Do you want to double your conversions with a single, simple trick that takes only 5 minutes to learn? Yeah, me too.
I can’t give you any guarantees, but I can provide some advice on crafting effective hooks and some hook examples.
What is a Copywriting Hook?
A copywriting hook is usually the introductory sentence or paragraph of your copy. It is the point of interest that “hooks” a potential customer and makes them want to read on.
An effective hook will reel in readers and present the copy’s main idea or offer.
Why Hooks Can Make or Break Your Copy
You’ll hear professionals in the industry describe hooks as the most important part of your copy.
It seems like a bit of an exaggeration, doesn’t it? What about the body, editing, and research? Aren’t they more important than a small snippet of text?
The sad truth is producing high-quality copy on its own doesn’t matter nearly as much as having an effective hook to draw in readers. We can’t sit back comfortably with our writing unsold on bookshelves; we have to pull as many eyes as possible to provide results to clients. Even the worst written articles, ads, and blog posts can successfully convert customers if they get enough traffic.
The best copywriters are the ones who devote as much time to their hook and headline as the rest of their writing.
How to Write a Compelling Hook
How do you go about writing a hook to pique interest and sell your writing?
Tell a Story
There are many types of hooks, but the secret behind all of them is tapping into a story. A good story fulfills the second step in the AIDA copywriting formula: interest. It makes potential customers want to know more and promises to tell them in your copy.
The beauty is that every topic, project, or sale has a story. It may not be immediately obvious, but if you look deep enough you’ll be able to find a way to tie your copy to a story.
Know Your Audience
Understanding the audience you are appealing to is extremely useful in crafting your hook too.
Consider the demographics you’re writing for and look for what would interest them most about the topic/product. Suburban mothers probably wouldn’t find a story about visiting a rap concert as engaging a hook as college students.
You also want to consider the relationship your potential clients have to your client’s business/product. Are you trying to draw in people who wouldn’t normally be interested? Maybe you’re trying to convince customers to choose your client’s business over an established competitor?
Top 10 Effective Hooks with Examples
Below are some of the most common types of effective hooks used in copywriting. I’ve also included examples of each so you can see them in action.
1. Speak Directly to the Reader
Personalized copy always performs better and the same goes for hooks. Speaking directly to the reader establishes a connection with them and makes your copy feel more conversational.
For this hook, you should aim to address the reader as yourself, not as the company or client. The best way to do this is to write in the first person and use the word “you” prolifically.
Here’s an example of this type of hook in action:
“I’ve been struggling with this problem for years, but not anymore! Here’s how you can say goodbye to it too.”
2. Overcome an Objection
If there are obvious issues or objections potential customers could have with the product or service you are trying to sell, ignoring them is the worst thing you can do. Instead, you can turn those problems into a compelling hook that relieves their fears.
Maybe you’re selling a luxury vehicle to people who wouldn’t easily be able to pay for it? If the price is an obvious objection, then highlight the affordable payment plan.
An example of this could look like this:
“An affordable payment plan makes it easy for anyone to obtain this new high-end luxury vehicle.”
3. Pose a Relevant Question
An effective hook could also answer a question. This not only engages the audience, but also might show you have more insight to offer than a competitor.
You can ask the reader about:
- Any problems they have.
- Issues they have as a result of those problems.
- Things they believe or value.
- Desires or goals they hold.
- Ways they believe their life could be better.
It can also be presented as a challenge for the reader or a way to test themselves. People always want to prove their skills and experience. It’s why those annoying gaming app advertisements always show someone failing an easy puzzle or problem.
As an example of this:
“Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Do you do have any of these 10 harmful sleep habits?”
4. Use Compelling Statistics
Mentioning a surprising statistic sparks an immediate reaction in a potential customer. It could be anything from skepticism to excitement, but in all cases, they will want to read on about the source and supporting details.
However, a statistic doesn’t have to be shocking to be effective. Especially in the case of B2B communications, where data holds more weight and decision-making power, data showing reliable results or impressive figures can influence people to buy.
Here’s a real-world example of this hook in action with SumoMe by AppSumo.
5. Use Statements that Resonate
You don’t have to always challenge the reader or present them with new ideas to get them interested in your copy. Making statements that validate already held beliefs or knowledge can be just as effective.
The key to this type of hook resonating with the reader first and then adding new information. They might already feel like a lack of sleep is hurting their productivity, but did they also know it can have other adverse effects on the body? Reaffirming their previous knowledge and adding to it engages potential customers and makes the product or service you want to sell more appealing.
For a product designed to improve their quality of sleep, it might look like:
“Inability to focus on work is in large part caused by a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation can also be the culprit behind memory loss, risk of higher blood pressure, and poor balance.”
6. Emotional Bait and Triggers
Humans are emotional buyers, even if we like to think otherwise. What better way to “bait” out emotion than with a great “hook”?
A lot of charities and animal rights organizations employ this tactic in their marketing. Those commercials of abused animals overlayed with Sarah McLachlan music are often so sad they’re difficult to watch (at least for me). Yet, they obviously inspire people to donate by creating such a strong emotional response.
It’s important to think about the kind of emotion you want the reader to feel. If you’re selling bounce houses, you don’t want to showcase animal abuse.
Instead, you’ll want something like this:
“Summer is here, along with the kids! Give yourself a break and get them out of the house with an easy-to-store bounce house!”
7. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
We’ve all experienced a bit of FOMO. It’s that anxious feeling in your gut when you miss out on a fun experience with friends. You can create that same feeling with your hook to reel in readers and make conversions.
The key to using this method effectively is to pair scarcity with popularity. Show proof of how many people are using your client’s product or service through Facebook, Twitter, or other social media metrics. Leverage the benefits those current customers have received from their purchase as much as possible and imply a low stock or availability.
There are plenty of real examples of FOMO hooks you can take inspiration from for your own writing.
8. Empower the Reader
So much of modern marketing is oriented towards ease-of-use and minimal impact on customer life. However, sometimes you want a potential customer to feel like their purchase makes an active change in the world.
Empowering the reader gives them a sense of purpose they likely don’t get anywhere else. Charities use this method the most, but there are some companies that implement it effectively as well, like BoxLunch. Look for and highlight any beneficial social or environmental impacts your client’s product or service provides.
Charity: water is an organization that employs this hook effectively.
9. Show Your Brand’s Personality
The expectations of brands have changed a lot in the past few years. The quality of a product or service used to be what mattered most, but nowadays the personality of a brand is often a bigger selling point than what they make.
You can use this to your advantage when writing your hook. Research the personality and tone of your client’s brand and use it to attract customers. This could mean telling a joke, complaining about a relevant issue, self-aware commentary, etc.
This hook is the best one for showcasing your creativity as a writer. As long as you follow the established tone and voice of the brand, feel free to try something new or interesting.
Jeep is a great example. They have established themselves as the rugged, off-road car company and uses that personality in their marketing.
10. Be Bold
One surefire way to get more eyes on your copy is to say something completely unexpected or controversial. Even if controversy is seen as a negative, it definitely sparks conversation. Turns out the phrase “no such thing as bad press” holds true.
That doesn’t mean you should take the most extreme positions or make actively harmful statements. Doing so reflects poorly on you and on your client, which could lead to negative consequences for a long period of time after. Even if you do see an initial boost in traffic and purchases from it, the long-term ramifications aren’t worth it.
Strive to be bold without being harmful. Consider this radical example:
“Move out of the way, pineapple! Kiwi has taken your spot as the best fruit to put on pizza.”
Having an engaging hook to draw readers in is just as important as any other part of your copy. Hooks help you differentiate yourself from other marketing copy cluttering the web and increase your odds of converting customers.
While we’ve gone over some of the most common effective hooks, don’t feel like you have to follow them to the letter. Experiment with your own hook writing style. Steal as much from these methods as you want and mix-and-match to suit the goals of your copy and client.
How to Write a Killer Hook
The effectiveness of your hook will rely on the content of your copy. It’s much easier to write a compelling hook for “The Most Expensive Restaurants in America” than it is to write one for “Rocks I Found on the Street”.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to write a killer hook for your article on street rocks, though. Even if it seems unlikely, there is a market of customers who will be interested in your topic.
Do your research to find interesting angles and ideas the existing market will enjoy. Slip in hooks that will appeal more widely when you can, but don’t be afraid to fall back on a niche one to secure conversions.