1. What’s the Purpose of the Headline?:
To make you read the first paragraph. It has to be clear. But it has to be captivating and prompt people to keep reading. That’s it’s key objective. If it fails, then they won’t get to the meat of your message.
2. Dogs Salivate to Meat, not Vegetables:
What is your meat to your customers’ hungry eyes? What do they want from you and your site that satisfies their particular need? Clarify it and give it to them.
3. Walk in your Customers’ Shoes:
What do they want, what’s in it for them, how can you benefit them? What are their fears or doubts regarding your product/service? Write each major point down, as each one will be a paragraph.
4. One Idea Per Paragraph:
This will keep the flow tight and the copy focused. Your points will come across as more ordered and clear. Easier to follow is more persuasive.
5. Let the Copy Be as Long as it Needs to Be:
Research shows that longer copy does better than shorter copy. It should be as long as it needs to be to get the message across and deal with the issues you want to address, no shorter and no longer. You need to address and work through the steps of Attention, Interest, Desire, Action and Satisfaction. If it takes you five minutes to explain your service and close a sale with a customer face to face, then you have to go through the same process and address the same issues in your copy.
6. Don’t Waffle:
Every word you use needs to earn it’s place. Your readers will thank you for not wasting their time with inane words. Your copy will also come across as more succinct and your message will have greater weight. Ask yourself, when can you turn two sentences into one by being more exact? Cut unnecessary words.
7. Shorter Sentences are Usually Better, But Vary Them:
Try to avoid too many sub clauses, grammatical complexities or double negatives. Someone with basic conversational English should easily understand your sentences and your message. That said, if they’re all extremely short, that gets tiresome to read, so vary their length.
8. Write to One Person:
Keep one person in mind, your ideal reader. Give them a name, see their face. Then write to them. This aids the feeling of being more personal, direct and trustworthy. It also has the benefit of avoiding the dreaded ‘corporate speak’. It removes the bland and adds more emotion, creating empathy and trust.
8. Read it Over Multiple Times & Read it Out Loud:
How does it sound? What is its natural rhythm? What's clumsy that really needs smoothing out? Can you change a word from exclusive to more inclusive?
9. Get Honest Feedback:
Give it to friends or colleagues for constructive feedback. What’s clear, what’s not? Have you got your message across? What are the concerns or impressions of your readers? Is there anything confusing or contradictory? What’s the tone of the piece? Once they’ve read your copy, what are your customers’ main questions? Do they know what they're meant to do next?
10. Revise and Improve:
Write your copy. Come back to it. Improve it, and repeat. It’s rare that the first version you write will be perfect. Return to it, and see how you can modify it, to be clearer, to flow better, to add punch and be more captivating.
The Conversion & Optimization Perspective
We've just had the opinions of some of the top Copy Writers. Now just for balance, we're going to look at some of the thoughts of the best website conversion experts. People don't read the web. They scan it, so you're writing has to account for that.
- Write in short sentences or fragments
- Make bold or otherwise highlight important information carrying words or phrases, as few words as possible, not whole sentences.
- Use clear wording, not industry jargon.
- Use action verbs and active voice.
- Use bullet lists, not paragraphs.
- Use digits instead of numbers over nine, eg, 63, not sixty-three.