What elements does successful copy contain?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - copy

The value of a good piece of copy goes far beyond just making people read text. Good copy can enhance the level at which your clients trust in your brand. In addition, it can make them more likely to further promote your brand.

When it comes to enticing clients to your company, giving them quality products and services is not enough. So what you’re actually selling is an image. You’re selling a narrative in which your clients are the main characters. They need to feel as if your products and services – and not anybody else’s – fit seamlessly into their lives. They need to think that your product was designed especially for them.

There are a number of elements that go into a piece of copy. These are the following:

  • Headline,
  • Body copy,
  • Pay-off line,
  • Slogan, and
  • Saying


The headline is the first thing someone will see in your piece of copy. It is said that 80% of people make a decision about whether or not to read an article based on the headline. So, make sure it grabs their attention. Keep the headline relatively short and pack it full of benefits. Show people the value that they’ll get after reading your copy.

Body copy

Your body copy has got to be benefits and value-driven. Next to your headline, your lead (or the first bit of your body copy) is the most significant part of a piece of writing. It’s what draws the reader into the text, makes them continue reading and ultimately leads them to make a sale.

In their book entitled “Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message” Michael Masterson and fellow copywriting great, John Forde, say that 80% of the success of the copy that you write comes from the first couple of lines. This means that the first paragraph of your copy needs to be so compelling that it persuades the readers to carry on to the end of the piece.

How to start off a lead

The best way to start off a lead is simple. Your customers have a need and a question in mind. Your headline will have appealed to them because it hinted at the fact that it may answer their needs. Thus, in the headline, you need to know what your readers will be asking and pose this question in the lead. This will catch them off guard and will get them to ask themselves: “How did they know what I was thinking?” As they see that you are so intuitive, and ‘get them’, they will be prompted to read more.

There is a number of types of leads that can be used. These are:

  • Offer lead
  • Promise lead
  • Problem-solution lead
  • Big Secret lead
  • Proclamation lead
  • Story lead

What is a pay-off line?

A pay-off line is also called a slogan or a saying. However, these are very different elements of an organisation’s brand that a copywriter may be tasked with providing.

  • A pay-offline encapsulates the value proposition that a particular line of products, which are manufactured by a certain company, give. For example, the pay-offline for Skip is #NewForLonger. This is different from that of the brand which manufactures them.
  • A slogan is a pay-off line but encapsulates the value of a brand.
  • Sayings are quotes from a significant person in the company which encapsulate his or her philosophies on life and business. Very often, the company’s marketing department will use this in their collateral. The Virgin Group uses this strategy very successfully with its founder, Richard Branson.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the skills and expertise that digital copywriters need to understand.

Get in touch with the Digital School of Marketing

If you want to learn more about the other skills that a digital copywriter needs to have, then you need to do our Digital Copywriting and Content Marketing Course. For more information, please follow this link.

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