For anyone who has ever written a paper, you know how difficult it can be to find the right words for what you’re wanting to say. The same can be said with other mediums as well — such as digital copywriting. And, when it comes to converting leads, the pressure to say the right thing can leave you typing and backspacing. While writing for online marketing takes practice, there are a few things you can do to improve your copywriting and entice visitors to take action.
4 Ways to Improve Copywriting Skills for Online Marketing
1. Know Your Audience
The golden rule to copywriting is knowing your audience. That’s because there are multiple ways to address the same topic, but unless you connect to your audience, they won’t care. It doesn’t matter how catchy your title is or how clever the headline.
Imagine if you were a dental practice attempting to get new pediatric patients. You decide to create a social post for your audience. Your first instinct may be to think of posts that would capture the attention of children. But, you’re not really connecting with the children themselves, you’re actually trying to appeal to their parents. That’s your audience — the parent(s) of your pediatric patient. So, what do those parents care about? Some examples of your post may be:
Fair: Dino Dental offers teeth cleaning services for kids.
Good: It’s tooth-thirty somewhere. Dino Dental offers teeth cleaning services for kids.
Great: It’s tooth-thirty somewhere 😁 . Dino Dental offers gentle and thorough teeth cleaning so that your little one can avoid pain and cavities. [Link to Contact Page]
While the first two examples clearly state what it is you do, they don’t necessarily speak to the benefit of your service or the pain point that many parents deal with — their child getting a cavity, the expense of said cavity, and hating the dentist because they associate it with pain. The last example also gives the user an action to take that supports the goal of getting new business. Depending on your audience, you may even forgo the joke in the final example to leave it short and sweet.
2. Be Keyword Driven
Writing online — particularly for a website — requires knowing the keywords that will get organic traffic to your goal. Whether you want someone to sign up for a newsletter, contact you for services, or schedule an appointment, you need copy that is not only going to lead the visitor to that goal but also get them to land on your page in the first place. By writing the content on your site with SEO (search engine optimization) keywords in mind, you can increase the ranking for the page you want users to visit and get people reading the copy you’ve written.
However, just like with sweets, too much is sometimes not a good thing. Inserting keywords into your copy too often can be called keyword stuffing and is usually dinged negatively by the search engine. So, how much is too much? It really depends on your industry, the topic of your page, how much content is on the page, and — most importantly — how natural the copy is. While an entire book could be written about SEO writing in particular, the best rule of thumb for incorporating your keywords without overdoing it includes using the keyword in the:
- Title (H1)
- Body copy (once or twice depending on length)
- Call to action (CTA is usually found at the bottom)
At minimum, your keyword should be the H1 of your landing page. Take this blog, for example. The keyword used is how to improve copywriting. If you copy that phrase and select control (command) + F on your keyboard and search for it, you’ll find it in the headline, within the body copy, and in our last paragraph CTA. If your SEO expert has given you multiple keywords to use, the second keyword should appear less often than the first and may make appearances in a subheader depending on the topic of your landing page, blog, or other online marketing.
3. Create Your Own Rules
When learning how to write, you learn the different grammar rules. And, it’s likely that you grew up thinking one thing and then were told differently later on. Such is the case with sentences that begin with connections — such as And, But, However, Fortunately, etc. In school, beginning a sentence with any of these was seen as bad form. But — see what I did there — these words at the beginning aren’t necessarily grammatically incorrect. They can be used as conversational ways to communicate your message.
If you’re writing a technical letter to the CEO of another healthcare organization, you might not want to start sentences with these connection words. If you’re writing to your patients or potential leads, these connection words can be subtle ways to connect with your audience — and seem less corporate.
By creating an internal style guide for your writing, you can address any of these writing styles upfront. And, if someone other than yourself were to write for your organization, you can provide these rules to them to make the messaging seamless from writer to writer. Aside from determining if connection words are appropriate for your style, other common rules to consider include:
- Oxford comma — to use or not to use
- Punctuation and which to avoid
- Numbers and how they’re written
- Quotes vs emphasis
- Date and time formatting
- Business name formatting
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
When it comes to developing your writing — especially for a new medium — the best thing you can do is practice, try new techniques, and refine your writing skills. If you’re able, conduct A/B testing to figure out the strongest email headline for your campaign. Once you know what your audience receives well, you can write with that tone in mind. Other simple ways to improve your writing, include:
- Incorporating powerful words or phrases
- Seeing what your competition is doing and avoiding using the same phrases
- Using a pun in a headline
- Taking out the pun and writing something more clever
Sometimes, writing out your initial thoughts is the first step towards improving your copywriting skills — especially when writing headlines. Write out all the different headlines you can think of, and then cross out the ones that don’t speak to the audience or capture your attention.