Most of us, at some point or another, have taken an English class. But just because you can locate a dangling modifier (which is, actually, pretty impressive), doesn’t mean you know how to be a marketing copywriter.
In fact, no matter how awesome your grammar is or how wide your vocabulary, one terrifying truth remains:
Words is real hard.
And while I don’t have some secret, one-size-fits-all formula for writing awesome copy, I do have some real, tried-and-true tactics that have helped me and my fellow copywriting friends write better.
So without further ado, here are four tricks to writing copy that converts:
1. Give it personality!
People don’t buy from companies—they buy from people.
So don’t make your brand sound like a nameless, faceless corporation (zzzz . . . )—make it sound like a warm and friendly human being (yay!).
ModCloth—an online clothing retailer—has mastered copywriting. Their target audience is millennial women, so they’ve crafted their copy to sound like a young woman’s friend—not a business. Their copy is friendly, whimsical, and fun.
For example, one morning I was sweeping through my email, sorting through the barrage of “Sales,” “Updates,” and “News” emails, when I saw this witty subject line from ModCloth:
“Warning: Unattended items in your bag may be eaten by gnomes.”
Holy smokes! An exciting email! Not only did this subject line make me like the brand more (because they’re funny), it also got me to do the one thing all those other subject lines couldn’t: open the email.
Their website also offers fun interactivity. When you add a product to your wishlist, you’ll get a friendly response, like “I love you too,” or “Right back at ya,” or “Awww thanks.” These small touches make it feel like I’m interacting with a person, not a company.
Likewise, their product names carry the same whimsical tone—instead of “purple flower dress,” they’re selling a “Slice of Layer Cake” dress and a “Chorus in the Forest” dress; this copy helps connect the brand with a sense of adventure and fun.
Notice that being more persuasive isn’t always about being more salesy—sometimes it’s just about getting your customer to trust you enough to make a purchase.
Another great example is the Dollar Shave Club’s copy.
It’s both down-to-earth and punchy. Instead of saying their product “is affordable” or “you can get razors at a great price,” they say it’s only “a few bucks a month.” “Bucks” makes the copy sound conversational—not condescending.
Likewise, “No commitment. No fees. No BS.” makes it feel like they’re talking at my level—this isn’t some advertising agency trying to sell me something, this is a real guy—telling me like it is.
Not only is personality-driven copy more enjoyable to read, it makes your brand a bajillion times more trustworthy. And no one’s going to buy from you if they don’t trust you.
In short, the more you make your brand sound like a person, the better.
A quick word to the wise: once you nail down your brand voice—stick to it. No waffling between whimsical and sterile—if you’re inconsistent, you’ll seem disingenuous.
Tip: if a person wouldn’t say it, then your brand shouldn’t either! To test your copy, read it aloud; if you start sounding like a robot, cut it!
2. Remove prepositional phrases
This one simple tactic can do wonders for simplifying your copy.
For a bit of a refresher, prepositions are words that express spatial or temporal relations, or mark different semantic roles.
Ok, wait—give me a second. You guys should be, like, totally impressed I just used the words “temporal” and “semantic.” Pretty soon I’ll be whipping out words like, “piquant” and “ergo.” #fancypants
Ok, sorry. Back to prepositions . . .
Some examples of prepositions include, “over,” “under,” “from,” “of,” “to,” etc. A prepositional phrase is a phrase that includes, you guessed it, a preposition.
For example, “She went over and above in order to make the most of her time.”
Often times, these sneaky little words worm their way into copy they have no business being in. #rude
Here’s an example:
“We are excited to take on a new product line made of 100% organic materials.”
Just cut “take on” and “made of,” and you get a much more concise sentence:
“We are excited to launch a new, 100% organic product line.”
Here’s another example:
“In order to meet her goals, Sally took on the task of executing more campaigns.”
Cut a few words and you get: “To meet her goals, Sally executed more campaigns.”
Isn’t that fun? You can cut a bunch of words, and yet the sentence still makes sense—it’s just shorter and easier to read.
Instead of: “The girl with red hair sat on the bench made of cedar.”
How about: “The red-headed girl sat on the cedar bench.”
Just scoot the adjective closer to the noun, cut the preposition, and voila! Concise copy!
Tip: when rereading your copy, pay extra attention to phrases with “of” and “with” in them; often times you can cut these words and squeeze your copy together.
3. Cut, cut, and then cut some more
I know, I know . . . this one’s hard. But sometimes, even the prettiest copy has to go.
For me, the hardest part is cutting humor. Mainly, because I suffer from chronic laugh-at-my-own joke syndrome. (The struggle is real.)
But as funny, clever, or moving as you think your copy is, if it doesn’t add value to the consumer, it’s got to go.
So, how do you determine what goes on the chopping block? To start, use a trick my old boss taught me: cut your first paragraph.
Typically, when you sit down to write, you’ll use that first paragraph to ease yourself in and get the creative juices flowing. But when you reread your copy, you’ll realize those first few sentences were helpful for you, but not necessarily the reader. For this blog post, I ended up cutting about three sentences from the intro because they didn’t add value.
Next, you need to cut redundancy. If you have two sentences or phrases that say the same thing—cut them. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. Even though this seems straightforward, it’s not.
See what I did there?! “Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.” and “Even though this seems straightforward, it’s not,” express the same sentiment, but with different words; therefore, you can chop one sentence and still communicate your message.
Tip: to patrol yourself, just try slashing sentences (even the ones you like) and see if your message stays the same. You’d be surprised how many words can get the boot, yet your point remains consistent.
4. Use contractions
Here’s another one of those elementary school rules that’s got to go. Contractions make your copy easier to read and more relatable.
Instead of the high brow: “Do not touch my Grey Poupon—I would like to eat it.” Just say: “Don’t touch my Grey Poupon—I’d like to eat it.”
This tip goes hand-in-hand with rule #1: personality. And like we learned earlier, personality = trust, and trust = $$$.
Here are a few things you can quickly change in your copy:
- “You are” should be “you’re”
- “Can not” should be “can’t”
- “Do not” should be “don’t”
- “Are not” should be “ain’t” (just kidding)
- “He will” should be “he’ll”
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this little stroll down copywriting lane. If you want more marketing tips, subscribe to our blog!
Don’t have time for tips and just want to get the dang thing done? We’re here to help! Red Rokk specializes in digital marketing of all shapes and sizes.
See how we can help increase your online sales: call us at (360) 747-7401 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.