Writing effective copy is both an art and a science; it requires creativity and artistic flair, but also a sense of purpose. Here are some styles and tips to help you to write better copy.
Plain, factual copy.
This kind of copy is simple, to the point and has no gimmicks. It usually includes facts and benefits put forward in a neutral tone. This kind of copy is not stylistic or creative, but if you’re less confident with creative writing this will serve you as a great way to start. It should present all of the information your audience would want to know, whether it’s information in your company’s about section or your products. Try to imagine yourself as a potential reader/customer, and this will enable you to figure out how to answer their potential questions. For product descriptions, this will be notably more succinct and include only the fundamental information such as price, weight, size, amount, and whatever else might be relevant.
Storytelling copy can be engaging and add a human element to your brand or products. Similarly, people enjoy a good story and like hearing about other people. Stories for brands can be varied, but they usually include a challenge, and how the challenge was solved by a product. The product, therefore, is usually a tool for overcoming a challenge. This style of storytelling can be included in landing pages, email marketing, or even video, but make sure to do some research about whether or not this style will appeal to your audience. Whatever medium is utilised, there are basic elements that make up a story. These are:
- An opening – the situation to begin with.
- A challenge – a problem or difficulty.
- A solution – which may be solved by your company, product or efforts. This should include factual, tangible results.
Interspersed within these points may well be some dialogue, but only if it adds to what you’re trying to say.
The fake conversation.
This conversational style of copy is particularly effective when you think your product or brand might inspire questions or concerns that you want to immediately and transparently address with your audience. Additionally, it can be used to play the part of an advocate sympathising with the audience about a problem which has now been solved with your product. If you can imagine sitting down with a customer over copy and speaking to them, this is the exact approach. If you’re unsure of how to write like this, sit down with a team member, record the conversation and use the transcription as a guide.
Imaginative copy can be another effective style of copy. This might include terms like “imagine”, “discover”, “pretend”, “picture” or other words to allow your audience to visualise or dream. This could be asking your customers to imagine becoming an ideal, which can be achieved through your product.
Long form copy.
Contrary to what you might expect, long copy can be very effective. It can go into depth and details about details that might otherwise come across as presumptuous. You can include a wealth of information including facts and benefits, which might be vital if your premise isn’t simple. How you present this is up to you, and you may choose to split this up for example in email newsletters so that you can publish a section at a time. You might feel this is easier for your audience.
As a business, your primary concerns will be educating and selling, and not so much writing flowery prose. However, it is important to come across as smart, and creative writing can impact the way you come across. You might want to play around and see if you can incorporate beautiful, moving language with your aim, which is probably making a sale. Essentially, this means that applying strategy to creativity can lead to masterful and persuasive writing. Marrying strategic copy with artistic flair can be extremely difficult, but certainly worth exploring.
A message from the big boss.
Whether you own a small business or a larger one, it can be a great idea to try to connect the CEO with the customers in some way. This may be through an email newsletter or regular messages on your site, but the purpose behind this is to make your company’s boss more accessible to your audience. This is a remedy for your audience thinking that your company owner doesn’t care about them. This could be written in a conversational tone, and display benefits and facts that affect the company and its audience.
The ugly truth up front.
You might wonder what the benefit is for writing copy that directly addresses pitfalls, and the answer to that is that it builds customer trust. If there is an elephant in the room that needs to be spoken about, why not be transparent about it before discussing the product’s benefits? A fantastic example of this is DDB’s Think Small campaign for Volkswagen, wherein they had to address criticisms including slowness, ugliness, and the fact that the car had ties to Hitler. They faced these head-on, and created a wildly successful campaign.
Remove hype – only hype if you can.
It might be the case that you actually can write some superlative copy, but this should only be done if your outlandish claims can be backed up by concrete research. Your research might be statistics, testimonials, focus groups and more. Otherwise, remove all hype. Your audience will be able to tell if you make outlandish and unrealistic claims.
Know your audience.
Ideally, before writing anything you will have researched your audience in depth. It is essential to know who you’re writing for, how they think, and what they need. Without taking your audience into proper consideration, your writing could come across as completely irrelevant. What they’re interested in and what they care about will determine how you communicate with them. Utilise as much research and data as you can to get to know who you’re talking to. Try to go further than basic demographics, as these won’t give you enough of an insight. You may even want to conduct your own research. The more you know, the more you can tailor your copy.
Rosie is a qualified Journalist, NCTJ certified, and is currently an MSt student in Literature and Arts at Oxford University. Having worked in editing, communications, and brand strategy in agencies in Seoul and London, she is passionate about producing intelligent writing with practical and creative value. Previously a Content Editor and Writer at the UK Domain.Read full profile