Copywriting is one of the most underrated skills in digital marketing, and in business in general. Copywriting is writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. In digital world, good copywriting can be used in your Google ads, social media, blog posts, email marketing etc.
Many businesses can rise or fail solely on how good a copy they write.
Some of the biggest brands we know of- Coca Cola, Pepsodent, Mercedes and Rolls-Royce, have a lot to thank good copywriting for.
And genius marketers like Ogilvy insist that good copywriting is the foundation of good marketing.
So what, then, is good copy? Are there some principles we can follow to write good copy- each and every time?
In his much acclaimed classic, “Tested Advertising Methods”, copywriting genius John Caples gives some simple rules.
These rules can help you improve your copywriting for your Facebook ads, Google ads, emails, newspaper ads, and so on.
There are three basic rules for Good Copywriting:
1) Focus on the benefit to the user:
This seems obvious, but if you look around, so many companies forget this simple rule.
It’s important to remember that people DO NOT care about your brand.
They care about themselves.
How does your brand or product help them? Be direct about this.
Headlines that insist how great your brand is without pointing out the benefits it’ll give users are ineffective.
For example, “Trusted since 1929” is a useless headline for an ad, even if your company is about to turn 100 years old. Who cares?
Headlines like “Amazing offer for you” are useless. You may ask- “aren’t these talking about the user’s benefit?“
On the surface, it appears like that. But there are thousands of offers floating all around a modern user. Who cares if you have one more? It’s too vague.
“Best T-shirt offers for you“- now that’s a little bit better. It lacks personality, but at least it’s more direct about the benefit- you will get T-shirts at offer prices.
2) Make it NEWS
People hate salesmen and advertisements. They, however, love to know the latest news.
Use this to your advantage. Make your sales copy about a news.
How can you achieve this? It’s simple.
Start your ad with words like “Introducing…”, “Announcing…” or “All-new…”
Words like this make your ad copy sound more like a news or announcement, and less like desperate sales.
They catch more eye-balls and make more people read the rest of your ad.
3) Use curiosity
IF (and only if) you’ve done the first point right (made the self-benefit to the user crystal clear), can you move to the next point of good advertising.
WHich of these do you think is a better headline for an ad or email:
- Improve your sales performance
- How I went from total failure to massive success in selling in one year
Both the headlines get the first point (self-benefit) right- they’re both going to teach the user how to improve their selling skills.
But the second headline gets an added advangate, it makes you curious to learn the story.
As a caveat, note that using just curiosity without self-benefit is a recipe for disaster. For example, a headline like “how I went from failure to success” in itself is terrible.
Even if it makes a small percentage of people curious enough to read the rest of your ad or email, they might not be the ones who’re actually struggling with sales.
Those who want solutions for their sales problems are the ones who should read the ad. How do you filter them without even mentioning “sales” or “selling” in the headline (or subject line.)
Therefore, above all else, remember to keep the self-benefit direct.
Things to avoid while writing good copy:
- Do not forget rule 1: focus on self-benefit to the user. This is 90% of the game, and still often ignored.
- Do not try to write like Shakespeare. Good copy should be easy to read. Fancy poetry can be wonderful to read as a pastime. IT IS not wonderful to sell products.
- Do not write your copy in a hurry. Spend time on making it perfect. Get feedback from others. Especially spend time thinking of the headline or subject line.
- Do not make it a chore. Enjoy the process. The more fun you have writing copy, the better your copywriting will turn out. The advantage of the digital medium for marketing is that feedback is instant. You can figure out how even a minor change in your copy improved your clickthrough rate or conversions on facebook ads, for instance; and this makes the process more exciting as you really start learning more about human behaviour.
- Do not forget to use good images to support your copy. It’s a myth that people see the image before the headline when they see ads. Most people read the headline first. However, a good image which makes your product or product benefit obvious will assist your copywriting. Ideal is to have images of person(s) using your product and enjoying it. That’s why all cola drinks have images of celebrities happily drinking from their bottle in their ad campaigns.
- Do not ignore audience-targeting. Even more important than copywriting is reaching the right audience. If you show a beautiful ad for a Rolls Royce to a family with a very low annual income, and I show a terrible ad of Rolls Royce to families with huge net worths, guess which of us will do better? It’s nice to improve ad performance with copywriting, but audience selection still remains the main skill for a digital marketer.