Daniel Burstein

Copywriting: How your peers write effective copy on short deadlines

Copy that converts. That’s what every marketer is looking for. Sometimes you have a professional copywriter you can hire to write that copy for you.

Sometimes you have to do it yourself. Very quickly.

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS will be sharing some of our copywriting discoveries on Wednesday, July 20th, at 4 p.m. EDT in a Web clinic entitled – Copywriting on Tight Deadlines: How ordinary marketers are achieving 200% gains with a step-by-step framework (educational funding provided by HubSpot).

But first we asked your peers and copywriting professionals for their tips. We received 44 submissions from freelance writers and marketers and one from an accountant. Here is some of our favorite advice…and, of course, I had to include what the accountant had to say (he’s the last one)…
 
12 ways to optimize your copy

Check for consistency. Is there harmony among all your lead-generating ads, landing pages, E-zines, follow-up sales messages, website sales copy, and content? Are all your Web text, photos, audio and video working together – or clashing? Are they all saying, showing and meaning the same things? Any lack of consistency gives your prospect one more reason to misunderstand and mistrust you. If they click “good-bye,” make sure it’s not “something you said” or “failed to say.”

Cut the clicks. If your next vital call to action is more than two clicks away from your landing page, then you are probably losing sales. How little can you require of your visitor(s) and still generate optimum sales and profits? Streamline the copy and get to the call to action ASAP.

Chase the tail. Long-tail keywords, that is. For example, if you’re selling a “vinyl repair kit,” look into: PVC vinyl repair kit, vinyl patch repair, PVC repair tips, etc. Upgrade content and sales copy accordingly.

Change your headline. The best headline makes a startling announcement or gives news, promises a breakthrough, features a glowing testimonial, features your offer, or makes a guarantee. What news, breakthroughs, or testimonials do you have now that you didn’t have when the original copy was written? What new offers or guarantees can you make?

Change your opening sentences. Make sure they flow logically and smoothly from the new headline(s) you are testing.

Change your subheads and transition statements. Make sure they are in harmony with your new headline and lead the reader quickly through to your call to action. Smooth out any verbal “speed bumps” in the process.

Mix in more testimonials. If you’ve done your job well, you probably have accumulated new testimonials from your most recent happy buyers.

Feature them! The best testimonials are specific, believable and prove your benefits. Weave them into your selling copy as you sell the benefits and go for the close.

Check your infographics. Not just infographics per se, but also photographs, illustrations, charts, graphs and boxes. Make sure everything reinforces the selling power, dramatizes the benefits, explains the features or proves your claims.

Add a “Reasons Why” box or inset in the piece. Under a headline such as “8 Powerful Reasons Why You’ll (Make Money/Save Money/Feel Better) When You Own Our Widget,” summarize the key benefits the buyer will enjoy. Make them “picture with pleasure” how much better off they will be after they buy from you.

Bulletize. If your copy is too dense, try breaking thick blocks of copy into “bullet points” that sell the benefits, summarize the offer, or give more “reasons why” to buy now. The faster they read and understand, the sooner they buy.

Test another P.S or exit pop-up. Use a deadline or scarcity warning, testimonial, benefit summary, or add another bonus.

Change the offer. Make it harder or softer. Add a bonus, change the terms, or add a longer or stronger guarantee.

Russ Phelps, copywriter and marketing consultant

 
 
Understand your target audience

Deeply and thoroughly. Not just the statistics you get from Research or Marketing – know them in 3D. Understand:

  • What their pain points are
  • What keeps them up at night
  • Where they go to get information
  • Who their influencers are
  • What they do in their lives when they’re not reading about your product or service
  • What keywords they use to search online
  • What makes them laugh
  • What blogs they read
  • What problem they need to have solved
  • What they think of your brand
  • What they think of your competition.

Always remember that you are talking to human beings, and that human beings need to trust you before they engage in a relationship with you – whether that relationships involves making a buying decision or liking your Faceook page.

As for deadline tips…

Many years ago, one of my copywriting professors gave me some advice I’ve never forgotten: Write like a want ad, like you’re paying for every word.

And another, seemingly opposite but it works: Don’t edit yourself while you write. Do a brain dump, get your key ideas out on paper first. Avoid the temptation to rewrite as you go or to correct spelling and grammar. It’s harder than it sounds, particularly with a word processor. But it keeps you in creative mode and on the proper side of the corpus callosum.

Robyn Federman, Director of Communications, Catalyst

 
 
Use an attention-getter that stands alone and gets a positive response from your readers

Always consider your audience and use power words like action verbs. The wording should flow, be neat, trite, as well as free of punctuation errors. Ask yourself what is the consumer seeing and is their response positive?

– Steve DiMichele, military pay technician, Lockheed Martin Incorporated

 
Related resources

Copywriting on Tight Deadlines: How ordinary marketers are achieving 200% gains with a step-by-step framework (educational funding provided by HubSpot)

Headline Optimization: How would you make this title better?

Headline Optimization: 2 common headline mistakes and how to make them work

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  1. July 15th, 2011 at 11:45 | #1

    Thanks for these tips. Copywriting is something that gets better the more you practice it and work on it. By following guidelines mentioned in the article certainly helps a lot!

  2. July 18th, 2011 at 08:10 | #2

    Great stuff on copywriting. However, the fact remains, the market is the only one that can tell you if your copy is good by their response. You can follow all the rules and get a bomb of a promotion.

    Or, you can break rules and get a winner. Make sure the copywriter you hire is always willing to offer you multiple leads on each project. Often it’s the lead that no one likes that becomes the new control.

    And, if you hire freelance copywriters, get free access to the report 27 Reasons Not To Hire a Freelance Copywriter by clicking on my name (Sean) to the left.

  3. July 18th, 2011 at 10:59 | #3

    Excellent advice for copywriters. Don’t know about the report 27 Reasons Not To Hire a Freelance Copywriter, but will certainly check it out. I know some great freelancers. I’m an interest research specialist and if anyone wants to save time and needs help, you can reach me at http://www.littleresearchengine.com I’d be happy to dig in and find those gold nuggets you are looking for.

  4. July 20th, 2011 at 15:21 | #4

    One tool I always use in writing for marketing purposes:

    Read your writing out loud.

    The best and most effective advertising/marketing copy sounds like “how people talk.” That’s why most good advertising copy doesn’t stringently adhere to every punctuation/grammar rule. For example, look at how often a print ad will include sentences that end in a preposition – because that is how people speak. Most people “hear” copy in their head while they are reading it. So read your copy out loud – does it sound natural, believable, interesting, exciting, reassuring – whatever emotions you are striving to awake in your reader? Of course, keep your audience in mind, engineers speak a little differently from teenagers!

  5. July 26th, 2011 at 21:36 | #5

    This 3 step copy process never fails:

    1. Here’s what I’ve Got

    2. Here’s what it will do for you

    3. Here’s what I want you do do next

    This seems pedantically simple, but try it because it works.

  6. Kate
    July 27th, 2011 at 15:45 | #6

    Hi, I attended your webinar on copywriting and it was fantastic. However I never got a follow up email, I was hoping there was a recording of the webinar online or at least the slides? I want to share with my team. Thanks again for the helpful advice!

  7. December 4th, 2011 at 18:26 | #8

    Making a rush writing the has keen deadline is really hard. But sometimes you just have to work on what you got. This steps really help solving writing that are bound for deadlines consistency is the most important. Thanks for sharing.
    Nice Post

  8. June 7th, 2012 at 10:10 | #9

    Daniel-
    Another great and helpful post. There are so many copywriters out there that think they have mastered this art, but as this post and others on this blog convey – good copywriting isn’t about mastery. Each client and project is different and unique. Being skilled has more to do with understanding the user and speaking to them in a language they understand than it does grammatical rules or “established” copywriting best practices. These factors make each project unique and require unique research and tone.
    I especially appreciated Russ’ mentions of consistency -or even better- his use of the word “harmony.” A consistent tone, one that has the target user in mind, is the failing I notice in most copy I come across.
    “Chase the tail” and his point about long tail keywords is also useful, which is something I can’t say about most web-specific copy terms. The long-tail keywords are less about keywords and more about specificity and sussing out qualified readers, which leads to higher conversion rates. Thanks for this great post. Sorry I missed Flint’s Web Clinic, but I look forward to seeing it when it is available.
    I also appreciated Janjan’s comment, as it appears itself a rushed writing. Thematic unity!

  1. July 18th, 2011 at 09:14 | #1