10 top tips on writing words that can effectively sell your product or service.
The best way to use online marketing to improve your sales, is to start thinking in terms of a sales funnel.
The purchase is the end goal. You have to remember that. But marketing is becoming more about a relationship than just a short, sharp prelude to a transaction.
You want to convert people to your offering, so you want them to –
- Like, comment, share
- Click here
- Read more
- Follow prompts to your sales page
- Pick up the phone or add to shopping cart
- Check out and enter details, or sign off on a customised quote
Great photos are a super way to engage audiences, and a picture tells a thousand…yes you know…and admit it…you sometimes use an ’emicon’.
However, if you are hotel-shopping and a website shows you a stunning view, you’d like to know whether the view is from your window or a hike up the road, wouldn’t you?
To sell a product or service, you need to use words.
The rule of thumb is this; cheap stuff needs a few words, expensive stuff needs more.
The words you use on promotional materials for print, or on your website, or other platforms online, can make a huge difference to the return you get from your investment in money and time.
Large companies conduct split testing on A and B versions of web pages that have large amounts of traffic directed to them. The results show that variations in copy can make a huge difference to bounce rates (time spent on a page) and conversion rates (whether or not the visitor signed up, made contact or purchased).
It is from this hard data that long standing best practice principals are formed, and confirmed or rejected.
So how do we formulate the right words?
How do you choose words that convert?
Text designed and written strategically to convert people into customers is called ‘copy’. Professional sales people who use the written word to sell things (rather than any substantial leg work) are called copywriters.
Professional copywriters write for ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’.
This means using tried and tested, industry standard best practice, that is aimed at keeping people on the page.
We have a bag of tricks. I am going to share them with you now, and I am very happy to do so.
Why am I so happy to reveal my hard earned trade secrets?
1) I work largely in content marketing. An effective content marketing strategy relies on business owners and professionals being willing to share with the world, not just what they do, but how they do it. I tell other people this, so I have to walk the walk!
2) I am excited about this new model of skill sharing. The old style ‘slippery pole’ syndrome always really irked me. Did it you?
3) If you are happy to take the time to read and learn about how to create professional copy, then you can Google it and you will be away. There is nothing I can do to stop you. If you do choose to read this how-to article, from all the others available, then that’s a real blessing for me, because I get to share my passion and have it witnessed.
So where’s that bag of tricks?
10 top tips on writing high converting copy.
Tip 1 – Reflect your brand’s personality.
How formal or relaxed you make your writing depends on your brand’s identity. Starting sentences with But and using a bit of ‘dot dot dot’ and a bit of ‘dash dash dash’….is ok… online. But proof-read diligently and don’t publish copy that is hard to read because it is sloppy. If you flaunt a convention, do it purposefully, not out of laziness.
Tip 2 – Know what you want to say
This sounds terribly obvious, but often word-smithing can be so much fun that we forget what we were trying to communicate in the first place. Ensure you cover the main points that you need to, in the order you need to, by having them jotted down in front of you, in the plainest language you can muster, and in order of importance.
Front load your web pages with the most important messages. Be upfront about your brand’s capabilities and the benefits of your products and services.
See a link to my Message Strategy How-to, at the end of this list of tips.
Tip 3 – Write for your target audience
Remain aware of who you are writing for, i.e. your target audience. Stay user-focused. Focus on the value your audience is looking for. Check your draft. If you are using the words I/we or my/our more than you are using the words ‘you’ or ‘your’, then you may need to work harder at your user-focus.
Tip 4 – Keep your writing concise.
Do away with any words you can do without. Instead of ‘try to stay user-focused’ just say ‘stay user-focused’. Be direct. Every word that can go, must. Watch out for ‘fluffy’. Stay sharp. Readers like sharp. Don’t be fluffy but don’t be bland. Add a bit of spice, here and there. Not too much. Be a bit spicy, but stay sharp.
Tip 5 – Write for the skim reader.
Keep paragraphs short and well spaced. Use headlines and sub-headers to signal what’s coming up so that the skim reader can easily scan for what interests them. Statistics are a proven way to catch the attention of a skim reader. They like to find something that looks factual.
Tip 6 – Spend time on writing effective headlines.
On average a reader spends 15 seconds on the web page they land on. Your headlines and sub-headings could be the only part of your copy they read, so make sure they contain some valuable messages about your brand. Also try to make headlines memorable. Compelling headlines that have some intrigue are proven tools for keeping people on the page.
Tip 7 – Vary sentence length.
Short sentences are best, but long sentences are not only sometimes necessary but also good for variation. Writing has rhythm.
Tip 8 – Choose active
Use active voice rather than passive voice. That means write about someone doing something, rather than something being done by someone. e.g. instead of ‘the building was designed by a local architect’ write ‘a local architect designed the building’. The passive voice is very academic in style. If you have ever nodded off in the middle of an academic paper, please raise your hand.
Tip 9 – Avoid ‘white noise’
Keep it a bit fresh and authentic. Don’t use too many cliches. One or two can be fine, but over used or cliched phases like Welcome to Our Website or ‘We are committed to customer service’ is what copywriting experts have dubbed ‘white noise’. People are guaranteed to either tune out, not believe, or even groan.
Copywriting tools to get you started and keep you on track
Use a brand positioning table – click here
Use a Messaging Strategy How-to – click here