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Copywriting…what’s in a word?

Julie Blake - Monday, November 03, 2014

Copywriting for content marketing is a balancing act. You’re trying to create something that’s not too sales-y but that doesn’t feel like a wet blanket.

Copywriting image

It’s like Goldilocks’ porridge, not too hot, not too cold…just right. Get the correct consistency and your words will stick in the reader’s mind long after they’ve clicked away.

There are loads of articles on ‘power words’ that will help your copy to stand out. We aren’t going to list them all. You can find many of them in this great Buffer post, but here’s a summary of the best techniques around to push your copy to the next level:

  • Let’s get personal:
    MailChimp recently carried out a huge analysis of 26 billion emails. They found that signature personalisation (with first and last name) had a big impact on open rates – increasing them to 33%. Other positive impacts were from words that created a sense of urgency or inviting/announcing something.
  • Look for the bigger story:
    You know what you want to say about your brand and which products you need to market but that doesn’t mean you have an interesting story. Search for something to pin your content to, whether it’s a news article to segue into a discussion, or research into what your customers like/hate most about your types of services/products.
  • Avoid uncertainty:
    According to The Entrepreneur’s Gail Goodman, words like “may, could and should” have no place in copy. Instead use positive statement words like “will, can and are.”
  • The shape of things:
    Several great studies have been carried out on the effect of sound symbolism in writing and word perception. Known as the Bouba/Kiki or the Maluma/Takete effect, sound symbolism looks at how you might visualise words – whether they are curved line shapes or spiky and sharp-angled. In the Bouba/Kiki test over 98% of participants saw Bouba as the abstract curved image and Kiki as the aggressive spiky one (New Scientist). The simplest way to see if your writing is leaning in either direction is to read your copy aloud. If the words feel hard, consider revisions.
  • Investigating is key:
    For your online content use a keyword generator like the Google Keyword Planner. It will help you discover words that you might not have associated with your site, but that prospects are searching for in relation to your product.
  • Cool it:
    One of the key techniques that copywriters suggest is to have some cooling off time. Make a cup of tea, sleep on it or do another job, then come back to your copy with fresh eyes. Try to think from a client’s perspective. Is your copywriting pressing all the right buttons? Are your words too passive? Is the story too difficult to follow? Most likely after a read-through you’ll want to change some words to make your content read and work better.

With copy it’s all about how you make your customers feel. Jargon-free, simple, friendly and slightly emotive is the best way to get good results.

Copywriting is a tricky beast and if you need to outsource your wordy challenges contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any brilliant copywriting tips that you’d like to share? Comment below.