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Copywriting: the key to good web content (part 2)

matt-willson
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Copywriting: How to do it

In part 1 of our article we set the tone and basic approach for how to talk to readers so now it’s on to some practical applications. With that in mind, let’s start with the foundation stuff:

 

Basics – Stage 1: Basic research techniques

 
You need to think about the following questions and get some answers for them:

For website content:

  • Work out what you want to say – what is the piece about?
  • Who is it you want to listen? – who is your target audience?
  • Why should they listen to you? – what do you have to offer?
  • Hard sell vs. soft sell – a simple, strong call to action or an appeal to the readers values?

For social media content:

  • Where do those people hang out – do some demographic research as to what platforms your target audience use.
  • Hard sell vs. soft sell – as above
  • Make the content sharable – will people want to put their backing behind it?
  • Scheduling and frequency – when will it be posted and how often?
  • Automation tools – will you use automation scheduling and will it work for you?

 

Now work out what channels you are going to use for what type of messaging. The ones you should be looking at are:

– Website
– Facebook is for services, products, offers and relevant news
– Twitter is for expression of expertise (be benevolent) and/or a customer service portal
– LinkedIn -is for expression of expertise ONLY
– Email marketing is exactly the same as Facebook, people don’t want emails so keep them precise and punchy. Either 1) ‘Here’s a thing you didn’t know – click here to find out more about this thing you didn’t know.’ Or 2) ‘Here’s a thing we’re pretty sure you want – it has bells, whistles and a ribbon and is only £2 – only 100 left in stock BUY NOW!’

 

Basics – Stage 2: The construction

 
Your content is a story, so it has to have a start, middle and end.

The start – establish the known facts. Example: “Almost 70% of all website surfing in the UK is done on a mobile phone”.

The middle – qualify the facts with what you’re selling. Example: “Is your website mobile friendly? If not, we can build you a website that works perfectly on mobiles and tablets”.

The end – the call to action. Example: “Visit our website to see some great examples click here: www.aubergine262.com/mobile-responsive-websites”

But start with the end in mind – what do you want out of this piece? Awareness, sales, an ego boost – what?

 

If it’s sales of a product – Make it obvious and direct; ‘here’s our thing, this is what it does and how much it is, this is where you can get it (the call to action)’. Most people need a thing now or when they see the thing for sale they buy it (on impulse) so use that to your advantage.

If it’s a service – Make it indirect, use an expression of expertise as your indirect way to sell. It’s a longer burn. Show how good you are at that thing. Most people don’t need the service immediately but you need to be in their subconscious when they do.

If it’s an information-only – Make sure the piece follows the same basic principles. What is it about?
Why is it important to the reader? What do you want the reader to do now?

Always remember… Start, middle, end.

 

The Fundamentals

 
Good copy is spell checked, has good grammar, is not too long and has all the information a person needs with which to react. Never assume they know. They don’t so make it easy for them, tell them what you want them to do – it’s called the ‘call to action’ for a reason.

Some words of warning:

– Never conduct a discussion with a contact on any platform if remotely contentious, only if it is a positive one. Only then respond with a professional, polite and thankful message. Any other topics, thank the poster for the comment and say that you will contact them directly to help them resolve the problem. End it there.

Never moan, whine or complain. You’re representing the brand. The brand has values that may be different to yours. A brand must be agnostic. Only ever post helpful, useful or positive messages. The world is already too full of hate.

– Hashtags. For goodness sake, stop filling posts up with hashtags. If you can’t make a post that makes use of no more than a 2 or 3 hashtags, stop. Something’s wrong – you’re trying to make the post all things to all people. It won’t get the reach and people won’t engage as the message will be spread too thin. You can always post another time. Be specific.

 

Use a Checklist

 
Write down or type up a bullet point list answering the following. The action of writing it down makes you think more about it in a focused way as you’ll naturally want to write as few words as possible in this keyboard-heavy lifestyle:

  • Who is the message targeted at?
  • Why should they read it? (Does it address a problem you think they have?)
  • Who are you speaking as?
  • What’s the purpose of the communication?
  • Remind me of the key facts – give simple, succinct details.
  • CTA (call to action) – web address, phone, visit.
  • Images/video/supporting content.
  • Branding – does it have any and is it on brand?
  • Does it use content that’s not yours – have you got permission?
  • Check and double check any facts – anything wrong and your credibility is shot
  • Does it pass the ‘would I show it to my mum’ test?

Once you have done that, then write down what you want the absolute best result that could happen from it:

  • Visit my website and buy loads of stuff, call me or to engage my company to do something for them.
  • Share the content with others.
  • Spread news / raise awareness.
  • Indirectly sell a product or service through an expression of expertise.

Then revisit your completed checklist to make sure that all the elements are pointed towards the desired result. 
 

You’re now ready to write your content.