How to Attract More Students with Scroll-Stopping Copy

Have you listened to our 'Get More Students' Podcast?

Below you'll find our discussion on How to Attract More Students with Scroll-Stopping Copy

We talk about:

  • Why creating compelling copy is so important for your business
  • How to avoid common pitfalls in writing ads or marketing copy
  • Advice on strategies on how to write high-converting copy



How to Attract More Students with Scroll-Stopping Copy

Alex: Hey! welcome to another episode of the Get More Students podcast! I’m your co-host Alex Asher and CEO of LearnCube.

Herbert: And I'm Herbert Gerzer, founder of herbertgerzer.com.

Alex: Today we are going to focus on a pretty exciting topic. How to attract more students with scroll-stopping copies. I love why we're talking about this topic because every language school and tutoring company needs to nail...First of all, their advertising and promotional copy. It's definitely hard for me. What to write? How do I create a hook? How do I create a great headline? I’m really worried about getting it wrong or being too salesy. I know this from my own experience because I have to write my own copies for LearnCube and actually I find it really difficult.

Just to give you a bit of background, LearnCube specializes in helping online language schools and tutoring businesses to grow with our virtual classroom and our online school solutions. When we have to create copy for our own marketing, I actually find it so hard sometimes. I definitely need to ask Herbert, who is an expert on this. He writes ad copy not just for himself and for his digital marketing agency, but literally on behalf of hundreds of language schools and education businesses.

That's why I’m so excited about this conversation, not because I’m an expert, but because Herbert is and this is his craft. Herbert, I’m really excited to learn more during this session. 

Herbert: Me too. I love this topic, Alex. I think it is something that is not on a lot of people's radar. People might not think it's very important what you write in the body of an ad. But it really can make the difference between someone just gleaning over and continuing scrolling, or actually taking in your message and clicking on your ad, which of course is the goal.

Alex: Yeah, I think also, even just in my own experience, it's quite easy when you're starting out to feel like you're making progress with advertising just by the number of impressions. There's always a vanity metric that one of the platforms is willing to tell you about, that makes you feel somewhat good about your advertising. 

But it's not just about "Yeah, I got my brand or my message in front of another person." The whole idea is you're wanting to get some kind of response, and I think that's what we're going to be talking about today as well Herbert. 

Herbert: Exactly, that’s the difference between just general brand advertising versus direct response advertising, and really the goal of copywriting. It is an art form. It really is crafting words for the sole purpose of conversion, getting people to take a specific action, the action that you want them to take. We're not going to talk about brand awareness to get in front of the most eyeballs. A lot of companies spend millions of dollars to do that, but we assume you want to get the most bang for your buck in terms of ad spending. Creating compelling copies can really make you stand out from the pack and get users' eyeballs onto your school. 

Alex: That's it, and also speaking from somebody that's made a bit of a hash of it myself on many occasions. What do people get wrong when they're doing ad copy? What are the things that we forget? 

Herbert: A lot of people forget to put themselves in their customers' shoes. They think about themselves or their company, their school, and how amazing their school is, how great their teachers are, which is all good and you should include that at one of the stages of the copy. But you really need to know what is pushing your target audience's pain points, what are their desires, what are their end goals, what are they looking for in a language course, or a tutoring company. Include that in your copy especially at the beginning to capture their attention. 

Alex: That's it. What you've told us, first of all, is many just start with a very superficial view of what a student would want or what a customer would want, which often just reflects what they want as a school or a tutoring agency, rather than what's the outcome that the student's really looking for. It's a lot deeper than just "hey they're trying to learn, I offer learning opportunities, here we go."

Herbert: Exactly, and I see ads from education companies every single day, and usually, they're using quite a short ad copy. Maybe one sentence or two or three sentences max. Basically, they go like 'We have the best teachers, enroll in our courses!' That's it. 

If you're thinking about impressions, you're like "I need to sell, I need to sell, you need to enroll in our language courses because they're the best." But you're providing no proof or backup. you're not telling a story about why your courses are so highly rated. That's where you can really dive into the emotional side of people's decision-making and grab their intention.

Alex: One thing I was just thinking there is a difference. You will write different ads and have different options depending on what platform and what purpose you're doing your ads for. Herbert, if I’m not mistaken, we're going to be talking particularly about writing a copy for a Facebook ad or something where you can do longer copy, rather than a Google search ad where you are very limited by characters and therefore a short copy might be your only option. You might have some ideas on it, is that right?

Herbert: Absolutely, that's why at our agency, we love working with Facebook and Instagram in terms of getting that awareness from people who have not heard about your school or your company before. You have the ability and the creative freedom to write basically as many words as you want in that copy.

Alex: Okay, we're going to be assuming that we've got no limitation of characters and we can give this a good go. A couple of things that we've got wrong or now we know that must be mistakes or things to look out for: Not putting yourself in the customer's shoes, using short copy, not being very emotive.

What else can you tell us about the things that people maybe forget or get wrong?

Herbert: Using complicated or technical words in your copy. Maybe you're describing a course or your teaching method, but you've got to be careful not to use complicated, difficult words for people to understand, and also not using those types of words in long blocks of text, which are very hard to scan. You want to use easy, simple words in short sentences so it is much easier to read.

You also want to make sure you distinguish between the features and benefits of your school and your courses. I think a lot of people have difficulties when differentiating between one of their benefits and one of their features, Alex. 

And definitely to have the ad copy match with what the user will see and read after they click on your ad. What is on your landing page needs to match with the text in your ad. I guess it's one thing having something that somebody will take an action on, but if it leads to something totally different then they'll never take anything. That's a waste of everybody's time and money.

Alex: Exactly. You've really set this out for us Herbert. Not putting self in other people's shoes, short copy, it's not emotive, jargon, long blocks of copy, confusing what a feature and benefit is, disjointing or creating almost a bait and switch.

Now I can definitely say I’ve done a lot of these areas, but the good thing is this is something we can all improve.

Herbert: Absolutely, it takes practice. 

Alex: And what I’m excited about is in this next section. You are telling us through what to do, and maybe how to go about even starting building some of these skills. 

Herbert: Let me give you some quick strategies that you can implement to really persuade people to take that action that you want them to take. A great way is in the first line of your ad copy, basically, the hook is to call them out. Maybe you're calling out their problems, maybe you're calling out their desires, and you want to be really specific. 

Not like "Do you want to improve your English?" I mean, everyone wants to improve their English, but "Do you struggle to present sales figures in front of your colleagues?" That's extremely specific and you will only get to that specificity if you know your target audience inside and out, and know what their pain points and desires are.

I just use the question in that hook, and using yes questions is fantastic. Creating that kind of positive effect where the reader or the visitor saying yes to that question in their mind. Every yes is closer to a yes for them to enroll in one of your courses.

Alex: I really like that, and by the way, this is Herbert's tagline: "scroll-stopping copy." The whole idea of this calling out is it's all about me, as a student, as a customer, and as a consumer, it's all about me. So if I’m looking through anything, if I’m watching tv, if I’m on my screen, anything, it's like "Is this relevant to me?" 

So the whole time I’m just actually trying to get rid of noise, "not relevant, not relevant, not real" and you need to call out my biggest problems and desires. If it's a general thing like "yeah I’m learning English." So what? You know it doesn't tell me why I should stop and listen, but as soon as you mention something really specific, my brain's like "oh I need to listen, I need to engage, I need to figure out what else this person has to say." I think that's where all of this comes from. It is that first headline, that first hook, It's all about calling out my problem and desires.

Herbert: Absolutely, and also creating emotion, that's a huge part of it. It doesn't necessarily need to be a positive emotion. You can also play on negative emotions. Fear of missing out, fear of not getting the career promotion because of their language skills, or playing on some of their insecurities. Always positioning your product, your course, your school as the solution to getting them towards their end goals. Again, being really specific about that works extremely well.

Alex: And you're really creating a beautiful contrast there. Actually, I can imagine why you might want to use some of those negative emotions to help identify a pain, help identify the action that needs to take place. If everyone's comfortable, if everyone's just happy doing their thing, then there's no reason to stop and no reason to change. Sometimes maybe those negative emotions, if they're done very well and show a strong solution, a positive emotion that can contrast with that, then it can be really effective.

Do you actually have any examples of that? And let's use language education as an example.

Herbert: Sure. In creating more of a, not necessarily negative, but more of a controversial emotion like: “You've been learning English the wrong way.” That's like "Oh okay, which way is that?" That's something that really captures people's attention and then obviously in continuing in the ad copy, you would call out the ways that people have been learning up to now. Whether or not they're the right way to learn that's up to you. For example, you've been learning through e-language apps that really don't get you anywhere, you don't get to practice your speaking skills and maybe you've tried out this and this platform and you're not satisfied with the teachers there.

You're building up that "Oh yeah, actually, I’ve had that experience before, that hasn't been a good experience, so tell me how I can improve that," and then further down the copy, you would introduce your solution, your school, your offer to solve all their problems.

Alex: And it's good as well because you realize the more I’m reading, the more I’m thinking, kind of going back to your yes things, “oh wow this person really understands me, I need to know who this person is.” The longer I’m reading a story that fits my profile, I’m like "oh wow, so you're actually made for me, not for the general language learner, or the general add-your-subject-here tutoring service." That's very good. 

So tell us more. We've talked about calling out problems and desires, writing long copy, and I think you kind of discussed creating that emotion, using that hook. Tell us more about what are the other kinds of strategies that we can use to persuade more people to take action.

Herbert: Absolutely, again, being descriptive and using more descriptive words, and not always the words that everyone else uses. For example, a word like 'exciting,' you might use 'thrilling' instead. You could use the word 'boring,' or you could use something like 'mind-numbing.' These are all more descriptive words that evoke emotion in action. Get out your thesaurus and come up with other emotive words. Again, using short, simple words. You should really write how you speak. It should be casual, conversational, and really at an easy level in order to capture everyone's attention. 

Alex: Also, presenting your benefits and solutions. I have a good exercise with that because a lot of language schools and tutoring companies struggle to distinguish between features and benefits. A feature might be, for example, native-speaking teachers, and let's face it, most language schools have native-speaking teachers. But why is this feature notable? You can learn the real language that people speak every day. They're about bringing both language skills but also cultural understanding.

Herbert: Exactly, and then you have to ask yourself, what is this pain point, the core pain point this problem solves. Maybe it's feeling embarrassed or misunderstood in certain situations, and why does your potential customer need this? Maybe it's to build their confidence in speaking the language. So really, the benefit of having native-speaking teachers is getting more confidence in everyday situations when you communicate.

Alex: These are the sorts of exercises you can do in order to really make your ads stand out from the sea of ads that are quite the same. I’m just wondering if there are, this is kind of just coming off the top of my head here Herbert, but it feels like maybe just asking the same question lots of times to get to an answer.

Herbert: Asking why do I care. Yeah exactly!

Alex: Maybe can we go through that very briefly, I think you've already said the things, but if I was like “we have native teachers” and why do I care?

Herbert: Because they can teach the real language that people use. 

Alex: And why do I care about the real language that people use?

Herbert: Because you want to fit in in those situations. 

Alex: Why do I want to fit in in those situations?

Herbert: Because you want to build your confidence. 

Alex: I don't think we've nailed it there, but you can see, just asking those three questions can sometimes help you if you're feeling a bit blocked. See if you can get to a point where you're like "ah okay, that's the emotional part of why." The critical thing is the emotion that you're trying to get into.

Herbert: Great! Other things, of course, include student testimonials or student stories. Again, people want to see other people like them who have gone through that transformation. It's very simple to create a story about one of your current or past students. It can be one of the most effective ways of marketing. 

Of course, like anything, practice makes perfect, so write as many headlines and ad copy as possible and test test test. 

Alex: I like that, Herbert. In fact, one other kind of practical tip I would give is to test and run it by other people. I think one of the things that I’ve definitely been guilty of is I spend all this time working in my head trying to create an ad copy, and then I’m putting it straight out there. You really need some other human beings to ask "Hey, out of these three that I think are the strongest, what do you think?" And you could ask any layperson, and they should be able to give you a pretty good indication.

I also want to give some tips in terms of where to get inspiration from. We've talked about some strategies on how to write, but still, people need something in front of them, and I think in terms of headlines, the best headlines you will find are in magazines like Cosmopolitan, in the Daily Mail, tabloids. Those are expert copywriters there because they sell the story in the headline. I can't stress that enough. You'll get some fantastic inspirational ideas from magazines and publications like that.

They're always, these tabloids, you want to click them. They're cheap and free, that's what they sell. 

Herbert: They sell the sizzle.

Alex: Exactly, so one actual final thing. I don't know if we spent enough time on it, but I think what’s super important is that you have to have just one specific call to action when you're doing a copy. I’ve definitely (a) been guilty of it, and (b) see other people be guilty of trying to do too much in one ad.

There is one ad, there is one call to action, and everything leads to that. And the headline, you should be able to say “hey, I got it, I was drawn to this particular thing, and the call to action is so clear about what I need to do to be able to solve that pain, deal with that emotion, and get that thing that I want.”

Herbert: Absolutely.

Alex: We've dealt with the things that we maybe get wrong and the things that we do right in terms of these strategies. They are calling out the user's problems and desires, making the ads all about them, writing long copy, creating emotion, using a hook, using short simple words, presenting the benefits and solutions, having one specific call to action. Then you also provided some simple strategies as well, like using yes questions, using student testimonials, and of course, practice practice practice.

You've definitely inspired me. Thank you so much for that!

Herbert: Very welcome. 

Alex: Thank you so much for listening to another episode of the Get More Students podcast. You can find more podcasts on our website. The goal of this podcast is to give you insights, inspiration, and motivation, particularly for those owners and marketing managers of language schools and tutoring companies.

In this episode, we've really dug into how to craft scroll-stopping copy, and if you'd like to get more, subscribe now to the podcast and get more students for your organization. 

Thanks very much and see you next time!