There are a lot of things to know about effective copywriting. I am by no means and English teacher, nor is copywriting my forte. However, if you’re a decent writer, you can learn how to become an even more effective writer by following a few copywriting rules, particularly as they pertain to selling online.
Ten Do’s and Don’ts of Website Copywriting
If you put this list near your desk before you write any copy, you’ll improve your copy exponentially.
First, the Do’s of Copywriting
1. Know Your Audience
Are you sick to death of hearing this yet? I know I am! But alas, it’s just the facts and it bears repeating. You must know your audience so well that you can create audience personas and write your copy directly to them. Don’t make assumptions that you know the audience without study. Even if you are part of the demographic, study your audience anyway.
2. Have a Clear CTA
CTA = Call To Action. Every copy that you write needs to have a clear call to action located in a place where people will see it. It must jump off the page and compel the reader to act. If your CTA is not clear and noticeable, no one is going to do anything.
3. Use Graphics and Color to Highlight Points
Graphics are your friend when it comes to effective website copywriting. If you can use an arrow, or a red circle, or something to highlight words that you don’t want your audience to miss, then you should.
Don’t go nuts with arrows and symbols – make the design clean, but do point out important words and phrases with graphics and color.
4. Write for Skimmers and Scanners
By scanners I mean humans, not printers. When people read copy online they read vertically, not horizontally. It’s important that you use different fonts, bold, italics, and bullets along with colors and graphics to create a trail for the eye to follow.
If your bulleted words, headline words, and subheadline words are well thought out, someone can get the point simply by scanning.
5. Explain Benefits over Features
No one cares about the features of your product. Unless you sell something so ridiculously technical that only techie geeks care.
What most people care about for any product or service is quite simple – what it does for them. What problem does it solve, and what solution does it provide to them? If you can’t explain it clearly, you’ll need to give it more thought.
A Few Copywriting Don’ts
6. Don’t Write for Everyone
When you write for everyone, you essentially write for no one. You want to write for a small subset of your entire audience.
Just like you had to niche down your audience, you need to actually niche down your subscribers and write for just the portion of your audience that is active.
7. Don’t Leave Things Unsaid
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your audience is not going to read between the lines. If your product or service has a particular benefit, say so. If you don’t say so, they won’t know.
8. Don’t Welcome Everyone
Not only should you stop welcoming everyone to your website, please ditch the flash entry points and music, too. That’s too old-school and makes you look like you haven’t updated your website in five years. Besides, any users looking on a mobile i-Device can’t see your flash, and they’ll keep on searching for what they need at your competitor’s site.
In other words, people do not want to look at one page loading for five minutes, then click a door to enter.
9. Don’t Use Just One Kind of Content
The days of just using text on your website, blog, or sales pages is over. You need to use multiple types of content such as video, podcasts, graphics, and text to get your point across more clearly. In the interest of total transparency – I’m a work in progress on this one! I have to become more multi-media friendly over here. But I digress…
10. Don’t Lie and Exaggerate
If you haven’t made a million dollars online yet, please don’t tell people you have or imply that you have. Be honest. Be who you are. If no one has a clue who you are, don’t claim otherwise. The fact is, no one can be you. You are special; you are unique, and you need to simply be yourself. No one else can be you quite like you can.
Follow this list of do’s and don’ts and your copy will automatically become just a little bit better and more effective. Writing copy is a skill that can be learned if you take the time to read about it and try. If you don’t want to do that, try hiring a professional copywriter to help you make all your copy more effective.