We have a bunch of articles here on our blog about designing websites, making them accessible, easy to use and navigate, beautiful to look at, and so on. Today, however, we’re going to focus on something that is equally, if not sometimes more important than design: copy.
Good design and good copy go hand in hand to create a great website that people will remember, and when you’re trying to sell people something, you want them to remember your brand. None of them really works without the other and each can have just as big an impact on visitors when they’re deciding whether to place their trust in you or not.
With copywriting being so crucial to your brand’s success, let’s take a look a few tips you can use to step up your copywriting game and really wow your website visitors.
1. Use copywriting formulas
Copywriting isn’t easy and not everyone is naturally good at it. Thankfully, there are some copywriting formulas that should be easy to follow and have been proven to be quite effective.
One of these formulas is called PAPA, which stands for:
- advantages of solving said problem
- proof that you can solve it
Essentially this means that you start with stating the problem – the reader’s pain point – after which you move on to what they stand to gain by fixing the problem. Then you give proof that you have what it takes to help them solve the problem and finally you hit them with your proposal on moving forward, basically telling them what they can do to begin the process of fixing their problem.
Another great formula is the 4 Ps:
Again, you start with presenting the problem, you promise to solve it, provide proof that you can in fact help them solve it, and follow-up with the proposal.
If you’re having trouble starting and need some help, starting with a copywriting formula instead of from scratch could be just what you need.
2. Powerful language can have a powerful impact
Your ultimate goal is to create engaging content that will allow readers to get lost in it and make them come back for more once they’re finished. Doing this isn’t easy, but one thing that can help your content be more engaging and memorable are power words.
Power words are certain words that inspire readers, that drive emotions and excite readers. They are called “power words” because they make you feel things, they have a certain power over your emotions.
Examples of power words could be “free,” “increase,” “risk-free,” “boost,” “extra,” and so on. Thankfully, this article from Smart Blogger contains hundreds of such words, all neatly categorized based on what emotions you are trying to evoke out of your readers.
This list could be helpful, as you can think about what type of article you want to write and what you want your readers to feel as they’re reading it, then you can have a quick look over one of those lists and pick out a few power words that you think would be great for your article. As you’re writing it, you can then work out ways to include them in the content.
3. Less is more
While you may be writing long articles that are several thousand words in length, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be concise. Just because long-form content converts better doesn’t mean you should intentionally try to fluff up your articles with unnecessary content.
Basically, don’t say anything if you don’t really have something to say. Use short and concise headlines, don’t be redundant, and fit as much meaning into as few sentences as you can. Going around in circles for the sake of word count is likely to backfire as it can become tiresome for readers.
4. Structure and formatting matter
With the abundance of content we are constantly being bombarded with, people simply don’t dedicate as much time to a single piece of content than, say, 10 years ago. People need to get their information in quick and engaging bursts, or their attention spans will begin to dwindle. That’s right, you essentially have to stimulate readers constantly or risk losing them.
One way to make sure you’re not boring readers is to structure your content in such a way that it is easily digestible, and readers can get the essentials even if they’re just skimming. This means using more/shorter paragraphs, more concise headlines, images to help with spacing, word emphasis when relevant, and bullet points.
5. Don’t be redundant, unnecessary, unessential, and repetitive
Using power words is one side of the coin, the other is avoiding unnecessary words. This one’s pretty easy; basically, try to avoid any redundant structures, such as “advance warning.” A warning is by definition given in advance, you’re not warning anyone of anything after the fact. Another example you may hear more frequently is “armed gunman.” Have you ever heard of an unarmed gunman robbing a store? Exactly.
Thankfully, Smart Blogger comes to the rescue once more and provides a lengthy list of commonly used redundant structures that you should always avoid in your writing.
6. Robots are taking over the world, so why not take advantage?
You don’t have to be alone on this; copywriting is hard, I get it. There’s no shame in letting some software teach you how to improve your innately human abilities. No one’s going to judge you.
I’m only kidding, there are a lot of great tools to help with your writing and everyone’s using them to produce better content. One such tool is Hemingway. All you have to do is paste your content in it and it will give your detailed suggestions on everything from replacing passive voice to sentence structure.
It isn’t perfect, of course, you’ll still have to proofread the text afterward, but it can still save you a great deal of time and effort.
7. Find your unique voice
Going into this, you have to think of it like this: there may be a million other people out there writing about the same stuff you are, so what are you doing to set yourself apart?
That’s why it’s important to develop a unique style of writing and a specific tone so you’re not just putting out boring 3000-word articles that no one has the energy to go through. Of course, you also don’t want to overdo it. Too much of a good thing and all that.
In a nutshell, try to also entertain readers with your unique style and keep them invested so they come back for more. Before you publish something, make sure it also matches your brand personality – the word choices, voice, style, and values.
8. Refine your headlines
Here are some tips for writing more effective headlines and subject lines:
- begin by writing the copy, then use the strongest phrases for headlines and subheadings. This will also ensure your headlines match the copy.
- stick to straightforward and simple headlines instead of clever ones
- stick to the 4 Us and be urgent, unique, useful, and ultra-specific
- offer your readers a benefit and deliver it in the body of the copy
- illustrate vivid images to stimulate powerful emotions. This will grab readers’ attention and add interest.
9. Simplify your content
In order to simplify your content, you don’t necessarily have to avoid using technical jargon or write at a ninth-grade comprehension level.
Focus on making your message as clear and concise as possible, so that your readers will easily understand the offer your making and the benefits they stand to gain.
10. Make your copy visually appealing
With the amount of online content today, limited attention spans, and readers who only skim, it’s important to ensure that your copy invites and entices the eye, otherwise you risk losing readers.
Here are a few things you can do:
- use a nice typeface that is easy and big enough to read
- write short paragraphs
- add variety to your copy – bold, italicize, and underline
- use bulleted or numbered lists
- indent paragraphs and quotes
- use headings and subheadings
- use visual cues such as arrows to point at important elements
11. Don’t be clever
Wordplay can sometimes work to your advantage, depending on your brand’s personality and the type of content you are writing. Most of the time, however, being clear and concise is the preferred way to go with copywriting.
12. Keep inspiration handy
Any good copywriter knows to save emails, ads, or other copy or content that they loved and that performed well in the past.
This way, whenever you feel like you’re experiencing a block and don’t know how to make your copy work, you can always take a quick look over your collection for a creative nudge.
What you keep in your collection doesn’t even necessarily have to be your own work. So long as you don’t directly copy what others have been doing, you’re sure to come up with new ideas based on others’ work. Everyone does this.
13. Avoid distractions
A lot of the time when you’re having trouble writing, the problem may not necessarily be a lack of ideas or appropriate words, but instead a lack of focus.
Try to set a time specifically for writing, then ensure that you eliminate any potential distractions: disconnect your PC or laptop from the internet, silence or turn off your phone, and focus all your attention on writing.
You can even try Eugene Schwartz’s method, who was one of the highest paid copywriters in the 1950s and 1960s: set a timer for 33 minutes and during that time do nothing but concentrate on what you need to write. When the timer goes off, take a 10-minute break to clear your head and then simply repeat.
Do this several times a day and you may soon find yourself overcoming your block.
14. You’re not writing essays
In order to connect with your audience, you have to give your content a personal touch. This includes using less formal language since you’re not doing a school assignment.
Adopt a friendly tone and write in a relaxed manner, as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation with the reader. There’s a lot of research which shows that this type of approach fares much better than a formal, stiff one.
The general idea is that if you’re trying to convince someone to do something or buy something from you, you’d have a better chance doing it if you both speak the same language – in the same manner. This allows people to feel like they know you. This will gain their trust because they will recognize themselves in the way you speak and appeal to them. Building relationships with your readers and connecting with them is much easier when you seem familiar, and this also improves your chances of persuading them.
If you find yourself stuck, analyze what you’ve written so far and ensure it all sounds just like your customers think. This will help you write better copy and it should also help you come up with new ideas on what to do next and how to do it.
Writing’s hard, and being a good writer isn’t something you learn in an afternoon after reading a few tips. Good writing can come naturally for some and it can be a much tougher endeavor for others. If you’re passionate about it, it can take years to really be able to call yourself a good writer.
This is all to say that if you need a copywriter for your business, it will probably be a better idea to hire a professional than have at it yourself if you’ve got no prior experience or inclination toward copywriting. It’s important to remember that while something may sound good in your head, it may not necessarily sound good outside of it.
If you do think you’d be well suited for it, I’m sure the advice in this article will provide further insight into how you can write even better copy.