Writing effective web copy is both an art and a science. There’s a degree of artistry to a perfectly composed sentence that can’t be reduced to a set of simple instructions. However, when it comes to persuasive writing, certain strategies have a proven track record of success. If you want to write good copy that will resonate with your readers and drive traffic to your website, take note of the following tips.
1) Sell it in the title. You can write the greatest copy in the world, but if your headline is weak, no one’s going to read it. On average, 80% of people will read just the headline – only 20% will read the rest. This is why a solid headline is so important. There’s no one magic formula for writing a good headline, but some time-tested strategies include the direct approach (e.g. “Free Coupon”), the how-to approach (e.g. “How to Use Google Analytics”) and the list approach (e.g. the title of this post).
If you’re running an ad, be sure to come up with more than one headline and use A/B testing to see which one works the best.
2) Tell stories. Humans are suckers for a good story. Stories resonate with us – statistics don’t. Journalists have known this for ages. A newspaper headline about 50,000 people killed in an earthquake in a foreign country will barely give readers pause. It’s just a number; I can’t picture a number. A headline about a small child who’s been trapped under the rubble for three days, on the other hand – suddenly you have my interest. I can visualize the scene. I can empathize with the family. I can relate.
If you’re writing marketing copy, the same rule applies. You can bombard your readers with impressive statistics and technical details about your product or service, and they’ll smile and nod. If you really want to get their attention, however, give them a good story. Open with a compelling anecdote. Provide case studies. Highlight testimonials from your customers.
Tell me a story, and I’ll give you my attention.
3) Be specific. You may think that speaking in general terms covers more bases, and thus maximizes your potential readership. Not so. The visitors to your website who are the most likely to convert are the ones who are looking for something specific. Don’t speak in generalities about how your company sells “high-quality fishing gear,” or “software that will maximize your business’s conversion rate.” What kinds of fishing gear do you sell? How does your software maximize conversion rates? The more questions you can answer for your reader right off the bat, the better.
4) Avoid jargon. Every industry has its jargon. In my industry, for example, we talk about SEO, SEM, PPC, and ROI. Jargon serves a purpose as convenient shorthand for those in the know, but you can’t always expect your readers to be familiar with it. Even if you’re marketing to other businesses in your industry, a more colloquial approach often works better. Compare “This online course will optimize your ROI and mazimize your conversion rate” with “This online course will get you more leads for less money.”
5) Use persuasive language. Gregory Ciotti at Copyblogger has written a great article about the 5 most persuasive words in the English language. It’s even backed up – with science! The words are “you,” “free,” “because,” “instantly,” and “new.” Readers want to feel like they are being personally addressed (you) they want to know what’s in it for them (because), and they like things that are free, new, and instant (who doesn’t?). Some other words you might want to add to that list are “win,” “how”, and “save.” Just make sure that these words words are used in an appropriate context, and that they accurately describe what it is that you’re offering.
6) End with a call to action. This is Marketing 101. The conclusion of your copy should always answer the question “What next?” If you’ve done a good job with your copy, I’m going to be ready to pursue next steps. Tell me what those steps are. Maybe you want me to sign up for an email list. Maybe you want me add an item to my shopping cart. Maybe you want me to Tweet your article. In any case, the call to action should be clear and definite. If there’s no call to action, what was the point of the copy?
Adopt these simple strategies for your marketing copy and you’ll start seeing better results. Good copy takes a while to produce and even longer to master, but it’s well worth the investment. If you write persuasively and deliver on your promises, both you and your customer will end up happy. And everybody wins.