Copywriting is the practice of writing copy for the purpose of selling or marketing a product, business, or idea. “Copy” is the word used for any written or verbal set of words used to sell something.
Great copy is more than just a sales pitch. It might tell a story such as the way the product came about, or it may describe the author’s own experience with the product. Skilled copywriters will try to find a unique angle that their readers will relate to and weave this into their sales writing.
First-rate copy pushes the heart.
By discovering something that consumers can relate to, copywriters are able to appeal to their readers’ emotions. Research shows that people buy first with their emotions and then look for a rational reason or justification for their purchase later. High-quality copy spells out the benefits of a product to prevent the customer from having to think for themselves. Great copy overcomes the consumer’s objections before they surface.
First-rate copy is informal and conversational.
When you start copywriting you can forget a lot of that grammar you learned in school. To engage your reader they need to feel you are actually talking to them, and so you should write in the same style as you speak. Here are some thoughts that your English teacher might not have agreed with:
- Use fragmented sentences if they create impact
- Use acceptable slang if it is suitable (no inappropriate words)
- Use hyphens and character separators
- Use variable fonts and colors
- Use short punchy words rather than long complex ones
- Explain your meaning in simple terms rather than using clever word plays or understated clues
On the other hand, don’t get too comfortable or your writing will lose credibility:
- Don’t overdo punctuation…exclamation marks lose their impact if used too often
- Check your work for typos, these are unprofessional and reflect poorly
- Don’t use too many capital letters, this is seen as shouting in cyberspace
The length of good copy needs to be appropriate for the product
There are advantages to both long and short copy. How do you decide? The simple test is to always make sure your text is long enough for the value of the product you are selling. A more expensive product typically will require longer copy. Just like you, customers will take longer to decide whether to buy. You don’t want your readers to reach the end of the page when they are still undecided about whether to buy.
Advantages of long copy are:
- Long copy with bolded or emphasized points can allow some of your visitors to skim, while others more interested in specifics can find all the information they want. In this sense, long copy gives visitors more options.
- Information-based products often benefit from longer copy. This will grant you ample opportunity to show your potential customers the QUALITY of your information.
- More information makes your customers feel comfortable about their purchase. Your visitors will have most of their questions answered and will have less anxiety about ordering from you.
- Giving your customers the facts upfront may reduce your customer service work.
- Long (and interesting) keyword-rich copy often performs well in natural search engines…there are more opportunities for search engine optimization and including keywords.
Some might say that there is no such thing as long copy only boring copy.
Advantages of short copy are:
- You get your message across before your customer loses interest
- Your web pages are neater and more compact
- You avoid repetition and the appearance of a hyped sales pitch. Of course, it’s certainly possible that carefully designed long-copy pages can avoid this perception as well.)
In the end the quality of your copy is more vital than the length. You can incorporate links in short copywriting to provide more information to customers that want it, or you can emphasize key phrases in long copy for visitors that don’t want to read the whole page.
The Best Copy
If you weren’t in honors English, or you have never written anything longer than a text message, writing sales copy for your new product can be very intimidating. With the number of freelance copywriters advertising their services on the web, it can be tempting to outsource this task, but there are many reasons why you are the best person for the job.
- It’s Your business and you know your business and your product better than any out-sourced writer.
- You know the personality of your target audience, and what your clients or potential consumers will want to know about your product.
- You are sincerely passionate about your product and this will stand out through your writing.
- Relationships are typically consistent. You will want to build up a relationship with your customers and this is easier if they are familiar with your ‘voice’, instead of the many or different voices of freelance writers.
Certainly you can pay a writer to produce your copy if you are really laboring to do it yourself. This might be expensive, although there are inexpensive alternatives. Notwithstanding, you can use the time you would have used writing to focus on other areas of your business. If you do use a copywriter, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Provide them as much information as possible about your product and market.
- Request that they test your product if at all possible.
- If you have written anything before, give them an example of your ‘voice’ to imitate. If not work with them initially so they can get a feel of what your tone and style might be.
- Before you post the copy ensure there is nothing in it you wouldn’t say yourself.
Start to accumulate landing pages, sales letters and other copy that catches your attention and feels like you. Place the items in a folder or save them electronically. This is called a swipe file and it will come in handy when you write some of your own copy!
Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with Jerry on Google+.