Diese Präsentation wurde erfolgreich gemeldet.
Die SlideShare-Präsentation wird heruntergeladen. ×

20 quick ways to improve your web copywriting

Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Anzeige
Wird geladen in …3
×

Hier ansehen

1 von 12 Anzeige

Weitere Verwandte Inhalte

Diashows für Sie (17)

Anzeige

Ähnlich wie 20 quick ways to improve your web copywriting (20)

Aktuellste (20)

Anzeige

20 quick ways to improve your web copywriting

  1. 1. 20 Quick Ways to Improve Your Web Copyriting by Damien Elsing Freelance Copywriter Melbourne www.DamienElsing.com Copyright © Damien Elsing 2012, All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. Welcome to the sausage factory… If you’re new to copywriting, then congratulations. You’re about to spend some of the most useful time you’ll ever spend learning something. You’re about to take a crash course in communications that will serve you well for long into the future and, if put into action, will earn you money while establishing your trust and authority in your chosen niche. All through the power of simple words on a web page! Here are the 20 fundamentals of writing effective copy for the web (and in general for that matter): 1. Avoid “I” and “we”; focus instead on “you” and “your” If you find lots of sentences in your copy starting with “I” and “We”, you’re not focusing enough on the “what’s in it for me” at the forefront of every prospect’s mind. Rework your copy to focus on the reader, not you or your business. Tip: Make sure you have at least 2 “you” words for every 1 “we” words. 2. Be a good listener Eugene Schwartz famously told a story about how one of his most successful ads consisted of about 90% of what the client had told him, just written down. Listen to your clients and prospects; find out what they want, and then tell them what they need to hear. Tip: Write down what your audience wants to read – NOT what you want to say. 3. Focus on benefits Don’t make the reader do any work when it comes to joining the dots. You need to spell out why having 8GB more RAM is a good thing. A common mistake is listing features and expecting your reader to somehow know why they should care. Always bring it back 2
  3. 3. to the reader and how the feature is going to improve their life. (Important: Don’t list standard features and benefits that are common knowledge around your product or service – it’s a waste of space) 4. Don’t do too much It’s easy to overdo it. Ask yourself if you’ve done more than what’s necessary to achieve your goal, and if you have, cut the rest. Don’t fall into the sunk cost fallacy of thinking “I wrote all this extra stuff so I may as well include it.” If you just want your reader to sign up for a free newsletter or ebook, you don’t need a 3000-word long-form opt in page. 5. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes Perhaps the most important ability in being able to write compelling sales copy; imagine you are reading your own writing, in the situation of the prospect. What would you want to know? What would make you take action? Would you be convinced? Michael Fishman sums this up by saying “Don’t think OF the market – think AS the market.” 6. Avoid lazy words like “things” and “stuff” Any time you say “things”, or “awesome” you are being lazy and missing an opportunity to use a word that has more meaning. Today I wrote a sentence which went “When you hire an agency you are paying a premium for unnecessary things like project management and marketing.” What things?! A better alternative to “things” in this case is “expenses” or “fluff”, both of which further the argument far more than “things”. 7. Use a thesaurus If you have to write a lot of copy about a small subject, there is a danger that you’ll use many of the same words and phrases over and 3
  4. 4. over again. Using a thesaurus will add some variety and colour to your copy. Get in the habit of using a good online thesaurus. 8. Write as if you’re talking Don’t get too hung up on the rules of grammar when you’re writing web and/or sales copy. To connect with the reader you have to be less like their 6th grade teacher and more like that little voice inside their head… 9. Use colourful adjectives An adjective is a describing word. Using quirky or unusual adjectives will help ideas stick in your reader’s mind. That’s why so many great copywriters write in a way that seems unorthodox. Instead of writing “spending a great deal of money”, write “spending freaking bucket- loads of cash!” … it will make much more of an impact and stop the reader from losing interest. 10. Don’t use industry jargon when dealing with newbies Maybe everyone in your industry knows what acronyms like DBT stand for, but don’t assume members of the public do. Same goes for words and phrases specific to a particular niche. If they aren’t household words, don’t use them. (If you are writing for a specific niche which uses jargon then using some can show that you know your stuff, so don’t avoid it under all circumstances). 11. Never use a long word when a short one will do You are not out to prove how smart you are. You are trying to communicate with people as clearly as possible. Don’t say “utilise” when you can say “use”. Same goes for phrases – don’t say “in most instances” when you can say “usually”. 12. Get to the point 4
  5. 5. Your reader has a million distractions. You have about 3 seconds to hook them. If you fail to do that, you have missed an opportunity. This goes for websites, print, emails, whatever. If your reader sees an insurmountable wall of text, she ain’t gonna read it. Better to write 5 lines that get read by 90% of your audience than 50 lines that only 20% of people will read (an exception to this is if that 20% are your true prospects and you’re asking for a relatively large commitment of time or money). 13. Avoid clichés There are times when a cliché can really hit the nail on the head (groan…) but, for the most part, they should be avoided if you can find a more direct alternative. Clichés are clichés in the first place because they are so overused – they are just white noise to your readers. Instead, find a term that will make your point memorable. 14. State the obvious What does your business do? What should the reader do when they get to the end of the page? Don’t assume they know. You need to tell them to pick up the phone and call now, or email now to reserve your seat. Action words, funnily enough, lead to action! 15. Use formulas Selling isn’t creative. It consists of tried and true elements which, when used together in the right combination, achieve predictable outcomes. Like a recipe. You wouldn’t try to bake a cake off the top of your head, would you? Unless you’re a master chef and you do it every day, get a formula for writing sales letters, landing pages, whatever, so you know what structure to follow and what elements you need to include. 16. Be precise Avoid making general statements like “…saving you time” or “…save you money”. It’s much better to say “…will save you 1hour per week 5
  6. 6. that you would have spent….” or “… will save you $95 you would have spent on a graphic designer.” The latter statements mean something because they are quantifiable, unlike the former statements, which are vague. If you don’t know for sure how much time it will save, just take your best guess. 17. Be specific This is a huge bugbear for anyone writing about a topic with which they are very familiar. They have a tendency to write in very general terms without realising they’re not actually getting to the point and spelling out the facts that the reader needs to know. Your reader wants concrete information – facts. So give it to them, fast; and be as specific as possible. 18. Cut out unnecessary words Be ruthless. There’s an old copywriting adage which says to take out words til it stops making sense. Removing unnecessary words will make your copy much tighter and more powerful – not to mention less like an insurmountable wall of text. 19. Write in the language your prospects use every day It’s tempting to sanitise language when we write, making it uniform and generic for fear of offending. This urge should be avoided. Your prospects are looking for signals that you are one of them, that you understand their needs. By using the everyday slang and the language patterns they use, you connect with them and build trust. This is what establishes you as a unique brand! You show that you understand their problems and so just might be able to solve them. 20. Headlines are important Once you realise just how important they are, you’ll look at a page without a headline and shudder. A page without a headline is a missed opportunity. It’s like a beer without a head, or a steak with no sizzle. A headline draws the reader into the body copy. It signals what 6
  7. 7. it’s going to be about and sets up a promise. That’s a lot of heavy lifting for 5-10 words, so use it! Remember to come back to this section and go over what you’ve learned. These are 20 fundamentals of effective web copywriting. You’ll need to practice and review to make sure it’s all coming together. Now, onto some more strategies for writing copy that will make Eskimoes buy ice from you… While you write… As well as the above tips, there are a couple of things you can do while you’re writing, that will make your copy that much better. Imagine you’re writing to your best friend You know when you find something awesome and you really want to tell your buddy about it? You write or talk so fast you have to slow yourself down, and you are busting to spell out the best things about it so your friend will see how awesome it is and check it out. That’s how you should write copy! A big ask, I know. But when we write like that we get to the heart of what’s good about something. And we inject the writing with raw energy. We don’t filter it through uptight language, and we don’t write the stuff we think “should” be good copy. We just launch into sheer, unbridled enthusiasm. We know our friend is gonna like it. It’s just a matter of how urgently we can get them to check it out. So let the copy flow like that, then come back and tidy it up – but only as much as you have to. You don’t want to edit and polish it so much that we lose that enthusiasm and urgency. 7
  8. 8. Avoid “White Noise” White noise is the stuff you used to see on old TVs when there was no signal. It’s a kind of background noise that people just tune out. There’s a danger when you write that you will create white noise of your own. In writing, it’s embodied by messages that are overused and general. When you write something that could be used by any company for any product or service, there’s a good chance you’re generating white noise. These messages will slide over the reader’s consciousness. You’ll be missing a chance to actually say something. Examples of white noise in your copy: “We’ll be there when you need us.” “We care about you.” “Complete solutions for every need.” It’s very tempting to write statements like this when you’re first starting, because you want to appeal to everyone and explain how much you do care and how you will actually be there. But these messages are so overused that they become meaningless. Instead, focus on how you’ll be there, how you demonstrate that you care, and what those solutions actually are. Your messages will be much stronger and will actually start to mean something to your reader instead of just sliding off. (Maybe these should be called Teflon messages!) By trying to sell to everybody, you sell to nobody. Don’t be afraid of offending When we censor ourselves and make copy generic and inoffensive, we also make it watered down and insipid. It’s like getting all our 8
  9. 9. readers into an ice cream shop and then saying we only have vanilla. There are 100 other shops along the strip who also sell vanilla. Find a flavour that’s unique, like boysenberry ripple! Sure, you’ll lose all the vanilla fans, and maybe the strawberry and chocolate too, but they were already getting pretty awesome ice cream next door. You will build a loyal customer base of boysenberry ripple fans just like you, who identify with your choice. You only get one flavour – don’t make it vanilla. 9
  10. 10. Proof reading your copy Okay so you’ve written a landing page or a kick-ass blog post and you really want to get it out there right now. You don’t want to make the world wait a second longer. Wait! Sorry to tell you this, but you’re work is probably not the best it can be … yet. In fact, it might be waaaaay off, even if you’ve cast your eye over it, found the spelling mistakes, and taken out some of the unnecessary words. Now you should put the piece aside for at least 24 hours, then come back and read it with a fresh pair of eyes. Believe me – you will notice tons of things you missed in the first reading. Next, you should step out of your own shoes and do some role-play in your own mind. No, not like the time you dressed up like Batman at Comic-Con, but role-play your own reader. Picture your ideal reader in your mind, then imagine they don’t know you or your product at all, and are reading the copy you wrote. What’s the main thing you want to know, the thing that if you don’t find it within 5 seconds you’re going back to the search results and trying the next entry. Got it? Good, now write that down first. Rinse and repeat with the lesser points. Tip: Remember in the 20 fundamentals section how we were talking about turning your benefits into features? Well here’s a way to make sure you’ve done it well. Go through your benefits and read them out loud. Can you imagine saying these to somebody you know in actual conversation, and would you feel good about it? If the answer is no, then they aren’t good benefits. Back to the drawing board. 10
  11. 11. Formatting Believe it or not, the way you format your copy is almost as important as the actual content. Paragraphs Ever looked at a page and just seen one massive wall of text without paragraphs? Did you read it?? Paragraphs help us move on from one idea to the next. They help us keep our place, and they fulfil our innate need for patterns. They are kind of like the breadcrumbs in the Hansel and Gretel story, except they don’t just tell us where we’ve been, but also signpost where we’re going (and they are unlikely to be eaten by birds…). If you find a concept or idea being expressed in a paragraph more than 4-5 lines long, it means you’re probably including irrelevant or uninteresting information that the reader doesn’t want or need to know. Use paragraphs for emphasis too. If you’ve got something important to say… Make your point on a single line. Forget the rules of formatting and grammar – do whatever you need to do to get your reader to keep reading, and to be convinced into taking action. Anything goes! Scannability Sorry to break this to you, but most people will just be scanning the copy you write, not reading every word. You need to break your writing into easy to navigate sections, with signposts such as topic titles, just like you’re seeing here. The more scannable a piece of writing is, the more chance someone will put in the effort to scan it, and the more chance they will find the information they can use and read it. 11
  12. 12. Contrast For the same reasons we use paragraphs, we also need to break up the patterns of those paragraphs themselves. Too much of anything on the page is bad, whether it be bullet points, paragraphs, headlines, or whatever. If you’ve got a whole page of short paragraphs, try to incorporate some bullets to highlight key points. But don’t overdo it, more than 5 bullet points in a row makes them lose impact and overwhelm the reader. Also use contrast on your lines of copy – break up sentences by using dashes, brackets, and ellipses (…). All these methods make your copy more attractive and easier to read and comprehend. Use of space and graphical elements When writing for the web in particular, you have limited attention spans to work with. For this reason, make sure your copy is broken up by plenty of space and other elements like graphics – icons, buttons, images, etc. Blank space between sections is also great for letting your copy breathe. Highlighting It’s fine to highlight key concepts and phrases to ensure someone scanning your copy notices them. Just don’t overdo it or you risk them missing the really important points. 2-3 highlighted key phrases per 300-word page is ideal. Use colour highlighting and bold where appropriate (in emails for example), and just bold where highlighting looks tacky (on your web pages). If you found these tips useful, feel free to share this Ebook with a friend. And be sure to head over to my website for more detailed tips, examples, and actual case studies of putting these methods into action to produce real results: www.damienelsing.com 12

×