Good copywriting persuades. It convinces and coaxes a reluctant lead into a confident customer. It’s an essential part of your marketing and content strategy.
Unless you’re okay with generic calls to action that barely register with your audience, you need to write in an engaging, interactive, and anticipatory way that makes your audience feel like you’re actually speaking to them.
I thought you’d never ask. You don’t have to be a writer to write great copy. There’s not much mystery to it– especially if you’re talking about your own product.
I can guarantee you that, by the end of this post, you’ll be ready to write your first landing page– and it won’t suck! Let’s get straight into it.
What is Copywriting?
There’s many types of writing out there, but let’s narrow it down to two: fiction and non-fiction. Good copywriting comes somewhere in between. Now, don’t get me wrong, copywriting should never lie or tell untruths, but it should tell a story that transports, convinces, and inspires the reader.
The story doesn’t have to be a long, complicated tale with a once upon a time and a happily ever after. In fact, it probably should never use those phrases, except for irony or humor. Your story should introduce (or restate) the problem and then set up the solution.
I absolutely adore these 27 copywriting formulas Kevan uses over on the Buffer blog. He shows that it’s entirely possible to tell a story in as little as 140 characters (i.e., a tweet), so it’s of course possible to do so on a full landing page.
Here’s the thing to remember: People love stories. We have an insatiable lust for good storytelling. It doesn’t matter whether they’re reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or a landing page about an upcoming webinar, as long as you set up the problem and present a satisfying solution, you’ve won the day.
How do you weave a story with copywriting? Show with a mini-tutorial how to use your product. Give an example of a problem that’s relevant to your audience, and then reveal how you, your product, or your service fixes it.
Now, let’s talk about how to hack your writing.
Know Your Audience
First thing’s first, you have to understand your audience. It’s not okay to cast a big net. Sure, you may get fish, but you’ll probably wind up with a lot of seaweed, too. Instead, you should narrow your focus and find the specific group that’s pumped, primed, and ready for your message.
There’s a market for everyone, you just have to find yours. We’ve talked before about how to find your true audience with a contest. That’s a great starting point. I recommend that you know who your audience is before you begin writing your landing page. Otherwise, how can you speak directly to them?
To be successful, your landing page must be specifically targeted toward one group. In other words, be as specific as possible.
Use Multiple Targeted Landing Pages
I know you’re thinking, but what if I have more than one group I’m targeting? I’ve got you covered for that too. There’s no written law that says, thou shalt only have one landing page. In fact, I’m thinking of writing a law that says, you should have as many landing pages as possible. The number of landing pages you need is in direction proportion to the number of groups that you’re targeting.
Let’s say you run a lifestyle blog where you talk about all things travel a la y Travel Blog. Your topics run the gamut, including family travel, frugal travel, and starting a travel blog.
You’ll probably have several different groups who read your site, among them: Families who want to travel with their children Single folks who want to travel the world on a steeply frugal budget
Now, why would you create one landing page and expect it to effectively communicate with both groups? It won’t. Instead, create two landing pages that allow you to speak to each group directly. They’ll have different pain points, and it’ll be much easier to copyright like a pro when you know exactly who you’re speaking to.
Conversational language is extremely important in copywriting. You want to come across like a friend or a trusted authority figure, with trusted being the operative word. People trust their friends, and they trust those who know what they’re talking about. They don’t trust smarmy salespeople who’re trying to make them buy, buy, buy! now, now, now!
Explain why your product is amazing, but do it in a way that sounds normal, friendly, and approachable– you know, as if you were actually talking to someone face-to-face. You can and should write like you speak. I’m doing it right now, minus the ums.
Your writing should be informal and sound genuine.
Don’t Edit Yourself
At least not at first. One of the best writing tips I can give you is to let it all out. Turn off that internal editor who oddly sounds like your grade school grammar teacher. You can perfect the writing later, with editor eyes. Now, you should allow yourself the freedom to go wherever your brain takes you (as long as it’s about the topic of your landing page).
Now, let it sit. Don’t look at it for at least 12 hours. Give yourself a chance to return with a fresh perspective. When you come back, you can now edit the heck out of it. Cut out all redundant information. It’s not unusual to change 80% of your content, and that’s okay as long as the message is clear and targeted.
You’re already passionate about your product or service, so this one’s easy. Just speak clearly about why your product/service is the best choice for your audience. If you’re running a contest, share your excitement about the prize.
Offer Specific Value
You know why your offering is valuable, but no one else will unless you spell it out. None of us are mind-readers. You may be thinking, I have a great product that will speak for itself. I’m here to tell you, it won’t.
Your product can’t speak, but you can. You convince your audience by getting into the specifics of how your product will help you. Tell them what’s in it for them. Make sure you complete these sentences: When you buy this product, you’ll get _________________. Because of this product, you’ll do _________________. If you don’t buy this product, you’ll be _________________.
Go Bold with Your Headline
Your headline is a probably the most important part of your landing page. This is where you hook ‘em, so take some time to get it right. What’s one sentence you can write that would engage your audience right away?
I like to start with a question, because it gets people thinking. It immediately pulls them in. And a question is easy to write. The perfect question is one that addresses the audience’s pain point. Here’s an example of a landing page from Postbox that pulls you in with a simple question:
Image courtesy of __Postbox
Create a Strong Call to Action
Your call to action is your last chance to pull them in, so it requires at least the same amount of effort as your headline. Don’t waste this prime real estate with a limp, lifeless phrase like “submit.” Go for something bold and actionable that drives home your message. Here are some of the most successful calls to action ever created.
Bottom line: aim for a call to action that makes it easy for your audience to say “yes.”
You’ve got this. Remember to write like you speak. Your audience wants to hear from you. The more you inject your own personality into your writing, the more they will trust you. Trust me.
The process of keywords search is well-known. However large the company can be, whatever industry it operates in there are usually some persons at the company who can perform this task. However, once the keyword search has been performed one should start working these keywords phrases into the text of your web-site. The person who performs this task is a web site copywriter.
Apart from being creative and have an aptitude from producing appealing, memorable and attracting content the professional web site copywriter should be able to write the text in easy-to-read, convincing and action-driven style. He should also be able to perform thorough web site analysis and understand how the web site maintained by you should be changed or adjusted in order to get higher conversion rates.
But even if he has these qualities it may not be enough. It today’s highly competitive and ever-changing online world it is indispensable for him to understand current marketing trend; what customers want to purchase as well as what expectations they have. Apart from this he must also analyze marketing and advertising strategy of the main competitors of the company and propose effective adjustments in the content of the web site to countervail them.
If you are hiring experienced web site copywriter it is advisable to look through his portfolio in order to get an insight into his experience.
Experienced web site copywriter who has already provided some copywriting service should indicate what type of copywriting he has been working on and what results he has achieved.
Moreover, he must also understand modern marketing techniques such as writing press releases and writing article. The web site copywriter should always keep himself abreast of the latest changes in marketing in order to produce high-quality content. If the web site copywriter you intend to hire matches the above mentioned criteria, then he will be able to bring high results for your company.
Website Copywriter Tips: Homepage Copy – The Transition Zone
Have you read Paco Underhill’s fascinating book, Why We Buy about the psychology of retail store shopping? One of his major tenets about brick and mortar shopping holds the key to effective homepage copy – something he calls the “transition zone.” If your homepage copy creates a sales zone not a transition zone, you could be losing sales.
The Transition Zone Explained
Think about the last time you visited a brick and mortar store… Maybe it’s raining or snowing outside. Maybe you just left the dry cleaner before arriving at the electronics store. As you first enter the store you constantly make adjustments to changes in lighting, temperature, sounds, and visual stimulation.
You need to get your bearings. Underhill calls this part of the store the “transition zone,” a place for adjusting from outside to inside, not selling. Selling attempts in this early stage are lost.
When does your homepage copy start selling? Unless your answer is never, it is too soon.
The Trade Show Lesson
I remember that the worst trade show booth to have was just inside the front door of the trade center. Instead of making sales I was giving directions, demoted from VP Sales to greeter, gopher. You would think that being first was an advantage. This position might be true in search engine ranking but not in trade shows booths.
The fact is many people don’t even notice the first booth until they have completed their adjustment process. By that time, they are well past the first booth and buying from booth number 4.
Most website visitors behave like trade show guests. Is your web site copy trying to close business in booth one or giving the visitor time to adjust to the new digs? Why not put your actual sales copy in booth two or three or four? Better still distribute the message across all three. After all, that’s where the customers are headed anyway once they have transitioned to your site.
Cushion Don’t Convince
So if selling is inappropriate what can you do to make your homepage copy sell without selling? Effective homepage copy cushions the hard landing strangers feel when they first arrive at your site. A soft landing is a receptive landing. Why not use your homepage copy to give visitors what they need:?
Acknowledgement Anticipation Acclimatization
Acknowledge Your Visitors
Let’s go back to your recent store visit… You’re barely inside the door and the overly friendly sales clerk asks, “Can I help you find what you are looking for?” Most times this clumsy sales attempt is made too early in your transition to the store from your previous location. For most people shopping is an experience not a mission. Instead of being sold during their time of transition, most customers simply want to be acknowledged – greeted, recognized.
How does your website copy acknowledge visitors to your site?
- Does your homepage copy confirm that your visitors are in the right place?
- Does your copy welcome them?
- Does your web copy make demands of these shaky travelers too soon?
- How does your homepage copy help them adjust to the change in environment?
You’re standing ten feet inside the store. And there it is, way over there – the outline of that gorgeous HD TV you’ve been after. As you walk towards this target your heart races a little as you anticipate getting up close and personal with your quarry. The closer you get, the more you notice the details of your treasure.
By putting products, a little off in the distance smart retailers build anticipation. You know what it’s like. Details come into focus over time. Expectation increases.
Where could you put your best offerings to heighten anticipation without killing transition?
- How can you replace assertiveness with anticipation?
- Wouldn’t it be a good idea to introduce your value proposition in your homepage copy, without demanding customer action right away?
- Where could you place the copy that supports this value proposition?
- Shouldn’t your remaining pages build expectancy and familiarity at the same time?
- How about making your web site copy one integrated “time release capsule”?
Whenever copy goes against the customer’s natural order, it becomes a threat, losing credibility and any chance of influence. It doesn’t make sense to challenge the site visitor’s natural need for transition. Why not embrace this idea? Remember the old ABC’s of selling? Instead of
“always be closing,” why not use the transition zone strategy “always be comforting.”
Think of ways your homepage copy can help your customers acclimatize to your site.
- Do you repeat your key ideas to build familiarity?
- Is the look and feel of your copy consistent?
- Does your copy give a snapshot of what’s possible on your site?
- Is your navigation system explained?
- Has your homepage copy briefly highlighted your content?
- How can your visitors gain quick control of their journey?
That’s acclimatization. Now you’re ready to sell. YES! Effective homepage copies smoothest the transition from stranger to guest using acknowledgement, anticipation, and acclimatization. Done well and it’s sales zone time for the customer. Done poorly and its cortisone time for you.
Website Copywriter Tips: Web Copy 101
You already know how to create great web copy. Just remember your childhood nursery rhymes. As silly as it sounds, “3 Blind Mice” will show you the way.
For some reason, “3 Blind Mice” paid me a visit. As I heard the 100th replay, it hit me – this would make great web copy. As a matter of fact, this simple little ditty contains 10 elements of Web Copy 101. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s how it goes.
“3 Blind Mice; 3 Blind Mice.
See how they run; see how they run.
They all ran up to the farmer’s wife;
She cut off their tails with a carving knife Have you ever seen such a sight in your life As 3 Blind Mice?”
Let’s see how this children’s nursery rhyme is a model of Web Copy 101.
Web Copy 101 #1, 2, 3 …3 Blind Mice (title or heading)
- Try singing “A trio of visually impaired rodents, A trio of visually impaired rodents.” Catchy? Formal writing doesn’t sell. Write the way people speak and you will be heard. The title does something else for this song.
- If you had to choose between songs entitled “Cows,” “Ducks,” or “3 Blind Mice,” which one would you choose? The title in all web copy has to grab the attention the reader. There’s more.
- This alluring title makes the content clear right away. How many times do you stumble on a website only to find you’re not sure what they are selling or how it relates to you? Be sure your web copy uses the title or headline to set the table for the visitor.
Web Copy 101 #4 …3 Blind Mice, 3 Blind Mice (first line)
- This song is going to be about little rodents, not geese. Does the first line of your web copy highlight what you offer, or at least whom your site is for? Good web copy is not mystery writing. Instead it says, “We’re here to sell you something and here’s why you need it today.”
Web Copy 101 #5, 6 … See how they run, See how they run
- Repetition is the key to any message track and a staple of effective web copy. From a psychological point of view, it lets your message become familiar and safe. From a search engine point of view repetition builds your keyword density and raises your search results. From a net reader perspective repetition in your web copy reinforces
your message for the superficial reader who is scanning your site quickly. Repetition works on many levels. Let me say that again – repetition works on many levels.
- The invitation to watch how the mice run around is also a clever way to involve the readers by getting them to do something. Does your site invite some kind of reader activity in the body of the web copy?
Web Copy 101 #7 … They all ran up to the farmer’s wife; she cut off their tails with a carving knife
- A good way to stitch your ideas together and build more active involvement in your copy is to use pronouns (they, she). By forcing the readers to build connections between previous and current information pronouns keep your site visitors more engaged.
Web Copy 101 #8 … Have you ever seen such a sight in your life?
- Do you know the best way to keep someone interested in what you are writing? What is 3 times 3? If you thought “nine” you proved my point. If you thought “eight” try night school. If you thought anything at all, you demonstrated the power of questions to generate reader participation. Everybody loves and needs to answer questions. Does your web copy provide thought provoking questions that get your reader thinking and involved?
Web Copy 101 #9, 10 … As 3 Blind Mice
- Brilliant web copy. More repetition. Plus, the story ends where it started. One of the advantages of writing with search engines in mind is that keyword focus helps you stay on topic. The glancing reader needs this controlling idea to get the essence of why they need what you have, now. Is your site’s central idea consistently expressed all the way through your web copy?
- True, the song is written for children, but notice the use of short, crisp sentences to tell the tale. How are you telling your tale? You want your web copy to be clear, smart and direct.
I hope they get stuck in your head – the 10 lessons that is, not the lyrics. By the way, no animals were hurt during the writing of the article about web copy 101.
Website Copywriter Tips: Web Copy Sabotage
How does your personality affect your web copy? Whether you mean to or not, your site reflects you in ways you might not notice: sometimes good, sometimes bad. While personality peccadilloes can be endearing in social situations, minor personality flaws can cause web copy sabotage. So before you get out your keyboard, get out a mirror.
Why not see if any of these 3 personality traits are seeping into the design and copy of your web site?
Insecurity Pride Anxiety
Web Copy Sabotage #1: Insecure people create timid sites
Most people are insecure in certain situations as they vary their image to gain the favor of others. Nothing kills web copy faster than trying to be a people pleaser. Insecure people create timid sites that try to be all things to all people. Instead of declaring, “Here’s who I am,” insecure web copy tentatively pleads, “I can be whatever you want;
hope you find something you like.” How forgettable and phony is that? Secure people on the other hand have learned to get real.
Some people like them; others don’t. Their web copy stands out because their authors stand up. Their web copy is memorable because it is authentic. Does your web copy take a stand or does it sit on the sidelines wanting to be liked? Is your web copy real or real phony?
Web Copy Sabotage #2: Proud people produce narcissistic sites
While timid web copy aims overly outward, narcissistic web copy looks too far in the other direction. Business owners have a justifiable pride in their business. Sorry to say this pride can lead to web copy sabotage.
- Many owners lost in their delight often boast, “Look what I can do,” instead of proclaiming, “Look what you get.”
- Their web copy tends to focus on features instead of real customer benefits. It highlights trained staff rather than peace of mind.
Missing are empathy and impact. Nothing kills internet rapport like a one-sided, relationship. Does your web copy brag about you or resonate with strangers?
Web Copy Sabotage #3: Anxious people make nervous sites
Nervous sites are the most common form of web copy sabotage. They don’t gaze outward or inward; they look nowhere, all hurried and patchy. The visuals are the first give-away:
- a little red here and a dash of purple there
- a touch of bold with a smidgen of underlining
- a bevy of random quotations
- a frenzy of isolated graphics
Where’s the rhyme? Where’s the reason? Where is the message? The web copy reads more like a digital ransom note than a calm presentation of a distinctive value proposition.
The sad part is this kind of web copy sabotage is that it frequently betrays an honest business person who is just not comfortable about expressing his business. This web copy unfairly depicts sleaze and incredulity.
Sometimes the anxiety is driven by a specific learning style. A number of individuals are more comfortable with trees than a forest, preferring details to the big picture. That’s too bad because site visitors usually crave the big picture before they invest their care and clicks. What image does your web copy convey – calm or chaos?
Web Copy Sabotage: What can you do about it?
So you’re not perfect. Everybody is a bit insecure, a tad proud and slightly anxious. The trick is to keep these failings from invading your web copy. So what can you do to prevent web copy sabotage?
Your human shortcomings might populate your site because you are just too close to the data to detect your demons creeping up the keyboard.
You’ve got to get some distance. First have a third party who’s not a family member play site doctor, looking for symptoms of insecurity, pride, and anxiety in your site design and copy.
There’s nothing like conducting your own foible check to be sure you parked your sabotaging issues at the curb, not in your web copy. Here are 3 questions to ask:
- What exactly does my site stand for?
- How do my visitors see themselves?
- How have I organized my design and copy?
If these tactics don’t help you improve your web copy, you could either see a qualified psychiatrist or hire – you know – a handy copywriter.