Whether you’re writing copy for your business, or someone else’s, it can be easy to get caught up in the details of your topic. You want to make sure your reader gets the whole picture…So you write and write and write. Then you read it twenty times and all the words blur together.
It’s almost impossible to be subjective about your copy.
Fear not dear reader! I created this checklist to step you through some of the must-haves when it comes to your copywriting.
Read it before you start writing, as you’re editing and maybe once more before you publish.
Have you ID’d the simple truth behind the business?
The simple truth is the very heart of the value being offered to clients. It’s the transformation or life-changing impact. This can be a tough one to dig out as we’re often too entrenched in the details of a business (especially our own), making it hard to take a step back and see the big picture.
TIP: To work out your simple truth, imagine describing this business to someone you’ve never met. In response to your fantastically detailed explanation, they ask “So what?”
You dig a bit a deeper and simplify. They say, “So what?” It goes on.
Eventually, you’ll get to the simple truth.
Example: Let’s look at the services of a vet. A vet takes care of animals when they need help. So what? So they will grow up much healthier and stronger So what? So they will live longer So what? So a family pet will be part of their family for a long time.
So a vet offers a family’s best friend for years to come.
Are you speaking the same language as your audience?
Understanding your audience is the core of really effective marketing and your copywriting is no different. As you write the content for a brochure or website, it’s extremely important to know the type of person you want to attract and to speak their language.
TIP: Write a detailed profile of the person or group of people you are speaking to. Will they understand your industry jargon and terminology? What kind of regular vocabulary do they have?
Are you promoting benefits more than features?
Rather than simply explaining what a business does, your copywriting needs to dig much deeper. By digging out the benefits you offer, you can answer one of the most important questions your customers are asking: “What’s in it for me?”
TIP: To dig out your key benefits, add the words “which means that” after your feature and keep digging into that meaning until you strike gold.
Example: Let’s look at a feature of a vet again. A vet offers an on-call emergency phone number which means that you can reach someone in an emergency which means that when your pet might die you don’t have to frantically search and call around for help which means you might not waste life-saving minutes which means that your pet might survive this middle of the night emergency which means that they will be part of their family for a long time.
So rather than simply offering an emergency call number, a vet offers a family’s best friend the chance to survive for years to come.
Are you writing like you speak – only better?
Online copywriting separates itself from other forms of copywriting because of the fast pace online. To keep website visitors you need to work a lot harder to engage them and the best way you can do that is through a natural, conversational tone of voice.
All copywriting is a conversation. When you write your copy, you need to determine what kind of vibe that conversation has.
TIP: Write the first draft of your website copy or blog post as if you were talking to someone standing in front of you. Or record yourself actually speaking to see how differently you communicate. Don’t be afraid to put some spunk and personality into your copy if it’s the right vibe!
Is your focus on the right subject?
When we sit down to write about our own business, we usually start with what we know. Us! But just like in real life, it’s really boring to listen to someone who only talks about themselves.
TIP: To shift the focus of your copywriting back onto the reader, turn all your “we”, “our” and “me” words into “you” and “your”.
Example: “We’re available 7 days a week” becomes “You can access our team of experts when it’s convenient for you – 7 days a week”.
Always include a headline and a call to action
I call these two the book ends of every piece of copywriting, and they really are a must-have.
Your headline is the attention grabber for your page and it’s useful to focus on the key benefit you offer. Imagine if your visitor read nothing else on the page; what is the most important thing they need to know?
Another great tip is to make your headline specific. If your headline would make sense in any other industry, there is an opportunity to make it more specific.
A call to action simply instructs your reader to do something. It could be as simple as “Get a quote”, “Email us for more information, “Download your copy of…” or “Call today to find out how” … etc., but your call to action acts as a trigger to the next step you want your reader to take.
Have you nailed your About section?
The About page will be one of the most visited pages or sections on a website. That’s because prospective clients need to feel a sense of familiarity and trust before they hand over their cash.
TIP: Add depth to your image by explaining your history, your skills and your experience and make sure you link those details back to your customers’ needs.
Is your copywriting easy to read?
The readability of your copywriting will play a huge role in how long people stick around.
- Break up long sections of copy with subheadings and lists
- Keep your paragraphs relatively short and focused on one idea
- Vary the lengths of your sentences to create a changing rhythm
- Use white space to put some breathing room around your copy
Check your spelling and grammar
It’s human to make mistakes. However, all the work you’ve put in to present your business as the reputable and credible operation you are will be undone, in an instant, with just one simple spelling error.
TIP: Give your copywriting to other people to read, or hire a professional proofreader to make sure all those t’s are crossed, the i’s are dotted (and everything is sspeltcorrectly and makes sense).
If you’re writing for an online audience, have you used your keywords?
Search engine optimisation can seem a bit daunting, especially when you get into the technical details.
Some quick SEO copywriting tips:
- Put your keywords in your headlines and subheadings
- Focus on one keyword / phrase per page
- Use your keywords as frequently as possible while still being natural
- Use your keywords in links and lists
Remember, always keep your simple truth in mind and make sure your copywriting answers the question: “What’s in it for me?”
Go forth and write awesome copy.