Effective copywriting does more than just provide a reader with information—it persuades the audience to take action.
Some writers can write excellent copy, but they lack the sales and marketing skills to write for conversions. Other writers know the ins and outs of marketing, but the copy itself is bland.
This guide will teach you to combine these two crucial skills. You’ll learn how to write captivating copy that leads to conversions with my proven tips and best practices for success. Let’s dive in!
Change Your Style and Tone Based on the Channel
The first thing you need to do is understand the different mediums used to consume the copy you’re writing. You can’t just take a broad-stroke approach to all of your copy and blindly put it on various marketing channels.
Instead, you need to tailor your writing style and tone for the source. Examples include:
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- White papers
- Product pages
- Social media content
The list goes on and on. Obviously, the styles and tones will vary based on your brand image, but there are certain facts about different channels that hold true across the board.
For example, product pages and landing pages should be more concise and direct. White papers and ebooks tend to be a bit more formal than blog posts, which can typically be more lax and creative. Your blogs might use the first and second person, speaking directly to a reader. But a white paper probably wouldn’t use that same type of language.
It’s also worth noting that you can even use style and tone variations within specific channels. Email marketing is an excellent example here.
Sending a newsletter or some other type of mass message to your subscribers will sound different than cold sales pitches.
Know Your Audience
It’s impossible to write compelling copy that converts without a clear understanding of the reader.
Think of yourself as a fisherman. Certain fish can only be caught with specific types of bait. The best fishermen will even change their technique based on the weather, season, or time of day.
This same concept can be applied to your copywriting. What type of bait is your audience looking for? How can you lure them in using this information?
Start by creating a customer persona.
Think about how your copy will change as you’re trying to communicate with different audiences.
For example, let’s say you’re a financial advisor that wants to land new clients, sell online courses, or sell ebooks. Any type of informal or non-serious tones here can be a big red flag for your audience. They need to know you’re sharp if they’re going to trust you with their finances.
But an ecommerce shop that sells bathing suits to college students can be way more creative with their copy. Using the same tones as a financial advisor here probably wouldn’t get the job done.
Prioritize Benefits, Not Features
This statement holds true for all products and services—both digital and physical.
Too many marketers and writers make the mistake of just listing features. But there’s nothing compelling about features.
Instead, you should be focusing on the benefits of those features. Ask yourself, what will my target customer get if they convert? How will this help them in their life? What problems does my offering solve?
Use the answers to these questions to write your copy. Here’s an example from ReadySign, an electronic signature software:
Rather than just listing features like “sign from a computer” or “sign from a smartphone,” they take this to the next level—sign from anywhere. They also use compelling copy like “keep business moving” to showcase the benefits of this feature.
They continue highlighting other benefits of the solution throughout the entire home page.
Here’s another example:
Why should you use this software? It saves you time, saves you money, and it’s good for the planet. This type of copy is so much better than simply saying, “no need to sign documents on paper.”
Make Your Copy Scannable
This tip is really important for all types of copy.
Nobody wants to read large blocks of text. So you need to find ways to break up your content, take advantage of white space, and use certain formatting tricks to your advantage.
Knowing when to use headers, bold words, italics, and bullets can really elevate your copy and prime your readers for conversions.
Here’s an example from Constant Contact:
The copy here has a clear hierarchy, just based on the headers alone. You can clearly see that the header at the top of the screenshot is the most important thing to focus on. Then the four subheaders highlight the benefits of the product, which piggybacks off our last point.
Finally, the standard text below each header describes the benefits in greater detail. This is the least important copy on the page, and the audience doesn’t actually need to read this to understand what the product does.
If they do decide to read this copy, it’s easy to consume because of the spacing and formatting on the page.
Imagine if all of these headers, benefits, and descriptions were just written in plain text without any variations in text size or spacing. Trying to cram all of this information into one giant paragraph just isn’t effective.
Have a Clear Understanding of the Goal
Many businesses have different products, services, offerings, and variations for each. So when you’re writing copy, you need to narrow down the focus and purpose of what you’re writing.
Trying to promote all of your products or services in a single sentence or on one landing page won’t work. Instead, you need to narrow that focus to a single goal.
Examples of those goals might include:
- Get a blog reader to join your email list
- Get a lead to download an ebook
- Get a prospect to schedule a call
- Get a shopper to add an item to their shopping cart
- Get a lead to sign up for a free trial
- Convert a free trial user to a paid subscriber
Once you narrow down the goal, the copy itself needs to focus on that single action.
Let’s look at two examples so you can see what I mean. We’ll start by looking at Trello’s homepage:
The goal here is very obvious—the copy is telling the user to sign up for free.
If you look at the other copy on the page, it’s very concise and to the point. It uses the other strategies we discussed, like focusing on the benefits and ensuring the content is scannable.
Now let’s look at a different site with a different goal. Here’s a screenshot from the HubSpot blog:
HubSpot knows that its blog readers may not be quite ready to purchase or use one of the many software products offered by this company. So they don’t try to force a sign-up or sale here.
Instead, the goal of the blog is to get more email subscribers. So the copy is written accordingly.
Highlight Concerns or Objections
The best writers and marketers understand that not everyone will immediately be drawn to an offering. They’ll likely have some questions or concerns that are preventing them from converting, and that’s 100% ok.
You can use this to your advantage by addressing common concerns directly in the copy. By answering these types of questions now, it can put the reader’s mind at ease and give them that extra push they need to convert.
Here’s an example from Birddogs, a men’s clothing brand:
The website has a size guide for shorts and pants, depending on waist size. But the size chart isn’t perfect, which could lead some shoppers to be torn on whether to size up or down.
What’s the solution?
Birddogs address this in the copy. It all depends on how you like your clothes to fit, but either will be fine.
How else do they relieve these concerns? The return policy is plastered right next to the CTA button.
This is another way to get buyers on the fence to convert. If they’re worried the shorts won’t fit, they can rest easy knowing that Birddogs offers free returns. Even better, this might be the most compelling return policy copy I’ve ever seen—”return ‘em in a couple of months and say they came that way.”
This type of copy essentially tells the buyer that they have nothing to worry about. You can even wear the shorts around, and Birddogs will still take them back if you’re unsatisfied with the fit, even months later.
Compelling copy is the perfect blend of good writing, sales skills, and marketing knowledge. It’s most effective when you take the time to understand your audience, know what channels the copy will be used for, and have a clear understanding of the goal.
From there, it’s important to keep your copy tight, concise, and scannable. Always focus on the benefits of converting, as opposed to simply just listing features or descriptions. Take your copy to the next level by addressing any customer concerns ahead of time, giving them the information they need to keep their minds at ease.
If you follow the tips in this guide, your copy will be primed for conversions.