Great copywriting? Not all copywriting is great. Some is mediocre. Some is downright tragic.
So, how can you make sure yours is great?
The following nine elements are essential for great copywriting. Together, they create an overpowering force that will leave your reader in no doubt that your company is the one they want to deal with.
Intrigued? Then read on.
How to make your copywriting great copywriting
Before is get into this one, I want to point out that there are certain grammar rules you can and should be breaking in the interests of clarity, style and readability.
However, there is no excuse for sloppy typos and punctuation. Nothing ruins a bit of copy more than a mistake. That’s especially true in short-form copy. For example, if you write a blog of 600 words that’s littered with errors, it projects a negative image into the brand.
Of course, we are all human and therefore imperfect, so mistakes do happen. However, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to eradicate errors. You can use editing software, read your content aloud (you feel a fool, but it’s a great way to spot mistakes when you become word blind), double and triple-check, or get someone else to proofread it for you.
Great copywriting is persuasive
Copywriting is all about persuading people to take a particular action.
Before you start writing, it’s important to remember you’re not selling a physical thing; you’re selling an emotion (e.g., if writing for an insurance company, you’re not selling policies, you’re selling protection).
To achieve this, write naturally (i.e., more conversational than formal written English, which is where the grammar rule-breaking comes in). As you write, pretend the person you’re addressing is in front of you. Think about the language you’d use in a face-to-face situation.
Every industry has its own language, but there’s no room for it in content because customers don’t understand it.
That means avoiding all slang and acronyms (if you do need to use them, make sure you explain them clearly).
It’s also important that every word you use words. So, forget about padding your content with meaningless marketing-speak/lazy language (market-leading etc.). Keep your language simple. Multisyllabic words do not make you sound intelligent.
Great copywriting needs a call to action
At the end of your copy, always tell your reader what you want them to do.
In the past, I have had clients tell me they don’t want a call to action because it sounds ‘salesey’, at which point I politely remind them that’s what they’re trying to do – sell.
After all, if you were talking to a customer face-to-face or on the phone, you’d want to close the sale rather than let them wander off and buy from someone else.
Search Engine Optimisation
Digital content must be written with SEO in mind; otherwise, what’s the point? That doesn’t mean keyword stuffing.
Always write naturally. Granted, you’ll need to be aware of the search terms the content needs to be optimised for, but if you write naturally, they should crop up in your content without being shoehorned in.
Keep it lean
You are not writing a novel. You are writing for the purpose of marketing. Therefore, there is room in your content for fluff or filler.
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short to hold the reader’s attention and, as mentioned earlier, relax your grammar hold.
You’re not a journalist; you’re a copywriter. There’s no need to set the scene. Start with a strong headline, hit them in the face with your initial sentence, and have them hooked by the end of the first paragraph.
You’ll lose them if you don’t grab attention and draw them in instantly.
Hit them hard with the benefits (not features) they will enjoy by buying your product or service. As I mentioned before, you’re selling an emotion, so hit them in the heart and not the wallet.
Know your audience
Before you start writing, you must know your audience. What makes them tick? How old are they? Where do they live? Where will they be when they see your copy? What’s important to them? What are their aspirations?
Once you know that and the format your copy will take (is it for the web, social media, video, newsletter?), pick a tone that reflects the brand and an appropriate length and style.
Understand what you’re selling
Once you get your copywriting brief, if the first thing you do is start writing, your copy will flop.
How can you write before fully understanding your audience and the product or service you’re writing about?
Get a clear understanding of the offering before formulating your approach. Because if you don’t understand, neither will your readers.
Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd