How to write copy that packs a punch
No matter size, stature, or product, every business shares one thing:
They all rely on words.
Words are the mechanism for convincing and converting, for turning pixels into profits. More often than not, it’s the ad copywriting that makes a business fly or flounder. Whether you’re crunching words into a 15-second youtube preroll or 140-character tweets, it’s your role as a copywriter to make your message shine.
We’ve created this comprehensive guide about important considerations when developing ad content to give you a hand and help you on your way.
Copywriting for web
If you feel like the world’s combined attention span can’t beat a goldfish, no one could fault you. It turns out that nowhere is this more evident than when people are looking for information on the Web. Users only read between 20 and 28 percent of words on the average web page. To say their attention span is fleeting would be an understatement: most folks spend less than four seconds on a website.
When you’re writing copy for the web, remember to:
- Practise the art of SEO: Search Engine Optimization is quite possibly the most valuable skill when crafting copy for web content; if you’re not sufficiently well-versed in SEO, make an effort to become so. Learn the steps to optimization, including the creation of title tags, meta descriptions, and meta keywords.
- Evoke emotion: There’s A LOT of noise out there and it’s up to you to rise above it. When copywriting web content, that means you must make readers feel something. It’s what happens when you watch a football player break his ribs, and you cringe in response. Help readers feel a visceral response when reading your content.
- Avoid selling savings: Be wary of wasting precious real estate chest-thumping about low prices. Research from Stanford University shows that selling time in ad copywriting is far more effective than selling money.
- Embrace your devilish side: Rather than trying to draw a picture of an infallible offer, point out frequent concerns customers may have, and then assure them with facts and evidence they have nothing to worry about.
Copywriting for social media
Social media is a harsh mistress. When sites die due to scandal or security breaches, it makes frontpage news, but sometimes they just fade away. That’s why copywriting for social media is so crucial. It separates the memorable from the easily forgotten. 92 percent of marketers say social media is important for their business.
With nearly 80 percent of all online adults using Facebook, it continues to be the highest-utilized social network of those measured in Pew Research Center’s 2016 Social Media Update. That said, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn continue to pull their weight in the social media universe. As such, it’s important to learn what works best for each site. Here’s a glimpse at how to master ad copywriting for social media no matter what platform you use:
- Keep it short: most social media users don’t want long-form content. Posts with 80 characters or less enjoy 66 percent higher engagement.
- Define and express your Unique Value Proposition: In short, what would make someone want to hire you or buy from you over the competitors? Whether you’re writing for your own business or someone else’s, it’s imperative that you clearly identify the UVP in social media posts.
- Mention features over benefits: Focus less on what a company or product does and more on how it will impact customers.
- Focus on PAS: Coined by the folks at Copyblogger, PAS stands for Problem. Agitate. Solution. This is the formula anyone who does copywriting for social media should use by introducing a problem, reminding viewers of their frustration, and then positioning a given product or service as the solution.
- Tantalize readers: Grab interest with a headline that leaves ’em wanting more. Think: You won’t believe what she did! Just make sure the result delivers or you’re devolving into producing clickbait.
- Utilize powerful verbs: To master good ad copywriting, you must understand the potential of a well-chosen verb.
- Include a strong call-to-action: If people don’t know what to do with the information you’ve given them, they scroll on by. Pack a punch with a powerful call-to-action that is easy for readers to follow.
Copywriting for radio
Winners of the 2017 Radio Mercury Awards were announced in May, and the Best of Show went to a familiar and long-running radio campaign The Richards Group’s efforts for Motel 6. As it turns out, this group has been a celebrated icon in the ad copywriting biz for a number of years. Deemed refreshing, relevant, and iconic, it has copy that converts. So how do they perform that trick, or more precisely, how can you emulate it?
Here are a few tricks of the trade:
- Make an honest human-to-human connection: people respond to people, and this is so important to remember when copywriting for radio.
- Start a conversation: There you are, intruding on people’s day by coming through their speakers; it’s high time to invite them into the conversation. Provide worthwhile information and invite listeners to get in touch for more.
- Tailor copy to the radio station vibe: When people choose radio stations, it’s personal. The type of ad copywriting needs to be as well. Choose a tone that meets listeners where they’re at when writing for radio, whether that be casual, professional, or flirtatious.
- Sing a little: Sure, if you’re copywriting for radio, there’s a good chance you aren’t actually doing the voiceover — the professionals who work that racket are gifted with their own set of skills, but it’s up to you to craft a script they can easily speak or, even better, sing. Music is even more personal than speaking, which means it’s great for this media.
Copywriting for video
A stand-out brand video begins with a stand-out script. Music, visuals, and voiceover accentuate a story, but the words need to be written first.
Writers who produce the copywriting for video ads may not receive the glamour of, say, Will Smith, but they are the drivers behind any successful presentation. Yet being able to write a killer script doesn’t always come naturally. Here are a few tips to make the process a more smooth one.
Focus on your goals, audience, and important takeaways
The first step is to write an outline, or brief, that provides an overview of what the script will entail. It need not be fancy (simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication for many writers), though it should help guide your script. Some steps to take include:
- Identify your SMART goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, time-bound)
- Determine the audience
- Ascertain the point of the video (sales? awareness? leads?)
- Highlight what message you want viewers to take away from the video
Write for your audience
Keep it short and sweet
Copywriting for print
It seems everyone is ready to write the obituary for print media. It isn’t dead. In fact, it’s thriving. More than 700 consumers in 13 countries were asked about their media usage and their attitude towards advertising. When asked how much trust they afford various media, consumers gave magazines and newspapers a score of 63 percent, far surpassing the 41 percent for television and 25 percent for the Internet.
Put otherwise: Anyone who does ad copywriting had better know their stuff when it comes to copywriting for print. If that’s you, here’s how you can appeal to the modern-day Don Draper:
- Avoid weasel words: Whether you’re producing ad copy writing for direct mail, newspapers, or magazines, you should be definite in the greatness of a product or service in copywriting for print. Use ‘can’ and ‘will’ to describe benefits rather than relying on weasel words such as ‘hope’, ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘maybe’, or ‘perhaps’.
- Write in an active voice: Much like the last tip, don’t water down your copywriting for print by using the passive voice. Shift “One hundred boxes were given away” to “We delivered 100 boxes”.
- Be clever: Clever sells. Play on words, reveal a sense of humor and have fun when copywriting for print. Looking for inspiration? Try the pooping unicorn and Old Spice for size.
- Craft a good headline: There are no words to describe the power of a good headline. Want proof? No matter how boring life insurance is, most of us would take a second (and third) glance when faced with the headline: “Are You Making Plans For Your Wife’s Death?” as this ad boldly screamed back in 1983.
For people accustomed to weaving enchanting tales–that is, to write long copy, learning to pare down the message can be a struggle. Ad copywriting is an art with a bit of science mixed in. Follow these tips for crafting exceptional content, and turn to those of us at WritingBunny when in need of some worthwhile writing tips.
Author: Laura Varon
Content creator, marketer, translator. I studied advertising because I wanted to know a little about everything and I am a translator because I want to know a lot about a lot. I co-write with WritingBunny.