3 Signs of Virally Effective Copy

Copy that gets attention is fundamentally human. It mimics the lives of the human beings consuming it.

Each of us has an inner life of thoughts and emotions, a behavioral life of actions and decisions, and a social life involving our relationships with others. In copy, these are called engagement, conversion, and amplification.

1. Engagement – The Inner Life of Copy

Engaging copy is material that evokes an emotional and intellectual response in the reader. It inspires, evokes humor or outrage, or ultimately provokes some form of sustained interest.

This alone spurs actions; we act only when we are genuinely engaged. In today’s overcrowded content-driven marketplace, we’re constantly inundated by pitches and promotions. We’ve learned to tune out boring, self-serving, and inauthentic content. Truly engaging copy acknowledges that the reader is a fully fleshed out human being with values, challenges, and motivations.

2. Conversion – The Behavioral Life of Copy

Copy that converts provokes or incites an action from the viewer. You have roughly 8 seconds to convert half of your website visitors. In that time frame, you have to answer the reader’s questions with verve: What am I looking at? Why this and not something else? What do I do now?

Most companies are too close to their own business and too absorbed in their qualifications to produce copy that converts. Often it comes off more like a resume or laundry list of features. Copy that converts focuses on the intrinsic relationship with visitors at each stage in the buying process.

Poor conversion is a sign of copy that is too cerebral, overly self-centered, insufficiently developed—it’s failing to get into the head of the reader.

3. Amplification – The Social Life of Copy

Amplified copy starts in one media channel (e.g., a blog post, video, ebook, webpage, etc.) and is shared across other channels (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+, etc.). That doesn’t mean sharing your own content—amplification is when someone else (a reader, visitor, or fan) decides that your content is valuable enough to link to or republish.

Even if copy converts, it can be limited in reach to that one person. Copy that’s amplified taps into a wider network. It’s the fundamental validation of good content.

In the same way that moviegoers rely on reviews to make a decision, online readers depend on social signals to curate content for them. When a trusted, credible friend says, “look at this!” we pay attention. That viral publicity can even be more effective than people finding your content through search engines or ads, as it spreads from network to network.

Superior copy is intrinsically human. It’s the written model of the human cycle of inner, outer, and interactive activity. Stellar copy accesses our feelings, inspires our choices, and enters into our relationships.

When we say we’re for copywriting for humans, we’re saying that we underscore the fundamental connection we have with the audience by respecting, embracing, and validating them.

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