We all know the goal in copywriting — conversions. Whether you want someone to push a button, download a lead magnet, or buy a product, a conversion is your goal. So, how do you write copy that converts? Picking the right adjectives in your copywriting will get you there.
Your words can attract or repel, and if you’re selling, then your words better attract. Strong, sensory adjectives are the most effective way to grab your distracted reader’s attention. Using the right adjectives that speak to your reader will create a sense of commonality between your writing and them. Then, they will trust you. Once they trust you, they will buy what you’re selling.
So, what adjectives are the best ones for your copy? First, here’s a quick review of adjectives.
What is an Adjective?
Adjectives are words that describe a person, place, thing, or idea (nouns). Adjectives modify a noun to make it distinct from other nouns. In this definition, the word “distinct” is the key. The copy you write must reflect your product’s distinct characteristics. The right adjectives will make your product stand out and will lead to conversions.
Kinds of Adjectives
Several classes of adjectives exist, and each performs a different descriptive function.
- Size — tall, thin, huge
- Age — old, young, new
- Color — red, yellow, blue
- Shape — round, cylindrical, rectangular, square
- Material — wooden, silky, metallic
- Origin — American, Canadian, Mexican
- Determiner — the, my, his
- Article — a, an, the
- Opinion — beautiful, inexpensive, ugly
- Qualifier — ski lodge, traffic cop, shopping mall (these words are integral to each other)
8 Tips about Adjectives in Copywriting You can Afford to Miss
1. Too Many Adjectives Weaken Your Copy
If you have too many adjectives in your copywriting, you didn’t revise enough, and you didn’t pick the right noun. Too many adjectives make your copy longer, causing you to lose your reader’s attention. Because we have short attention spans, writing the great American novel to sell a product won’t work. So, a bunch of adjectives strung together can weaken your copy. Look at the two examples below:
Bad Copy: We had a fabulous and exciting time on our family trip to Cape Canaveral.
Great Copy: Our trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida was otherworldly.
The bad copy sentence says the same thing as the great copy sentence, but wouldn’t you rather have an otherworldly experience? I would.
Some adjectives and nouns, however, go together. They go so well together, in fact, one cannot live without the other. Qualifiers take an ordinary noun and make it an extraordinary noun. For example, the term “traffic cop” has an adjective, “traffic”, and a noun, “cop”. If you separate them, the cop becomes a general cop, not a traffic cop. Don’t remove these all-important adjectives, or you might change the meaning of your copy.
If you pick the right noun, then you don’t need an adjective. But, if you do need an adjective, make sure that it is the best one that captures your reader’s attention.
2. Flowery Adjectives Are Distracting.
Flowery adjectives in copywriting come in three varieties. Each one can change the tone or meaning of your copy. At that point, you’re in danger of losing your reader’s attention.
Buzzwords are great words when the first come out, but they burn like a rocket. Once the buzz in a buzzword has fizzled, they are trite and overused. So, if everyone is saying them, then you should avoid them in your copy. Instead, take that buzzword and flip it on its ear. Think of a new way to say the same thing, and you’ll capture your reader’s attention.
Bad Copy: The Corinthian is a game-changer in fountain pens.
Great Copy: The Corinthian is the authority in fountain pens.
“Game-changer”, (among other words like “ideation”, “leverage”, “bandwidth”, and even “rock star”) has been used so much that it now means next to nothing. If your target is a business executive, the word “authority” is more likely to attract him/her than “game-changer”. The word “authority” provides a persuasive message. And, throwing in the trigger word “the” (which we will talk about later in tip 8) makes your copy compelling. Avoid trite and overused words, and your copy will be powerful.
Jargon, whether it’s an industry word or acronym, is another flower adjective to avoid. Jargon is insider speak, and if you use it, you may reach a select few, but you’ll miss many others. In fact, some business jargon is so overused that no one responds to it any longer. Common words hit a broader audience who is in your target market. See what I mean in the example below;
Bad Copy: Get the new Corinthian fountain pen ASAP! You’ll be glad you did.
Great Copy: Order the Corinthian fountain pen in the next few minutes, and we’ll throw in a second one — FREE!
If someone tells me to ASAP something, I come unglued. It’s rude. Not only that, it used to mean as soon as you can. Now, it means the ASAP sender’s time is more valuable than yours.
ASAP and words like it have become so overused and misused that they irritate more than attract. I’m attracted to a free pen, but I’m repelled by ASAP. So, avoid jargon and industry acronyms, unless, of course, your target audience is so specific that you can’t afford not to use them.
Then, there’s what I like to call $20 words. You know the ones that are on your word a day calendar. You try to use them, and you get a funny look or a nervous laugh. That’s your peer group telling you that nobody is using that word. It’s just not common enough.
When I was a teacher, I had a fascination with romantic literature until the day I read a story about a guy who took his first elevator trip. It took two pages to “ascend into the edifice”. Now, we just say he took the elevator to the 20th floor. If your reader has to use a dictionary to understand your copy, then that word is not common enough to attract your audience.
The same can be said for words that you look up in a thesaurus. Because the word is a synonym of the adjective you’re trying to replace, doesn’t mean it will convey the same meaning.
Flowery adjectives change the tone of your writing, causing you to lose your audience’s attention. Using $20 words, jargon or buzzwords does not create a common ground where you can reach them and sell to them. Flower adjectives irritate and distract your reader.
3. Ho-hum adjectives are boring.
Some adjectives in copywriting have been used so often that they become boring. When I was a teacher, I banned those words from my students’ writing. One of those words was “nice”. Another one was “great”. I even had a sign with the word encircled in the universal no symbol on my classroom wall. That’s how much I wanted them to avoid it. If they couldn’t come up with something else, then we spent time revising the nouns they used or found a better synonym for the adjective.
Other adjectives have been used so much that they no longer have meaning. I know you’ve seen some of these, and you’ve probably used them:
- leading or cutting edge,
- and, the list goes on.
I’m sure the first copywriter who used these was seen as a genius. But, now use your genius to come up with great adjectives that delight your reader and cause them to convert.
4. Sensory adjectives in your copywriting awaken the senses.
Sensory adjectives get your reader to touch, taste, feel, hear, or see what you’re trying to tell. Done well, your copy can describe the benefits of a product and have the reader sense the product before they ever buy it. Don’t believe me? Every time I see a Krispy Kreme donut commercial, I can smell those hot donuts cooking. And, my mouth starts to water, then I start thinking I need a donut. Uh-oh, now I need a donut! See what I mean? The most powerful way to describe a product is by using sensory adjectives.
5. Emotional adjectives make the reader feel.
Along with sensory adjectives, emotion-inducing adjectives in your copywriting connect your reader to your copy. Emotional adjectives tug at a reader’s heartstrings, make them angry, or get them excited. The right adjectives will bore into your reader’s head and dance around, getting past all the other things vying for his/her attention. Once you’ve gotten past the white-noise distraction, it’s a simple matter of planting the right adjectives to engage with the reader’s emotions. Adjectives that are sensory, emotion-inducing, vivid, and specific are good. The rest, throw them out.
6. Adjectives as verbs shake things up.
When you need to shake things up, use an adjective as a verb. You’ll be in good company. After all, Shakespeare did it. Instead of saying “Make my blood thicker”, Shakespeare said, “Thick my blood”. By using ‘thick” as a verb, your brain says, “Woah, wait a minute now! What was that?”
Now, don’t think I’m suggesting you write in iambic pentameter. However, if you take an adjective and turn it into a verb, it breaks the typical grammatical pattern. If you break the pattern, you’ll see that you’ll capture the reader’s attention. Break the pattern, catch their attention, and they’re more likely to convert. Using an adjective as a verb will do that.
7. Specific adjectives in your copywriting define the product.
Often as a copywriter, your task will be to write about a hard-to-define product. It may be a new product, or it’s a service that is unusual, making it hard for the ordinary person to see its potential. Instead of writing about the specifications, write concrete adjectives that describe the benefits. Select words that anchor the product in the here and now so that your reader can find common ground with this unusual product. The more specific your adjectives are in your copywriting, the more likely this product will fly off the shelves.
8. Trigger Adjectives in your copywriting compel action.
Trigger adjectives make the reader do something. A trigger adjective could make the reader sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, or download an ebook. Depending on the trigger adjective you use, it will evoke a sense of urgency, doubt, reassurance, etc. And, then you’ve set the hook.
In great copy, you create a “what” they need to buy and “why” they need it. The trigger adjective is the “how”. These adjectives psychologically trigger something inside the reader’s head that makes them want to do something. Pick the correct trigger word, and they’ll buy your product. Trigger adjectives are words like
- never, and
If you’ve ever used a headline generator, you’ll see many of these words. And, many copywriter templates use these words because they work. The word “how” is not an adjective, but it is a trigger word. Bloggers use the word “how” so much that the Yoast WordPress plugin optimizes your blog posts as “how-to” articles. See? These words are important. So, add trigger words to your copy and you’ll capture your reader’s attention.
Remarkable copy touches the reader and makes him/her feel. Making them feel creates a commonality between the copy and the buyer. If you get them, and they get your copy, that’s a conversion in the making. Remembering these 8 tips will help your copy be remarkable copy.