If you’re new to writing copy, you may be wondering how you can make your text compelling and persuasive. Good copy is clear, effortless to read and – most importantly – positively influences buying behaviour. But unfortunately the sheer power of the written word in marketing often gets overlooked, even in our online world of blogs, email and social media.
Though writing awesome copy can seem like a daunting prospect, there are a number of ways in which you can improve any piece of copy with a few copywriting cues based in psychology.
Transform your copy with these five tips that you can start using today.
- Hook your reader with a solution to a genuine problem
When you sit down to start writing a piece of marketing copy, the first question is usually “where do I start?” You can begin by questioning why people buy what you sell, and the emotions that go on behind that purchase.
Base your copy around the issues that you solve for your customers; for example, do you save people time, money or energy? Do you provide some kind of much needed organisation or convenience? Do you provide peace of mind in case something doesn’t go to plan? Remember the pain points that you soothe, and start from there.
As an example, look at TV commercials for insurance companies – they don’t simply state what they do; these ads paint a positive picture of how it’s best to have something in place in case things go wrong. Selling peace of mind, if you will.
However, remain positive at all times and don’t try to “guilt trip” your readers into working with you. Any kind of negativity or over-emotional coercion will stick with your customers, and will almost always reflect badly on you.
- The old adage “Sell on Benefits, not Features.”
You may have heard the copywriting advice “sell on benefits, not features.” But what does that mean?
You know the specifics of your products better than anyone, and though that information is important to your customer, it’s not necessarily going to persuade your readers to buy on its own. Before you give your facts and figures, you need to persuade the reader by selling the benefits that they will receive if they make a purchase.
People don’t buy a circular saw because it spins at a certain RPM, they buy it to saw things. People don’t pay to go on a course to learn about something for a day, they buy it to grow and change something they’re having trouble with. Sell on the practical upshot of the purchase, not the actual purchase.
As esteemed Harvard marketing professor famously said “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole […] sell the hole, not the drill.”
- Make your copy all about the reader
Though it may be uncomfortable to hear, we humans subconsciously tend to ask “what’s in it for me?” before all else. And when we’re being marketed to, that question rings even more loudly.
Take an objective look through all of your written content, put yourself in the shoes of someone who may be reading it and ask “why should this person care?” Generally, copy that is solely about “us” and “we” (referring to your company) can give an impression that you aren’t concerned with the reader’s needs and just want to inflate your own presence. Addressing your copy to “you” (meaning your customer) gives an impression that you understand and value your customer’s opinions and feelings and want to help them above all else. For example, compare:
“Our intruder alarm systems provide reliable home security.”
“Keep your home secure with our reliable intruder alarm systems.”
Mould any benefits around your customer and the personal attachment to the purchase. Even when you’re appealing to businesses, it helps to retain this personal angle. After all, you’re appealing to a human decision maker, not the business as a concept.
- Keep your text brief, efficient and succinct
It’s important to grab and keep people’s attention throughout the copy. The best way to do this is to keep your message as short as possible; you don’t want to take up a reader’s attention for any longer than needed. Edit out any words, sentences and even paragraphs that ramble, that repeat the same information or that simply add nothing. Remember to focus on the message you’re trying to portray, what information you want to stick in your customers’ minds, and the actions that you want people to take. Which brings us on to…
- Finish with a specific and direct call to action
Remember the actions you want your reader to take, and communicate that by way of a clear and concise call to action (or CTA) in a noticeable place, usually near the end of the copy. Telegraph the action you would most like the reader to make in a specific yet brief way. Readers can’t read your mind, so it often pays to tell them what you would like from them.
A good CTA strikes a good balance between brevity and specificity; let’s take a look at an example. Say you want people to contact you to claim a free quote – compare:
“Get in Touch!”
“Claim your free quote today!”
Making your CTA totally clear removes any doubt in your reader’s mind about what is expected of them, and subtly cues the reader toward the desired action.
There is a plethora of awesome copywriting tips out there that can help improve response rates, but these five will help get you on the right track. Listen to your clients, read up on more ways to improve your copywriting skills and above all, have fun.
What are your favorite copywriting tips? How do you like to appeal to people? Please share your opinions down in the comments!