2 do’s and 1 don’t for effective copywriting

Reading Time: About 4 minutes

When it comes to writing effective sales copy there’s a few fundamental rules that always need to be followed (like using a powerful headline, interesting lede, compelling offer with proof, a call to action, etc.)

But this post isn’t about any of those things. Instead, I’m going to point out some of the more subtle things you can do (and not do) to make your copy more impactful, and help you power-up your response rates.

So if you’re ready, let’s just dive right in…

 

1. DO – Make important words and elements stand out.

This tip is about drawing peoples eyes and attention to your most important copy.

As humans, our focus is naturally drawn to things that are different, or stand out from the average. (I imagine it has something to do with our primordial need for survival. When our hunter ancestors looked out over the grassy plains and saw something move, they had to pay quick attention. “Is it something we can eat? Or is it something that wants to eat us?”)

These days, things that stand out still get our attention, even if it’s only for the sake of curiosity instead of survival. So to use this phenomenon to our advantage, here’s a few things you can do to make your most important copy stand out…

 

Use arrows to draw peoples eyes to certain elements on your page. This has proven to be especially productive when pointing to a “call to action” element like an opt-in form or “buy now” button.

 

Use symbols or numbers in place of words. When people skim or scan your page, things that aren’t text will stand out and catch attention.  So use “&” instead of “and”, use $$$ instead of “dollars”, use 7 instead of “seven” and it will help your reader spot them while skimming your page.

 

Use a different style font to draw attention to certain words or sentences. Bold fonts, different color fonts, or even highlighting a passage will make it stand out, and usually makes it seem more important because of its prominence. This is especially useful for subheads and bullet points, but also works within the body of text.

 

These are just a few of the ways you can draw emphasis to some of the more important parts of your copy. One important thing to remember is not to over-use them, because if you do you’ll diminish the importance from all of them (in other words, if you bold half of your copy then none of it will seem all that important)

 

2. DO – Focus on what’s in it for your reader

Question: What do your visitors want to know before they ever start reading your message?

Answer: They want to know what’s in it for them.

 

This rule should actually be #1 – because it’s just that important! Sadly, it’s also one the most violated rules we see in “non-performing” copy.

Here’s a cold hard truth about people who don’t already have a relationship with you…

They don’t care about you, until they know what’s in it for them. This is often (at least partly) true with people who do know you. And it’s doubly true when it comes to selling anything to people who don’t know you yet.

So before you write a single word of copy, make sure you tune into radio station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Because that’s the station your audience is tuned into.

 

One easy way to put the focus on your reader is to look for all instances of the word “we” (or “I” or any other word relating to you or your business) within your copy, and then turn it into a “YOU” statement.

For example: “we offer a money back guarantee” – becomes – “you get a money back guarantee”. And “we are experts” –  can be turned into –  “you can trust our expertise”.

Basically, at the most fundamental root, we’re simply turning features into benefits by changing “we have” into “you get”.

 

1. DON’T –  Be vague or unclear with your message

High converting copy doesn’t leave things implied or open to confusion.

Here’s a technique I use whenever possible… (and it’s almost always possible)…

When you’re done writing your copy, have someone read it out loud to you. If at any point they stammer, or say “what does this mean?” Then you need to implicitly clarify it on the page. Because your average reader can’t ask you what it means when you’re not standing right next to them, but they can stop reading and go somewhere else if they get confused.

 

Along the same lines… Don’t limit yourself to X number of words on a sales page. Some people have said “nobody reads long copy anymore”…  But that’s simply not true.

The truth is, nobody reads boring copy. But people will read what interests them. If your short copy is weak or boring, then nobody will read it. And if your long copy is interesting, then many people will read it.

Of course in some mediums (like PPc or space ads) you’ll be limited to the number of words you can use. So those ads need to be big, bold and attention grabbing. But once people land on your sales page, you should use as many words as it takes to make the sale.

And while we’re on the topic of not limiting word usage… Don’t be afraid to repeat the most important selling points of your offer a few time throughout your copy.

It’s never wise to assume that just because you put it at the top of the page your visitors will automatically remember it by the time they get to the checkout.

So remind them of your most powerful selling points in the middle, and at the most critical stage… when they’re about to give you their money.

 

Side note: Also, don’t put all your best content in a video format only.

For those who don’t want to spend 5 minutes watching your video, or if they simply don’t have the time (like when they’re at work) make sure you also give them the option of reading the words instead of only watching the video.

Another reason is because many people read at a different speed than your video is talking, and you don’t want to lose the sale just because they didn’t stick around to hear your powerful message.

 


So there’s 2 do’s and a don’t when it come to writing copy. Of course I was primarily referring to sales copy, but these fundamental rules could apply to content writing also (that is, if you want your visitors to actually engage with your content)

I have more helpful tips where these came from, but this post has already broken the 5 minute reading time (based on an average reading speed of 200 wpm) so I’ll save the rest for my follow up posts.

Until then…

Here’s to writing more compelling copy, more often.

 

All the best,

SAR

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