As a brand, copywriting can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many different styles, platforms, and approaches to take when writing for different audiences. But at the end of the day, you’re probably wondering – is it really that complicated?
The answer is yes – it is. But not in a bad way. In fact, it can be extremely rewarding to learn about all the different approaches and ways writers work.
Here, we’ll explore the fundamentals of copywriting and how you can break down the task into simple steps that you can easily understand and implement.
The Basics of Copywriting
Every piece of content you create, whether it’s a blog post, a web page, or a sales letter, is called copywriting. But what does that mean?
In general, copywriting is the process of taking some kind of text, speaking directly to an audience, and engaging them using language that is both easy and clear.
The reason why you’ll often see this term used in conjunction with marketing is because the primary goal of every piece of content you create is to drive as many leads as possible to your company or website. Therefore, everything you create should be able to engage your audience and convince them to take a desired action – subscribe, purchase a product, register for a webinar, or visit a website.
The Four Basic Principles of Copywriting
While there are many different methods and tactics for marketing, there are four basic principles that you must follow when writing compelling copy for your leads.
1. Objective – What do you want your readers to do or think after they’ve finished reading your copy?
The answer to this question will help you determine what action you want your readers to take. If you want them to visit your website, for example, you’ll want to write copy that is highly specific and contains tons of useful information. For an organic grocery store, you may want to use a more general approach and write about the benefits of natural foods.
Before you begin to write, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve. Otherwise, it can be extremely difficult to create compelling content that will engage your audience.
2. Style – How would you like your readers to perceive you?
Writing in a formal or business-like tone will make your readers more inclined to take you seriously. For example, if you’re writing for a legal publisher, you may want to use a more formal tone when communicating with your readers.
On the other hand, if you’re writing for a grocery store or shopping mall, you may want to use a more informal tone to make your readers feel like you’re one of them. In these cases, you may even want to add a few quirks or interesting phrases to make the piece feel a little more human.
Your choice here should match your perceived credibility in your industry. So, if you want to become a trusted voice in your industry, you need to invest in building a formal style while also keeping a human element to your writing.
Clarity of Message
The clarity of your message refers to how easy it is for your readers to understand what you’re saying. In general, you want your readers to be able to easily grasp what you’re trying to communicate without having to think about it. Clarity can be greatly affected by the language you choose to use and how you use it.
For example, if you’re writing for a tech-savvy audience and use complicated language, your message may become muddled. To avoid this, you may want to rewrite parts of your copy in simpler language or even use an acronym instead of a long phrase.
In some instances, your subject matter may be so complex that it can’t be easily summarized in one sentence. In these cases, you may want to break down your message into several smaller ones to make it more digestible. And remember, simpler is usually better when it comes to writing.
Direction and Language
The direction of your copy refers to whether you’re telling your readers what to do or what happened. If you’re writing to persuade your readers, you’ll want your copy to come with a clear direction – do this, use this, buy that, etc.
In addition to direction, you’ll also want to determine how you want your readers to perceive you – as a serious writer, an authoritative voice, or someone to be taken lightly. If you want to be taken seriously, you may want to avoid using slang or everyday words and instead opt for a more refined, classical turn of phrase.
On the other hand, if you want your readers to see you as an equal, you may want to use common phrases and words. You should also make sure that your language is gender- and age-appropriate.
As for the language you choose, you may want to look into the writing style of your chosen subject matter to see how you can emulate it. Of course, this is not an exact science and you’ll have to use your best judgment based on your experience. Ultimately, the goal is to use simple, everyday language that your audience will easily understand.
Organic vs. Inorganic
Depending on your subject matter, you may want to use either an organic or inorganic approach when writing your copy. An organically grown product is one that is grown without the use of any pesticides or chemicals, while an inorganic product is one that is chemically made.
As a general rule, when it comes to food and drink, you’ll want to go organic. Not only is it better for the environment, but you’ll also be sparing your family from the harmful effects of chemical exposure. In the case of shoes and clothing, you may want to go for inorganic products as they tend to be cheaper and more durable. In general, you want to look for products that are made with natural and organic ingredients whenever possible.
The Four Stages of Copywriting
To easily understand how to write effective copy, you have to first understand the process of writing. Generally, there are four distinct stages to creating compelling content:
The first and most important step in the process is to ideate. This involves you sitting down with a blank page and a cup of coffee to just think. You don’t want to rush this step as it can sometimes take a while to come up with ideas that spark interest.
This is also a good place for you to come up with possible titles and subtitles for your article. Think of a title that sums up the heart of your article. For example, if you’re writing about why you should go vegan, you could come up with a subtitle such as, Why Veganism?
Then, take some time and flesh out each piece of content you create. This includes coming up with an outline for the piece, gathering your raw materials (such as interviews or case studies), and putting your thoughts into words. When you’re done, you’ll have a finished product that can be used to approach your target audience and engage them into taking a desired action.
Once you have a well-thought-out and organized outline for your piece, you can move on to the next step – planning. This involves you breaking down your content into smaller pieces and figuring out the ideal distribution of content across platforms.
You may want to create a content schedule and stick to it. This will help you ensure that you always have content to publish at the right time. It also means that you’ll be able to follow up with new content, as needed, without having to worry about running out of material. When planning your content strategy, you also need to decide which platforms to focus on – whether it’s your blog, email list, or social media accounts.
For example, if you run a fashion blog, you may decide to create content for your blog and integrate this with your social media accounts to spread the word about your blog and the content it contains. This is also a good idea for attracting potential new subscribers to your email list.
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to execute. This is the step where you put your ideas into practice and use your previous knowledge and research to present your case.
As you write, be sure to use active, present tense – things like, “I have found that…” rather than, “That will be…” or “One should..” You should also use appropriate and precise words and ensure that your language is easy to understand.