3 Tricks to Writing Great Copy

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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great copywriting

What is it that makes content compelling? Is there even anything new to say anymore online? Hasn’t it all been written about in 10 different ways already? And why is so much of it badly written, boring and a waste of my time reading?

Well, you’ve just about answered the first question, because you are still reading this article. Something compelled you to read on after digesting the headline. And then propelled you to read the next three sentences. Was it because they were all questions? Answer: undoubtedly. A question draws the reader in, involves them, gets them thinking.

So let’s start back at the very beginning…

Crafting the perfect headline
There are countless theories, formula and rules written by ad men throughout the ages. And, a bit like the many religions out there, it’s interesting to read all of their edicts and then adopt the principles that resonate with you.

Three rules I come back to time and time again, are:

– ask a question or use the ‘How to…’ formula in the headline (a tried and tested old favourite)

– use words in your headline that your target audience would use to search on (as good for the reader, as it is for the God that is Google)

– spell out the articles benefits, as succinctly as possible.

Be careful what you promise in your headline though. We all loathe feeling duped, and getting to the third paragraph and realising the title and the content are in no way related. A good writer always relates their writing back to their headline throughout their article.

When you’re just starting out, and learning the ropes, it can be helpful to use a template of headlines and insert your nouns as you go. http://www.copyblogger.com/10-sure-fire-headline-formulas-that-work/

But according to copyblogger.com, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will continue reading. To address that and make them read on, inevitably comes down to the quality of your content.

How to find new content to write about
In itself, new content is compelling. You probably feel that the internet is awash with ‘How to…’ articles already, but remember just how many of them are ineffective, also-ran, poorly written articles?

And in your industry, you are the expert. You have the knowledge that the rest of us don’t have; you just forget that you know what we don’t. I’m constantly surprised when I meet people who tell me they cannot write and have no inclination to want to. And then I remember I’m speaking to an accountant, and realise I couldn’t do his/her job either.

Most importantly, you know your customer, how they think and what they need.

So what is it you know about the benefits of your product/service, that the rest of us need to know? Try these three easy ways to work this out:

1. Think back to conversations you’ve had with clients about your product/service/industry, who’ve suddenly looked surprised and said ‘Really, I didn’t realise that?’ This is gold. This is the nugget you want to write down.

2. Ask yourself questions about your product/service/industry that no-one else is wanting to address. It could be about pricing, changes to legislation or cheaper imports. Find niches that are not yet being written about by your competitors.

3. Write ‘around’ your speciality. Approaching it from another angle, may attract other potential customers than the ones you thought would be looking for your product/service. eg I’m a writer, but if I write about the importance of integrating the copy with the web design and working with a like minded web designer when writing for clients – I’m expanding the topic’s reach.

When you leave them…
…keep them keen, leave them wanting more. Don’t give everything away in your article. These three techniques can help do this:

– Refer to topics you will cover in your next blog/article,
– Include a call to action so the reader can sign up to find out more, and
– Finish your article with a question.

These techniques encourage further dialogue, future engagement and, ultimately, help you assess whether or not your article was compelling enough! And the golden rule is to keep publishing regularly. Drip-feed with regular 500 word articles and in time, slowly but surely you will start to build a following.

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