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  • Writer's pictureShelli Schilke

Insider Intel — The 16-Point Checklist Marketers Use to Evaluate Winning Copy By Katie Yeakle

All of us at AWAI are always on the lookout for ways we can give you an edge when it comes to impressing clients.

Here’s the latest gem …

It’s an “insider’s” checklist that will make you a standout with marketers — the busy and talented folks who are so critical to your success as a copywriter.

It’s from my friend, Master Copywriter Nic Laight. It covers the key things a marketer would want to know about the copy he or she is reviewing.

I’m sharing it with you today and hope you’ll use it on every piece of copy and content you write. It will make your job easier. It will make your writing stronger. And, it will make your clients very happy. Win. Win. Win!

The Marketer’s Copy Feedback Cheat Sheet

First, print out a hard copy of the copy or content.

Next, skim-read the main headline and subheads.

Don’t worry about the body copy at this stage.

Most people read online and offline sales letters like this: a rapid glance through to see if it’s worth spending more time reading.

Did you get the essence of the offer?

Now read the copy again at a regular pace with a highlighter and red pen in hand.

Remember to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes — read the copy as if you were your ideal customer.

Use this checklist to make sure all the essential elements are in place …

1. Does the HEADLINE:

  • Grab attention? Is it engaging or unexpected? Does it have at least 3 of the 4 U’s© — Unique, Urgent, Useful, Ultra-specific?

  • Connect with the target audience? Does it clearly speak to those who will benefit most from the offer? (“What coffee drinkers over 50 should never do …”)

  • Make you want to read on? Headlines and subheads are stepping-stones — their goal is to move the reader down the copy as quickly as possible.

2. Is there ONE BIG PROMISE clearly stated in the headline/lead?

The headline and introductory paragraphs should show how your product or service can transform your prospect from where they are now to where they want to be.

3. Does the copy create a PICTURE?

Great copy will often plunge the reader into a dramatic story that illustrates how the target audience’s problem is overcome or goal achieved.

It could place the reader as the ‘hero’ — getting them to picture how their life will be better once they have used your product/service.

4. Is the lead emotionally compelling?

Great copy taps into primal emotions like anger, hope, frustration, excitement, and fear.

The copy should focus on the emotional transformation of the prospect from negative to positive emotions.

For example, pain to pleasure or anxiety to confidence.

5. Does the copy have a VOICE?

When you read it out loud, does it sound like natural everyday human speech as opposed to marketing jargon, technical writing, business speak, or stiff, academic prose?

Does the voice match the personality and brand of your business?

Is the tone something your ideal reader will appreciate and respond to?

6. Does the copy get to the point FAST?

A first draft will often contain something called “warm-up copy.”

This is where the copywriter begins the promotion with fluff or pre-amble that weakens the lead.

Print out the copy and place three fingers over the opening lines.

Does the promotion still make sense without those lines?

If so, underline them.

Do this again with three fingers over the next batch of copy.

Keep repeating this process until you find the point where the promotion should actually start.

7. Are the BENEFITS clearly stated?

Benefits are the ideal outcome for the customer when they use the product or service.

Strong copy will show the reader how they could be experiencing these benefits as part of their everyday life.

8. Multiple benefits are better expressed using bullet points.

Bullets should be short, clear, and easy to read. By listing bullets with lots of different benefits, the sales copy will catch the attention of prospects who may have different reasons to buy.

9. Are all claims CREDIBLE and BACKED UP?

All promises and claims should be supported by persuasive proof, including:

  • Statistics

  • Charts

  • Expert Quotes

  • Case Studies

  • Academic Studies

  • News Items

  • Customer Testimonials

The more reputable the source, the more credible. Underline any unsubstantiated claims — they need to be deleted or require further proof to back them up.

10. Did you read the entire copy from start to finish without getting stuck or confused?

Great copy should be invisible.

It must never draw attention to itself.

Instead, it should engage the reader, then encourage them to act on the offer without them becoming distracted.

If the copy demands extra effort to “get through,” it’s more likely to be abandoned in favor of an easier read.awkward phrases, unusual words, long sentences, and confusing or clumsy explanations. They can cause the reader to stop to think, go back to the beginning, or worst of all — stop reading.

Remove ALL puns: they make the reader work too hard.

TIP: Reading copy aloud is a great way to spot problems in the flow.

11. Is the copy EASY to read?

Sales copy design and layout should support an uninterrupted reading experience.

Make sure long copy is broken up by SUBHEADS.

Use short words.

In short sentences.

And short paragraphs.

12. Is the copy ENGAGING?

Good sales copy should be interesting, compelling, and entertaining to read.

If it becomes boring, dry, or cliché at any point, underline these sections for the copywriter to address.

13. Is the OFFER easy to grasp?

The offer should be clearly expressed.

It can include the price, discount, rarity/limited supply, time-sensitivity.

There should be a compelling reason for the prospect to act now.

The copy should either remind them of the importance of the product/service in improving

their lives or focus on the urgency of the offer (limited stock, time limit, closing date).

A strong initial brief should include all key aspects of your offer.


The copy should contain the strongest guarantee possible, for instance a money-back guarantee, free trial, underwritten promise.

15. Is there a CALL-TO-ACTION (Push)?

Is it clear what the reader must do next? The copy should spell out clearly the exact steps they need to take.

And here’s one final big question to ask yourself:

16. Would YOU buy this product or service?

Great copy should transport you to a heightened emotional state, even if you are not in the target market. If the sales copy has convinced you, and gotten you excited, that’s a great sign you’re onto a winner.

So there you have it … all the key points a marketer is looking at when reviewing copy. If you put your copy through this checklist, you’re basically ensuring your copy hits all the things a marketer wants and needs to see in what you’ve written.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit

Questions? Comments? Leave them below as I'd love to know your thoughts!

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