Five Things You Might Not Know About Copywriting
Writing copy is easy, right? I mean after all, most of us completed at least high school English and can string together coherent sentences. Even properly structured ones with nouns and verbs and such.
But writing copy has its own set of “rules” if it’s going to be effective.
But before I tell you about those rules, let me just remind you the goal of good copy is to get the reader to take some sort of action. Now, that action is usually to get them to purchase what you’re offering, but it could be to just get them to put their hand up and let you know they’re actual prospects for you.
Here are five things you might not know about copywriting…
- Write conversationally. People want to deal with people. They don’t want to read “missives from the ivory tower,” they want to hear your voice – feel your personality and get to know, like and trust you. If you write like a sophomore trying to impress your professor, you’ll lose your audience. Personally, I try to keep my copy at or below the Eighth Grade level. That way almost anyone can understand it. And believe me; you won’t offend more educated people by writing at that level. We’re all busy and even great readers appreciate easy reading. (This article scores 6.1 on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.)
- Keep the reader reading. Use hooks, curiosity and open loops to keep the reader following your copy and wondering what the payoff is. Don’t give away your “secrets” in the first paragraph or the reader has no reason to finish the piece. A favorite tactic of mine is to open a loop (i.e. start a story or make a claim) near the beginning of the copy and keep it open. Think “Storage Wars,” the TV show where the door slams shut just after the big discovery and go to commercial.
- Use sub-headlines to tell your story. No matter how good your copy is – or how compelling every word is, some readers (well… most) will just skim that work that took you hours to create. Make it easy for those to understand your offer by letting the subheads tell your story in a more succinct fashion. Many times I’ll write out my sales argument then craft a series of subheads which lead down the same path. Each section underneath the subhead can fill in the details for those who will actually read everything. This way the people who need every bit of info to make a buying decision get answers to all their questions.
- Use the active voice as much as possible. Copywriting is about getting people to take action. If your writing is dull, passive or boring, the only action a reader will take is to not read it and go on to something else. My trusty grammar checker tells me what percentage of sentences are passive. Then I can hunt them down and rewrite them. Or sometimes delete them. Whatever it takes to keep people reading so they can see my offer and make an informed decision to buy.
- Tell people exactly what you want them to do. Don’t be subtle. Don’t leave it to chance. If you want them to buy, tell them how. If you want them to fill out your form, then tell them that. People are busy and really don’t have time to solve riddles or guess what you want them to do. Make it obvious.
These are five things you might not know about copywriting I always keep in mind when writing copy for clients. Of course they’re not the ONLY things that make copy persuasive or successful. They’re just part of a much larger process to effective copywriting.