I have a secret addiction that until recently, has made me feel a little guilty.
It started out as only now and again, maybe with a glass of wine on a Friday night. But then it became daily, and sometimes first thing in the morning. Fortunately, I’ve now realised my addiction is nothing more than a love of compelling copywriting.
You see, here in the UK we have a newspaper called the Daily Mail.
It’s pretty awful.
Non-stop bad news, health scares, whipped up stories and celebrity gossip.
But I can’t stop reading it. And with a circulation of 1.5 million I’m definitely not alone.
What starts with a casual look on the homepage soon finds you in a rabbit hole of bad behaviour, fears and despair.
And while your content doesn’t need to be full of fear and dread, this ‘pull’ is the effect you want to have when people visit your website or sales page.
Now, this particular newspaper really capitalises on bad news and controversial situations so I wouldn’t suggest you revamp your copywriting completely to match this style.
However, reading this paper over the last few months I’ve spotted plenty of repeated formulas, words and techniques for catching and keeping the attention of a casual online browser.
So how can you use this in your own copywriting?
Where’s the scandal in your industry?
In your sales copy or web content, it’s unlikely you’ll be writing about cheating politicians or jailed celebrities, but you might find there is a scandal within your industry that can help promote your product or business.
And when I say ‘scandal’ what I really mean is a story that rouses your customer’s emotions.
So I want you to think about the problem you solve for your customer.
What gets you worked up or angry about it in the same way you might react to a high-level politician fiddling his expenses?
If you’re a business coach are you angry that many small business owners could qualify for bank loans but are turned down because their business plans aren’t quite right?
If you’re a heating installation company maybe it drives you mad that the average household is paying overpriced fuel bills due to inefficient appliances.
Or perhaps as a fitness instructor you feel it’s scandalous that people don’t know how many ailments can be erased through gentle exercise, without the need for drugs.
These can all be turned into newsworthy stories to get the attention of your reader. You might need to dig deep into a bit of research to give your story some real oomph. Facts and figures are useful to build credibility and provide logical proof to back up your claims.
So get thinking – what makes your blood boil within your industry? You can then use this as the basis for a blog post to attract new customers, or as the core story in a sales page selling a product that solves the problem.
Can you pull people in without a scandal?
If you’re struggling to find this type of story to use in your copywriting, you can still pick up tips from how these addictive newspaper stories are written.
Click through to the site and have a look at the headlines.
Notice that the language used is evocative, active, and sounds like something you should be aware of. For example you see words and phrases such as:
- Reveals the secrets
- The myth of the…
- Brought to a standstill
- Rise in number of…
- Threat to…
- Pressures of…
- Scientists warn…
- Inside the life of a…
So if you don’t fancy going the whole way, have a look at some of the headlines and see if you can use some of the words and phrases to add just a little bit of “ooh, what’s going on here then?” to your copy.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to feed my addiction (which I have since renamed: ‘research’).
Angel Cuala says
I am a Filipino but I also read Daily Mail. I even used it a number of times as a reference because I also write for a news website. And yes, their magnetic headlines are really addictive. No to mention their tons of troll comments.
But sad to say, I had clients who advised me not to be “scandalous” no matter how hard I try to explain them that it can be helpful.
Or maybe I still need to learn more strategies on how to convince them that it really works.
Amy Harrison says
Hi Angel. I think the comments are one of the most famous parts of the Daily Mail’s online presence!
When it comes to clients, it really depends on whether their audience would repsond well to such headlines. Some industries just don’t and it may be that your clients feel a more matter-of-fact tone works with their readers.
On the other hand, if they’re uncomfortable with it but you think it would get better results, you could try introducing non-scandalous but ‘curiosity-arousing’ words such as ‘unusual’, ‘unexpected’ etc into your headlines.
Alternatively, you could pick a news publication that is more suited to the reader’s style and copy some of the styles there. Good luck!