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Copywriting Fundamentals

Retro typewriter with wordsOne of the most essential skills you need as a business owner is to understand how you can effectively communicate with your customers.

You can communicate with pictures or words. The words act as the copy. Unless you're both an expert in English language and persuasive techniques you should hire an expert copywriter.

The science of good copywriting for marketing lends itself to the world of direct mail or junk mail and has made it online. The style has much success in the online copywriting arena and sales can be drastically improved.

Six Ways To Boost Your Response Rates By 300%

Getting your words correct could boost your response from your website, email campaigns or direct mail by as much as 300% depending on how bad yours is today! Below are six techniques to improve yours:

1) Use AIDA in Your Copy

When a potential customer looks at your copy, you have a maximum of 5 or 6 seconds to get your initial message across so they keep reading and reach your offer.

Professional copywriters, therefore, follow the AIDA concept.

Concept Description
A - Attention Grab your reader's attention first. Initially a strong headline encourages your visitor to want to read more. Craft your headline full of benefits that answer your reader's question "What's in it for me?". Having a drab headline will ensure your customer will not read on. Do not talk about your product. Instead, solve your customer's problem with benefits.
I - Interest Now the reader has thought there is something for them from your headline; you need to follow that introduction to engage their interest. Again, solve a problem your customer has. How will your product or service solve their problem? Use bullets and sub headlines to make your messages jump off the page.
D - Desire Once you have built up interest, you need to work a desire, so your reader wants your service. Simply build on the interest above. Add in testimonials from your current customers. Show how others have benefited from your solution.
A - Action This last concept is the one area a lot of people forget to add into their communications material. You have to tell your reader what to do. "Click here to order now" or "Fill in this form for your free quote". To encourage more people to accept your offer, add additional elements to make them take action NOW. Limited time offers such as only available for the next 50 customers work extremely well. If your customer does not act now, they most likely will not act at all.

Following this formula is essential. There is a range of techniques within each section that a good copywriter uses such as certain words or diagrams within the letter. Bullet points are used to have readers stop at a certain point and break the entire letter down so it's easier to read.

2) Analyse Great Copywriting Examples

Crafting winning headlines and articles can be challenging, so check others writing that works. The best places to look for inspiration, depending on your media, are the top retailers, daily newspapers, magazines and any direct mail you receive in the post.

Think about items you've purchased in the past and the reasons that persuaded you to pay for those products. If you've completed a form at home for a credit card application what enticed you to do this? Look at your daily newspaper and ask why you read a particular article? Look at the headline, as that's what got you to read the article further.

Magazine covers, in particular, are an excellent source for ideas as they have limited space to create short, eye-catching titles. Look at any shelf in your newsagent and the headlines and sub-headlines are usually always less than ten words. They tell you a lot about what's in the magazine which is enough for you to either read or buy it.

3) Create Compelling Arguments

Because we all get thousands of sales messages each day, yours needs to stand out.

A good headline full of benefits will stop your customer in their tracks wanting to read more. The headline is only there to get someone to read further so remember this important point.

Good body copy describing how to solve a problem your reader has will motivate them to take action.

And don't forget to tell your reader to do something at the end of your promotion. A clear call to action is essential to get your reader to act now.

4) Writing Copy for the Web

People's attention spans are not only short, but they want answers as quickly as possible. Writing online is different to most offline situations and, in general, a "long sales letter" outperforms product information, although you should test both versions for your circumstances.

The most successful websites take their lead from traditional direct mail writing. Those "junk" mail pieces you get through the post have now made their presence felt online. Their structure is proven to work. Additionally, the 30 minute videos shown on some shopping channels use the same format.

These video segments are slightly different than the written form because people are tuning in at different times during the commercial, so they have to repeat the message over and over. But even for online copy it's a similar scenario. There are many questions people may have and people skim read. So headlines, font size, graphics and bullet points all help to reinforce your message.

5) Experiment With Long sales letters

Long sales letters that look like a "get rich scam" actually convert very highly, and there are many reasons for this.

They are taken from the direct mailing world and take the visitor on a journey as follows:

  • They have an attention grabbing headline. The headline is just there to get people to read the next sentence.
  • That headline is attempting to solve a problem for the visitor. The more specific it is, the better it will perform. For example, "Lose 12 pounds in weight in as little as 30 days" will always outperform "Here's a great weight loss program you can use".
  • The writer creates a problem that the reader has, and the rest of the letter attempts to solve that with the solution they are selling.
  • The credibility of the writer is next, so readers believe what they are reading.
  • They tell a story the reader can relate to in their circumstances.
  • They provide a quick overview of the product.
  • A full explanation of all the benefits of using the product or system is then provided.
  • Then loads of free gifts and bonuses are added.
  • There is a strong and long unconditional guarantee provided.
  • They tell people how to order and make it obvious.
  • A "PS" and "PPS" gets added at the bottom for skimmers that are searching for the price and end up at the bottom of the page.

That's the science part, and there is much to get across in the letter. Sometimes these can be 20+ pages but this formula is proven to work. You may receive letters like this in the post attempting to sell something. They all follow the same structure.

Other tactics to entice people to place an order usually lie in scarcity. Messages stating there are only ten products left before the price rises or the bonuses won't be available tomorrow are typical messages you'll see. These are all good tactics to improve conversion.

Some people believe the headline is the most important element. It gets people to stop what they are currently doing and read on. A weak headline just encourages visitors to press their "back button".

6) Essentials for your Copywriting

Within your copy, you'll need to earn the trust from your prospects. They need to understand why they should buy from you. So you'll need to state why you're an expert but not talk about yourself. You need to describe why you're an expert and how you can solve the reader's problems.

Other things to add are online security. After all, you are probably an unbranded company, so security of online purchase is paramount.

The best sales letters tell a story about why YOU were looking for the problem that your user has and how you stumbled upon a great solution that is now your product. People love stories and WILL read them. They then start to trust you and see how you tried to solve the problem that your reader now has.

Additional Tactics for Your Copy

So you've got people that are interested but your conversions are lower than expected. There are a few other things you can introduce that tend to improve conversions. These are:

Tactic Description
Reviews Adding real customer testimonials with photographs. People buy from other people, so get good testimonials from your current customers. Try to get something specific - e.g.: your product improves my life by 20% in just one week.
Guarantees Add a real and long guarantee. Most people don't ask for refunds. If you have a 30-day money back guarantee why not try a 90-day guarantee? You can test it to see how conversions move and any increase in refund requests.
Take action You must tell people what to do. Most people skim-read so make it overtly obvious how they should order or proceed to the next stage in the process.

Things that work in some industries might not work for you. You need to test various elements on many hundreds of visitors to see what is the best copywriting elements that work for your circumstances.