Anyone can write, right? Well, a quick look around the web and you will soon find that this just isn’t the case. Every day I see examples of terrible copywriting on the websites of both small business and global corporations.
The trouble is that the words you use make a big difference to your chances of success. There are no excuses for poor copy that is grammatically incorrect, or that doesn’t compel the reader into taking action. And the truth is that you will lose sales, scare off customers, and fail to get your core message across.
So, do you think it is time to take the words you use for your business more seriously? If so, read on. I’ve put together these ultimate guidelines to creating fantastic copy that will make a huge difference to your sales.
We’re going to go through everything from why you should focus on the benefits of your product to understanding your audience. Let’s get started right away.
Who you are talking to?
First of all, who is your audience? If you don’t know, how can you possibly communicate with them? Establish an ideal consumer – the average person who visits your website, for example.
Who are they, where do they live, and what do they do for a living? How old are they? What are their interests, and what excites them? What other products and services do they buy? The more details you can draw from your customers, the better.
It will help you begin writing for that ideal customer every time you put pen to paper. You can target every word to appealing to them, and make every last sentence relevant.
How do you give them value?
Another critical fact to establish is understanding the value you offer your customer. If you don’t know why people buy from you, it won’t be long before you start struggling in the sales department.
So, have a good think about your value proposition. What differentiates you from the competition? Do you do things faster, cheaper, or better? If so, how? Understanding the value you give will hand you the opportunity to create convincing copywriting.
It also gives you an upper hand against your competitors. If you know you can deliver a pizza within fifteen minutes, for example, then you need to be shouting about it from the rooftops. You will automatically become the pizza delivery company of choice for anyone that needs feeding, fast!
What is the purpose of your writing?
Another big issue I see in copywriting online and off is irrelevance. It might be a blog post that is stuffed with unnecessary words just to make up a word count. It could be an email in my inbox that doesn’t explain what I need to do next. Or, it could be a business homepage that doesn’t explain exactly what they are about within the first 5-6 seconds after arrival.
Every word your business displayed needs to have a purpose. And, of course, you need to understand what that purpose is before using it.
Make sure the reader knows what they are looking at straight away. If you don’t establish that message and make it clear to yourself, it certainly won’t be clear to the reader.
What are the benefits of your product or service?
When I shop for something online, I want to know what a product will do for me. How will it improve my life? Which of my problems will it solve? Why is it better than a similar product I can buy for half the price?
The trouble is, so many online businesses get this wrong. Instead, these sites will just explain the features, rather than the benefits. So, they might say that a jumper is ‘made of wool.’ But does that really give me an irresistible urge to buy it? Far from it.
However, if that jumper was ‘woven to keep you warm in winter’ or ‘perfect for cosying up on a chilly evening’ it puts different pictures in my head. Take a look at the words you use on your site and see if you can make any improvements.
Why are you focusing on ‘me’ not ‘you’?
Countless business websites drone on for an eternity about their company history. And by the time a reader has got a third of the way through, they will just leave and go elsewhere. I hate to say this, but the vast majority of people don’t care about your business. All they want to do is find what they are looking for and buy it.
So, stop talking about yourself, save for a brief bit of info on your About page. It’s a complete waste of prime real estate that you can use far better by putting the focus on your customers. Avoid using the first person (I, me, mine, etc.) and use the second person instead. Words like ‘you,’ ‘your,’ and ‘yours’ talk directly to the person reading them. And it has a much greater impact, too. Let’s revisit the pizza delivery service again, as an example.
Which is the most impactful sentence out of these two? “Our first class pizza delivery service can deliver our pizzas in fifteen minutes”? Or, “You could be eating your delicious pizza within fifteen minutes”? The second creates an image in the reader’s head that is far more compelling, as it is more personal.
What do your customers say about you?
Testimonials and recommendations from past clients are a great way to give your service or products validity. A convincing quote from a verified customer can add a lot of credibility to your offering. However, the reader has to know that the person’s quote comes from a real individual. Photos, links to a website, and even their location can help paint a picture of that person.
While you are looking for suitable quotes, make sure you are taking notes. Let’s say you get a thank-you letter from a happy client. In it, you will find out exactly why they loved your service – and you can then use these words to create a compelling offer to everyone else. Customers are often the source of these types of reveal to companies – you might even find some benefits you had never considered before.
Are you up the task?
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, not everyone is a writer. And, not every writer is a great copywriter.
The truth is that copywriting is a skill that many people take years to master. And unless you have the time to put into educating yourself, you should think about aiming to find a copywriter or agency to help. I know how hard it is to run a business, and there is often little time to do everything. But, you have to bear in mind that the words you use represent your company, and it is critical to get them right.
Outsourcing copywriting can help you create compelling and convincing words that will improve sales. You are buying expertise and knowledge, and the job will be finished far quicker – and better -than you could do by yourself.
Are you keeping things simple?
Great copywriting is clean, crisp, and concise. The fewer words it takes to deliver your key messages, the better. Far too many websites fail to understand this, and will fill webpage after webpage with needless words and sentences. So, when you do the first draft, make sure you take a long, hard look at it when you are finished.
Could you edit it down a little, and trim off some of the fat? Could you separate some paragraphs to make it easier to read? Perhaps you could highlight specific sentences to attract a little more focus from the reader? Doing this will not only underline an important point, but it will also cover you if someone is skim reading your copy.
Are you direct?
Great copy is also forceful and direct. It doesn’t use words such as ‘may,’ ‘might,’ or ‘perhaps.’ Instead, copywriters use more direct language such as ‘will,’ and ‘can.’ These direct commands are a lot more forceful and have far more impact on the reader.
Let’s return to our pizza delivery company once again for another example. ‘Your pizza will arrive within fifteen minutes’ is far more compelling than ‘your pizza might arrive in fifteen minutes’!
Do you include a direct call to action?
Finally, it is possible to have the greatest piece of sales copy the world has ever seen but still not make any sales.
How? Well, the aim of all marketing is to create a response from the reader. It could be to sign up to an email list or buy a product, for example. But not every customer knows what they should do, even if they are impressed with what they have read.
It is essential that you make it clear what you want the reader to do next. And the best way to do this is to include what we call a Call To Action (CTA).
CTAs provide clear direction for the reader as to what they should do next. A CTA should also create a sense of urgency, to compel the reader further. Let’s head back to the pizza place one last time. A good call to action might be “Phone before 7 pm and get 10% off!”
I hope this guide to online business copywriting has helped. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!