Copywriting is an essential tool for content marketers. It’s what we use to persuade our audience to take action, whether that means clicking a link, reading an article, downloading a whitepaper, or picking up the phone to make a call.
But crafting effective copy can be tricky – it takes skill and practice to find the right words to connect with your readers. These four techniques will help you get started.
Always use the “yeah, yeah” test.
Make sure your copy is written with a specific audience in mind. Write with authority so that your readers will take your copy seriously. Avoid writing yeah, yeah phrases – let me explain.
When we’re writing and stuck for words, we often resort to adding something bland or uninspired, like an “excellent, high-quality product.” That’s a yeah, yeah phrase.
As soon as a potential customer reads something that they already know or something they might have already heard of, they’ll think yeah, yeah, that’s what everyone else says.
No company would ever dare to call their product mediocre or not so bad, after all. So when your reader starts thinking, yeah, yeah, I know, your copy becomes less persuasive.
How do we avoid that? One way to do it is by leading your copy with concrete product features, then convincing them with benefits. In other words, tell your reader what your product or service can do (features), then tell them what’s in it for them (benefits).
The reader doesn’t care about your product as much as they care about how it can benefit them. Why should they buy a product or use your service?
For example, if you lead your copy with features – “We use a state-of-the-art van to provide quality mobile grooming services. We only use professional-grade products on your pet.”
If we lead by benefits – “With our mobile grooming team, you won’t have to go into the trouble of hauling your dog to the groomer.”
Don’t state the obvious – but don’t be vague.
Whenever necessary, use logic and reason to make a compelling argument. When we write our copy, we should first help create an emotional desire, then help the prospect rationalize their decision to take action with features and data.
For example, why write “We offer the fastest turnaround times than other printing services in town” when we can write “We’ll get your postcards printed and ready to ship in 48 hours”?
Be funny! Be surprising!
When you use humor in your copy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll bag the sale. Your reader won’t buy from you just because you made them laugh – but you’ll stay on top of mind longer. And with our readers swimming in a vast ocean of content, that’s better than nothing.
Readers tend to remember creatively written sentences than sentences with common words. For instance, “The biscuits screamed when the oven jumped out the window” tends to be more memorable than “The biscuits were visible through the oven window.”
Because the reader expended more mental energy in trying to imagine what the first sentence looked like, it proved to be more memorable.
A caveat: Never sacrifice brevity and clarity just to appear witty. Avoid writing about religion, sex, politics, stereotypes, and other inappropriate topics. Choose not to poke fun at marginalized communities and individuals. We need to try to be funny, but not mean-spirited.
The problem with clichés is not that they contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of very good ones.Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life
Cut the fluff.
Keep your paragraph short and avoid rambling. Remember, your readers don’t have all day. They want information about what you’re selling, and they want it fast. Wordiness or unnecessary fluff will only slow down your reader.
When you’re writing for the web, remember that your readers will likely just scan your copy rather than read every word. Structure your copy so that it’s easy to skim through your copy – use:
- Short bullet lists
- Easily digestible paragraphs
- Meaningful subheadings, and
- images to drive home your point.
Keep your language simple as well. It’s always better to be clear than clever. We want our message easy to understand, so readers will have a clear takeaway on what they have to do after they’ve read our copy.
Writing persuasive copy takes discipline and skill. If you want to be persuasive, always write with a specific audience in mind. Feel their pain, know their motivations, and speak their language. Learn about their hesitations and fears, and talk about those.
When you understand your audience, it will be easier to persuade them to buy your product or use your service.