Copywriting is the skill of crafting persuasive messages that convince and convert. It is an extremely important skill – both for internal communication (such as newsletters) as well as external communication (such as ads and press releases).
But not all businesses can afford an in-house copywriter.
If that’s the case, it’s important to pick up tips whenever you can, and if you have time, read a few copywriting books to help hone your skills.
In this post, I share 5 copywriting tips from some of the copywriting greats. I also share the titles of their books, so get reading and then get writing.
1. Headline – How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab
One question that gets asked again and again is “how long should a headline be?”
Schwab’s sage advice:
“it is not wise to make a headline any lengthier than its primary function actually requires. However, great-than-usual length need not worry you…”
Schwab goes on to make the point, that length isn’t important. What is important is making it so reader-focused that they will immediately understand what they personally have to gain from reading the copy under the headline.
To sum up, according to Schwab a headline should be:
- As short as it can be
- Ultimately length does not matter as long as the personal gain to the reader is clear
2. Web Copy – The Online Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
Treat your readers like people instead of prospects. Remember that prospects are people. But people hate being sold to. When you write to people instead of to prospects, they’re more willing to listen.
This translates into:
- Putting the reader first – address the reader as “you.” Speak to them, not at them.
- Generate interest by telling a story, sharing news or showing how the product will make the consumer’s life better
- Use short sentences – make your copy crisp, short and snappy
3. Call-to-action buttons – Microcopy: The Complete Guide by Kinneret Yifrah
A quick definition of microcopy for non-copywriters: the part of web copy that helps let you know what to do next. Like Airbnb’s search bar that tells you exactly what information to enter:
- Use words that help users make a decision. Buttons should tell the user what they will get out of clicking. So instead of “read more,” a site like Unbounce (which Yifrah cites in her book) writes “see all plans”:
Our inboxes are overflowing making it more difficult for us to follow every single email in a timely fashion. Sending out a business email (as opposed to sending out an email to your email list) may not be considered copywriting. And yet good form is still absolutely mandatory. Roman and Raphaelson’s advice:
- Make sure the subject is “clear and compelling”
- Cut to the essence – be ruthless and cut as much as you can, keeping it as short as you can
- Use the right tone of voice
5. Press Release – How to Write Perfect Press Releases by Steven Lewis
There’s a huge demand for content which only seems to be growing. Editors and journalists want to be pitched to. And as Lewis notes, “if you know how to package a story, you are a friend to the busy journalist.” And that’s why if you write a great press release, your chances of getting it published are going to be pretty good. Lewis suggests having the following points covered in your press release:
- What makes your story great?
- What makes your story great for publication?
- Why are you the right person to tell the story?
- If the reader takes just one thing from the story what do you want it to be?
What’s the biggest writing challenge you face in your business?