Content is king. You’ve heard it time and time again, but what does that statement actually mean? Effective copywriting must offer a three-faceted approach to every website visitor. It must attract new visitors, convert prospects into customers, and encourage customers to come back for another purchase. Needless to say, writing effective, powerful content on a regular basis can be difficult.
Yet copywriting pros can consistently produce content on a daily basis which meets these goals. If you want to get more results for your website, then consider these strategies that professional writers use in order to stay prolific.
#1. You’ve got to do your research.
Writers create authentic content when they’re able to write about something they know. This doesn’t mean you need to try every product or travel to every location on the planet to write about it. A trip down to the local library to grab a book about a subject is fantastic research. Reading blogs from industry experts can help you get to know your subject material in a more intimate way.
Not all research, however, is effective research. You must stay focused on the matter at hand in order for your research to upgrade your copywriting needs. Here’s how to do that.
- Stop the distractions. Shut off your phone. Close your social media. Lock your doors if you must. Effective research only happens when you can commit 100% of your attention to it.
- Use different resources. If you only use one resource for your research, your copywriting will inevitably sound like that resource. Take from multiple sources before you start to write.
- Don’t be afraid to go old-school. Sometimes the best information isn’t online or in a book. Consider accessing local microfiche records, old newspapers, and other older forms of information storage as well.
The visitors to your website want to see evidence that you’re an expert at what you do. With a little research, your copywriting can convey that evidence in an appropriate way.
#2. Bring emotion into your words.
Good writing will make the reader feel something. It’s how you step into the shoes of a character when reading a book. It’s also how good copywriters turn prospects into customers. You can do this by taking your value proposition to a personal level. There are three primary methods of accomplishing this within content.
- Ask questions. Start your content by asking a question that you believe your prospects are asking themselves on some level. This begins the relationship-building process and encourages readers to look for an answer within your content.
- Be descriptive. If the goal of your content is to sell someone a product that can save them time, then discuss the frustrations that they are likely facing right now. Then show how your product can provide relief.
- Offer a nostalgic look. By invoking a person’s pleasant memories and the associating those memories with your brand, you’ll create a unique connection that will help your content encourage a sale.
Emotion can be effective, but it can also backfire on you if you create the wrong emotional response. If you aren’t sure about what makes your core audience tick, then this copywriting approach might not work as intended.
#3. Structure your content in an appealing way.
Brian Tracy, a bestseller entrepreneur and author, says that communication is a skill that you can learn. “ It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”
Copywriting might be a way to convey information, but it is also an art form that is constantly shifting and evolving. Sometimes the information you have offered visitors is valuable, but because it is structured poorly, people don’t want to read it. Good structure adds interest to your content. Bored readers are people who won’t become customers.
So how do you structure your content in an appealing way?
- Make it easy to scan. Use regular subheadings. Offer bullet points for key sections. Break up long paragraphs so they don’t seem intimidating.
- Tell your own story. You’re not Brian Tracy. You’re you. Don’t try to be something or someone you are not. Authentic content will always have a certain appeal.
- Be funny. Incorporate your sense of humor into the content – but keep it professional. Your humor should help to close the deal. It shouldn’t drive people away from a sale.
#4. Stay away from the “hard” sell.
Savings. SAVINGS. SAVINGS!!!!
You’re not trying to encourage people to purchase tickets to the local monster truck show on Saturday. You’re trying to get them to read your content and think about the value proposition you’re offering them. This means you must target what is most valuable to people today.
Money isn’t the most valuable currency. Information even takes a back seat to it. The most valuable thing a person has is their time. They don’t want you wasting it.
By recognizing this, you can turn away from the “hard” sell that discusses your low, low prices and start using content that encourages time savings. Think about these specifics when incorporating this strategy.
- Make it personal. Show people that you understand that their time is valuable and that you’re not trying to waste it.
- Show how you can save time. Highlight the benefits of your product, service, or information so your readers can see that a time investment now could save them time in the future.
- Offer real-life examples. When people can see that you’ve already saved time for someone, they’ll be more interested in what you have.
The mistake that copywriters often make in this area is that they try to have their cake and eat it too. They’ll promote monetary savings, time savings, and be aggressive with their calls to action. As Oprah has said: “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” Focus on the value of what you have to offer and it will sell itself.
#5. Create a headline that captures interest.
According to David Ogilvy, there will be 5 people who read the headlines of your content for every 1 person who actually reads the body copy. This means you’ve already won or lost based on the quality of your headline when you’re copywriting.
We’ve all seen the “clickbait” headlines on social media lately. “You won’t believe what happens when Joe does this!” Avoid that stuff. It might generate clicks of curiosity, but it won’t generate real sales for you. Focus instead on putting the 4 U’s into the headlines that you create while copywriting.
- Urgency. Show people that there is something they need to read right now.
- Uniqueness. What makes you an industry expert? Use the headline to prove it.
- Usefulness. Why should someone ready your body copy? Answer that question in your headline.
- Ultra Specific. There is one key point that you’re trying to make. Make it.
Think of the headline as your primary thesis statement. You’re providing a benefit. Describe it. Infuse it with some of your personality. Take a strong phrase out of your text and use it. Show how people will benefit by reading your material and you’ll be able to get more than 20% of people reading your body copy.
Did you know that one single word can change everything? It’s true. By adding or subtracting just one word from your content, you can boost sales by over 20% – or lose that amount in sales. You must focus on the fine details when copywriting because these are the descriptors that leave a lasting impression on people.
Let’s take a look at three examples.
- Sign up now for just $10.
- Sign up for a small $10 fee.
- Sign up for $10.
Which do you think is most effective? You’ll have writers argue for all three, but the second example is the best here. It’s very specific. It shows the reader that the $10 is a fee, but it’s small and not something that will negatively effect their budget. The first option is more of a hard sell, well the third option is pretty blunt and uncaring.
Now think about the fine details your audience wants to see when using this strategy. Include descriptors within your content that focuses on those details. When you do, you’ll be able to take your copywriting to the next level.
#7. Keep it simple.
Your message must be clear and precise. Communicate the value proposition in such a way that readers can recognize the benefits you’re offering right away. Be simple, be direct, but also be polite. You’re not trying to preach or lecture. You’re building a relationship with your copywriting. Remember that.
#8. Break the rules sometimes.
When you’re trying to improve your copywriting skills, it can be easy to lose yourself in the rules of proper grammar and sentence structure. You want to make sure you’re getting the language mechanics right. Proper language has a time and a place. But not always.
“Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.” – Robert Benchley
When you’re breaking the rules of proper language, it’s important to remember that there are still some guidelines to consider following.
- Write in a tone that is understandable. You’re creating a conversation with your copywriting skills. Think about how your words are going to come across so that they are understood in the way intended.
- Use a relational voice. If people can understand how you’re writing, then they can understand you on a deeper level.
- Despite what your reflection says, you’re not perfect. We all make mistakes. We’ll misspell words. We might write “your” instead of “you’re.” It happens. Find it and fix it and thank the person who pointed out the error.
Copywriting is ultimately the art of speaking through the written word. Sometimes that means you need to break the rules of proper language to get your point across.
#9. Actions beat descriptions every single time.
You’ve likely heard this phrase before: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the world of copywriting, a verb is worth a thousand words. One of the traps almost every writer falls into at some point in time is called the “adjective” trap. It’s so easy to get caught up trying to describe what is being written about that no action is taken.
Let’s use a bio as an example: Joe is a driven individual, works hard, and loves his family.
Joe sounds like a good guy. He probably earns a nice paycheck. He might drive a minivan and live in the suburbs. That’s okay, but that doesn’t really make Joe stand out, does it?
Now let’s improve the bio: Joe is the founder of a multimillion dollar copywriting firm, writes a blog that garners 3 million unique hits per month, and teaches 250 writing seminars per year so other writers can be like him.
Joe might still live in the suburbs. He probably still drives a minivan. He’s also someone you’d want to get to know now if you’re a copywriter who wants to get better. Why? Because you feel like you know him more because of the actions he has taken in life.
Breaking out a thesaurus is something you need to do if you’re writing a 120,000 word novel and want to avoid using the word “smirk” on every page. When copywriting, put the thesaurus away and think about what actions can be offered to the reader. It makes a lasting impact.
#10. Stop thinking outside the box.
In the quest to be different as a copywriter, you’ll find many take the common advice to “think outside the box.” Or maybe “when nothing goes right, turn left.” The only problem is that a writer can spend so much time outside of the box, trying to be unique, that nothing gets done.
Or worse – no one understands the content because it is so far “out in left field.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce, an author of 12 books and a professor of humanities, has made this observation: “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
The reason why we think outside the box in the first place is because we believe that thinking inside the box is wrong. We strive to be different because we feel like everyone else has something similar to offer. Guess what? That’s not always true.
How can you think effectively while staying inside the box?
- Offer value. Tell people why they should invest their resources into what you have.
- Be authentic. Tell your story. People will listen.
- Demonstrate reality. Show people what you can do. Appeal to the real benefits of what you’re offering.
To be a good copywriter, you must stop fearing that you are wrong. Stop second-guessing yourself. Don’t force yourself to think outside the box. As Joe Friday once observed on Dragnet: “All we know are the facts, ma’am.”
#11. Know your power words… and then use them.
There are certain words that are more persuasive than others. Don’t be fooled by the idea that personalization is a power word. How many emails do you delete every day that have your name in the subject line? Exactly. Just because you make something feel like it is offered on a 1:1 basis doesn’t mean it will be received that way.
This is why you need to use power words within your copywriting. Humans are wired to be attracted to products, services, and ideas that can provide them with an instant reward. You want something new to use. Why? Because we all want to use something valuable.
See what that is like?
Now it is important to make sure that you don’t confuse your power words with your keywords. You might find power words in certain keyword components that you might like to add to your content, but don’t substitute them. Don’t overuse them either. The more you use power words while copywriting, the less effective they will be. Pick and choose where you place them, be strategic about it, and you’ll find your content will become much more persuasive.
#12. Cut out all of the passiveness.
You need to use an active voice in order to be heard today. Passive copywriting can still be effective, but it won’t make the same impression as active copywriting. Purdue University makes the argument for active voice this way: “Using active voice for the majority of your sentences makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps the sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy.”
So what is the difference between active and passive voice? In content that offers active voice, the subject of the sentence is performing the action. This is what you want your readers to see when they’re making their way through your body copy. It allows them to see themselves performing the same actions being described.
#13. Go under the radar.
With thousands of brand messages offered to people every day, is it any wonder that many readers are beginning to tune out the calls to action that you’re putting into your copywriting? Because your readers are evolving, your writing must also evolve. This means putting your sales pitch “under the radar” so it doesn’t actually feel like a sales pitch.
There are four proven ways that you can do this right now.
- Add suspense to your narrative. You know how some TV shows and movies put the cliffhanger part of the story at the very beginning before they take you back to the start of the story? You can do the same thing with your copywriting.
- Strut the catwalk. When you want someone to take a specific action, then talk about how someone has already taken that action. Show how that person’s life was transformed. This will help the reader see themselves going through that same transformation because you’ve modeled it for them.
- Offer a hidden tale. In The Chronicles of Narnia, the lion Aslan is a metaphor for the teachings of Jesus. In Animal Farm, George Orwell discusses the rise of Stalin. Sometimes it’s easier to discuss difficult or controversial subject materials through the use of metaphors and irony so readers can draw their own conclusions.
- Be detailed with your imagery. What if you had to describe your product, service, or information to someone who couldn’t see it or use it? How would you get that person to become your customer? You’d need to be detail-specific. Detailed images will help people get the full picture of what you’re offering.
Now here’s the tricky part about going under the radar: if your reader recognizes that this is what you’re attempting to do, they’re still going to leave without becoming a customer. Your copywriting must go into stealth mode and stay there for this strategy to be effective. If the cloaking device fails, so does your pitch.
#14. Close the back door.
This product might change your life.
This information can provide you with what you need to know.
This service could be the answer to your problems right now.
Not every person who decides to convert from being a prospect to a customer is going to be satisfied with that decision. For some reason, sometimes outside of your control, the value proposition offered did not live up to its full potential. Many copywriters feel like a way to stop this disappointment is to offer themselves a “back door” by using probability descriptors instead of factual descriptors.
Check out what happens when we take out the probability descriptors and use factual descriptors to reinforce a value proposition.
This product will change your life.
This information will give you what you need to do.
This service is the answer to your problems right now.
You take on a certain amount of risk because you’re creating a dominant value proposition, but you’re also strengthening your copywriting material by doing so. Confidence helps to build trust.
It can’t stop there, however, because what you’re offering must live up to the value proposition offered. The trust you just gained will be lost if what you’ve offered fails to make the grade. You don’t want to make people feel uncertain, but you also don’t want them to feel like you’ve lied to them.
Think about it this way: if you’re not certain about your product, then why should your customers?
#15. Reinforce the value.
90% of the research a prospect does comes from outside of your content. If someone is interested in what you’re offering, they’re going to make sure that you’re an expert at what you do before they give you any time. That can make your copywriting job a lot easier if you can use specific examples or provide specific data about why you’re the best.
An easy way to do this is to include third-party data that verifies the claims you make within your content. Methodologies, testimonials, case studies – they all work. By sending people to outside resources that verify the quality of what you’re offering, you reinforce the value to the reader. This makes you credible, memorable, and reliable.
Being specific with these facts also sets you apart from all of the vague copywriting that exists today. Facts create attention and value creates interest. Combine the two and you’ll have a winning strategy.
Every writer has their own copywriting strategies which work at some level for them. Otherwise they wouldn’t be a writer in the first place! Trouble comes when writers get locked into habits that haven’t transformed as their readers and markets have evolved. That’s when these copywriting strategies used by the pros can be helpful.