Guide to Copywriting
You bought a digital product you were excited about. You opened it and while the content was great and even helpful, you were struck by how ordinary it really was. You may have even examined it and thought, “Wow, I could create a resource like this!”
So, now you’re wondering what prompted you to buy. What got you so excited that you felt the need to push the ‘add to cart’ button immediately? What made you look forward to parting with your money in order to access the product?
Most likely, you were intrigued by the seller’s copywriting. Copywriting is the ability to convince people to take action based on your words. It’s essentially a fancy word for persuasion. If you’d like to learn more about creating convincing copy, read on…
4 Things You Should Know about Copywriting
Copywriting can make the difference between a landing page that results in big sales and one that visitors ignore. However, the good news is that copywriting is a skill and like all skills, you can master them. Before you dive into the deep end of copywriting, you should understand a few things ….
Copywriting Is Different
There are many forms of writing, some of which you might be familiar with already. Novels and songs are a form of creative writing. White papers and articles are a form of business writing. Essays and journaling are a form of personal writing.
However, copywriting is focused on getting the reader to take action. In some cases, this action might be signing up for your mailing list or following you on social media. If your reader does take action, this is called a conversion.
Copywriting Is Focused
Many forms of writing are about the writer. For example, essays and journaling may be a way of working through your emotions and observing life. Writing a novel or song may be about the story or concept you want to express.
Copywriting is focused on the reader. It’s about their problems and typically, you’ll want to present your product or service as the solution. If you forget this and focus only on your brand or product, you’ll end up with a copy that doesn’t convert very well.
Copywriting Is Goal-Oriented
Some people use writing to explore. They write long, rambling pages about their ideas, products, or business. This may help you learn about yourself or your business; but, it isn’t truly copywriting.
Good copywriters know that their copy must have an end goal. Think of this as a destination when you’re on a long trip. You wouldn’t get into your car and hope that you end up in California. You’d pick a specific address and put it into your GPS unit then you’d start driving.
It’s the same thing with copywriting. Know what your goal is before you ever type a single word and you’ll be more likely to succeed with your copy.
Copywriting Is Easy to Scan
Some online business owners make the mistake of thinking that copywriting is like reading a newspaper or book. They assume their readers will pore over every single word, gleaning everything they can.
Smart copywriters know that most of their customers and clients don’t read every single word on the page. In fact, the majority of your buyers will skim your sales page unless you’re offering a product with a high-end price tag.
This is why good copywriters make their content easy to scan. This means using bullet points, adding subtitles, including helpful quotes, and strategically placing images or videos. These small details may not seem that important but they can be the difference between a customer who buys your product and one who navigates away.
Understanding Key Copywriting Terms
Now that you understand what copywriting is and how it works, it’s time to learn a few important marketing terms. Even if you plan to outsource your copywriting, you’ll still want to know what these terms mean so you can communicate easily with your copywriter.
Call to Action (CTA)
This is the point where copy instructs readers to do something. Here are a few examples CTAs that you can use in your own marketing:
- Call 1-800-000-0000 for a Free Consultation
- Book Your Free Discovery Session Today
- Sign Up for the Newsletter and Never Miss a Sale
- Follow Me on Instagram
- Leave a Review on Facebook
As you can see, CTAs can cover a range of instructions. However, to keep your CTAs effective, ask your readers to take only one action. If you ask your visitors to sign up for your mailing list, book their first session with you, and follow you on Instagram, you’ll overwhelm them. So, pick the one action you want them to take right now.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is about making your content and website easy to find in search engine results. For example, if you users who search for “best aquarium tanks” to find your website, then you’d want to optimize your website for that term by including it in your headlines and copy.
Content Management System (CMS)
Content Management Systems provide users with an easy way to edit their websites and upload new content. You may already be familiar with CMS options like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.
A copy is a content that’s created specifically to encourage readers to make a purchase. You’re surrounded by copy every day even if you don’t realize it. A copy can be found on the cereal box in your pantry, on the front of your toothpaste tube, and on thousands of other products.
Demographic is an audience of people with something in common. For example, a demographic could be:
- Women in their 30s
- Expert Knitters
- New Drummers
- Divorced men in their 40s
In the first example, the demographic is defined by gender and age. For the next two examples, the demographic is defined by hobby and skill level. The last demographic is defined by relationship status, gender, and age.
Above the Fold (ATF)
Above the fold is content that appears before a user has to scroll or click down. This is prime website real estate. Some sites like Google show ads above the fold. Other websites use this space to encourage visitors to subscribe to their mailing list.
Conversion and Conversion Rate
Conversion is the number of visitors who act on your copy. If you tell readers to buy your product and one does, then you’ve made a conversion.
Sometimes, copywriters use the term conversion rate. This refers to the percentage of people that took some type of action, rather than simply reading your offer.
If 1,000 visitors saw your landing page and 113 customers bought your product, then your conversion rate would be 11.3%. You can arrive at this figure by dividing the number of action takers (113) by the total number of visitors (1,000).
The headline is the title of your copy. You want to pick an engaging headline that makes visitors curious and invites them to read more. Some of the most well-known headlines include:
- Headless Body Found in Topless Bar
- The #1 Secret to Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies Every Time
- 6 Fitness Secrets Every Woman Should Know
All three headlines promise their reader something in exchange for their time. The first promises an entertaining story. The next one promises the reader a perfect chocolate chip recipe and the last promises insights about fitness.
A case study examines a problem in-depth and recommends solutions. Copywriters use case studies to show readers how a certain product or service can solve a common problem their demographic is experiencing.
A teaser is a small bit of copy that intrigues your reader. When companies advertised through direct mail, copywriters would create teaser text to urge receivers to open the envelope. Now, copywriters use teasers to increase the number of emails opens they get, share about upcoming projects, and build excitement.
Testimonials are short, positive messages of endorsement that come from customers. Many niches rely on testimonials in order to sell a product or service. However, customers in some niches like internet marketing don’t trust testimonials. This means testimonials aren’t effective in every niche.
5 Elements of a Good Landing Page
A landing page is a page on your website that’s built with a single purpose in mind, like getting visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or encouraging them to buy a product from you. A good copywriter will tell you there are five essential elements that make up a good landing page:
The headline should draw in readers and make them want to know more. You can do this by asking a question, creating a list, or making a bold statement. A few examples might be:
- Is Your Family Prepared for a Major Disaster?
- 7 Ways You Can Travel without Spending a Dime
- The Sneaky Secrets Your Fitness Trainer Won’t Tell You
If you spend a lot of time writing content for blogs or articles, you may be tempted to tell readers everything right now. However, don’t do that—it kills the suspense for visitors and makes them less likely to click through.
Instead, use the body of your content to connect with your visitor. You want them to feel like you understand their problem and empathize. When you implement this strategy, this is where your visitor begins to trust you.
The Call to Action
Once you’ve engaged your visitor, it’s time to make the direct offer. You want to use a strong call to action that tells your reader what to do next and reminds them of what they’re getting. For example, if your goal is to get newsletter subscribers, you might say, “Sign Up Now and Download Your Free Workbook.”
Now, present your form. This could be a signup form for subscribers or an order form for new customers. In order to add the form to your landing page, you’ll probably need some knowledge of coding languages or you’ll need to use a content management system.
Once your form is on the page, make sure to test it several times from different devices. You don’t want to drive traffic to a landing page where the form is broken. Otherwise, you’ll lose all of your hard work.
No matter what you want your visitors to do, it can boost your conversion rate to add a guarantee or two at the bottom of your landing page. If you’re trying to get new visitors to sign up for your mailing list, promise not to spam them or sell their email address.
However, if you’re providing a service or product, you’ll want to provide a money-back guarantee. In most industries, a standard guarantee is for 30 days. This gives customers a chance to use it before deciding if it’s a good fit. You don’t have to offer a guarantee to your buyers but it is considered a good industry practice.
It’s important to remember that your landing page should have the main navigation and other features hidden from view. You want your visitors to either accept the offer or decline it. You don’t want them getting distracted and reading your latest blog posts or following you on Instagram.
Write Engaging Copy for Your Online Ads: 4 Simple Tips
Once you begin to get the hang of writing copy or you find a copywriter you trust, you’ll want to consider trying online advertising. Most online advertising works this way: You bid on a specific keyword. When a user types in your keyword or looks for content on that subject, your advertisement is displayed.
Advertising can be expensive if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important that you understand how to make sure your ads are engaging your audience and driving visitors back to your site. Here are four simple tips to perfecting your ads:
Identify Your Goal
Before you write an advertisement or start bidding on keywords, you need to decide what your goal is for this advertisement. Do you want to use the advertisement to drive traffic back to your blog? Do you hope to get visitors to buy your latest product or book a consultation call with you?
Keep in mind that you should have just one goal per ad campaign. Too many goals and you’ll water down your message and risk confusing visitors. When your visitors are confused, they aren’t sure what to do so they take no action.
Create a Short but Snappy Headline
Online advertisements require short headlines. If your headline is too long, it will get cut off in the middle and sound awkward. That’s why you need to consider the length of your headline carefully.
You also want to make sure your headline is relevant to what your ad is about. For example, if you sell WordPress themes, then you want your headline to include that keyword phrase so it catches users’ attention.
Research Image Sizes
Some online advertisements will give you the option to include an image. You definitely want to do this if possible because a beautiful, relevant image can quickly capture the interest of site visitors.
That doesn’t mean you can use just any old image. You want to do your research and make sure you choose the correct image size for your platform. The wrong size may look distorted and drive visitors away.
Keep Your Body Copy Simple
With an online advertisement, you typically only have enough space for a sentence or two. Just because the copy is short doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Thousands of advertisers create memorable messages with just a sentence.
Like other forms of copywriting, focus on solving the customer’s problem. For example, if you sell webinar software, your copy might focus on how frustrating webinars can be if your visitors don’t have the technical knowledge they need. Then you’ll want to mention how simple webinars can be with your software. If users are curious, they’ll click through to your website to learn more.
Send Visitors to a Landing Page
Don’t send your users to your website front page. They may get overwhelmed or be uncertain about what to do next. Instead, send them to a simple page where you share more information about your product or service.
A landing page also makes it easier for you to track how your users interact with your site once they click on your ad. This can give you valuable insights into what your visitors want and need from your brand.
AIDA: The Copywriting Template Every Online Business Owner Needs
Professional copywriters have valuable templates that they can turn to when they’re struggling for inspiration or not sure where to begin their latest project. One of the most popular of these copywriting templates is the AIDA formula. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Here’s how to use it in your own copy:
The first thing you want to do when you start writing copy grabs the attention of your visitors. In 1926, a copywriter named John Caples used a simple headline to hook his readers. His headline was: “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano – But When I Started to Play!”
The reason it was so effective is that he tells a story and asks a question at the same time. His story starts with sitting down at the piano only to be laughed at but it leaves readers asking the question, “What happens next?”
A question is the best way to get attention from your visitors. Try rephrasing the next headline you write as a question and see if you can turn it into a compelling one. For example, your headline might be: 7 Secrets Your ER Doctor Won’t Tell You.
The question that readers will ask is, “What isn’t my doctor telling me? Can I trust my ER doctor?” You always want to turn your headline into a compelling question, so your visitors are engaged with your copy and eager to find out the answer.
Once you’ve gotten your readers to pay attention, you want to keep them focused by making your topic interesting to them. If the topic is going to be interesting, it has to touch on a deep desire or need in the visitor’s life.
For example, if you sell digital planners, it might be tempting to tell readers how organized and efficient they can become with one; but, that’s not terribly interesting.
However, if you start talking about Dana, a mom who feels constantly disorganized has household chaos and regularly misses appointments, readers will start to relate. This shows the need for your product.
Now, it’s time to plug your product or service as the answer to your visitors’ problem. Using the example above, you can talk about one two-hour hack that Dana discovered that now helps her organize her whole week.
You may go on to mention how Dana’s stress has decreased, her house is now organized, and she’s always on time for appointments. Then you explain that these changes are the result of using the digital planners you sell.
After you’ve shown how your product or service meets a need for your target market, it’s time to ask them to take action. This might be telling them to purchase your digital planner (if you’re creating a sales page) or simply asking them to sign up for your newsletter filled with organization tips (if you’re trying to build your mailing list).
Keep in mind that during the action section you may want to offer an extra incentive to make the offer even more appealing. For instance, if a customer purchases now, you could share a coupon code for 15% off the purchase price. If a customer signs up for your newsletter, you could give her access to an exclusive webinar where she learns your best planning secrets.
Improve Your Social Media Copy with These Tweaks
Smart online business owners understand that creating content for social media is just another form of copywriting. Your immediate goal may not be to get fans and followers to purchase something.
However, you do hope they’ll spend money with your brand eventually. That means being strategic with your social media updates and recognizing them as an important relationship-building tool. When it comes to writing copy on social media, keep these tips inside:
Share Your Journey
When someone follows you on social media, it’s like you’ve been invited into their home. You wouldn’t go to an acquaintance’s apartment, kick off your shoes, and try to sell them your latest product.
No, you’d spend time getting to know them. Paying attention to your shared interests and talking about those first.
On social media, this can take the form of sharing posts that you know your community would enjoy. If you’re part of the knitting community, then post a photo of your latest work in progress. If you’re part of the hiking community, share a video of yourself hiking a scenic trailer over the weekend.
It’s OK to make an offer to your social media followers; but, do it in a way that adds value to their lives and makes them want what you’re offering. For example, Lynn Terry, from Low Carb Traveler, creates Facebook Live videos where she talks about the latest keto products she’s trying and shares a coupon code for the item.
Her Facebook videos allow her to share what she’s eating and offer value to her followers at the same time. She earns commissions simply by showing up and giving valuable feedback about her favorite (and least favorite) products.
Don’t just talk to your followers on social media. Take time to engage with them by asking questions and responding to comments. Keep your questions related to your niche and don’t go for simple yes or no responses.
Instead, ask complex questions. Most complex questions start with “Why…?” or “How…?” For example, don’t ask “Are you going to start exercising in the New Year?” That won’t invite conversational responses.
Instead, ask your followers, “How will you stay fit in the New Year?” This question can be the springboard for deep discussions about types of exercise or activity preferences.
Apply what you’re learning about copywriting to social media. You’ll be amazed to see how useful copywriting hacks can be, especially on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Using Analytics to Refine Your Copy
When it comes to improving your copywriting, one of the best tools you have available is your website analytics and social media metrics. Regularly reviewing these numbers and watching them grow can provide you with the insights you need to create a stellar copy. Here’s how to use your metrics effectively…
Look at Your Most Popular Content
The first thing you’ll want to study is your most popular content. You may discover an old blog post you’d forgotten about gets a lot of search engine traffic. You may see that a social media post that got plenty of engagement asks followers an important question.
You’re not just looking at individual posts though. You’re looking for overall trends. For example, do your Facebook posts that include emoticons get more comments? If so, then you may want to try adding emoticons to all of your posts in the next week and see how they perform.
Consider Your Traffic Source
This helps you see where to spend your time marketing. You may find that Instagram isn’t sending you a lot of traffic but Twitter sends you dozens of visitors a day. Knowing this, you could trim your copy to favor Twitter instead of Instagram.
On social media, you may see that your Facebook group drives the most traffic to your fan page. This means the next time you want to launch a big promotion, you’ll make sure to post helpful content in your Facebook group before the launch.
Dig Deep into Your Demographics
Sometimes, your demographics can surprise you and challenge how you write your copy. For example, you might think your ideal customers for your digital planners are thirty-something mothers, who are busy raising kids. However, your demographics might show that your customers are actually closer to 50 and use your planners in a different way than you expected.
Be open to learning new things about your demographics. This helps you write better copy and the better your copy; the more likely it is to convert your visitors into buyers.
The Importance of Using A/B Split Testing
One of the best tools you can use to improve your copywriting is split testing. This is sometimes referred to as A/B testing by some marketers.
Split testing means that you create two versions of the same landing page, email, or advertisement. For example, Landing page A has a call to action that reads: “Sign Up Now for Your Free Digital Journal.” Landing page B has a call to action that reads: “Download Your Free Digital Journal Now.”
Now, you’ll send half of your traffic to landing page A and the other half to landing page B. By studying your results, you’ll see which page converts more visitors into subscribers. Once you have the winner, you’ll use that call to action instead of the other one. If you’d like to try split testing to better your copy, keep these tips in mind:
Test One Feature at a Time
You don’t want to have two landing pages or emails that are completely different. That won’t give you a lot of usable data. Instead, you want two landing pages with only one crucial difference. Doing this lets you clearly see which bit of copy is the most effective.
Study Your Results
You need to study which landing page performs best. You may discover that your visitors prefer shorter calls to action or that they prefer headlines that ask a question. All of this data can be incredibly valuable so make sure to note what you’re learning about how your visitors respond to different copywriting techniques.
Compare and Contrast
Don’t stop after just one round of split testing. Constantly compare different versions of your copy. Does your audience prefer landing pages with bullet points? Do they prefer statistics in their headlines? Will they respond to the word discount better than the word coupon?
Don’t rush your split testing. Plan to spend a few weeks driving traffic to both versions of your landing page or advertisement. Only then will you have enough data to make informed decisions on how to improve your copy.
Copywriting is about connecting with your visitors and persuading them to use your product or service. While it may seem difficult at first, don’t give up. Copywriting is a skill that you can leverage again and again for years to come.