10 Copywriting Tips You Think You Know (But You’re So Very Wrong)

]Do you know Copywriting?

Think again and read

this article from 

Content manager  and  Digital Careerist  Jacob McMillen

 

copywriting tips

Copywriting is the focal point of conversion rate optimization. It’s the glue that holds the conversion funnel together.

 

Without copywriting, your business has… well, nothing.

Unfortunately, most people (and dare I say most copywriters) are just awful at writing copy. They can tell you all the right principles and even write a fantastic blog post on the best copywriting tips, yet when it comes to actually writing the copy, all that knowledge goes out the window.

So that’s what brings us together… today.

We’ve already discussed the psychology of persuasive writing, but in this post we’re going to focus on some incredibly practical and insanely important copywriting tips that most everyone can recite in their sleep yet somehow rarely make it the published landing page.

You can’t afford to get these wrong.

1. Take Your Readers Through A Narrative

They say that good storytellers make the best salespeople, and that’s not a hard concept to believe.

We all know those people – the people who have a way with words and make anything they’re talking about interesting. When you hear someone telling a story (and telling it well), it’s easy to feel like you’re a part of it. We get sucked into the flow of words, thoughts, and ideas.

The psychological term for this phenomenon is called “neural coupling“, and it describes how the listener’s brain patterns tend to mirror that of the speaker during communication. This coupling occurs when the listener is engaged with the flow of communication and breaks when they get distracted or are unable to comprehend what’s being communicated to them.

Now, notice this point didn’t read “tell a story”.

Storytelling has a place in marketing, but when we’re writing copy for a website landing page, telling a story in the traditional sense isn’t always the best use our limited space.

Instead of story, think narrative.

A narrative is an account of connected events, with connected being the key word here. It’s very, VERY important that every piece of copy on your landing page is connected.

Many landing pages I see today consist of a bunch of copy segments that cover a range of topics and hit on everything the site owner thought would be important to cover. In the worst cases, the site owner selected a WordPress template and then hired a copywriter to fill in the text spots.

There is no flow. There is no connection. There is no chance to create that neural coupling effect with the reader.

Instead of creating multiple segments, think through the journey you want to take your readers on. Where are they when they land on your page? Where do you want them to be when they get to your final Call to Action (CTA)?

To help you get started, here’s the narrative template I like to use with many of my clients:

  1. Open with your value proposition to let the reader know exactly what you’re offering.
  2. Hit on the core problems your product/service is designed to solve.
  3. Transition into the way your product/service solves those problems.
  4. Hit on all the key benefits that go along with using your product/service.
  5. Paint a picture for the reader of their lives with your solution.
  6. Call the reader to take action.

Connecting your landing page in a narrative flow will go a long way in engaging readers with your message.

2. Simplify & Condense Whenever Possible

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

– Thomas Jefferson

You have a limited amount of space and time to communicate your value and capture your reader’s’ interest.

55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds viewing a landing page before deciding to leave. It’s incredibly important that you effectively communicate your core value proposition within that brief window.

You already know the importance of a great value proposition, but this condensed approach shouldn’t end after the fold. Each segment of your landing page needs to be treated as though you have an extra 15 seconds to compel the reader forward to the next section.

At no point do you the luxury of babbling. At no point can you take the reader for granted.

Every word on a landing page needs to be optimized. Every sentence needs to be intentional, clear, and concise, from the opening headline to the closing CTA.

This does NOT mean your page should be brief. It’s important that you say everything you need to say. It simply means that you should communicate everything you need to communicate in as few words as possible. Every segment needs to be the optimal version of itself.

3. Keep The Visual In Mind

When writing the copy for a landing page, it’s important to remember that the copy will be viewed within the context of a visual design.

Reading a landing page is not at all like reading a letter, a blog post, or even an email. Images, video, visual design elements, and even interactive features can be a big part of the user experience. The copy is still THE most important element, but it will be viewed in the context of the page’s design.

It’s important that you keep this visual experience in mind when writing the copy.

In other words, NO WALLS OF TEXT.

  • Utilize headings and subheadings.
  • Keep paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.
  • Use bullets and numbers.
  • Use proper spacing and kerning.
  • Make sure there is plenty of “white space”.

In other words, don’t do this…

Visual elements like those I just recommended allow the eye to easily track from point to point without distraction. While the copy is king, it needs to play nice with the design to ensure its narrative is easy to read, follow, and comprehend.

This is why I always recommend my next point…

4. Collaborate With The Designer

When creating a new landing page, you should always have your copywriter and designer work together from the beginning. This should be standard practice for ANYONE hiring a copywriter… and yet, in my experience as a freelance copywriter, it’s very rare.

Too often, copywriting is viewed as a “fill in the gaps” activity that occurs after the website design is finalized.

This is a massive mistake. The purpose of the copy is NOT to fit the design. The purpose of the design is to highlight and facilitate the copy. If your copywriter is filling in lorem ipsum text blocks, you are seriously hampering their ability to create a compelling narrative.

At the same time, copywriters (especially beginning or intermediate copywriters) can be a bit text heavy and ignorant of how to create copy segments that are compatible with modern design, resulting in the problems I mentioned in Point #3.

This is why I always recommend that clients have their copywriters and designers collaborate on landing pages simultaneously. When the two work together, the copy can be highlighted without compromising the visual design.

5. Write With Personality

Look, have you ever talked with someone who has no personality?

Yeah, that’s what it feels like to read formal copywriting.

If you are anything like everyone I’ve ever known, you will nod your head sagely and agree with this point. You probably even have a blog post on your site with this exact copywriting tip proudly displayed in a list similar to this.

This seems to be one of those points that is widely understood yet somehow flies right out the window the moment fingers hit keyboards.

The reality is that most people struggle getting thoughts to paper. By the time they are able to articulate what they’re trying to say, there’s no mental capacity left for personality or nuance, and as a result, the copy comes out sounding formal and stale.

Or worse, it’s nothing more than a paragraph full of buzz words…

Write copy like you are speaking directly to your target audience. How do they speak? How do they like to be spoken to? If you are talking to doctors, your copy might need to be academic or a bit more formal, but if you are speaking to patients on behalf of doctors, your copy shouldn’t sound like a medical conference presentation.

If you struggle with this, either hire a copywriter, pay for tone-focused editing, or write, write, write until you don’t have to think so much in order to translate your thoughts to words on a page.

6. Write Multiple Drafts

Remember in high school when you had to submit a 1st draft and then a 2nd draft and then a 3rd draft?

There was actually a reason for that, and the reason is that your 1st draft usually sucks.

Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe Ernest Hemingway:

‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ – Ernest HemingwayCLICK TO TWEET

So yeah, stop settling for your first draft like a chump and start taking advantage of the revision process. Even better, create multiple versions of your most important talking points and then get 3rd party feedback on the variations.

And ultimately, you really don’t need to guess perfectly with your copy. The ideal copywriting strategy is to write multiple versions, each optimized around a different conversion hypothesis, and then A/B test them with real site visitors.

7. Prioritize Clarity Over Cleverness

If you were super into Mad Men, you probably suck at digital copywriting.

Clever copy doesn’t convert. Clear, compelling copy converts (say that 5 times fast).

Your goal as a copywriter is to clearly communicate the value of the offer, the problems it solves, and the benefits of using it to the intended user. If you can be clear and clever, that’s fine, but only one of those will pay you back for the time you spent writing it.

8. Focus On The Emotions Behind The Decision

“Sell the sizzle” and “be emotional” are pretty stereotypical copywriting tips, and while they are not universally applicable, they tend to be correct more often than not.

Human beings very rarely make decisions from a purely analytical standpoint. We are an emotional species and our emotions heavily dictate our behavior.

There are two primary ways in which emotions affect our decision-making:

  1. Immediate emotions
  2. Anticipated emotions

Immediate emotions are those experienced in the moment the decision is being made. These can be related to the decision itself or they can be the result of other external stimuli.

For example, if you get in a big argument with your spouse, leave angry, and then begin evaluating a purchasing decision, that anger is an immediate emotion effecting your decision-making.

Anticipated emotions are the emotions someone anticipates experiencing as a result of a given decision.

For example, if you are debating whether to purchase a new SaaS product, and you are thinking about all the time it could save you, the associated emotions are anticipated emotions.

When you are writing your copy, it’s important to think through any consistent immediate emotions that might surround your visitors’ journey to you. What motivated them to click that add or search for that keyphrase, and how might that give you a read on their immediate emotional state?

Even more importantly, how can you resonate with the problems your readers are facing and then help them genuinely imagine a positive future with your product?

This is what your copy should be focused on.

9. Write To One Person

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their copy is trying to communicate to everyone at once. It’s been quite surprising to me how often a business owner will come to me to write copy, and when I ask them, “Who is your target audience?” they reply, “Everyone”.

Here’s a secret. “Everyone” is NOT your target audience. In fact, The more people you are trying to fit into the same sales pitch, the less effective it will be.

The best copywriting is written to a single reader. It’s focused on a specific customer profile and the interests, needs, and aspirations that come along with that profile.

If you don’t already have that profile defined, all you have to do is go talk to your customers.

A great example comes from Sujan Patel, who spent hours upon hours reviewing customer support logs and talking directly with the customers themselves. The onboarding improvements that came from those conversations resulted in an incredible 250% lift in conversions for his business.

Write your copy to someone specific instead of using a catch-all mentality.

10. Break The Rules & Test The Results

General rules and best practices are great. When you start with what works on average, you will probably end up in a better spot than if you were to just winging it.

That said, if you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get the results everyone else is getting. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to break the rules and try something new.

But the difference between strategic rule breaking and “winging it” is data. You should always be A/B testing your copywriting, but if you are going to break away from best practices, you absolutely need to begin A/B testing your content.

The difference between strategic rule breaking and “winging it” is data.CLICK TO TWEET

Conclusion

Okay… my sermon is delivered, and now I’m washing my hands of this.

You can’t afford to get these wrong.

Whether you write your own copy or bring in outside help, it’s critically important that you follow all 10 of today’s tips when creating your landing pages and conversion funnels.

Obviously, there are many more important tips for great copy, and I’d love to hear your favorites. Let me know your #1 copywriting tip in the comments.

 

Jacob McMillen is a freelance copywriter and the content manager for Conversion Sciences. He enjoys boosting conversion rates for a living and pretending to think in his spare time. Follow him on Twitter @jmcmillen89 … if you dare.

Source: Conversion Sciences Blog 

Getting Started With Amazon – Part 2

 

In Getting Started Making Money With Amazon Part 1, we walked through the steps up until finding your web hosting. Now let’s look at the final steps to getting started.

6. Install the blog software – Why blog software? Because it will provide with the necessary structure to make it easy for you to run an effective site and post new content easily. WordPress is the most popular. It is open source, which means it’s free, it’s easy to install, and it is extremely powerful. Many web hosts have a one-step process for installation, or just download and follow the instructions provided.

7. Make it look good – One of the perks to WordPress is all the templates that you have to choose from. In addition to the hundreds of free themes, there are hundreds of WordPress themes you can buy. Pick a theme that looks good, ties to your niche, has the layout you want, and offers what you want to be able to do in terms of tools.

8. Create your categories – Your blog software should allow you to setup categories that help you to organize your entries so it is easier for your visitors to find what it is they are interested in reading. For example, your Jack Russel site might have a number of categories such as training, eating, toys, etc.

9. Become an Amazon Associate – The sign up is simple, and it’s free. Just go to the Amazon site and at the bottom click the ‘Join Associates’ link. You’ll want to have your site set up – at least the basics with some content, as they are going to review your site.

10. Create the blog posting links – There are different ways to create your links. You can use the tools offered by your blog software, but the easiest way is using the Amazon Build A Link tool. Log into your Associate page, and find the product you want to review. Build your personalized link. There are a number of options for link building but most would tell you that the text links are most effective.

11. It’s time to blog – The time has come to write your blog review and post it. You will insert your link code to the product on the Amazon site (created above) that you are writing the review for. You will want to include a number of reviews.

12. Promote your website – Make sure you take time to promote your website/blog. There are all kinds of online communities that can help you do this, as well as social media, directories, etc. The more exposure the better!

There you have it – in Part 2 we have set you up so that you are ready to start making money with your Amazon affiliate program. So what are you waiting for? Why not get busy today?

“Ten Commandments” of Forum Marketing

 

There’s a right way and a wrong way to drive traffic to your CPA promotions through forum interaction.

These tips are quite simple, but they basically comprise the “Ten Commandments” of Forum Marketing… and – a bonus – they can also be used for any type of traffic generation – not just specifically for your CPA campaigns.marketing-strategy-image

Here they are…

Thou Shalt:

1. Make sure that what you have to say in answer to other peoples’ posts is helpful, helpful and, above all, always helpful, if you join a forum
2. Make sure thy sites are populated with really valuable, original content that pops people’s eyeballs out with delight
3. Only drive forum traffic to your CPA promotions through your approved and allowed official forum signature
4. Only drive forum traffic to your relevant blog site or website – not directly to your CPA promotion
5. Always check the forum guidelines!

Thou Shalt Not:

6. Link directly to your CPA advertiser and his promotion
7. Put a link anywhere in your post or answer, unless so allowed by the forum guidelines
8. Get involved in opinionated, negative discussions that detract from the “expert” persona you want to present
9. Send forum members to websites of yours that are not really relevant to the forum’s burning main topic
10. Waste thy efforts on a forum that doesn’t allow signatures containing links

Taking care of these 10 basic commandments will make sure you never violate any of your chosen forum’s rules (which would most likely result in finding yourself banned!)

It will also position you as the “go-to gal” (or guy) expert in that forum’s niche topic. And ultimately, this will be your biggest traffic generator and buzz-spreading machine of all.

Little-Known CPA Strategy

 

You know all about driving traffic to your landing pages by using social networking to spread a buzz on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. But have you ever considered using Facebook for more direct CPA marketing purposes?

The truth is, Facebook is one of the most under-used marketing platforms there is, judging by the lack of internet marketer visibility. There is so much more you can use it for than simply “spreading the word“.

One way I use it is to create my own Facebook ads – those little ones you see in the right-hand column on your Facebook page. You’ll notice they’re targeted to your interests – and Facebook makes it very easy to create one, virtually walking you through the process, and allowing you oodles of control.

But one other very concrete – and incredibly lucrative – way to make money via Facebook is to create a simple Facebook application – then not only reap the rewards directly but monetize it with strong CPA campaigns you choose yourself!

And before you click away with a grunt of disgust, thinking: “I’m no programming and coding genius”, let me quickly point out 2 key factors that could make this a much more sensible suggestion than you might think!

1. Facebook really does like to make things incredibly easy for its users! You only have to decide to create an App, and – as with ad creation – it virtually walks you through the process! (Just check out the Facebook “Developers” section.)

2. If you really don’t feel up to the task of creating one yourself, it’s easy enough to post a project on a platform such as rent-a-coder.com and hire someone who knows PHP or JavaScript to create one for you. (Your part in the process will be really simple: Tell the coder what App idea you’ve dreamed up, negotiate parameters and price on his contract – making sure he knows he’s releasing all rights to you – and providing a site where the App will be hosted.

After your App is up and running on Facebook, that’s when you monetize it with your own highly-targeted CPA ad campaigns!

Just think of harnessing the power of Facebook and its millions of viewers – all pre-qualifying themselves by being attracted to your App in the first place, and choosing to engage. (Think of your CPA commissions!)

And if you’re still wavering, do yourself a favor and read the Wiki for further information. Because if Facebook App creation is something you’re willing to invest time and commitment to, that’s where the really huge commission figure potential lies!

Is CPA Marketing Unethical?

Once in a while, we read some comment on a blog that leaves us with the feeling that CPA marketing is sleazy or shady. It’s implicit everywhere – in forum comments, blog posts and even top marketers themselves will drop the occasional negative comment that sticks to your throat like cold chicken originally fried in too much grease.is CPA marketing unethical

It’s a serious question, that deserves some serious consideration. Especially if you’re feeling uncomfortable about the whole idea of adding CPA ads to your lovingly-crafted sites.

I don’t want to be some sleazy marketer, forcing people to give up their privacy and contact information in exchange for some coupon or free sample,” you protest.

And that’s a really valid objection. Your reputation should be the most sacrosanct core of your marketing persona!

But think about it a moment… What are the sorts of CPA-type ads you, yourself, most notice and object to?

Yes, that’s right: The sleazy ones – the ones that really do feel like they’re bullying you into giving up your personal contact information, promising huge benefits you’re insulted to find they don’t deliver (especially after you’ve invested the time filling out their survey, or giving up your email address).

The other serious scenario that’s of real concern:

There are, in fact, a number of CPA offers that really do approach “scam” proportions. A case in point is all those “free gas cards” in exchange for your contact information. When you fill in what they want, you end up either at a page that says “under construction” or “sorry, this promo has expired” – or nowhere at all.

(Note: This is not to say that all “free gas card” offers are shady – but there has been a number in the past to provoke legitimate complaints.)

Finding a page that’s no longer valid, for any reason, after you’ve entered your personal information can be due either to:

1. Actual shady practices

2. An inexperienced marketer who hasn’t bothered to remove or replace the ad when a promotion ended.

Either way, you’re left with a definite bad taste in your mouth.

But What About The Good CPA Ads?

You have a choice, however. Are you going to drive traffic to your promotions at any cost, or are you going to:

1. Take time to check out promotions, to make sure that real value actually IS going to be delivered after your site visitor enters his prized contact info

2. Make sure to present only CPA offers that really do add value to your site visitor’s experience – ones that seem so much a part of your website, it feels to the visitor as if you’ve done them a huge favor!

That’s the difference between “sleazy” and “great customer service” – how much thought and care you put into presenting only what will genuinely enhance your visitor’s experience when he lands on your site.

Besides, he’s a big boy (or girl). He always has the choice of whether or not to part with his email address or any other information.

And if you’ve done it right, your visitor will end up feeling pleased with the results – he won’t feel bullied or tricked at all!