Copy Autopsy

Posted on April 17th, 2020  •  by Jonas Gagnon


The anatomy of good copy

It’s easy to spot good copy – it’s eminently readable and at the end of it the reader feels something for the brand (or perhaps has even decided to buy). But it’s much harder to pick out exactly why copy is good.

  • Is it because there was a joke that made you laugh?
  • Was it the quality of writing?
  • Was it the reputable stats that made it so compelling?
  • Maybe it’s just the clarity of the copy?

Maybe it’s all four, plus whatever magic makes a great novel or piece of art – that certain je ne sais quoi.

We want to answer that question for you, which is why we’ve started the Copy Autopsy series.

Who should read this and why?

I’m not here to tell you that you absolutely need to read this blog. If you’ve been writing copy forever, or have a copywriter you absolutely love, skip this one. You don’t need to read what you already know, or are paying someone to know it.

However, this series will be perfect for those who:

  • Are just starting out writing copy, whether professionally or for their own company
  • Want to get a better idea of what they like when it comes to copy
  • Need to hire copywriters, but don’t know what to look for

So, if you’ve decided you want a better idea of how a copywriter thinks when they’re putting together their copy, read on.

How we’re going to dissect this thing

This is the last section we’re going to go through before we do a quick dive into the copy on our own website. But if you’re done reading all this other stuff, jump down to the next subtitle and get to the meat.

The idea behind this series is that we will go over the copy we’ve written and give you the full Being John Malkovich view of the process, or at least for pieces of the process.

So without further ado, let’s dive into our sales page For Businesses.

Creating a long-form sales page

At first glance, our For Businesses page looks like a lot of writing – especially at a time when attention spans are waning and every marketer seems to suggest less writing.

However, we believe in the power of the written word (which may have something to do with why we’re writers). So, instead we went with a long-form sales page. Now, that may make us seem like the black leather jacket and ripped jeans wearing rebel of the marketing world…

‘oh hey’

But we actually have some pretty solid company here in long-form land.

Take a look at Apple’s sales page for the first iPhone (go ahead, we can wait).

Pretty long, wasn’t it?

Our sales page hits about 450 words, which is less than Apple’s and far shorter without all the photos.

Don’t rush your client

The buyer’s journey is a long and winding one, and the last thing you want to do is to try to rush them into something they’re not comfortable with or ready for. That’s why we’re (gently) taking the buyer’s hand and walking with them through it.

And, you know what, if we start getting a bunch of questions from prospective clients, we’re going to add even more copy in there. Because the more comfortable we can make the person reading the copy, the more answers we can provide them, the better they’re going to feel about taking that next step.

Let’s go back to the metaphor of the store.

How would you feel if the next time you went in to buy a new computer, the salesmen popped up and simply asked: ‘Would you like to by [this model]?”

If you’re anything like me, you’d tell them you were ‘just looking’ then try to avoid them until you left. Talk to any good salesperson and they’ll tell you half the job is building rapport with customers.

Start with you (not you, them)

As entrepreneurs, we tend to have our eyes trained firmly on our own navels. That is to say, we’re so caught up in our business that it’s often all we think about.

Unfortunately, that makes for very boring small talk at a party, which has made more than a few of us into bores.


Now, the great majority of entrepreneurs we’ve met have been amazing people who are very interested in the world around them, making them excellent conversationalists and engaging at parties.

However, most don’t realize their website paints them as bores.

They all start with we, or I.

  • What we can do
  • The amazing things we have done
  • All the certificates and training we have

And the prospective client, or customer just doesn’t care. At least not yet.

Client-focused copy

Now, look at the first few lines of our copy:

Captivating and creative content delivered to your ideal audience

Your website is your virtual storefront and the copy is your digital sales team, from lead to close. Is your website properly staffed?

As an entrepreneur, you wear a lot of hats – more hats than Bartholemew Cubbins, in fact. It might be safe to say that you’re ready to lighten the load – especially if you can lighten and make your business more profitable at the same time.

Let’s look at the pronouns. We start with a ‘your’ and then refer to the prospective client about ten times before ever referring to ourselves. And that’s indirectly on the first button.

Do you know why?

You don’t care about us until we show we care about you.

That’s why our whole sales page is about the person reading it. We use the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ roughly 40 times in 450 words, but we use the word ‘we’ less than ten times.

And, that’s how we subtly show the reader that we’re interested in who they are, and what their problems are. The only thing they need to know about us is that we can help them with their problems. That may mean quickly telling them about our qualifications, or what we excel at, but always in the context of how it helps the reader.

That, in our opinion, is the real key to good copy.

That’s word count, folks

Thats All Folks GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

One thousand words is the perfect place for me to stop. And, oh look, it’s 5 o’clock. What a wonderful coincidence.

If you’re looking for more dissections of website copy and, perhaps even blogs from a copywriter, keep your website browser tuned to this bat-channel.