You don’t need to be a great writer to write great copy. What you need, my friend, is a system.
It turns out copywriting is not rocket science. It’s copywriting. And you can use tested rules and guidelines to do it better.
Why should I care?
Maybe you’re thinking “Why should I care?” or “I don’t work for an ad agency!”.
My answer to the first question is twofold: I) Conversion and II) Retention.
- Conversion – If you have an email-list with 1000 subscribers and sell a product for $50 dollars and have a 0.3% conversion rate you make $150. With a few tweaks on you copy you can easily double that conversion. Double conversion => Double revenue. Are you interested in doubling or tripling your revenue? Good, then keep reading.
- Retention – You probably have a few sites you regularly visit. I’m guessing that they are less than five (excluding email and social media). You may count them on your fingers right now.
If you write engaging and personal copy people will come back to your site over and over again.
Now if you don’t mind, please let me tell you what you probably are doing wrong.
1) You’re too formal
You are not a robot. And you are not a company. You are a person, a human. And guess what, your readers are humans too. Unless you are reading this and it’s 2045 and robots are your main audience. And maybe you are a robot too. In that case just ask your robot friends what to do already. Anyway, I digress.
When I look at old copy I’ve written for my websites the awfulness makes me shudder. I sound like a government trying to impress an instruction manual with fancy language. It’s so general and vague. And BORING. A good test is to read the text out loud. If it sounds weird and formal – change it.
2) You are too general
In my high school people used to get good grades by forcing as many difficult words as possible into the reports. I think the logic behind it was: If a sentence is so complex no one can understand it, then it must have been written by someone super smart! Right?
The problem is that people don’t relate to what they don’t understand.
Here is an example of being concrete. Compare example A and B below, which one do you think resonates strongest with a parent of a struggling student?
These are to example paragraphs for a math-tutor business.
A (Not concrete)
- Does your child struggle in school?
- Are the grades not as good as they could be?
- Does your child have low self-esteem because of it?
- Last time you asked your son if he did his math homework, did he avoid eye contact?
- Does he slough and sigh when you’re sitting down working on a problem together after dinner?
- Do you feel the frustration boil up inside of you when he can’t understand the simplest addition?
2.1) How to get concrete
Go out and find out about your audience barriers, hopes, dreams and fears. Then make sure to address each one of them throughout your copy.
Here is an example of writing with this system:
My 12-year old son slammed open the door and ran in to the kitchen. His shoes spread mud all over the hallway floor and the door was left open.
He came running into the kitchen and threw off his backpack and pulled out a paper. He held it up to me. For the first time ever he had gotten an A on his math test. He was so proud he couldn’t stop smiling. (Hope and Dreams)
I know what it’s like. Maybe the teacher has been telling you that your kid is not good at math since he was seven years old. It’s hard to make time to help out with the homework. There are groceries to be bought, work do be done and dinner do be cooked. (Barriers)
On the other hand, there is the guilt from knowing that your son might fail math. He might not be able to go to the same school as his friends. Maybe he wont go to collage. (Fear)
3) You write short and selfishly
Everyone is busy. We get hundreds, maybe thousands, of email every week.
Therefore it’s common advice that you should write super short copy. Just a few bullet points. Almost excusing yourself for trying to take the readers time.
I’ve learned the opposite to be true. IF what you are writing is great. Go on for several pages. Some of the best people I’ve seen has sells pages that are longer than 50 pages. Who reads these pages? The buyers.
I know you think you are an interesting special snowflake. I think that I am too. Don’t worry, It’s okay.
But since everyone else thinks so too, you should write about THEM. Not about you and your amazing features, pricing and technology. I don’t care about that stuff. I want to read about myself. And more importantly, so does your audience.
Closing thoughts and YOUR next step
All of these points are easy to apply. And with practice it will become natural.
I’ve learned most of the tactics in this post from Ramit Sethi. If you want to read more on the topic I recommend you check out his site here.
Now, go to your website, power point presentation or marketing content. See if you can improve one paragraph. Don’t re-do all of it. Just re-write a small paragraph. Then comment what you changed below.