Don't Have a Degree in Advertising? Here's How Anyone Can Write Copy That Sells.
How do certain brands consistently churn out killer copy? Copy so good it not only sells products, but entertains, empathizes and makes customers excited to open their wallets or get in touch.
These brands often have an experienced copywriter (or team) with years of tests under their belt. They simply pay for the best and give them the freedom they need to succeed.
But, hiring the best isn't always an option. If you're one of the many brands or executives who produce their own copy, here are six tips to help you go from starving writer to advertising powerhouse.
It's all about the process.
Mad Men was a great show, but it reinforced the misguided idea that copywriting is a wholly creative endeavor. Hate to break it to you, but you're not going to find inspiration whilst sat in a chair nursing a glass of whiskey. The best copywriters in the world work to a process which puts the customer at the center of their efforts.
Putting the customer first is the key to crafting great copy. For example, HubSpot implemented a customer-driven copywriting process and increased conversions nearly 100 percent.
The process will differ somewhat for writers and businesses, but the primary steps are the same.
1. Research: Knowledge is power when it comes to crafting effective copy. You have to know exactly who you're targeting, the problems they're facing and the terms used to describe their problem and ideal solution.
2. Find the overlaps: What are the intersections between the ideal user's problems and the solution you offer? Those overlaps are what people will pay for and should be heavily featured in your copy.
3. Wireframe and draft: Start by plotting the major persuasion points of your piece in line with a formula like AIDA: Attention, Interest, Design and Action. Adapt design around your key persuasive copy points. After mapping the overall flow, produce your first draft.
4. Review: Have a section of your target market run through your draft before asking for feedback on unclear statements, clunky structure, poor targeting and non-compelling elements.
5. Polish: Use that feedback to polish the article. Repeat steps four and five until you're happy and you have your first control for future tests.
Grow beyond text-only copywriting.
Coming from a copywriting background, I love the written word, but it has its limitations. In the always connected world of mobile devices, social media and video sharing, text sometimes fails to grab user attention. Many brands are hooking and holding user attention by growing beyond simple text:
- The Nielsen Norman Group reports images draw more attention than the written copy they accompany.
- Hubspot reports emojis improve engagement across all platforms.
- An Animoto study discovered four times more users prefer video to written content about a product.
Written content will always have a place in marketing, but modern users want more than just text. This is reinforced by the success of brands like Dollar Shave Club, which, thanks to the below video, attracted 12,000 customers in 48 hours, achieved 4.75 million video views within a year, and had to spend very little otherwise to market the business.
Video, images, emojis and other non-text elements are key to increasing the impact of your copy and brand.
Good writers copy; great writers steal.
The best copywriters in the world are thieves. They don't look for inspiration or devise new persuasion points on their own. They steal directly from their audience. They know that the only person who truly understands what the consumer wants is the consumer. So they don't even try to write.
Skilled copywriters collect the feedback and opinions of the target market and repurpose it into compelling sales copy.
When researching your audience, look for the pain points, opinions and benefits they mention and steal them. The more something is mentioned, the more likely it is to have an impact and convert.
Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers used this method to swipe the exact headline she used for rehab center Beachway -- a headline that increased button clicks by over 400 percent: "If you think you need rehab, you do."
No one knows what the customer wants better than the customer? Get them sell to themselves for an easy win.
Always focus on the benefit.
One of the primary mistakes in corporate copy is focusing too strongly on the features. Brands want to bring attention to the feature or service that took the longest time to develop or perfect. It's understandable, but misguided. Your customer doesn't care how difficult things were for you.
What they care about is how each feature will benefit them. Look beyond the feature and examine how it's going to improve the customer's life.
- The tech behind 4K TV is incredible -- users care about how clear their movies will look.
- An iPhone X camera has 12 megapixels -- users want it for awesome pics of happy memories.
- Slack is impressively coded -- users care because it saves time by reducing the need for meetings.
The best brands detail features, but highlight the benefits they bring. Here's an example from Tesla's Model X page.
It leads explaining what the cameras do before highlighting how they help detect nearby cars, prevent collisions and make parking easier.
You might be extremely proud of your product's key feature, but all the user cares about is how it's going to affect their life. Sell the result, not the product.
Test, test, test.
You're rarely going to hit a home run on your first try. As with any marketing, testing is key to success. You're going to have to test, measure and optimize before you can sit back and relax. Keep soliciting customer feedback for ongoing optimization and don't expect huge improvements from single tests. Sometimes your test will only bring a 1-2 percent increase, but that's OK.
Sports website Sidelines managed to increase landing page conversions from 5 percent to 55 percent, but it took them six consecutive tests to do so.
Every day without running a test is a day wasted. Be certain that you're always trying to improve on what you're currently publishing.
Stop reading, and start writing and testing.
You become a better writer through countless hours of practice. Reading case studies and articles might arm you with great theoretical knowledge, but the best knowledge comes from firsthand experimentation.
Get active. Publish content, track how it's received and monitor its effect on your bottom line. The lessons learned through failed tests are far more valuable than any book or article.
The best copywriters are constantly creating. They're guys and girls forever researching their audience, writing consistently and testing daily. That's how greatness, and success, are earned.