You’ve probably heard the term “click-bait”. It’s all the rage in digital marketing right now and for good reason; it works!
The key is to write compelling content that gets your audience to click-through to your website, sign-up for your newsletter, or buy your product. But, how do you write copy that works?
To find out, we spoke with Megan McClure, CEO of Genee Media, about the most effective copywriting strategy she’s used to generate tons of sales for her clients.
1. Focus On The Reader
One of the best pieces of advice Megan gives budding copywriters is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and figure out what they want. This will help you write copy that takes action.
You might imagine that a piece of advice like this would make you rush out to write something that gets right to the point. But, that’s not how Megan works. She suggests starting with a bang and then bringing it back down to earth with a thud. She wants her readers to feel like they’re diving into a story that will keep them gripped until the end.
“Start with a hook, then build the rest of the story around it,” she said. “The hook should be something that will make the reader click-through to your website or product. It could be a compelling statistic or an intriguing anecdote that will draw them in.
Megan gave the example of a real estate agent who wants to promote a luxury property that they’ve listed for sale. They might start their sales copy with:
“Real estate investing is a lucrative and popular choice for those looking to get ahead. If you’re considering becoming an investor, then you should note that there are particular traits that buyers look for in a realty property…”
And then they would go on to list the top four attributes that make this luxury mansion unique and desirable. This strategy gives them the freedom to write about any topic they want while still keeping the focus on their product and the benefits it provides. The luxury realty agent can talk about anything they want, but they need to keep the focus on what the customer wants: finding a luxury property to invest in.
This same advice applies to any type of copywriting. Whether you’re marketing a product or service, you need to start with a compelling storyline that will keep your audience motivated to act. In addition to focusing on the story, you should always keep the reader in the foreground and the benefits of what you’re promoting in the background. This will establish your copy as more valuable and as a guide for more effective content.
2. Establish A Framework
Another piece of advice from Megan that’s relevant to all writers is to establish a framework. She says that when writing an article, she always starts with a plan. Even if she’s writing about a topic that she’s covered previously, she’ll still take the time to map out the plan for the piece. This helps her make sure that she doesn’t deviate from the point she’s trying to make and that everything in the piece is part of the bigger picture. It also helps her ensure that everything ties together nicely and that she hasn’t forgotten anything.
“I like to outline the topic and then work backward from there,” she said. “If I’m trying to create awareness around the dangers of horse riding without proper training, I might write an article with the outline ‘Dangers of Horseback Riding’. From there, I can flesh out the details of what I’ll include in the piece: how many horses are really at risk, the statistics around equine injuries, and the importance of proper riding instruction. Putting my thoughts into an article allows me to present them in a logical and straightforward manner, while also giving me the freedom to add details as I see fit.”
3. Find The Middle Ground
Taking a step back, what do you suppose is the biggest turn-off for potential customers? Probably, a boring or lengthy sales pitch that tries to talk down to them or pretend to be something that you’re not. So, when you’re writing, find the right balance between being too promotional and not promotional enough. As a copywriter, you want to find the happy medium between being too sales-y and being completely off-putting. This is where your experience and expertise come in handy; you know what will make your customers engage with you, and want to hear more. In fact, when done well, informative and interesting sales copy can be more effective than a cheesy sales pitch.
“I usually start with three principles: be concise, be clear, and be compelling,” Megan said. “I want to make sure that what I write is easy to understand and memorable. From there, I’ll work backward to establish key points and bring it all together in the end. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you copy what I’ve written word-for-word, but it helps to have a starting point, and it’s much easier to follow a structured approach when you’re writing a piece for publication.”
4. Be Human
Although you’re an expert in your field, there’s still plenty to learn about being a good human being. One of the best things that comes with experience is the ability to see things from another person’s point of view. When you’re writing for publication, it’s especially important to try and relate to your audience; you’re not just marketing a product, you’re trying to build a relationship.
“I believe that humans are inherently good and kind, but we’re all too often tempted to behave in ways that are detrimental to ourselves and others,” Megan said. “It’s important to remember that we’re all unique, and although there are commonalities among us, we can never be reduced to a single trait or behavior. Being human means being able to ask questions, admit mistakes, and hopefully learn from others’ experiences.”
Megan suggests that in addition to using words and language that are familiar to your audience, you should also incorporate some of the following things:
- Personality quirks
- Actions/decisions that the character makes
- Actions/decisions that the character doesn’t make but should
- Opinions/thoughts/judgements of the character
- The relationship the character has to other individuals or elements in the story
- Language used by the character
- Incidentals (small events that don’t seem relevant to the storyline but are important to the plot)
- Setting (where the story takes place)
- Plot (the sequence of events)
- Characters (who lives, who dies, and why they matter)
When writing for publication, it’s important to keep in mind that your reader may not be familiar with the language or setting that you’re using. It’s a good idea to test out your copy on a few acquaintances (especially those who are in a similar situation to the one you’re writing about) and get their reaction. This will help you determine whether or not your target audience will understand what you’re saying and whether or not your language and content are appropriate.
To give you an idea of what a professionally written sales pitch might look like, we’ve compiled a small sample of powerful sales letters. We’ve kept the format as close to the original as possible while also making it fitting for a magazine article. Take a look and see how easy it is to read and understand.