So what makes copy ‘effective’?
Good copywriting should guide a potential customer through the purchase path of your shop smoothly and consistently. Proper copywriting should be clear, concise, and audience appropriate. Throughout my years as a professional copywriter, I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners to help craft powerful copy that works.
Here’s how to make your copy the best it can be.
According to this article from Copyblogger, the most powerful words in the English language are:
Based on my own research and experience as a copywriter, I’d like to add a few of my own favorites to this list:
Because: Results driven examples are always a big hit.
Because: It diminishes or removes potential concerns.
Because: It gets the wheels of possibility turning.
Because: It lets us know something worthwhile is forthcoming.
Because: Who doesn’t want more?
Because: It indicates a unique chance to do/get something.
Make It A Conversation Piece
Conversational copy is easy to read and easy to absorb, because it’s fluid, it flows freely and makes connections. Engaging your audience with questions is a great way to keep them interested and involved.
For best results, ask open-ended questions that require thoughtful, experience and/or opinion based responses. Ending with a statement or a closed-ended question leaves no room for your readers in the conversation. You’re talking at them, not ‘with’ them. It feels uninviting.
The most engaging questions start with the 5 W’s:
1. Who – Who else feels this way?
2. What –What would you do?
3. Where – Where do you stand on this issue?
4. When – When was the last time you felt that way?
5. Why – Why should I care?
A Formula For Success
To help craft a compelling outline, use one of these three popular copywriting formulas:
PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solve)
Identify a problem.
Agitate the problem.
Solve the problem.
FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits)
Share the unique features of the product or service.
Explain why they may need it by showing them the advantages they can expect to gain afterward.
Detail the benefits and why the offering is better than all the rest.
BAB (Before, After, Bridge)
This is what your issue is now before you encountered the solution.
Imagine how much better your life will be after you’ve solved this issue.
bridge the gap with your offerings.
Setting The Tone
The way in which a reader perceives your meaning can have a lot to do with not just what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. It can be difficult for a reader to discern your intent and meaning when they’re forced to rely solely on the written word. With no inflection and no facial or body language cues to work from, things can get lost (or confused) in translation. That’s why your tone is so important. It denotes your attitude regarding the subject. Your tone should assert your views on the topic, and should also speak to the reader in a voice that’s as informative as it is comfortable. And it should be consistent. Any deviation from your flow may come off sounding contrived or insincere. Not unlike a friendly conversation, a tone that resonates is a tone that connects.
These are a few of my own writing philosophies:
√ Explain, don’t assume.
√ Connect, don’t convince.
√ Compel, don’t persuade.
Breaking The Rules
Guilty as charged. You’d be hard-pressed to find a piece of my writing that doesn’t contain sentence fragments, neologisms, or other traditional grammar snafus. And I like it that way. The conversational feel of my work has served me and my clients well. It keeps readers engaged and interested. It makes them feel as though we’re chatting over a cup of coffee, not like they’re being talked at or sold to.
The Red Pen
My absolute least favorite part of writing is editing. I always feel like I’m second guessing myself or being critical. But, when it comes to putting out exquisite work, it’s a necessary evil. Even a single error can distract your reader, or worse yet, compromise the integrity of your work.
Even the best of us can fall victim to some very common copy blunders.
- Is it redundant?
- Have I switched between writing in first person and third person?
- Or from past tense to present tense?
- How about my spelling and grammar?
- Does this sound a bit too familiar?
Even if you’re pleasantly surprised and thrilled with your first draft, you should still check it over. Let it sit for an hour, a day, or even a week as time allows. Look at it again for the first time.
But copy editing for writing errors is only half the equation.
As writers, we’re also readers and researchers, and as such, we take in a lot of information. It’s natural that some of what we’ve absorbed can unintentionally come off our fingertips as our own, original content. To make very sure that your words are yours and yours alone, you could scour Google forever looking for similar phraseology, hire VA to do it, or you can use Grammarly. As a time-for-money service provider, every minute I spend not writing is a minute I spend not making money. It lightens my editing load considerably on both fronts by doubling as an automated proofreader and a plagiarism checker, pitting my writing against over 8 billion websites to ensure nothing looks ‘a bit too familiar’. It was love at first sight.
Side note: There will be instances where Grammarly will cringe at some of your terminology and sentences if you abide by my ‘it’s ok to use fragments and made up words’ advice from above. And that’s fine. Consider this your permission slip to take the warnings, and proceed to not heed them. What you’re really looking for is proper spelling, terminology, usage, and structure. As long as you know when a red flag is intentional and when it isn’t, you’ll be all set.
Need to sharpen your skills? Check out some of the classes on Creative Live for tips. They’re all fantastic, and some are even free.
Don’t write a single thing until you’ve read about The Rule of One. It’s the single rule that will cost you big time if you break it.
What copywriting rules are your favorite?
Melissa Bolton is a copywriter and Brand Therapist® who uses Neurobranding to develop solopreneurs, micro-businesses, and individuals residing in the creative arena. Her signature Brand Therapy services include pairing both psychology and behavioral science principles with your story to help you define your brand, impel your niche, and breathe new life into your ideas.