How to write copy that converts

The pretentious writer in me hates the idea of ‘writing copy that converts’. Ugh! The thought of content that only aims to nurture a prospect into a warm lead, suitable for a cold call from a brash salesperson, saddens me to my core.

Writing is more than than just a good headline. It’s emotional. It tells a story, draws you in and compels you to stay. It’s inspiring, engaging and valuable. Why would you want to sacrifice all that, for the sake of a few clicks?

On the other hand, the analytical marketer in me sees copy as part of the process. A tool to harness the power of organic search, driving more prospects to optimised blog posts.

Copy is a thing to be optimised to provide a better CTR on landing pages. Great copy increases authority, generating real inbound links to shareable whitepapers, and cornerstone content. Building the audience, and pushing lead upon lead through the sales funnel, demonstrating a valuable ROI.

Is that a bit ‘sell-out’? Knowing that the meaning, purpose and value in my words are appraised by abbreviations. Sacrificed and diluted. Substituting focussed keywords, and triggers to aid search ranking and optimisation. Sell-out, or a great investment, if optimised, targeted, executed and tracked?

For many of us, the internal conflict we suffer as writers, and marketers can be hard to take. We’re subjected to the scrutiny of data and analytics. Bullied by the peaks and troughs of page visits, as we scramble and strive to generate a single, small, valuable comment, or a few more vital clicks. All the while hoping beyond all hope, that we don’t convert less than last month.

If you’re selling online and you’re not worried about conversion rates, you might be doing something wrong! If you’re definitely not doing something wrong, then I am in complete awe of you. As I find writing copy that converts to be one of the most import, worrying, and challenging aspects of copywriting – If you’ve got any great tips for me, feel free to leave them in the comments!

If you can relate to my personal struggles, then worry no more. Here are a few tips that I like to keep in mind, to help me write copy that converts, and bring peace to my inner conflict.

1. Make it emotional

We all know that emotion is one of the most significant triggers for conversion. But do you know what action each emotion triggers?

This Buffer blog post goes into the science behind emotional triggers, and I’ll briefly sum up some of the take aways here. If you’ve got a few minutes, and can wrap your head around the science of it all, it’s well worth the read.


Happines, joy, and positivity in general plays a significant part in how shareable content is. According to Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch Onand professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, content that is more positive is more likely to go viral.

Positivity is contagious and shareable. So if your conversion goal is the number of shares, try putting a positive spin on your copy.


Sadness can make us more generous and empathetic. According to one study, the cortisol and oxytocin produced in upsetting situations can increase empathy. This helps “build trust in a product or brand”, resulting in us being more inclined to give generously.

Charities employ this tactic in their calls to donate, and with great success. If your goal is to build trust, and empathy, try tugging on the heart strings.

Fear/ surprise

The emotional response triggered by fear and surprise is, well, surprising! As we all know, fear triggers our “fight or flight” response. But did you know that fear also induces a need to bond and share the experience with others? “When we’re scared, we need to share the experience with others – and if no one else is around, even a non-human brand will do”.

If you’re looking to create greater brand attachment, try scaring the hell out of your audience! Sure, it might induce the fight or flight response, but those that stick around will be more attached to your brand.


Anger and disgust are emotions that marketers tend to veer away from, for obvious reasons. Anger and disgust make us stubborn. Yet, anger and increased stubbornness can also lead to increased sharing and virality, as well as more comments.

I would always suggest staying away from negativity as much as possible. But if you want a quick way to drive comments, with no preference on brand affinity, be controversial and try to anger people.

2. Be authentic

Being authentic is one of the more difficult aspects of writing to comprehend. Not because it is difficult to do, but because it’s so simple, that it is consistently overlooked.

If you struggle to be authentic, I recommend reading Logan Zanelli’s 7 tips for an Authentic and Productive Writing Process. In this post, Zanelli talks about the fact that being ‘authentic’ is as simple as writing ‘the way you talk’.

He suggests treating every post like a conversation between you, and a good friend. Be honest, be true to your thoughts, feelings and values. Relax your writing and use words that you actually use in conversation.

3. Use the right words

So from the heading this might seem like a throwaway tip, but I can assure you, it is definitely not. Though it does, in part, contradict tip 2!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be pretty passionate, and sometimes protective of your words. If we’ve followed tip 2, we should have used words that we would generally use in conversation. Words that sound right in the post, that are authentic, and that feel good. So that’s it. Job done, right? Well, not exactly.

As this post from Copyblogger points out, the “devil really is in the details, especially when it comes to creating copy that converts”. The real key to successful copy that converts, is in regular optimisation.

Be prepared to revisit and change up your words on a regular basis. Track, measure and switch out your keywords. Change up your trigger words, and use all the tools at your disposal to optimise your work. It really will make all the difference.


Like many, I am constantly striving to grow and develop as a writer. Although it can be difficult to see my craft judged on the data and analytics, it is a necessity to create meaningful copy that works. Keeping these few tips in mind can help make writing copy that converts less of a chore. If you have any tips for writing great copy that converts, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

About Matt Aunger

A growth and community-focused brand storyteller and marketer at MattMadeContent. Using actionable content to inspire communities.

  • Hmm.How do they know about writing time? I often write offline and then paste it in. My to-date most-read post on Medium (by far) was one that Medium recommended. It was no better than most of the others I’ve posted. I am consistently finding that if I post the same post on Blogger I get a whole lot more readers and not necessarily because I’ve been posting there for a while. Part of this, I believe, is that Blogger allows for more key words. I’ve experimented with tweeting out only the link to Medium and I still get lots more readers for the same post on Blogger, looking far less pretty than it does on Medium. I’m fascinated; and unconvinced by your arguments. But thank you anyway!

  • Hi Matt,

    Good tips! I use the Pomodoro Technique. Love it! Freelancer here – only a lil bit of the time ;) – but I wrote 10,000 words daily when I went on an eBook writing tear a few years ago using the PT. Fab tool for managing your energy, because you work from a fab energy, then break, relax, recharge, and stay in the flow. Staying in the flow helps words keep on a flowing no matter what ;) Thanks for sharing!


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