4 min read
Copywriting is the BACKBONE of marketing. If you can't write good copy, people won't engage. It's that simple! So how can you quickly improve your copywriting skills so they'll lean in and click?
Here are 5 easy steps that will get them to pay attention, engage, and eventually BUY.
Step 1: Know your audience and your goal
Well-written copy draws us in because it speaks to us. It feels almost as if it's been penned directly to me. Great writers know that to get attention and keep it, they need to know their audience inside and out. What are their problems? What do they want?
When you're clear on these two points, you can get to the business of helping them by highlighting the benefits over the features of what you offer. This is basic marketing 101. As a business owner, I'm interested in the fact that you're going to help me sell more; I don't care about the details of how your product works until I understand what I'll get from using it.
Great writers also know their goal before they start writing. Do you want your audience to click a button at the bottom of your email? Buy tickets to your event? Share your post? Everything you write must funnel them to your goal. And don't be shy about telling them what to do. Get in there and lead! That's what good copy does.
2. Write to ONE person
When I sit down to write a marketing email or a post, I have ONE person's face in my mind. I know what they're struggling with because I bring to mind the last conversation we had and what they needed help with. I put their face in my mind. Then I start writing.
If you try communicate to everyone, then you communicate to no one.
Remember Muzak? For those of you who have some accumulated experience on this planet like I do, you most definitely remember Muzak as the music they played in elevators in the 70s and 80s. It was meant to entertain a wide variety of people; it wasn't a specific genre like rock or pop or country.
The result? Music that felt neutered, faceless, and ghostly. There was no soul in Muzak because it wasn't created to delight ONE kind of person. Don't write Muzak—give your writing soul by speaking directly to one person.
And don't forget to use the pronoun YOU. So often we start writing about things in abstractions using "they" or "people" instead of the direct "you". Imagine if I wrote this article using phrases like "people should write to ONE person" instead of "give your writing soul by writing to one person." Totally different feeling, right?
3. Understand and Use Hooks
How are you going to get them to click into that email? How are you going to get them to read the next paragraph? These are the functions of hooks—attention grabbers that make us want more.
A good hook has the quality of being almost irresistible. You've felt the effect of a good hook, right? You know you don't really have time to click on that post, but you do it anyway because you can't resist.
A hook has one or more of the following qualities: mystery, something unusual, detail, something outrageous, something that sparks curiosity. Take these two email subject lines. Which one is a better hook?
Why we use only Madagascar vanilla in our ice cream
Why our vanilla ice cream is the best
Number one is the best choice because it uses detail (Madagascar vanilla) and mystery (why) to grab your attention. Never mind that 97% of all vanilla comes from Madagascar—they probably won't tell you that part ;-)
4. Edit. Then edit again. And then again.
A famous copywriter once said, "I don't have time to write a short letter." It takes TIME to write something that people want to read, that makes them feel something. Not to mention, it takes time to find all the mistakes you've made.
My beloved college lit teacher required us to write our first draft and then put it in a drawer for 24 hours before editing again. You may not have the luxury sometimes to enact this kind of writing regimen, but you can at least get in the habit of making three passes on anything you write.
Do one pass by speaking your writing out loud to eliminate clunky construction. Write the way you speak!
Do another pass to get rid of unnecessary relative pronouns (that, who) if possible.
Make your last pass to add some detail: color, time, texture, etc. Memory is sparked by sensory detail.
5. Write like a graphic designer.
Graphic designers know there is a science to getting people to engage with what's on a page. If you've got a big block of text with nothing emphasized with bold or CAPS, I'm probably not going to spend the time to go in there to figure out what you're trying to say.
Keep your paragraphs 1-3 sentences long, then put a return before you start a new paragraph. Gives people's eyes a chance to rest.
Use bold, CAPS, and BOLD CAPS to drawn attention to words/phrases that need it. Bring out your tone by relying on visual devices like this and your writing will be a lot more engaging.
That's it! Follow these five steps and you WILL be a better copywriter. Then watch your engagement, then sales, go UP. I actually had a client send out a marketing email the same day I taught her these steps. She got a new client from that email—no lie!
And it can work for you too. Let me know how it goes by posting on my Facebook page.
Struggling to define and communicate your brand? Get clear with the Brand Identity Brief free download here.