15 Copywriting Tricks All Digital Marketers Need to Know

April 3, 2016

Copywriting isn’t a new tactic in the world of marketing, but in the digital age, the rules have changed.


Here are 15 copywriting tricks all digital marketers need to know.


1. Make it scannable

Contrary to popular belief, people don’t actually read on the internet. Most just scan pages for the information they’re interested in.


For that reason, all your content must be scannable. That means including:



  • Lots of headers with useful information
  • Bullet points
  • A summary of the main takeaways

2. Be entertaining

Entertainment value has become a big part of advertising success. Just look at all the Super Bowl 2016 commercials and see how many tell a story or aim for humor.


Web copy throughout your website can also entertain. The scrolling copy that appears while task management app Asana is loading is a good example:


Asana website copy example


3. Use the active voice

The active voice sounds more like the way people actually talk, which helps strengthen your copy. Your message is immediate and direct.


Compare:


“The service was used by thousands of happy customers.” (Passive)


vs


“Thousands of happy customers used the service.” (Active)


4. Encourage curiosity

In your headlines and meta descriptions, avoid giving away all the details of your piece to encourage visitors to click. Find a way to make them curious about what you have to say.


Upworthy does it best:


Unworthy meta description examples

5. Use lots of verbs

Verbs don’t appear as much in writing as nouns and adjectives. But when they do, they leave an impression.


Analyses of Harvard MBA admission letters saw that those using more verbs and fewer adjectives are the most effective.


Verbs also help encourage action on social media, according to Dan Zarrella’s analysis of 200,000 tweets:


20,000 tweet bar chart analysis


6. Make your headlines timely

If you’re writing a how-to post, use language in your headline to suggest your method helps readers do it quickly:


“How to Double Your Traffic in 30 Days”


If you’re writing about the latest data or trends, let people know the information is current and relevant right now:


“8 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016


7. Encourage one action

You may want your readers to sign up for your mailing list, start a free trial, and buy $ 1000 worth of your services, but your content shouldn’t be geared at encouraging all of these behaviors.


Pick a specific action relevant to your audience’s position in the sales funnel, and write the content to encourage that behavior. Include a targeted call to action in every piece.


8. Don’t ask, tell

Speaking of your CTA – and your web copy in general – don’t try to be polite and submissive.


In other words, don’t use words that avoid a direct command, like:



  • Maybe
  • Perhaps
  • Hope
  • Try
  • Wish
  • Could
  • Might

9. Use persuasive words

When you want to influence people, some words are simply more persuasive than others. Business Insider looked into it, and found four words that stand out in the research:



  1. You
  2. Free
  3. Because
  4. Instantly

10. Eliminate objections

When most people are thinking of making an action online, they’re often running through a series of reasons why they shouldn’t. As a marketer, it’s your job to eliminate these objections with your copy.


“What if signing up for this mailing list gets me more spam?”


This Quicksprout CTA has the answer:


Quicksprout CTA copywriting example


“What if I decide I don’t like this service?”


Wordstream takes care of this objection to signing up:


Wordstream CTA copywriting example


11. Use visuals

Unless you’re just relying on generic stock photos, visuals are an important element of copywriting.


Supplement your writing with relevant images that help illustrate your point. Look at number 10 on this list – I could have told you in words how to eliminate objections, but instead I found visual examples to illustrate it.


12. Create a sense of urgency

In your web copy, try to give a reason why readers should take an action now instead of later, especially in your CTAs.


If you make readers think your CTA is an opportunity that won’t always be available, they’ll be much more likely to take advantage of it.


13. Use numbers

According to BuzzSumo research into the most shared content, a list post format is more likely to go viral.


Of course, you don’t have to make everything you write a list post – you can also incorporate numbers into your content by citing relevant data to back up your points.


14. Have a clear value proposition

Every niche has competitors. One of your most important copywriting tasks is illustrating why your business is preferable to your competitors.


This can’t be done effectively by only highlighting your strengths. You need a clear value proposition that shows what makes you unique.


Online product review website HighYa, for example, sets itself apart from other review sites by guaranteeing honest, uncensored reviews from real customers, which it sums up with the tagline “Helping You Shop Smarter.”


Tagline “Helping You Shop Smarter" on the HighYa website homepage

15. Always analyze your writing

Even small differences in your copy can drastically change how people see it and react to it.


Just look at this CTA example from ContentVerve, where only one word was changed:


CTA example from ContentVerve


Pay attention to what kind of copy drives desired results and what is not effective.


Know of any other important copywriting tricks for digital marketers? Comment below:


Images: Asana, Upworthy, Dan Zarella, Quicksprout, Wordstream, HighYa, ContentVerve

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