5 Copywriting Tips for Hooking & KEEPING Attention
Do you know what the single most important part of any copy is? Whether you’re writing an ad, landing page, sales page or email, if you can nail this, your copy practically writes itself. Any guesses what it is? Keep reading.
This week we are going to talk about the single most important part of copywriting….
The art of crafting the perfect hook.
In copywriting and marketing terms, a hook is exactly what it sounds like — a concept or an idea that gets people interested in what you have to say… and what you have to offer.
Therefore a good hook has the job of reeling in a prospect by getting their attention enough to take the next step.
Because, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if your copy is the most interesting, engaging, well written masterpiece on the planet, if you can’t get your prospect’s attention – does it even matter?
We are in the attention and retention business FIRST. Which is why using a powerful hook in your headlines, subject lines, or at the beginning of a sales page or landing page is absolutely critical – no matter your niche, product or market. It’s what the reader sees first and determines whether or not they’ll open the email, read the next section, or click on an ad. So arguably, writing killer hooks is the most important skill you can develop in copywriting. It’s what determines whether your copy converts, or flops.
When comparing copywriting to screenwriting, your hook is essentially the log line. That one big idea that determines whether or not you’re watching that movie or docu-series on Netflix this Friday night.
Why do you think 34 MILLION people watched Tiger King the weekend it came out…
A show about a gay, gun-toting operator of Tiger Park who was charged with murder for hire? Yea… that’s a pretty good hook.
A great hook makes people go… Wait what? Ohhhh I gotta see what this is all about.
There’s something I really want to make clear though — this is NOT an invitation to use clickbait, which is something that’s very different from a great hook. There’s a lot of debate out there right now about what is considered Clickbait and everyone seems to have a different definition.
Well to me, Clickbait is an intentionally misleading hook or headline that leads to content that’s irrelevant, provides no value or is just straight out lies. Great hooks are still majorly click-worthy, but they are relevant, lead to value — whether in the form of education, entertainment, or inspiration — and do not mislead!
I’ve said this several times and I’ll say this again — always lead with value and use empathy and connection in your copy. If you want more copywriting and marketing tip, techniques and tutorials that are working TODAY… go ahead and hit subscribe over on my YouTube Channel to join the global posse.
In this article, I’m going to share five of my favorite, Copy Posse approved hooks to grab and hold your customers’ attention with nothing but powerful and precise wording. As I like to say, the right phrase PAYS!
These 5 hooks are a sneak peek at my full list of proven and effective hooks that I teach in my copywriter coaching program — The Copy Posse Launchpad.
Btw, if you’re interested and ready to ignite your freelance copywriting business, you can now get the recordings of this program, which includes access to all training modules, Q&A sessions, workbooks, guides, formulas AND lots of juicy bonus content. You can get your hands on that here: The Copy Posse Launch Files.
Now, here are 5 powerful hooks you can use to capture and keep attention. Please bear in mind that these five hooks are not mutually exclusive. Often a great hook can utilize more than one of these concepts or angles.
So let’s start with number one…
Hook #1: Threat, Warning & Pain
I don’t mean to start things off intense, guys, but the heart of this first hook is primal… It’s an old-school approach that we ALL still respond to till this day.
Illustrating a threatening situation, an urgent warning or unwanted pain that resonates with your prospect will very likely get their attention.
Science has determined that all decisions made by us human beings are either to avoid pain or gain pleasure. But here’s a plot twist — people will actually do much more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure.
The notion here is that you’re likely to decide and act faster if you were, say, about to be attacked by a bear than say… if someone offered you a suitcase full of cash.
NOT that you have to get that intense in your copy, guys. Don’t unnecessarily feat monger or use Clickbait. Make sure that it is relevant to your product and that it would lead your prospect to something that can actually help them.
It goes without saying that this hook works well for a problem aware audience. And you’re hooking attention by speaking to that pan.
For example, Pacific Blue Cross used a stern warning in one of their ads to remind travellers of potentially high medical costs — especially in countries where you’re foreign — should anything happen to you during your trip or holiday without having any travel insurance.
Another one from ADT that shares that 26% of Burglaries happen while someone is at home. Urging you to take action to feel safe. This ad also plays up a second type of hook…
And that is…
Hook #2: Education & FYI
One way to hook attention is to provide useful and relevant information that opens a loop to your prospect wanting to learn more.
Besides, no one can resist a little-known fact or a shocking did-you-know. Using education or what I call the “FYI hook” is a great way to appeal to prospects that have little awareness of your product or solution. Education is a great way to indoctrinate unaware leads.
A great example of this hook is a series of posts by Acorns, a brilliant investing app that helps people invest their change. They used eye-opening findings to hook their target audience: millennials.
This one may not be as shocking but serves as a great reminder to how our current education system still fails to teach us how to manage our finances.
This one however, shed light on a daily routine too many of us are guilty of — the amount of money we spend on coffee. Guilty…
Hook #3: Confirm Beliefs
It’s true that people tend to respond or gravitate towards evidence or information that can support their existing beliefs.
This gives your prospect a sense of validation and acknowledgement. Kind of that moment where you go “Aha! I knew it!” or “Omg — same!”.
This hook is also great for problem aware audiences — they may not be aware of your product, but they’re experiencing the pain points and problems that your product is offering to resolve.
The best way to use this hook is to open with a powerful statement that confirms an existing belief, but then pivot to present some new information that will get them to go hmmmmm…
Here’s a great example.
Organixx spoke to women who were struggling with moodiness and irritability by validating what most of them probably already suspect to be the cause — hormonal imbalances.
But then goes to share that this could also be the cause sleeplessness, weight fluctuations and even dry skin.
They confirm a well known belief, but then present new information based on this belief that makes their audience want to know more.
Be careful that the new information doesn’t completely violate the belief or jump to a completely new paradigm that just doesn’t make sense. There needs to be a believable connection. If it’s too hard to swallow, you will have a hard time selling.
Hook #4: Fear Of Missing Out
Yes — I’m talking about that anxiety-inducing feeling of being left out in a social situation.
In the context of marketing, FOMO is really an opportunity to merge scarcity with social proof by showcasing the number of people who are already experiencing the benefits that you offer, creating the sentiment that your prospect is missing out.
It’s the good ol’ “Everyone is doing it. Why aren’t you?” predicament.
The point here is to leverage social proof in an authentic, relatable way that resonates with the prospect and creates the desire for them to take action.
For example, Blinkist, the app that summarizes bestselling books into 15-minute reports, does this well in their headline “Millions of tech-savvy intellectuals are using Blinkist to stay ahead of their peers, and on top of their fields.”
And Live Recover, an Abandoned Cart Recovery service, creates double FOMO by letting businesses know that they’re missing out on recovering 21% of people who abandoned your cart and also use the famous “Who Else” headline, implying other people are using this software.
Hook #5: Relevancy
There’s never been a time when relevancy is more important to ensure the success of a marketing campaign.
What’s relevant to your market today? With the abundance of brands and solutions that are available and visible to customers, especially in the digital realm — relevancy is perhaps the best way to create stronger and more meaningful connections between brand and customer.
A hook that uses relevancy is one that takes into consideration content, cultures, or issues that your target audience can currently relate to, and of course connecting it to your product or offer.
The goal here is not only to get attention but do it in a way that makes your prospect go — “Oh wow you really get where I’m at!”
Think current events, pop culture, or trending topics on social media. How can you piggyback on news, events or conversations and relate it to your product? This is where empathy can go a very long way; in fact it’s at the core of this hook.
For example, during the 2016 presidential elections in the USA, Aspirin brand Excedrin was clever to poke at the political environment with the headline “74% of Americans will have an election-headache this year”. And hey, they can re-use it every 4 years!
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And there you have it — five of the most effective hooks that we here at the Copy Posse love to use.
I hope this article was helpful and has given you some inspiration for when you next need to churn out some killer headlines or subject lines.
Speaking of which, you can watch my video on how to write HOT headlines here.
Thanks for watching and subscribing to my YouTube Channel guys, and I’ll see you again next week. Till then, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!