How to Write Better Copy: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 2
In Part 1 of this guide, we looked at what copywriting is, as well as the first two steps you need to take to become a great copywriter. In this post, we’re going to continue our quest to learn how to write copy like the best of them.
So, let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
How to do Customer Research
Ideally, you already have some kind of marketing persona defined, and this is what you’ll use to target your ideal customers.
Answer the following questions (Note that you may need to tweak them a little if you’re offering a service as opposed to a product):
Question 1: Who buys your product currently?
This question helps identify who your existing customers are. It’s important to know whoever you may be selling to currently because that’s who pays the bills.
If you have not yet started selling stuff, then you can skip this question and go to the next one.
Question 2: Who do you want to buy your product?
This question identifies the people you want to be selling to.
For instance, you may be selling your product to both Fortune 500 companies and startups, but maybe you’d rather focus on Fortune 500’s because their budgets are larger and they are much less likely to be conscious of price.
It’s alright to sell to them both, but if you want to target one over the other, you will have to write your copy differently. This is why it’s vital to know who your target customers are as well as who you are selling to.
Question 3: What do your typical customers look like?
This question helps you create a detailed picture of the typical customer who buys your product.
All the other questions build a broad overview, but this one zooms in on the individual customers. This is where you zero in on a few real customers to determine exactly what is important to them.
Question 4: What do your customers love about your product?
- What is it about your product that delights your customers?
- Why do they choose it over others?
- Why do they buy it in the first place?
- Why do they keep returning?
A good example to consider is BMW owners. They don’t particularly care about their carbon footprint, but they do care about their self-image and that’s why they want a car that makes them look successful and elite.
Prius owners, on the other hand, buy that type of car because they care more about doing their part in helping the environment than how they look driving the car – which means that Toyota is smart by playing up that particular angle as opposed to how sexy or cool the car is (which is just as well because Priuses aren’t the best-looking vehicles on the roads…)
The bottom line is that your copy needs to focus on the things that appeal to your target customers.
You need to hone in on what they love most about your product, and this will be different for each product you write copy for.
Once you know the main reason that people buy the product you’re selling, you can record your answer and move on to the next section.
By now you have a pretty good idea of the following:
- How to describe the product in a simple way that is easy to understand
- The core features and benefits of the product
- The major benefit or main selling point of your product
- Who exactly your customers are
- What matters most to your customers
All the notes you’ve been making up to this point will help provide a firm foundation for your copywriting.
And now on to the exciting part: Writing the Copy
Step #3: Write Headlines That Grab Your Audience’s Attention
Remember, Step #1 was all about understanding your product, while Step #2 was about understanding your customers.
Now we are all about writing the actual copy.
The first thing you need to do when writing copy is to make sure your headlines are attention-grabbing. This is very important because headlines can either make or break copy.
Whether you’re writing for website redesign, paid online ads, social media posts, email newsletters, landing pages, or whatever else, it’s vital that the headlines convince your readers to click through to your content, otherwise, your copy doesn’t stand a fighting chance.
Follow these three steps to write magnetic headlines:
1. Make Your Headlines Unique
If you want your copy to stand out, it’s vital that your headlines are unique and compelling.
Don’t plagiarize other people’s content, but you can use the work of other great copywriters to gain inspiration.
2. Make Your Headlines Specific
Your audience should know exactly what they are going to get from your product as soon as they read your headline.
Avoid using ambiguous or generic phrases in your headlines, and make sure that you are very specific in describing exactly what your customers are going to receive from the product or service.
An elevator pitch will come in handy here.
3. Give Your Headline a Strong Sense of Urgency
A great headline makes the audience stop to think about what they will lose by not taking immediate advantage of the product or service being offered.
- Will they miss the chance to save money?
- Will they lose clients?
- Will they miss out on social opportunities?
- Will they miss out on finding the right partner?
Your headline needs to capitalize on your customers’ FOMO (fear of missing out) if you want it to truly be effective.
This type of headline will boost your copy’s conversions like crazy.
Step #4: Write Persuasive Copy
One thing you need to understand about copywriting is that it’s not about writing well – it’s more about writing persuasively. This makes copywriting very different than all other writing forms.
So it doesn’t really matter if you are a master wordsmith or literary genius.
If you’re not able to effectively communicate with your readers through the sequence of steps that ultimately leads to you convincing them to purchase your product, then your conversions will suffer.
Tip #1: Begin with a Killer USP
Your unique selling proposition makes it abundantly clear what customers will gain by buying your product.
This is important to get right because you have a short space of time within which you need to grab your reader’s attention before they leave your page.
Keep your value proposition clear, short, and sweet. If you get too complex, it will only dilute your message and confuse your audience.
Your prospects shouldn’t have to guess what you are offering. They should know what your value proposition is within a split second of landing on your site.
To achieve this, simply take the essence of your product and condense it into just a few words.
Tip #2: Quickly Move to Product Benefits
WIIFM (What’s in it for me) is what your visitors are thinking when they hear your value proposition. Most people tend to emphasize features over benefits when actually they should be doing the opposite.
At this point, you don’t have to explain the way your product works, but you do need to explain how it fulfills their desire or need.
How are their lives going to be better after buying your product?
What is it that they won’t have to worry about after making the purchase?
Your benefits don’t necessarily have to be unique, but they definitely need to be compelling. That way, your prospects will be receptive and a lot more willing to wade through the nuts and bolts of the features.
But if you dive into the details first before highlighting the features, you may lose a huge portion of your potential customers.
Tip #3: Now You Can Explain the Features
At this point, your prospects already know what you are offering, as well as the benefits of your product.
Now it’s time to break down your product’s features in a succinct way. It’s a good idea to break down features into concise little sections or bullet points to make it easier for your readers to consume the content.
The digestibility of your content is something you need to pay special attention to.
Make sure your product features are presented in a way that is intuitive, easy to absorb, and adds a sense of value that distinguishes you from your competition.
So, basically, you need to keep things simple while including a few vital details explaining why your product or service is the bee’s knees.
Tip #4: Include a Compelling Call to Action
Now that your prospects understand what exactly your product is, what its features are and how it benefits them, you must tell them what they need to do next by including a strong CTA in your copy.
As with all other steps in the copywriting process, simplicity reigns supreme.
There is absolutely no reason to complicate a call to action. All you have to do is make it very clear what you want the prospects to do.
Let them know exactly what action you want them to complete. A simple way to see which CTA works best with your audience is by doing basic A/B tests.
The elements that you can test include:
- Button Color
- Button Style
Tip #5: Be Extremely Persuasive
Now the basic structure of great copywriting has been covered. Lets look at the basics of landing pages…
The general landing page structure looks something like this:
- First, the Value Proposition
- Then the Benefits
- Next, you have the Features
- And last, the CTA
But, how will you make sure that you’re being as persuasive as possible?
The value proposition and the benefits obviously offer some motivation, however, there are still other things you can do to be even more impactful, such as:
Making your content scannable
This is something I’m not going to go too much into (again, I’ve written in-depth posts on my blog about this topic).
All you need to know right now is that people read content differently online than they do elsewhere, which is why it’s vital that your readers are able to scan your content quickly and discover what’s in it for them at a glance.
So, to get prospects from your value proposition all the way to your CTA, it makes all the difference if the content in between is easily scannable. Fortunately, the formula for creating scannable content is very easy.
All you have to do is include headers, some bullet lists, and a whole lot of white space throughout.
Use persuasive words
The part of the brain that makes the decisions can be influenced through the use of persuasive words within your copy.
According to expert marketers, one of the most powerful copywriting hacks you can use involves using the following words:
The part of the brain that is responsible for controlling decisions also happens to be very primitive.
This means that the words that will be the most effective for your marketing efforts are simple, direct, and arresting ones, like the ones listed above.
All you need to do is to pepper these words in key locations throughout the copy you write, and you’ll see a noticeable effect on your conversions.
Include social proof
Although this is the last point, it’s also a biggie!
Incorporating social proof within your copy is something that boosts conversions because it’s like that readers will want to perform the same actions done by people before them.
We won’t go into the details here, but just know that testimonials are your best bet when creating copy focused on conversions.
Some of the things you can use include:
- Subscriber Counts
- Media Logos
- Social Connections (number of fans or followers)
- Previous Clients
Just remember to be practical, and only provide the type of social proof that you think will have the most impact on persuading your prospects to take the desired action.
Now we’ve come to the end of our copywriting guide, and you’ve learned everything you need to know to become a great copywriter.
All that’s left now is to implement what you’ve learned into your daily copywriting efforts and before long, you’ll see an improvement in your business’s conversions and response rates.
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Updated: Originally published April 19th 2019