Copywriting is the big leagues of content marketing. But how do you write ad copy that appeals directly to your target audience? How do companies ensure that their advertising message is received loud and clear by the reader? And how do you write copy that strikes an emotional chord and results in a tangible action?
This article summarizes the 10 most important copywriting tips as a working basis for companies, copywriters and anyone responsible for content marketing. After all, every piece of the puzzle has to align to make sure that text is transformed into copy that sells; products become must-haves; and brands boost their customer engagement.
Tip 1: The basics for copywriters – understanding target audiences
One of the most important aspects of a copywriting brief is: For whom is the copy being written? What is the target audience? This information forms the basis for creating advertising copy.
Ideally, copywriters immerse themselves in the target audience to know what interests them, what challenges they face and what they need. In short: Copywriters understand the target audience and write texts containing information and solutions that are relevant.
Side note: For companies, a proven marketing method for accurately defining target audiences is to create personas. Personas contain extensive information about the people for whom the copy is intended. In addition to the standard checklist of age, gender, family status, everyday habits and profession, they can include anything from personal interests to food preferences.
Copywriters get to know a target audience even better by reading what they read and researching what their current hot topics are.
Tip 2: The basics for companies and brands – defining and measuring the purpose of copywriting
In addition to defining the target audience, it must also be clear what the text is supposed to achieve, i.e., what action it should elicit from the target audience. Desired actions and sales leads can include, for example:
- Subscribe to newsletter
- Start download
- Contact us
- Send e-mail
- Schedule a meeting
- Request information
- Buy product
- Join network
- Like post
- Share with network
- Leave comments
These objectives form the main thread of the text, and are the copywriter’s focus right from the get-go. They are guided in this task by the AIDA formula – see tip number 3.
Side note: All copy, articles, advertisements and social media posts with commercial content end with what is known in online marketing speak as a “call to action.”
Tip 3: Copywriting structure – the AIDA formula
The AIDA formula underpins the structure of effective advertising content. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action and can be applied to any form of advertising copy.
- First off: Grab their attention
“That looks cool”, “What’s that?”, “I definitely want to find out more about that!” is the ideal reaction to attention-grabbing headlines, posts, infographics or e-mail subject lines. The golden rule here is: The headline sells the text! Great headlines make people want to read on.
- Step two: Address the target audience directly
For a copywriter to attract the interest of the target audience, they must have a sound understanding of target audiences generally. Only if they understand the wishes, language and challenges of the target audience can they create “thumbstoppers” or “hooks” that actually trigger real interest: announcing a solution, a new product or service or an offer that they will not want to miss.
The focus here is on clearly communicating the benefits: What are the advantages of the product or service, and what is the tangible benefit they offer for the target audience?
- Step three: “I want it!”
The information has succeeded in piquing the interest of the target audience and ideally won them over, but there is still more that content can do! It can provide an easy solution to satisfying a need. It can even go further and offer an irresistible additional advantage for the target audience in the form of a marketing ploy like a discount, extra tidbit or a free gift if an order is placed. Who can say no to that?
- And finally: Buy, order, or find out more here
Now is the point at which you make fulfilling the wishes of the target audience as easy as possible. The customer intention to buy a product or start a download can be bolstered by time-based incentives like “Today only” or by limiting the offer, e.g., “Get one of just 50 VIP tickets!”.
Side note: AIDA is the thread running through the copy: From the initial point of contact with the text, e-mail, post or landing page (Attention) through to promoting Interest and articulating an actual Desire to finally triggering the favored Action.
Tip 4: Reaching people – writing in a reader-friendly way
User-friendliness, or usability, is not only relevant for search engine optimization (SEO), it also makes reading easier and more enjoyable.
The art of copywriting in this regard is to take the reader by the hand and lead them through a consistently engaging text that is free of stumbling blocks such as convoluted formulations, foreign words, too many adjectives or technical terms.
To create good advertising content, the copywriter must heed the following:
- Write in simple language that everyone can understand.
- Avoid jargon. If that’s impossible, offer explanations.
- Vary the sentence length, alternating between long and short sentences. Avoid convoluted sentences.
- Go easy on the adjectives.
- Remain authentic and credible. Do not overpromise.
- Use fewer nouns and more verbs: No to “Help can be found here,” yes to “We can help you!”
- Allow your readers regular breaks. Keep paragraphs short.
- Use meaningful subheadings: These tell the reader what to expect in the next paragraph.
- Choose unambiguous, clear words. This ensures that the reader doesn’t misinterpret the intended meaning.
- Write short, concise sentences. Fill every sentence with information to keep the text interesting.
- Maintain the arc of suspense throughout: Ideally, incorporate a cliffhanger at the end of paragraphs.
Side note: Whether online or in print, readers’ attention spans are waning. To reach the copy’s final destination, the reader or user must “stick with it” until the call to action. This is much easier if texts are a pleasure to read and easy to understand.
Tip 5: The art of copywriting – changing the perspective
Copywriters can shake things up for the reader by introducing a different outlook. If a product is always marketed from the point of view of the manufacturer, adopting the perspective of the user can result in completely new content.
This content is tailored more to the needs of the target audience and not only uses facts and figures to win them over, but also connects with them emotionally.
Side note: Compelling copy doesn’t just stem from fancy style and language – words compel because they offer something new or unexpected. Existing content too can be given a new lease of life through a change in perspective.
The brand “Happy Brush”, for example, tells its story not from the viewpoint of the user or manufacturer, but from that of the toothbrush.
Tip 6: The key to good copywriting – storytelling
A versatile perspective is also the basis for telling emotional stories that sell. Storytelling is not only the duty of copywriting, it is also what sets it apart – particularly when it comes to content marketing for highly complex issues.
The magic of well-told stories enables readers to better understand context, functionality and the tangible benefit.
“Dry” topics in particular, such as complicated new occupational safety guidelines or technical issues, gain a bit of levity through storytelling.
It is not discernible from simply reading the guideline or data sheet what the specific regulations or technical data entail, but a user’s story can “translate” this data into a tangible benefit.
For example, the “process optimization” brought about by a new software can be illustrated by a user story. It is important, however, to choose the right protagonist, i.e., someone with whom the target audience can identify.
This protagonist then tells their story: The problems they had before they came across the new software, the problems they had convincing their boss to buy it, and finally the advantages the new software brings.
Their story explains how the software made their life easier and better. There is also the concept of learning from others: A potential customer learns through the story of someone else “in the same boat.” This identification comes from selecting the protagonist intuitively at an emotional level: “They’re having exactly the same issues as I am!” That’s what draws the reader to the story in the first place.
Side note: Storytelling translates data into emotions. The five components of successful storytelling are: a protagonist, a conflict or moment of change (buildup of tension), a message, emotions and the art of telling itself.
Ideally, the hero of the story turns out to be the target audience or the customer in the end. Over the course of the story, this person finds a solution to their problem or gains inspiration.
Tip 7: Online business – copywriting for online marketing
Creating content for online marketing channels is a challenge for copywriters. Be it a corporate website, corporate blog, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or a newsletter, every channel is different.
The copywriter must be familiar with the requirements of the respective channel and write accordingly.
As if this were not enough, online marketing content often has to meet search engine optimization (SEO) criteria as well, for which keyword research, the scope of the texts and the relevance of the content are all equally essential.
Texts that rank highly must have a clear structure comprising multiple short paragraphs, one heading (H1) and meaningful subheadings (H2, H3, …). Putting important words in bold helps readers to quickly digest essential information, even if they only “scan” the text, which tends to be the way people read online. In this way, readers can pick out specific content by quickly skimming over the text.
Side note: Good copywriters strike the right balance between creating effective advertising copy and fulfilling SEO criteria, i.e., what they write appeals to both users and search engines. But always be mindful of the reading time.
Tip 8: Copywriting for online marketing – the special case of social media posts
Attention spans are even shorter for social media. Everything has to be quicker, more provocative and wider-reaching – yet steadfastly authentic. Creating a thumbstopper on Insta, LinkedIn, and their counterparts is a real challenge for a copywriter.
Copywriting tips: Keep your eye on sales leads and objectives. On Facebook, for example, a text can use a cool graphic or an advertisement for an offer. With one click, the user can complete the transaction on the specially designed landing page.
A thought leadership piece on LinkedIn, however, is about reputation and can increase the visibility and presence of the person on the platform. Important copywriting tip: Authenticity makes all the difference here.
Side note: Copy for social media must get to the point and attract the user’s attention even more quickly. Copywriting for Facebook and the like often encompasses the entire lead generation process alongside the actual post. If a Facebook page links to a landing page, the copy on the latter must be consistent.
Tip 9: Learning copywriting – when people write for other people
Whether B2C or B2B, copywriting is always about H2H (Human to Human) communication. There are numerous courses available to learn copywriting, but no specific training for the profession. Our tips offer a solid foundation for creating sales-boosting copy.
Essentially, learning how to write copy requires a fondness for writing and a genuine interest in brands and people. The best advice for creating great copy is to read a lot, write a lot and use our 10 tips as a checklist:
- Understand the target audience
- Define leads
- Write in a user-friendly way
- AIDA formula
- Switch up perspectives
- SEO-friendly writing
- Have fun
- Copywriting – learning by doing
- Be at the service of the brand.
Tip 10: In the end, a good copywriter …
… stays in the background. They serve a brand, write on behalf of the brand and use the brand’s corporate language to create copy that appeals to the target audience. Advertising copy never reflects the personality of the copywriter, but rather their unique approach to translating information into readable texts.
Before they begin, the copywriter must get to grips with the brand for which they are writing. This involves researching existing copy in print and online, combing through social media channels and making sure they fulfill the brief.
The bottom line: Copywriting is and remains at the very heart of branding
Every piece of copy is a reflection of the brand for which it is written. Readers should be able to discern the brand or company DNA even “between the lines”.
Despite the availability of multiple channels of communication to boost a company’s image and the temptation to play with words, the most effective piece of content is still the one that communicates authentically with its audience.
The art of copywriting for companies is therefore to remain true to their voice and messaging, and thereby recognizable for the target audience. In particular when working with external copywriters, this requires a comprehensive brief to explain the exact content in detail. Copywriters also need unequivocal answers to the following questions: Who is the target audience? Where do I connect with the target audience? What is the purpose of the copy? How long should the text be? For which medium is the content intended?
Above all else, though, copywriters must “embody” the brand identity and immerse themselves word for word in its values and language. And this is the key to copywriting: To become one with the brand and the people who embody it. This results in authentic brand communication that gains the audience’s trust and builds on it long-term. Right through to the desired action. Thanks for reading!