I can always tell when I'm reading amazing copywriting by the drool pooling on my desk. It happens when I read blogs like this one from Writtent's very own Karri Stover or from HubSpot's Marketing Blog. Those guys are just so darn good at what they do. And I think I'm on to their secret. Here are 11 key elements of copywriting that the pros have mastered.
Great copy is the kind that let's the reader know that you understand. It's the been-there-done-that-got-the-tshirt kind of writing. Authors have to, first of all, know their audience, and, secondly, understand them. And since you'll probably never actually be in your audience's shoes, it's going to take research and building buyer personas.
2. Uses Cliffhangers
Joanna Wiebe at CopyHackers calls cliffhangers the "curiosity gap." It's what the screenwriters for The Hobbit did to get us to go back to the theater three times. It's leaving just a teensy bit of information missing so your readers have to keep reading for more. And then, when they can stand it no longer, you bridge the gap with the information they've been waiting for.
3. Moves the Emotions
Amazing copywriting moves readers emotionally. Not the crying and sobbing and eat-your-heart-out emotion, but the kind that moves them to action. Susan Gunelius from Entrepreneur lists 10 emotional triggers, including what I think are the biggies: fear, trust, belonging, and competi tion. If you can convey one of those emotional triggers (or the other 6 from the article) and move your reader to action, you'll be on to something.
4. Gives Away Free Stuff
Amazing copywriting offers value to the readers. According to Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic, people are more likely to give you something if you give them something for free. Give them content that teaches or informs and they'll be more willing to give email addresses or business in return.
5. Has a Clearly-Defined Purpose
Meandering copywriting is similar to a road trip with no end destination. Before you write, define your purpose and write with that purpose in mind. Give clues to your reader along the way about where you are headed and how you're going to get there. They shouldn't read the last sentence and think, "Oh! That's what she was talking about."
6. Is Error-Free
Maybe it's just me, but when I read a piece of copy filled with grammatical errors, I'm much less likely to take the writer seriously. There's a problem, though: Nick Stockton at Wired writes that writers are more likely to miss typos in their own writing than in another writer's. Always employ an extra set of eyes to make sure no errors slip by.
7. Is Simple
A simple writing style will be more readable. It avoids jargon and industry-specific language. Writtent's Christina Walker even recommends using English-based words instead of Latin-based ones. For instance, Christina says, use help instead of facilitate.
8. Has Credibility
If I learned one thing from my English classes, it was this: research, research, research. I wasn't the expert on Shakespeare's comedies, but because I knew the guys who were, or, rather, knew which books and articles they wrote, I could write a decent paper on the topic. Just remember, document your sources and give credit to whom credit is due. For the sake of your own reputation, never plagiarize.
9. Solves a Problem
Your reader has problems and he wants someone to solve them for him. Be the solution he's looking for. Corey Eridon at HubSpot writes that "the product or service isn't what makes a lead want to be your customer--it's a solution to their problem that people care about." Offer a solution to a problem through great content--how-to blog posts, ebooks, and whitepapers -- and your reader will want to be loyal to you.
10. Shows Respect
Amazing copywriting respects the reader and his time. When you're done, shut up. Don't drag things out simply because you have grandiose things to say.
11. Generates Leads
And, of course, fabulous copywriting generates leads so sales people can do what sales people do best: sell. Nurture your leads through great content, and then hand them over to the sales team to close the deal.
Am I missing any other elements of great copywriting? Comment to let me know!