What makes good opy?
Copywriting: a beginner’s guide
When copy goes horribly wrong
OK - so you know that copy is the Imagine: you’re stumbling through the web,
single-most important aspect of your searching for a solution to a problem. Your
website, and that weak copy not problem? Huge phone bills. So you go
looking for cheaper calls. You know that
only makes your organisation look
Skype, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
unprofessional, but actively sends offers cheaper telephony. So you search...
customers racing towards your
You click a link, and start reading the copy:
competitors – but do you know
exactly what makes good copy? “VoIP Solutions for Business and the 21CN
We provide Business Critical VoIP Solutions.
Copy, by its nature, has a job to do Our Hosted PBX VoIP Solution provides
You pile on a heavy load: great everything a small business requires. We
also provide SIP and IAX trunk services,
expectations and ambitious sales
Telephone Numbers and all supporting
targets, and the copy carries you services.”
there. At least, that’s the idea.
You are left bemused and confused by a
To explain what makes good copy series of unexplained acronyms: “21CN”,
(the stuff that sells) let’s first look “PBX”, “SIP”... You click back to the search
at bad copy. results and try another website.
Missing the point
This example demonstrates several common
• Unexplained acronyms
• Focussing on product features rather than
benefits. Who cares about ‘hosted pbx
solutions’? People just want cheaper calls!
www.callendercreates.com • Forgetting what’s important to the
customer. You may care about the fancy
technology, but your customer doesn’t.
Good copy – a recipe Copywriting Dos & Don’ts
Writing copy isn’t about amazing people Do
with clever word-play or an impressive ✔ Write in plain, simple English.
vocabulary. It’s about clear, purposeful
✔ Break down complex ideas into short
communication. Good copy has the following:
Vitality ✔ Make clear, compelling offers.
If your copy has energy, your ✔ Write about a product’s features as well
readers will be propelled towards as its benefits.
your beautifully-timed call to action ✔ Use sub-headings to separate chunks
(call to action is the marketing jargon
for a command such as ‘buy now’
or ‘subscribe here’). ✔ Turn lists into bullet points.
If you start talking about IPX and
QWZs, people will tune out. Give ✘ Use jargon or management-speak.
people language they understand, ✘ Write in long sentences.
and talk about the things that matter. ✘ Forget to think about your reader.
Persuasiveness ✘ Try to hide behind fancy-pants language that
To achieve your aims, copy must persuade you think makes you sound important and
an audience. There are well understood methods clever.
for achieving persuasive copy,
✘ Write about what matters to you, using the
which copywriters should understand.
language you use in-house.
✘ Overwhelm people with large chunks of text
How to judge copy
Whether you’ve employed a professional By Guest Writer - Leif Kendall
copywriter or had copy written in-house, it’s Freelance Web & SEO Copywriter
always a good idea to personally review the
words that work for your organisation. You
don’t have to be a professional copywriter
to assess copy.
When reading, ask yourself these questions:
• Does it grab my attention? Further reading/links:
• Does it makes sense? • Writing for the web
• Will it be understood by all the people we uploads/2009/01/writing-for-the-web.pdf
want to communicate with?
• Copywriting Tips for Online Marketing Success
• Does it answer my questions? www.copyblogger.com
• Does it alleviate my concerns and fears? • Divine Write Copywriting Blog
• Does it ask me to do something (like www.divinewrite.com/blog
buy or subscribe)?
• Does it provide a compelling reason