How to Write Captivating Copy that Engages Readers

Write captivating copy that engages readers
Write captivating copy that engages readers | Source

Do you ever wonder how your favorite bloggers get so many followers and why their work is so engaging? Do you know how to grab a reader's attention, get them focused and wanting to read more? What is it about your favorite author that makes him/her so appealing?

No matter what you write, whether it's a short story or ad copy, there are techniques you can use that will help pull your reader in and hold their attention. Once you know the point of your piece; you can learn to speak directly to your intended audience according to their learning style(s) and this will enhance your writing more than any “grammar book” ever will.

Know Your Intended Audience

If I am writing a recipe hub for example, my audience is going to be people who are looking for specific information on how to do something. They probably don't want to read an epic saga of my life, they just want to know how make a pie.

A 1500 word article to explain how to make a flaky pie crust won't hold my readers' attention Why? Most people who are doing a DIY project are tactile/kinesthetic learners who are not really avid readers. They want to get the information and then get started. For this type of person, you want to get to the point, keep it punchy and “active” to keep them engaged.

Product reviews can be a bit longer, so long as they are informative and not full of fluff. People looking for reviews typically want detailed, but still highly engaging information about a product they might want to purchase. This type of writing should appeal to all the senses and should be visual, auditory and tactile. When you are looking to make an investment; you are more detail-oriented.

With fiction, you need to hook your reader into the story right away. Appeal to all your reader's senses immediately to draw them in. Your writing shouldn't just tell what happens.

“John walked downstairs to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee.” … yawn, boring. Instead you want to engage the senses. “John walked fast, following the smell of fresh brewed coffee that cut through the crisp morning air.”

A quick example, but you can see how it is more interesting – it has action, movement and the use of senses. Chances are you relate more to the second example, because it gives you a sense of the experience.

You can do this with ad copy also – in fact, you see examples of this all the time. There is usually a backstory going on to pull you into the ad; you connect with it, because it has been designed to connect with you.

Before sitting down to write anything, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the goal of my piece? (Is it a review? Are you solving a problem or answering a question?)
  • Who is my intended audience? (someone needing a fast answer? Someone researching more in-depth information? Someone seeking entertainment?)
  • Who will be reading? – what learning style are they most likely to have? (See more below)

Appealing to Readers Senses

Every one of us learns in different ways. We all use some blend of sight, sound and tactile/kinesthetic (hands-on/feeling) learning techniques. Most people will have one area that is highly dominant over the others, but everyone uses all three to varying degrees. The type of writing you are doing, and your audience, help determine what type of words to use in your work.

Writing for the Auditory Person

When you engage in a conversation with someone, you will notice if they are a more auditory person by how they respond. An auditory person will say phrases like “I hear you” instead of “I understand” for example.

When you talk or write about something that is geared to those who are more auditory, you should use a lot of words that appeal to that sense.

“She listened intently as he explained the process”.

“Quiet! He shouted in a booming voice. “I can't hear myself think!”.

"The silence was deafening."

Notice how this appeals to the auditory part of the brain. Chances are, as you read – in your mind, the mental voice got louder with the “Quiet!”

Examples of words that appeal to auditory learners
Examples of words that appeal to auditory learners | Source

Writing for a Visual Audience

Then there are the visual people, those who primarily relate to the world by what they see. They will relate to the stories that are appealing to their mind's eye and need something that helps them visualize what you are saying.

“The leaves changed colors” is bland, but if you punch it up a bit –

“The leaves were the most vivid shades of red and yellow. As the sun began to set, she was entranced by the vision of leaves and sky that glowed like fire”.

Use visual descriptors in pieces you write that are designed for visual learners. This is great for writing reviews for example, since people can't actually physically see the product in detail, the better you describe the item, the more apt you are to get conversions.

In fiction of course, visual techniques are great for establishing settings and making a place come alive. You can transport your reader to a location in their mind, by carefully placed descriptive words.

Examples of words and cues that appeal to visual learners
Examples of words and cues that appeal to visual learners | Source

The Tactile or Kinesthetic Approach to Writing

This appeals to those who learn by doing. It relies a lot on action words and a sense of motion and progressiveness to the writing. It is very useful for persuasive writing, because it directly appeals to the emotions and to a person's sense of urgency. In fiction, it's great for character development, allowing the reader to get an understanding of the mindset of the character.

A kinesthetic person will usually speak actively. Instead of saying something like

“I went to the store yesterday to buy items to bake a cake” The Kinesthetic person's words will convey more purpose, urgency and emotion.

“I ran to the store at the last minute to grab things to bake a birthday cake”

Tactile people bore easily with reading if it isn't exceptionally engaging and if the pace is too slow.

You can likely already see how this applies to a lot of direct marketing. In many ads, they appeal to a sense of urgency – they incite anxiety or a need to take action on purpose. If you are directed to take action; you are more likely to do it. Usually this is blended with good story telling or testimonials to appeal to all the senses.

Kinesthetic writing is also great in fiction, particularly when you need to heighten the plot or develop a sense of anticipation, etc. When you read a story that you can't put down, it's usually because of kinesthetic appeal - you can't wait to experience what happens next!

Words that appeal to kinesthetic "hands-on" learners
Words that appeal to kinesthetic "hands-on" learners | Source

Practice Engaging Writing

The best way to practice these different styles is to take simple concepts or sentences and rewrite them in different ways. Use the word cues in this hub to make the sentences below more visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

  • Sally has a test in her Algebra class today.
  • John is taking the subway to his office building.
  • This product is more expensive, but it works better.

Need more help? Try asking questions in your mind and then answering them as part of your description. Sally has an algebra test – so what? How does she feel? Is she nervous? Is she a math whiz? What does she see or hear? Is she having a conversation in her mind? Answering questions “who, what, why, how etc. can help you clarify the purpose of your writing.

The product that works best – What is it? What makes it pricier? Is it really worth the extra dough and if so, why?

So there you have a very basic explanation of the learning styles and how to appeal to them all with your writing. The most successful writers can engage all 3 simultaneously – not an easy feat! That's why the best copywriters make the big bucks of course! :)

When I read I like...

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Words that sell is an excellent resource to keep handy while writing. Sometimes it's difficult to come up with just the right word that will add that extra punch to a phrase. This book is a copywriter's dream, but any type of writer will find it much more useful than a standard thesaurus. It was designed with the art of the hook and persuasion in mind.

Persuasive Content Creation

This excellent, in-depth video demonstrates how writing is used to create an emotional bond with our readers. This is from a marketing perspective, but it shows the fine art of writing that benefits both you and your readers.

In the end, that's what you really want, a way to connect with your readers and turn them into customers or fans. You want them to leave your website, ad copy, or book and say "hey, wow that really helped me!". These are the people who will help you grow and gain recognition as a writer and expert in your field.

© 2013 Christin Sander

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Comments 41 comments

Finegrainwriter profile image

Finegrainwriter 19 months ago from Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Vast resources. Thanks a ton!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 24 months ago from Midwest Author

So true - I also love my thesaurus when it comes to finding a word that has a better sound :) thanks for the read and vote!

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 24 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Creative writing using words that i hardly used, i must start looking up my dixtionary again, voted up

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Vvitta glad you enjoyed the hub :) sounds like you have a fun job!

Vvitta profile image

Vvitta 2 years ago from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Love this piece. I teach creative writing and totally agree with everything you have said here. Keep up the good job.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Laura,

I appreciate your comments and feedback. Glad you enjoyed the hub!

Laura Lanes profile image

Laura Lanes 2 years ago from Syracuse, NY

I half thought this was going to be the standard "use action words" and "create a sense of urgency." While those are covered nicely, I really appreciated the reminder to appeal to all senses - and especially their likely dominant sense if you know it.

Including examples on which to practice was a nice touch, too.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks kerlund74 for reading and commenting - so glad you enjoyed the hub :)

kerlund74 profile image

kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

Very well written, great hub:)

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks SandCastles - glad you enjoyed the hub. It's true, description can be overdone as well - it's a fine line, but when done right it really makes writing come alive. :) thanks for visiting and commenting.

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SandCastles 3 years ago

I really like this hub because you had so many specific examples.

I like description but if there is too much description, I find myself getting bored unless the description is really well done (like your leaves turning colour-sunset description-it was so vivid and I liked the fire analogy) but I want the writer to move it along and get on with the story. One of my favourite authors is Robert Louis Stevenson. He has loads of description yet it doesn't weigh down the story. I love 'treasure Island' and 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. I also like Roald Dahl, Mark Twain, And C.S Lewis. I recently read the book, "Like Water For Chocolate" and the book really appeals to the senses with all the recipes and descriptions of food. Good Hub!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for the read and share RTalloni :) much appreciated. I'll look for your Pinterest board.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

It's all in the appeal… :) Thanks for this nicely done overview! Pinning to my Writing: Assorted Writes, Rights, and Wrongs board.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Becky

Becky 3 years ago

Great info!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for the comment grand - glad you enjoyed the hub! :)

grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 3 years ago from Philippines

Very helpful information. It reminds me that there is more than one way to approach writing, and it is a good idea to try all types of approaches to expand one's skill. Thank you very much for this:)

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for the vote and comment Clinton much appreciated

Clinton1998 profile image

Clinton1998 3 years ago from China

Awesome! Voted UP!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

thanks random :) glad you enjoyed it.

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great job with this topic! Very detailed. This is a great resource for both veteran and new writers.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

thank you joanveronica glad you found it useful :)

joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 3 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

This is so very great, and just what I needed at this moment! So thanks for all the tips. See you!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

you're very welcome drbj glad you found the hub useful :)

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Excellent, Christin, I enjoyed reading once again about the various types of stimuli: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Value information for anyone who calls himself/herself a writer. Thanks for the examples of potential words and cues.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you Pearl :) much appreciated

grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

ChristinS, I am bookmarking this excellent look at how to write for a specific audience. Well done ;) Pearl

Voted Up+++

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Borsia - much appreciated :)

Borsia profile image

Borsia 3 years ago from Currently, Philippines

Excellent ChristinS; very well done.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Sue! appreciate the votes :)

Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

Interesting hub which people will find useful. Voted up and useful

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Wow Marion - thanks for the compliment - so glad you found the hub useful.

Marion Reads profile image

Marion Reads 3 years ago from Canada

Thank you for writing this great article. I think it's a perfect example of a hub and I will probably consider it my hub-writing bible.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you Flourish - so glad you enjoyed the hub!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you sprickita - it comes with practice, I've been writing for a lot of years now - and I am always trying to improve.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

These are helpful explanations and examples for writers. One definitely must know her audience!

sprickita profile image

sprickita 3 years ago from Reno

Your writing is very well spoken, I find it refreshing. It is seamless as you read!

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks epsonok0 glad you enjoyed the hub - let us know how it works for you :)

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epsonok0 3 years ago

great hub. I am going to try a few of these fascinating things.

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you billy :) I appreciate that coming from you as I tend to look to your hubs for information on how to improve my own writing! :)

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Excellent information, Christin. I'm often times amazed how few writers pay any attention to this important facet of writing.

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