Not sure how to evaluate copy on your website or in your email messages or direct mail packages? Whether you’re a copywriter yourself or someone who hires copywriters, you should know how to recognize good copy (as well as copy that needs some help). Use these 11 “wordsmithing” copywriting tips to make your copy shine:
1. Answer the question, “Why should I buy from you?”
If I spent 5 minutes on your website, could I tell why I should buy from you over the competition?
Most websites spend a lot of time talking about benefits that many other competitive products or companies also offer. What makes your offering unique? What is your unique combination of benefits? Spell it out. Make it prominent. Don’t make your audience hunt for it. If you can’t immediately answer the question, “why should I buy from you?”, how do you expect prospects to figure it out?
2. Build SPECIFICS into headlines and subheads
Specifics are what SELL. Specifics are what make your offering memorable. Specifics can provide the PROOF of your claims and add credibility. And Specifics also tend to answer objections.
Use Specific numbers whenever possible. Don’t say, “you’ll save thousands” if you can say, ” our average customer saved $12,373 last year.” More memorable. More believable. And numbers in copy catch the eye and stand out.
Banish general headlines like “Solutions” or “Products.”
3. Avoid “so what?” headlines
Read the main headline on each of your web pages. If you can say, “so what?” after reading it, it’s not a good headline. A headline needs to draw the reader in. Tell me WHY I should read the copy, tell me the key benefits I’ll learn about. Have your headline talk directly to the reader, either by addressing the reader as “You” or leading with a verb (where the “you” is implied):
You’ll boost your response OR Boost your response
4. Make your copy scannable
MarketingSherpa confirms that people view web pages in exactly the same manner that direct mail, magazine ads, and newspaper ads are reviewed. People SCAN, rather than read line-by-line, word-for-word.
If I scan just your headline and subheads, will I learn all the critical points you want me to learn? If I just scan, will I see key benefits that make me want to read the copy?
5. Write copy the way you’d say it face-to-face
Read your copy out loud. If that’s not exactly the way you’d say it face-to-face, revise it. Copy that’s conversational looks friendlier and is easier to read — so visitors will tend to read more and comprehend what they’ve read.
Conversational copy tends to use shorter sentences. Banish long sentences from your marketing efforts. (Some websites have sentences so long, they take up an entire paragraph of 4 or 5 lines. No one wants to read that!) Break things up with em dashes — or ellipses . . . or create separate sentences.
Conversational copy can have sentences start with “and” or “but” or “because.” These “connector” words make the copy seem smooth and effortless, rather than stiff and too “corporate”.
6. Use strong action verbs
Headlines aren’t just page “headings.” They should be benefit-laden directives designed to pull the reader into the copy.
Which page headline is more appealing?
Courses Or All the Required Hours to Renew Your License Tomorrow
7. Get the “you” in there
“Since 1987, we’ve been . . . we offer different models . . . our products can . . .”
This kind of “we”-focused copy is known as “wee-wee-ing” all over yourself. Not a pretty picture.
Turn your copy around to talk directly to your audience:
“You’ll work with a partner with 24 years experience . . . choose from 7 different models . . . your internal workflow will . . . ”
8. Use one of the 8 emotional drivers
Anger, fear, flattery, greed, guilt, salvation, exclusivity, patriotism
These 8 emotions have been found to be the key drivers of response. Build one into your headline and lead paragraph to create a stronger, more emotional appeal that’s more likely to address your target audience’s pain.
9. Edit copy to be “lean”
Edit, edit, edit — be sure EVERY word needs to be there. Don’t make your audience wade through copy that’s too general, too full of fluff, or that says the same thing that every competitor is saying.
10. Lead with power words
Because people scan, the first word in every headline and paragraph on a web page has a huge impact on response. As you’re reviewing your headlines and body copy, look for powerful “lead” words — use action verbs whenever possible. Try to avoid useless and general introductory clauses like “As you may know” and similar empty phrases.
11. Understand how to incorporate keywords to improve SEO
EVERY copywriter should understand at least the basics of Search Engine Optimization. You — the copywriter — should ALWAYS be the last one to touch your copy before it’s published on your website. So work with your SEO consultant, to ensure you incorporate the appropriate keywords into headlines, subheads, anchor text for text links, image file names, and body copy.
You’ve worked hard to polish your copy. Be sure you’re the only one making final changes to it.
Are there any other copywriting tips you use to evaluate website, email, or direct mail copy?