The art of creative copywriting

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How to be creative with your conversion copy

Today’s lesson is on writing copy. That is more artful.

There is immediate power in giving your client the chills, or when you are sitting around a boardroom table, and you’re presenting your copy in house, and you see that look come across your marketing team, that look of reverence. When you can make the people in the room feel something, in addition to all of the great research that shaped your copy, there is incredible power in that. 

I don’t just mean power for the sake of power…

I mean there’s incredible power that will get more people to buy into the possibility that your copy is the greatest copy they’ve ever read and that they’re excited they hired you.

Okay. But how? How do we do that? How do you make things sound really good? How do you blend the structure and data, that conversion copywriting needs, with the creative process so that you can really begin to stand out as an expert conversion copywriter? That is the focus today.

In this live Tutorial, conversion copywriter, Joanna Wiebe, shows you how to be creative with your conversion copy.

This article is a condensed synopsis of the transcript from the video below.

How is it that data driven companies are able to branch out and make us feel things? The answer is, with really great copy.

When we’re writing copy, we have to get inside our customers’ heads, and using their voice will do that. However, we also want to get inside their hearts. We want to make them feel something. Sometimes customer data can do that. Other times we need to strategically write copy that makes the customer feel.

Where does a conversion copywriter begin when trying to add creativity in copywriting?

First, we’re not ever going to start by looking at how to be creative with our copy, that’s not what a conversion copywriter does, but there does come a moment, when you’re writing copy where creativity or artfulness goes a long way. I don’t want the takeaway here to be like, “Oh, Joanna said I should always be creative.” Nope, that’s not what I’m going to say today, but there are times when you’ll need to be when you’re writing copy, but it starts with the conversion copywriting method. We have many articles on how to be a conversion copywriter so start there if this is the first time you’re hearing this term.

Remember, everyone thinks they can do your job as a copywriter. Your job is definitively proving that they cannot. And that means starting with the conversion copywriting process, and knowing that the core of the copy that you’ve written comes from the voice of the customer. Once you have those core concepts down you can begin expanding your skillset into a more creative domain. 

As conversion copywriters, we’re always thinking long-term. We want to convert our clients’ visitors into customers. We want to get their users continuing to use the product, keep retention, get referrals, generate revenue, all of that great stuff. Now, if you are following the conversion copywriting process of research and discovery, writing while you’re framing and editing, and then testing validation, you’re already going to be really grounded in data. We are going to balance this with the artistic side of things. In order to do that, you want to have access to things that make you feel creative.

The biggest thing you can do to add creativity to your copywriting is to have creative inspiration everywhere when you’re writing.

Have saved websites handy and keep them open next to your piece that you are working on. Have your copy doc off on one side, whether it’s Google Doc, Air Story Doc or Word, and a website with copy that inspires you opened on the other. Sometimes it might be copy that inspires you to be a really great copywriter and other times it might be copy from a website that a client really loves. Then follow the tips below.

5 Tips for Creative Copywriting

  1. Keep something that inspires you close by

  2. Have a list of cliches to choose from 

  3. Have a list of great quotes around you to reference

  4. Audit words that noncompetitive business use 

  5. Study writing books, not just copywriting books

1. Keep something that inspires you close by

Keep something that inspires you, near you, so that when you’re going through voice of customer data and thinking about the right framework to use, you can look up to remember that there’s still a little art to what you do, and that when it comes down to it, it is necessary for you to see things differently. That is because you are going to want to show things differently, and that’s where having those creative inspiration pieces around can help.  For some people, you might already have a really beautiful piece of artwork in mind that inspires you. Next time you are working and feel overloaded by numbers, look at that piece, really let yourself look at it, notice if your brain starts shifting a little bit. This will break you out of that singular focused mindset that dealing with data and structure tends to bring.

2. Have a list of cliches to choose from

Having cliches handy is also going to be really helpful when it comes to the next part that I’m going to show you. You’ll see how I use these in the examples below, and it can really add another level to your conversion copywriting.  Pro Writing Aid has this giant list of cliches. 

3. Have a list of great quotes around you to reference

Having things like great quotes handy can go a long way. Find a list of the top 100 quotes of all time, or begin saving your own list to pull from. You may want to have creative fiction nearby as well. Have your client’s favorite copy handy. Have quotes, euphemisms, cliches, other things people say. This will add to a greater pool of creativity to dip into when you’re feeling too unidimensional. 

4. Audit words that noncompetitive business use 

You also want to audit words that noncompetitive business use, but keep it within the market that you’re writing for.

Recently, I was writing for a really high end mattress and when I was writing for them I had to ask myself, “how do people that are selling really expensive products to people who are willing to pay really good money for the best household items, describe that product?”

A lot of people that aspire to have a beautiful mattress, also aspire to have other beautiful things in their home. Some people might think those things are outrageously priced, so it might be difficult to come up with the creative words to use for this segment if we aren’t in it ourselves.

In selling a high end mattress, I went and looked at other high end products that are completely unrelated, like a Wolf Range, because people are spending $7,000-$8,000 on a Wolf Range. I went to the Wolf website and looked at how they describe their products. Upon first thought, you might have guessed that they used fluffy language to make everything sound luxurious, because that’s what people spending a lot of money want to hear, right? However, for Wolf Range, and other high end products, that was not the case. 

I found that the way to get people feeling things, was by describing product materials in scientific sounding ways.

That is a big discovery that allows us to expand our creative copywriting skills. Those are the types of details that you can find when exploring the way non competing businesses use copy to target the same type of clientele that you are writing to, instead of just looking at the voice of customer data.

5. Study writing books not just copywriting books

Study writing books not just copywriting books. It is a common thing for copywriters, who are starting out, to find a really great sales page and rewrite that copy by hand three times. This is a good technique to absorb the way good copywriting can pull the audience in. 

I recommend that you read and rewrite as much fiction as you do copy.

Take that same concept and do that with specific works of fiction. That is a good way to get a sense of how really great stories and arguments are pulled together. Fiction is all about making its audience feel, so find some short stories that move you, and study them to better understand how the words are crafted to captivate.

Use those techniques to add creative copywriting to your headlines

You are only going to be writerly in your headlines and your crossheads.

What is a crosshead in writing? 

A crosshead is a type of headline that people often call a subhead. Specifically, a crosshead is a headline that is down the page. It’s going to go across the page as you go down the page. You might call it a subhead, but I invite you to start calling it a crosshead. 

So headlines and crossheads are where you’re going to be writerly. Not in body copy, or in other spaces where people need to read to acquire information or where you are trying to sophisticate your reader.

3 Examples of Creative Copywriting

Below are 3 examples from a snippet of a presentation that was exclusively for people in my mastermind.

You are going to want to use writing techniques like parallelism and antithesis.

Dream it up. Jot it down. That’s parallelism.

Notice that this is only used in the headline or crosshead. Apple has incredible copy. When you read through the body versus the headlines and crossheads, you’ll see that they save anything that feels like a writer wrote it for headlines and crossheads. 

When it comes to the body, it still sounds well written but it’s not trying to be noticed. It’s trying to express the benefits and all the things that a copywriter would do in their body copy.

Example 2

Like a computer, unlike any computer. You write that in a crosshead and what does your client think? They think, “well done us for hiring this person”, which is what we are going for, and you can do this with a little focus on your attention to your headlines and crossheads, especially when you’re writing website copy. Remember, you don’t have to start at your crossheads. You shouldn’t start there. That should be something that you do during your suite process when you’re actually going back and editing in the awesome, and then you focus on your headlines and crossheads.

Example 3

Electric now has a Mercedes. This is the technique of word swapping. You can’t do it all the time. But when we’re talking about things like shaping new categories or being really innovative you can use this technique in your headlines.

This is why we want to keep cliches, quotes and euphemisms at hand when we are trying to tap into the creative side of copywriting. Headlines and crossheads only!

Bonus Example: What not to do in creative copywriting

Do not overuse rhyming in your creative copy. Instead, Rhyme lightly.

Don’t go overboard with rhyming. If you’re going to rhyme at all on a website or in your copy, do it one time. If your client sees it more than once. They’ll be like, “We’re seeing a lot of that technique.”

So don’t overdo it. Play that card one time and one time only.

Final Words

So those are ways that you can start being a little more artful with the copy that you write. Again, where does it happen? Only in your headlines and crossheads. Now others might say, “Oh, I’ve seen it in body copy too.” Fair enough, but don’t start there. Stick with headlines and crossheads for the next five years and then after that five year period is up then you can start exploring other places to be “writerly” or artful.

So that is today’s tutorial for writing copy. That is more artful.

Check out our other courses on conversion copywriting so that you can build the skills that will separate you from the other copywriters out there.

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