Feb 2024

5 Tips On Writing Copy

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5 Tips On Writing Copy

The pen is mightier than the sword. So here are 5 tips to help you make sure your words are sharp and to the point.

Words are powerful.

Imagine a website with incredible design, pin-sharp images, and a stellar product, but no words. Your audience would probably struggle to understand what’s on offer, let alone connect to the brand and make a purchase.

As the world becomes more and more digital, words will only matter more. Without a shop or market stall to sell your wares, what you say in print and online plays a greater role in connecting to your customers than ever before.

So, use these top tips to keep your copy compelling and get your message heard.

Tip 1. Make It Personal

One of the biggest traps we see brands fall into is casting themselves as the hero. They love to talk about how wonderful they are and how brilliant their product is.

The problem is, people don’t connect to copy like this. It comes across as grandiose and distant. They want to be the hero of their own story (just with a little bit of help from you!)

So, you need to write copy which connects to their lives and their problems. It should have an intimacy and familiarity - as though you’re their friend, family member or guide.

To write copy like this, it’s helpful to get clear on who your target customer is - what their lifestyle, culture, needs, and problems are. Our “Five Tips On Understanding Your Customers” article is a great place to start.

Tip 2. Lead With Benefits

The best thing you can do to improve your copy is to distinguish the features and benefits of what you’re selling.

Why? Because no matter how wonderful all the features of a product are, people will not buy it unless you tell them how it will benefit their lives.

So, let’s be clear - a feature is a descriptive detail about a product. Soft bristles are a feature of a toothbrush. 200 thread count is a feature of a cotton sheet.

A benefit is the way that a feature brings value to a person's life. It’s what makes the product useful to them. Preventing gum disease is a benefit of a toothbrush. A soft feel on your skin is a benefit of a cotton sheet.

When you’re writing copy, always lead with the benefits - these are the most potent, influential parts of your writing. Then, you can follow up with the features so people understand why the product will benefit them.

For example, instead of “200 Thread Count Sheets - for your softest sleep yet”, try “Your Softest Night Of Sleep - with our 200 thread count sheets”.

Tip 3. Cut And Cut Again

When it comes to copy, less is most certainly more.

Reams of copy can be imposing. With less copy, your advert or website will look approachable, making people more likely to read it.

Plus, when you keep things concise, people will take in your full message within just a few seconds.

Chipotle shows how fewer words deliver the most impact.

Here are some tips to keep your copy concise:

• Write each word like it costs you money.
• Justify every single word. For each one, ask yourself: “does this need to be here?” If not, take it out.
• Be ruthless. You probably need fewer words than you think.
• Challenge yourself to make your point with two sentences. Then one sentence. Then ten words. Then five. Then three.
• Keep paragraphs short. Keep sentences short. Keep word choice simple.

Still struggling to keep things clean? Check out the Hemingway app - it’ll show you which of your words are unnecessary or too complex.

Tip 4. Love Your Data

When it comes to copy, looking at data is tough - no one wants to see that their email headline got a 0.5% open rate.

But in the long term, data is your friend. It helps you put all abstractions aside, and see what your audience actually responds to.

So, get your hands on your open rates, click through rates, and conversion rates. Analyse which kind of headlines and calls to action are getting all the attention, and adjust your future copy accordingly.

There are also plenty of online tools which tell you how effective your copy is based on large scale data analysis.

Tip 5. Write First, Edit Later

Writing is daunting enough as it is, without the pressure of making it right the first time.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be right the first time. In fact, your first draft can be terrible (and so can your second and third!)

As novelist Anne Lamott says, “For me, and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really really [bad] first drafts.”

So, when you first sit down to write, don’t worry about how it reads. Just sit down and write something.

Once you have your first draft down, step away and do something else. Water the plants. Feed the cat. Maybe even sleep on it.

Fresh eyes are a powerful thing. When you take a look a second time, you’ll probably want to scrap most of your work. But one or two sentences may sound right. Take those, and carry on writing.

Then, rinse and repeat. Your writing will only get better with each revision.