How (and why) to use questions in your copy
Copywriters LOVE questions. Not just asking them but sprinkling them in copy too.
For good reason.
And yet, many B2B companies shy away from tactics like this.
I want to unpack more about using questions in business copy and provide some tips to make it work for you.
Why ask questions in the first place?
Psychologists agree that people who ask questions are more likeable. And that’s the same for copy.
Questions help readers engage with your copy and demonstrate you understand what matters to them. You’re interested in where they’re at.
We’re wired to answer questions - even if we read them. Mentally, we’re saying the answer in our heads.
By asking questions, you can also demonstrate empathy with your reader’s frustrations and needs.
And in doing so, they’ll read on.
Including questions in your copy is more like a conversation. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase ‘write as you speak’. It’s more natural and human.
Using the right questions
Choose your questions carefully, though. A helpful rule of thumb: be confident of their answer before you’ve asked it. Usually, this is a ‘yes’ answer. But you might be choosing a rhetorical question, or one to prompt curiosity. Be clear on its purpose and how they’ll respond.
Keep it simple too. If they cannot understand the question, it’s gone horribly wrong. Should they misinterpret it, wrong again.
The best questions are always about them, not you. Focus on their needs and their desired transformation. You might want them to learn more about your new product, but your questions should be around the benefits or transformation you provide:
Would you like to get more done in your day?
Do you want social media to fill your sales funnel?
How would a 10% saving help your business?
Don’t overdo it. If you were having a face-to-face conversation, you’d be put off by a barrage of questions. Same for copy. Think ‘sprinkling’ not deluge. They’re far more effective when they stand out.
Questions are not just for headlines, either. Yes, that’s a great spot for them, but try incorporating a few into your main copy. They’re a great way to keep your reader engaged.
Three great question techniques to try
There are many ways to play with questions in your copy. It depends on your medium and objectives. Here are three handy techniques to try.
1. Get the nod
Think about your own conversations with a salesman. Picture buying a new car…
“So, you’re looking for a family-sized car then?”
It might seem obvious to ask as you’ve just enquired about the large SUV your kids are enthusiastically exploring.
Obvious, yes. But do you nod and agree? Yes!
He’s got ‘the nod’.
Research shows if your prospect agrees with you early on, they’re more likely to continue the conversation with you. You’re on the same wavelength. They can see what’s in it for them.
You can use this technique in sales-oriented copy most effectively.
“Would you like a better deal on your business insurance?”
“Could seamless software help your business grow?”
“Would the right tools make your job easier?”
Yes, yes, YES!
If the question is relevant to your audience, easy to understand, and an obvious ‘yes’, use it to get the nod. You’ll draw them in, they’ll keep reading.
2. Align with their way of thinking
Hopefully, you know a fair bit about your audience. Like their frustrations, worries, and needs.
You can’t know enough about your audience. It’s gold where engaging copy is concerned.
By placing the right questions in your copy, you show them you *get it*. You know where they’re at and what’s keeping them awake at night.
Do you wish you could make a good habit stick?
Finding the right people to join your team is a constant challenge, isn’t it?
Do you find leadership a lonely place at times?
Carefully chosen questions like this give them confidence you understand their problem or frustration. And with that, they’ll be glued to your copy.
3. Make them curious
We’re all naturally nosey. And we all want to know the answer. TV series have cliffhangers for a reason – you’ll return to find out what happened.
In business copy, curiosity works when you focus on something they need to know more about. It must pass the ‘so what’ test.
And that all comes back to understanding their desired transformation and where they’re at.
What’s the easiest way to get new clients?
Does writing a book accelerate your personal brand?
Which generates more business: customer stories or sales calls?
These are not yes/no questions. They’re relevant to the right audience and knowing the answer would help them decide how to achieve their transformation.
Yes, curiosity works well in headlines. But it’s also your friend in sub-headings and general copy.
So, three great ways to use questions in your business copy. Just don’t overdo it. Have them up your sleeve and make your reader think with a question or two.
Will you try this? Or do you need a hand to make it work for you? I’m never far away should you need me.