Copywriting Basics and Terminology

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Why Copywriting Is Important

Copywriting is the text used in your promotional materials, including advertising, websites, brochures, catalogs, business cards, and sales letters. For this course, we focus on online copywriting.

Copywriting is essential for prompting your customers and potential customers to take a specific action.


  • Call you for more information
  • Place an order
  • Sign up for your mailing list
  • Refer a friend to your business

Effective copywriting is a conscious effort to achieve desired results. With practice, it becomes more natural.

Consider this:

When someone visits your website, you aren’t there to answer their questions or to convince them how great your product is. Your words need to do that for you. This lesson will show you how to create effective copywriting.

Terminology & Practical Applications

Understanding key copywriting terminology is crucial for selling online. This lesson will provide definitions, examples, and suggestions for applying these concepts to your business.

Target Market

Your target market is the specific group of people you’re selling your product to. Being specific is crucial for effective copywriting.

Considerations for defining your target market:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Marital status (if relevant)
  • Parental status (if relevant)
  • Type of pet (if relevant)
  • Wants, wishes, and desires
  • Values and beliefs
  • Problems they need solved

These factors help you understand what motivates your audience to spend money.

Important human motivators:

  • Fear
  • Exclusivity
  • Guilt
  • Greed
  • Need for approval
  • Convenience
  • Pleasure

Understanding these motivators helps you sell the right product by addressing your audience’s point-of-view and problems.

The Problem with Being Too Vague

Being too general in defining your target market can dilute your marketing efforts. For example, not all women are interested in candles or cosmetics. You need to understand the specific segment of women who will repeatedly buy your product.

Imagine Your Ideal Customer:

  • What are her wants and desires?
  • What problems does she need solved?
  • What are her beliefs?

Survey your current customers to gather this information. Offer incentives like coupons or free gifts for their feedback.

Think about your product:

  • What is the single most important reason your target audience would want to buy it?

Empathize with your target market, identify their problems, and show how your product solves those problems.


If you sell acne medication, targeting teenagers by discussing issues like teasing at school and dating concerns will make your copywriting more powerful and effective.


Write a list of 15-20 specific characteristics of your typical customer using information from customer surveys.

USP (Unique Selling Position)

Your USP sets you apart from your competition. It’s the unique thing you offer that others don’t.

Examples of USPs:

  • Unlimited time money-back guarantee
  • Catering to vegetarians in your industry
  • Secret to a perfectly baked soufflé
  • Finding hard-to-find items for clients within 24 hours
  • Offering holistic options

Avoid making low prices your USP, as it’s not a sustainable model for small businesses. Focus on quality, exceptional service, or unique offerings instead.

Key question for formulating your USP:

“Why would my customer buy my product instead of a competitor’s?”


List 5-10 competitors and identify their USPs. Compare them to your own and brainstorm how you can stand out.


Features describe what your product looks like and how it functions. While features are important, benefits are what will sell your product.

Examples of Features:

  • 4” x 7”
  • Red
  • Foldable
  • 3-Day Supply
  • Includes a video, audio recording, and ebook


Write down all the features of your product, including every detail from color to size to function.


Benefits are the advantages your customer receives from using your product’s features. Benefits usually sell products better than features.


You sell a ballpoint pen.

  • Features: Black ink, felt tip, comes with a lid.
  • Benefits: Reduces hand cramping, eliminates smudges.


List a benefit for each feature you’ve written. This will help you create compelling copy for your product.


Bullets are an effective way to present information about your product. They are easy to write and can sell your product exceptionally well.

Example of a Good Bullet Point:

  • Do this one thing each morning and your husband’s eyes will never stray to another woman.


Turn your list of features and benefits into curiosity-producing bullet points.


Headlines are crucial for grabbing attention. They should be capitalized, bold, and benefit-oriented.

Examples of Effective Headlines:

  • “Who Else Wants to Save Up to 50% on Their Phone Bill?”
  • “How X-Brand Weight-Loss Shake Made Me Lose 37 Pounds in 7 Weeks”
  • “Are You Tired of Unsightly Bags under Your Eyes?”

Tips for Creating Great Headlines:

  • Be specific
  • Use numbers and tangible results


Visit websites or read ads to find headlines that grab your attention. Incorporate those ideas into your own headlines.

Subheadlines / Subheads

Subheadlines help break up your copy and make it easier to read. They draw attention to important sections and are usually bold with each word capitalized.


Here’s What’s Included in Your Free Subscription to XXXXX


Insert subheadlines into your copy to make it more readable and engaging.

Power Words & Phrases

Power words are emotionally-charged language used to influence your reader. They create a mental picture and elicit emotion.

Examples of Power Words:

  • Amazing
  • Discovery
  • Free
  • Health
  • Love
  • Money
  • Proven
  • Results
  • Secret


Edit existing content to include more power words and phrases.


Transitions connect one paragraph or section to the next, making your writing more compelling.

Examples of Transitions:

  • And best of all…
  • And most importantly…
  • But before you decide…
  • But if you’re still not sure…
  • But that’s not all…
  • Get started right now with…


Add transitions to your copy to improve its flow and readability.


A guarantee can significantly enhance your copy’s effectiveness by removing the risk for the buyer.

Key Components of a Guarantee:

  • Nature: Money-back or double money-back guarantee
  • Condition: Satisfaction guarantee or specific usage requirement
  • Timeline: 30 days or more, depending on your merchant provider’s limits


Craft a guarantee for your product.


Join XXXX today and take up to 30 days to evaluate and put XXXX to work. If you’re not able to XXXX, just tell us and we’ll give you your money back. No questions asked.


An offer is what you are selling or giving to your readers.


You are selling a customized embroidered baby blanket for $35, which includes a 3’ x 3’ blanket in the color and design of their choice, with an embroidered message up to 25 letters.


Write out all the details of your offer.


Your call-to-action tells your reader what to do next. It’s crucial for converting interest into action.

Examples of Calls-to-Action:

  • Click a link to place an order
  • Click a link to check out an affiliate offer
  • Call a 1-800 number to place an order
  • Fill in a form to subscribe to a newsletter or get a free gift
  • Fill in a form to enter a sweepstakes


Ensure every piece of promotional material you’ve written has a call-to-action.


After your call-to-action, give your readers another reason to take action.


  • “It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night on a Sunday…”
  • “It’s in your hands…”
  • “It will be the best $XX you ever spent.”


Add a closing paragraph to your copy.

Postscript / PS

A P.S. reiterates the benefits and includes a call to action. It’s your last opportunity to make an impression.

Examples of P.S. Starters:

  • “Don’t forget…”
  • “Don’t need the whole system, but are interested in ____?”
  • “Every day that goes by…”


Add a P.S. to some copy and test out the results.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

A FAQ section helps overcome potential customer objections by answering common questions.

Examples of FAQ Questions:

  • Is there a money-back guarantee?
  • What is your return policy?
  • How much is shipping?


Put together a FAQ for your product and add it to your sales page or website.

Honing Your Copywriting Craft

Speak to Your Audience

Focus on your customer rather than yourself in your copy.


  • “Are you looking for…”
  • “If you need reliable…”
  • “Your satisfaction is guaranteed…”


Rewrite your copy to focus on “you” instead of “we.”

Avoid Excessive Adjectives

Avoid using too many adjectives that don’t provide specific information.


  • Instead of “The biggest and best e-book,” explain why it’s the best.


Remove adjectives from your copy and see if it still sounds compelling.


Ensure your above-the-fold space grabs attention and is compelling.


  • Avoid large headers or logos
  • Include a compelling headline and starting copy
  • Use images to draw the eye


Review your above-the-fold space for effectiveness.

Copy Should Be Scannable

Make your copy easy to scan with:

  • Bullets
  • Numbered lists
  • Small paragraphs
  • Short sentences
  • Simple words
  • Formatting with bold and italics sparingly


Check your copy for scannability.

Copy Should Be Specific

Use numbers, statistics, facts, and concrete benefits to make your copy more credible and interesting.


Add specific details to your copy.

Sense of Urgency

Create a sense of urgency to encourage immediate action.


  • Offer a time-limited discount
  • Limit product distribution
  • Offer extra bonuses for a limited time
  • Highlight the seriousness of their problem


Add a sense of urgency to your promotional material.

Editing Your Copy

After writing your copy, take a break before editing. Ensure:

  • Each claim is supported and specific
  • Each sentence makes sense
  • Transitions between ideas are smooth
  • Credibility with facts and statistics
  • Benefits are included for all features
  • The prospect is the focus
  • Headlines and subheadlines are capitalized
  • The page is easy to read
  • Content is conversational
  • Action-oriented words are used
  • Your call-to-action is clear
  • A P.S. is included if appropriate
  • Your offer is compelling
  • Words are spelled correctly

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