The best copywriting tips from ProCopywriters Conference 2019

The best copywriting tips from ProCopywriters Conference 2019

As a freelance copywriter, I am always learning and you can never hear too many copywriting tips. Don’t get me wrong, the range of online resources is fantastic, but there’s no comparison to venturing out into the big wide world and meet real people. People like me.

The ProCopywriters Copywriting Conference 2019 turned out to be one of the best investments I’ve made so far.  And living in on an island in the middle of the Atlantic, I usually have to travel a long way, and it has to be worth it.

So, I joined hundreds of fellow copywriters who gathered at the Barbican Centre in London, a wonderful learning hub for everything creative.

David McGuire was the perfect MC and kicked off the proceedings with ice breakers that made everyone laugh. I was already convinced. This was indeed my tribe.

Conversion Copywriting

Joanna Weibe from CopyHackers was first on the stand first and spoke about the practice of using VOC (voice of the customer) when creating copy that converts.

There were numerous light bulb moments as she shared some valuable insights and tips on better practices for copywriting, UX (User Experience) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation).

But above all, Joanna emphasised that we will find the right words by listening to our customers.

How do we listen? Ask them and find out their pain points through interviews, surveys and review mining.

We can also use the AARRR metric (no pirate costume needed) to help us understand the customer journey to craft our online campaigns. This helps our clients to retain customers and convert them into future brand ambassadors.

Acquisition            Activation            Retention            Revenue            Referral

Email marketing campaigns

How do you start writing an email campaign? What goes in the first mailing? And the second?

Listen to what your clients say and use it.

Understand the different queries they raise during the sales process.

Say the right thing, at the right time.

Behavioural Biases

Richard Shotton, author of The Choice Factory, then showed us how to apply behavioural science to copywriting, and bring customers around to your way of thinking by applying the EAST Framework:


The tiniest hurdle in the buying process can have a huge effect on whether customers click on the buy button.

If the average UK reading age for the Financial Times is 16 years old, then why are most brand websites written for an audience of 17.5 years?


Do something different to hook your reader


Counteract biases or preconceptions with a message that seduces the subconscious.

Social proof

Use it to assure and persuade customers to take the desire action.

The Pratfall Effect

The Pratfall Effect ­­­can be used to turn a brand’s flaws into advantages. Richard demonstrated this with the brilliant example above, that reinforces the product’s value proposition to their target audience.

Lunch was followed by a range of breakout sessions, from which we were to choose two.

Content Design

In the first of my chosen sessions, with Rachel McConnell, we discovered that 49% of the copy in online journeys was created by people who are not specialised in content.

Specialist copywriters should work together with the design team from the start, if a brand wants to achieve a smooth and successful user journey, whether in an e-commerce website or a mobile app.

Failure to do this can result in a series of bottlenecks later in the development process, leading to missed deadlines, higher costs and dissatisfied (or lost) customers.

UX (user experience) copywriting differs from traditional copywriting in many ways, and here are some important points to remember:

Copy is designed around the process of journey mapping

UX writing often requires that voice and tone adapt along the customer journey, depending on the situation. Users may not be over-impressed by an enthusiastic tone when faced with an error message, for example.

Understand your audience; when to speak and when not to and knowing when NOT to sell.

Copywriters should be involved in the UX team from the word go, but think foundation first, copy last.

Marketing metrics alone are not enough and usability testing between different versions is vital.

Rachel’s insights were excellent for those who work in-house and want to become more involved with user experience development. And whilst it’s an area that is generally off-limits to freelancers, there were still some helpful takeaways for understanding how to steer online users towards your desired objective.

Direct Response

Glenn Fischer of All Good Copy gave a highly inspiring session on Masters of Direct Response with loads of copywriting tips and plenty of belly laughs.

He started by telling a room full of copywriters that we must all DIE.

Given that the average marketing email open rate is 20%, DIE is an acronym encouraging you to disrupt or challenge yourself, whatever it is you’re writing. That is, if you really want anyone to read it.

Or rather…

Disrupt – get your copy noticed among the noise

Intrigue – what is it that makes the reader want to find out more. Not to be confused with vagueness.

Engage – give clear guidance, incentive and reassurance to the reader that it would be a mistake not to click.

Pacing around the room like a mad scientist, Glenn was simply bursting with valuable copywriting tips on how to produce the most effective copy. He even suggested that we loiter in shops to observe customers’ buying behaviour and the way they think. Without getting arrested, of course.

The 4 Us of Copywriting

Unique – find out what the customer finds unique about the product and use it

Urgent – is there a time constraint linked to the product or offer? Make copy relevant to what’s happening in the market or create urgency to drive action.

Useful – what value are you providing for the reader?

Ultra-specific– be very clear about the product and how the reader will benefit from it

Back into the main auditorium, we made ourselves comfortable for the last two speakers of the day.

UX Copywriting

Laura Parker opened by explaining the main difference between copywriting and UX copywriting:

Copywriting is writing to sell while UX writing is writing to inform.

UX writing helps people interact with a product or service. There are buttons, menu labels, error messages, security notes, terms and conditions, instructions, etc.

The main challenge is:

“How do we make software human and more relatable?”

Keeping a beginner’s mind is essential, as well as only offering the necessary information at the time the user needs it. As copywriters, we need to make it as easy as possible for our readers to understand, stay with us and take the desired action.

We must also consider the accessibility issues that people deal with on a daily basis.

Laura also revealed some surprising facts and statistics that all copywriters should know:

Our cognitive load increases by 11% for every 100 words.

We only read 30% of the page

Readers prefer high frequency words to those with a low frequency.

We guess what words mean by their shape. Our eyes move rapidly between fixation points in a sentence (called saccades). The fewer points you have in your text, or on your website, the easier it is to absorb the information and respond to the CTA. Too many CTAs confuse the eye and result in less action.

Humour is risky. Not everyone will get the joke, and some may feel offended. Use empathy instead.

Always start with the WHY of your product service. Then tell your readers WHAT it is.

Skin in the Game

Harry Kapur, Head of Writing at Velocity Partners, closed the event with a bang. He compared copywriters to actors, always having to change hats and get under a brand’s skin before writing anything. And only by doing so can we really get the customers on board.

Brands and copywriters need to take the same risks that they recommend to others. Walk the talk. We need to communicate that and gain the consumer’s trust.

Kapur demonstrated this by using an example of an ancient Persian law. It stated that if a house were to collapse and kill the occupants, then the architect would also be put to death.

So in marketing terms, believe in your brand, take those risks yourself and earn your customer’s trust.

Marketing powered by Skin in the Game is powered by 4 moves:


Keep it real

Research for opinions, not just facts

Eat your own dog food (experience the product and know it from the inside)

Don’t just say. Do

As Harry himself put it:

“We can be bullshit artists, or we can have skin in EVERY game.”

This was a truly entertaining end to a learning-packed day.

So, was it worth leaving the safety of my office on a rock in the middle of the ocean?

Will I travel two and a half thousand miles to next year’s ProCopywriters Copywriting Conference?

Damn right I will.

Thank you to @LeifKendall for the impeccable organisation and the excellent speakers for providing us with invaluable copywriting tips:

Joanna Weibe @copyhackers

Richard Shotton @rshotton

Rachel McConnell @Minette78

Glenn Fischer @allgoodcopy

Laura Parker @lmpcopywriter

Harry Kapur @rupees1hundred @velocitytweets


So what’s new?

So what’s new?

OK, so the word “new” is technically untrue. I began work on this website around a year ago. It took some nine months before it morphed into a fully-fledged online entity. It was arguably similar to having a real baby.

Once that was done and dusted, I felt I needed to get away from my desk and do something different this summer. Quite a few different things, in fact (all in the name of professional blogging, of course).

In June, my diary was splattered with a series of new experiences for my blog with the Canary Islands Tourist Board. First came a super-relaxing weekend at Finca de Arrieta, an eco-resort in the north of Lanzarote.

There was the Craft Beer Tour and another Wine Tour with Wine Tours Lanzarote. The former rather conveniently takes place on a Friday afternoon (yes, they take you home). I should clarify that I didn’t do both of these tours on the same day.

Then came a series of water-based experiences (I am a closet mermaid): parasailing, a Sea Trek (walking in a spaceman-like suit under the sea) with Touristicket, and several diving lessons in the dreamy transparent waters of this wonderful island I call home. I also bobbed around on a catamaran along the coast of neighbouring desert island, La Graciosa, and enjoyed a bit of snorkelling, sailing and general onboard merriment.

In July, I did something that has been on the back burner for a very long time (too many years to count). My Competent Crew sailing certificate with Endeavour Sailing. Now, this wasn’t really work-related. I did it for myself and it was amazing. Hopefully life-changing (anyone need a hand with their yacht?).

Work, work, work and then it was time for a real holiday in August. A wonderful, tropical family holiday to trace my father-in-law’s roots in Northeast Brazil. More about that here.

The hectic work schedule resumed immediately upon my return and here we are, it’s September already. This year has gone incredibly fast, but until now it has certainly been interesting.

In October I’ll be heading to London for the ProCopywriters Copywriting Conference. Then in November, I’ll be at WebSummit Lisbon 2019. I’m excited about as it’ll be my first time at the world’s largest tech industry conference.

If you’ll be at either of these events and would like to catch up over coffee, or if you have any writing-related queries, get in touch.