How does Apple do it?
Apple seduces with great design. It creates a big buzz for each product launch. And it has evangelists and raving fans.
But its sales copy plays a key role, too.
Apple copywriters know exactly how to sell with words. They know the copywriting tricks, techniques, and formulas that sell products. And they understand which words to choose to help you justify your iPhone 5 purchase. Even if you possess a still-fully-functional iPhone 4S.
How does Apple’s sales copy captivate your attention? How does Apple fascinate, engage, and persuade you to buy a new iPhone?
By studying the iPhone 5 copy, you can learn how to write persuasive sales copy. And master the techniques for turning doubters into buyers. And gain more sales. Sounds good?
Let’s have a look at 11 seductive copywriting techniques.
1. Command attention with one big idea
The iPhone 5 headline grabs attention.
Cynics may say that the Apple copywriters couldn’t think of one key benefit to sell the iPhone 5. And that’s why – the cynics would say – the headline doesn’t focus on a benefit.
The alternative view is that the key objective is to convince existing iPhone owners to upgrade to the iPhone 5. That’s probably why the headline stresses that the iPhone 5 is such a big happening: the biggest thing to happen since iPhone.
When you’re writing a headline for your web copy, what is the main message you want to communicate? Focus on just one thing. Explain what you do. Or tell how your readers will benefit from your product or your service.
2. Promote readability with short and broken sentences
Your high school teacher did not approve of using broken sentences. But in high school, you learned a more academic way of writing. Sales copy is different. Sales copy needs to be easy to read. Your readers don’t want to make an effort to read your content.
Short sentences are much easier to read than long, spiritless sentences. That’s why Apple copywriters don’t worry about starting a sentence with And or But. They do it quite often:
It doesn’t seem possible. (…). But it is.
It’s our thinnest display ever. And it’s the first of its kind.
And that’s just for starters.
Shorter sentences are easier to read and easier to understand. And short sentences also improve the rhythm of copy. Apple even uses one-word sentences:
All-new Lightning connector. Smaller. Smarter. Durable. Reversible.
The staccato rhythm of one-word sentences helps draw attention to each individual word. The style you learned in high school is much weaker: All-new Lightning connector: smaller, smarter, durable, and reversible.
The three iPhone 5 web pages have an average sentence length of 10.9, 11.9, and 14.0 words. That’s pretty good. And pretty readable.
Short sentences are easier to read. If you edit long sentences, just cut them in two. And don’t worry about broken sentences. Be brave. Start a sentence with And, But, or Because.
Try to keep your copy below 12 words per sentence on average.
3. Become memorable with sound bites
Apple copywriters like broken sentences. And sound bites.
Sound bites are easy-to-remember, easy-to-quote nuggets of wisdom.
Sound bites are like proverbs. Generations of people have remembered and passed on proverbs because they communicate one idea in a short and simple way.
Sound bites often feature repetition – like this:
Everything you need. Everywhere you go.
Sound bites can present information in a group of three. It’s often thought that threesomes are sticky and easy to remember:
The thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone ever.
Sound bites sometimes use contrast or surprise. Because contrast and surprise attract attention. They startle the brain:
So much more than before. And so much less, too.
Learn how to write sound bites.
Grab a book of quotations or try a website. Read quotations for 20 or 30 minutes. Practice writing a few. Write tightly. Scrap redundant words. And focus on communicating just one simple idea.
4. Enhance your credibility with technical details
Technical details are a sign of expertise. Technical details enhance trust. And make you more convincing.
Presenting exact details like names and data shows you know what you’re talking about. You may think details aren’t interesting. And you might be inclined to leave them out. But details sell. Let me show you why.
When Claude C. Hopkins, who was one of the most distinguished copywriters, worked for beer brand Schlitz, he toured its factory to learn about brewing beer. He wanted to understand all of the finer details. And in the sales copy, he described the exact process of filtering water. That helped the Schlitz brand move up from fifth to a-tie-for-first position in the American beer market. Other brands just talked about pure water. Schlitz was specific about why the water was pure – even though in reality there was no difference in the water filtering process of different brands. But talking about the details helped to sell the product.
Here is an example of a technical detail of the iPhone 5:
The back of iPhone 5 is made of anodized 6000 series aluminum — the same material used in Apple notebooks (…)
Most readers won’t know what anodized 6000 series aluminum is. Do you? But this detail impresses. And builds confidence. Because Apple shares exactly what the material is.
Let’s have a look at a portion of the description of the iPhone manufacturing process:
Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for instance. During manufacturing, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then examines the images and compares them against 725 unique inlays to find the most precise match for every single iPhone.
The details of the process of assembling the glass inlay into the aluminum housing include:
- two cameras are used;
- each camera is 29MP; and
- the cameras compare the housing with 725 inlays to find a match.
These definite numbers enhance the description. The copy explains exactly how a match is found for each housing to showcase the quality of the production process.
What details can you use to showcase your manufacturing process and the quality of your product? Include figures. And be as specific as possible.
5. Fascinate your audience with stories
Stories are a powerful copywriting tool. Stories fascinate. And stories are memorable.
Here’s a story Apple tells about the development of the earphones for the iPhone 5:
Apple engineers asked more than 600 people to test over 100 iterations of the Apple EarPods. Testers ran on treadmills in extreme heat and extreme cold. They performed various cardio workouts. They were even asked to shake their heads side to side, up and down. The result: Apple EarPods provide stronger protection from sweat and water, and they’re remarkably stable in the ear. Which means they stay in, even when you’re on the go.
This EarPod story helps you imagine the tests. You can visualize the testers in the gym – sweating and shaking their heads. You can picture how the final prototypes are stable in people’s ears – despite the running and shaking and nodding. You might have almost shaken your head while reading that. And that makes the story memorable. Because it makes you picture something. It makes you feel something.
What stories can you tell about your product? Can you explain where the idea for your product came from? Can you tell stories about the challenges you had to overcome when developing the product? And do you have stories about your testing procedures?
Stories are fascinating. Make sure you use them to your advantage.
6. Persuade with problems
Features and specifications are cold, hard facts. And they can be a little boring. Dull. Drab.
Your readers will pay more attention if you can present features as solutions to their problems. Because problems catch the eye. In the example above, there was the problem of earphones falling out of your ears. Here’s another problem:
Another brilliant feature of Lightning: It’s reversible. Which means there’s no wrong way to plug in the cable.
It might not be a big problem, but it’s an issue nonetheless: Messing about with plugs because you always seem to have them the wrong way around. So what’s the solution? The new Lightning plug is reversible.
Here’s another problem:
New noise-canceling technology reduces background noise. So when you hold iPhone up to your ear in a loud room, you hear what matters most: the voice on the other end.
This is a problem most people have experienced. You’re taking a call and you can’t hear what the caller says because you’re in a noisy room. Apple’s solution: The new noise-canceling technology reduces background noise.
When you’re writing sales copy, make sure you list all of your product’s features – be as complete as you can be. And then consider what problem each feature solves.
7. Use analogies to describe product quality
Analogies are useful when describing abstract concepts like quality.
Abstract concepts – such as product quality – are difficult to describe. Analogies can help because they link a characteristic of something new to a similar characteristic of something known. For instance:
iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch – not a smartphone.
The overall audio quality of Apple EarPods is so impressive, they rival high-end headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more.
The quality of FaceTime video calls is so surprising, it’s as if you’re in the same room with whoever’s on the other end.
It’s difficult to explain manufacturing quality, audio quality, and video call quality. That’s why analogies are used to explain each of them. The manufacturing quality is compared with the craftsmanship of fine watches; the audio quality of earphones is compared to that of headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more; and the video quality is as if you’re in the same room with whoever’s on the other end.
Quality is an abstract concept. Use analogies to explain your product quality. Link the quality of your product to something your audience knows already.
8. Overcome objections one by one
You want to be persuasive. Because you want people to buy your products.
It’s not enough to tell your audience how good your product is. You have to anticipate their objections. And overcome them one by one. You need to re-assure potential buyers:
Because even though the display is bigger, iPhone 5 is the same width as iPhone 4S. So it’s just as easy to use with one hand.
The potential objection is that the iPhone 5 is bigger than the iPhone 4S so it may be more difficult to use with one hand. Apple re-assures you by saying: Don’t worry. The width is the same as the iPhone 4S, so you can still easily use it with one hand.
Here’s another example:
Although the surface of the iSight camera is as clear as glass, it’s not made of glass. It’s actually sapphire crystal, whose hardness is second only to diamond on the scale of transparent materials. That means the surface of the lens is far less likely to scratch.
The potential objection is that the iSight camera lens may scratch. Apple re-assures you by writing: It’s made of sapphire crystal – which is far less likely to scratch than glass.
Brainstorm and write down all potential buyer objections. If you’re not sure, ask your customers and prospects. And make sure your sales copy addresses each objection.
9. Encourage trading up with product comparisons
Apple has a loyal following of fans who will queue up to buy the next iPhone as soon as it’s out.
But other people will wonder: do I really need to replace my iPhone 4S with an iPhone 5? Let’s have a look at how Apple copywriters use product comparisons to persuade you to upgrade:
And the new A6 chip is up to 2x faster than the A5 chip but 22 percent smaller. Even with so much inside, iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter and 18 percent thinner than iPhone 4S.
And as stunning as the Retina display is on the iPhone 4S, this one gives you 18 percent more pixels for an impressive 1136-by-640 resolution. Colors get a boost, too, with color saturation that’s 44 percent greater than before.
The 8MP iSight camera has even more features – like panorama and dynamic low-light mode – yet it’s 25 percent smaller.
Do you know what makes these comparisons so powerful? Each comparison includes a number: 18% more pixels, 44% greater, and 25% smaller. The figures enhance credibility and give you the impression that the iPhone 5 is quite different from the 4S.
How can you compare a new product with an old model? Include all the reasons why your new model is better. Try using exact figures to underline the differences.
10. Captivate your audience with power words
Your sales copy is about your product. Just like the iPhone 5 copy is about *er* the iPhone 5.
Not quite. Your copy should always focus more on the potential buyer than on your product. The iPhone 5 sales copy manages to do this. Just about.
The sales copy uses the word iPhone 81 times. And the name Apple is used an additional 26 times. But the words you and your are used even more often: 110 times. That means that one in 23 words of the sales copy is you or your. Here are a few examples:
So you can browse, download, and stream content at remarkable speeds, wherever you happen to be.
With one less layer between you and what you see on iPhone 5, you experience more clarity than ever before.
So with iPhone 5, the games you play, the words you read, the images you see, and the apps you love look and feel incredibly vivid and lifelike.
The text is written so that you start picturing yourself with the iPhone 5. Words like vivid and lifelike help you imagine how it would be to use the iPhone 5. An even more powerful way to do this is by using the word imagine:
Imagine sidesplitting, adventure-filled, must-see flicks produced by you and shot on iPhone 5.
By using the word imagine, the reader starts experiencing the new product. The reader is almost hypnotized into a state of using the iPhone 5. Don’t you get excited about the possibility of creating a sidesplitting and adventure-filled movie? These vivid words – again – add to the experience.
But there’s another power word – one that’s especially useful when you need to convince customers to upgrade their old model. That word is new. New is used 23 times – that means one in 150 words in the iPhone 5 copy is the word new, newer or newest.
Apple copywriters use the phrase entirely new to stress how new the iPhone 5 is.
When you need to persuade existing owners to upgrade to a new model, stressing its newness is an important copywriting technique:
Creating an entirely new design meant inventing entirely new technology.
The all-new Apple-designed A6 chip in iPhone 5 is powerful but not power hungry.
And all-new headphones designed to sound great and fit comfortably.
And so it goes on: there’s so much new about the new iPhone. The design. The technology. The A6 chip. The earphones. The connector. And new features. Apple copywriters further stress the newness of the iPhone 5 by using all-new and entirely new. And the earphones are completely re-imagined from the sound up.
Learn how to use power words to engage your reader:
- Focus your copy on the reader. Use the word you more often than your brand and product names.
- Help your reader imagine what it will be like to use your new product. Use vivid words.
- When you’re selling an upgrade, make sure you list everything that’s new about it. Stress its newness. Use expressions like all-new, entirely new, or completely new.
Ready for the last copywriting technique?
11. Create a persuasive call to action
Clear links and small arrows encourage you to learn more.
A good call to action is specific, stands out, and respects that the customer may not be ready to buy. Apple encourages readers to find out more about the iPhone 5 with small arrows and by having clear links in a color that stands out. The reader may not be ready to buy, so Apple suggests the reader read more instead.
Nearly at the bottom of the page are the other calls to action: Compare iPhone models; Shop online; Visit a store; and Call Apple. These calls-to-action don’t stand out, but the accompanying text sells each of the options:
- Order online: shipment is free; your iPhone is delivered to your door – ready-to-use.
- Visit an Apple store: Apple will activate your iPhone and set it up just the way you want.
- Call Apple: talk to a knowledgeable Specialist.
Encourage your readers to follow your call-to-action. Explain how they’ll benefit. And make your call-to-action stand out.
Bonus: How to design for readability
You’ve attracted attention with your headline.
And you’ve written engaging and persuasive copy. But do you know your web design can destroy the effectiveness of your precious words?
The Apple website shows you how to design for readability:
- Be generous with white space. It enhances and complements your content.
- Increase your font size. Tiny fonts are a crime against readability.
- Reduce your line length. This is especially important for your first few sentences. Because it encourages web visitors to start reading your text.
- Write for skimmers. Communicate your key messages in your headlines and sub headlines.
- Include photos, graphs, or videos. You know our brains love images, don’t you?
How to boost your sales with seductive sales copy
Your product might not be as sexy as the iPhone 5.
But your sales copy can be as seductive. You just have to learn how to apply copywriting tricks.
Focus on your reader. Show your readers you care about them. And explain what your product can do for them. Let your readers imagine what it’s like to use your product. And overcome their objections. One by one.
And when you write, write with passion. And with energy.
Write your first version fast. You have to write while you’re enthusiastic. Because your enthusiasm is contagious.
You’ll gain more sales. And your business will grow.
About the author: Henneke Duistermaat is a UK based content marketing expert. To receive her ultra-short, entertaining copywriting and content marketing tips, sign up now at Enchanting Marketing.