Marketing Copy

I’m currently working on writing some web copy for a client’s website. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I find writing marketing copy a bit more stressful than writing teaching materials or other informative pieces, because marketing copy is expected to get results. The client wants the copy that is written to actually bring in paying customers. If the copy doesn’t work, I’ve just lost a client. No pressure, right?

So, I’ve been researching what it takes to write effective marketing copy. There are literally thousands of blogs, websites, and books that cover this subject. But most tips include a version of the following five.

1. Write for your audience. Keep the reader in mind as you write about the subject. The content and tone may vary depending on who will actually visit the website. If you’re writing copy about a construction company, your audience will be people looking to build or remodel a home. The tone and content will reflect that. The people are probably looking for words that suggest the company builds structures that are durable, dependable, and attractive. You would use different language to write about a bakery. Most people aren’t looking for a durable cake. Something to think about.

2. Keep it short and simple. One website suggested writing like a journalist. That would include answering the questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. This will give customers the answers they need to make a decision about the company and its products. Journalists are also concise and to the point. Say what you need to say and end it. If a reader has to do a lot of scrolling down a page, they may not stick around.

3. Make the copy visually appealing. This may mean breaking up text with bullet points, keeping paragraphs short, or adding photos. A solid page of margin-to-margin text can be overwhelming. Think of the website like a magazine page. Most magazine pages are broken up into snippets of information. This is easy to digest as a reader, and won’t scare people off.

4. Use a conversational tone. The copy you produce takes the place of a visit from a salesperson. You want the customer to feel at-ease with what they are reading. A friendly tone helps bridge the sales gap, this also keeps the copy easy to read—no large, unfamiliar, or offensive words. Make the customer feel like the site is his or her friend.

5. Keep it error free. Poor grammar and punctuation can make the company look bad. Who wants to hire an accounting firm who misspells words on their website? If they make mistakes like that in their web copy, what kind of mistakes will they make with my tax return? I shudder at the thought. So, remember to edit and proofread everything before it is posted.

One website suggested the following copywriting formula: 1) establish your objective, 2) clarify the benefits to your prospects, 3) show how the benefits will be delivered, 4) prove your statements, 5) sweeten the offer and make response easy, and 6) tell your prospects how to respond.

Now, snappy headings and using the words “free” and “order now” and incorporating SEO techniques may also be effective, but I think they should be considered icing or decoration to what’s really important. If your main text is engaging and informative, the reader will want to know more. An eye-catching headline means nothing if the rest of the copy is poorly written or doesn’t give the customer what he or she needs to know to make an informed decision.

Armed with all this marketing research, am I ready to write the website copy that will bring my client the customers he desires? Time will only tell.

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