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Write Great Copy with These Copywriting Do’s and Don’ts

  •  Copywriting establishes a relationship
  • Focus on your specific target market
  • Try out different techniques with your target market

Think of the last company website you visited. There were likely several pages that incorporated text, either to sell a product or explain the benefits of a service. Every company at some point needs copy written, whether for a website, brochure, or a social media post. While it may seem simple to write about how your product or service can benefit someone, there are many key techniques that take your copy to the next level.

If you’re a copywriting novice, a quick Google search will overwhelm you with pages and pages of ideas and tools and techniques. They all seem helpful but the prospect of applying all of them can be overwhelming. Although there are hundreds of tips and tricks to elevate the copy your business uses, there are a few key areas where your focus will make a huge difference.

Why is effective copywriting important?

Everyone has had the experience of visiting a website and being confronted with a huge amount of complicated text and information. It’s confusing and if you are looking for specific pieces of information, it can quickly be aggravating. On the other hand, there are also those experiences with websites whose copy is clear, concise and easy to process. One of the big differences between these two sites would be the copy. Copywriting is more than just filler words, it’s how you communicate with your prospective customers and clients. Without clear, well-written copy, you lose that connection with your target market. In a way, the copy you use is the conversation you have with your next loyal customer or client.

Copywriting Do’s

While there are many ways to improve your copywriting skills, here are a few that you can start with. Rather than overloading yourself with dozens of techniques and tricks, start with these few suggestions to begin improving your copywriting.

Know your audience

Imagine your prospective client or customer is sitting in the room with you. Get specific about their age, their gender, their hair color, their clothing. Once you have a clear idea of who they are, write your copy as if you were talking directly to them. Tell them about the product, service or company like you would if they were a close friend. Your market will feel when you are genuine and respond better to that than they would to another sales pitch.

Use the appropriate language and vernacular

Just as important as directing your content to your audience is writing in the language your target market uses. For example, if you are writing copy for a clothing brand marketed to teenagers, you could throw in some slang terms they would know. On the other hand, those same slang terms wouldn’t work for a senior center. Knowing your target market and writing specifically for them will clarify the tone and intention of your copy.

Keep it simple and to the point

Copy fails when people don’t read it. Your target audience needs the information you are putting out and the best way to present it is keeping it simple, easy to read, and to the point. Explaining to a prospective customer why they should choose your company or product is not the time to break out those SAT words. Most people will simply try to find the information they need and making that easy will make for a much better experience for your prospective customers and clients. Edit your copy so it’s full of factual, helpful information and devoid of “fluff.”

Answer: “What’s in it for me?”

The question “what’s in it for me?” is the question all consumers have in the back of their mind. They want to know why they should choose to spend their money with you rather than your competitor. Showing them why your company is the better choice is the deciding factor on whether or not you make the sale. As important as that is, your customer also doesn’t want a

disingenuous sales pitch or to feel like a dollar sign. So, how do you walk the fine line between selling your product and showing your value?

Write copy to be skimmed

This goes hand-in-hand with keeping your writing simple. Most people read vertically when browsing websites, rather than horizontally, meaning that most people who come across your copy will be skimming. Try using lists and bullet points to easily relate important information in groupings. Keep your sentences short and use formatting to help draw their attention to important points.

Copywriting Don’ts

As you improve your copywriting, there are pitfalls to try and avoid. Just as important as what you do is what you avoid doing. Keep an eye out for these common mistakes in your copywriting.

Leaving anything vague or implied

You know what you hope your customer understands from your website, but they don’t. You can’t assume they will interpret things in the same way. It’s best to be very clear and avoid using implications or vague phrasing, especially with offers for the customer or promises about your products or services.

Trying to write to everyone

If you try to please everyone or draw in every demographic, you will likely end up with a long-winded mess of words that helps no one. Once again, knowing your target customer is vital. Rather than trying to go for quantity, focus on quality. Focus on writing for the percentage of visitors to the webpage that will convert to customers. By giving them a good experience, you can quickly find yourself a lifelong customer.

Copying a competitor

Always use your own unique tone and voice with your copywriting. If you use a competitor’s style, not only will it undermine your credibility with your customer should they notice, but it also robs you of the chance to develop your own style. What you can try is testing an idea by sharing a link, with appropriate credit given, and seeing how it drives the traffic on your site. If you see a sudden spike in visits, maybe you could include more content related to that topic.

Being too concerned with grammar – or not concerned enough

There’s a reason we speak a certain way with our friends and another way with our boss. Formality has its place, but so does a more friendly tone. When communicating with your potential customers or clients, keep in mind the type of relationship you want to have with them. A clothing company should have a different customer relationship than a law office. Adjust your writing to lend itself to the relationship you want. Being too concerned with grammar that your sentences sound overly formal or are difficult to read will only put distance between you and the viewer. On the flip side, making the mistake of not proofreading could lead to spelling errors and typos that will make your company look unprofessional and sloppy.

Being overly concerned with “The Rules”

In copywriting, as in all disciplines, there are certain rules that someone decided are “The Rule” and we’ve all been told they must be followed. Here’s the secret: you don’t have to follow every little copywriting “rule” that you come across. While the rules of copywriting are a great way to get the hang of writing copy, it shouldn’t be so strict that you’re afraid to try new things. If you come across a website with an interesting format, try out something new yourself. If there’s a new style of post you like, see how it tracks with your visitors. Never be afraid to try new things; you may find your new favorite technique.

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