Body copy refers to the paragraphs of text that make up the majority of a website page, sales page, blog post, advertisement, email, or any other marketing message. In other words, it’s all the “meat” of the content that comes below the headline and makes your case to readers.
Crafting compelling body copy is a crucial skill for marketers, advertisers, bloggers, and anyone creating persuasive content online. Your headlines may convince visitors to start reading, but your body copy must sustain their attention, educate them on key points, build credibility, create the desire for the product or service, and finally motivate them to take action.
This complete guide will teach you body copy best practices to help you write clear, scannable, benefits-driven copy that persuades readers and moves them closer to a conversion. You’ll learn the anatomy of effective body copy, techniques to craft more persuasive copy, and optimization tips to improve clarity, readability, keyword targeting, and overall conversion rates.
Elements of Effective Body Copy
Before we dive into writing copy, let’s overview the key elements that make up high-converting body content.
The headline is the gateway into the rest of your copy. You must first use urgent, benefit-driven headlines that command attention and give readers a reason to read the body copy. Some effective headline formulas include:
- Numbered/list headlines (e.g. “10 Ways to…”)
- “How to” headlines
- Questions (e.g. “Are You Making This Mistake with…?”)
- Direct benefit statements (e.g. “Land Your Dream Job in 30 Days”)
Follow your headings with an opening paragraph that continues to communicate the headline’s messaging.
Scannable Opening Paragraphs
You have mere seconds to convince website visitors to keep reading in competitive digital spaces. Optimize the first 1-2 sentences to communicate the value proposition so readers continue through the rest of the copy. Some elements of effective opening paragraphs include:
- Directly state the key benefit
- Establish credibility/authority
- Use formatting for easy scanning (short sentences, bullets)
- Include a compelling call-to-action to guide readers
On average, users don’t read online – they skim and scan for relevance. Use reader-friendly formatting throughout body copy including:
- Short, 1-2 sentence paragraphs
- Numbered/bulleted lists over dense paragraphs
- Bold key statistics/claims for fast scanning
- Generous white space between sections
- Subheadings to break up sections
Calls-to-action (CTAs) urge website visitors to take your desired actions. Insert CTAs throughout body copy to lead readers to conversion points. Some best practices include:
- Use action words that drive momentum (“Enroll now,” “Join today,” etc.)
- Make them scannable with buttons, unique colors, etc.
- Link to landing pages, sign-up forms, shopping carts, etc.
How long should your body copy be? Extended bodies of text can quickly overwhelm readers. But too-short copy fails to provide details needed to guide decisions. Find the optimal balance with these best practices:
- Landing pages: 150-250 words
- Blog posts: 300-1,000 words
- Whitepapers / Guides: 1,500+ words
Of course, these vary across industries and mediums. Test different lengths to determine ideal word counts for each marketing channel.
Now let’s transition to techniques for writing persuasive copy that educates and converts readers.
Crafting Persuasive Body Copy
Your body copy must go beyond simply housing relevant content. You need to actively persuade readers by building credibility, creating desire, alleviating concerns, and ultimately driving them to take action.
Lead With Benefits
A common copywriting mistake is focusing too heavily on features rather than buyer benefits. Remember, features tell while benefits sell. Structure copy around key benefits readers will receive such as:
- Saving time
- Improving health
- Saving money
- Reducing frustration
Back benefits claims with specific examples, statistics, stories, and testimonials.
Layer in Social Proof
Social proof builds trust and credibility using peer endorsements. Sprinkle body copy with proof sources like:
- User/client testimonials
- Industry expert quotes
- Case study examples & results
- Trust badges (BBB, TrustPilot, etc.)
But don’t go overboard – strike an 80/20 balance between benefit statements and social proof.
Appeal to Emotions
Humans make decisions on emotion justified with logic. Layer in emotional triggers related to the target audience such as:
- Security in finances/health of family
- Pride in appearance/reputation
- Acceptance in social circles
- Fear of missing out
Connect emotional appeals directly to benefits.
Tell Compelling Stories
Storytelling techniques build rapport with readers while illustrating concepts in relatable ways. Use stories like:
- Journey stories: Follow a character through a transformation
- Before-and-after stories: Show contrast between problem and solution
- Analogies: Compare your concepts to more familiar ideas
Sprinkle 1-2 impactful anecdotes throughout copy.
Let’s now transition to optimizing copy specifically for higher conversions.
Optimizing Body Copy for Conversions
You can have a well-crafted, persuasive message – but fails to use keywords or connect messaging to calls-to-action. Optimize copy for conversions with these tips.
Perform Keyword Research
Conduct keyword research to find terminology your audience uses in relation to your offering. Tools like Google Keyword Planner help uncover this “lingo”.
Organically weave 20+ primary keywords/keyphrases throughout copy to improve:
- Search visibility
- Message relevance by mirroring mental models
- Trust through topic authority signals
But avoid awkward over-optimization!
Check Readability Levels
If paragraphs are dense and complex, readers disengage. Assess grade level readability with free online tools like Hemingway App.
Simplify body copy for scannability and clarity. Target a Flesch-Kincaid score of 60-70 or 7-8th grade level readability.
Strategically Place CTAs
As highlighted previously, calls-to-action urge visitors to convert. Beyond general placement guidelines, focus CTAs around:
- Addressing customer questions, concerns, objections
- Key selling points
- Follow stories showcasing positive outcomes
- After social proof builds credibility
Insert 3-4 CTAs in total throughout copy.
Continually A/B Test Copy
There is no universally “perfect” body copy for all audiences. You need to continually experiment and fine-tune messaging based on performance data.
Tools like Google Optimize allow you to effortlessly set up A/B split tests for elements like:
- Opening paragraphs
- Section ordering
- Story formats
- Call-to-action phrasing
Let data guide copy improvements over assumptions.
What’s the Difference Between Body Copy and Display Copy?
Body copy and display copy are both important elements of effective marketing messages. But they serve very different purposes.
Defining Body Copy
As explained throughout this guide, body copy refers to the long-form text that makes up the majority of a web page, sales letter, advertisement, blog post, etc. It encompasses the critical details that educate readers, build credibility, create desire, overcome concerns, and persuade visitors to convert.
Some attributes that set body copy apart include:
- Written in full paragraph format with proper grammar, sentence structure
- Has an authoritative, educational tone to share details
- Lengthy, around 150+ words at minimum
- Goal is to retain attention, communicate key points, drive specific actions
Without compelling body copy, any marketing material fails to achieve conversion goals. But it has some limitations…
Display Copy Characteristics
Display copy refers to brief text snippets designed for fast consumption rather than drawn-out explanation. Examples include:
- Short 2-5 word taglines
- Bulleted or numbered lists
- Headlines and subheads
- Captions on images/graphics
- Brief description text
Quality display copy focuses more on being:
- Highly scannable in format and length
- Attention-grabbing in tone and word choice
- Complementary to adjacent body copy
Think of display copy as the “salt and pepper” to spice up and enhance the main course meal.
Contrast Between Approaches
To recap the key differences:
While body copy educates, display copy intrigues.
Body copy persuades through valuable content. Display copy persuades through creativity and brevity.
Body copy caters to intentional, patient reading behaviors. Display copy targets quick glances from scanners.
Effective marketing assets incorporate both elements together to communicate messages effectively across various visitor types. The long-form body copy houses and explains critical information. Display copy then draws attention to important points and urges visitors to keep reading the body content.
So body copy and display copy work together – not compete against each other. The long paragraphs of body text would overwhelm readers without intermittent headline breaks and relevant imagery enhanced by display copy snippets.
In other words, too much display copy and too little body text results in no substance behind claims. But excessive body text without display copy fails to guide readers and facilitate easy scanning for time-strapped visitors.
Think of body and display copy as two critical ingredients blended properly to create an enticing, delicious recipe. Apply the right mixture, and your marketing achieves maximum conversions.
How to Write High-Converting Body Copy
If you feel overwhelmed staring at a blank page, follow this step-by-step process to craft compelling body copy from scratch.
Step 1: Define Goals and Audience
Every element of copy flows from your core objectives. Start by outlining:
- What specific actions do you want visitors to take? Sign up? Purchase? Contact?
- What page will this copy go on? Homepage? Product page? Offer page?
- Who is your target reader? Backgrounds, pain points, goals?
With crystal clear goals and audience in mind, you can tailor copy directly to their motivations.
Step 2: Construct an Outline
Map out a detailed outline highlighting exactly what the copy needs to communicate such as:
- Core benefits readers will receive
- How the product/service delivers those benefits
- Who else uses and loves the offering
- Common questions/objections to address
- Key distinguishing features
Flesh out outline sections with supporting details until a compelling narrative flows logically from beginning to final call-to-action.
Step 3: Research Keywords
Uncovering terms and phrases your audience actually uses helps naturally weave in relevant vocabulary.
Tools like Google Keyword Planner show monthly searches around topics to integrate organically within copy for optimization.
Step 4: Write a Draft
With an outline in place, goals defined, and keywords on hand, start compiling paragraphs and sections. Employ copywriting best practices covered in this guide as you draft including:
- Lead with benefits
- Share validating stories
- Overcome buyer concerns
- Guide readers with CTAs
- Format for easy scanning
Don’t self-edit excessively on your first pass. Simply get ideas down on paper.
Step 5: Refine Messaging
With an initial draft done, step back and refine the copy including:
- Tightening sentences for clarity
- Ensuring logical flow from headline to conclusion
- Strengthen calls-to-action
- Highlighting credibility with proof sources
Run the content through a free readability analysis tool to simplify complex sections.
Step 6: Have Others Review
Fresh eyes notice gaps in messaging and assumptions made. Have both colleagues and target buyers review copy and provide feedback through:
- Email surveys on clarity
- Clickable prototypes to test flow
- Session recordings observing reactions
Use responses to further refine content that resonates.
And remember – copywriting is an iterative process. Continually review data around conversions to guide improvements week over week and month over month.
With time and sustained effort, you’ll develop an intuitive knack for writing body copy that prompts action.
Examples of High-Converting Body Copy
Seeing real-world examples brings best practices to life. Let’s explore a few excellent examples of persuasive online body copy driving conversions for major brands.
Hubspot optimizes their homepage body copy for incoming visitors researching inbound marketing solutions.
Their opening paragraph quickly establishes authority in the space and leads with the core benefit – growing website traffic. Simple but benefit-driven headlines break up scannable sections catered to visitor questions around driving more leads.
The copy strikes an excellent balance between educating website visitors and directly selling the HubSpot software throughout each section. CTAs prompt contacts and free product demos while trust signals like IBM logos increase credibility.
This balance likely contributes to their over 100,000 customers – clearly the copy converts!
2. Square Online Store
Product and service-oriented sites face heavy competition on cost and features. Square’s body copy for their ecommerce offerings takes a different approach focusing on emotional benefits:
The copy leads with pride in business ownership and control over identity. Scannable sections reiterate emotional benefits like maintaining customer relationships and the flexibility offered through their ecommerce tools.
Rather than technical features, they know emotional appeals like independence and relationships motivate buyer decisions. The few simple CTAs allow you to instantly “start selling” which supports that quick store setup process.
This emotional approach has fueled over 50% annual revenue growth for Square, proving effective.
3. SendinBlue Email Marketing
Some body copy drives conversions by building intense credibility through mountains of social proof.
SendinBlue heavily leans on expert testimonials, customer logos, and five-star review badges to rapidly build trust in their email solution:
100,000+ customers and a Forbes feature headline addresses visitor uncertainty holding them back. The opening line sums up their most compelling benefits. While text-heavy overall, scannable formatting like logos, badges, and captions retain attention.
With trust established, CTAs throughout guide visitors to try SendinBlue or view a demo. And with 50,000+ signups daily, the social proof-based copy clearly converts.
Now it’s your turn to test these principles on your own body copy!
In closing, compelling body copy is crucial for sustaining reader attention and ultimately persuading visitors to convert. This guide provided a complete overview for crafting effective copy including:
- Key elements like scannable formatting, strategic CTAs, and appropriate length
- Writing techniques to build desire like leading with benefits, adding social proof, using emotional triggers, and storytelling
- Optimization tips for conversions such as keyword inclusion, assessing readability, and continually A/B testing
By mastering these body copy best practices, you’ll keep visitors engaged across channels, communicate persuasively to motivate action, and maximize conversion rates.
Numbered list headlines tend to grab attention while conveying quick value. For example, “10 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds this Month.” You can then structure body copy around providing those 10 tips.
Online, keep paragraphs to 2-3 sentences maximum. Single sentence paragraphs also format well on mobile devices with narrow columns. Extended chunks of text overwhelm readers.
Most experts recommend using the more personal “you and your” perspective in copy. This speaks directly to readers unlike third person. However, occasionally switch perspectives for variety.
Cite reputable publications, industry research firms like Forrester Research, and qualified experts when including statistics. Sources build credibility. If data comes from primary research, be transparent on details.
Avoid duplicating identical sections of body copy across website pages. Search engines will flag your site for thin or duplicate content, hurting rankings. Customize messaging for each page’s unique value proposition while reusing some elements like testimonials.
Free tools like Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, and Readable.com analyze writing clarity, readability, grammar, and other attributes to clean up copy. They’ll help tighten up overly complex or inconsistent phrasing.
Some tips to improve overall copywriting skills include reading influential books like Ogilvy on Advertising, studying ads and web copy, continually testing effectiveness with visitors, taking dedicated copywriting courses, and practicing daily writing.