Do you often feel paralysed at the thought of writing copy to ‘sell’ on your website?
If so you are not alone! For many small business and website owners, copywriting is a significant roadblock. You can pay top dollar to hire an experienced copywriter for results-driven copy, a cost which may be out of budget for small businesses. The alternatives are to hire cheap (remembering the “get what you pay for” mantra!), or to knuckle down and do some writing yourself.
This is the process which causes many people to choke. Confusion often surrounds the term “copywriting” which means you get caught up in writer’s block before even typing out one word…
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SEE ALSO: How to Write Good Marketing Copy with Bret Thomson
What Is Copywriting?
Simply put, copywriting is about strategically delivering words that get people to take some form of action (Copyblogger). While there is an art to writing good copy and the best writers spend years honing their craft, fortunately it is a skill that can be learned and there are some relatively simple steps you can follow to get started…
How To Write Copy For Website Funnels
Your challenge is to produce a working funnel for your website so that you are a) attracting subscribers or b) selling your products or services. This means that your job with your copywriting is to encourage people to take that action and sign up with you – all copy should directly serve that purpose. Here are 11 simple tips to get started:
1. Writing A Catchy Headline
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. —David Ogilvy
The headline is generally the first thing to grab viewer attention, whether that’s from a banner on your site, or the headline on your landing page. This means you probably have less than 2 seconds to make an impression! Here are a few pointers for your headlines:
- Know your audience – remember when we talked about your customer “avatar” in our article about what to give away? You equally need to keep this at the front of your mind when crafting your headline and other copy. For example, if your ideal client is a highly conservative, right-leaning type, headlines of the sex, drugs and rock n roll nature will probably put them off.
- Go for search engine optimisation – this means you need to know your keywords and build your headline around a focus keyword in order to maximise your chances of being found by search engines. You should also go for less than 70 characters in the headline as it is otherwise considered to be too long for Google to index.
- Scan the magazine rack – looking for inspiration? Take a look at the covers of popular magazines to see whether you can model off their examples. Remember, someone is paid at the magazine just to create headlines that will sell the front cover. (Also, check out sites such as Viral Nova or Upworthy for how a catchy headline can draw traffic even to content that was published somewhere else first). Some good examples will: – Use numbers or “listicles”, such as “5 Reasons Why You Must…” – Leave the reader thirsting for more information, e.g. “The One Belly Fat Fact You Didn’t Know That Could Change Your Life” – Solve a problem, e.g. “These Tips Could Earn You Enough To Kick Your Day Job!”
- Throw in an edgy adjective – What’s going to grab your audience? Examples are: effortless, painless, essential, fun, free and incredible – what can you come up with?
- Use a ‘trigger’ word – This will usually be what, when, why or how. Your job is to persuade and this is the language to draw people in…
- Be relevant – Your headline should not only leave people thirsting for more, but it should actually give them an idea of what to expect from you. One of the quickest turn-offs for your average, busy online-browser is clicking on a headline that sounds like it’s delivering one thing, then finding something completely unexpected.
2. Tell A Story
Storytelling is a powerful tool when used well in your copywriting. People don’t become fans of a business, they become followers of a culture, ideal or person because the story resonates with them.
Research shows that when we only present the cold, hard facts, they trigger only the parts of the brain used for language processing – simply decoding words into meaning. When we tell stories to illustrate a point, we also trigger the sensory parts of the brain which we would use if we were experiencing the events of the story. The overall effect is much more engaging for the reader.
Stories evoke emotion and trigger memories or feelings. They help draw the reader in, especially where they can personally relate to the story being told. Remember, there is more than one way to tell a story – back your copy up with compelling images that convey the emotion you want to share.
Linkbird offer the following tips for storytelling in your marketing: Where to use stories in your funnel:
- Social media posts which link to your sign-up
- Sales pages
- Blog posts
Examples of good storytelling:
3. How To Use Active Voice In Copywriting
“A diverse assortment of unpleasant maladies will afflict your work, it is claimed, if you use passives: your writing will become weak, dull, vague, cowardly, bureaucratic, and dishonest”. – Geoffrey K. Pullum
Before you start sweating bullets and getting caught up in precise rules of construction in English sentences, let’s break this down into something that is easy to follow…
Active voice – the subject of the verb is typically the agent of the action or change of state the verb describes, for example: “You will master copywriting.” In this sentence “you” is the agent or subject.
Passive voice – The subject is no longer the agent… “Copywriting will be mastered by you”.
See how much stronger that first sentence sounds? It’s ok to use passive voice sometimes (it has its place), but use often results in weaker writing with more clunky or cumbersome sentences.
4. How To Make Your Copy Easy To Skim
Do you read every word of everything that you start reading? Have you even read every word of this post? (Actually, don’t answer that!). The fact is that we are bombarded with information these days and it’s nearly impossible to read everything that you’d like to. That’s why it’s a good idea for you to make your reader’s life a bit easier by making your copy easy to skim. Here are some tips for doing that:
- Create bullet points or numbered lists.
- Bold key points.
- Use headings and sub-headings.
- Use text formatting such as underline, italics or different colours.
- Break up text with images.
- Vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs.
5. Use Short Words And Avoid Jargon
You may be an expert on English language and grammar, but your copy is not the place to show that off! Avoid pompous language and communicate clearly with shorter words. The idea is that you want to keep your copy personable, so write as though you were having a casual conversation. Here are some examples to consider:
- Use “get rid of” instead of “eliminate”
- “Help” vs “Facilitate”
- “Best” vs “Superior”
While you’re at it, avoid any jargon that won’t be easily understood by everyone, and try not to use “corporate speak”. You don’t want to leave room for confusion! That means avoiding anything that may be found in a game of “Buzzword (or BS) Bingo”.
6. Use Positive Language
Have you ever had the experience of telling yourself not to do something, only to find yourself doing that very thing? When we write or talk in the negative, that’s what the brain tends to remember. So let’s say for example, you’re in a country where they drive on the left when you’re used to driving on the right. If you tell yourself “don’t drive on the right” your brain will remember “right” and you may find yourself drifting there anyway, whereas if you tell yourself “stay left” it is more likely to positively stick.
In terms of writing your copy, this means you should avoid negative language such as “don’t lose valuable website traffic” and turn it to the positive – “grow your valuable website traffic”. When you are able to write in the positive, what you are saying is more likely to be viewed and remembered positively.
7. Create Exclusivity, Urgency Or Scarcity
Creating scarcity or exclusivity is a powerful tactic when marketing your website funnel. As Neil Patel asserts, “psychology is mission critical for traffic acquisition and conversion optimization”.
Urgency = the buyer/prospect feels that they must act quickly as the opportunity in question is important and time-bound. Example: “Sale ends at midnight on March 1st”
Scarcity = the buyer/prospect perceives that something is in short supply. This goes hand in hand with urgency as they feel pressure to act before they miss out. Example: “Offer only available while stocks last”
Exclusivity = the offer is only available to a certain group of people or in a certain area. It could also be that this particular product or service will not be found in this way anywhere else. Example: “For platinum members only!”
All of these tactics in copywriting tap into human needs and insecurities. Nobody wants to miss out or be left behind, everyone wants to belong to the successful group. One caution to be aware of is not to over-use these tactics or to mix up “exclusivity” with “exclusionary”. Abercrombie & Fitch came under considerable media fire when their marketing tactics sought to exclude kids who don’t represent a certain body image. Also remember that in order to build trust with people, you need to do what you say you will! That means not offering the same sale you said was for a limited time all year…
8. Write With A Conversational Tone
Online marketing, sales letters, landing pages and marketing funnels are nothing new. Most people are now well used to being marketed to online and have fairly finely-tuned BS-o-meters. This means that if you want to bring the prospect voluntarily on a journey with you, tone down any hype and write your copy as though you are talking to your ideal prospect face-to-face. Believe me, people can very quickly spot the difference! Here are some good examples to check out:
- Copyblogger – (also note how they increase urgency and importance by pulling in some big stats and numbers)
- Frank Kern
9. Provide Proof
While the emotions you evoke play a part in your visitor’s decision to sign up with you, evidence that they’re making the right decision also plays a strong part. This means you should include any statistics, research, case studies or testimonials that support what you are saying.
If you can use testimonials, people like to see confirmation that others have bought and approved of products before they make the decision to sign up. Include a photo or video of the person providing your testimonial where you can and pull out a snappy quote which best sums up their endorsement of you.
10. Use Image Captions
The caption area under an image is prime real-estate because it tends to draw eyeballs. Use captions with any images in your copy to make a snappy point – if people have skipped through the text of your landing page or sales page, their eyes will probably still fall to your images and any captions with them.
11. How To Write A Call To Action (CTA) That Works
Your call to action (CTA) is a critical piece of your copywriting. Put simply, the CTA tells your audience what it is you want them to do next. The most basic CTA would be “buy now!” – the CTA always requests that the person reading takes action with you.
Don’t ever think that it’s too obvious or unnecessary, studies have found that using a good call to action does tend to boost your conversion rate (as long as you’ve done a good job of the copy beforehand!). Calls to action may be a simple 2-3 words, or they may be a longer sentence. This is also an element that you can easily test to find out what works best… Here are some tips for your call to action:
- Begin with a strong command verb – for example “order”, “subscribe”, “download”, “find out how” or “show me my”
- Use the voice of the customer where you can. For example, see what Crazyegg did with theirs…
- Evoke emotion or enthusiasm. Consider the difference between these two CTAs: “Book your holiday today” or “Book your dream holiday today!”. Did the second one call up more emotion for you?
- Create urgency – if you are directing your audience to a limited offer or a sale while stocks last, remind them of this in your CTA: “Shop Now While Stocks Last!”
- Give a “what’s in it for me?” – for example, “Sign Up Now To Reserve Your Free Consultation!”
Play around with your calls to action and write out a few examples which you could test. While your call to action is important, always remember that it’s the story you’ve told before viewers get to that which has probably sold them (or not) already.
Tommy Walker said this in his blog for Crazyegg:
“… the best calls to action aren‘t effective just because of your word-choice on the button.
No no, the best calls to action are the ones that promise your story only gets better after you sign up.”
If you’re looking for some great copywriting examples, we like to go to these resources:
- The Robert Collier Letter Book
- Words That Sell
- More Words That Sell
- Tools And Techniques For Profitable Persuasion
- 317 Power Words That Will Instantly Make You A Better Writer
Copywriting is a skill that takes time to truly hone, so practice and testing will help you to get ahead. Remember to stay inside the head of the customer that you’re writing it for and appeal to their needs, wants and emotional triggers. Once you have developed your copywriting skills, your business results should thank you!