The Importance of Great Copywriting

By f4group, December 19, 2014

Would you like your readers to take a specific action? Maybe you’d like your readers to sign up to your newsletter? Or download a white paper? Or leave a comment, follow you on Twitter, or like you on Facebook? Or buy something?

Copy writing is the text you use to persuade your readers to take a specific action. The ability to write irresistible sales copy is the most important marketing skill you can learn. A campaign based on brilliant copy writing can last for years, i.e the ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ campaign by Sir John Hegarty for Audi. Even for visual channels like YouTube you still need to write a compelling headline to get people to view your video. Do you need to write business emails, direct mail letters, website copy, social media updates, or advertising copy? Or do you just approve copy written by others? Either way you need to understand the techniques that make copy more persuasive; and you need to know which copywriting mistakes turn readers off.

Good sales copy is:

  • Engaging: it focuses on reader benefits;
  • Clear: it is easy to read and easy to understand;
  • Concise: sales copy doesn’t use more words than necessary;
  • Persuasive: it encourages a reader to take action.

Here are the top 10 tips to producing compelling, successful copy write:

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Who is this e-mail going to? Picture the average person on your list. Give them a name, even. Think about what their day is like. Think about what’s important to them. What are they passionate about? How old are they? What products or services have they purchased from you in the past and why? The more you know about the audience you’re writing for, the more targeted and relevant your copy will be.

  3. Determine your value proposition.
  4. Know the answers to these questions: Why should your customer buy your product or service? What’s in it for them? Why is your product better than the one down the street? What are your key differentiators?

  5. Find a unique selling proposition.
  6. The more your offer stands out from the competition, the better your chances of getting a response. Rosser Reeves, author of Reality in Advertising, defines the unique selling proposition as a promotion that offers “something that competitors do not, or will not, offer.” He also says, “The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product.”

  7. Establish an objective.
  8. What’s the purpose of this e-mail? What action are you trying to get the reader to take? You need to be clear on this before you start writing. If the answer isn’t clear to you, it certainly won’t be clear to your reader.

  9. Use a compelling subject line.
  10. The subject line is what gets your e-mail opened, so don’t write something quickly just before sending. You have to convince your readers that they really need to open your e-mail. The best word you can use to get the reader’s attention is you. The word you says that the message is about them. Other great words for subject lines (and headlines) include new, exciting, exclusive and introducing. Also, try to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less, including spaces.

  11. Write a great headline.
  12. If the subject line gets your reader to open the e-mail, then the headline gets them to read further. Consider using some of the buzzwords mentioned in tip 5 in the headline so it’ll grab readers with an obvious “What’s in it for me?” message. Here’s a question to ask yourself: What if my customers only read the headline? Will they know enough about you and what you offer?

  13. Avoid weasel words.
  14. When writing headlines, subheads and body copy, don’t use words that avoid a direct command, aka weasel words. These include may, maybe, hope, wish, try, but, could, perhaps and strive. Instead, use words like will and can to describe what your product or service will or can do for your reader.

  15. Don’t use passive voice–write in the present tense.
  16. Passive voice weakens your message. It’s best to avoid it. Here are a few examples to help you see the difference:

    • “Our company was chosen to receive an award” vs. “Our company received an award.”
    • “We have had 15 new products arrive” vs. “Fifteen new products arrived.”
    • “Ten new designs were created” vs. “We created 10 new designs.”
  17. Include a customer quote.
    Do you have a great customer quote that you can include in your e-mail? A brief and convincing quote can add credibility to your campaign. The more real you can make the person to your readers, the better. Including their name, what city or state they live in and even a photo, if it fits your campaign, is a great way to communicate the value of your service.

  18. Keep your copy clean and concise.
  19. After you write your first round of copy, read it out loud. Also, have someone else read it to see if they understand the message and the call to action. As you edit, cut unnecessary words and consolidate ideas. See if you can get your text down to 30 to 50 percent of what you started with. Also, include bullet points and possibly subtitles to make it easy to read-and, more important, easy to scan as most readers scan a page before deciding whether or not to read all the details.

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