Of course the only way to know for sure if your sales copy is effective is to test it and measure the results.
But there is a way you can pre-test your copy to give you a better than average chance that it’ll be good…
Have people read your copy before you put it out into the world.
In fact, have as many regular / average people as possible read it before you put it out into the world.
If you work at a company, show it to the non-advertising people. Show it to the mail clerk, show it to the maintenance guy, show it to the person who brings you coffee in the morning…
If you don’t work for a big company, then show it to friends, neighbors, or family members. Hell, you can even show it to the mailman if you get the chance.
And here’s the key to this whole process…
Ask them what they think about the product or service. DO NOT ask them what they think about the copywriting itself.
If you ask them about the writing you’ll get all the wrong answers. People will put on their grammar glasses, or their marketing hats and try to give you answers based on your writing style, or grammar, or persuasion techniques.
And that’s not what we want!
If you get answers like “yeah, it looks good” or “nicely written” or anything that talks about the writing, then your copy is a dud. And you need to amp up the persuasion factor.
We don’t want people to compliment or criticize the writing.
In fact, we don’t want them to think about the writing at all.
What we do want is them to think about how your product might fit into their lives.
On the other hand, if you get a response like “this product sounds great. How do I get one?”
Then you’ve got something worth testing in the real world. Because if random people want to buy what you’re selling, just imagine how it’ll do when you put it in front of a targeted audience.
And while we’re on the topic of Having people read your copy before you put it out into the world. Here’s another tip…
Have someone read your copy back to you, out loud…
This one doesn’t really apply if we’re only writing banner ads, or small space ads. But when your copy is more than a few sentences long, it applies Big Time!
When I first started writing copy (some 20 + years ago) I figured as long as I was using the right techniques or formulas it would be fine.
It was only after I looked back over some of my less successful attempts that I spotted the choppiness in the writing.
Copy that was smooth flowing when I wrote it, had somehow magically turned into choppy flow and hesitating sentences.
Of course my first thought was that some prankster must have broken into my office, and messed around with the sentence structure in my old sales pieces. But since there were no other signs of a break-in, I considered the remote possibility that maybe, just maybe, I had screwed it up when I originally wrote it?
The problem starts when writing the copy, we’re already fully engaged with our own thoughts.
We know the ins and outs of our offer, and we know where the copy is going to end up. Which makes it all too easy to forget that our readers have not spent the last couple weeks researching the same intimate details like we have.
They’re looking at our copy with a fresh perspective. And what makes perfect sense to us might come across as a broken thought to a first time reader. Especially when we leave out certain details because “everybody already knows that detail, right?”
Well no, they don’t.
Also, grammar errors and typos are easy to overlook when we’re writing a story that we already know the ending to.
That’s why one of the most effective ways I’ve discovered to assure smooth flowing copy, is to have someone else read it out loud to me. This way I can easily hear when they hesitate, or get stuck on a sentence.
If they hesitate or look confused, even for a second, then we have a problem that needs fixing.
And, if the flow sounds choppy when you hear it spoken out loud, you can be pretty sure it’s choppy when your audience is reading it silently to themselves.
Simply put… Choppy writing is like a road full of speed bumps on your customers journey. It’s hard enough to keep peoples attention these days, under the best of conditions. And we don’t want our road to make it even harder for them. We want our customers to have as smooth a journey as possible.
Well the clock on the wall is telling me it’s time to start my workday. So I’ll end this post with one final thought…
I understand that many of us writers are solitary people, and it’s not always easy for us to get feedback from other people. But if you have the opportunity, it really is a good idea to have people read your copy before you put it out into the world.
Here’s to writing more persuasive sales copy… more often!
All the best,
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