A Wordsmith’s Guide to Writing Compelling Copy
Producing High-Quality Written Content
Crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s, is, and should be important to writers. Beyond that, there’s much more nuanced, and finesse involved in writing not only good but informative copy that makes it into the hands of your target audience.
Know Your Audience
In 2017 it is not enough to simply know your audience, you should stalk them. Well, not really. What is meant by this is, you should know them way beyond their age, race and purchasing habits.
You should first, think about your core audience, and the message you wish to convey to them, next, try to figure out the medium that’s best for sharing your message. You should conduct extensive research on a representative sample of your core audience.
How does one do that exactly? We thought you’d never ask!
First, take a look at your competitors, find out what they are doing, internalize it and do it better. Next, you should make it a point to get to know your clients personally. This is even more simple if you run a small business or interact with your customers virtually via social channels, or in person.
Lastly, you can send out customer surveys to gain additional insight as to changes they feel need to be made, any suggested improvements, or even what sorts of content interest them.
Say A Lot, But Be Concise
There’s no need to drone on and on and on and on and on and on, being extremely repetitive and redundant for no apparent reason, for absolutely no reason I mean, with run-on sentence after run-on sentence and comma splices.
Ok, ok, you get the point.
If this is your approach, just stop it — it is simply ineffective. The reality is, our attention spans are a lot shorter than they once were, and that’s mostly thanks to the Internet. The majority of readers do not have the time nor the patience to read for extended periods of time.
You will also need to keep in mind the outlet in which you are writing for. If you are writing for social media, you need to have a more fun and active voice. If you are writing a blog post on the latest small business trends, on the other hand, you should take a more serious approach and not use tons of exclamation points (which you should always use sparingly!)
The tone should be conversational, like a small business owner speaking to another small business owner.
Readers know their time is valuable and they could have landed on any website, but they’re on yours. Make it easy for them to consume the information, while keeping them engaged through the end of the piece.
For this, we recommend putting important information toward the top, in order to engage the reader, excite them even. The overall goal is for them to stay on your site for as long as possible in hopes of conversion.
Formatting & Arranging
Writing, in general, can be tedious and time-consuming, but the final product is usually well worth it. Your readers not only expect a high level of professionalism but neat and well-arranged content. You’ve heard the saying content is king, right?
Well, that’s only half of the equation, as making sure your content not only reads perfectly but is pleasing to the eyes is also imperative as well.
This includes placing headings in the proper sizes (a great tool for SEO), thinking about alignment, and placing your information in an order that makes the most sense for readers.
SEO & Keywords
In the previous section, we referenced briefly the idea of SEO (search engine optimization). This can either be your best friend or worst enemy.
Now that is understood — let’s avoid the latter and build a healthy mutually beneficial relationship between your business and SEO.
Here are a few SEO basics for online content:
- Write keyword-focused Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
- Use photo captions and add alt tags to images
- Break up your paragraphs with headings (that can also include your target keywords)
- Add relevant anchor text for links
- Place high-quality links to the site, both inbound and outbound
- Quote influencers
- Tag your content
- Write short paragraphs
Visuals are quite possibly one of the most underutilized weapons in a writer’s arsenal — and it is likely because writers tend to focus more on the written rather than the visual content.
Now, it is not the time to expand your horizons.
Something as simple as a photo with a human touch can make a world of difference between a conversion or someone leaving your company’s website. You also want to make sure images are given proper credit. If you are low on budget, Google can be a great resource for finding images labeled for reuse.
You’ll need to go to Google Images, click the “tools” button on the page and then hit “usage rights.” From there, you can choose the best option for your business after you perform a search for your desired image(s).
Additionally, sites such as Pixabay and Pexels offer a large library with thousands of free stock photos – even for commercial use. If you can’t find what you are looking for through these resources, you can try Shutterstock or Bigstock – both offer millions of high-quality stock images through paid packages or membership fees.
Crafting the Perfect CTA
A CTA (call to action) is typically the last thing readers see after reading a piece of content. It is generally one of the most important elements of online content.
Because it actuates your site’s visitors to do something- what marketers call a conversion. Whether it is to enter contact information through a lead form, download a document you wish to share, make a purchase through your site or even pick up the phone and call you — the CTA encourages your readers to take action on your site – fulfilling your site’s purpose, as discussed in our guide to building your own website.
CTAs can be as short as “Register” or “click here for more information” or as long as “want to find out more about how to start your own small business? Download our ultimate guide and learn how to start a successful business in just thirty days.”
So What’s the Bottom Line?
Written content is one of the most important elements of maintaining an established online presence. Working to optimize written content across social, online and other channels is a full-time job.
You should also realize that mastering the art of writing the perfect and most compelling copy will take time and that you will make mistakes in the process. Ensuring that you’re going beyond the words, and realizing that writing online copy is not just about the words on the page, but the presentation as a whole.
Take these tips, implement them and see how they work for your business. Tweak them even, to more closely fit the needs of your business. There’s one more thing you should do — let us know what kind of results you see in the comments section below.