Copywriting is a critical skill for businesses and marketers. It involves creating compelling written content that persuades and motivates people to take action. In today’s digital age, copywriting has become more important than ever as businesses compete to capture the attention of their target audience. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of copywriting and provide tips for beginners to develop their skills.
Getting Started with Copywriting
If you’ve written emails to customers, posted on Facebook and LinkedIn or written a report, you’ve already started copywriting. Great, you’re already a copywriter, now you just need to take your learning to the next level. You can take online courses, read books on the subject, or even start practicing by writing your own copy. Once you have the basics right, your skill will grow every day.
The Basics of Copywriting
Copywriting is the art of crafting persuasive written content that motivates people to take action. It’s different from other forms of writing because its primary goal is to sell a product or service. You are getting paid to persuade people to stick their hand in their pocket. The better you are at that, the more demand there’ll be for your services. To be successful at copywriting, it’s essential to know your target audience and their needs and desires.
Core Copywriting Skills
There are six core copywriting skills that are essential to success:
- Call To Actions (CTAs)
Research involves understanding your target audience and their needs. Writing involves crafting compelling content that persuades the reader. Editing involves refining and improving your writing. Headlines are critical because they are the first thing the reader sees. CTAs motivate the reader to take action, and proofreading ensures your copy is error-free.
The Formula for Copywriting
The AIDA formula is a proven copywriting formula that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This is a framework for your writing that can be used, whether you are writing an email or video script.
- Attention involves grabbing the reader’s attention with a strong headline or opening statement.
- Interest involves building curiosity and creating a desire for the product or service.
- Desire involves highlighting the benefits and unique selling proposition of the product or service.
- Action involves motivating the reader to take action.
The Four P's of Copywriting
The four P’s takes that AIDA formula and helps you create an emotional message. Four P’s stand for Promise, Picture, Proof, and Push. These four elements are essential to creating persuasive copy that motivates people to take action. It is a journey you want your reader to take in your communication.
- The Promise is the benefit the reader will receive from the product or service.
- The Picture is the mental image the copy creates in the reader’s mind.
- The Proof is the evidence that the product or service delivers on its promise.
- The Push is the call to action that motivates the reader to take action.
Features vs. Benefits
Attention, interest and desire are driven by emotion. Copywriters are well aware that people are much more likely to make emotional decisions and use logic to justify the decision they make. This is where features and benefits come into play. Features are the specific details about a product or service i.e. what it does, the facts, while benefits are the positive outcomes the reader will experience from using the product or service.
The benefit is the promise the product makes and the picture it paints in your reader’s/listener’s mind. How does it make you feel, what problem does it solve? The proof is wrapped up in the features of a product or service. You set up expectations with benefits and reasons to believe with features. It’s essential to focus on benefits rather than features because benefits motivate the reader to take action.
Developing a Brand Tone of Voice
Okay, we are getting a little bit more advanced here but it is a good thing to take note of before you start writing. A brand tone of voice is the way a brand communicates with its audience. Every brand has a personality that distinguishes it from its competition. The tone of your writing should be consistent with that brand personality. A distinctive brand tone of voice is important because it creates consistency and builds trust with the audience.
To develop a brand tone of voice, it’s essential to understand your brand’s values, personality, and target audience. Is the brand old, new, young and carefree or nerdy or caring? Every brand is different, if you can reflect that in the tone of your writing it will help you connect with your audience.
Writing an Effective Headline
A strong headline can be the difference between your copy being read or ignored. People will see hundreds of headlines every day, you have to ask, why will yours grab their attention? Here are some tips on how to write an effective headline:
- Make it clear and concise: Your headline should clearly communicate what your copy is about in just a few words.
- Use numbers: Numbers can catch people’s attention and make your headline more specific.
- Include a benefit: Your headline should communicate a benefit that the reader will get from reading your copy.
- Address a pain point, what headache are you going to solve?
- Use power words: Power words like “proven”, “secret”, and “ultimate” can make your headline more compelling.
- Test and optimize: Try different headlines and see which ones perform best. Use what you learn to optimize your future copy.
Does it matter what you are writing?
Yes and no. In your career as a copywriter you will tackle all kinds of writing – digital banners, social posts, video scripts, posters, and packaging. Then again, you might specialise in writing just one, lots of copywriters do. Whatever you are writing the basics are true for all about what will motivate your reader. The constraints of the format may mean you have to adapt your writing. A Twitter feed is very different to a YouTube script but you still need to get noticed and a benefit will appeal more than a feature. Some writing projects are more challenging than others. Writing a radio commercial takes a bit of getting used to – you are using sound to create your stories but you still need an idea to get noticed, you’ve got to appeal emotionally to your audience and create a message that will drive action.
Writing Email Copy
Writing effective email copy requires a different approach than other forms of copywriting. Here are some tips to help you write better emails:
- Keep it short: People are busy and don’t have time to read long emails. Keep your emails short and to the point.
- Use personalization: Personalization can help make your emails feel more personal and engaging. Use the recipient’s name and other personal information when possible.
- Focus on benefits: Your emails should focus on the benefits that the recipient will get from your product or service.
- Include a clear CTA: Your email should include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that tells the recipient what you want them to do next.
- Test and optimize: Like with other forms of copywriting, testing and optimization are key to writing effective email copy. Try different subject lines, CTAs, and email lengths to see what works best.
Copywriting is a crucial skill for businesses and marketers, but it can seem overwhelming for beginners. By following the tips and advice in this article, you can start developing your copywriting skills and creating more effective copy. Remember to always focus on your target audience, use the four P’s of copywriting, and develop the core copywriting skills. With practice and perseverance, you can become a skilled copywriter and drive better results for your business.
About the author
Steve Girdlestone is an award-winning copywriter and Creative Director that has worked at advertising agencies around the world. His work has been featured in The Copy Book by D&AD.
You can follow his YouTube channel – @plugcopywriting The Art of Persuasion.