5 Secrets to Great Copywriting for Your Website, Email Marketing
and Social Media


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Once upon a time, I applied for a graduate school program in Paris, France. I really wanted to live there and was willing to do what I had to for it to work. Cut to me, a writing and French major, applying for a global communications graduate school program. I thought, “Communications? Writing? They’re basically the same thing, right?” Wrong. I was very wrong.

Copywriting in Paris is so cool.

Would you believe this was my school’s neighborhood? Where my communications and copywriting future took root.

However, the program introduced me to the wide world of communications that I would find myself working in just a few years later. The program set me up for success. I tell you this true story, because when it comes to copywriting, a lot people make assumptions. It’s just words on a page, right?

No, definitely not. Read on to learn about copywriting and the five tips you can start with if you’re writing for your website, email marketing, social media platforms, brochures, press releases and more.

The Basics of Copywriting Explained

Copywriting is how a business or organization speaks to its audience about the product or experience they offer. It’s how they convert audience members into fans, shoppers into buyers, followers into supporters.

Copywriting helps move people from knowing nothing about your brand to taking action. I’ll let Indeed provide a proper definition: “Copywriting is a form of persuasive writing intended to educate, engage and entice the audience to purchase goods or services either immediately or at a future time.”

In my own words, copywriting isn’t simply good writing. It’s writing that strategically moves someone to take action: make a decision, buy a product, support an organization, etc.

            | Looking for more on the basics of PR, marketing or graphic design? Our blog archive is overflowing with expertise:

Does Your Business Need Copywriting?

The truth is every business and every nonprofit needs copywriting. If you’re looking to gain customers or donors, you need to be strategic about how you talk to people and present your product or service.

If you’re still trying to wrap your mind around how copywriting connects with your marketing, here’s an incomplete list of the places copywriting exists:

  • Website (special landing pages, home page, service page, about page, contact page, etc.)
    • Product descriptions
    • Brochures
    • Emails
    • Magazine ads
    • Digital ads
    • Social media
    • Video scripts
    • Direct mail pieces
    • Billboards
    • Advertising flyers
    • Media campaigns
    • Signage

Hopefully this list has shown you that copywriting can play a major role in any marketing or advertising endeavor. It’s just as creative as the color palette, graphics or video imagery you choose to use. And often, the copy helps determine those other elements.

A billboard is a classic example of copywriting at work in the world.

Bottom line: It’s worth putting great effort into the copywriting for your business or organization.

Now, without further ado, let’s talk about this copywriter’s top five tips for copywriting.

5 Secrets to Copywriting That Connects and Converts

1. Know your audience.

We’re starting with knowing your audience because as Julie Andrews once sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” You need to know who your audience is so you can speak to them.

So, ask yourself: Who is my audience? What are they worried about? What are their challenges? What gets them up and going every day? What are they looking for in a product or service like mine? Understanding what drives your audience, what makes them tick and even what they don’t like will help you speak to them in a way that connects.

When they feel heard, they’re much more likely to keep listening to what you have to say. So, get to know your audience and keep them in mind as you write.

2. Talk about your audience, not yourself.

As a follow-up to knowing your audience, it’s important to keep them your focus as you write. It’s easy to talk about yourself and your incredible products or services. You know them inside and out, after all. You also know your team, how impactful your services are and every inch of your company’s backstory. But, to be honest? That doesn’t matter much to your audience.

Donald Miller and his team explained this to me once in a Storybrand workshop: As the brand, you want to be the guide and never the hero. That means you need to look at a potential customer or donor as someone on their own journey. Instead of being the hero yourself who swoops in and saves the day, your business shows up as the magical guide who helps the customer achieve what they want or need. You, in essence, show them the way to what they’ve been searching for, aka your solution, product or experience.

As a copywriter, write as your customer’s guide. You are the Gandalf to their Frodo; the Glinda to their Dorothy; the Obi-Wan Kenobi to their Luke Skywalker.

3. Stories stick better than statistics.

While numbers and figures can drive a point home, stories stay with people. Think about all of the podcasts, movies, tv shows and social media content we consume every day — they’re all stories people are telling. They connect because of their humanity, the greater context they provide and how they allow people to come to their own conclusions.

Copywriting that using stories will always be impactful. Take it from the brand Magnolia, which has this mural on their property in Waco, TX.

I love what this Forbes article says on the topic: “Statistics Start Arguments:when sharing data and numbers, audiences can easily reject your point of view.” They go on to explain that information does’t always lead to realization. Stories, however, connect and provide people the space needed to consider what you’re saying and imagine themselves in the story as well.

Tell stories in your copywriting and invite people into what you’re creating or offering.

4. Write how people speak.

Listen: There’s absolutely a place for proper grammar — it’s an important part of people understanding any given language. However, there’s a line between holding tight to every grammar rule you learned in grade school and loosening your grip so you can write how the general public speaks.

Contractions: For example, I often choose contractions (can’t, won’t, doesn’t) over the fully-written, two-word versions (cannot, will not, does not) because it’s how people often speak. Plus, it’s a little less formal and flows better.

Dangling Prepositions: Another example of writing how people speak that goes against the grammar grain is dangling prepositions. Ending a sentence with the words for, with, and to for example, is something many people will not do. However, it’s how people speak in real, everyday life, so I decide to break the rule when it feels appropriate.

How People Really Speak v. No Dangling Prepositions:

Where is this letter come from? versus From where did this letter arrive?

Who are you going with? versus With whom are you going?

Which box did you put it in? versus In which box did you put it?

Think about it: Most people dangle prepositions.

Starting a Sentence with “But” or And”: One more example of breaking grammar rules: starting a sentence with the word “but” or “and.” Again, both are less formal and follow the pattern of how people really speak. I know it feels uncouth, but it’s okay. Breaking grammar rules from time to time is worth is when what you’re writing connects with people. In the end, that’s what matters the most.

5. Edit, edit, edit.

Editing is never to be underestimated as a tool in crafting a compelling message. My advice is always to spill all of your thoughts onto the page without worrying about whether they’re good or bad. Why? Because once all your ideas are on the page, you can start the editing process to rework the writing. Like polishing a rock, with every pass the copy will get smoother and shinier — a better version of what you’re trying to communicate.

Editing is where the rubber meets the road in copywriting.

As part of the editing process, I recommend simplifying your language. Don’t use large words when a small one will do. For example, instead of “terminate,” use “fire.” Instead of “superfluous,”use “extra.” Instead of “ascertain,” use “find out” or “learn.” Here’s a longer list of examples in case you’re interested.

Finally, once you are happy with your copy, the final editing stages should involve reading your copy out loud. This is a great way to test what you’ve written to see if it flows well and find the spots that need to be trimmed down.

Lightning Round — Three More Copywriting Suggestions

Clear CTAs (call to actions) — At the end of the day, copywriting is about leading people to take action (buy a product, sign up of your newsletter, etc.). As the writer, you need to continually tell people what you want them to do. As you’re writing webpages, for example, ask yourself what next step a reader needs to take on the page. Make sure that is clearly included in your copy. Copywriting is all about taking people from point a to point b, moving them down a funnel of action, so tell people what to do next.

No matter what or where you’re writing, give people a next step to take. Here, for example, they’re telling people to download something.

Be you. — Remember to let your brand personality shine in your copy. This means making sure you communicate in the brand’s tone of voice and reflect then brand’s core values in your language.

Have someone else read your work. — An outsider’s perspective is helpful to determine what you’ve missed in your writing and what still needs clarification. Another person will bring fresh eyes to the work and suggestions you haven’t thought of before.

Don’t Know Where to Start With Copywriting?

J.O.’s team has written award-winning campaigns and content for brands for the last 26 years. We understand how to craft messages that reflect a brand’s core values and personality and speak to specific audiences on a number of platforms — websites to email marketing to social media to PR talking points. Take a look at our work here and then reach out to our team if you’d like to talk about copywriting needs or other marketing projects. You can emails us at hello@joagency.com or call 817-335-0100

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