I used to be a know-it-all. Armed with my degree and great grammar, I was convinced that I could write copy for small businesses that would drive traffic, bring about conversions and increase profits. What I learned, however, is that great copywriting is a lot more than a degree and good grammar. Here are nine mistakes I made. If you are a small business owner, take heed. Whether you write your own content or hire it out, here’s what has to happen.
Lose the Big Vocabulary, Long Sentences, and Jargon
The rules are pretty simple:
- Vocabulary at the 7th – 8th grade level gets read.
- No sentence longer than 16 words.
- Industry buzzwords are boring.
- Keep it simple and clear and dump the adverbs.
You Only Have Three Purposes
- Solve a problem or educate: You’re the expert – give advice, make suggestions, answer questions.
- Relationships and trust: Show your human side; tell your story; post photos of you and your team – on your site, on your social media pages, and on your blog
- Entertain: Sometimes people are just bored – give them some fun. They’ll come back for more and think of you when they need your product or service.
Make All Copy Scannable
People are impatient and in a hurry. They want to scan content quickly. Use sub-headings, bullets and numbered lists. You may think lists are old news, but research says they are still a big draw.
Break Up the Words with Media
- Photos can be interesting and fun. Showcase your product in a unique way – can you use cute animals?
- How To videos are a big draw if your product or service lends itself to them.
- Infographics – but keep them simple. Over-stuffed infographics won’t get a second glance.
Lots of research has been done on this – people want to belong; they want to think they are getting a good deal. New research even shows you about colors and placement. Use it.
Tell the Reader What to Do
People do want to be led – but nicely. What do you want the reader to do?
- Sign up for a newsletter?
- Take advantage of a discount or free trial?
- Download an e-guide or watch a video?
Put a call to action (CTA) button in a prominent place and tell them to click it – nicely of course
Careful with those Registration and Sign-Up Forms
People are suspicious – don’t ask for too much information. Forms should ask for the bare minimum of personal information – name and email address. If you ask for too much now, you will sabotage the trust you’re trying to build.
You just met someone in a bar or at a barbeque. How would you explain something to this person? Write copy like this and you will build relationships; relationships result in more conversions
Get Readers Involved
You know those quizzes you like to take on Facebook? Your readers are just like you. Have surveys, polls, quizzes, contests that readers want to take and then share with their friends – this will spread your brand. There’s lots of new apps to design interactive stuff – use them.
Make Blog Posts Longer
Recent research shows that blog posts of 1000+ words get shared more. Break them up with media, subheadings, and they won’t seem long to a reader. Lots of substance in short bursts is shared; the more shared, the larger your audience; the larger your audience, the more conversions.
I’m a much wiser person now – you can be too!
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