Influencer or celebrity} {emotional reaction} {to thing that basically the whole world already understood}

Is this the world’s first  {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}?

How to Survive Your First  {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}

How I found out that {unexpected thing} is the best medicine

Let me show you the secrets of {powerful group}

What {Group or Celebrity} Can Teach You About {Unexpected Thing}

People Regularly Pay Me {$} for This Information.
But You Can Have It FREE.

{David-type addresses Goliath-type.} {Result.}

How to Make {$} With Your ________________, Step-by-Step

The complete library of {large #} free and low-cost {desirable resources}

Behind the Scenes of a _____________

{Person does X.} {Another person’s reaction.} Result: priceless.

Is {Trending Topic} a Scam? Find Out If You’re Putting Your {Resource} at Risk

Here Is a Method/System That’s Helping {Blank} to {Blank}

Little Known Ways to {Blank}

The secret ways the {people from a foreign country} {get desirable result}

X Little Known Factors That Could Affect Your {Thing in Which Reader Has a Vested Interest}

Why haven’t {people like your readers} been told these facts?

The Secret of {Desirable Thing}

{#} of {group} are right/wrong/confused about {X}

Is it immoral to {get desirable outcome}?

Recently Downsized/Fired {Profession} Reveals the Dirty Little Secrets to {Outcome}

Do you have the courage to {do something very desirable}?

This {bad thing} just happened. {Outcome or media} is {adjective}.

How to {get incredible result} and {do unexpected thing as a result}.

{Bully does X.} {Bullied reacts with Y.}

I Stopped {Doing Common Thing} Today. You Should Too. Here’s Why.

Who doesn’t like {somewhat accepted taboo}? {Unexpected answer with tease about why.}

I spent {time} {working toward goal}. I just {quitting statement}. Here’s why.

I don’t regret {X}. But here’s what I’d do differently.

Would you {do unimaginable thing}? I just did.

Formulas for writing value propositions

First, read this book (paperback recommended). The whole thing. Because value props aren’t easy. Landing on your value proposition is kinduvabigdeal. So don’t take your job of identifying or phrasing your value prop lightly.

Here are some fab formulas for expressing your value prop.

Note that the examples for each value proposition formula are all for the same solution – Airstory – so you can see how each formula explains, shapes and highlights in its own way.

For {target} who {statement of the need or opportunity}, {Name} is {product category} that {statement of benefit}.

For content teams with aggressive publishing schedules and high standards, Airstory is the content creation software that helps teams build on each other’s ideas to produce incredible articles, blog posts and ebooks.

VAD: Verb, Application, Differentiator

Drop research directly into blog posts and articles.

We do X, but the difference is {primary differentiator}.

We help content creators write together, but the difference is that creators can also pull from and add to a library of bite-sized research.

The {adjective} way for _____ to _____, {benefit/outcome}.

The no-brainer way for writers to turn ideas into blog posts, articles and ebooks – for better content marketing.

{Proven industry example} for/of {new domain}.

Evernote meets Google Docs, for writers.

“We help X do Y doing Z”.

We help teams write better and faster by dragging and dropping research into documents.

We’re the ones that {primary differentiator}.

We’re the ones that let teams create faster by dragging and dropping ideas into blog posts.

{Superlative} {category} {qualifiers}

The smartest writing software for content teams.

Customer-Problem-Solution

Content teams at growth-focused businesses have aggressive editorial calendars but no clean, effective way to turn their team’s knowledge into publishable content. Airstory lets teams pool their research and drop great ideas directly into their documents.

What. How. Why.

Airstory is a collaborative writing platform that helps teams turn ideas into blog posts, ebooks and articles faster. So you can publish and promote like crazy.

Enormous problem. Solution. Core differentiator. Credibility.

Content marketing is the fastest-growing opportunity for businesses, but content creators can’t churn out great content like factories. We offer a collaborative writing platform – called Airstory – that houses a team’s ideas and research alongside their documents, so they can simply search their research library, find ideas, drop them into a document, and publish. Created by a blogger, content strategist and novelist.  

Tons more info and examples in this great post.

Copywriting formulas for bullet lists (or fascinations)

You know what a bullet list is… but did you know that copywriters (especially in direct response) call bullets “fascinations”? True story. Where a bullet really just states a benefit or feature, a fascination is written to be so compelling (and curiosity-piquing) that desire is magnified. We talk about this in our courses, and you can learn more here

BGNGo Bullets

The order of your bullets in this case would go like so:

  • Best
  • Good
  • Necessary
  • Good, with Outcome

Any copywriter worth more than a dollar an hour knows to bookend your bullet list with the two most compelling bullets.

7 Deadly Fascinations

My fave! You may have heard me talk about this – I totally dig it as a formula for bullet lists. So here’s how your bullet list would go:

  • Lust (get what you desire / be what they desire)
  • Slothfulness (this will help you be lazy / do less work)
  • Envy (rise about your particular Joneses)
  • Pride (be amazing)
  • Wrath (be angry)
  • Gluttony (get everything!)
  • Greed (the ultimate me-focused bullet – it can all be yours!)

To use this bullet formula, you take all of your boring old bullets, and you rephrase each to tap into one of the 7 deadly sins. It doesn’t need to happen in the order shown here, but I personally find that wrath is rather hard to write, so I hide that one in the middle.

The Headline-as-Bullet List

Instead of the jumble of unique benefits here, statistics there, page numbers or points where you can find X fascination here, unexpected insight there, etc etc, let’s just use a nice formula, shall we? Draw from this list of headlines turned bullets as you see fit for your offering (ideal for sales pages, especially for training materials):

  • Discover the {high-value} secrets of {powerful group}
  • What {group} taught me about {unexpected thing}
  • How your X is ripping you off – and exactly what to do about it (page #)
  • The #1 lesson I learned from {unusual experience}
  • How to learn {technical thing} before {technical expert}
  • How to survive your first __________ (page #)
  • How a {role} showed me {unexpected insight}
  • Why you need to break all the rules to get {world-class outcome}
  • Possibly the world’s first __________
  • Why some {role} are given favored status in {seemingly neutral place} – this little-known information could {incredible impact for reader}
  • The unexpected X that may just be the best medicine for Y
  • # steps to make $ with your __________ (page #, with a bonus on page #)
  • A {adjective} method that’s helping __________ to __________
  • The secret ways {people from a foreign country} {get desirable result}

A single solitary formula for body copy

To be fair, almost every formula for laying out a page can be applied to a block of body copy. So this isn’t the only formula for body copy. But it’s pretty perfect for it, so here you go…

FAB

This copywriting formula is particularly good for deeper-level sections of text, where it often makes sense to lead with the feature because the prospect may be in a higher stage of awareness (e.g., she’s got a checklist of must-have features):

Feature – State or intro the feature

Advantages – Describe its advantages

Benefits – Describe its benefits

Start with the feature. Then say what it does better – better than the product you’re switching from, better than the past version, or whatever floats your boat. Then tell people what’s in it for them.

Here’s how it plays out on Groove’s “Ticketing” page:

Groove copywriting

As Buffer points out, Joe Vitale explained FAB quite simply like this:

You get this… and the product does this… so you get this….

Copywriting formulas for better buttons (or calls to action / CTAs)

Yay for working on your CTAs! Buttons are the site of conversion online – you can’t convert without clicking at least one button. So don’t treat a button like microcopy. Use these formulas to write – and test – better button copy.

The I Want Button

This CTA formula is all about filling in the blank. There are 2 blanks to choose from:

I want to ____________

or

I want you to ___________

Let’s say you’re writing a button for a car website. You might complete those phrases, “I want to get a new car” and “I want you to show me the newest cars.” So the button copy would go like so, respectively:

Get a new car

or

Show me the newest cars

See the difference? And, yes, to be clear, in the second option, you do keep the first-person “me” in the button. That’s actually what makes it so powerful.

“Get _________”

Want a magic word? Here you go: “get.”

People like to get things. There’s very little work or friction associated with getting (depending, of course, on what follows “get”). It generally suggests good things to come. So start your button with the word “get.” And make sure the phrase that follows matches your prospect’s desire and expectations.

RAD

Lance first wrote about this fab CTA formula a few years ago. It stands for:

Require

Acquire

Desire

When using this formula, you want to ask yourself if the visitor has the info s/he requires before clicking the button. This is huuuuge for conversion copywriting: don’t put a button prematurely on a page. First give people the info they require… then make the button / target easy to acquire (which is UX-speak for click)… and then ensure your visitor desires what the button promises.

CPSC

This post describes 4 call-to-action considerations. They refer to copy as “text”, so I’ve swapped that out, turning their TPSC into a Copy Hackers-friendly CPSC:

Is the copy clear?

Is the button placed well?

Is the button an easy and helpful size, not too big or too small?

Does the button color make it stand out on the page?

Like RAD above, CPSC helps you identify potential problems with your CTA, beyond the copy on the button.

Hook, Line and Sinker

This CTA formula is courtesy of Wordstream. It’s great for ad copy but also text links and buttons. Here’s how to use it:

Command verb + offer + urgency

For example: “Download our whitepaper today!”

Elements-of-the-Offer Formula

Admittedly, this formula is for closing – like on a sales page – rather than just for button copy. But buttons are merely parts of calls to action, so I think this belongs here.

  1. Here’s What You’re Gonna Get
  2. Establish the Value
  3. Offer a (Conditional) Bonus
  4. Price
  5. Trivialize Price
  6. Guarantee
  7. Risk Reversal
  8. Scarcity

You can read more about this one here

Testimonial formulas

If you think just getting the testimonial is enough:

via GIPHY

You need your testimonials to be believable, to be credible and to be worth your prospect’s time. The testimonial isn’t for your benefit; it’s for your prospect’s. So use these formulas to revise your testimonials (and make sure you get sign-off from your clients).

The Before-After-Experience Testimonial

I read about this one on Psychotactics about a billion years ago and have been using it since. It’s great. Here’s how it goes:

Start with Before. What hesitations did they feel pre-purchase?

Then explain After. What did the client discover after going for it?

Then speak to the Experience. What did they feel?

So a testimonial that follows this formula tells a story, and story is good. Here’s one I received:

Testimonial formula

TEASE

This testimonial formula strives to keep things short. Short testimonials are great to pepper among the lengthier ones. But be careful: all of your testimonials should be meaty, and you should never sacrifice specificity and storytelling just to get a shorter testimonial.

Is it tactful?

Does it emphasize a particular strength of the solution or product?

What authentic part of the experience have you shared?

Is it short and sweet?

Does it engage the reader?

Here’s a review of the Copy Hackers ebooks that follows TEASE well:

TEASE formula for testimonials

The 4 Ss

AWAI recommends this testimonial formula, which has a simplicity and specificity I dig:

Specific

Short

Sizzling

Signed

You’ll likely also appreciate their 4 Ls, which are the four qualities your testimonials should not have:

Long

Lame

Lazily written

Lacking a point

Here’s an example of a testimonial that meets the 4 Ss:

Formula to write a testimonial

Before – During – After – Favorite – Emotion – Ideal For

Not the most elegant of all formulas – but easy to use – this testimonial template gets filled out like so:

I approached {business name} because __________. {Person at business name} helped me by __________. The result was __________. One thing I liked was their __________. I found the experience __________. I would recommend {business name} to people who need __________.

Formulas for plotting email sequences

Drip campaigns! Autoresponders! How do you know how to schedule and plot them for optimum opens, clicks and – yes – purchases? After all, these things don’t just write themselves.

NOTE: For a truly comprehensive guide to emails, check out this free (!) guide by sendwithus

Walling’s 5-Day Drip Course Formula for Leads

Rob Walling of GetDrip.com discussed this in detail in this free video training.

Day 0
Send on sign-up. Cover 3 points: welcome them, touch on what the drip course will cover, CTA (e.g., reply to email with answer to Q asked in email).

Day 1
24 hours after D0. Educate and finish with an action.

Day 2
24 hours after D1. Theory shared via story. CTA in PS.

Day 3
24 hours after D3. Batch of actionable tips.

Day 4
24 hours after D4. Case study with real numbers. CTA to use your solution.

Wishpond’s 5-Part Drip Campaign for Leads

This 5-part drip campaign is explained on Wishpond. Here’s the skinny:

Email 1
A warm hello.

Email 2
A transparent case study or finding.

Email 3
Personal business story that shows your transparency and humanity.

Email 4
Case study.

Email 5
Free trial offer or soft sell.

The String of Pearls

Not just for emails, the String of Pearls formula sees you drop valuable or intriguing details one after the other.

The idea is that each detail is valuable on its own. But when you string these details together – e.g., over a series of emails to nurture leads, make a sale or nurture a customer – they become exceptionally persuasive.

But what are those pearls you’ll be stringing together? That’s where research comes in. (Formulas can only take you so far!)

PASOP

This one’s based on the PAS formula for structuring messages on a page. But I’ve tweaked it to work for drip campaigns that build up to a sale.

Here’s how it goes:

Email 1: PASOP
Problem. Agitation. Solution. Outcome (measurable or storied). New problem.

Email 2: PASOP
Repeat the problem you ended E1 on. Agitation. Solution. Outcome. New problem.

Email 3: PAS
Repeat the problem you ended E2 on. Agitation. Your solution as the solution, with a link to the sales page to learn more about the solution and the outcomes it brings.

You could squeeze another PASOP or two in there before finishing with PAS.

Importantly, in the emails preceding the PAS email, you want to finish by introducing a new problem at the end of it. The promise, then, becomes to teach people how to solve that problem in the next email. (This is called an open loop; you’ll see more about that in the subject line area of this copywriting formula guide.)

The 6-Email New Customer Nurturing Sequence

As explained here, this customer-nurturing sequence is made of 6 emails and should be dripped out over a 14-day period.

Email 1
Welcome and intro to support person, with contact info provided.

Email 2
Free offer.

Email 3
Case study highlighting use of your product or service.

Email 4
Actual examples of ROI for your solution.

Email 5
Customer testimonial video(s).

Email 6
FAQs.

Although the schedule of email delivery isn’t expressed, what’s interesting about this formula is that its creators BombBomb recommend including in each email a video featuring the person handing your new customer’s account.

Want detailed sequences for specific triggers?
Pardot shares incredibly detailed drip sequences for upsells, events, sales nurturing, re-engagement, competitors, and industry-specific marketing campaign

Email subject line formulas

The first subject lines are by Jared Kimball, who shared them in this useful post. He’s also written a book called 14 Email Subject Line Formulas, which you may want to pick up if you dig his formulas.

The Report Formula

Kimball provides a handful of specific formulas within each of his formulas:

New {agency/institute} approved {process/device} + {benefit}

Innovative {system/process/product} + {benefit}

Introducing {technique/system/process} + {benefit or mystery}

Kimball gives examples like:

Introducing the Picasso: How to design if you suck at design

The Data Formula

I’d personally recommend adding a “why” or “how” to the front of most of these or a “here’s why” to the end of them. Alone, they feel like tldrs, which doesn’t necessarily compel the open.

{Percentage} + {unexpected thing}

{Known entity} is rated as {rating} for {rated thing}

{Trendy thing} {percentage change}

For example:

Why 19% of Harvard graduates can’t find work

USA is rated the worst of 20 countries on 14 eco points

Snapchat loses 13% of its users overnight – here’s why

The How-To Formula

You’ll recognize some of these as very similar to our headline formulas earlier in this guide.

{Attention-grabber}: how to {avoid or get attention-grabbing thing}

How {world-class example or average joe} {does amazing thing}

How to {do amazing thing}

How to {do amazing thing} without {unpleasant thing}

For example:

Nickelback is back? How to avoid waking up with their song in your head

How Elon Musk sleeps (Nikola Tesla would be proud)

Campaign Monitor adds that the key to success with this formula is to focus on the benefit or value. That’s good advice for good copywriting.

The Inquiry Formula

There’s power in that little question mark! Or better: Is there power in that little question mark? 😉

Who / What / When / Where / Why / How {question}?

{Brief statement}?

For example:

What were you thinking?

Where have all the good people gone?

Nuts?

The Endorsement Formula

Influential people are influential. …Yeah, I just wrote that. If you’re a word nerd, you’re like, “Woah! Tautology, y’all!” …Yeah, I just wrote that.

Okay, the idea with the endorsement formula is that you either reference an authority or use quotes in your email subject line. So formulas like:

“{Quote}” by {author}

“{Quote}” – know who said that?

“{Quote}” – agree?

{Author} said this about {audience interest}

{Event / Group Name}: “{Quote}”

“{Unattributed quote}”

The quotes are obvious – but the “unattributed quote” option is particularly useful. Quotation marks draw the eye. So if you can put an important marketing message in “quotes”, you may get more eyes on your subject line. Definitely worth testing.

Ramit Sethi recently used this subject line formula for 3 emails in a row in his sales sequence:

Ramit Sethi subject lines

The Open Loop

This formula creates pure click bait. The idea is that you give away just enough to make people want to open, and then – importantly – you give them what they were seeking in the email body itself.

So rather than write a “tldr” or summary-style subject line (which is generally crap for emails except when it’s a subject line for a promotion or it touches on scarcity and/or urgency), you’d give a fraction of the story, like any of these subject line formulas will do for you:

I messed up

{Person or pronoun} said it was the {right / wrong / scary} thing to do

FYI… You should be {doing / seeing / reading} this

FYI… You shouldn’t waste another second {doing / seeing / reading} this

{High-value something} for you

The {superlative} thing to happen to {industry} since…

In case you haven’t heard

Let me emphasize: the email itself needs to close the loop.

You can then open a new loop with the body of your email, compelling the reader to click to close the loop or bringing the reader back tomorrow to read your loop-closing follow-up email. Whatever you do, close the loop within a reasonable amount of time.

The Empty Suitcase

An “empty suitcase” is what we call it when you use the word “this” without a noun to follow it. So, like, you might find yourself writing, “Tune into this to hear me drone on”, and you’d be using an empty suitcase because we don’t know what “this” is.

In the world of writing, this is a no-no. (See that? I used one there.)

In the world for subject line copywriting, this is a yes-yes.

The beauty of the empty suitcase is that, like the open loop formula, it forces your subscriber to click to get the whole story. I know, I know: forcing isn’t good. Fine, then. It compels. Same difference. Any way you slice it, the empty suitcase subject line is great for open rates.

{Name}, this is for you

This is how you {do desirable or undesirable thing}

I learned this from watching __________

I {past-tense verb} this. The world changed.

What {industry} needs to {verb}

This subject line formula is explained here. You can swap the industry for a role, or you could get creative and – if your CRM is good – populate the blank field with the person’s name, their role or the name of their business.

For example:

What Joanna needs to do better

What Copy Hackers needs to remember

What cat owners need to think about

What copywriters need to know

The Announcement

As they said on Mad Men all the time, the word “new” is a powerful thing. That’s what this subject line is all about.

Use it like so:

Introducing {Name}

Introducing {Name}: {short value prop}

New! {Name}

New! {Benefit of new thing without mention of name}

Now open: {registration}

Campaign Monitor found that adding the word “introducing” to a subject line increases opens by an average of 9.45%. And adding the word “new” to it increases opens by 3.26%.

The Scarcity + Urgency Formula

Fabulous for campaigns and product launches! You won’t be surprised by these formulas, but they’re a great reference when you’ve got a limited number of X to offer in a short period of time.  

Only {#} {days/hours/weeks} left to {X}

Just {#} {X} left

Last chance to {action}

Get {valuable thing} if you {action} in the next  {#} {days/hours/weeks}

Keep a swipe file of all the emails you’ll get, and you’ll see these subject lines used any time an offer is closing.

The Punctuator

For your subject line to earn an open, it needs to get noticed in an inbox. To do that, we use punctuation marks. Truly. That’s what punctuation is for in subject lines: to get eyes on the line.

I’m not going to list out all the ways you can use punctuation to your advantage with this formula, but the goal is twofold:

  1. To visually break up the line of copy that is your subject line
  2. To visually distinguish your subject line from that of all the others

Here are examples from businesses you probably know:

Brian Dean

How to get higher rankings in 2015 (without any new content)

How I email busy people (and get responses)

I just opened enrollment for SEO That Works (but it closes Friday)

Groupon

You + These Top Deals = Love?

Solve This Puzzle: D E A _ S

Psst… Slimming Secrets Inside

Tim Grahl

Argh! I need help!

#1 New York Times bestseller… used this tool to do it

This is it… Conquer your fear in 2015

The Shorty

It’s a one, two or three-word subject line. It stands out beautifully among all the long subject lines in an inbox.

Nathan Barry uses this formula a lot with subject lines like these:

Unsolicited advice

60 minutes

Authority

Tomorrow?

Quick question

{First name} < > {First name}

The ultimate formula for introducing people to one another! Works like the rather common {First name}, meet {First name}, which is also good.

Although this subject line is intended for one person connecting two people, there’s no reason you couldn’t test it as a subject line for your marketing emails. For example, if you were to host a webinar with a special guest like Unbounce’s Georgiana Laudi, you might write:

{First name} < > Georgiana

It feels extremely personal – so use sparingly. Because crying wolf.

 

Copywriting formulas for ads

Display, search – what have you. When it comes time to write an ad, all the old copywriting rules go out the window. Or so it seems to me. Which is why I rely on ad copywriting formulas.

Let’s start with…

Search ad formulas

AIU

Great for direct-response envelopes, this formula can also work for your ads. It goes:

Attention

Interest

Urgency

You don’t need to write it in that order – AIU. It may be that U leads to A, and I is baked in there.

Device + Keyword + Persona + Brand

At CTA Conf 2015, Dana DiTomaso shared this formula for search ads – and I snapped a pic just in time:

Dana DiTomasa formula for ads

The Wordstream Ad Copy Formula

In this uber-helpful blog post, Team Wordstream offers sweet templates to help us basically assemble our search ad copy line by line. Here’s the gist, but read the whole post to fill in the gaps, see all the examples and get the bonus pro copywriting tips:

Description Line: 35 Characters
Your USP, expressed as any of the following:

Unforgettable and Affordable ________.

Your Search for ____ Ends Here.

Big Range, Great Price and Service.

Get ___ For Only $__.

Description line 2: 35 characters
A CTA, or copy to prime searchers to convert:

Start Searching Now!

Get Your Free Quote Online!

Order Our Expert Guide Today!

Quick and Affordable Call Us Today!

Display URL: 35 characters

This is simply as follows: www.yourwebsite.com/your-top-keywords

Here’s a Wordstream ad as an example:

Wordstream ad formula

I’ve left a lot out of this Wordstream Ad Copy Formula because I’d basically be plagiarizing if I added all of their awesome examples.

But if you want an assemble-it-yourself ad copy formula, read the Wordstream post

The Essential Ad Copywriting Template

As described here, this template or formula goes like this:

Headline = Attract Attention (Be Relevant!)

Description Line 1 = Generate Interest (Be Useful!)

Description Line 2 =  Ask for the Click (Show the Value!)

MECLABS Online Ad Sequence

What a surprise – MECLABS has created a copyrighted heuristic for your ads. (I love the MECLABS minds. But, my, do they copyright sequences!)

ea = 2at + i + as ©

Where ea = Effectiveness of the Ad, at = Attract Attention, i = Generate Interest and as = Ask for the Click.

And now let’s move on to formulas for another type of ad…

Facebook ad formulas

Loud. Relevant. Engaging.

Explained here, this formula is supposed to “deliver returns.” Here it is:

Be Loud.

Be Relevant.

Be Engaging.

The green highlighting and the dude’s incredible handlebar moustache in the following example illustrate the be loud part of the formula. It’s actually quite relevant to me. And I found the ad engaging – although, admittedly, not engaging enough to click and hire young Olek.

Olek and copywriting

 

ERERS

This one is described by AdEspresso, in so many words. (They don’t call it a formula; I do.) I love it. It goes:

Emotional

Rational

Emotional

Rational

Social proof

In practice, it looks like this:

Facebook ad by AdEspresso

The 4-Step Formula

Shared by SEMrush, this formula for a fantastic Facebook ad goes:

Be Objective

Highlight Benefits

Be Persuasive

Follow the Rules

The full post is really worth a read, especially if you haven’t created Facebook ads before.

Here’s an example they give:

SEMrush FB ad

Getting your CTA right for a Facebook ad is critical. So…

Facebook Ad CTA Formulas

These Facebook ad CTAs are discussed in detail over on Wishpond’s fantastic blog.

See why {influencer} said {intriguing thing}

See why Stephen King said we’re the future of writing

Free {high-value freebie}

Free “Grammar Nerd” ebook

Want / Need {highly desirable thing}? {Actionable solution}

Need a new girlfriend? Get the Hot Tamale Handbook

Enter to win {highly desirable or interesting thing}

Enter to win your very own battle axe

Sick of {thing readers are definitely sick of}?

Sick of being compared to other moms?

Stop {unpleasant or unexpected thing}

Stop eyeing up the neighbor

And now for…

Formulas for Writing Facebook Posts

When you promote a post on Facebook, do you get the clicks, comments and likes other people seem to get? If not, these Facebook post formulas are all worth trying. Plus, they all force you to keep your posts short: <40 characters is a better practice for writing a Facebook post.

Note that most of these work best with a photo, video and/or link to accompany them. Learn more about them here and here.

One little-known way to {do something}: {summary of how}

One little known way to make an antique headboard: Turn an old door on its side

 

“Like” if you {something your fans are likely to like}

“Like” if you think Hot Rod is better than Napoleon Dynamite

 

Remember when {something nostalgia-triggering}?

Remember when you could call the operator for a number?

 

Fill in the blank: “{partial line of dialogue} ______________”

Fill in the blank: “The only way to double your conversion rate is to  ______________”

 

{#} reasons I’m stopping {good or bad activity}

9 reasons I’m quitting carbs

 

If / When {scenario}, I __________

If I could run any business, I would run __________

When Costco starts selling Christmas decorations in July, I __________

 

Formulas for Writing Tweets

Most of the formulas that kicked off this post – like AIDA, PAS and the headline formulas – can be used easily to write click- and RT-worthy tweets. But here are a handful more. Because this is the ultimate copywriting formula guide, after all. 🙂

Tons of comments/shares on our {post type} – add yours: {bitly}

Tons of shares of our mega-huge copywriting formula post – check it out: http://bit.ly

 

Don’t let your {asset} {bad outcome}. Here’s how to {good outcome}: {bitly} #hashtag

Don’t let your blogging mojo go to waste. Here’s how to rock a post: http://bit.ly #amwriting

 

I loved this article by @TwitterHandle about [TOPIC] – {bitly} #hashtag

I loved this article by @patio11 about cofounders – http://bit.ly #startups

 

We {incredible outcome} {unusual way it was achieved}. Here’s why/how: {bitly}

We tripled our team in 3 months by focusing on 1 feature. Here’s why: http://bit.ly

 

{Question}? #hashtag

Are startups without technical cofounders legit? #cmo #ceo

 

{Question}? #hashtag 1) {Answer} 2) {Answer} 3) {Answer}

Is SEO dead? #inbound 1) Yes 2) No 3) OMG can people please stop saying that

 

“[QUOTE]” – @TwitterHandle #quote

“Get busy living, or get busy dying” – Shawshank Redemption #quote

Most of the above formulas were originally in this Hubspot post

{Article or video title} – {bitly} #hashtag by @Profile

“Every Copywriting Formula on the Planet” – http://bit.ly #epic by @copyhackers

 

{Statistic} – {bit.ly} #hashtag by @profile

3 in 4 businesses shut down in their first year – http://bit.ly #startups by @copyhackers

 

“{Article excerpt}” – {bit.ly} #hashtag by @profile

“Getting acquired goes against everything I learned in business school” – http://bit.ly #startups by @copyhackers

 

{Pain before.} {Joy after.} Here’s what changed: {bit.ly}

Writing headlines suuucked. Now it takes <24 seconds to write 5. Here’s what changed: http://bit.ly

 

How @profile and @profile {interesting achievement}: {bit.ly}

How @patio11 and @amyhoy turned #HN into the most authentic forum: http://bit.ly

 

{Benefit, benefit, benefit.} How {goal for reader}? {bit.ly}

Low heating bills. Instant hot water. Warm winters. How can your family get it all? http://bit.ly

 

{any formula above} {photo or video}

“Get busy living, or get busy dying” – Shawshank Redemption #quoteQuotes and images in tweets

Please RT: {any formula above}

Please RT: We tripled our team in 3 months by focusing on 1 feature. Here’s why: http://bit.ly

 

{Commentary} > {any formula above}

I’d pay for this! > I loved this article by @patio11 about cofounders – http://bit.ly #startups

Formulas for writing blog posts

Let’s kick this section of copywriting formulas off with a great, clear infographic from Social Triggers, which I first found here:

If you like that, you should also check out these blog post templates from HubSpot

Michael Hyatt’s 6-Part Blog Post

Michael Hyatt uses the following formula to write blog posts faster:

Headline.

Lead paragraph / hook.

Relevant image.

Personal story.

Scannable body.

Open-ended question.

Indeed, he practices what he preaches. Here’s an example of one of his blog posts:

Michael Hyatt blog post formula

Star. Story. Solution.

We saw this formula earlier for laying out a lead gen page in particular. Here’s a refresher on what it’s all about:

Star. Who’s the character we’ll be following, or what’s the idea the post is working through?

Story. Tell it! Follow the better rules of writing engaging stories, like starting in media res.

Solution. What happened?

Most blog posts written in the first person fit nicely into the Star Story Solution formula. Here’s one of ours, as an example:

Copy Hackers blog writing formula

HIPASI

This is PAS for blog posts. It goes like so:

Headline

Image

Problem

Agitation

Solution

Invitation

And here’s an example of it in use on Copyblogger:

HIPASI - On Copyblogger

Pre-publishing copywriting checklists

You’ve got your whole page or post written. Now use any of these checklists before you hit ‘publish’ to amp-up what’s already there.

So What? Prove It.

Any claim you put on the page needs to be run through this “formula.” Basically, the copy has to answer the question “So what?” and prove that it’s so. See the testimonial / proof area of this post for examples of what proof can be.

Here’s how so-what-prove-it plays out on FourEyes:

Four Eyes surveys formula

SCAMPER

According to these guys, legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga said this pre-pub copywriting formula with multiple your productivity 11-fold.

Substitute a ho-hum phrase with something surprising or new.

Combine successful elements from 2+ other sources.

Adapt a winning headline, button, offer or other from a different product category.

Modify, minify or magnify one element.

Put it to use with unexpected people.

Eliminate or exclude an element that you think has seen better days.

Rearrange, reverse or redefine any part of the copy, the funnel, etc.  

The 4 Cs

Everything from a tweet to a sales page needs to pass the 4 Cs:

Is it clear?

Is it concise?

Is it compelling?

Is it credible?

My caution on this formula is that you should not cut important, meaningful phrases or words in the interest of being concise. That’s such a rookie mistake, it’s crazy. Be concise, but don’t take that to mean “short.”

The 4 Us

Like the 4 Cs, this pre-publishing checklist or formula will help ensure you’re making a compelling argument. Use it in combination with the 4 Cs.

Is this useful to your prospect?

Is there a sense of urgency to read or act?

What should the prospect take away as unique about you after reading this?

Is it “ultra-specific”?

Below is a snippet of an email from the brilliant (and very nice!) Brian Dean, who could teach us all about email marketing in addition to SEO and content marketing:

Brian Dean email

The “A FOREST” checklist

This is useful for improving your blog posts and landing pages.

Alliteration

Facts

Opinions

Repetition

Examples

Statistics

Three (as in the rule of)

 

Headline generators and more!

As you’ve been reading through the above, you may have found yourself thinking, Hmm, someone should put this stuff in a generator.

Indeed, someone has.

Well, a few groups have put a few of the formulas into a few generators. These generators are definitely not exhaustive. And, to be sure, they’re mostly good for a laugh, not for actually doing the work of laying out a page, writing a headline, optimizing a bullet list, writing a button or tweeting. Use at your own risk.

Free headline generator

Free online title generator

Link bait title generator

Market positioning statement generator

Content idea generator

Blog topic idea generator

Sales letter generator

Did I miss a favorite?

If you know of a copywriting formula I haven’t shared, please leave it in the comments for this post.

And, of course, if you dig what you’ve read here, others are sure to feel the same way. So share this post by tweeting it out or posting it on Facebook. (You’ve got the formulas to know how.) I really appreciate it.

~jo

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copy Hackers"

  • You should turn this into a course Joanna!

  • alhrms

    Great informational resource indeed! You make it easy for the
    students who confused to choose their professional career in these
    fields.. Everything every clearly and openly explained

    https://imgamer.net/

  • Arlene Diaz

    You’re really amazing Joanna. I just found a treasure box in my inbox and it is so full of treasures I still have to discover. You are heaven sent. Just in time when I wanted to give up on my job because I just did not know how to go about my training. I was left on my own to study the materials which were not as clear as the materials you are sending, and for FREE. Thank you so much.

  • Writing problems for me was really difficult. Sometimes I feel a pressure. I found the motivation to write an article for your post. Thanks

  • We build Customized website editing application which facilitates customers to make changes to their website directly using a simple online interface. This facilitates in managing and controlling the content within your websitehttp://aspiringthought.com/main/services.php

  • amailuk

    Wow! Joanna, I am stunned! You are by far the best individual copywriter that I have come across. . . Your information just keeps on wowing me.

    I stumbled upon your “CopyWriting – Workshop” video online; unfortunately lost the link. I was unable to watch the other two as internet troubles lost my link. Your brief made copywriting such cake in a few words, and now this!

    Truth is Joanna, you are exceptionally good at this (writing copy). Thank you Joanna, you are a God-send

  • Michael

    You missed a biggie, I think… Monroe’s Motivated Sequence from the 1930’s (Purdue University). I find it to be the 80/20 of persuasion.
    Attention
    Need
    Satisfy
    Visualize
    Action

  • When I started reading at the top, beginning with AIDA, I was surprised I didn’t stop. It was one of those rare 11,600+ word article I did not pause to read, not even a bathroom break. And then, I re-read it again.

    Awesome work, Joanna, and thank you very much for sharing it.

  • Amy Walsh

    How about a formula for a speaker page?

  • Diane Cecilia de la Cruz

    I’ve been writing for internet marketers for over five years and I’ve been studying copywriting for quite some time now. But some of the formulas you mentioned in this post are new to me. This list of copywriting formulas is very helpful. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post. Thank you so much for putting this list together.

  • Tala

    Ji Joanna. What about copywriting formulas for HR, like job postings.

  • Really interesting and really information, it was surely a long list, must have taken you loads of time to compile, but it was worth the time it took to analyze each and every point.
    chilis coupon

  • Joanna, this is the first time, I have come across such an epic content on copywriting. Indeed, there is a lot to digest here. I really appreciate you to write such a post. Thanks!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Glad you like it, Sandeep! Hope it’s useful for you.

  • Isaac Tanner-Dempsey

    Thanks Joanna I also liked the “60 Second Sales Hook” ~ Kevin Rogers & Chris Haddad’s “The 7 Deadly Sins” https://youtu.be/joF5Ikc8ggw?t=4m54s Had you heard about either of these? I have another question for you too. Have you used software like phrase express? it stores snippets of text and boiler plates for regular use

    • Joanna Wiebe

      That’s awesome – I’ll need to add that. I don’t know about Phrase Express — we dig Phrase Expander for stuff like that. And Airstory for tracking all those reusable pieces, of course.

      • Isaac Tanner-Dempsey

        Awesome thanks for replying love your work 😉

  • You lost me with the jab at Scrivener (used by thousands of writers) in touting a non-existent competing product.

  • I’m definitely going to bookmark this one…job well done! You’re awesome!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Tyronne!

  • Kalen Jordan

    Great post Joanna!

    Man you weren’t kidding – this is literally every copywriting formula ever.

    Was checking out the headline formulas and getting some inspiration/ideas.

    This actually made me think of a little opportunity for an app.

    You could input a bunch of nouns/adjectives/etc. about the thing that you’re trying to write a headline for, and then have the app cycle through headlines for you.

    I’m sure you’d ultimately want to write the headline yourself and not have it be computer-generated, but this could be a nice quick way to help you cycle through ideas and get inspiration.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Build it! There are headline generators out there – but perhaps room for improvement. 🙂

  • Jason Cancino

    Wow….I mean, seriously, wow. I have been doing Internet Marketing for over 2 years now, and although I have been able to get some of my posts and pages to the Top 3 on the first page of Google, I am no pro by any means.

    After reading this long, BUT so useful post, I wish I would have started using many of these tips and formulas right from the get go….but hey, you can’t change the past, but I will defnitley change my future.

    Thx so much for this, I have bookmarked this page and signed up for your email course! 🙂

    Cheers,

    Jason

    • Joanna Wiebe

      😀 thanks, jason!

  • emettemassey

    I’ve known about some of these formulas but never presented in such a unique and helpful way. I believe this post alone will boost my copywriting knowledge exponentially! Yeah, I’m psyched! Thanks Joanna for bringing this to us!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Cool! Glad to help.

  • David Deutsch

    Great compilation of formulas, thoughtfully dimensionalized and illustrated. Thanks!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Why thank you!

  • Thanks for the remarkable stuff, @joannawiebe:disqus.
    I’ve been struggling to write better copy for my startup https://lenro.co but this article gave me a couple of tips. Thanks 🙂

  • SOMEONE HELP! I’m literally confused which to choose for my sales page! 🙂

  • Jackson Andrade

    Excellent, thank you!

  • Chris Daigle

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      You’re welcome, welcome, welcome!

  • Maddy Cool

    nice writing….

    check out this blog
    hackersclub96.blogspot.com

  • Kudos for having the patience to do this. I started a similar draft post a few months ago, but gave up after 2-3 hours of working on it. It’s a lot of work to aggregate all these formulas!

    Plus, all these formulas go against my 3-step copywriting process: facts, benefits, offer. I love simplicity!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yeah, it took… a little while. 🙂

  • Just thought you should know, the C in AIDCA was an addition by Drayton Bird. Not surprising Andy Maslen’s got it in his books as I think he’s a student of Drayton, as am I.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Good update! Thanks, Rezbi.

  • Danish

    Amazing Post one can find for copy writing
    Do add some tips for Bloggers including commercial niche like coupons or deals etc

  • Amazing post Joanna!

    There’s a lot to digest here – in fact it’s the sort of thing that deserves to be revisited many times.

    In reference to the classic sales sequence AIDC (Attention, Interest, Desire, Close) and its variants, the sequence I used when I was in direct sales was a simple one:

    R – Relax

    D – Disturb

    R – Relieve

    C – Close

    That little formula has helped me sell millions of dollars of products over the years. Of the 4 steps, Disturb is the most important one (as you would expect).

    The Relieve step can also be looked at as the solution step. A solution was never offered if the problem could not be clearly identified and agreed to by the prospect.

    When the solution was presented it was always presented conceptually first. If I couldn’t get the prospect excited about the concept there was no point talking about the product specifics.

    Although this approach was used by me and my colleagues in the old style offline world, some of it can be adapted to the online world with good results.

    Too many people pitch product, product, product – then wonder why their sales are mediocre.

    Your comprehensive guide represents a big step along the road to marketing competence – but for serious marketers only.

    Thanks Joanna!

    Kim.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Oooooh, I like that one!!! Never heard of it before, but digging the possibilities. Thanks for sharing, Kim!

  • This is a huge resource—greatly expanded my swipe file. Thank you so much, Joanna!

    I just saw another blog post formula over at CoSchedule, which reminded me of your article. If interested, here it is: http://coschedule.com/blog/how-to-run-a-successful-blog/

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Those copycats over at CoSchedule! KIDDING! We love CoSchedule. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the link.

  • Pierre Ndv

    Really excellent, thank you !

  • Dave

    Hey, Joanna. This is a wonderful list.

    I’d like to add another formula I like at lot, from Maria Veloso’s book “Web Copy That Sells” (Second Edition).

    She calls it the “blueprint for killer web copy.”

    You ask five and answer each of five questions, in sequence:

    1. What is the problem?
    2. Why hasn’t the problem been solved?
    3. What is possible?
    4. What is different now that a solution is available?
    5. What should the reader do now?

    I’ve used this effectively for web copy as well as for white papers and product literature.

    Thanks again.

    Dave

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks for adding that one, Dave! I’ve never used it, but it looks helpful. (I’d love to see a 6th question: what are the consequences if the reader doesn’t act now?)

  • Bev

    I’ve been struggling with writing copy for months. You’ve just handed me the key. Thank you so much!

    Quick question: Are there any formulae for writing Amazon listings, for both physical products and books? (Well, besides the utterly bloodless Amazon style guide, of course.)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Amazon descriptions are a LOT like long-form sales pages. They’ve got a word count limit that long-form sales pages generally don’t, but short of that they’re very similar. So try that!

      • Bev

        Thanks, Joanna! I have several new products being launched this month, so instead of the hit-and-miss formula I used in the past, I’ll model the…um…short long-form sales page WooHOO!

  • Kate H

    WOW! Other people have shared the same reactions I had: Give me a minute to pick my jaw up off the floor. This is amazing!! Bookmarked to come back to again and again. Thanks for sharing such awesome content!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks and awesome, Kate! I hope this is the kind of resource you come back to whenever you’re drafting or optimizing your copy. It’s definitely not meant to be memorized. 🙂

      • Kate H

        LOL…no, attempting to memorize wasn’t on the to-do list 😉

  • Pure awesomeness. Thank you!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Let me pick my jaw off the ground. This took me a few days to digest and will be bookmarked for future reference. Thanks!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Glad to hear it!

  • The link bait title generator is PURE GOLD!!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Gotta love those generators.

  • This is amazing. Every inch of this post is valuable, incredible!!

    One thing that seems to be missing is a formula on how to position your personal story. The 60-Second Sales Hook by Kevin Rogers is a killer formula for any first time introduction (or the mighty “About” page which tends to be huge missed opportunity we breeze over). http://60secondsaleshook.com/

    1. Intro
    2. Struggle
    3. Discovery
    4. Result
    (5. CTA)

    So my example could sound like this:

    Hey, I’m Leigh a social media marketing consultant from Chicago. For years I struggled grow my Twitter following. I was doing everything the “pros” recommend, sharing quality content, using images and hashtags, and even engaging with influencers, but it just wasn’t going anywhere…

    “Twitter works for other people, but not for me.” Or so I thought…

    Then I discovered a simple formula of connecting with the right people and right time using psychographic indicators – which is just a fancy way of saying what people are interested in and who they’re talking about right NOW.

    Now I gain thousands of active and targeted real followers a month. I’ve gone from 850 to over 20k followers in less than 6 months, my content has gained over 1.5 million impressions, and my email list has gown on autopilot. But more importantly I’ve built some incredible relationships with people I never would have had access to before.

    I love showing entrepreneurs exactly how I did this and how they can do the same for their business.

    (Then some simple click here to contact me button.)

    Thats it. Super short and simple, but powerful right?

    The problem is that most people leave out the most important parts! The struggle and discovery. How would my hook have sounded with out those? “Hi, I’m Leigh Wasson. I have a bunch of Twitter followers and you can too. Contact me here.” Ew, no. Would you? I wouldn’t.

    Understanding and being honest about what you’ve struggled with and how you over came it not only “positions you as an authority” but makes you relatable too.

    Again check out Kevin’s free book, it’s less than 60 pages and will change how you introduce yourself forever. can’t recommend it highly enough – http://60secondsaleshook.com/

  • Thank you for posting my QUEST formula. I’m honored.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thank you for commenting, Michel! *I’m* honored.

  • I’d like to say HELLYEAH to this being a bad ass post! By far the best I’ve seen anywhere regarding copywriting. If your goal was to use the skyscraper technique, you freaking nailed it.

    Good luck to anyone who tries to outdo this piece!

    I was surprised to see there wasn’t a content upgrade option for me to get this as a PDF because I’m going to need lots o’ time to get through it all 🙂

    Thank you for sharing with the world and congrats on a great post, Jo!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Darrgh! I always forget about content upgrades. 😉

  • fio

    This is, for lack of a better word, EPIC. I thought I’d print it so I could highlight it and scribble my notes on it… it came to 102 pages (!).

    Out of curiosity – how long did it take to research/write/edit the whole thing?

    Thank you,
    F.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      A looong time. 🙂 I used Airstory.co to save formulas and examples over time and then organize them in an outline. Then I moved it all over to a Google doc and did the writing. All told: about 200 hours. (Yikes!)

      • Airstory looks amazing. I’ve signed up for an invite and replied for the beta round. 🙂

      • fio

        because of this answer (and Joanna’s above) I too signed up for an invite immediately!

      • Epic post Joanna…you rock!!!

  • Wow, what an awesome roundup of methods and formulas. Thank you for putting them all together!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Happy to help, Hannah! (Serious alliteration there.)

  • What a great pot of gold Joanna. You deserve all the shares for this round-up post. Using the skyscraper technique to the fullest.

    Keep being awesome … mad woman!

    Greetings,

    Fil

    • Joanna Wiebe

      haha – thanks!

  • Cheyenne Mullen

    Wonderful read! A truly great resource.

    However, I did find some of your sources to be a little unreliable. For example, for the ‘CSI’ approach you reference a Copy Ranger article, which actually misspells Lisa Manyon’s name. A quick Google search led me to her website, various published articles, and absolutely no mention of her approach being geared specifically toward women.

    In the future I would recommend linking to primary sources (or doing some further research) when making bold and opinionated claims.

    • Cheyenne Mullen

      Here is her LinkedIn profile for reference:
      https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisamanyon?trk=pulse-det-athr_prof-art_hdr

      While she extensively writes about women and has been involved in many organizations for and about women, her “Challenge, Solution, Invitation” strategy is by no means a formula for women exclusively.

      • Joanna Wiebe

        Thanks, Cheyenne!

  • Simply incredible. I can’t lie, I’m completely overwhelmed by the quantity of (extremely high quality) info here. But, I’m going to digest a bit at a time, and start applying some improvements to my existing copy.

    Thanks Joanna. =)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Very cool, Mike. 🙂

  • This is such an amazing post. A resource that can be used for any purpose. Thank you very much for putting your time and effort into this

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks for saying so, Terence! Hope you get a lot of use out of it.

  • Joanna Wiebe

    ooooh… a copywriting slave. that could be interesting…

  • Joanna Wiebe

    If you use these formulas to write kick-a$$ copy time after time, that’s payment enough. 🙂

  • Joanna Wiebe

    mmmm…. coffee…..

  • Incredible. Awesome. Amazing.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Super. Thanks. Tons. 🙂

  • This post is just incredible. It is better than books I have bought. I have been sharing it with anyone I can.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Sorry to hear that about the books – but thanks a lot, Robert. And thanks for sharing, too!!!

  • Joanna Wiebe

    Great! You’re welcome, Anthony. 🙂

  • Hey Joanna!

    Suppose I have a page whose sole objective is to get people onto my e-mail list by offering opt-in bait. What’s the formula for such a page? Would that be the “web page in general” forumla?

  • Um wow. Saw your teaser on Wed and already had high expectations – but like wow. http://gifrific.com/were-not-worthy/

    • ps – you have to click on the link to get the full effect of my comment…I promise it’s not spam. 🙂

      • Joanna Wiebe

        haha – a Wayne’s World gif! Love it. Thanks, Geneve. 🙂

      • 🙂

  • Nathan Rofkahr

    Wow. This is by far the best copy hacking resource on the internet.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks, Nathan!!

  • You had me at ‘only rookies write from scratch’. You’ve just spent 200 hours building good karma. Incredibly useful stuff. Guaranteed to give Writer’s Block a much-deserved spanking. Thanks, Joanna.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Always happy to give spankings.

  • Peter Michaels

    holy hell Joanna, this is great stuff.
    particular thanks for the AICPBSAWN formula, which I’m actually calling ‘apespawn’ because I broke my face trying to say AICPBSAWN out loud.
    mucho value, mucho thanks

    • Joanna Wiebe

      That it’s totally unpronounceable is probably why I like AICPBSAWN so much. As I mentioned a few times in the pst, the whole acronym thing always feels super-forced to me. Unreadable = credible. 🙂

  • Jo C

    This is incredibly helpful and comprehensive. Thank you SO MUCH for writing it.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      You’re welcome, Jo! Thanks for reading it and leaving this nice note.

  • Bookmark and refer, people. Bookmark and refer.

  • Zakaria Desai

    Awesome post!

    I came across yet another formula recently and started putting it to work. Called the “Gaddie Pitch”

    1) You know how (target + problem)
    2) What we do (benefits + feelings)
    3) In fact (success stories, testimonials)

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Nice! I didn’t get into pitches that much in my research, but pitch formulas definitely apply to page design – so good addition!

    • Chase Red Baron Roberts

      +1 I like that!

  • @joannawiebe:disqus How do you choose which one to use? Or, maybe a better question, is it really matter which one you choose?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Well you should use formulas in combination with research about your target market – who they are, what they think, what they feel, what they know, etc.

      That research will help you get a sense for the things you need to write (as well as the language to use).

      It’s up to you to then go through the formulas for the specific thing you’re working on and see which ones fit. If multiples fit, you could test!

  • jgdeutsch

    After “Where’s the D?” is there supposed to be an image?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Fixing! Thanks, Jeff.

  • Suzette Bouwer

    As I pick myself up off the floor … I am staggered by the generosity of the information in this post. Seriously awesome work. Thank you.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thank you, Suzette! Nice of you to say. 🙂

  • Chris Crouse

    Even though this post should leave me anything but speechless, that’s exactly what I am right now. Can’t wait to work through this. I’ve been following your advice for quite some time now. And even if I can’t apply everything one-to-one (I’m from Germany so sometimes there are language characteristics that I have to respect), the overall takeaway for me is huge. Thanks a lot for all the work!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Glad to hear it, Chris. Regarding language and culture differences, someone definitely needs to write a book or start a blog that helps bridge those gaps. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people from Spain, Portugal, Brazil and more that say they’d love to use – for example – long copy, but their audience doesn’t respond well to it. More work needs to be done here. But not by me. 🙂

  • Chase Red Baron Roberts

    Very nice collection! I wish I had this list years ago.

    One formula I would add for overall page structure is Bly’s “Motivating Sequence” from the Copywriter’s Handbook.

    It’s:
    1. Get Attention
    2. Show a problem or need
    3. Satisfy the need and show your product as the solution
    4. Provide proof that your solution solves the need.
    5. Ask for action.

    Pretty similar to other formulas, but I think it works well cause it’s more explicit than some acronyms.

    More details here: http://www.dmnews.com/agency/the-5-steps-of-the-motivating-sequence/article/89385/

    Speaking of acronyms, I would suggest adding Made to Stick’s SUCCESs framework to the pre-publish checklist.

    In other words, for your message to stick, you message needs to be:
    Simple (core + compact)
    Unexpected (to get attention)
    Concrete
    Credible
    Emotional (appeal to self-interest or a higher calling)
    a Story

    Here’s a pdf explaining the model: http://heathbrothers.com/download/mts-made-to-stick-model.pdf

    I also wrote about how the model relates to copywriting in an article I wrote called “The 7 Best Copywriting Books That Aren’t About Copywriting” http://rocketmedia.com/blog/the-best-copywriting-books-that-are-not-about-copywriting

    Hope those formulas help!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      So… many… formulas… 😉 Thanks, Chase!!

  • Hi @joannawiebe:disqus you are absolutely amazing 😉

    My copywriting formula is: Gary Bencinvenga ( Persuasion Equation) + Eugene Schwartz (5 Awareness Levels) + YOU (button copy)

    With that formula we can write almost everything … and damn good 😉

    Thanks a million,
    Maria

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Wow – that’s some incredible company to be in. Thanks, Maria!

      • It’s true… and you also apply “it” 😉

        You use a modern twist… and testing. And above all, share with us.

        You are so amazing awesome.
        Thanks a lot.

  • Wow, this is an amazing guide on copywriting I ever seen in years! Thanks for making it easier for us, Jo.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Glad to hear it, Zafifi! Whatever makes it easier to write kick-a$$ copy.

  • I love that the reason you wrote this was because it didn’t exist and you wanted it to. I wanted it to too, and now it does! You are amazing, Joanna. Truly.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      😀 Thanks, James! Thank goodness for blogs so we can share our useful collections with others.

  • Dang. I can’t remember seeing such a generous offering of content. Nothing held back. Indeed, this is a book. I am floored. Taking it in very slowly.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      So nice of you to say! Thanks, Niels.

  • Oh my gosh! This is amazing! Thanks for all your work in putting this together.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Happy to, Juliet! Glad you like. 🙂

  • This is the grown up version of finding cheat codes for your video games – simultaneously valuable and I feel like I’m gettin’ away with something.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      haha – nice. And thanks for all the great comments on the Inbound convo, too, Josh.

      • Of course!

        I’ll have more good things to say in 2016.

        My copywriting biz has been doing way better than I thought possible.

        It all started with a gentle nudge (Microconf ticket), a friendly challenge (now do something), and your awesome ebooks.

        I’m going to publish a post around February when my new site goes live – also my 6-month anniversary since being in a position to comfortably quit the old startup marketing job and do this full-time.

        I’ll talk about what I’ve learned, how much I know I still have to learn, and who/what has played an important role in what I’d consider to be an amazing start (hint: you, Joel Klettke, and some other things).

        Keep the good stuff coming! 🙂

  • Holy whirligigs and cups that runneth over—this isn’t a post, it’s a book! Thank you SO very extra much and more for taking almost 200 hours out of your life to do this! Just wow with extra wow power to the power of wow. 😀 I predict this will be your greatest organic traffic generator. I also enjoy stating the obvious. Apparently. 😛

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Well, you just used the word “whirligigs”, so you win.

  • Richard Gregory

    A seriously generous post (or ten) – this gets a faved bookmark! Thank you, Joanna.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Fab! Thanks, Richard.

  • Heather Smith

    This is fabulous information @joannawiebe:disqus , and so much I can’t possibly get through it all in one day. Thank you so much. Not sure if there is a formula for it – or theory around it – but what’s your best advice for writing FAQs?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      FAQs lean toward support messaging, which is a different beast entirely. But on a pricing page or one-pager, I’d recommend you:

      1) Use a headline formula for your crosshead (i.e., don’t title the section “FAQs” unless you KNOW your prospects respond best to that)

      2) Modify FAB to fit the text, with a huge focus on clarity.

  • Very actionable stuff. You cannot go wrong if you combine the above with the lessons learned from your books.

    Tiny disclaimer on the title generators: it’s better to use them for content ideas than titles.

    Thanks a million for the backlink!
    🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I’ll add to your tiny disclaimer with a note that generators are generally more fun than they are useful. There’s the odd time you land on something great – but it’s kinduv a game of pulling ye olde lever and seeing what combinations come up.

  • This is probably one of the most comprehensive posts about copywriting formulas I’ve ever seen! Nice job Joanna!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Hopefully! It’s made of formulas from about 4 dozen other posts, books, presentations and more.

  • Amazing resource @joannawiebe:disqus, thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been forcing myself to get into writing more… these formulas will help a lot.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I certainly hope they help you out, Milos!

  • 2deuces

    This is a whole dictionary, a encyclopedia, a whole library of copy writing techniques and tips. Thank you.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Glad you like! You’re welcome. 🙂

      • 2deuces

        You are welcome and thank you for the invitation to Airstory. If it works the way I hope, that product is going to significantly increase my productivity in novels, stories, blog posts and articles..

  • I haven’t even made my way through this post yet, but I know it’s going to be a goldmine full of goodness! Thank you so much Joanna!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yay! Well, yay for you anticipating goodness. 🙂 It’s a big post – I know! Good luck gettin’ through it.

  • Damn, this is useful… Thanks @Joanna Wiebe:disqus for this… This will definitively be printed and kept by my side. 🙂

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Awesome! Thanks for saying so, Mladen. Should make the work of writing copy quite a bit easier.

      • @joannawiebe:disqus Oh, by the way… I got my hands on Ray Edwards’ course Copywriting Academy… So far, it seems like a awesome course. From what I saw, he wrote copy for Amy Porterfield, Michael Hyatt, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield…
        Seems like solid stuff…

  • OK I take it all back 😉 but I still love your hair!

    Thanks for writing this micro book (141 pages portrait or 214 landscape – go figure…).

    I’ll email you or post back a link to my IAL and DPA writing systems.
    It will be interesting to see what you make of them.

    Peace & Light
    Peter

    • Joanna Wiebe

      haha! You’re welcome. 🙂 It was partly a selfish exercise – I wanted one place to go whenever I write anything. So I wrote it.

      Will be interesting to see your systems, yes!

  • Theresa Brady

    Thanks for sharing all of your research and ideas Joanna, your site and books are a wealth of great information and tools that I use in my business every day.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Thanks for saying so, Theresa! I love that. 🙂

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