41 killer copywriting tips that'll improve any business fast.

  Written by Matt Press

 Last updated: May 31, 2017

 15 Comments

 

Regardless of size and stature, every business has one thing in common:

They all rely on words.

Words are used to convince and convert, which is why copywriting is so important.

More often than not, it's the copy that'll decide whether your business flies or flounders.

Words are needed everywhere.

 Getting someone to buy a product, download a lead magnet, join an email list or simply retweet a post on Twitter...

... these are all jobs that require a persuasive message.

And that's why I’ve got 21 copywriting tips that you can use in your business immediately.

Make no mistake: this is basically 20 years of copywriting experience crammed into almost 6,500 words.

Trust me, copywriters who embrace these techniques are never short of work. They get the best jobs, the most credit and the biggest rewards.

Tip 1: Set yourself a word count to ensure that your copy is laser-focused.

Be ruthless with your words - readers don’t have time for waffle, especially when they’re evaluating a business.

Consider website copy, for instance.

Research shows that we've only got 7 seconds to make a good impression online. That's obviously not a lot of time, so we must show value quickly.

Persuasive copywriting tells the reader what’s in it for them, fast. Follow these steps to make sure your copy does too:

  1. Go to the website of a brand that you admire.
  2. Browse all their different pages (e.g. ‘about us’, ‘services’ etc).
  3. Copy and paste the different copy into a series of Word documents.
  4. Make a note of all the word counts and how they differ.
  5. Think about why the word counts vary. What does each type of web page have to accomplish?
  6. Check the word counts on your corresponding web pages and edit accordingly.

When I worked at Sky, one of my main jobs was writing programme synopses.

If you've got Sky at home, you'll know that when you press the 'i' button, you'll see some blurb about the TV show you're thinking of watching.

 

 

In TV, this blurb is known as an electronic programme guide [EPG].

An EPG is valuable, because it can influence whether someone tunes in or not. And as you can imagine, in the case of Box Office movies and events, this copy contributes hugely to Sky's revenue.

The interesting thing about EPGs is that, due to industry regulations, they can't be more than 190 characters long. That's about 2.5 sentences.

Selling something in 2.5 sentences is tough, but it teaches you to focus on which words are important and which ones aren't. Once you're experienced, you develop a knack for it.

Tip 2: Forget everything you’ve learned at school.

Academic writing doesn’t prepare us for developing business copy at all.

Grammar and spelling are obviously important, but in terms of writing technique, school teachers encourage elaborate vocabulary and structural conformity.

And how can a brand create individuality in that environment? 

Great copywriting isn’t about following rules; it’s about knowing when to break them. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Close your eyes and think back to the English lessons from your schooldays.
  2. Make a list of all the guidelines you remember. If you get stuck, go online and explore the search results for terms like ‘essay writing tips for school’.
  3. Highlight the ones that you think would inhibit the creation of good business copy for the digital arena.

        A couple of examples to get you started are:

        • Never start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’.

        • Your copy should always have a beginning, middle and end.

  1. Print the list out - now you’ve got your own checklist to keep forever.
  2. Compare the list against your website copy.

Copywriting isn't about following an archaic set of rules. Quite often, it's about breaking them.

Tip 3: Use plenty of paragraph breaks to make your copy visually less imposing.

Just like when you flick through a book in a library, you can sense when the copy on a web page is going to be a hard read without absorbing a single word.

Less is more.

No one wants to sift through a large block of text, so embrace white space.

Here's an example:


Look how hard it seems just to even get started!

Compare this to Copyblogger's layout. The short, sharp sentences (and larger fonts) make for a much more pleasurable reading experience.


Fortunately, a stylish and effective web page is easy to achieve:

  1. Take one of your web pages, print out the copy and grab a red pen.
  2. Insert a line after every unique point or statement that you make.
  3. Separate each point so that they all sit on their own line. It doesn’t matter if some points only take up one line – in fact, that’s often preferable.  

Tip 4: Put your customers first to create a legion of loyal super-fans.

What you’ve got to say about your business isn’t important; what your audience needs to hear is.

Most business owners have a million-and-one things that they want to get across. As a result, their copy comes across as me, me, me. Don’t make that mistake - forget about your agenda.

In a commercial environment, readers will always be thinking 'what's in it for me'. As such, business copy needs to be benefit-driven. The value of what you’re selling needs to be extremely clear from the start.

Basically, make it super-easy for consumers to say ‘yes’ by putting the below into action:

  1. Check your copy for any jargon. Be careful not to casually reference terms that might not be widely understood.
  2. Ensure that your copy is logical – avoid putting unnecessary barriers between your website and a sale.
  3. Write down the goal of each of your web pages. Every piece of website copy has a role to play, whether it’s to usher someone down a sales funnel or to hoover up a blog subscription.
  4. Write down the sequential steps of each of those journeys. And be detailed - don’t assume your readers know everything.
  5. Adjust your original copy accordingly. Make sure you leave nothing to chance. 

Tip 5: Use emotion to boost your conversion rates.

Emotion sells. Big brands use emotion in their copy and their advertising campaigns all the time.

It makes sales copy and marketing campaigns memorable - just think of the John Lewis ads at Christmas time.

Robinsons used emotion well in one of our favourite ads of all time. 

Check it out:


But regardless of whether we're talking about copy, pictures or anything else, I think Maya Angelou put it best when she said:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

So, does your product or service solve a problem and give people that feel-good factor? Take a look at the steps below:

  1. Write down all the problems that your product or service solves.
  2. Attach some descriptive emotions to those problems.
  3. Structure your copy so that you firstly show empathy with the reader.
  4. Then show how your product or service will help them.
  5. Finish by reaffirming how much happier they’ll be. 

Tip 6: Choose your font carefully so that your copy passes the first test.

Fonts are basically clothes for our words, yet they’re seldom considered when a piece of copy is published.

Why is this? After all, it’s possible to sniff out a spammy email or an annoying advert just from their trashy appearance.

This is what you want to avoid:


Looks matter when it comes to digital copy. Don’t butcher the effect of your messages before anyone’s even read them.

Your aim is to come across as a respectable brand, not someone advertising a get-rich-quick scheme or ‘singles in the area’.

Get the most out of your copy by taking these actions:

  1. Without compromising your security, check out the last few emails in your junk folder.
  2. Find some of the worst-looking emails, then copy and paste the copy from them into a Word document and check which font they’re using.
  3. Fire up the websites of 6 quality brands that you respect (preferably those of high-street businesses).
  4. Copy and paste their website copy into a Word document and see which font they’re using.
  5. Note the differences between all the fonts and colours you’ve seen. Pick out one that you like the best.

Tip 7: Use everyday language to engage with as wide an audience as possible.

The tricky thing about business copy is that it needs to connect with a wide variety of people; yet every time someone reads it, they need to feel that the brand is speaking just to them.

Writing business copy is about making money, not winning literacy awards.

Don’t try to be cute or clever. Never use a thesaurus – if you can’t think of an appropriate word to use, think harder.

Simplicity is everything. Choose normal words because you can’t risk your message not getting across or not being understood.

And you know what, it’s also a style issue: everyday language is nicer.

Take Innocent Drinks for example. They've created an amazing brand through their down-to-earth approach to communication.


Here’s how to nail your tone of voice:

  1. Find some brands that you admire and make a note of how they communicate.
  2. Print out your web pages.
  3. Read what you’ve written out loud. If some parts don’t sound like something you’d say to a friend in real life, then change it.
  4. Read what you’ve written out loud to someone else and ask them to tell you what the copy is about. If they can’t tell you easily, then change it. 

Stephen King once said that "writing is a form of telepathy" and he's right. Copywriting is the act of conveying a particular message to a certain audience for commercial gain.

Ultimately, if that's the aim, business copy must be simple and straightforward.

Tip 8: Tell a story to become memorable.

As humans, we’re hard-wired to love stories. From fairytales as a kid, through to movies and books in our adult lives, stories work.

In business copy, storytelling makes ideas stick. Relatable stories transform businesses into brands and customers into loyal, repeat clients.

Storytelling is how a brand becomes memorable.

And stories don't always require a lot of words. Apple famously use succinct storytelling to market their products. 

In the advert below, they're conveying that their iPad Pro addresses numerous issues, namely that of usability.

 

We know that we get a nice piece of kit from Apple that does loads of cool techie stuff.

But are some prospective customers put off by a worry that such an item would be heavy and cumbersome to carry around?

Quite likely.

And that's the 'story' that Apple are selling here. And they're doing it with just 3 words.

Here are a couple of killer tips to turning words into powerful copy that sells:

  1. Try to identify a hero and a villain within your subject matter. They don’t have to be actual characters. If you’re selling window cleaner for instance, then daily grime is the enemy.
  2. Move the reader along a journey. Create the sense that you’ll help the reader overcome a challenge and discover something new and valuable.

Tip 9: Master punctuation to make statements stand out and be impactful.

Good copy has rhythm. But there’s more to creating words that flow really nicely than you might think - clever use of punctuation is a must.

Punctuation was first used hundreds of years ago by speechwriters in ancient Greece. They used various notes and marks to help the speeches get delivered properly.

In other words, punctuation was created so that meaning wasn’t lost. Mastering punctuation really only revolves around knowing a couple of ground rules:

  1. Make sure you don’t overuse the comma. It’s easy to tell when to put a comma into your copy. Read what you’ve written out loud and insert a comma when you naturally breathe.
  1. Try not to use any exclamation marks. Unless you’re selling half-price sofas on a Bank Holiday, there’s no need to be dramatic. And forget about having them for humorous reasons – using an exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.     

Tip 10: Use sub-headings to make your key points get noticed.

Understanding how people read digital copy comes in very handy.

Unfortunately, we typically don’t tend to read much website copy. Instead, research shows that 79% of people scan web pages before they do anything.

It’s natural: they’re subconsciously looking for words, phrases or images that interest them or catch their eye.

But there’s more.

Only 16% of people read every word on a web page even in the best circumstances.

And - for all you marketers out there - don’t think your email newsletters are any different; they're not. Apparently people read these even more abruptly than they do websites.

Here's another image from a Copyblogger article. The sub-headings really catch the eye and are an incentive to keep reading:


Follow these steps to give your words some TLC.

  1. Break any long pieces of copy up into manageable chunks.
  2. Insert a sub-heading to introduce each section. They need to be very benefit-driven. Don’t talk conceptually – be blunt and include the appropriate keywords.
  3. Make sure the sub-heading is in bold.
  4. For SEO reasons, assign an h2 or h3 tag to it.

Tip 11: Avoid sloppy copy. Make sure your copy is free of spelling mistakes.

Sounds obvious, but how many people proofread their copy? And how many do it well?

Perception is reality. If your readers notice any spelling mistakes, you risk coming across as sloppy. Customers now have all the power, and with plenty of competitors just a quick click away, that’s a dangerous game to play.

Disney replace all the flowers in each of their parks every single month. Why? Because details matter.

Look at this error from Toys R Us:


These are the kinds of mistakes that can crush a business. 

Here’s how to improve your attention to detail and enhance your reputation:

  1. Never rely on a spell-checker. It’s always better to reach for a dictionary.
  2. Don’t just proof your copy on a screen. Print it off and review it.
  3. Proof your copy in different places and at different times – our brains can become complacent. 

Tip 12: Think about the hierarchy of your messages so that lazy readers don’t miss your main points.

Burying the most important thing you’ve got to say is a really common mistake that business owners make on their websites.

It happens for two reasons. 

Firstly, the writer hasn’t done any preparation. They’ve not thought about the order of their points, so the copy has just been blurted out.

Secondly, the business owner isn’t aware that they’ve got just 7 seconds to make a good impression on their visitor; so long, labored introductions just aren’t going to cut it.

To make your messages stick, check this strategy out:

  1. Take a web page on your website.
  2. Have a brainstorm and list out everything that you want to say (each point should just be a quick note).
  3. Juggle the order of the list until you’re happy with the hierarchy.
  4. Move your paragraphs around until they correspond with your list.

Tip 13: People buy from people; so be authentic, honest and trustworthy.

Websites have made it easy for us all to find a business and make a purchase from them. But there’s a lot that needs to happen before someone becomes ready to buy.

Customers are much more likely to reach for their wallet if they get the feeling that a website belongs to a brand they like. Ultimately, web content should attract, not annoy.

As such, words are one of the main ways that this can be achieved. Here are 4 stellar tips to becoming likeable:

  1. Make the most of your ‘about’ page. It’s your main chance to expose the people and ethics behind your brand.
  2. Never copy from a competitor.
  3. Be true to yourself. If you have an opinion about an aspect of your industry, take a stance and stick to it.
  4. Blog regularly and discuss or solve problems that are relevant to your audience.
  5. Ditch the sleazy marketing spiel and superlatives; it sounds desperate. Remember that people aren't stupid.

I think the last point is particularly important. When you're selling, don't be pushy. Be truthful and confident, then let people make up their own minds.

Tip 14: It’s not always what you’re selling that matters – it’s the way you’re selling it.

Be under no illusions: if your copy is good enough, you really can sell ice to Eskimos.

What’s more, sometimes the quality of your product won’t even come into the equation.

The trick is to be interesting and relevant. Here are 3 great quotes that are worth reading and absorbing...

Advertising guru Howard Gossage once said:

People don’t read ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.

PR pioneer Edward Bernays thought the same, but also added that businesses need not feel guilty about our motives for creating different concepts and agendas:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.

And as William Bernbach aptly put it:

No one counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.

Tip 15: Write with design in mind or risk a low-quality user experience.

Sometimes life isn’t fair. You spend ages creating the perfect copy, but it just doesn’t work with the look and functionality of your website.

But at least you’ve noticed.

Because it’s the people who write their copy and hit ‘publish’ without so much as a glance at the new live look of their business that need to worry.

Web content is a different beast. Avoid a design malfunction by noting these 3 tips:

  1. Pay attention to how copy wraps around any images you may have on a web page. It’s really common for an image to completely dissect a sentence. It looks horrible and amateurish.
  2. Look out for any hanging words (where your sentence reaches a certain length and then sends a solitary word to the next line). Not only does this look poor, but it also severely disrupts reading momentum for your user.
  3. Make sure your buttons and links are framed by a consistent amount of white space.

Tip 16: Create a style guide if you’re serious about making a statement to the world.

Savvy business-leaders shape the culture of their company to drive innovation and earn revenue.

They know that it’s the culture of a company – the values, morals and subtle behaviors of all employees - that often limits performance.

A style guide officially documents these ideas and, because they’re a continual work-in-progress, they future-proof a company. They also demonstrate that some thought has gone into how a firm wants to be portrayed.

Feeling ready to create your style guide but don’t know where to start?

No worries…

  1. Come up with 3 values that represent what you stand for.
  2. Create a mission statement that would give a complete stranger a good idea of what you’re trying to achieve.
  3. Incorporate a detailed house style into your guidelines. This should include the font you want to use, any banned clichés and pieces of industry jargon, plus your copy rules on how to communicate numbers, dates and the like.

Tip 17: Think about human psychology in order to understand why we say “yes”.

Well-known brands use a variety of scientifically-backed copywriting tricks to influence us and try to get us to part with our hard-earned cash.

It’s called subconscious framing, and you should try to use it in your business strategy too. The trick is to understand the way we all think.

Here are 16 things about consumers that business owners all need to know:

  1. Consumers have more trust in companies who display some sort of social responsibility.
  2. In the context of looking to the future, people are more responsive to optimistic copy.
  3. We part with more cash when we’re not physically parting with any money (i.e. paying by card or via an online account).
  4. If the end result is worth it, we don’t mind going down the hard route to get it.
  5. Thinking about failed strategies in the past makes us want to pay more now.
  6. Words that are simpler to follow are more trustworthy.
  7. We place more emphasis on what we read first.
  8. We’re more reluctant to stop doing something if we’ve already put a lot of time, money and effort into it.
  9. If we find it difficult to make a decision, we tend to copy what other people think, say and do.
  10. Faced with a selection of items, people usually choose something in the centre.
  11. The price of a product or service greatly affects how we perceive its value.
  12. Perceived ownership of a product or service is very powerful.
  13. We place a lot of emphasis on products or services that we can use to help ourselves.
  14. Offering a variety of choices can often lead to indecision and lower sales. People prefer smaller lists of items.
  15. Round numbers are seen as being more trustworthy.
  16. Products that stand out as being unique for the right reasons are held in high esteem.

Tip 18: Use images to add a quality finish to a piece of copy.

As a web copywriter, I’m never likely to say that a picture says a thousand words. However, the fact is, content that contains an image is easier on the eye.

And in the case of a blog, it’s been proven numerous times that a post with an image is far more likely to be shared than one without.

They also carry SEO value too.

There are only 4 things to worry about with images:

  1. Make sure the quality of your image is good. While a great image is a classy touch, a badly cropped or low-res picture can ruin even the best copy.
  2. Your image needs to be relevant. Are you able to tell what the content in question is about from just looking at it?
  3. Add alt text and alt tags to images in your website’s CMS.
  4. Ensure you don't break any copyright laws. Read more on that here.

 

Tip 19: To be truly creative and utterly unique, allow yourself to fail.

Fact is, fear is at the heart of most bad writing.

From an early age, creativity is actively discouraged. Yet in business, it’s exactly what we need. That’s why many famous business leaders like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates all underachieved at school. Many dropped out, in fact.

Instead, people like those mentioned above relied on their instincts. To become a master copywriter, you’ll also need to. Here are 2 pointers:

  1. Show your copy to a friend or family member. Take their feedback on board, but always carefully assess any negative comments before making any knee-jerk reactions.
  2. In terms of online marketing, real creativity is much more about solving problems than it is about self-expression.

Tip 20: Define your best customer so that you can create content that they’ll like.

All the copywriting tips in the world won’t increase your conversions if you don’t know who you’re selling to.

A lot of business copy is doomed to fail from the get-go because it isn’t geared towards the right audience. That means, even if a piece of content is popular, it lacks strategy and might not achieve the intended goal.

Website traffic isn’t an exercise in vanity. Don’t aim to attract the most visitors; instead, follow these 4 steps to focus on getting the right visitors:

  1. Grab a piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Think about the characteristics of your most valuable customer. Are they male or female? Young or old? The more detail the better.
  3. Give that person a name, job and location. Visualise them.
  4. Work out what sort of content they like and how they prefer to consume it.

Tip 21: Be a perfectionist: take pride and edit your copy multiple times.

This is in relation to technical flow rather than accuracy.

The thing about good copy is that you just don’t notice it. However, getting your copy into that state takes a lot of effort.


Note that refining copy is usually about subtracting words, not adding them. Super-charge your copy with these 3 tips:

  1. Don’t just edit your copy on-screen. Print it out on a piece of paper, grab a red pen and make notes.
  2. Get someone else to proofread your copy too. Sometimes we can almost train our brains to overlook errors if the page is too familiar.
  3. Take a break and come back to your work with fresh eyes ahead of the final edit.

Tip 22: Credibility adds power to your words.

All things being equal, clinching the sale is the hardest thing to do in business. Think about it: getting someone to take out their credit card is a big thing.

Consumers are naturally suspicious.

However, some well-placed testimonials can add real credibility to any marketing message. With testimonials, there are just 3 things to remember:

  • Never make them up. 
  • Don't over do them.
  • Ensure they're worded realistically.

Tip 23: Be current and topical.

One for the bloggers out there.

Content marketing is huge, but don't just pump out any old garbage. When you're deciding what to write about, why not see which issues are affecting your target audience today?

Create content that's relevant.

Tip 24: Use specific information in your copy.

Look at the magazine cover below:

 

 

Notice how this is a 19-day plan for getting bigger arm muscles.

Not 10 days.

Not 20 days.

But 19 days.

It's so specific that it catches the eye. But the effect is greater, because it implies that they know what they're doing and that this is a plan that really works. 

People like specifics and hate vagueness, which probably explains our opinions about politicians [and, in particular, their election manifestos].

Tip 25: Be strong and forceful in your sales copy.

Whilst you should definitely avoid being sleazy, there's no harm in being laser-focused.

Setting a realistic goal is crucial. All copy needs an objective. The goal can be sales, lead generation or brand awareness... it doesn't really matter.

However, choosing a goal is always important, because it automatically gives your copy purpose. The human brain is fairly predictable and there's little doubt that people like to be led.

This is a question of logic.

Take a landing page, for instance.

A landing page is set up to capture leads. A good landing page will attempt to solve [or at least partially solve] a problem for a consumer.

People sign up and subscribe to things like this because they're desperate for answers or a solution to something. They want to be told how to solve an issue...

... so take them on a journey and tell them.

Tip 26: Conduct loads of research.

When it comes to writing amazing copy, preparation is everything.

 

 

That means doing some detective work and knowing everything about:

  • Your product or service.
  • Your target audience.
  • Your market.
  • Your competition.
  • Your public perception.

Tip 27: Talk about benefits, not features.

It's an easy trap to fall into, especially if you're selling something technical.

Pretend that you want to buy a television. You step into a store and find a telly you like. Immediately, a sales advisor jumps on you and says:

Oh that TV is great. It's a 120Hz HDTV.

Now, if you're comfortable with techie language, then that's great. But what if you're not?

What you really need to hear is that because it's a 120Hz HDTV, the pixels refresh themselves 60 times every second.

Which in turn means that you get a clearer picture, even if you're watching a programme that's fast-moving [like a football match, for instance].

Do you see the difference between a feature and a benefit?

Features matter, but benefits resonate more with consumers.

Tip 28: Reframe your copy by using opposites.

Because there's so much content out there, it's harder to retain attention. Basically, there's too much noise.

One copywriting technique that you can apply to your business copy is to use opposites to jolt people out of their comfort zone and grab them by the short and curls [metaphorically speaking, of course].

What do I mean by opposites?

Well, take dieting as an example.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that the best way to lose weight is to eat more vegetables and exercise more. But this is obvious and that's precisely the problem:

Everyone's saying the same thing in exactly the same way.

Once you've read one diet plan, you've read them all.

However, you could reframe this information.

I'm my dietician, but I would guess that the main problem with eating more healthily is that people can only hold out for so long.

In other words, at the start of any diet, we're usually quite enthusiastic. We cut out all their sugary foods, but this lifestyle change only lasts a week or a month.

Perhaps we'd be better advised if we were allowed a treat every other day?

If so, you could reframe this tired old advice and wrap your content around a concept like:

Lose weight by eating chocolate?

Once you capture attention, you can talk about how humans will be more likely to stick to a diet if they're allowed some days off.

Tip 29: Use open loops.

For anyone who is interested in email marketing, open loops are a great copywriting tactic to employ.

Open loops happen when you're drip-feeding subscribers stories over numerous messages.

What you do is you talk about an issue and then end your story in a way that leaves them wanting more. The better the story, the more the intrigue. Trust me, it does wonders for your open-rates.

If you've ever seen the TV show Lost, you'll know all about open loops.

 

 

Every episode of Lost would end with a situation that would leave viewers on the edge of their seats. They'd be desperate to tune in the following week and see how that aspect of the storyline would be resolved.

When the next show came around, it would answer the question and throw up another tantalising scenario.

Rinse and repeat.

Tip 30: Always use an active voice.

Take a look at the 2 sentences below and consider which one sounds best.

Example 1:

The exam was passed by Graham.

Example 2:

Graham passed the exam. 

I really hope you think that the second sentence is better, since that's the one that uses an active voice.

An active voice should be used in all forms of writing, but it's something that's particularly important in business copy because it:

  • Makes copy smoother and faster to read.
  • Gets to the point quicker.
  • Is more impactful.
  • Is more natural [we usually speak in an active voice].

Tip 31: Don't give readers a reason to object.

Many people like to ask questions in their copy.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing; in fact, I do it. But when it comes to sales copy, never ask a question that might not yield the answer you're after.

One of the most common questions that businesses can typically ask is:

Why not give us a call today?

I'm sure readers can think of many reasons. Time, money, effort...

Be more decisive:

Give us a call today.

Get a free quote today.

Make a change today. 

If you're going to ask a question, it's best to ask one that people will always respond to with a 'yes':

Do you need more customers?

Would you like guaranteed business growth?

Are you after copywriting tips that work?

Tip 32: Use the PAR formula in your copy.

If you're suffering from writer's block, why not use a tried and tested copywriting formula?

It's pretty simple.

PAR stands for:

  • Problem
  • Agitate
  • Resolve

All you need to do is start off by talking about the problem that you're addressing.

By way of an example, support you had a company that sold running trainers. The problem might be how to run a marathon without getting sore feet.

Your next job is to agitate the problem.

Here, make the problem as big and as real as possible.

Continuing with the trainers example, I would want to agitate the problem by talking about how you're going to put a lot of effort into your marathon.

A marathon runner will be training for 4 months and then have the race itself, so that's a lot of time out on the road and plenty of wear and tear on the feet.

If someone is committing to completing a feat like this, they need to be as comfortable as possible. They certainly don't want to be in any unnecessary pain.

The final aspect of the formula is how you can help.

Perhaps you're stocking a revolutionary new type of running shoe. 

Or maybe you offer a free service where you analyse someone's gait and suggest the best shoe for their particular style.

Tip 33: Don't allow yourself to be distracted.

Creating effective copy is tough.

Blog posts, sales letters, emails... they all take time and effort.

When it comes to sitting down and actually writing the words, it's really easy to get distracted. Enter legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz.

 

 

He recommends setting a timer for 33 minutes. During those 33 minutes, you're only allowed to work on the copy project at hand.

When the alarm goes off, take a 10-minute break and go again.

Obviously, you'll have to take a couple of modern-day precautions, such as shutting down your internet browser and turning off your phone, but this should help your productivity levels.

Also, taking a longer break will sometimes help too.

If you can, distance yourself from the project for a day or two and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Tip 34: Have a clear call-to-action.

Ah, the classic schoolboy error.

If you're adept at creating amazing copy, but you're not giving your audience clear direction at the end, then at best you're wasting an opportunity.

At worst, you're leaving money on the table. 

Having an influential call-to-action [CTA] is one of the most important aspects of web copywriting, so spending some time mastering this skill.

If your CTA is in the form of a button, then be sure to test different words, colours and shapes.

Depending on the market and the audience, you'll usually find that there's always one clear winner.

 

Tip 35: Stay away from swipe files.

I'm sure you've seen the ads on Facebook:

Come get the EXACT email subject lines I used for my $10million product launch.

Using swipe files is almost always a bad idea.

For starters, you probably won't be able to verify the product owner's revenue streams. But really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Even if the proprietor did make $10million in his or her product launch, there are so many variables at play. They can't be sure as to the degree of influence of the emails...

... and nor can you.

Besides, what if a million people download this swipe file and start using these subject lines?

Don't you think they're going to get pretty tired, fairly soon?

Business isn't that easy and you're going to be far better off creating your own copy. Test different styles by all means. And definitely take inspiration. But never, ever mimic.

Tip 36: Use power words, where appropriate.

Clearly, if you can make your copy more impactful, then do so. Why choose a staid, dull word when a jazzy one can be used instead?

Power words can be insanely effective in business copy, but the only danger is not to overdo it. Too many of them and it'll sound forced.

Just sprinkle a few highly emotive words as and when needed.

Tip 37: Appeal to your audience's sense of entitlement.

Rightly or wrongly, at some time or other, we all think the world owes us. 

Typically, people who feel a sense of entitlement also feel shades of:

  • Scepticism
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Impatience
  • Disappointment
  • Confusion
  • Jealousy

Tailor your copy so that you play on these emotions and it'll trigger more reactions that you ever thought possible.

Tip 38: Have half an eye on the search engines.

What's the point of penning amazing copy if no one ever reads it?

Apparently, 93% of all online experiences start with a search engine. In other words, people are searching all the time.

 

 

Now, rest assured. It's not 2005 anymore: SEO copywriting isn't about stuffing as many keywords into your copy as possible. In fact, it's the complete opposite.

A clever, modern SEO strategy is all about user and surfacing the right content to the right person at the right time.

If you combine quality content with a handful of SEO tweaks, you could expand your audience enormously by reaching page one of the SERPS very quickly.

Tip 39: Know your customer's objections.

Look, no product is perfect. Even Apple have to cope with refunds. And if there are people out there who aren't satisfied with the latest iPhone, then we've all got a potential problem.

With sales pages, the trick is often to be aware of issues in advance.

Perhaps you're selling a service that's more expensive than anything else out there on the market. If so, don't hide from this fact. Talk about why. Or at the very least, write about what's so amazing about your brand.

Tip 40: Remember that people buy results.

That's pretty much true of anything.

Sorry to break it to you, but consumers don't really care about you, your business or even the exact thing that you're selling. They just care about what your product or service can do for them.

If your copy only does one thing, it should be to help readers visualise where they'll be and how they'll feel if they make a transaction.

Tip 41: Use social proof to add the gloss.

Words alone can inspire people to take action, so long as it's good copy.

But to add the finishing touch to your work, it's always a good idea to add some social proof.

Social proof is something that indicates that completing the desired action is reflective of society. Basically, it's anything that adds a layer of comfort through conformity.

In years gone by, this might be referring to the number of people who had purchased a particular item.

 

 

There are loads of ways to display this kind of influential information, but nowadays, thanks to social media, it's never been easier to display social proof:

 

 

I reference this blog post on meta descriptions quite a lot, because it's one of my most popular articles. And given 50% of all online content gets just 8 shares or less, why not? 

Now it’s your turn.

The right words are powerful.

Do you want to transform your business today?

Then start putting these copywriting tips into practice. And, if you’ve found these tips useful, please leave a comment or share this post on social media.

 


If you'd like to talk to us about creating content for your business, we'd love a quick, no-obligation chat. Come and say hello today.

 



 Comments

Scott

Great piece! Well written, to the point, definitely something I'll be going over even more to fine tune my writing.

Steve Dylan Spitz

Great post Matt! This is pretty epic stuff. Love the point about reading out loud. Doing just that, reveals so much.

Matt Press

Thanks guys. Good stuff Scott - let me know how you get on. Cheers Steve - I agree. I think for me, it's the most useful tip. It really highlights spots where your copy sometimes doesn't flow naturally.

Wumi

I'm definitely going to utilize these tips when I start blogging not quite long from now, thanks for sharing.

Matt

Excellent, glad to hear it Wumi. Keep me posted on how you get on. And don't forget to let me know if you have any blogging problems that you'd like help with.

Andrew

Thanks for the nice and helpful tips! It's true that practice makes perfect and there's no better way of self-improvements than through trial and error. There's no need to be afraid to fail if it will make you a better copywriter.

Matt

Thanks Andrew. I'm a great believer in allowing yourself to fail. No one writes amazing copy and killer blog posts at the drop of a hat and in one sitting. It takes time, practice and effort.

Kelly Bainbridge

This is brilliant. I got my journalism degree a few years but I've only just found the confidence to try copywriting, and this has really helped. Thanks for sharing.

Matt

Much appreciated Kelly, kind of you to say so. Glad the piece has helped you out. Always feel free to drop me a line with any copywriting queries.

David

Great tips! I am a freelancer offering copywriting services and I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my skills. I find this particular post as very helpful. My favourite is #14. Sometimes, I am given products to advertise that I really don’t care about, but I still write positive things about it. I don’t consider this as lying, it is actually I way of improving my skills and creativity.

Matt

Thanks David. I know what you mean. I don't think you need to know (or even like) a product in order to write a good product description. I think it's just about understanding the target market and tapping into what they desire.

April Cook

I didn't realize how much went into making truly effective website copy. I think it would be smart to hire someone to be fully dedicated to this job so that you can get the best work. I really like how you suggest defining your best customer, and then create content that they would like. I never thought of going about content creation that way. Thanks for the tips!

Matt

Very kind of you to say so April. I guess the point is, content marketing [and, therefore, copy] is incredibly powerful, but it still requires a level of strategic thinking in order to reap the full benefits.

Paul Jones

This blog post is great timing Matt. It has come at a moment where I am in the process of overhauling my website's content. I will certainly put these tips into practice. The tips on thinking about what purpose each webpage serves, and building a picture of what your best customer looks like/thinking what kind of content they will like, I found very helpful. Having a clear purpose certainly helps in creating good content. I find writing my 'About' page, a challenge but these tips will definitely go a long way in helping me. Very happy to share this post :)

Matt

Hey, thanks Paul. I know what you mean about 'about' pages. As a copywriter, having seen hundreds of these sorts of pages, I would definitely say that they're the most challenging. Finding the balance between talking yourself up and keeping the customer interested is pretty tricky.


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