Copywriters are some of the highest paid writers in the world. But like anything lucrative, the skill requires a lot of practice and hard work.
In fact, web copywriting may be one of the most deceptively difficult things to do. After all, anybody could string words together, flesh out a landing page and add a call-to-action. But not every copy leaves an impact on the reader or converts.
Before we move on to discuss all the elements that make a copy effective, let me tell you this; the single most powerful copywriting tip I’ve utilized in my work is simplicity.
Leonardo da Vinci said, ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ This advice from the 16th century still rings true today. In copywriting, simplicity is everything. In other words, simple sells.
Here are a couple of other attributes that your copy should have to increase conversions;
Evoke an emotional response
A compelling copy triggers an emotional response in your audience. This is the kind of copy you want to create. It is also that copy which garners attention, engagement, and sales. Your copy should make her laugh. Make her fearful of losing out. Make her wince. Make her want something.
People are emotional creatures. Buying decisions are rarely made rationally. Triggering an emotion is the only way to incite action. How many people do you know who take logical buying decisions, instead of following their heart?
Pain and pleasure are the two main drivers of action. Much like the carrot and stick phenomenon, pain and pleasure are equally applicable to humans. The best copywriters know that emotions sell. And they use this knowledge to draw out emotions when crafting a TV script, a landing page, an article or anything else.
Take a look at Ann Handley’s email subscription CTA;
It’s easy to get a little too self-promotional when it comes to building your own personal brand. Despite having accomplished a great many things, Ann via her microcopy, shows that she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Kill your darlings
‘Kill your darlings’ is a term coined by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. It forms one of the most basic tenets of good copywriting; keeping it simple.
Even if you’re writing technical articles, avoid industry jargon and fluff. Using fancy language does nothing but confuse or alienate readers. Refrain from showing your poetic side. Keep it simple and straightforward.
Limit your use of adjectives and rid your copy of adverbs. They make your message clogged and dull. To keep your copy sharp, follow these quick tips from George Orwell;
- Use a word instead of a phrase
- A phrase instead of a sentence
- A sentence instead of a paragraph
- A para instead of a page
‘If you can’t explain it to a 6-year old, you don’t understand it yourself.’ – Albert Einstein. A copy that’s simple is also so much more effective.
But I think the concept of simplicity was best explained by Jony Ive, Steve Job’s soulmate in simplicity.
“Why do we assume that simple is good?
Because…simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity.
To be truly simple, you have to go really deep”. – Jony Ive [excerpts from Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson]
Study your competitor’s copy
You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Sometimes for creativity, all you have to do is study your competitor’s copy. You can borrow their ideas but in a way that you make them their own.
You’ll have a hard time writing copy that sells if you’re a perfectionist and constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Let your competitor’s copy inform and inspire your work.
Just take a look at this refreshing copy by urbandaddy. They’ve mastered the art of getting me to open emails from them. This particular one was titled ‘fun.’
There are a couple of things that caught my eye in this email.
First of all, there’s no long introduction. The writer got straight to the point – a very wise decision lest the reader gets annoyed about reading so much about something as common as a rubber band gun.
Secondly, notice the purposeful sentence structure. The writer forgoes conventional grammar and uses a plethora of run-on sentences and traditional product promotion copy.
Keep reading, and you’ll notice a conversational tone that mocks the silliness of the product but also loops the reader in for something interesting and fun.
So if you didn’t know how to start your copy, reading this would give you some interesting ideas. For example, you could use the same tone to talk about your product. Or share an inspiring, interesting or alarming story that relates to your experience and then highlight the solution your product or service offers.
You can also use storytelling as part of your product/ service copy as stories have a huge impact on the brain.
The best thing about urbandaddy is that they maintain their tone in every copy they publish. Here’s a screenshot of their editorial;
Read often and widely. It is the ultimate building block for writing that is worth reading. Understandably, in this noisy world, people are giving up on reading.
But you’ll notice that if you want to write a blog, reading other articles, blogs, listening to podcasts and watching training videos will actually get you fired up to write superbly.
On the other hand, not reading will kill the impulse to write.
Reading is so good in fact that it improves your health in several different ways;
In his essay, Dan Kurland explains,
“Reading is primary. One can write only as good as one reads.”
In the same way, if you’re struggling to write persuasive copy, get your hands on a good book and read intensely. I would also suggest that you take notes as you go along so you’ll have an easier time remembering information and working on your persuasive copy ideas when the time comes.
Reading books helped me become a blogger and writer. To get you started in the right direction, here are 17 books every copywriter must read.
Notice the language you’re using
Use language that is simple and direct. Be conversational. Write in a way that your audience understands you and knows that you understand them. We see this idea expressed again and again by some of the best in business.
In fact, most of the communication errors we make on paper happen because we use complicated language. And unlike most writing, when we talk, we flow. So combat complexity with ‘conversation’.
If you’re new to writing copy, take an editor’s help. Ask her to read your copy aloud in front of you. Notice anything that doesn’t sound like what a real person would say to another.
Another trick is to give yourself some time between writing a copy and reviewing it so you have fresh eyes and ears that would pick out the gaps.
Focus on one goal
Everybody wants their copy to close. But unless you have a singular goal, it won’t. In marketing terms, it means sticking to the CTA (Call-to-Action).
For this purpose, the copy needs to be very simple and specific. Also, you have to put something in the copy that inspires users to take action such as a discount coupon.
Most marketers, when they think about CTA, they think design. While the color and design of the button are of the utmost importance, it’s the copy of your calls to action that gets them clicking.
Dan Kennedy sums it very well;
“There are, of course, many ways I cast nets to find clients. Books, teleseminars, webinars, newsletters … all are done ultimately with the intention of gently inviting people to inquire about my services.
Yet each has a different strategic purpose.
That’s a key point. You have to know your purpose for each piece, each item, each event. You have to know what your purpose is for being there. For being anywhere.”
Answer relevant questions to make your copy persuasive
One of the best ways to write copy that’s persuasive and effective is to strive to answer your audience’s most pressing questions. For this, you need to know your customers’ pain points. Or what’s keeping them awake at night?
Let’s suppose if you’re writing content for Pagely.com – you should visit their FAQ section first.
With the help of these frequently asked questions, you can start preparing a persuasive essay or blog post. You can also use Quora to find what potential customers are searching for.
For example, if you’re looking for questions related to content marketing, you can go to Quora and search for this term.
If you still need more questions, you can dig deeper by asking your email subscribers, social media followers, and customers what they’re struggling with. Their answers will give you some deep insights and help you write a persuasive copy that sells.
These tips should help you get started in the right direction. Were they helpful? Let us know in the comments below.