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How To Create Good Copywriting For Conversions: Part 2 – Creating the Copy
In Part 1 of our series on Creating Good Copywriting For Conversions, we covered using stats and analytics to research and guide your efforts. In Part 2 we break down steps you can follow to help you develop a personal procedure to create effective copywriting.
You have gone to a lot of trouble to get the right kind of people to your website. You now face the task of informing and persuading them well enough to turn them from a temporary visitor into a customer. Creating the content to do so may take a few minutes or it may take much longer, and you need to cast as wide a net as possible without overreaching. Your goal: Convey a message, primarily with words but not exclusively, that will turn both impulse buyers and discerning shoppers into new (and loyal) customers.
There are copy and conversion experts all over the virtual (and real) landscape, and plenty of good opinions and ideas. Still, the best lessons are from the real world, from approaches that have worked and are working today, rather than a PowerPoint slide or a white paper. You need to accomplish – without the benefit of body language, eye contact or other in-person persuasive techniques – the same thing that a good salesperson accomplishes in a store or any other person-to-person encounter: give the visitor the useful and helpful information they want to help turn them into a buyer.
Persuade and motivate
Think of yourself as a salesman writing copy, not a copywriter making sales. For your website content you have a very simple objective. You want to persuade and motivate. Persuade the readers that your product or service uniquely, distinctively fulfills their practical needs and emotional desires, and motivate them to take the action you want. Naturally there are various approaches, from informational to "hard sell,” but the goal remains the same. Persuade and motivate.
Before you start to write, go through a thorough preparatory regimen. You need to get in the right frame of mind, first of all, and then you must "arm yourself" with the right tools. Besides setting yourself up for efficient copywriting – with your dictionary and thesaurus and perhaps a strong cup of coffee – you need to wrap your head around the project with some strategic thinking.
Before you write
You just can't sit down, cold, and dash off the first clever things that come to your mind. That can work for slogan writing or comedy sketches, but your task is a serious, targeted one. You have to do your research first, defining the product in straightforward terms and finding a way to communicate both features and benefits to potential buyers in a quick, clean fashion. If you don't know the product or service well, don't even think of writing yet. Talk to users if you need to. Evaluate the item as a consumer would. Put yourself in their shoes.
You also need to position the product, both broadly and narrowly, in relation to similar ones. Compare features and benefits and note what makes your product a better one than its competitors. This will help you to define your particular target market (or markets). The strategic thinking you do in your positioning and target market planning will help you tailor your copy to the real-world taste and style of the readers. Are they students, software engineers, or 60+ year-old seniors? Stay-at-home moms, penny-pinching business owners, fashion-conscious young women? Think in terms of your demographics and their specific needs.
Preparing to write
Going through the preceding steps should have resulted in your developing a marketing strategy. Based on your knowledge of the target demographics, you should be able to determine whether to use an informational approach, try "assumptive close" methods, go the hard-sell route, or combine a few different techniques into a customized "hybrid." Of course, you can also use a sequence of different approaches, although that takes a little finesse.
It can be somewhat difficult to reach a decision on the precise length of the copy. Don’t write more words than you need to add “heft” – people don’t have time to waste and fluff makes you look bad – but if you need 500 words to sell the product or service, write 500. But less is more – use as few words as necessary to get your point across. Vigorous writing is concise. Conveying points efficiently displays intelligence and mastery of the subject or industry, increasing trust and faith that you are the best choice.
From the very start, remember that you have to reach people not just in their heads but their hearts, too, and even their souls if it makes sense to do so. Every action/purchase is emotional on some level. You need to connect with the readers and make it both safe and necessary for them to become buyers.
Writing the copy
Don't forget the overarching goal – persuade and motivate. You are not writing an op-ed for the paper or an essay for a class. Use your most natural, unaffected voice, and don't use "two-dollar" words just to impress rather than communicate. Do not write in the passive voice, either. Stay active, use action words, and maintain a good pace without bogging down in detail or detours.
Do not embellish, make false claims, or invent facts or figures. Always be truthful while emphasizing your strong selling points. Stay with demonstrable facts, and be specific with them, too. For instance, don't say your auto air filters work with "most American cars," tell the reader they work with " GM, Ford and Chrysler products."
Keep going forward
When you are organized and prepared to write, things should flow well, and only in one direction, forward. Every paragraph should proceed logically from the first sentence to the appropriate conclusion. Don’t clumsily refer back to a preceding paragraph when repeating a point, just simply repeat the statement if it's important enough to bring up again. Go forward, and take the reader with you.
In fact, you should not be hesitant to repeat yourself. This is one of the easiest, most direct ways to get the reader to remember what you want them to remember. Don't be afraid to do this when it seems the right thing to do. One good technique is to take the good, repeatable selling point and couch it in different ways to reach people in their minds as well as their emotions. In other words, repeat the point but approach the reader from different angles with it. The emotional connection is key. Never forget that.
Clarity and depth
Stylistically, you will want to avoid long sentences and complicated structures. You don't need semi-colons, double dashes and parenthetical phrases. Nice, direct, declaratory sentences punctuated with commas and periods will do nicely. Be yourself, too. If you are not funny, don't try using humor. Your goal is to persuade and motivate, not get people to laugh or like you. Plus, you may come off as disingenuous.
The "depth" of your message means many things, and not just editorial. The page design itself can be key in your copy challenge, so always be prepared to do a new design to accompany new writing. Don’t let your design be a hurdle to getting your message across. The pages in your site are there to grab the reader and not let go, so use all the graphic and editorial techniques available to do that. You can draw in the reader with graphic shapes pointing them where you want them to go just as easily as you can use well-traveled attention-grabbing terms like "Free" or "Stop".
From interest to action
Whatever methods you use, you want to move your reader along. You have their attention, so deliver on the promise. Don't get ahead of yourself and dive in to YOUR product or YOUR business or YOUR autobiography. It's not you that most people are interested in. It's how you can help their own current interest, which usually revolves around themselves.
Now comes the next step, which means motivating the readers to take whatever action you desire. Give them the facts, describe the features and then concentrate on the personal benefits, both practical and emotional. The readers are actually looking for, and hoping to find, reasons to buy the product or service you offer. If the product is going to save them some money, say so, and be specific about how it will do so. If it will save them time, say that. Saving money and time are not just practical but also emotional needs. If your products will make people feel a certain way, appear a certain way or be appreciated by others, feed into that emotional desire and run down those particular benefits. And do it all in regular, person-to- person vocabulary, without sales-y terms like "mega" or "super" or "incredible."
The call to action
You are ideally leading a reader on a short, sweet, helpful journey. You have to tell them what you expect them to do when they reach the destination, whether it's a form or a link or a "Buy" button. Even if the goal is to have them sign up for your newsletter that still requires the same "persuade and motivate" copy that any other sale does. Whatever you do, make the call to action a prominent one (even use multiple calls to action so visitors can take action from several places). Never put obstacles in the way of visitors who want to become buyers. Don't distract them, and don’t make them have to search for what to do.
When you think you're finished writing, you're not. You have simply finished that phase. You have revisions to make now and editing to do. Carve the message down to its basics and get rid of fluff. Then do it again. When you finish a few rounds of rewriting and refining, read the copy out loud and listen to how it flows. Make sure your voice and your tone are consistent throughout the copy, especially if you have a large site and/or you are writing copy over a period of days or weeks. Review your work one last time before you post it, and ensure that it is reaching both the readers' minds and emotions with the message you want them to own. The whole idea is to lead them along and have them think that they are, in fact, discovering you, not the other way around.
Next week we'll be releasing Part Five of the series: Testing New Content.