Full-Stack Marketing Series #2.a
Ouch, I'm already splitting topics into multiple posts. This one is so freakin' crucial to marketing success that I just could not abridge. You'll forgive me, I'm sure, when you learn that I turned an 87-page eBook and a dozen relevant articles into a condensed goldmine of knowledge – so please, bear with me as I give you part one on copywriting.
Copywriting is the responsibility of writing text, otherwise known as “copy”, that gets a marketing message across, whether branding or sales-focused, clearly and effectively.
Branding copywriting serves to form your Big Idea, the creative concept that will sell. This concept should be elaborated first and transpire through any and all copy pertaining to the brand or product.
Sales copywriting is what you'll see most of on a website. It's the text that seamlessly and constantly pitches the sale, enticing consumers to perform a desired call-to-action, effectively converting them into users or customers. This involves guiding the target through the path while reducing friction, or resistance, in the decision-making process.
In this light, copywriting is “salesmanship in print (or pixels).”
SEO copywriting, which -explicitly enough- means writing copy for SEO purposes, does not influence the visitor's decision-making process. As such, the topic will be covered in the installment of the series dedicated to SEO.
How do you take words and combine them in arrangements powerful enough to embody a concept and convert an inattentive audience into loyal clientele? Well, the first step is to get them to READ YOUR FIRST SENTENCE. Then the next. And then the one after that, and so on. That is perhaps the most challenging marketing task.
For starters, don't just state facts! Pimp your sentences to contain the right amount of emotion, image, logic, and promise. These elements are scientifically proven to effectively skew your readers' brains towards your intended outcome.
First things first: be prepared
-Know your audience
Compelling copywriting involves stirring emotions in your audience and providing adequate solutions, thus making the sale seamless and letting the consumer believe he was the one who convinced himself to it. This means listening to the consumer and understanding what he already cares about (you will NOT make him care about something that's of no interest to him).
-Know your subject
Gather seven times more interesting information than you could possibly use, become an absolute dork on the subject matter, then narrow all that you know to its simplest, absolute, most important core.
-Set your goals
Write an outline for the goals that you want to achieve, whether it's getting visitors to fill out a form, buy a product, comment on a post or share an article – and stick to it. Each little bit of copy must be elaborated in the context of these goals, or intended reactions from the reader. If you're in “advertising mode”, you can be less specific than when a customer is looking to really understand your product.
-Use a swipe file
Keep and maintain a file of the most compelling, effective marketing messages of all time. Not the ones that you like, but the ones that worked with your audience. Start from there and edit to fit your purpose.
Now get to work!
-Write a compelling headline
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline and 2 out of the 8 will move on and read past the headline. That's how important headlines are, and that's why it should take you as much time to write a headline than to write the whole rest of the text. A great headline must grab attention, communicate a full message to its intended audience and lure the reader into the body text.
Learning how to write headlines is an extensive program, which I will most likely cover in a later post. For now, if you're setting out to write the headline for your homepage, I urge you to study the dedicated series from Coppyblogger: How to Write Magnetic Headlines.
And whatever you do, follow the 4U rules: be useful to the reader, provide him with a sense of urgency, convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow unique and do so in an ultra-specific way.
-Immediately focus on the benefit to the reader
This seems pretty obvious, but every marketer has been guilty of falling into the trap. Your perceived benefit may not be the ones that will compel the reader.
Here is how to extract your product or service's true benefits:
-make a list of every single one of its features
-ask yourself why each feature is included, what its purpose is
-find how these feature purposes connect with the reader’s wants
-get to the absolute root of what’s in it for the prospect at an emotional level (try a good old ladder interview)
-Make a promise to the reader that you later fulfill
A promise is an offer. Whatever it is, it needs to be compelling to the reader. Read: that communicates value quickly and explicitly.
This post is not about devising promotions, so let's keep it short. Definitely put yourself in your visitor's shoes with everything you know about him and put your offer to the “Do I care?” test. Yes? Good. Then make another promise, that the product or service will meet expectations.
Finish your offer with a call to action. Let people how to reap the benefits: share, comment, buy, download, subscribe… Make it clear and easy to do get there.
-Back up everything you’ve said with very specific proof
You got your reader interested; now you need them to believe that you are not talking crap. So back your promises up with statistics, references or testimonials to prove your credibility.
The best way to gain your readers' trust and tip them over into paying-customerland is a money-back guarantee. You're effectively offering them with a risk-free purchase decision: they WILL buy more. If you're worried about money-back, then your product is probably not good enough. Fix it and come back with a money back guarantee!
Now you know WHAT to do and soon you'll know HOW to do it – in my second, equally delightful write-up on copywriting. Stay tuned!
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