Good copy is like the last open outlet at the airport gate. It’s priceless. Even if you aren’t a trained copywriting pro, there are some simple but effective ways you can spice up your copy and grab potential customers’ attention. Here are a few helpful tips.
SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
Whenever you’re trying to sell something or encourage a certain action, it’s important to know your audience. For strong copywriting, however, it’s also important for you to address them. How can you speak your customers’ language? This might look like working in typical jargon or idioms from your target demographic, or simply gauging whether a casual, conversational tone is preferable to a more formal one.
USE THE SECOND PERSON
The #1 tip for addressing your audience is also a simple one: the second person is your friend! Use “you” as much as possible to involve your audience directly. “You” is much more engaging compared to “we”, “I”, or your brand name, which are words that make the conversation feel like it’s all about you, the company, and not about your customer.
APPEAL TO EMOTIONS
Think of copywriting like delivering a speech: you want the audience to be moved by your words, not dozing off. Assess your ideal customers’ wants, needs, desires, and fears to write vivid copy that appeals to their emotions, whether it’s their FOMO, their desire to spend more time with family, or just general happiness and enjoyment. That’s why the classic McDonald’s tagline is “I’m lovin’ it”—not the bland “Eat at McDonald’s.”
SHOW THE PROOF
Emotional appeals are important, but some customers may take a little more convincing. Consider highlighting a few well-chosen statistics to prove that your product or service has been successful. Alternatively, if the “just the facts” approach seems too formal for your brand voice, you can build credibility more subtly by referring to testimonials, case studies, success stories, and more.
TELL A GOOD STORY
Everyone loves a good story. Telling a narrative with your copy helps customers imagine themselves as the main character—they’re now the first-time hiker looking for the perfect novice hiking shoes, or the tired parents seeking a pick-me-up coffee brand. Stories are also incredibly memorable, and you’ll find they stick in customers’ minds long after the other details of your copy have faded. For more inspiration, check out this Forbes article on the art of good storytelling.
LESS IS MORE
Got Milk? Even if you don’t remember the milk company that first started this ad, you saw these two iconic words everywhere between 1993 and 2014, part of a campaign so successful it was resurrected in 2020. Copywriting isn’t essay writing. Concise, pithy sentences and fluff-free catchphrases are the way to go to grab customers’ short attention spans. Bonus tip: try using an app like Hemingway to declutter your prose.
ADDRESS THEIR FEARS
Are you scared of mentioning any detractions or potential flaws when you write copy? You shouldn’t be! Anticipate customer fears or worries before they even raise them. Although it seems counterintuitive, it makes customers feel that you’re more trustworthy, since you’re acknowledging their concerns rather than trying to hide something. For example, you could address a common customer service concern with “Don’t worry; when you call us, a real person will be on the line!”
CHOOSE POWERFUL WORDS
Changing a single word can make a world of difference. For example, you may have seen lists of the most persuasive words in copywriting—simple words like because, free, and instantly. Replacing adjectives and adverbs with punchy, powerful verbs is also an excellent way to jazz up your copy (like replacing the word “improve” with “jazz up”!). Verbs are direct, specific, and memorable.
Bonus tip: banish the weasels. Weasel words like almost, sort of, maybe, probably, and likely all weaken your statements without adding anything useful. If you mean what you say, you don’t need to “almost” or “possibly” mean it.
BE VISUALLY APPEALING
Words matter, but so does the way they’re arranged. Most customers’ eyes glaze over if they have to navigate large blocks of text on the page, especially when reading online. Short sentences grouped into short paragraphs—no more than 3-4 lines—encourage readers to keep their eyes moving down the page. Use bullet points and lists, bold text and italics, and color and highlighting for emphasis and ease of reading.
Don’t forget to make your copy look stellar on mobile, too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You don’t have to be a copywriter with 20 years’ professional experience to spruce up your copy. Inject a little of your personality into your prose, keep it short and snappy, and think about the story you’re trying to tell. Use these tips for copywriting that will keep customers coming back for more!
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