Copywriting can be a daunting task if you’re not used to writing regularly. In my time at University, when I wasn’t posing in independent coffee shops like any English student worth their salt should, I came across lots of different writing styles and techniques that can be used to induce a certain response in the reader. With marketing copy, whether your purpose is to raise brand awareness, push sales or drive recruitment, the reader’s response is ultimately the deciding factor of how effective your copy has been.
It can be easy for copy to fall flat, so here’s 5 tips to help turn your copywriting from meh into hell yeah.
1. Qualify everything you say
Researching, writing and referencing lengthy academic essays on 18th century Literature has taught me two things:
1. University libraries can get a bit weird at night.
2. Everything you say has got to be backed up and qualified with evidence.
Use that second point to steer yourself away from all those overused
superlatives that marketing copy so regularly involves. Can you prove that your product or service is actually ‘the best’? If not, then don’t say it is!
If your product has won an award declaring it the best in something however, then definitely say it is…
2. Clarity is key to effective copywriting
If it’s done one thing, trudging my way through a mass of academia has taught me that reading the English language isn’t as enjoyable when you have to work hard just to understand it.
When addressing a wider audience, the clarity of your delivery is equally if not more important than the content of your message. Just because you know what you’re trying to say doesn’t mean your audience will – whether that someone else is a Managing Director or a 9-year-old child. The average reading age in the UK is apparently 9 years old.
An effective way to achieve clarity is to really think about the original purpose of your copy – is each sentence you’ve written conducive to that purpose? If not, it’s time to be ruthless and cut some words out.
3. Put yourself in the mind-set of your audience with audience personas
Over time at University I learnt to write in different ways depending on who my marker was, catering to their personal writing-style preferences in-order to gain a more favourable grade. Sue me.
When copywriting, a similar practice can take place by developing audience personas. Audience personas are semi-fictional representations of your audiences based on insights from real data and some educated guesses about their demographics, behaviours, motivations and goals. The number of personas you create will depend upon the number of different audiences you have.
With your customer persona identified, gear your copy towards what makes them tick: what problems do they face day-to-day? How can your product or service help them overcome said problems?
Writing for your persona takes the focus away from you and pushes it on them. People like to hear about themselves! (You look lovely today by the way).
4. Confidence is key to persuasive copywriting
‘Possibly’ was the get-out-of-jail-free card/word I used to qualify every argument I didn’t quite have the confidence to commit to in an academic essay. ‘This sentence possibly shows this’. ‘This scene possibly demonstrates that’. ‘This blog possibly might be worth sharing to your social channels’.
When copywriting, avoid words such as ‘possibly’, ‘might’ or ‘perhaps’ – they’re a sure-fire way to imply that you’re not fully convinced by what you’re saying. And if you’re not convinced, then chances are your reader won’t be convinced either. The whole situation is very unconvincing, and ultimately unpersuasive.
Take these two sentences for example.
1. If you’ve read this far, perhaps you might like some of our other blogs.
2. You’ve read this far. You’ll like our other blogs.
Which are you more convinced by? (Read our other blogs).
5. Finish with a clear call-to-action
So you’ve written a credible, clear, relevant and persuasive piece of marketing copy, possibly thanks to the first 4 tips in this blog (convinced?). You can sit back and relax now, because you’ve done it…
Not quite. As with any good essay, book, TV series, film and so on, you can’t end without a conclusion.
You need to finish off by giving your audience a clear direction as to what you want them to do next. Do you want them to give you a call? Tell them to give you a call. Do you want them to go and follow @PaceComms on Twitter? Then tell them to go and follow @PaceComms on Twitter!
A clear call-to-action should leave the reader in no doubt about what their next steps should be.
So there you have it. To summarise the above, an effective piece of copywriting should be credible, clear, relevant, persuasive and instructive. Whilst by no means a comprehensive list, these 5 points should provide you with plenty to think about when coming to start that copywriting task you’ve been delaying all week.
Have you got your own key copywriting tips? Tweet us and let us know.
Tom – Content Executive