The Most Powerful Weapon in Your Traffic-hacking Armoury

by | Nov 16, 2017 | PPC

The importance of writing copy that convertsAll the build up. Moving calls and meetings to allow for 3 days out of the office. Rearranging kids and spouses to cope alone for a week. The travel. The hotels. The cooked breakfast…

It can be so disappointing when all this has been done, only to find that the highly-anticipated conference was actually a waste of time…

PPC Hero London was a good event last year – and near enough to my location – Harrogate in the UK, to warrant a trip back this year.

But sadly, I found it to be a little disappointing this time. Still, the hotel breakfast was good.

There was one big highlight for me though, which made the event worthwhile.

The keynote which opened the conference was delivered by Amy Harrison, a freelance copywriter and an interesting choice since the conference is heavily engrained in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of day-to-day platform management… copy seemed to be a stark contrast to this and a topic I’d imagine most of the attendees rarely had any say in (most of whom came from large PPC or brand agencies specialising in shopping and heavy search users).

Yet, it was the opening presentation. And I was very pleased.

Good Copy is Better Than Gadgets and Widgets

I’ve been wrestling with my inner copy spirit for a while now. Those of us working in the day-to-day optimisation of the platforms can often get sucked in – addicted even – to the widgets and gadgets. The shiny new buttons screaming ‘push me now!’ and the algorithmic changes causing us all to wrack our brains for 3 days before everything settles back down again and life goes on.

But you actually already know – very well – the exciting widget guaranteed to 10X your conversions: Good copy.

My thesis is that no matter how good you are at pushing buttons and dusting off widgets, none of this will ever replace good copy. In fact, the only thing that will replace it, is great copy.

We ‘direct marketing’ folk are familiar with the key principals of great copy. But we sometimes have to cut through the noise and the fuss that’s being made around the widgets and gadgets being released, and remind ourselves of what is really important.

Copy and the Customer Disconnect

Amy Harrison spoke specifically on The Customer Disconnect (you can find her full presentation here:

She described a ‘disconnect’ as “A breakdown in understanding between what you think you say and what prospects think you mean, which happens when you focus on what you want the prospect to do but forget why prospects should want to do it”

“Aha!” I hear you cry. “We don’t do this! We are always focused on the benefit to the customer. I can stop reading here” – but wait, stay with me. I bet if you’re not doing this, you know someone who is…

The Forgotten Promise

A good example of ‘Customer Disconnect’ is the forgotten promise. When we promise a prospect is going to learn something, but we never *clearly* deliver on the promise…

“Number 1 stock set to rocket in the next 2 months…”

It’s plastered all over an ad.

I click.

I go to a landing page which reads:

“Free report: 6 Stocks set to rocket this year.”

… OK. So there is still the number 1 stock in there, among the 6 this is recommending to me. So I keenly enter my email address.

The thank you page then reads:

“Thank you, your free report will be delivered to your email in the next 10 minutes. But before you go – there is something you should know:

“Cryptocurrency Shock: Expert prediction could see 1423% gains in just six months”

Wait? Where’s the one stock I was promised?

I go to my email, see there is a welcome email there… from a company I don’t recognise… it says “Welcome to Investing Daily”, and logic tells me it must be the thing I signed up for earlier, that is going to give me that number 1 stock.

I scroll through the welcome email until I find a link at the bottom, which says “6 Stocks Set to Rocket in 2017”

Ok…. Surely the one I was promised is in here… I open… and no… there is no “Number one”…

Not only is it frustrating, but it’s actually breaking my trust before we even have any to start with. The whole purpose of lead generation is to build a relationship – usually based on trust – with the reader.

Is Your Copy Cheating on You?

Another example of ‘Disconnect” she used, was “Cheating Copy”. We (Mark Ford geeks) know this as specificity… or lack thereof.

How do you know your copy is cheating on you? You see it hanging around other sites…

Clayton Makepeace refers to this as “Me too” headlines.

Let me give you an example: Looking through my inbox here are 3 headlines I read in the last 24 hours which screamed “Cheat!” like an episode of The Bachelor (and one of them could be yours!):

Cheating Headline #1:

“What Are You Waiting For?”

→ from a Financial Publisher (UK)

I Googled it…

  1. It’s a Nickelback song.
  2. It’s also a Saturday’s song.

Classic cheating copy…

Cheating Headline #2:

“Last Chance on Halloween Sale”

→ from a Lifestyle Publisher (US)

I Googled it…

  1. Shared this headline with, a women’s clothing site
  2. Also shared their headline with “Copycat Couture”, a FB page with 185 Likes on FB, specialising in matching “Mom and Me” leggings…

Yeh, its cheating.

Cheating Headline #3:

“Get This While It’s Still Free”

→ from a Financial Publisher (US)

I Googled it and found…

  1. A Pinterest board of free apps for kids.
  2. A dodgy site I decided not to click on, advertising a Marine Sharpshooter.

Yep… definitely cheating.

How to Tackle the ‘Customer Disconnect’? Advice from Clayton Makepeace…

Amy’s solution was to imagine you are talking to “Generic Cynical Man” (or grumpy old man – pretty accurate for many of the publishers in our space!). What would he say?

“Maximise your returns!”

→ Why should I believe you?

Maximize your return by writing killer ad copy

“See 600% gains in just 3 days!”

→ Yeh, right.

Ad Copy tips - The power of copywriting

So how do you get around the “generic cynical man”? You make him the promise, but give him specifics and proof: you make it believable…

Again, referencing Clayton Makepeace in an article he wrote:

Adding razor-sharp specifics – quantifying the results you’re promising – can make ad copy come alive:


“Lose weight fast!”


“World’s first and only supplement GUARANTEED to vaporize 15 pounds of ugly fat––from your belly,

hips, butt, and thighs––in 30 days or LESS!”

Think: How much faster does your product work? 20% faster? 40% faster? Twice as fast?

How much time will it save your prospect? 15 minutes a day? 45 minutes a day? Five hours a week?

How much money will it make him or save him––down to the penny––and how often? How much will it cut his health risks or mitigate his symptoms?

(A great podcast featuring Clayton Makepeace can be found here, from our friend and fellow AMM Member Kevin Rogers:

Agora folk can find the full article from Clayton Makepeace referenced above using the link below:

Marketing Tools for Writing Copy That Converts

Peer Review tool:

One tool I hadn’t heard of was A panel of reviewers get a 5 second view of your site – a landing page for example. They then have to recall what stood out or what they thought you were trying to say / sell. Almost a peer review without needing 5 other people in the room with you – great for small teams.

Ad Copy Crib Sheet:

This crib sheet (you can find it here: ) gives you a helpful layout for writing ad copy which is driven by a symptom, tackles the problem, and delivers a solution.  A great tool to use to get the brain working when starting to work on campaign copy or just to better understand what your prospects biggest pain points are.

Finding the Benefit Crib Sheet:

This crib sheet (you can find it here: ) works well to help marketers get to the heart of the benefit to the reader by asking 3 very simple questions:

A what?

That does what?

So what?

Copy Beats Widgets Every Time


While my time at PPC Hero felt a little wasted, it did give me perspective, and a chance to step back and realise that yes, new shiny buttons / strategies / techniques are all exciting, but fundamentally none of it works without great copy.

As marketers, we have to stop using widgets, gadgets and buzz words to mask the hardest but most significant part of the job: Writing copy that converts.

Until Next Time,

Natalie - Signature

Natalie Eagling

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll enjoy Grant’s article on the age old debate of what’s more important? List or copy. 

P.P.S. Scotti went to the AWAI copywriting bootcamp a few months back. You can read her takeaways, here.