Boring headlines? Check.
Using “we” too much? Check.
Too much text? Check.
Copy hard to read? Check.
Unclear call to action? Check.
If any (or all) of these sound familiar, it’s time to take a close look at your copy and see where you can make some improvements.
After all, your website copy is one of the most critical elements on your site—it’s what helps you to convert visitors into customers or clients.
So, how can you optimize your online copy?
Let’s take a look at some tips.
1. Write better headlines (Duh, but here’s how)
Your headline is the first thing people will see when they land on your page, so it’s important to make it count.
A good headline should be attention-grabbing and relevant to the rest of your copy.
It should identify and address your audience in a powerful, vivid, yet concise way.
Does the headline startle your audience or “enter a conversation already taking place in their minds”? Does it show that you understand their needs? Does it communicate how you can help them?
If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and come up with something more effective.
Think about what would make you want to read on, and then use that as a starting point for your own headlines.
- Audience: Does your headline identify and address your audience?
- Emotion: Is one dominant emotion (i.e., “mass desire”) powerfully verbalized?
- Interest: Does the headline startle your audience or “enter a conversation already taking place in their minds”?
- Clarity: Does your headline contain any technical or unnecessary words?
- Intention: Does your headline show the audience exactly what they should do or expect on your page?
- Momentum: Does your headline propel the reader into the subheadline for an answer, solution, or explanation?
2. Make use of subheadlines
Your subheadline should be a chance to create a deeper connection with your audience and should retain and support the same thought, concept, or dominant emotion in your headline.
In other words, it should be a continuation of your headline rather than an entirely new concept. A well-thought-out subheadline should propel the reader to find answers, solutions, and explanations in the first sentence of your copy.
The idea really is to make the reader want to read on so that they can find out more.
- Connection: Does your subheadline retain and support the same thought, concept, or dominant emotion in our headline?
- Qualify: Does your subheadline narrow your audience by adding qualifications?
- Intensify: Does your subheadline amplify the one dominant emotion from your headline?
- Push: Does your subheadline push the reader into the first sentence to find an answer, solution, or explanation?
4. Create a unique value proposition
What is it that you are offering that nobody else does? This is your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), and it’s just as important as your product or services.
Your UVP is what sets you apart from your competitors and tells your audience why they should choose you over anyone else. It offers relevancy, quantified value, and differentiation, helping your audience to understand what you can do for them.
Your value prop is the number one thing that determines whether people will bother reading more about your offer.Therefore, it should be prominently displayed on your copy so that people can see it as soon as they land on your page.
It should also be visible at all major entry points to your website.
A good UVP should be unmistakably unique and desirable. It should also be relevant to your target audience and answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
If you can’t sum up your Unique Value Proposition in a single sentence, then you need to go back to the drawing board and ensure that it is clear, concise, and easy to understand.
Value Proposition Checklist
- Unmistakable: Is your value proposition visually prominent and unmistakable?
- Desirable: Does one key benefit, or “mass desire”, powerfully verbalize your value proposition?
- Unique: Does your value proposition clearly differentiate you from the competition in at least one specific way?
- Target Market: Does your value proposition directly address one target market?
- Simple: Is your value proposition clear, concise, and memorable?
- Quantified: Is your value proposition supported by at least one piece of concrete data?
5. Build momentum with your introduction
A seductive and captivating introduction is key to keeping your reader hooked. It should pique their interest and make them want to find out more about what you have to say.
You should build momentum by using strong and active verbs to create a sense of urgency while keeping everything short, sweet, and succinct.
Be clear, concise, and relevant to the rest of your copy. Provide a clear overview of what’s to come while keeping the reader engaged.
If your introduction is long-winded and fails to deliver on its promise, then your reader is likely to click away before they even get to the meat of your copy.
But there is a fine line to walk here – you don’t want to give away too much too soon.
The goal is to create enough interest so that people will want to read on, but not so much that they feel like they don’t need to.
How, then, do you strike the perfect balance?
Well, by using the power of words. Create curiosity by asking questions, making bold statements, or sharing tantalizing snippets of data that will make people want to know more.
Your opening sentence is perhaps the best opportunity you have to make a strong and lasting impression, so make sure that it is attention-grabbing and relevant. It should pack a punch and compel people to read on.
Does your first sentence deliver the same powerful emotions and mental energy as your headline and subheadline? Does it help to set the tone and pace for the rest of your copy? Does it provide a smooth, simple, and well-thought-out flow that pulls the reader in?
- Build: Does your first sentence continue the momentum – the same emotional or mental energy – from your headline and subheadline?
- Flow: Is your first sentence smooth, simple, and incredibly easy and read?
- Body: Do your first, second, and third paragraphs intensify and expand the same dominant emotion contained in the headline and subheadline?
6. Make your main points irresistible
The body of your copy is where you get to deliver on the promises made in your headline, subheadline, and introduction.
This is where you provide the details, data, and explanations that will help your reader to understand what you are trying to say.
Keep your paragraphs short, sweet, and to the point. No one wants to read huge blocks of text, so make sure that you break things up into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Use headlines, subheadlines, and bullet points to break up the text further and make it easier to scan.
Your subheads should highlight the “major” and”minor” benefits of your article, product, or service. And bullets should be used to enumerate the key features and advantages.
Use persuasive language and strong verbs to really drive home the point.
Make it easy for people to see what’s in it for them, and they will be more likely to stick around and take action.
The goal is to make your copy as scannable and digestible as possible while still delivering on the promise of providing valuable information.
- Scannable: Are subheads evenly spaced (roughly every three to six paragraphs) to break up the copy and reinforce the page’s one dominant emotion?
- Benefits: Do your subheads highlight the “major” and”minor” benefits of your article, product, or service?
7. Make your Calls-To-Action more compelling
Your call-to-action (CTA) is such an important part of your copy. This is what you want your reader to do – whether it’s to click on a link, sign up for a newsletter, or make a purchase.
Your CTA should be direct, easily visible, and seductive enough to make people want to take action.
It should also tell your visitor what to expect after taking that action. For example, if you’re asking them to sign up for a newsletter, let them know that they will be getting valuable information sent straight to their inbox.
Relieve the fears of your visitors by being upfront and providing certainty. A copy that is looking to generate leads should focus on providing a sense of safety, security, and guarantee.
Some effective words to consider using in your CTA are: “download,” “click here,” “add to cart,” “save now,” or “learn more”.
And remember to make it easy for people to take the next step, and you will be more likely to convert them into customers or clients.
Call To Action ( CTA, The “Offer”) Checklist
- Singular: Does the page have one ( and only one) clear and direct CTA?
- Visible: Is the CTA easy to locate and visible at multiple points on the page (i.e. always just a “scroll” away)?
- Promise: Does the CTA promise value “in advance”?
- Button: Is the button copy seductive and actionable?
- Next: Does the CTA tell the visitor exactly what’s next (i.e. what he can expect after he clicks)?
- Forms: Are the form fields brief, limited in number, and foolproof (i.e. have you tested them to make sure they actually work)?
- Trust: Does the CTA have a trusted certificate to relieve the fear of converting?
- Trial: Does the CTA have a trial period to relieve the fear of committing?
- Guarantee: Does the CTA have a guarantee to relieve the fear of buying?
8. Don’t overlook the voice and tone of your copy
The voice and tone of your copy should be consistent throughout the entire piece. Are you trying to sound professional or approachable? Humorous or serious? Conversational or formal?
This really depends on your target audience and what you are trying to sell or promote.
As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to use a tone that speaks directly to your target reader. Let the reader feel as if you are having a conversation with them, as if you are right there in the room, talking to them face-to-face.
The more personal and intimate you can make the connection, the better.
Ultimately, the goal is to sound like a real person—someone they can trust and feel comfortable doing business with.
- Conversational: Does your copy sound like one real human communicating with another real human?
- You: Does your copy speak directly to your audience by using the word “you”?
- Smooth: Does any phrase “sound weird” when you read it out loud?
- Straightforward Words: Is the page free of jargon, insider language, and cliches?
9. Pay attention to the details
The details are what separates an okay piece of copy from a truly great one.
Are there any typos or grammatical errors? Is the overall message clear? Is your data accurate? Are the tone and voice consistent throughout? Is the CTA strong and effective?
These are critical questions to ask yourself before hitting the publish button. They might seem like small things, but they really make a massive difference in the overall quality of your copy.
Key Details Checklist
- Data: Does your copy provide concrete and credible data – i.e. numbers – to back up its claims?
- Application: Is data explained, interpreted, and applied in terms related directly to the page’s key benefits?
- Actors: Is your copy composed of “actors” – real flesh-and-blood characters?
- Vivid Verbs: Do your “actors” act with vivid verbs rather than bland versions of “to be”?
- Story: Does the page tell a story, a single, overarching narrative?
- Hero: Is your audience the hero of the story?
- Hell: Does your story point to a vivid portrait of the “hell” (i.e. the pain of fear) your message, product, or service alleviates?
- Senses: Does your copy use sensory language: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling?
10. Understand and use the elements of persuasion
If you want to write great copy, it’s important to understand the psychology behind what makes people tick.
What persuasion techniques are you using? Are you invoking the principles of social proof, authority, or scarcity?
Your copy should be designed to influence the emotions and behavior of your target reader. And the best way to do that is by understanding the elements of persuasion and using them to your advantage. The idea is to tell a story that will resonate with your audience on a deep, emotional level, so much so that they feel like the heroes of that story.
Some of the most effective persuasion techniques include:
- Social Proof: Provide evidence that other people are doing something. For example, “Over 100,000 people have already downloaded our app!”
- Authority: Establish yourself or your product as an expert in the field. For example, “As the leading authority on XYZ, we know what it takes to succeed.”
- Scarcity: Create a sense of urgency by showing that there is a limited supply. For example, “Only 10 spots left!”
- Reciprocity: Offer something of value for free with the expectation that the reader will reciprocate in some way. For example, “Sign up for our newsletter and get exclusive access to our e-book.”
- Likability: Be relatable and likable so that the reader feels a connection to you. For example, “We’re just like you, we understand what you’re going through.”
These are just a few techniques you can use to persuade your reader to get the desired result – whether it’s a click, a sign-up, or a sale. The key is to find the ones that work best for your target audience and use them in a way that feels natural, not forced.
Elements of Persuasion Checklist
- Reciprocity: What free value does your page provide for its audience?
- Consistency: Does your page invite small, an initial commitment that aligns with the big, ultimate “ask?”
- Social Proof: Does your page present testimonials from a variety of sources its audience naturally trusts – namely, the industry experts and other people just like them?
- Likability: Does your page establish “similarity” with its audience by using relatable language and humor?
- Scarcity: If appropriate, does your page “play hard to get” by making the reader want what he can’t have?
How to start writing better copy today
By following these tips, you can start writing killer copies that will help you achieve your desired results.
Remember, the key is to keep it simple, focus on the benefits, and make it easy for people to take action.
If you can do those things, you’ll be well on your way to writing copy that converts.