Words have incredible power in marketing. If you’re trying to inform or persuade an audience, great copywriting skills are essential. Not all marketers are natural wordsmiths, but copywriting skills can be acquired and learned over time, and by applying a number of tips, tricks and good habits, you can make your copy incredibly effective.
Make your headline work
First things first, right? Well, not really. The headline is the first thing your reader will connect with, but in actual fact it should be the last thing you write.
It’s about walking a fine line between making it attention grabbing, but not too click-baity as this will simply put off your readers. You want to entice them. A great way to make your headline clickable is to use stats or humour – while also keeping it punchy and not giving too much away – you want to compel the reader to find out more.
Identify the reader’s problem
This is a cornerstone copywriting tip – identify your audience’s problem and persuade them that you can solve it. Focus on how you will benefit the reader rather than making your copy all about you and your brand.
A great formula for this is PAPA –
Advantages (of solving the problem)
Proof (that you can solve it)
Breaking this down, this is what you should set out to achieve in copywriting by following the PAPA formula:
Problem – This means that you address the issue that your readers have.
Advantages – Then you move on to what they will gain by fixing said problem.
Proof – Then you use proof to persuade them – use stats or customer testimonials perhaps.
Action – This is the closer. What do they need to to do seal the deal?
Armed with this formula, you have the foundations to create really compelling copy. Go forth and conquer.
Delight your audience – changing perspective and storytelling
Being original and breaking down an audience’s expectations is a sign of a great copywriter. When a reader doesn’t expect to see something, they are more likely to take notice. Next time you go to write something, stop and think about whether there is a different way you could present it.
Telling stories will inject personality into your copy. You want to find ways to differentiate yourself from every other written word out there vying for your audience’s attention. Make sure what you’re saying matches your audience’s needs and desires.
Be clear and concise
That genius Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.
When writers are struggling to convey a message, they tend to fall back on jargon. The key to good copywriting is speaking to the reader clearly and directly. You can still discuss industry-relevant matters but do it using language that is accessible to everyone. There are certain catchphrases that are increasingly popular in business, but often many of them are meaningless and irritating. If you are tempted to use phrases such as ‘think outside the box’ or ‘proactive approach’, be aware this can have the opposite effect to what you intended.
Here are some suggested alternatives to common jargon
- Thinking outside the box – original
- Bring to the table – can provide
- Leverage – use
- Strategic – useful
- Going forward – in future
- Deliverables – results
Touch base – talk
Passive vs Active
Short and punchy active sentences are far more effective than using a passive voice.
Let’s go back to their definitions to really understand what’s going on here.
Active sentences are when the subject of the verb is doing the action.
Passive sentences are when the subject undergoes the action rather than doing it.
What does this look like in practice?
Active: Australia and New Zealand beat Colombia to host the World Cup 2023
Passive: Colombia was beaten by Australia and New Zealand to host the World Cup 2023.
Active: Beyonce will release a new album this month.
Passive: A new album will be released by Beyonce this month.
The passive voice tends to leave readers unconvinced, while the active voice fills them with confidence, as it takes charge of the situation.
Once you’ve written your copy, go through and do a passive vs active check and focus on making your writing active.
Back it up
Your words are all well and good, but qualifying them with examples, case studies or figures will pack a punch when it comes to effectiveness.
Simple things like success stories, customer testimonials and case studies will assist with persuading your readers.
Similarly, using actual figures and statistics adds gravitas to your work. Don’t be wishy washy with this stuff – being specific will fill your readers with confidence.
What’s your point?
You could be the world’s savviest copywriter, but if you’re just writing for the sake of it then you’re wasting everyone’s time. Ask yourself why are you writing this piece so you are clear on your objective before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This will help you get straight to the point without rambling or adding unnecessary detail. Words are powerful, and the more you stick to the point the more likely it is your readers will listen. Make sure your content connects and engages with your audience and gets to the point.
Close with a call to action (this refers back to the PAPA formula). If you don’t have one…what’s the point?
….Figured out your point? Now lead with it.
Don’t save the best till last…your readers may have moved swiftly onto something better by then. Put your best idea forward otherwise it may never get read. Not convinced…? 55% of all pageviews get less that 15 seconds of attention. That single stat may change your mind.
Make your audience want it – features and benefits.
Your features are a huge talking point, right? But without the customer understanding what these features can do for them, then you’re not doing a good job at persuading them. In copywriting, it’s important to talk up the benefits – not just features. How will this change the life of your customer, Why do they need to know what you’re peddling. Of course, it’s great to talk about features, but they each need to leave to a benefit.
How you present your work is key to drawing your readers in. A monolith of copy appears hard to tackle and will put people off. If your work is well structured and draws the eyes it can be more effective at holding someone’s attention.
Spacing, font, short paragraphs and variety can help. If something can be presented as bullet points or a numbered list, go for it. Pull out key quotes to get points across.
Read your work out loud
Your work sounds brilliant in your head, doesn’t it?
But to understand how it comes across, it’s important to read it. Out loud. You might sound crazy to coworkers, but it will highlight any pain points, clumsiness or stunted flows that you’ve written.
Conclusion – you’re now on your way to mastering copywriting for marketing
While oozing with creativity, copywriting also has a formula and key points that can be followed to lead to you success. Copywriting can take a lifetime to master, but with the above tips, you will greatly improve your ad, social post or long-form article. What do you struggle with in copywriting? What tips are you going to try first from this article? Let us know in the comments below.