Inbound and Content Marketing Hub

20 Killer Web Copywriting Tips

147 Reactions 15 Comments

copywriting-tips

Image source

If you feel like becoming a Copywriting Superman, you need to learn how to attract visitors. Being able to put yourself into your customers’ shoes, you should also be eye-catching and unique in your content.

Do you want your customers to switch to your competitor’s website just because your headlines or paragraphs are too generic and scarce?

If not, use these 20 killer web copywriting tips to always stay in the forefront.

1. Use Active Voice.

When you use active voice, the subject does the action instead of being acted upon. That makes it powerful. Sentences that follow this structure are easier to understand, convey movement, and are naturally more interesting. For example:

“We wrote our new ebook to help you work smarter, not harder.”
vs.
“The new ebook written by our company can help you work smarter instead of harder.”

See how the first sentence is not only shorter, but easier to follow?

Active voice sentences can also begin with a verb, as in a command. For example:

Learn how to market your business smarter, not harder, with our new ebook.

Which of these example sentences you use depends on whether you want to emphasize the new ebook or what your audience will learn with it. But either option is exponentially better than long, convoluted sentences that bury the subject and verb.

2. Remember the Important Details.

Who, what, when, where, why, and how are critical for all good copywriting, not just journalism. Your readers want them because they make your copy real, concrete, and trustworthy.

3. Learn to Write Powerful Headlines.

All your copy is worthless if your headlines don’t entice visitors to click-through and read further. Use these resources from Copyblogger to help you write headlines that grab attention:

4. Make It Skimmable.

Readers online don’t read word for word. Instead, they scan to find what they’re looking for faster. Making your copy and content easy to skim gives them what they want, keeps their attention longer, and is easier for everyone to read.

Use a variety of formatting techniques that break up the text and draw the reader’s eye down the page. Some of the best ways to make web copy skimmable are:

  • Use several headings and subheadings
  • Create bulleted and numbered lists
  • Format text with bold, italic, underlining, or color
  • Include images, video, and other media and captions for each
  • Write single-line paragraphs
  • Vary sentence and paragraph length

5. Be Concise.

People have shorter attention spans than ever. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, and short overall messages to hold their attention.

The only exceptions to this tip are if you’re creating an epic resource, such as an ultimate guide or tutorial, or if a part of your appeal is long, thorough blog posts or books. Other content should still be as concise as possible.

6. Use Short Words.

Simple words communicate better than big words and pompous language. Stick with short uniquely English words instead of more complex Latin-based words. For example:

  • show vs. indicate
  • get rid of vs. eliminate
  • help vs. assist or facilitate
  • get vs. obtain
  • best vs. superior

7. Don’t Worry so Much About Keywords.

They’re still important for search engine optimization, but the goal of every search engine update is to improve the algorithm and return the best results. When you write SEO copy primarily for your audience, not search engines, you help them reach that goal.

8. Avoid Jargon, Bureaucratese, Hype and Corporate Speak.

In the spirit of using simple words, being concise, and writing in the active voice, avoid these types of pompous language like the plague. They’re difficult to understand, and nobody wants to read them.

9. Incorporate Scarcity.

A powerful copywriting tip is to make something scarce, so prospects have to act quickly or it will be gone. Scarcity doesn’t work for all types of content – blog posts, for example – but you can use scarcity for anything you’re promoting in your content. A webinar or conference may only have so many spots, a special deal will end in a few days, or a popular product could only be available at certain times of the year.

10. Create a Sense of Urgency.

Like scarcity, urgency encourages a prospect to act quickly. Limited-time offers, a 3-day free ebook promotion, and coupon expiration dates are all great examples of urgency.

Newsjacking and writing about trends are also ways to take advantage of urgency.

11. Use Positive Language.

If you use negative words, that’s usually what people remember. Rewrite the sentence to use positive words. For example, “Don’t get left behind” might become “Get ahead of the competition.”

Sometimes negative language is necessary, and sometimes it adds variety to your copy. But overdoing it can leave a negative impression.

12. Balance Text with Images.

This might not seem like a web copywriting tip, but incorporating various media (like photos, videos, infographics, slides, and more) in your content marketing strategy can make a big difference. There’s a reason websites like Pinterest and YouTube are so popular.

13. Put Important Information in Image Captions.

When you see an image in a blog post, do you read the caption below it? So does everybody else. Take advantage of this prime real estate by writing a descriptive, informative caption.

14. Make it Feel like a Conversation.

People don’t want to be sold to. Tone down the hype and write your web copy like you’re talking with your ideal customer face-to-face. Your audience can tell the difference, and will be more likely to participate.

15. Craft a Compelling Call-to-Action.

copywriting tips

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

16. Tell a Story

All the epic content in the world is useless if it doesn’t help visitors become leads and customers. Learn to write powerful calls to action that guide prospects through the sales funnel.

Storytelling is powerful. It draws readers in and engages them. And the honesty and transparency involved in storytelling is one of the top ways you can build your
credibility and authority even in your web copywriting.

17. Align Buyer Persona and Buying Cycle.

When you align content, calls to action, emotional triggers, and other elements with the appropriate buyer persona and a specific stage of the buying cycle, prospects are much more likely to consume the content and perform the action. That kind of perfectly matched content is highly personalized, specific, and effective.

18. Include Emotion.

One of the reasons storytelling works is because it often appeals to emotion. If you can make a visitor feel excited that they found you or desperate for your solution, you can draw them further into your site, give them what they’re looking for, and keep them coming back for more.

19. Back up Your Claims.

Logic influences the decisions you want your visitors to make as much as emotion does. Use statistics, research data, case studies, testimonials, and other credible sources to prove what you say.

20. Link to Reputable Sources.

Nothing online exists in a vacuum. Linking out to high-quality websites in your web copywriting helps your visitors and makes you more credible by association.

Bonus Web Copywriting Tips

For more great web copywriting ideas, check out this article from Copywriter’s Crucible.

What web copywriting techniques have worked for you? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below!

And if you liked this article, feel free to like, share, or tweet it!

unknown user avatar

Deb

May 24th, 2014 - 2:21 pm
Question: I love lists like these, and am often asked to write them, but let's face it, there are only so many ways to skin this cat! If you have to write "X things you desperately need to do/know/think about when/before doing Y!" posts, and the topic has been covered *to death* (let's just say, even CSI would be unable to identify it as a horse, even with dental records and DNA testing), what do you do? This isn't just true for writing about writing, it can be true for writing about ANY subject. I'm currently writing about plastic surgery procedures, and I swear I feel like my job is more copy/paste/edit than creating original content. Sometimes, coming up with an original "angle" results in the introduction of controversy (which most clients hate), or gets personal (when I'm supposed to be anonymous, or a ghost-writer for the client). Any tips? Reply

Helen Nesterenko

May 26th, 2014 - 6:11 am
Yes, Deb. Good point and good issue - when a topic has been recycled over and over again, it's hard to find a new angle for it. Try a simple exercise - take the topic and look at it from a counter perspective. For example, you need to write an article about the benefits of guest blogging.

Take the opposite stance, think about the downsides of guest blogging. Why? Because when your position seems to be obvious, it's easy to miss out on great arguments and a good way to discover those arguments, is to take the other position and try to defend it. This kind of mental back and forth with the topic can discover new layers and ideas about things, which might seem obvious and complete.

You can always outsource your process. Sort of. Try asking people online about the things, which you find important about the topic. Go to Quora, go to Reddit, go to any related topic and try asking questions. There are things, which many people find important about certain topics, but they never voice their opinions. These opinions might actually be unique and useful and only because these people always thought these opinions are common - they never voiced them. Your job is to discover those useful opinions.

Of course, all of this takes time. But there should be no compromise, when you're doing a quality job. Reply

Lee

Mar 26th, 2014 - 11:31 pm
Thanks for the thorough set of tips. I am just starting out as a copywriter, and each of your 20 tips aligns with what I've learned from the AWAI program I'm working through. Not sure yet about #6, as a reader last year pointed out, I think your choice of words depends in part on your audience, no? Reply

Helen Nesterenko

Mar 30th, 2014 - 6:18 pm
Lee, to some extent yes. Still, it's better to come up with the words that even a 6-th grader would understand, keep it simple - does work. Thank you for your question, Lee. Reply

Simon Deeley

Sep 9th, 2013 - 12:49 pm
Hi Christina,
A good article with valid content but my only criticism is the use of full stops.. which is a subliminal indication to stop reading. Its should be avoided for headers and paragraphs to make an article flow better and encourage the reader to keep reading Reply

20 Killer Website Copy Tips: Put Your Writing on the Fast Track | copywriting help for speakers

Jul 30th, 2013 - 6:06 pm
[...] Click here to read the article now [...] Reply

Nancy Louis

Apr 24th, 2013 - 10:33 am
Hi, Christina Walker
Your 20 points are really informative for developing one good website. Keep it up.. Reply

Christina Walker

Jun 20th, 2013 - 8:19 pm
Thanks for the compliment, Nancy! Reply

Mike Franklin

Apr 23rd, 2013 - 4:20 pm
As a successful copy writer with thirty years experience all I can say is I would be more impressed if you could write decent English in your articles. It is appalling. Reply

Robert Hayes-McCoy

Jul 22nd, 2013 - 4:16 pm
Awe c'mon, Mike! You are just letting off steam on a 'bad Mike day'.

You are absoluterly correct, Christina. Storytelling is hugely powerful.

And if you think about it long enough, the reason why it is so powerful is because it encapsulates at least 10 of your copywriting tips.

I enjoyed your article. Reply

Karl Castan

Apr 15th, 2013 - 10:56 pm
Point 6 - needs to be exercised with caution. It all depends on the audience. If your audience has low reading/comphrension skills then simple is good. If you are writing for literate educated readers, then you want to use these words. I guess it all comes down to knowing how to communicate with your audience. Reply

Helen Nesterenko

Apr 16th, 2013 - 12:27 pm
I think for the web - you want to keep it simple anyway. Especially in the hi-tech world. Ability to communicate complex ideas in simple words is what really works for landing pages, home pages. You don't have much room on the page to state your ideas the way the general audience will understand. Reply

Will Blesch

Apr 15th, 2013 - 7:59 am
This is a great article, although these days I would wager that a large part of finding customers means allowing those customers to find YOU.

That means people that are good SEO copywriters are going to stand out from those that can just generate good headlines and other content. Reply

Christina Walker

Apr 15th, 2013 - 4:54 pm
You're right, Will--inbound marketing with powerful SEO copywriting and blogging is very important these days. These 20 copywriting tips are can help everyone writing copy, but are especially helpful for businesses struggling to maximize inbound marketing or just get started creating copy that actually generates leads and sales. When you write naturally to your ideal audience, provide value, and link out and get links, search engines figure things out. Reply
x
Like content marketing as much as we do?