Copywriting is one of the most essential—and also one of the most challenging—aspects of a well executed marketing strategy. Great marketing copy is clear, compelling, and captivating.
However, there are plenty of ways to miss the mark and come off as verbose, overly slick, or just plain unappealing. Skilled copywriters learn how to connect with people on a human level, spark their interest, and generate goodwill through the words they use to convey their message.
Here are eight tips to help you write compelling marketing copy.
1. Understand Who You’re Talking to.
The best marketing copy speaks to an audience of one: your company’s target audience.
The more robustly your marketing team has defined who exactly your target audience is, along with a built out personal profile, the more effectively you will be able to connect with that person. (Learn more about how to define your target audience here.)
Nevertheless, regardless of how much effort your marketing team has already put into clearly defining your ideal customer, skilled copywriters always remember that they aren’t writing to everybody—they’re writing with someone particular in mind.
2. Create a Sense of Urgency.
Effective marketing copy creates a sense of urgency by drawing on people’s emotions: whether those emotions are excitement and happiness for the vision your company is painting, or fear of missing out.
Your aim should be that after seeing your copy, readers would not only want to purchase your product or service, but that they would want to take their next step in the buying process today.
3. Use Active Voice.
One way to ensure that your marketing copy is clear and compelling is to use the active voice.
For example, instead of saying, “our accounting software is loved by senior executives,” say, “senior executives love our accounting software.”
This will help keep your sentences from becoming wordy or confusing, making them more easy to understand, especially when someone is scanning or reading them quickly.
Active voice also conveys strength and confidence, whereas a passive sentence structure can create an air of tentativeness or uncertainty. If your marketing team doesn’t believe in what your organization is selling, how can you expect anybody else to?
4. Use Short Sentences (and Short Paragraphs).
You may be a master with words, but if you use too many of them, potential customers won’t read any of them. That’s why skilled copywriters keep their copy brief. They grow suspicious of a sentence that has too many commas. They also grow suspicious of a paragraph that is more than several lines long.
Part of copywriting is understanding how the visual experience of your words affects how those words are received. If all customers or potential customers see is a wall of text, they are discouraged from reading it.
5. Make Every Word Count.
Since your sentences and paragraphs will be short, and the attention span of the person reading your copy may be even shorter, work hard to make every word count. Remove filler words and use vibrant adjectives rather than dull words like “very.”
The goal you are helping your customers accomplish isn’t “very important.” It’s “vital.” Your product isn’t “very high quality.” It’s “revolutionary.”
Every word in your marketing copy should serve an essential purpose. If a word, phrase, sentence, or even paragraph isn’t absolutely necessary, delete it. Otherwise, rework it so that every sentence conveys something meaningful and every word in each sentence contributes to that overall meaning.
6. Focus on How Your Company Can Help.
Too often, companies use their marketing copy to tell their own story. They talk about how the organization was founded as a family business in 1949 and passed down from one generation to the next.
At times, this approach can have somewhat of a charm, but ultimately it misses the mark. And that’s because people care far more about themselves than they do your company. Describe to them the specific ways you can help them reach their goals.
7. Remember That Clear Is Better Than Clever.
Copywriters love words. That’s why they chose the profession they did. So copywriting marketers are often looking for ways to create a play on words, a rhyme, or otherwise use words creatively.
All that can contribute to a great piece of copywriting. However, it must never come at the expense of clarity. If you are fighting over two options for a headline, and one sounds better than the other, but the other is clearer, go with the one that isn’t as flashy.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how well your copy rolls off the tongue if people don’t understand what you’re talking about. Well crafted copy can be something of a work of art. But it needs to be a functional work of art, not just window dressing.
8. Never Write Alone.
Regardless of how talented and skilled a writer you are, no piece of marketing copy should be published without having been looked over with a critical eye by one or more team members.
Fellow members of the marketing team should comb through copy to ensure that it is not only grammatically cogent, but that it also conveys the proper connotations, evokes the desired emotions, and clearly conveys the intended message. Where there is a dispute regarding the options for the final wording, A/B testing can be an essential practice.
In the copywriting process, conflict and pushback are not the enemy. One sign of weak copy is that no one on the team feels particularly strongly about it.
Copywriting, when done at the highest levels, is a team sport.