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  • Melanie Hardcastle

How to Write Copy That Converts



Your copy matters -- whether it's on your website, blog, emails or social media post. And as a digital marketer, I work on all of those platforms, and therefore write a ton of copy. It's likely an unpopular opinion, but I love to write it! It gives me a creative outlet, and when done right, converts to sales.


Best Practices and What to Avoid

When you sit down to write copy, it's important to understand your "why". Why does this matter? What's the larger story? You want to make a connection between the product or service you're writing about and the experience that your reader will get if they purchase.


One of the most important things to do is to start off with a strong leading sentence. Examples of this could be starting with a question, a surprising stat or something unexpected. The first sentence is what the reader uses to decide if they are going to keep reading or not, so make it count! Another technique to use is urgency. You've likely seen examples of this, like "limited time offer","last chance" or "ends tomorrow". This can convince your reader to take action sooner rather than later.


Help them picture their life with the product or service in it and how they'll feel.

Urgency works well, and so does exclusivity. Sales emails often employ this by saying that the email is only going to a limited number of people. Or if you're a cardholder at a store or member of a club, they may play to that and let you know that you are the first tier of people allowed to purchase. Related to this is playing to emotion. People rarely purchase based solely on logic... they are driven by emotion. Help them picture their life with the product or service in it and how they'll feel. This makes whatever you're selling feel more concrete and like it could be part of their day to day.


What to Avoid

While urgency and exclusivity are methods that work well, you should avoid jargon and hyberbole in your copy. Have you ever read a sentence and thought "what does that even mean?"... that's what we want to avoid. And hyperbole leads to overpromising and underdelivering, or even potential law suits if you're making false claims.

When copy writing, brevity is your friend. You should try to make your point in the least number of words possible. Cut out excess words, be direct and edit yourself. Generally speaking, if you can cut words without losing the meaning you're trying to get across, you should do it. The exception for this is longer forms of content, such as blogs and crisis communications. We'll get into those below -- gotta keep this paragraph brief!



Email and Crisis Communication

Marketers write copy for all types of outlets and platforms. Let's start with email. I'd argue the most important part of an email is the subject line. If you can't get someone to open your email, it doesn't matter what's inside. Your subject line should grab the readers attention right away and make them want to know more. It's also been proven that emojis in subject lines contribute to higher open rates, so depending on your brand voice, you may want to incorporate those.


Your subject line should grab the readers attention right away and make them want to know more.

In emails and other marketing comms, your call to action (CTA) is also crucial. What action do you want your reader to take? You need a thorough understanding of that and how to get them to do it. Your CTA should be clear and concise, whether it's "learn more", "buy now", "sign me up" or whatever else you want your reader to do. This isn't the time for cutesy language, it's the time for clarity and direction.


If you're writing crisis communications (hi, PR professionals!), your copy strategy will be different. Because these types of comms are usually sensitive and/or serious, the tone should convey that. If an apology needs to happen, put that early on, and repeat it at the end. No jokes or attempts at levity. Apologize, be empathetic and attentive and explain the situation and what the organization is going to do to fix it.


The key to blogs is keeping your audience engaged through the whole post. Break the post up into sections, use pull quotes and use images to avoid walls of text.

Social Media and Blogs

This is where you can really get creative. Social media copy is generally shorter, although studies show that Instagram captions are trending longer and more personal. On Instagram, emojis are effective, whereas on LinkedIn, they look more amateur. You should still be thinking about your first sentence in every post, and use lists or bullet points when possible. Your social copy should be clear and easy to digest. And same as above, your CTA matters. Tell them where to go next, to comment, to save the post or to share it. People are way more likely to do so when they are directly told.


Blogs are usually the longest form of content that copy writers write. The key to blogs is keeping your audience engaged through the whole post. Break the post up into sections, use pull quotes and use images to avoid walls of text. The same goes for website copy. Over the past decade, copy on website has gotten shorter and shorter. Your site should be easy to navigate and it should be clear what each page is meant to do. Your about me page may have a couple paragraphs about the company, while your contact page may just have a few words. Again, we come back to the principal of being succinct. Don't waste other's time or your own!


That wraps up my thoughts on copy writing, and how it can help your audience take action and buy what you're selling. Where do you stand on writing copy? Love it, hate it? I'm always curious what other people think, so comment here or on one of my social posts and let me know.

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