Last Updated on 1 year by Greg Noland

My Glossary of Copywriting Terms

Here is my list of copywriting terms or copywriting terminology if you will. I’m sure you’ll know some of them, others you might have heard of but not sure what they mean, others might be completely new.

It would be a good idea if you bookmark this page so you always have it handy. Go do that now.

A/B split testing

Writing two versions of an advertisement, headline, web page to work out which is the most effective. Even if you only test one thing, please make sure you test your headlines. Many writers do not test for whatever reason. Laziness? Maybe. But I think it is more to do with the fact they either don’t know how, or don’t understand the value.

Above the fold

This is taken from newspaper days and refers to the part that would show on the front page of a newspaper above the fold line. On websites, this is the area of your website that visitors can see without having to scroll down. Because of the increased attention this area gets, you want to use it for copy and design that gets your customer’s attention.

Acknowledgement email

An email that’s immediately sent out to acknowledge an action taken by a visitor to the site, who has provided their email address. For example, “Thank you for subscribing to my blog!”

Acquisition cost

This is what it costs you to generate a new client. For example, if you mail10,000 pieces in your promotion at a cost of $2,000 and have a 2% return, that gets 200 new customers at an acquisition cost of $10 per customer. The lower you can get your acquisition cost to, the better for your business.

Acquisition program

A marketing action, like a direct mail campaign, with the goal of generating responses from new prospects who have never done business with you yet.

Add to Cart Button

A call-to-action prompt for your visitors to place an item in the virtual shopping cart when ordering from you online.


This is a style of advertising, which looks like an independent article offering some kind of useful information. In magazines, these will take on a similar form to the regular articles, but will usually have “promotion” or “advertisement” in small type somewhere on the page. An example of this might be an online article about “8 Magical Benefits Of The Bum Gun Bidet Sprayer” written by a company that provides bidet sprayers and offers their products at the end of the article.


A paid advertisement which is designed to look like it is an article containing information. The name is combination of the words “advertisement” and “editorial.” The premise of the advertorial is that potential customers are more likely to read helpful information (thinking it is an article) than a blatant ad, therefore, they will learn more about your product or service. Advertorials can be extremely effective, however to be fair to customers, publications are requiring the words “Advertisement” or “Paid Advertisement” be added at the top or bottom of the advertorial artwork.


A marketing system commonly used in direct response copywriting: A = Attention (the headline). I = Interest (the product / service). D = Desire (an offer). C = Conviction (social proof, i.e. testimonials). A = Action (a call to action).

ALT tag

Text in the web “code” that describes a particular graphic or photo on a web page. This helps search engines “read” photos and other images, which in turn, affects search engine rankings.


Big players include Get Response and Aweber. An auto-responder helps you automate your emails to your prospects and customers who have opted into your mailing list or purchased a product from you. Usually the auto-responder will contain useful information to the customer relevant to the mailing list or product they have purchased. It may then lead into a further offer.

These pieces are written and scheduled in advance so that they are delivered automatically after the trigger action of an opt-in or purchase.

B2B Copywriting

This stands for “business-to-business” copywriting. B2B copywriting sells a product or service to other businesses, rather than directly to consumers. For example selling engineering software or technology to oil and gas companies, or selling printing services to a publishing firm.

One of the main differences with B2B copywriting is that a business usually knows they need a certain technology or software and will go through a more rigorous buying process compared to consumer purchases. Often businesses will research and buy products by committee and have to have budgets approved. As a result B2B copywriting needs to focus on features and details that can help businesses evaluate and justify the benefits of the products to their colleagues and superiors.

B2C Copywriting

This stands for business-to-consumer copywriting and is a style of copywriting used to sell products directly to the consumer.


Inbound links to a page on your website. It is a good idea if your backlinks contain relevant text.

Banner adverts

Advertisements which appear within websites which click through to the advertisers website or squeeze page. They can be placed manually by the website owner, or delivered via an ad server. There are many forms of payment on offer, including a flat rate for a period of time, click through rate, advert impressions, and payment upon sale.



The benefits are the reason your customers are interested in buying from you. They extend further than features and show how the customer’s life will improve by having the product or service in their life.

The benefit of a web design company is that they help businesses improve their online image and attract more clients. The benefit of purchasing a Bum Gun bidet sprayer is to help you finally get “shower fresh clean” after every toilet visit, instead of smearing with nasty toilet paper.

Big Idea

Any single powerful, unique idea or theme that propels the success of a promotion.


A blog is an online journal. Blogging can help with your SEO results. My favourite blog platform is WordPress. Here is a fantastic blog if you want to learn about The Bum Gun Bidet Sprayer:

Body copy

The main body of text within a marketing piece. For example, an advert has a headline, body copy and call to action.

Bonus / Incentive

Bonuses and incentives are used to create additional value to the original offer. Increasing the value by throwing in something which has its own separate value can be very persuasive to customers. Bonuses can by physical products, or information products, or bonus services such as free consultations, or a free trial.


A set of attributes which make it easy for customers to identify your product / service. Includes visual brand identity (i.e. logo, colours, typeface), as well as psychological factors including emotional brand attachments.


A step by step description of what the copy is meant to achieve for a given marketing piece. It may be written by the client or a marketing manager.


Used to be print only, but now can be print + PDF. Brochures are multi-page documents which provide information about a company, product or service.

Call to action

The essential part of all your marketing pieces. It always puzzles me how so many marketers forget to leave a CTA – Call To Action. “To Receive Your 20% Discount Voucher Click The Red Button Below”.

Call Out

You know how in magazine articles, they’ll have a little area of an enlarged quotation, or a bubble with larger text in that refers to the article itself? That’s a call out. They’re designed to help you read snippets of details about the article or copy and encourage you to read the body copy. Ideally they should highlight benefits, or intriguing aspects of the product that will arouse your customer’s curiosity.

Case study

A story describing a problem which a consumer or business was facing and how you helped them to solve it.

Content Management System (CMS)

This software allows you to make changes to your website. Most popular is WordPress but others include Drupal and Joomla. Copywriters are often required to work directly with a client’s CMS.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Most used in email marketing, this is the measurement of how many people who opened your email, clicked through on a hyperlink that was included in the email.


Traditionally, this term refers to printed material, i.e. brochures, leaflets, folders, business cards etc. However, with the rise of digital marketing, it can also refer to websites, PDF brochures and other digital marketing assets.

Content marketing (Internet marketing): Planning what you are going to be writing about, in a structured way. Usually based around a content marketing calendar.


If you have ever completed any training by the greats of copywriting such as Gary Bencivenga and Clayton Makepeace you’ll know the control is a piece of copywriting used in a promotion repeatedly that creates the best results. This is most used in companies that are sending out hundreds or thousands of repeat promotions. You goal will to beat the previous control. Knowing the performance of the control lets a business test other versions of copywriting to see if you can “beat the control”.

If you can beat the control, that one will be become the new control.


The completion of an activity or action i.e. a customer fills in a website form, calls a number or sends an email requesting further information. Used to measure the effectiveness of a marketing piece.


The words written for an advertisement or other form of marketing collateral.

Copy length

Tests show that long body copy outsells short body copy.


Marketing words, i.e. within advertisements, hence ‘body copy’. (I worked for three years as a professional copywriter, in my late 20s. I can remember my boss looking at something I had written and saying: “Well, I like the font and the paper you have printed this on. Now let’s talk about the words you have written.”)

Decision maker

The person who has the authority to give the go ahead for a sale / order. Can be difficult to determine within larger organisations. The copywriter needs to understand the mind of the decision maker as far as possible.


A somewhat old fashioned way of segmenting customers using gender, age, socio economic group and geographical location. (The challenge being that this only gives you a crude interpretation of a customer’s characteristics).

Description Tag (SEO)

Part of your website’s meta data. 155 character’s worth of description of a web page’s content. IMHO a professional copywriter should write this as it is, in effect the bodcopy of an ‘ad’ when seen within a SERP page.


The feeling that the copywriter is trying to produce within the prospective customer as they read the compelling copy.


The key point or collection of points which makes an enteprise, brand, product or service stand out from the crowd.

Direct response copywriting

A piece of copy which has the objective of enticing the reader to take immediate action, i.e. call a free phone number.

e-shot (Email marketing):  An email which is trying to sell something. (It’s usually OK to send an occasional e-shot to subscribers of your newsletter list).

ezine or e-newsletter (Email marketing): An email magazine or email based newsletter. May require quite a bit of copywriting.


An attribute of a product, i.e. it is yellow. Professional copywriters are constantly turning mundane features into sizzling benefits.


Within Twitter, you can use hashtags # in order to highlight keywords. For example, if you wrote: #Oxford …within Twitter, it would appear in blue and this word would become a clickable item – which allows Twitter users to click on that word and see recent Tweets which contain the same word. The use of hashtags enables Twitter users to find other Tweeters who are interested in specific issues / topics / products / people / locations etc.


Arguably, the most important part of the copy.


A phrase (which may be repeated several times) which has the objective of getting under the reader’s skin.

HTML (Internet marketing): HyperText Markup Language – the computer language used to build (most) web pages. IMHO copywriters benefit from a conceptual understanding of HTML.


Words or phrases which people search for (i.e. within Google, Yahoo or Bing). As part of your SEO strategy, it is a good idea to have a list of keywords and phrases which appear within your website’s content and meta data, in order to attract the search engines.

Landing page

A webpage that has a commercial intent, i.e. newsletter signup, event registration, sales lead generation or sale.  Tip: online advertisements work better when they link to a landing page.

Market segment

A market segment = a group of people with shared needs. If someone has done their homework and written about target market segments within the marketing plan / brief, the life the copywriter is so much easier.

Marketing piece

An item of marketing collateral, i.e. an advertisement, brochure or website.

Meta Data

Within websites, this refers to information held within the Header section of a web page, which helps search engines to decide what that page is about. Meta Data includes the Title Tag and Description Tag.

Mind Mapping

The graphical thought organisation technique designed by the awesome Tony Buzan. This is essential during planning, presentations and talks. A fantastic technique for every copywriting project I take on.

Ps (The four)

Product, Price, Place and Promotion. AKA ‘Marketing-mix’ coined by Neil Borden in 1953. See:


If you have a physical product, it is important to have professional packaging, which includes well written copy.

Pop-up adverts

Advertisements that appear in front of the content of a web page.


How you decide to position yourself in your market, i.e. ‘cheap as chips’ versus ‘reassuringly expensive’.

Press Relations

This is the art of trying to get journalists to write about your products / services. (I prefer to use the term ‘Media Relations’, which includes digital media, such as blogs).

Post Script (PS)

Most copywriters know this is an important part of their copy, as so many readers go here first in any piece of copy they read.

Press release

A single story that is sent to many different media, with the hope of publication.


May include testimonials, facts and figures, photographs, case studies or media coverage.


The art of checking the copy before it is made public. Particular care is given to spelling, typos, grammar, punctuation and syntax.

Promotional technique

A specific way of promoting a product or service, i.e. a website is a promotional technique. SEO and blogging are separate techniques.

Promotional mix

All of the ways in which you promote your business, i.e. website, advertisements, networking, SEO, social media.


A tried and tested copywriting element. The human mind answers questions automatically, doesn’t it? On this basis, skilled copywriters include questions within their work, usually in order to get the reader to say ‘yes’ to themselves.

Squeeze page

A web page (or website which usually only comprises a single page) which has the sole objective of tempting visitors to ‘join your list’, i.e. your newsletter list.


The headlines under the main headline which help your reader scan your advertisement, web page or blog.


A few lines of copy which (hopefully) entices the reader to open the envelope, click on a link within an e-newsletter etc.


A short statement endorsing your business, brand, service or product – written by a genuine customer (not you).


Writing two versions of an advertisement, headline, web page to work out which is the most effective. Even if you only test one thing, please make sure you test your headlines. Many writers do not test for whatever reason. Laziness? Maybe. But I think it is more to do with the fact they either don’t know how, or don’t understand the value.

Title Tag

Part of your website’s meta data. Title Tags appear with SERP pages and look like headlines. Looks like a headline, when seen with a SERP page.


A social media website. Tell the world about your business in 140 characters or less. (Well written Tweets make all the difference).


Your USP, or Unique Selling Point, is a unique attribute of a product, service or company that customers cannot get from any other source. By focusing on USPs, you can differentiate from your competitors and resist ‘commoditisation’, where competing products are effectively equal and customers buy primarily on price.


Well, there you go on my ‘short’ list…

Which ones have I missed?

What do you think I should have included?


Has this been helpful?

As always please leave a comment below and if I like your term I promise to add it to the list, and will even leave your name and link if you would like.

Greg Noland

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