*Had a LI post about this the other day, so figured I’d expand on it in blog format.
A common misconception about marketers is that we’re all super creative types who love to write. Here’s the reality of it: we’re not.
Sure, some marketers definitely have that creative spark. I like to consider myself a pretty creative guy and a decent writer. But a lot of my copywriting ability was learned over years of working in marketing, refining my voice, and understanding what resonates with readers (like yourself, whaddup?).
For as many blogs, social posts, speeches, web content, etc etc etc that I’ve written, I still struggle with copywriting sometimes. Case in point, I’ve gotten up from my desk three times since I started writing this and I’m only like 100 words in.
The point is, it helps to have a few guidelines to help shape your copy every time you write so that you aren’t stuck in writer’s block. You read the title, you know where I’m going with this. Let’s dive in:
1. Write Like You Talk
Yes, I mean YOU. Not the buttoned up person you are in the office or on a Zoom. I mean write the way that you, as a human, talk. Like how you talk to your friends or schedule play dates for your kids.
Now I know this seems counterintuitive. You think, “I’m at work, I have to be formal and professional.” Yes, you should conduct yourself professionally, but overly formal communication is a HUGE turnoff to prospective buyers. Think about it. How many emails have you deleted because the opening line or even the subject line is loaded with robotic jargon? Effective sales and marketing outreach is done with friendly, human to human communication.
Check out this post from a month or so back in the DGMG Community:
For context, George used to work with me at Drift and now helps me run a lot of the content at DGMG. And let me tell you: that is EXACTLY the way he talks in real life. I can read that post in his voice, it’s so dead on. That playful, fun tone is who George is and it comes through crystal clear in his writing.
2. Write Choppy Copy
It’s a lot easier to read a short sentence than a long one. Shorter sentences are easier to understand too.
Here’s an old LI post of mine:
Notice how most of those sentences are 7 words or less? You don’t have to cram a single thought into a long sentence. I’m only making one main point in that post. But by breaking it up into several shorter sentences, the message is clearer.
3. Get Them to Read the Next Line
The goal of the subject line is to get the reader to open the email. The goal of the first line is to get them to read the second line of the email. The goal of the second line is to…
You see where I’m going with this?
Yes, you should make sure you have a killer CTA at the end of every email, post, etc that will drive conversions. But if you don’t build up a great story to get them to that CTA, it’s all been for nothing.
Here’s a great email I got from Product School the other day:
It’s kind of an intriguing subject line right? It’s a popular online phrase, but you’re not sure what the context is or how exactly they broke the internet. I’m curious — I’ll open it up.
Then you dive into the actual body of the email:
Each line feeds into the next. It tells a great story. It’s also playful and fun — you want to keep reading. Each line creates intrigue until you ultimately get to a prominent CTA.
4. Pronouns, Pronouns, Pronouns
I’ve always felt it really helps when I use a lot of pronouns when I write. I’m sure you have had a similar experience in your marketing/sales efforts.
(Technically “your” might be a possessive adjective but I think it counts).
This is a great example I pulled from Swipe File:
We, you, your, we’ll. I count 8 pronouns in 4 sentences (again…counting ‘your’). While I’m sure this was an automated mass email, the heavy pronoun usage makes it seem personalized and creates more of a human connection.
5. Fill your copy with REAL examples.
No stock photos, no highly manicured images, no weird b-roll shots of someone giving a presentation on a graph that has no labels on either axis. I’m talking about real images that let people know you’re real.
Upload pictures from your iPhone. Take screenshots of tweets. These will boost up any email, blog post, or landing page. Aside from one, all the images in this blog are screenshots from my own email or social feeds. That’s the kind of stuff you should be putting alongside your copy. No need to use your graphic design team for every little thing.
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Thanks for reading.