Sometimes you just want to cut to the chase.
You want short, concise, practical tips which are easy to swallow. Without all the self-indulgent fluff that comes with a lot of blog posts.
So with that in mind, I’ve decided to cook you up these little treats.
This post was inspired by Ana Hoffman’s ‘202 Bite-sized Tips to Insanely Increase Your Blog Traffic‘ (from Traffic Generation Cafe), which I strongly suggest you give a good old read after finishing up on these. She knows her stuff.
In 75 tips from now you’ll be a copywriting badass… Ready?
1. Forget about ‘we’ and ‘I’. Focus on ‘you’!
2. Talk about customer benefits, not product features. (Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress)
3. Identify your target audience, what pains they have, and what pleasures they fantasize about.
4. Think long and hard about the most appropriate, effective and powerful tone of voice for your brand. Be original. And be consistent across all your collateral.
5. Describe how unbelievably awesome your customer’s life will be with your product.
6. Paint the picture. Make their mouths water.
7. How will you solve that annoying problem they’ve been suffering from for so darn long?
8. Appeal to their emotions. And their senses.
9. “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon” ~ E.L. Doctorow.
10. Tell people what they will see, feel, hear and taste when they use your amazing new microwave (or whatever).
11. Write to them as you would speak. Be conversational.
12. Write to only one person, not the masses.
13. Ask questions. It makes you feel more engaged, doesn’t it?
14. Give your readers commands. Use imperatives. Tell them what to do and what to think (like I’m doing now, see?)
15. Say stuff like ‘I know what you’re thinking…’ and ‘pause for a second and consider this…’ and ‘mull that over’ and ‘let me guess, you’re wondering if…’ etc
16. Don’t choose fancy words. Choose short, clear, direct words.
17. Don’t use a thesaurus to find fancier words. Use one to find shorter, clearer, more direct words.
18. “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very;” otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite” ~ C.S. Lewis
19. Get to the point.
20. Don’t be a Grammar Nazi. We’re not in an English language class.
21. For your first draft: cover your screen and just write. Don’t read or edit until you’re done.
22. Then hone it and hone it “until it gets an edge like a bullfighter’s killing sword” (Ernest Hemingway).
23. Come back to it on another day, with a fresh perspective — and hone it again.
24. How can you tighten your writing? Do you need every word? Trim the fat!
25. “Try to leave out the parts that people skip” ~ Elmore Leonard
26. Look at your opening paragraphs and closing paragraphs. Cut ‘em in half.
27. Send your finished copy out to 10 friends, family members or colleagues. Welcome their input gracefully. Then re-edit again!
28. If they criticize, don’t throw a tantrum. Suck it up. Your copy’s not good enough yet — so listen to their feedback carefully and make it better.
29. Get someone else to read your copy out loud. How does it sound? Does it flow well?
30. Read it out loud yourself. You’ll get a fresh perspective.
31. Keep your sales copywriting tight. But write as much as is needed to persuade your audience. Some of the highest converting sales letters are 20 pages long.
32. But keep website copywriting short and sweet — or at least make it look short and sweet. People surfing the web have the attention spans of goldfish.
33. Build rapport and trust before trying to sell anything. Be likable.
34. Admit a weakness and turn it into a strength. That’ll gain you some trust right off the bat. (E.g, ‘We’re Number Two… So We Try Harder’)
35. Follow this copywriting formula — 1.Problem 2.Promise 3.Proof 4.Price
36. Use these words: ‘imagine’, ‘discover’, ‘reveal’ ,‘secret’, ‘new’, ‘proven’, ‘guarantee’, ‘amazing’.
37. Use other copywriting power words which have been proven to work time and time again.
38. Nail your reader’s attention right from the start. Hit them hard with a simple, solid statement.
39. Use powerful headline formulas which have been proven to work. There are plenty of them.
40. For a website homepage, use an ‘instant clarity headline’ – which tells readers the benefit in just a few seconds.
41. If you have something to say which is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, don’t be afraid to capitalize a few (not more!) of the words. You’ll certainly perk up some ears.
42. Repeat important points. Repetition is powerful.
43. Learn from the best in the business. And never stop learning…ever.
44. Don’t just study from books. Watch popular TV and YouTube channels. Keep up to speed with popular websites and music etc. It’s all important for sales copy.
45. Read ‘Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words’ by Joe Vitale. You’ll learn heaps.
46. Read any books and copywriting samples by copywriting legends John Caples, Robert Collier, Bruce Barton, David Ogilvy, Dan Kennedy, Bob Bly, Joe Sugarman, David Garfinkel and Joe Vitale.
47. Watch ‘Madmen’ the TV Show. It’s awesome.
48. Don’t cram your website copy full of keywords. SEO is about good, sticky content and user engagement these days. Google will punish you for over-optimising. And your readers will bounce.
49. If you want to focus on keywords: create targeted, individual landing pages or blog posts for each one.
50. Use the Jones Theory. Tell your customers how many millions of people are lapping up your product (or service). People are like sheep. They love trends and following others.
51. If you want to sell on the spot — create a sense of urgency. Put a limitation (of time or resources) on your offer. Don’t give your readers time to ponder. They’ll come up with reasons not to buy.
52. Use words like ‘today’ and ‘now’. But don’t go overboard, like those horribly aggressive sales letters. They stink.
53. Give your customers a visibly large discount. The two prices (before and after) will seem like polar opposites to them. They won’t be able to resist your offer. (E.g, Groupon!)
54. Don’t give your readers a choice between ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Give them a choice between two different offers.
55. Give away something for free. They’ll feel like they owe you. Then hit them with your offer.
56. Read about all these sales techniques in ‘Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini. A must-read for everyone in marketing.
57. Use bullet points to make your copy look sexy.
58. Use quotes. People are interested in what people have to say, more than what you have to say.
59. Use famous quotes too. Everyone loves an inspirational sentence from an inspirational person.
60. Use teeny-tiny paragraphs – one, two or three lines each.
61. Stagger the length of your paragraphs so they don’t become predictable. Mix ‘em up!
62. Write short sentences. And place them tactfully next to longer ones like this. It’ll flow nicely.
63. Make your copywriting walk, talk and breathe — with colourful similies and creative analogies.
65. Tell seductive stories to entice your audience in. People eat up stories like Cheerios. But make sure they’re relevant (e.g, the true story of someone whose life completely changed after using your service)
66. Don’t tell a random story. They should always have a connotational meaning, which promotes you, your product, your service or supports the point you’re making.
67. Avoid overused cliches like the Bird Flu.
68. But if you give a small twist to an overused phrase — you might find something original and refreshing. Try it.
69. Build up your offering before revealing it. Get your readers on the edge of their seats, eager to read on. Tell them that they’re about to discover something awesome. Something life-changing!
70. Say stuff like ‘The more you read, the more you’ll understand just how amazing…’ and ‘As you lap up every word of this web page, you’ll begin to discover new ways to…’ and ‘After reading this article, you’ll feel…’ and ‘Imagine how awesome it would be if…’. They’re hypnotic.
71. Be yourself. Let your personality dribble out through the ink of your pen (or the keyboard of your laptop).
72. “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way” ~ Ray Bradbury
73. Include a PS. at the end. Some people skip straight to the PS. So leave them with a powerful or important statement.
75. Oh and — Repeat important points. Repetition is powerful 🙂
Right. I’ve run out of steam.
I hope you’ve enjoyed nibbling on this tasty selection of copywriting canapés, and learnt a thing or two along the way.
Have I missed out any crucial copywriting tips? Probably. So if you’ve got any more to add, please do it now in that purple box below. The more you comment, the happier I’ll be 🙂
PS. Share this post now — and I’ll prepare some extra delicious copywriting treats for you next time (but if you don’t, I’ll probably sulk under my bed covers for a couple of months at least…)