The first thing that you need to establish before writing your article, advert, post or website page is whether you are writing it to directly make a sale of a particular product or whether you are interested in lead generation.
Lead generation, by perhaps offering something of perceived value for free (a free consultation or free report) can potentially gain you more customers.
With a straight forward sales ad, the reader either wants to buy your product or they don’t. With a lead generation advert or article you will get responses from people who are interested, but may not have entirely made up their mind.
You then have the opportunity to turn these undecided leads into buying customers, perhaps by directing them to more detailed content on your website, sending a follow up email or giving them a call. In other words, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them.
It’s Not About You
Once you have decided WHY you are writing, the single most important thing you can learn about writing good copy is that it is all about THEM, your potential customers. They don’t really want to hear all about you and how long you’ve been doing x, y or z. What they want to know is what are they getting out of it all?
How will your product or service make them feel? Will it solve all their problems? Surprisingly, this is an idea that not many people employ, so your content will instantly stand out against the rest.
Don’t Just Leap Straight into it – Brain Storm
Have a little brainstorm first. This will help prevent many hours of procrastination and staring at a blank screen. Jot down a list of ways in which your product or service will actually benefit your customers. Once you have done that, you will be surprised how many ideas pop into your head. Make a note of those too – catchy little sentences here and there that you don’t want to forget.
Don’t mistake a feature for a benefit: features are factual statements about what you are offering, while benefits tell your potential customers what’s in it for THEM. How will they directly benefit from your product or service? How will it solve their problems or enrich their lives? Put yourself in their shoes and come up with some real benefits.
If you don’t point out what the benefits are and instead just quote a load of features, your reader has far too much work to do trying to figure out how your product is actually going to help them. That should be your job, so that the only decision the reader has to make is whether or not to pick up the phone and get in touch. You literally need to put everything on a plate for them.
It is also important not to just elaborate on your feature in an attempt to portray a benefit. For example, being open 24 hours would be a feature; the fact that you can buy when you want would simply be an elaboration; while not having to rush home from work to get to the shop before it closes would be the benefit.
It’s All About AIDA
So, you have written out a list of benefits, what’s next? There is a special formula that applies to all copywriting, whether for adverts, websites or brochures and that is AIDA:
Attention: The first thing you need to do is grab the reader’s attention. Mostly this is done with a clever headline, but it can also be an image (or a combination of both). If you are running a PPC (Pay Per Click) Campaign, this is a good place to test and experiment with different headings and see which ones get results.
Interest: Once you have the reader’s attention, you can start generating interest in what you have to offer. This is where you start mentioning some of those benefits from your brainstorming session.
Desire: So now they’re interested, but you need to convert that into a desire to take action. Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ as much as possible, as if you are talking to each person individually. Convince the reader that their needs will be satisfied or their problem solved – perhaps by addressing the objections that may be keeping them from buying your product.
Action: Finally, you need a Call to Action. If you have written the rest of your content well this should be the easiest part, although many people forget to add a Call to Action. You need to tell the reader exactly what they need to do, whether it be going to a sign up page or hitting that all important ‘Buy Now’ button. What’s more, you should ask them to do it NOW. Don’t give them the chance to walk away thinking they will do it later as they will usually forget. A time deadline is always a good idea if possible.
So that’s AIDA in a nutshell. There are also a few tips that will help you successfully implement AIDA within your copy:
- More is better – Try and aim for around 1500 words. Although some people just want to know the basic facts and only read the headlines, when it comes to buying things, most people that like to know all the details. If you are clever, you can cater to both – write more content for the detail lovers but break it up with headlines, quotes and bullet points for the skim readers and quick decision makers. Sometimes people will do both – have a quick look at the bits that stand out and then, if it catches their attention, settle down to read the rest.
- Answer objections – There may be one or two objections keeping people from purchasing your product or service no matter how good your copy is. If you can address these objections, you can make a dramatic difference to the success of your ad or brochure. For example, some people may be concerned that your service is too expensive for them You should take the time to justify your costs and explain why it is worth spending the extra money.
- The magic word is YOU – ‘You’ and ‘your’ are words you should try and use frequently in conveying your message. Your aim is to make your copy personal as if you are having a one on one conversation with your reader. You are meeting their needs and desires, no one else’s.
- Tell them how you helped others – You can never over use testimonials. People are far more likely to trust what other people say about your service than what you tell them. Always remember to include the name and (if applicable) company of the person who gave the testimonial as it adds credibility.
- Bullet points are an effective way to get your point across in a simple and concise way. They are both easy to write and easy to read and stand out for people who just skim read. Keep bullet pointed information short, usually no more than two lines in length.
- Don’t give everything away at cut prices – Don’t fall into the trap of offering discounts left, right and centre to attract in new customers: not everyone buys on price, especially if your article is convincing enough. It is fine to do it occasionally, but if you are offering discounts all the time, you are only going to cause problems for yourself.
- You are not writing Shakespeare – It is one thing to double check your spelling and grammar, but you need to keep your copy concise and conversational. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it.
There is no quick fix when it comes to writing great copy as it is a skill that you perfect over time – just like the rest of the online marketing game. However, once you know what the key rules are, you will be surprised how much of a head start you have over others.
Now repeat after me, “Attention, Interest, Desire and Action, Attention, Interest, Desire and Action…”