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9 secrets to writing great marketing copy

by Rashida Tayabali
30 November 2018

I became a marketing copywriter accidentally, while on maternity leave from my marketing job. Looking for something to do, I turned to writing features initially, then content.

While working full-time; dealing with PR, in-house magazines and blogging, I saw the value of well-written, targeted marketing content with strong call-to-action, and a consistent content strategy.

Marketing copy is any content that attracts customers and convinces them to buy. Some examples include:

  • website content
  • social media posts
  • brochures
  • flyers
  • whitepapers

In this post, I share nine secrets to writing great marketing copy that’ll win you repeat work.

Secret #1: Focus on benefits

Drill down on product benefits. Say how the product or service makes your audience’s life better, easier, faster and overcome any objections at the same time.

Don’t focus on features only unless that’s the goal, e.g. if you’re writing a tech manual.

Use copywriting formulas like PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solve) and AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) to help you:

  • define the problem facing the customer
  • how it affects their lives
  • how you can solve the problem.

Then:

  • grab their attention with images, headlines, interesting sub-headings and a hook
  • give a call to action, e.g. call now, book today
  • use storytelling to take them through a process.

Secret #2: Speak the audience’s language

Include your audience’s language, e.g. common phrases when writing the copy. Use these as references:

  • Amazon reviews
  • chat rooms and forums
  • surveys and questionnaires
  • pop culture
  • company’s tone of voice guidelines which define their brand values, interests and how they want to speak to customers
  • social media speak

If you don’t speak your customer’s language, they’ll ignore you.

Secret #3: Strong headlines

The average person is bombarded with 250 marketing messages daily! Your headline must deliver a promise or benefit to the reader, so they’re enticed to click through and read the content (don’t use click-bait headlines).

Use interesting sub-headings when writing online content for the skimmers and scanners.

Secret #4: Call to action (CTA)

All marketing content needs a clear and strong CTA. Avoid using words like ‘click here’ or ‘read now’. Be specific and link to the right page on the website or tell the customer what you want them to do simply and clearly. Then test these CTAs to see which converts the most.

Secret #5: More You, Less Me

Ever read content that tells you how great a company is but not why you should buy from them? Use the word ‘you’ when writing content because it’s more personal and focuses on the customer. Avoid using ‘I’ or ‘we’ as it creates distance.

Secret #6: Length of content

How short or long should marketing copy be? My rule is; use as many words as you can to get the point across and no more. The platform and purpose also determine the length of the copy. For example, social media posts need to be short and snappy while a sales page can be 1000 words long with multiple calls to action.

Secret #7: Create a customer persona

Ever had a client say their audience was everyone between the ages of 15-65 years? It’s hard, if not impossible to write marketing copy that talks to everyone.  If you know who you’re speaking to, it’ll help the copy flow smoothly.

Secret #8: Marketing copy needs SEO

Optimising content for SEO is a must-do for copywriters. Good content includes effective SEO practices such as finding the right keywords, including them in sub-headings, headlines and URLs.  It’s also about including other phrases that the audience is searching for. Without SEO, a bigger audience may never see your content.

However, too much SEO that focuses purely on Google rankings will lose your audience – it’s important to get the balance right.

Secret #9: Avoid jargon and long sentences

Unfortunately, most marketing copy is waffly, with long sentences and jargon. Marketing copy needs to attract dream customers, not put them off! If customers can’t understand what the client is saying, how can they know what’s expected of them?

Tools that can help remove jargon and help simplify complex sentences include; Grammarly, Hemingway, Typely and text-to-speech function in Word.

Do you write marketing copy? What other tips can you add to this list?

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Rashida Tayabali

Rashida Tayabali is a freelance copywriter, brand storyteller and features writer in Sydney. She creates professional, brand-relevant blogs, newsletters, website copy, interview style pieces, feature articles and other content types for clients. As a features writer, she has been published in some of Australia’s leading publications including Sunday Life, Sydney Morning Herald and Kidspot. Her childhood dream was to become a writer, and was it not for her partner and kids; she might still be working in Marketing. Visit her website to see what else she writes and connect with her on LinkedIn and Facebook.
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4 responses on "9 secrets to writing great marketing copy"

  1. Nigel says:

    Sage advice, Rashida!

  2. Tim Horan says:

    Rashida, you’ve given too much away 🙂

  3. Thanks for reading Nigel!

  4. Bev says:

    So much good advice here. Thanks Rashida.

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