Copywriting sounds easy. Just write down the advantages and benefits of your product and post it somewhere for customers to see, right? But as anyone who has ever tried to come up with catchy copywriting content knows, good copywriting is a lot more difficult than that. Online copywriting is even harder—with all those flashy videos and distracting sidebars competing for your reader’s attention, you have to fight even harder to be read in today’s overwhelming media landscape. Luckily for you, we have five killer online copywriting tips that will help transform your copy into highly readable, memorable prose that will keep your readers’ attentions until the very last word.
1. Emphasize benefits. How will this product enhance the user’s life? What advantages does it have over other, similar, products? Your reader doesn’t care about the amusing story of how your company was born or the interesting way you assemble your product—unless you can first tell her how your product will benefit her. Copywriting is the art of making someone feel that their life would be better with a specific item—so if you don’t know how your product makes its user’s life better, you won’t be able to write good copy. Don’t brag, don’t revel in your excitement about your product or your dreams for your company. Just emphasize the benefits you can bring to the user, and how those benefits make your product stand out from the competition. And remember that emphasizing benefits is not the same thing as emphasizing features—a feature is only as important as the benefit it brings to your user. You can see examples in the most expensive engagement rings, an article I recently put together.
2. Get to know your target market. Every product has a specific target market, and the more you know about the likes and dislikes of your target demographic, the more you will be able to customize your copywriting to suit their needs. Are you talking to advanced computer programmers who know technical computer jargon, or are you marketing your software to technophobes who will be scared off by the first mention of “terabyte” or “html5-compatible”? Are you selling diamonds to first time diamond buyers, or wedding bands to excited and romantic new couples? Use the language and tone that is appropriate for your demographic, and your readers will feel comfortable and secure with your product. Understanding your target demographic will also help you create a list of potent buzzwords or keywords that will create an emotional reaction in your reader—“quick and easy” for the busy mom, “advanced capabilities” for the gaming enthusiast, “sustainable and ethically-sourced” for the environmentalist.
3. Make it snappy. While you may want to have a long list of specs and details about your product available to the interested consumer, the average web browser is going to be turned off by pages and pages of online copywriting. Depending on how you plan to use your content, you may need anything from a catchy three-world slogan to a comprehensive but concise 400-word article. Aim for shorter, more accessible words, short sentences (16 words or less), and short paragraphs (2 or 3 sentences). If you must use a long or more complex sentence, follow up with a short, punchy one to give your writing rhythm. Remember, every moment of your reader’s attention is precious, so pack every sentence with useful details and important information. Break up long lists or blocks of text with headings, bullets, and other visual cues about the information being presented. It was none other than Shakespeare himself who expressed it best in his short and perfect saying: Brevity is the soul of wit. Turns out, it’s also the soul of online copywriting.
4. Focus on the emotional and the positive. You can paint a dire picture of what will happen if the reader does not purchase your product, but that will just leave him with a dark, unhappy feeling. Focusing on the positive, happy results of using this product will put the reader in a much better mood. Use positive words like “always” instead of negative ones like “never.” Tell inspiring, emotional stories about customers using your products, and include enthusiastic testimonials that give the readers a vivid idea of how your customers feel. Build rapport and empathy with a personal, conversational tone, and ask lots of questions your readers are sure to say “yes” to.
5. The number one way to learn how to write killer copywriting copy is to read. The more quality copywriting you are exposed to, the better you will be able to identify your mistakes and edit your own work to make it even better. Read advertising magazines and advertising and copywriting blogs. Ask friends for feedback on important copy before posting it—they may notice mistakes or omissions you missed.