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A Copywriter’s Guide to Best Writing Practices

A Copywriter's Guide to Best Writing Practices

Copywriting is the black sheep of writing. It doesn’t care for your silly grammar rules and formalities. Every other writing style sees it as a wayward embracer of unnecessary contractions and subjective opinions.

But, great copy is some powerful stuff — it stands out, sells things, and inspires an audience. So, how do you master copywriting? Take a look at some best writing practices for copywriters:

Stop Taking Everything So Literally

When it comes to subject lines, stop reading them. Psychology plays an amazing role when it comes to the voice of marketing speak. Sometimes the statement you make speaks to a subconscious element of the mind, which reacts much faster than it takes to read the full headline.

Think of how short and to-the-point ad copy can be.

According to professor Gerald Zaltman of Harvard Business School, 95 percent of buyer decisions take place in the unconscious mind. Before a person has read and digested the words on paper, they have already absorbed the way in which the display of text made them feel. Advertising must speak to both a person’s conceptual understanding as well as intuitive feeling about the ad or marketing campaign. You don’t always have to write in full sentences. Oftentimes, copywriters break grammar rules just to get a point across.

Set the Tone

Not every brand or company sounds the same. The purpose of a brief and/or style guide for the copywriter is to narrow down a list of dos and don’ts. It’s like writing horoscopes that people identify with. The words that are written are just as important as those that are not. Because in copywriting, every word is used to set the tone, and there are plenty of words that mean the same thing.

The tone of your brand should manifest in your copywriting.

This is where you need to establish personality with your brand identity. It’s best marketing practice to ask your customers. In fact, Gerald Zaltman explained many researchers find, “that one-on-one interviews are superior to focus groups… So, my preference is to conduct in-depth, one-on-one interviews that are enriched by using various techniques from clinical psychology and sociology.”

Establish Your Adjectives

How would your best customers want you to be perceived? Taking into account your company and industry, spell out a list of adjectives that best describe the mood, tone, personality, and perspective you wish to convey to your company.

Are you trustworthy, creative, innovative, practical, enthusiastic, friendly, or mysterious?

A doctor might want to be perceived as serious and compassionate, while a lawyer might want to be perceived as aggressive or argumentative. An easy shortcut for building a brand is finding the right adjectives to describe it.

Address Your Audience

Don’t just determine who you’re speaking to. Address them! When writing copy for websites or marketing content, the trick to getting your audience to respond may be simply addressing them.

Think about the title of this article — A Copywriter’s Guide to Best Writing Practices

As soon as someone lands on the front page of a website, they always want to know if they have come to the right place. There’s no better way to answer this than by addressing this person outright.

Keywords: Use Them Religiously

Obviously, online marketers must use keywords. Why? — because no one would ever find your website if they didn’t. In reality, the online world is full of cliches and niches. At the end of the day, niche marketing or location-based marketing turns out to be the most effective beginning approach to start reaching the right audience online. Because of this, keywords are an essential part of how you find online customers.

Customers are searching or being targeted through the words they type.

Copywriting must match these words and convey to the search engine algorithm that your pages are indeed “trustworthy” and “relevant” to the search query. This doesn’t just happen overnight, so it must become a consistent part of your daily marketing efforts for producing content.

For example, a website for booking travel would benefit from adopting keywords such as “cheap flights” or a popular city name “Los Angeles flights”. Using these consistently will help you build ranking keywords, but it’s a good idea to always do your keyword research first.

Keep It Conversational

Copywriting is much less formal than other types of writing. The best writer with no experience in marketing can certainly write crappy copy. That’s because all the rules you were taught in school about the way writing “should” be written fly out the window.

You were told to keep things objective and never use the word “you”.

Contractions were bad news. Sentence fragments, a travesty. Persuasive arguments based on emotion, pretentious. But in reality, no one can truly connect with these formalities, because that’s not the way people converse every day with friends. The formalities seem out of place for marketing purposes.

Point of View for Marketers

Many writers are taught to write in an objective manner for research or journalistic purposes. Copywriting is different in that there is much more emphasis on subjective opinion.

Point of view can change the entire perspective of your campaigns.

Using first-person POV may be the key to more effective Calls-to-Action. After A/B Testing a landing page on Unbounce.com, one marketing team reported a 90 percent higher click-through rate when testing “get my free 30-day trial” with “Get your 30-day free trial”. The bulk of content copy is written in the second person because it speaks directly to the reader. If you need to tell a story or write a convincing marketing case study, the third person works.

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