When you’re writing copy for your business your aim is to lead the reader through to your end-goal. Whether that’s making a sale, or getting more enquiries.
A lot of psychological and marketing tactics can be used to create the best possible copy, which can over complicate things. To break it down, we’ve got the top 10 tips for compelling copy below.
1. Remember it’s about them not you
Don’t think about what you want to tell them via your article or a page on your website; focus on what they need to know. If your copy is helpful, it will provide value to your potential clients.
You can do this by focusing on the benefits to the reader, offering them value, and suggesting solutions to their problems.
Your language will go a long way towards making the reader feel you’re helping rather than dictating; use phraseology that sees things from their perspective, not yours, for example, “you’ll learn this… “ not “we’ll teach this…”.
2. Write with purpose
Above all, you have to keep your key message firmly in mind. What do you want the reader to do after reading your copy?
Decide on your main message upfront (e.g. make more sales), and then make sure your writing all gradually directs the reader to the action you want them to take.
This is made a lot easier by writing about things you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
3. Research the market
A little market research goes a long way, so make sure you’ve looked into the target market before starting. It can be all too easy to write something that you would find interesting or helpful yourself, but if your target market is wildly different to you, then this copy will not get results.
Find out the needs of your target market and get a clear picture of what’s happening with your competitors. What are they doing well? What can you do better?
4. Keep it simple
Make every word count. Never use jargon or complex words when you can use common phrases that people will quickly understand.
Go through your copy with a fine-tooth comb when you’re finished, making sure to delete any waffle and shorten those sentences.
“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
– Mark Twain
5. Be friendly
Probably the best tip you’ll get on writing well is to write like you speak.
This means avoiding phrases like “Why not join us… ?” (you’d just never talk like this with a friend, it’s too formal; “Why not join me tonight for a drink?”)
It’s quite an old-fashioned view that being formal will make you look more professional. Most of the bigger corporations now communicate in a much more casual manner.
A friendly tone should signal to readers that you’re trustworthy, and you’ll avoid alienating anyone.
But once you decide on the right tone for your audience, it’s very important to be consistent; maintain your tone of voice and personality across all channels.
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
– Leo Burnett
6. Use the six principles of persuasion
Dr Robert B. Cialdini PhD, an expert in the field of persuasion and influence, has developed 6 key principles for persuading others based on thirty-five years of research. From his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, here are the 6 methods for persuasion that you could employ in your copy writing.
- Reciprocity – Before you ask them to buy something, offer something first, like an exclusive or personalised service.
- Commitment – Ask them to make small actions first and reward their loyalty.
- Social proof – Use reviews and testimonials to back up your claims.
- Authority – Get a respected person or brand to give you an endorsement and establish your authority.
- Liking – Behave like a friend, not a brand. Build a relationship through relating to the reader and sharing values.
- Scarcity – Give a limited number or time-frame to create a sense of urgency.
7. Don’t forget about SEO
Search engine optimisation is essential when it comes to getting your copy to appear higher in Google’s search results. As most people stick to page 1 of Google, and then only tend to look at the first few results, getting to the top of the search results page is vital.
The first step with SEO is research to work out the relevant keywords that your audience are searching for. Then you need to include them in your copy; put the most important keywords in the page title, the first sentence or as early as possible.
A simple SEO strategy is to use geographical keywords where appropriate (for example “Hampshire accountancy firm”). But don’t get caught up in using keywords – writing naturally to resonate with your reader is more important.
8. Craft a tantalising title
- Use evocative language in your title to generate an emotional response and draw the reader in, e.g. anticipation, excitement, urgency.
- Focus on ideas, reasons and facts.
- Use numbers to make the title more scannable.
- Use power words to start off strong.
- Use a headline analyser to get some quick feedback on your structure.
9. A call to action
Marketing campaigns should always include a ‘call-to-action’; something you want the reader to do at the end of your copy.
If you want to generate more sales with your copy, then you could direct readers to your online shop, or provide a discount for shopping in-store.
Put yourself in the readers shoes and imagine the journey they’ve been on; they potentially landed on your website via Facebook, intrigued by your copy. Now that you have them, does your copy help guide them in the direction you want?
10. Read it out loud
Don’t just proofread your copy, read it out loud to yourself too.
By doing this you’ll find out how it really sounds, and if you’ve actually written the way you speak.
It’ll also be easier to pick up any words you’ve used too often or mistakes you might’ve skipped over in the proofread (people tend to read what they think they wrote, not what they actually wrote). And don’t be afraid to make as many edits as you need to.
Copy can be an incredibly influential tool if used correctly. Whether it’s your website homepage, an article, or a newsletter, it’s a point where you can connect with potential clients.
Make use of our 10 tips above, and maximise the impact your words could have.
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Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and the Coca-Cola London Eye.