Copywriting Terminology

The handbook for the words we use



Above the Fold

What you see when you come to a page; requires no scrolling. This term came from the headlines literally above the fold in newspapers.


Autoresponders are a series of follow-up emails after they take an action – sign up for newsletter, give contact information in exchange for a lead magnet. As the term starts with “auto”, this series is automated – already scheduled and written to go out at a specific time and frequency. There’s no hard and fast number of emails to end in an autoresponder sequence; however, most companies send between 3 and 7 follow-up emails for any given sequence. It could be much more than that though depending on the price of the product. 



B2B stands for Business to Business. Businesses are selling their products or services to other businesses. Examples include outsourced C-suite, accounting services, oil and gas services, etc. 


B2C stands for Business to Consumer. The business is selling something for the end consumer. Think about grocery stores, retail, and residential plumbing companies. 

Behind the Paywall

When someone uses the term “behind the paywall”, they are referencing everything that happens after someone goes from a lead to a paying customer. This could include the indoctrination process, onboarding, nurture, follow-up, product delivery, etc. 

Some video based sales copy use the phrase “see you on the inside” when you buy the product.

Below the Fold

Opposite of above the fold, below the fold is what the viewer sees if they unfold the newspaper or scroll down on the webpage. 


What customers gain from the purchased product is a benefit. There are different types of benefits including emotional, functional, consumer, and product attributes. For example, the feature of the ergonomic office chair is the ergonomics. The benefits are no back pain, increased comfort, and improved productivity. Benefits do not talk about the actual product, just how it changes your life and what that change does for you.

Big Idea

One big idea is the crux of a piece of copy. Copywriter Mark Ford formulated the “Rule of One” – one big idea, one core emotion, and one benefit. The big idea makes the copy more powerful. By deviating into other ideas, emotions, or benefits, you risk diluting the power of your copy


A blog is a collection of articles and/or content on a website. It is short of “web log”. Most blogs include news, tips, and examples, links to other articles or webpages, and have some sort of call to action. Read our blog here.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a statistic that measures how quickly a visitor leaves a webpage or the rate that emails do not make it into the inbox (instead, they went into spam or never made it to the intended recipients). Both web page bounce rates and email bounce rates are displayed as a percentage.

To calculate the bounce rate for a webpage, take the number of one-page sessions over the total amount of webpage visits. Most analytics services (e.g. Google Analytics) calculate the bounce rate for you.

To calculate email bounce rate, divide the total number of emails sent by the number of bounced emails. 

Bounce Rate = # of Bounced Emails / Total # of Emails Sent


A company’s or individual’s brand is their identify – tone of voice, imagery, ideas, thoughts. This encompasses everything that they want to represent themselves as to a prospective customer. 


Call to Action

Also known as a CTA, a call to action is a point in the promotion or content when there is an opportunity to take action – whether it be to download a free article, click the link, sign up for newsletter, etc. 

Case Study

A before-and-after analysis of how a company solved a client’s problem with their products or services. Case studies are usually the success stories that companies use to prove their products or services work. They include actual customer stories or testimonials

Click Through Rate (CTR)

A click through rate or CTR is the rate of people that click on a link in an email or on a sales page over the number of opens or visits to the page. 


Collateral is any material that supports sales by providing additional information. It typically refers to print material; however, it also applies to digital material.


You’re reading it… Content is designed for readers to discover solutions, understand topics, and learn more about how to accomplish goals or solve an issue. The main difference between copy and content is that content is aimed at being educational, informative, and helpful. It doesn’t sell – at least directly. 

Content Marketing

A marketing strategy that builds relationships and trust with readers by consistently offering valuable information, including articles, blog posts, stories, whitepapers, social media posts, etc. Content marketing adds call to actions into the content. 

Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate (CR) is the percentage of visitors to a specific page that take a specific action. To calculate it, take the number of visitors and divide by the number of visitors who take the requested action. Many marketers calculate the conversion rate for blog posts, landing pages, and email marketing.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Optimizing your conversion rate percentage by making improvements in the copy, call to action, etc. 


Sales copy or copywriting, copy is any written text that persuades the reader to take a requested action – purchase, opt-in, or engage. 


Copywriting is the process of writing material that promotes or advertises a product or service. It’s all about persuading the reader to take a specific action.

Read about our copywriting services here.

Cornerstone Content

Also known as pillar pages or pillar posts, cornerstone content is a page(s) that contains evergreen (long-lasting), valuable content for a target audience. For example, a company has a page that explains their entire process, terminology, methodology, etc. They continually link new content back to that piece of content because it is so valuable. These pages also are ranked for high-level keywords – helping a site’s SEO.


Amazon is great at this! Buying coffee beans? They will also offer you a coffee mug, a coffee grinder, and coffee mixers. Those are all examples of cross-sells. Something different than the product that a customer is purchasing but is in the same category. 

Customer Lifetime Value

One of the most important metrics to measure is the customer lifetime value. It is calculated in relation to the cost of customer acquisition. This metric is the total revenue a company can expect from a single buyer. 

Customer Value Optimization

Also known as CVO, customer value optimization is a marketing strategy that aims to increase the customer lifetime value by… Increasing the number of new customers, increasing the dollar amount each customer pays, and increasing the frequency a customer buys. 


Direct Response Copywriting

What is Direct Response Copywriting? It elicits a specific response resulting from a customer’s direct response to a marketer.

Direct Response Marketing

When marketers can ask for an immediate response from readers, it is direct response marketing.


Unlike a cross-sell, downsells are offers that are priced lower than the product or service they are intending to buy. It’s an easy buy and an easy sell! Think about the packs of gum available when checking out at the grocery store. 


Email Marketing

The ability to communicate with audience via email. It consists of promotion or communication of products / services to prospects.


It’s positive commentary from an authority about your product, service, company, or self. They help to reinforce a buying decision.


It’s an online newsletter, usually sent via email, to a subscriber list either daily, weekly, or monthly that contains content and oftentimes, sales promotions. This is a great method to continually communicate what’s going on to your customers. 


The eyebrow is often called the “pre-head”, which is the introductory copy that appears before the actual headline. 


False Close

The moment when the copy is expected to turn towards a close or ask for money but the writer covers another benefit or story is a false close.

Follow-Up Emails

Follow-up emails, also called autoresponders, are emails that follow after the reader takes a specific action.​

Freelance Copywriter

Freelance copywriters are self-employed copywriters that freelance on a project basis.

Front End Promotion

Front end promotions are meant for customer acquisition – getting the prospect to convert on an offer. That offer is typically a lower-priced offer.


A funnel is a process of which a prospect turns into a customer and everything that happens in between. You can take a look at any process and call it a funnel. How someone moves through a specific campaign, how someone moves through your entire business, etc.



Ghostwriting is the act of writing material or content under another name, claiming no credit for their work. Oftentimes, this happens when the author does not have the time to carefully plan content strategy, worry about SEO algorithm changes, etc. A ghostwriter writes with the voice of the intended author – not themself. 

Read about how we act as company’s ghostwriters.

Golden Thread

The golden thread is the promise or central theme that is threaded through the promotion and keeps the reader’s interest.


To gain a customer’s trust, it is common for companies to offer a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee or Satisfaction Guarantee (or some variation of that). A guarantee is a promise to refund the customer if they are unsatisfied.



In comparison to the header, a headline is the first line of a promotion. The headline should lure the reader into reading to the second line and third line of the promotion. It’s estimated that headlines are responsible for 80% of copy success!!! That’s huge. 

(If you need help writing your headlines, we’re here to help. Writing headlines is 80% of our job! Reach out to us today.)

Hero Shot

Go to a landing page… The image of the product, service, benefit, or person who created what is being sold on the page is a hero shot. It essentially shows the reader what they are getting in exchange for their contact information or credit card number. 


A hook hooks – grabs the reader’s attention and keeps them engaged as they continued to read line after line.


Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is our favorite time of digital marketing. It’s where the customer comes to you, not the other way around. Your content strategy helps to bring attention to your product or service. Look at SEO, video marketing, social media marketing, and paid search ads for inbound marketing.

Information Marketing

Information marketing is still relevant in today’s world because people crave information. It is the process of selling an information-based products – e-book, report, etc.


Indoctrination is when a prospect is educated on the company, why they need to stick around, and how to get what they want out of the company. This is usually in the form of emails.


Johnson Box

A Johnson Box is a box that sets apart a particular section of copy to draw attention to it. 


Keyword / Keyphrase

When you Google a term, question, or phrase, that is a keyword or keyphrase. These keywords are strategically placed in the piece of content or copy within a web page to attract searchers. This is the crux of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Keyword Density

Keyword density is just like it sounds… It’s how often the keyword is used in a given web page.


Landing Page

A landing page a one-off page that exists on its own rather than as part of a larger website OR the page you land on from another source (i.e. search engine). Read more about how we optimize your landing pages for both SEO and sellability.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the practice of collecting or generating a list of leads who are likely to buy at any given point. It often starts when a prospect opt-ins to receive a lead magnet or contacts to receive more information.

Need help building a lead generating machine? Learn how we can help.

Lead Magnet

A lead magnet attracts leads by offering a small chunk of value that solves a very specific problem for a specific market in exchange for contact information (especially an email address).

It needs to be ultra specific because it validates that lead as a potential buyer for a specific product or service.

Limited Time Offer

Any offer with a deadline or expiration is a limited time offer. This is a great strategy to create urgency or scarcity in your copy.

Long Copy

Some forms of direct-response copywriting can be LONG – 12-24 pages and sometimes more… This is what we refer to as long copy because it’s long.


Meta Description

A meta description is the text underneath the headline when you search for a keyword. Furthermore, it’s a short snippet of information about the page to compel the searcher to click on the page. Meta descriptions also must include the keyword or keyphrase for that page. This is another factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).



A newsletter is a publication companies send or publish to engage and build relationships with their customers or prospects. They must be consistent – weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. They usually are not longer than 5 paragraphs, link to other pages (blogs, testimonials, product announcements, promotions, etc.).



When an individual gives a company their contact information via a web form, they are opting-in an email list or to receive a lead magnet. This is a critical part of digital marketing and more specifically email marketing because opting-in is essentially a signed permission slip to email them about your products or services. 

If you are sending someone emails without them opting-in, then you are conducting bad email marketing tactics by sending spam. Spamming is illegal. 


Similar to opt-in, out-out or unsubscribe is when an individual says that they do not want to receive any more email communications from a company. Opt-out links are required on every automated email or broadcast email.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is the classic marketing strategy that puts promotions in front of a potential customer, regardless of whether they asked for it. It usually comes in the form of cold calling, direct mail, TV advertisements, print, radio.


Persuasive Sales Page

A persuasive sales page is a compelling argument that gains the reader’s trust and agreement every step of the way without any unethical, manipulative arguments.


A premium is a free bonus offered in conjunction with a full-priced offer. They can be e-books, whitepapers, bonus materials, etc.


A promise is when the copywriters boldly tells the reader exactly what the product or service being offered will do for them. Oftentimes, these promises are emotional ones, focused on the benefits.


Proofreading is the art of checking copy for spelling, grammar, typos, punctuation, and syntax… before it’s published.


A prospect is a potential buyer for your product or service but has not yet converted into a customer.


Qualified Lead

A qualified lead is a person or company who has previously expressed interest in a product or service. These are your leads that are most likely going to buy because they have interacted with the marketing campaign.


A query is the string of words a user types into a search bar of a search engine. Search engines will then return articles related to your query. It may not have the exact keywords listed in that query but it’s related.

For example, if you type in “copywriting terminology”, you will find articles with the following terms:

  • Glossary of Copywriting Words, Terms and Phrases
  • Copywriting Glossary
  • Ultimate Glossary of Copywriting Terms and Definitions
  • Copywriting Terminology



Readability refers to the ease with which a piece of content or copy can be read. This is also a factor for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because the average human can easily read it.

There are several tests that you can use to measure readability.

  • Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score (good score is 65 for business)
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level

Read about different readability tests can improve your copy.

Retention Rate

Retention Rate is the rate of which customers continue to do business with over a period of time. It is recorded as a percentage.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI or return on investment is a financial measurement that analyzes the success or failure of a promotion. It compares investment versus return.


Sales Funnel

A sales funnel is an automated system that progresses the customer down the customer journey, asks them to purchase other products and services. It’s one goal is to extend the customer life. 

Sales Letter

Similar to a landing page, a sales letter is a literal letter embedded in a web page that compels the reader to take the requested action – to buy. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A hot digital marketing term, Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the practice of strategically weaving keywords into each piece of content, building links from page to page, and other technical SEO strategies. The search engine wants to index quality information so you need to obey the SEO rules for each search engine. 

This is also how you increase the organic traffic to your website. 

Pro Tip: Be wary of any company offering Black Hat SEO. That’s basically writing a death note. Only practice White Hat SEO.

 SEO Copywriting

SEO Copywriting is when the copywriter produces compelling and valuable content that targets specific keywords. This type of copywriting meshes the practices of good copywriting with search engine optimization (SEO). 

Search Engine Spider (Web Crawler)

Ever wonder how your webpages get on Google? Like other search engines, they have a program that indexes information, reports, and pages from the World Wide Web and puts them on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

It’s basically like a spider. It crawls through the first indexed page (i.e. home page) and crawls through your site through the links on your page and menu. This why it is important to link to pages and posts throughout your site to create more opportunity for the crawler to get through and index quicker. 

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Google something right now… Do it. That page you land on when you search something is the search engine results page or SERP. 

Want to see some fun SERPs?

Google… “google in 1998” OR “flip a coin” OR “askew” for those perfectionists!


Favorite marketing term, a slug in simply the words that follow the domain or after the backslash (/).

Split Test

A split test or an A/B Test is a test where you test one variable at a time to optimize the page. For example, test headlines, button color, image location, and image. 

Squeeze Page

Similar to a landing page and sales page with its minimal distractions, a squeeze page – instead of asking for a sale – asks for a customer’s email address and/or contact information.


Long pieces of copy need to be broken up by subheads – bolded and often-centered pieces of copy that is scannable.

Subject Line

What do you read before you open an email? That’s right. The subject line. It’s a line of text, sometimes emojis, that peaks the interest of the reader to open the email. Great subject lines result in clicks. Bad subject lines result in deletes. 

Swipe File

A swipe file is a collection of successful, interesting, or favorite pieces of copy that allows the copywriter to “swipe” from when they need ideas.



“The Happiest Place on Earth.” “We Deliver.” “Just Do It.” “The Quicker Picker-Upper.”

What do all those phrases have in common? They are taglines or a branding phrase that delivers what the company is all about. 

Target Market

Your target market is your ideal prospect or customer.


“We love you!” We love you too. Words of praise or gratitude from a customer who has purchased (and ultimately benefited from) a product or services is a testimonial. 

Pro tip: they must be authentic and verifiable. Do NOT make up testimonials unless you have written permission to take answers from a survey and adapt them into a testimonial. Even then… It is best to copy the customer’s words verbatim.


Often denoted with ™, a trademark is a notation attached to a company’s name or symbol. This is typically attached to the name or symbol when the company has applied for the trademark.


A tripwire is a low-dollar offer to convert prospects into customers with a low barrier to entry. 


Unique Selling Proposition 

A USP or Unique Selling Proposition is a clear statement of why the product or service you are selling is different and far superior to the competition. It needs to display the product or service’s unique benefits in a compelling manner. 

For example, Southwest Airlines may position itself with the following USP:

“We do things differently here at Southwest. So much so that we had to invent a word to describe it, Transparency! It means that we’re all about being open and honest with our Customers and making sure pesky fees stay away from our low fares.” (Southwest)

It focuses on the uniqueness that it does not nickel and dime its customers.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) 

The URL is the website’s address. It includes either http:// or https://, the domain, and the slug. 

For example, this URL is 

We highly suggest acquiring an SSL certificate. That allows your URL to start with https:// and it protects information you and your customer may share. Additionally, redirect requests to the http:// version of your webpage to the https:// version.


An upsell is an offer that appears when a customer is purchasing something of lesser value. For example, someone is purchasing a MacBook Air. An upsell for that product would be more storage than the base level. Same base product with an added premium.

This is different than a cross-sell.


Value Proposition

What value are you proposing? A value proposition is a promise or declaration of the value to be delivered to the customer. It can include what the company stands for, how they operate, and why the customer needs to give the company their business.

Video Sales Letter

A sales letter in video form. A video sales letter is a visual and audio method to bring your sales letter alive. It can be formatted in various ways – including words on the screen with audio in the background or an actual video of you talking. 


Web Copywriter

A web copywriter is a copywriter that specializes in sales copy for business websites and online marketing material. It encompasses websites, landing pages, VSLs, email campaigns, blogs, etc. 

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO, as opposed to Black Hat SEO, refers to optimization strategies that are focused on the reader rather than the search engine rules and policies. It’s also called the Ethical SEO. 

Sites that do not write content that humans can easily read will be docked because they are not practicing White Hat SEO.

White Paper

No, the paper doesn’t have to be white… A white paper is a report, guide, or how-to that gives information or proposed steps on a given issue. Many companies typically offer white papers for free; however, there are some that offer them at a given price.

Writer’s Block

… What do I write next? How do I phrase that better? Writer’s block is when the brain stops functioning, and you can’t piece together any more words. It happens to us too. But thankfully, it doesn’t last for long and we carry on writing… 


No “X”copywriting terms… Yet!


No “Y”copywriting terms… Yet!


No “Z”copywriting terms… Yet!

Ready to Work on your Copy?