When you first meet a new customer, what do you do? Are you the sort who talks all about yourself? Do you let your new acquaintance do all the talking without any input from you?
No. You don't. You're the sort who listens to what your customer says and responds intelligently with appropriate questions. You allow your new customer some room to make a decision by giving all the reasons why your product or service solves the customer's individual needs.
This is a good sales technique, and it just so happens that it's also a good copywriting technique. But as you are writing, not speaking, to your prospects, you're going to have to do a little work to get from interest to conversion and sale. Here are six tips to spruce up your copy:
Get to know your audience
If you want your prospects to pay attention and be persuaded by what you write, you must know what motivates them.
You need to know a lot about your customers because their situation will factor into any spending decision they make. Do they have families (income decisions are affected)? How old are their children (pester factor can play a big part in the decision)? Are they married (should you write to both spouses?) or divorced? And so on.
Getting to know your audience profile gives you a lot of emotional and situational information that you can relate and allude to in your copywriting, either directly or indirectly.
Doing so shows your prospects that you understand them, are like them (we want to buy from those like us), and respect them.
Focus on their pain
This relates to the tip above. Do they want to look good (their pain is feeling that they don't look good)? Feel young (they feel old)? Be super-dad (they feel inadequate)? Get away from responsibility (they feel overburdened)? Have something for themselves (they feel put upon)? Save the day (they feel powerless)? Impress someone (they feel less than special)?
Persuasive copywriting uses an emotional place as the anchor. It is customer-focused, not business-focused -- "you" instead of "we." When you tell your prospects how your service or product will alleviate their "pain" (or bring them the joy they are looking for), they will desire it.
Desire leads to decision. Decision leads to purchase.
Find out what has worked before
This isn't cheating; it's good copywriting. All the best techniques have been tried and tested over the years. Why wouldn't you want to find out what has worked for your audience in the past?
It makes sense to build on that insight. What kind of headline worked? Which offer? Which call-to-action drove the most clicks?
Use these as starting points, and then test them (see the last tip below).
Know the two most powerful words in marketing
Your customers have more power than you. They have the money, and they have the internet. Your customers are empowered in today's marketing climate, and they are exposed to thousands of messages each day.
The two most powerful words reside in their minds: "So what?" When your prospect reads your copy and says, "So what?" you've lost a sale.
You need to answer those two little words with something definite. That means, again, knowing your audience. Why would they care about your offer? Anticipate the "so what?" to overcome its effects.
Be ruthless with your editing
Copywriting maven and original "mad man" David Ogilvy once outlined in a letter the 11 steps he takes (research is foremost, I note) to get to a draft of copywriting that he can edit.
"I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor," he says. He goes on to explain that after four or five edits, he's ready to show it to the client.
I think we can all learn from the great D.O.
Then test everything. Headlines, body copy, calls-to-action, offer wording, and offers themselves. Test to find out what is working best -- then run it.
Do a split-run on headlines to see which performs better in research. Run A/B tests on your landing page call-to-action or email subject line to find out which will get you more conversions.
Nothing you write is sacred, and it should be tried by fire to ensure only the best (and highest converting) copywriting is in your marketing.
Taken together, these six tips should improve your copywriting and, in turn, improve your responses and conversions to the campaigns you write and run.
Derryck Strachan is an SEO copywriter and managing director of Big Star Copywriting.
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"Closeup of businesswoman hands, writing on paper" image via Shutterstock.