Copywriting Terminology & 10-Step Formula For Dummies.

copywriting terminology explained

In this article, I provide clear explanations of copywriting terminology to demystify the art of persuasion.

You’ll also discover my 10-step formula that even an illiterate drop-out can use to write advertising copy 1,000 times more deadly than a Madison Avenue copywriter.

Getting started with copywriting terminology.

There’s a gigatonne of engaging and informative content about copywriting.

They range from video interviews on how to develop a clear and concise writing style to social media posts with real-world applications of copywriting.


These guides are often crammed to the rim with copywriting terminology that may seem daunting to those unfamiliar with the industry.

Terms like “tone of voice“, “call-to-action“, “conversion rate” and other bewildering jargon obscure the core principles and techniques that underpin the copywriting guide.

In this article, we’ll endeavour to provide clear explanations of some of the most common copywriting terms, cutting through the confusing fluff to help you to better understand the key concepts to help make copywriting more effective.

Let’s start with the basics… What is copywriting anyway?

Copywriting is the art of writing persuasive content to get a reader to take a particular action.

This might be buying a product, signing up to a newsletter or filling out a contact form. (That reminds me… Steal our best copywriting techniques here!)

For example, the goal of our home page is to get people to book a strategy call.

Now we know what copywriting is. So, let’s dive into the most common copywriting terminology you’ll come across. Oh, and you’ll also discover a few tips and tricks to get you started:

What is a headline?

Hulu copywriting headline
Hulu gets straight to the point with its headline.

Let’s start with the most fundamental concept in copywriting: the headline.

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The headline is the first thing that a reader will see when they encounter your copy, whether it’s on a website, in an email, or on a billboard.

A headline is a “hook” that draws the reader in and compels them to keep reading or to act.

A good headline should be attention-grabbing (ideally of the eyeball-clutching variety), relevant to the reader’s interests or needs, and provide a clear indication of what the offer is.

Copywriting tip #1: Humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish (seriously… Google it!). This means that you have less than eight seconds to grab someone’s attention. So keep your headlines short and simple.

What is a subheading?

Enzymedica Creative Copywriting Landing Page
We designed this landing page for Enzymedica UK. Note the duel subheadings.

The subheading is the secondary headline that follows the main headline.

A well-crafted subheading can improve the clarity of the message and is used to further elaborate the main headline.

Copywriting Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to use more than one subheading in copy. We typically use two subheadings for lead-gen landing pages such as the one above.

What is a call to action?

Call to action example - what is a cta
Freshbooks’ CTA reads “Try it Free for 30 Days”.

A call to action (CTA for short) is an essential part of copywriting as it tells the reader what to do next.

CTAs are a statement that prompts the reader to take a specific action, such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a form.

A strong call to action makes or breaks copywriting as it is the key component that transforms a reader’s interest into action.

Copywriting tip #3: Describe the action you want someone to do and ensure that it ties into what your headline is about. For example, “Download my free copywriting ebook now”.

What is a conversion rate?

what is a conversion rate
Conversion rate optimization tests different designs and copy.

The conversion rate is the percentage of people who take the desired action.

Making a purchase or filling out a form are the most common types of conversion rates.

Regardless, a high conversion rate is the ultimate goal of copywriting.

Copywriting Tip #4: We have different versions of copywriting that we use on four variants of our homepage. So don’t be afraid to test your copywriting to see what works best.

What is copywriting tone?

Wendy's copywriting example - what is copywriting tone
Wendy’s Twitter account is written with an informal tone.

In copywriting, tone refers to the mood or attitude that the writer conveys through their writing.

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The tone of copywriting should always reflect the personality of your target audience.

For instance, a piece of copy that uses a formal tone would be suitable for a business proposal, while a more informal tone would be appropriate for a blog post.

Copywriting Tip #5: People aren’t formal robots. So don’t get bogged down by formal language and instead reach out to people using the same words, phrases and tone that your target audience uses.

What is a brand voice?

what is brand voice
A brand voice is a powerful copywriting technique.

Voice is somewhat similar to tone and refers to the personality that comes through in your writing.

It is the way you write that makes your content unique and a strong voice can help to build a brand’s identity and connect with customers.

Copywriting Tip #6: Many brands are reaching out to their customers using a personality within the organization. For example, Neil Patel sends newsletters that are written in the same style as you would see in a normal email. So don’t hold back on using an individual’s voice in your copywriting.

What are features and benefits?

what are features and benefits - copywriting
I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Copywriters understand the difference between features and benefits. However, they are often thrown together which may seem confusing.

Features refer to what a product or service does, while benefits refer to how those features can solve a problem for the customer.

Effective copywriting focuses on both the features and the benefits of a product or service.

Copywriting Tip #7: Start each bullet point with a feature and then end with a benefit. For example, “learn the most common copywriting terminology, so that you never feel confused again”.

What is a unique selling proposition?

What is a unique selling proposition
Unique selling proposition is both what you customers want and what you do well.

A unique selling proposition (or USP for short) is what sets a product or service apart from its competitors.

It is what makes it unique and desirable to customers.

Copywriting Tip #8: Sometimes your USP isn’t what you expect it to be. Survey customers to find out why they buy your products or services and then look for patterns. This is your true USP.

What is readability?

what is readability - Hemingway App screen
The readability of this article is Grade 8. But there’s some work still to be done!

Copywriters need to understand the concept of readability.

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Not to be confused with legibility, readability refers to how easy the reader can understand the content.

Great copywriters use simple language and short sentences to improve readability to keep the reader’s attention and better convey their message.

Copywriting Tip #9: Hemingway App is a free tool that helps you to make your writing more readable. You can also ask Chat CPT to explain your copywriting “to a five-year-old”.

Bullet points

The Gary Halbert Letter - what are bullet points
The Gary Halbert Letter is a masterclass in bullet points.

In copywriting, bullet points are snappy one-liners that give you tantalizing information about the product or services that the copywriter is promoting.

Think of them like tiny little missiles of information that pack a punch and leave you craving for more.

For example:

  • The 58 most important questions that will set you on the path to financial success
  • Unlock the hidden tax benefits you never knew you had!
  • COPYWRITING: a legal substitute for mind control!

These bullet points stand out on a page and are designed to grab your attention and when done correctly they keep you hooked until the very end.

Bullet points are also a great way to condense large chunks of text into information that easier to digest.

While crafting bullets is a true art form and takes a lot of practice, trial and error, and a willingness to experiment with different approaches one easy technique is to start with a feature and end with a benefit.

Copywriting Tip #10: Note how each bullet point used above starts with what it is and ends with a benefit. This copywriting formula can be applied to headlines, paragraphs and anything else you write.

Let ‘er rip tater chip.

In conclusion dear reader, you now understand the most crucial copywriting terminology you need for effective communication with clients, colleagues, and customers.

By mastering these terms, you’ll finally sound like a professional copywriter. And for some, the next step will be to better understand how to create copy that engages readers, builds brands, and drives sales.

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