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The basics of good copywriting

Posted in on Feb 03, 2017

Our five tips for the basics of good copywriting, getting it right from the start. Whilst you are reading, think about this first:

To doo: ask your team to write down 5 words that make up your company personality. Then read your website copy again and the last email you sent to a client. If all three areas are close then you have found your tone of voice and are speaking to your target market in the right way.


1.Putting your customer first


Think about who is reading it as absolutely your first port of call. Then what you want them to do.

Who are you trying to win over and what would appeal to them? Find your tone of voice and speak to people in a way that would be most effective. A solicitor over a builder will want to hear different things and be spoken to in a different style. The language you use will influence different people. Think about your customer’s interests, pain points and situations they are faced with. Use words that have meaning to them.

You may have different sets of clients, so one tone of voice and the words you use should be well thought out to appeal to different customers. A home owner selling their house is different to a landlord selling his property. Use words they are familiar with and call to actions they would most likely do.


2. Entice your customer – a great opener


A page title on a landing page or a subject heading in an email, both should be an opener that will draw them in. Don’t fail at the first hurdle with one that is dull and uninspiring. It should make them do one thing … read on. You don’t need to stick to the same old either, be creative and get them wanting to read on. A good Andy Bounds (The Jelly Effect) tip would be to think about their ‘Afters’, what they want after you have done what you said you are going to do.

Using words like “Imagine if …” or “What if” at the front of it will make them think about being there, the problem is solved through working with you.

‘Imagine if you didn’t have to leave the office to pick up lunch’ – a local sandwich shop reaching out to office parks about a new delivery service.

‘What if every client paid on time and cash flow was much simpler?’ – an accountant promoting a service to help trades people. 


3. Talk to your customer – write as you speak


Imagine meeting someone for the first time. You like how they come across and you quickly realise you have something in common. So you have a connection and you realise that they can help. Whatever they do, it will make your life easier. Everything they say, just gets better and better. They draw you in and even perhaps, you agree to meet them again, to get to know them better.

Now imagine it’s not a person as such you are meeting for the first time but a business. A business with people, but they are locked inside a website and the website is full of copy that makes them sound cold, distant and full of themselves. Not the same meeting then?

So why do websites turn so many people off? Simple … we forget we are speaking to people and string sentences together that are in typical copy mode.

The best way to write copy is to reflect the way we speak. More relaxed and less formal, like a good conversation with the writer behind the website copy being friendly. A likeable person. One you could do business with. Saying that, it has a job to do, and that job will be to persuade you to go to the next stage, whether it’s to leave your details, make a follow up call or actually buy. Think about what you want that next stage to be over rushing for a sale.


4. Back to your customer – “What’s in it for me?”


Imagine you are the customer, what is it that you would want if you were them? Start with their pain points and challenges, how you can fix them. Try ‘you are …’ which is a better lead than a paragraph opening up ‘we are …’ The first suggests empathy, you understand and you want to help. The second suggests, let me talk about me first, you can then decide, after I tell you how long we have been in business.

Someone doesn’t want their lap top fixing by a team of technical experts, they just want it to speed up to prevent them throwing it out of the window. So a little empathy ‘it’s driving you crazy’, ‘it’s stopping you doing what you want to do’, ‘it’s stopping you making money’ should have them right there. Yes that’s me, please help!

Your customer should be drawn in by someone who understands, someone who will take them through the steps to get the help they need. The benefits they will receive, the answers to “what’s in it for me”.


5. Be relevant to your customer – evidence why they should use you


You have pulled them in, now prove it. Why you? Once you have got them, you can tell them why they need you. Still forget the ‘been around since 19blah’ but use the space you have to let them know you are good at what you do. Tell them and back it up. If they are a small business owner, remind them you are too ‘like any business owner, we too understand that …’ then ‘which is why …’ this is the lead to you telling them how good you are and how you can help them.

A good tip to remember here is to ask for testimonials based on results so the reader is thinking “wow they are good, I must try!”


Finally, a common copywriting skill is based on AIDA, think of it when writing your next email as a simple start. Write the email first, then see if it ticks these boxes.

A = Attention – grab their attention right at the start with a good opener

I = Interest – keep them interested and remember to be sympathetic

D = Desire – build desire in your offer so they are drawn in further

A= Action – have a call to action so they know how to act and do