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Pumping Up Your Site's Marketing Copy

To increase page views, you've got to give people a reason to click. Try following these four hard-and-fast rules for crafting compelling copy.

We all know that well-written copy is one of the most effective methods for getting people's attention and attracting them to your product or service, but the importance of the shortest copy is often overlooked. A lot of people don't even realize that things like their navigation menus, links or even their newsletter subscription offers are copy and require careful consideration.

Ironically, this kind of copy is one of the most valuable tools you have. Think about your.

  • Banners
  • Classified ads
  • Newsletter subscription offers
  • Navigation menus
  • Links ("click here," "buy now")

This sort of copy is typically asking people to take some sort of action that is vital to your business: visit your web site, request more info, subscribe to your newsletter, click through, buy the product. which is why it requires much more attention than it tends to receive.

Of course it's more difficult to get your message across when you have limited space, but short copy is the glue that holds your marketing campaign together. And if every button on your menu, every ad, every link isn't as compelling and effective as it can be, you're not going to get the results you're hoping for, be it more sales, more subscriptions, more referrals, etc.

Here are four hard-and-fast rules of copywriting that must be followed for even the shortest of copy to guarantee you always make the most profitable use of the little space you have.

Rule #1: You must emphasize benefits, not features.
I know, I know, you've heard this one before. But I so often see copy--short and long--that neglects to mention how the features of a product or service will benefit customers that I'm guessing a good number of you aren't sure what this really means. So let me clarify for you.

A feature is one of the components or functions of your product or service. For example, if your toothbrushes come packaged with glow-in-the-dark toothpaste, that's a feature--not a benefit.

A benefit is something your product or service will do for your buyer to somehow offer a solution to a problem. So if your toothbrushes that come with glow-in-the-dark toothpaste make stubborn kids thrilled to brush their teeth before they go to bed, then you've got yourself a benefit!

Are you following me? An online real estate agent advertising "real-time mortgage calculations" is advertising a feature of her site; however, if she writes, "Avoid wasting time haggling at the bank with my real-time mortgage calculator," then she's advertising a benefit.

Emphasizing benefits is the number-one most overlooked rule of copywriting, and this lack of emphasis is one of the top reasons advertising falls flat. Short copy is no exception--and you don't need a lot of room to do it right.

Let's take a look at a short classified ad. If you posted an ad that read.

Real estate on the internet.
Plenty of listings.
Shop at your convenience.

.you probably wouldn't get the greatest response. The ad is brief and to the point, but it lacks clarity. First of all, what kind of property is being advertised? Are the listings for commercial buildings or family homes? What part of the world does the ad refer to? How many listings is "plenty"? How do we get to see these listings? And, most important, how does this service benefit me?

There's a vague reference to the benefit of "convenience" in this ad--but it's not really explained. Let's dress it up a bit:

Take a Personal Tour of 375+ of Seattle's Hottest, Most Affordable Single-Family Homes
Skip the hassles of house hunting when you search our HUGE online database of single-family homes:
375+ homes with pictures, video tours and detailed descriptions!
Search by price, location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms and more!
Get FREE local school reports, neighborhood information and mortgage calculations!
Click here now to begin searching our online database of Seattle's hottest, most affordable family homes--without leaving your computer!

This version expands on the benefit of convenience and details the different ways this convenience offers solutions to the house-hunter's problems. So the benefits we're clarifying for the reader are:

  • House hunting is a hassle and now you can avoid it.
  • Physically going to see 375 homes would be practically impossible, but you can easily do it online.
  • You can search the database by very specific criteria to effortlessly find exactly what you want.
  • Plus you'll get free reports that detail all the information you'll want to know about a new home and neighborhood that you wouldn't get even if you went there in person.

Also note that this ad targets a specific niche: single-family homebuyers in the Seattle area. Targeting your advertising is the only way to get your benefits in front of your best potential customers, as we'll discover in the next section.

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