As a copywriter, you're writing to communicate an idea, a service or product to the right person at the right time. You need to produce such compelling copy, that your target audience internalises the message set before them, and then takes the action you want them to take. There is a lot of mediocre copywriting, and, you might get by with that for a little while. But what you really want is for your copywriting to be so compelling it converts. So how do you that? Here are our top tips to make sure you write compelling copy that is sharp and laser-focused on getting you the results that you want.
1. Decide Who You’re Writing For
Take some time to figure out your customer personas. What do your customers like? How can you add value to them? Once you know who it is you are writing for, you’ve won half the battle. You’ll know your audience enough to know what is compelling to them. Do they actually respond well to cat jokes and pop culture references, or are they more likely to respond to seeing statistics for example? Use this opportunity to get to know the pain points of your audience; how does your product or service address their problem? Be clear and explicit, and it’ll add a lot of weight behind the message you convey. You’ll know all of this, and more, if you do your research. The more work you do to choose a niche and a particular audience to target your writing to, the better your copywriting will be.
It’s the same principle as buying a made to measure outfit. A suit that’s made specifically for you tends to feel better than the generic suit off the rack. It takes into account the fact that you might have a longer body and shorter legs, or that your arms are more muscular than the average person. A generic message will get you mediocre, general results and not the targeted response you are looking for. So lay the groundwork and know who you are writing this compelling copy for before you lay down the first word.
2. Research the topic and the associated emotions
Compelling copy knows how to navigate the full spectrum of human emotion. Researching a topic is reasonably straightforward, but, if you are writing copy that inspires people to take action, you must also do some research around which emotions cultivate the engagement that you want. The quickest way to do this is to find other pieces of writing that really grabbed your attention and study them. What language did they use that kept you locked in all the way to the last sentence? Have you incorporated similar terms in your own work? Don't get it twisted here; the aim of the game is not to plagiarise the work of others, but it helps to be inspired by what already exists.
Think about what makes your particular target audience act on what they've read; from that, you can make an appropriate judgement about what techniques you can use to convey that emotion
3. Build Titles That Create Intrigue
Invest the time creating a title that grabs your reader's attention immediately. What that title looks like can vary massively depending on what you're writing about, but, generally, it needs to provide clarity around what the piece of copy is about. Studies have shown that titles that made it clear what the piece of copy was going to be about performed 38% better than titles that weren't clear. That's definitely something to bear in mind. Your title could take several forms and evoke a response in a few different ways. Let's have a look at some of the most frequently used title angles:
- Implying Scarcity – a title that makes readers feel like they're missing out. e.g "The time for bitcoin trading is running out – here's why"
- Controversy – a title that creates a little shock value pulls readers in. e.g. "Facebook ruined my life and it's coming for you too."
- Fear and Anxiety – Use caution with this but it is an effective way to get people to look as a way of alleviating that fear response. e.g. "Why that daily burger is killing you faster than you think…"
- Extreme Value – Titles that draw people in based on the idea that reading on will add a huge amount to their wellbeing in some way e.g. "How to gain 15,000 REAL followers in Instagram in 8 weeks."
There are more examples, but these should be enough to give you an idea to get started.
4. Highlight Relevant Analogies or Metaphors
A beautifully placed analogy or metaphor goes a long way when building rapport with your readers, and crafting compelling copy. They help to activate the imagination and they add colour to your idea. For example, you could say that "This Fried Chicken is the best in town." Or you could say "Fried Chicken, straight out of Grandmama's kitchen." If you know that your target audience knows excellent fried chicken when they taste it, and a lot of the pleasure of eating fried chicken is wrapped up in family time, this is a perfect way to pull those heartstrings and get people to understand how strongly this particular brand feels about the quality of their product. The audience is likely to buy your fried chicken just to see if what you're saying is true!…now I'm hungry.
Similarly using metaphors can really help you out. Imagine you're writing copy for a new eyeliner. The problem it solves is that it is the darkest eyeliner on the market. You could say "This is our darkest formula yet!" or you could consider explaining it like this: "Our formula; darker than the darkest of nights…" Particularly great if you're launching a Halloween promotion for example. This example might be a little cliche for your tastes, but you catch my drift. The point is, your audience is now able to visualise how dark that eyeliner is. You know that their pain point is that all eyeliners look grey after they've been applied. So now they're thinking "Yes, I want to purchase this eyeliner!" because they can imagine how it will solve their grey eyeliner problem.
Storytelling is a huge part of creating compelling copy and metaphors and analogies help you to do that in a really concise, punchy way. So pick a really powerful one appropriate to your audience and run with it.
5. Use Adjectives
Using adjectives throughout is like a one-stop-shop for creating compelling copy; you can add detail and evoke emotion just by adding a well-placed adjective. For example. Imagine you're writing about shoes. "Our shoes are the most comfortable on the market." The reader moves on without a second thought. If you wrote instead something like "Our red stiletto shoe is the most comfortable on the market", you have explained the kind of shoe which is great, but a red stiletto has the connotations of being confident, sophisticated and beautiful. Your audience reads that they can feel that way in a red stiletto heel and be comfortable? It's a no brainer; "Take my money!" they shout excitedly as they complete their purchase.
Maybe it's not that simple, but you catch my drift. Use adjectives to add definition to your writing and create a picture that is as full and as dynamic as possible.
6. Cut the Fat
More often than not, compelling copy goes hand in hand with simplicity. Most target audiences want you to get to the point as quickly as possible without sacrificing the excitement of the journey there. While colourful text has its place, one of the best things you can do as a writer, is get ruthless and ‘cut the fat’. This is one of the most valuable pieces of information copywriters receive. Compelling copy flows when every word adds value. If it doesn't, cut it out. Getting the balance right can be hard, but when done correctly, 'cutting the fat' makes your writing impactful and more concise. Writing articles is one thing, but if you're writing for social media posts or short blurbs, this tip really comes into its own.
Think of some of the iconic marketing slogans of big brands. Nike's 'Just Do It' could have been 'Just Get Out There and Exercise.' They are an athletics brand after all. But those three words hit you square between the eyes because they manage to challenge the reader. Those little words challenge every barrier and every excuse a reader might have around actual physical activity, and in a more subliminal way, purchasing Nike products. So always go for simplicity. Work your copy until it delivers the intended message in as few words as possible.
7. Read Your Work Aloud
Think about how people read a piece of compelling copy. They hear it in their heads as a voice. So read your work aloud to see how it sounds. Does it suit your target audience? What feelings do you have as you read out what you've written? Does it sound overly complex? Do the sentences make sense? Reading your work aloud helps you to catch different errors, like missing words and spelling mistakes. You can also take this opportunity to improve your use of punctuation; you can hear where you naturally take a breath for commas, and you'll be able to sense whether that semicolon sits correctly, or not. Do you really need that extra exclamation mark?
Ultimately, get in the shoes of the target audience; does it sound like something that they'd want to read? Does the language and the tone sound like it would feel familiar to them? Read it aloud and see if the copy is as compelling as it could be, in reference to your target audience. At this point, it is not about your own preference.
8. Ask For What You Want
You've gone through the process of constructing a really focused piece of copy, for a specific audience. You've taken them on a journey that draws out emotions and holds their undivided attention for a moment in time. Don't leave people hanging. Unapologetically ask for what you want. Want them to sign up for a newsletter? Ask. Do you want people to purchase right now? Ask. Do you want people to think about what they've just read with a view to changing their opinion? Ask your audience to act.
You'll be amazed at how often your audience is willing to make a decision in that moment of passion. So don't waste the opportunity by taking it for granted. Will everyone do what you ask? Not necessarily. But the point is that hopefully, some people will. Then you'll be much better off for the asking.
9. Avoid Passive Voice
When writing to convince people to take a particular course of action, you really want to avoid using passive voice. Passive voice is really helpful in certain contexts, but it's not great at cultivating a sense of intimacy and relationship between you and your audience. It also is a sure-fire way of making you sound less definite. People are likely to engage with you if they trust you, and the passive voice makes you sound vague. For excellent reasons, there are many tools out there that help you ensure your writing keeps a limited amount in the passive tense.
Think about it. If I said to you, 'we can offer you what could be the best chicken in town', or, 'this event will make you feel more ready to write compelling copy'? I don't sound clear in my own beliefs, let alone be able to convince you. In a passive sentence, we emphasise the action (the verb) and the object, rather than the subject. The passive often results in a sentence sounding vague. Keep an eye out for words such as 'was', 'will', 'has been', 'has' as they're often a clear sign you're in the passive.
It's much better to keep to tenses such as the active. The active tense keeps the copy in the present, and forms an engaging relationship with your audience, keeping the subject as the focus. The subject performs the action and is a more definite way of writing. For example, the above statements in the active are – 'we offer the best chicken in town', or, 'this event equips you to write compelling copy'.
10. Create Urgency
Put a fire in the bellies of your readers. Compelling copy creates an urgent response within people. There are several ways to do this. You can make your promotions time-sensitive; say you're writing about climate change, for example, you can create urgency by doubling down on the idea that the clock is ticking and people need to act now and not later. You can create an air of exclusivity in your writing; say you want to build a community around a defined set of interests and values, you can use language that implies "This opportunity isn't available to anybody and everybody." It's not about using language to manipulate people, it's about using language to cultivate a sense of belonging.
It's a human need to belong and feel a part of something, so conveying that appropriately in your writing creates that catalyst and that sense of urgency. In the same vein, if you want people to purchase a product, you can create urgency by making it clear in your writing that products are limited edition. You can subtly use language to reward the people who act first.
11. Make it Easy To Digest
Here are some top tips to make sure your copy is easy to digest:
- Use simple language, especially when discussing a complicated idea
- Keep paragraphs nice and short – use 'white space' to give readers a break.
- Use shorter sentences where possible.
- Make use of bullet points or a numbering system where appropriate to summarise ideas.
We hope that these tips help to write the compelling copy that gives your organisation an edge in the market. For an opportunity to discuss this further, please feel free to get in touch so we can help you drill down on the best strategy for you.