If you want to write messages that compel your readers to whip out their wallets and give you their money, apply these copywriting best practices to your landing pages, websites, and emails.
It’s simple to spot good copywriting when you see it. But exceptional writing can be distinguished from the crowd by a number of factors.
Do you want to know them? Continue reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
What is Copywriting?
One of the most important components of any kind of marketing or advertising is copywriting.
Copywriting is the use of written or spoken words by marketers to persuade customers to act after reading or hearing them.
A call-to-action is similar to copywriting but on a larger scale.
Copywriters try to compel readers to feel, think, or act. And while copywriters only have a few words to make their point, blog posts like this one have the luxury of hundreds of words.
But being short and to the point isn’t the only quality of effective copywriting. For a list of additional qualities of truly memorable copy, continue reading.
6 Copywriting Best Practices
Below are six traits of excellent copy that readers will remember. Apply these copywriting best practices to your marketing materials.
1. Shift Perspective
Sometimes only a slight change in perspective is required for a message to be understood.
We’ve gotten so used to ignoring marketing messages that we no longer even notice them.
One of the most effective things a copywriter can do is to surprise the reader and lower their defenses.
As a copywriter, it is your responsibility to identify the angle that best tells the story.
When next you have to write, don’t approach the topic head-on. Instead, ask yourself why it matters.
Encourage yourself to make your answers more comprehensive each time you record them. Look for the bigger picture that is being told by your message.
Steve Jobs revealed the secret in 1996. He explained the following while discussing creativity with a Wired journalist:
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile.”
Say you need to create an advertisement for a fresh pair of sneakers. You could approach the task directly. You might talk about how flexible the shoe’s sole is or how light it is. Many have, in fact. You could also ignore all of that and instead make a connection between the item and the emotion it arouses.
This advertisement is showing us two things. First of all, the copy acknowledges that for many people, running isn’t even about running; rather, it’s about finding solitude, peace, and regaining sanity in a hectic life. Second, Nike links the advertisement to both the running experience and the sound that the shoes make when they hit the ground.
The message of this advertisement is that clarity and simplicity will take the place of complexity in one’s life. As the copy develops, the sentences become shorter, and the complexity is gradually replaced by the simple, rhythmic repetition of the word “run.” When everything but their footsteps has vanished, the same rhythm can still be heard. That’s a connection. You can also call it linking.
3. Powerful Lead
The headlines or first sentences below are all taken from Urban Daddy, an email-based magazine that highlights fresh goods, activities, and restaurants.
- “Six days. That’s how long you have until 65% of your body is turkey.”
- “There are 8,760 hours in a year. And just one hour in which a stand will be dispensing gratis latkes with homemade applesauce and sour cream in Harvard Square. Yeah, it’s not fair. But 60 minutes is 60 minutes.”
- “Ewoks. Talk about living.”
What do all of these leads have in common? They encourage us to continue reading. How much do you really want to know where that Ewok thing is going, to be honest?
The aim of the headline is to entice you to read the first line, according to a copywriting adage that’s loosely attributed to copywriter and business owner Joe Sugarman. Your reading of the second line and onward is the goal of the first line. In other words, everything is lost if your first line doesn’t captivate your readers.
A stranger may have thought the Harrington family a little crazy after learning about their plans to open yet another gym in the greater Boston area. There were already plenty of gyms on the market, including a new breed of luxurious ones that appeared to be competing for the fanciest amenities. There were smoothie bars, massage services, and fleets of personal trainers available at gyms all over the area. Also, GymIt wouldn’t have all that.
What did it have? An awareness of its main audience. The brand spent a lot of time listening to its primary market of gym-goers before opening its new gym. The extra benefits offered by luxury gyms were nice to have for many people in GymIt’s target market, but they also came with a lot of baggage, including high prices and overly complicated contracts.
GymIt made the decision to make going to the gym easier for those who were primarily concerned with getting in and working out. This understanding is reflected in the copy in both its launch campaign and all of its marketing materials.
Robert Bruce of Copyblogger put it well. He advised, “Humble yourself and really serve your audience, pay attention to their needs and desires, and listen to the language they use.” “Your audience can eventually provide you with everything you need, including the majority of your copy, if you pay close attention. Don’t obstruct their path.“
5. Avoid Jargon
Groundbreaking. Revolutionary. Solutions for business. Targeted Size. Ideation. Evidence-based approaches. Industry-wide best practices.
Have I lost you?
Sometimes writers resort to using jargon or hyperbole to emphasize their point when they are having trouble expressing what is truly unique about their organization, product, or service. The truth is that effective copywriting doesn’t need to be fancy. Great copywriting should use language that the reader can understand.
This is not to say that you should never recognize accomplishments or awards. Just be straightforward when describing that accomplishment.
6. Trim the Fat
Good writing is direct, so you should omit excess words and reword your sentences to be more concise. The Economist mockingly illustrates this in the advertisement below that highlights its “academic” readership.
How can you reduce the number of words in your writing? It requires both practice and cutting-skill knowledge. One of the best summaries I’ve found on precise writing is in this article from Daily Writing Tips. Its advice includes:
- Change phrases like “The results are suggestive of the fact that” to “The results suggest,” for example.
- Streamline long sentences into short ones by substituting “to” for words like “in order to.” Another example is to substitute “because” for “due to the fact that.”
- Avoid ambiguous nouns: Sentences become cluttered with phrases beginning “in the area of” or “on the subject of,” etc.
In general, if you can afford to omit words from a sentence without losing its meaning, do so. Strive to reduce the number of words you use. Reduce a 50-word homepage copy to 25 words, then work harder to reduce that 25-word sentence to 15 words. Making every word count in your writing is more important than being concise.
Final Thoughts on Copywriting Best Practices
I’ll keep this short since my last point was about getting to the point: Words matter. You have the chance to connect with people whenever you sit down to write an advertisement, web page, video script, or other pieces of content for your business. Find these marketing opportunities, and make sure you’re taking full advantage of them.
Use these copywriting best practices to make your writing potent.