1 simple way to add energy to your copy: write more verbs!
Copywriting isn’t hard. I like to use the great usability expert Steve Krug’s definition – it’s advanced common sense.
But there are some common mistakes that writers make. And if you know what those mistakes are, it makes it much easier to avoid them and write better copy.
So here’s a big mistake to avoid: an over-reliance on nouns and adjectives.
You know, talking about things (nouns), and then telling your readers what those things look, feel and sound like (adjectives).
Don’t get me wrong, those things might be important. I’m not saying get rid of them altogether.
What I am saying is that nouns and adjectives lack energy. They’re static.
If you want people to ‘do’ something, you need to give your copy more energy.
Write more verbs and fewer adjectives
One of the best ways to engage your readers, and get them to act on what you’ve written, is to use more verbs in your writing. This has always been true in storytelling, as Damon Suede makes clear in his excellent book ‘Verbalize’ (affiliate link).
To elicit emotion, you’re going to need readers to engage with your story and its characters, and that means Action is paramount.
Verbalize, by Damon Suede
This applies to copywriting as much as it applies to fiction.
The following bit of research by Hubspot makes this clear. Verbs are the clear leader in terms of ‘getting people to do things’, in this case sharing.
I love this about good copywriting. Basically, what and how you write, and the types of words you use, can affect how someone behaves when reading it.
Below are some sentences (borrowed from branded social media posts) that are made more energetic by using verbs more prominently.
On the left are the noun- and adjective-heavy phrases. They do use verbs, but they’re weak verbs like ‘is’ and ‘has’. They’re dominated by nouns (winter collection, supplements range, blend) and adjectives (amazing, new, high-quality).
Before: “Our amazing winter collection is here.”
After: “Beat the chill with our new winter collection.”
Before: “Our new supplements range has something for you.”
After: “Support your new health kick with our new supplements range.”
Before: “Our high-quality blend has the multivitamins you need this winter.”
After: “Kick off the new year with our multivitamin blends.”
On the right are sentences that start with a verb: ‘Beat’, ‘Support’, ‘Kick off’. This is called the ‘imperative voice’. It’s like an order or a command. It’s the voice we use for all calls to action: ‘Download this’, ‘Sign up here’.
Not all your sentences should be written in the imperative mode. But if you err towards action, your readers will respond.
Use more verbs and your copy will be more engaging for your readers.
It will also encourage action, which is beneficial for you and for them.