How can you evaluate your copywriting? Use our 4-Point Test (part 3 of 3)
You’ve drafted your website, email, print ad, or direct mail copy using the Six Steps in the Sales Process for Effective Copywriting. And you’ve crafted an effective headline using the 6 Tests of Effective Headlines. What about the actual words? Here’s a 4-Point Test to evaluate your body copy.
Test #1: Read your copy out loud
When you listen to the way people speak, most of us talk in short, simple sentences. That’s exactly the way your copy should be written. Why? The simpler you can make your copy to get through, the more likely you are to keep your audience reading.
Writing the way people speak is also friendlier. When we speak, we tend to use contractions (isn’t, aren’t, it’s, etc.). We also may start sentences with “And” or “But.” Your grade-school grammar teacher may say that’s grammatically incorrect. And if you have a PR or journalism background (or your copywriter does), you may also not be used to writing in that manner. But it’s the most effective way to write advertising copy. Starting sentences with “And” or “But” helps copy to flow naturally, making it easy to get through.
So read your website copy, email copy, direct mail copy, and print ad copy out loud. Think as you’re reading, “Is this what I would actually say face-to-face?” If not, change it.
Notice any sentences that are too long to get through in one breath. Break those sentences up, by creating two sentences, or using em dashes – or ellipses . . . or a comma.
Test #2: Get the “you” in there
You want to use more “you” and “your” in your copy, rather than “I”, “we”, “us”, and “our.” The reason? Your prospects don’t care about you or your company. They only care about “what’s in it for me?” So review your writing for too much of “your company talking to itself” by too much “I-we-us-our.”
“We manufacture our product to the most exacting specifications.” versus
“You can be confident of products manufactured to the most exacting specifications”
Test #3: Specifics sell!
The more specific you can be within your copy, the stronger your message will be. Generalities – that don’t immediately paint a picture in the prospect’s mind (like “quality”, “value”, “innovation”) – aren’t memorable, are boring to read, and won’t differentiate you from the competition. (Typically, if you’re using generalities in your copy, it usually means you haven’t done enough competitive research to know what your truly unique benefits are.)
Use an uneven number to add credibility — and memorability — to your statement. ”Removes 53% more metals from your water” is much stronger than “Removes more metals from your water.” The specific of 53% looks like a result from a specific study, and so looks believable. And an uneven number like 53% is actually more memorable.
Test #4: Every word has a purpose
You may have heard it said that “no one reads anymore”. Yet, purchases are made each and every day as a result of emails, direct mail, print ads, and website copy. The truth is no one reads boring copy. (And no one reads copy that looks hard to get through — so break up your paragraphs with specific subheads that follow the 6 Tests of Effective Headlines.)
Search out any words within your copy that don’t need to be there. You want to “edit to be lean.” If you can remove a word or phrase (sometimes an entire paragraph) and not change the strength of your sell, those words don’t need to be there (and leaving them in is likely depressing your response).
“We make creative products designed by professionals to meet the specific needs of clients.”
Just about any company could say this — and that makes it a useless statement to include in your copy. This copy is so general, you could remove the entire sentence with no problem (and doing so would likely improve response).
Use these 4 simple steps to evaluate your copywriting, and you’ll likely improve engagement and response.