Rules for writing copy that capture customers

Writing great copy is one of the most useful skills a marketer can develop. After all, copy is a key element of successful digital marketing, from emails with awesome open rates to blog posts that get shared hundreds or even thousands of times.

Tell a story, write killer headlines and introductory paragraphs, and give your reader value with every piece of content you deliver. Resolve to create fewer pieces of content and make them better, if you must. But strive to be remarkable this year.

Clear and Concise Copy

Your copy should be clear and concise. It should be persuasive, too. Landing pages are not the place to show off your creativity, unless that creativity is clear, concise, and persuasive. Leave the creative turns-of-phrase for your blog.

It’s pretty safe to assume that most of the people who visit your landing page are already interested in what you have to say, because they’ve likely clicked through from a PPC ad or email. But just because they’re interested when they arrive doesn’t mean they’ll stay interested if you don’t get to the point.

Every single sentence and word on your landing page should serve a purpose, and that purpose should be to support your call to action. If it doesn’t do that, cut it. Be ruthless in editing your copy. Tell your visitors what they want to know in as few words as possible, and get them to respond to your call to action as quickly as possible.

Headlines that grab attention

Copy written for print or display ads often features a clever, funny, or outrageous headline. It has to because those ads are trying to wave their arms in your face and distract you from whatever it was you were doing so you will look at them instead.

On your webpage, though, you aren’t fighting for attention. You’ve already done something to funnel your visitors there. Now you just need to convince them to pull up their chairs and stay awhile.

A great headline uses actionable, value-driven words. It should entice people to do something. In this case, that something is filling out the form on the landing page. Make sure that your copy uses action-oriented words that communicate the value of the offer behind the landing page.

Every landing page should have an attention-grabbing headline that clearly indicates what the offer its featuring is about. When you present a clear value proposition — including what customers get as a result of reading, they’ll be more likely to continue on and see how your bullet points and features further reinforce the main offer in the headline.

If your landing page visitor read nothing else on the page but the headline, would she know exactly what she’d receive by completing and submitting the form? If it’s not clear, make it so.

Getting donors to click your call to action

Once you know what your goal for the page is, you need to come up with a clear call to action. This is possibly the single most important part of any landing page. Your call to action should be specifically tied to your goal, and should be supported by everything else on your landing page, from headline and body copy to images and overall layout.

The call to action (CTA) is what you want visitors to do, sign up to a fundraising event, make a donation or sign a petition.

Whatever it is you’ve decided will move people further along your conversion funnel. That’s what you should be asking them, clearly and temptingly, to do. Don’t distract them with lots of other requests. The best pages accentuate only one CTA.

Use sensory words

Email copy that evokes the five senses creates a lasting impression. Whether it’s via sight, smell, taste, touch or sound, any time you can use language that taps into those faculties, it makes the description of your product more realistic and tangible.

Plus, it creates a reaction in your reader’s brain. Neuroscience research conducted at Emory University showed that words related to texture activated areas of the brain associated with touch (even when their use had nothing to do with physical sensations.) The researcher also noted that words that activate the sensory areas of the brain are “more likely to be memorable and impactful.”

Evoke imagination

Using imagination in email copy helps your readers picture themselves using your product. It makes them think about how they’d look and feel if they owned the product and gets their mental wheels turning.

Encouraging the customer to imagine the improvement in their lives (from using your product or service) is significantly more powerful and inspiring, and compels them to take action.

Create mini stories

Telling stories in your email copy helps break down the sales barrier, fosters a sense of connection and helps sweep the reader into an alternate world.

Why is that important? Research shows that when readers can picture themselves in the story we create within our copy, sales messages can finally begin to stick.

Think about it: Storytelling has been part of the human experience for many, many years. It’s how we pass along lessons, cultural heritage, and important events. It resonates with the human experience. Because of the value we place on stories, it’s important to incorporate narrative form into our email copy.

Write benefit-focused copy

Focusing your copy on the benefits of your product — rather than its features and options — helps people understand how your product can make their lives better and increases their individual incentive to convert.

By presenting the benefit of your product in a clear and concise manner, you’ll make it much more appealing to your audience and ultimately drive more conversions.

This is commonly-touted advice, however when you’re strapped for time it’s easy to start writing about features and forget to write about how they actually meet the wants and needs of your audience.

To help keep you on track, there are a number of copywriting formulas that you can use. These formulas provide a structure that can help you stay focused on presenting the benefits your product offers to customers.

Clarity Not Creativity

People’s attention spans are short, especially online. This means you need to make sure your offer is as clear as possible.

Think of the most direct way to say what you’re trying to say, without the use of jargon and literary flair that detracts from the meaning of your sentence. Once you’re done crafting the copy for your landing page, read over it, and cross out every single word, phrase, and sentence that is not absolutely necessary to clearly convey meaning.

Make sure your landing page makes it totally obvious what your prospects will get out of completing your form. It’s not just enough to tell them that they’ll receive, you need to emphasize the benefits in it. Remember, you’re trying to convince your landing page visitors that filling out a form and providing their personal information is worth what they’ll get in return.

If it is a petition rather than a product like an e-book or a newsletter subscription, this means focusing on why and how this benefits the people you are helping and what you are campaigning to change.

Improve Your Form’s Submit Button Text

Although it’s a tiny part of your overall landing page optimization plan, your call to action button is nevertheless one of the most powerful elements on the page. Done right, call-to-action button optimization can have a staggering affect on click-throughs and conversion rates

Include click triggers

Your copy brings a visitor to the button. It overcomes objections, gets emotions soaring, and makes the conversion happen in their head. Your click trigger is what makes them click the button.

A click trigger is any message that’s positioned near a key call to action, with the express purpose of compelling people to click the button. They knock barriers out of the user’s path, make worries go far away, and call dreamlike attention to what you want them to do, why they should do it, just when they need that information to make a decision.

For greatest impact, a click trigger should a) neutralize a key anxiety that is likely to keep your prospect from moving forward or b) amplify the value of proceeding, which is all about reminding your prospect of what motivated them to seek you out in the first place, what value you offer, what benefit they’ll derive. If you’re offering an incentive, your click trigger may be that incentive.

Remove Distractions

Think of your landing page visitors like kids in a candy store. If you put a lot of bells, whistles, and different choices in front of them, you’ll never be able to corral them. That’s why it’s critical to limit as many potential distractions as possible on your landing pages. You want your visitors to focus on one thing and one thing only — completing the form to redeem the offer. So don’t include anything on your page that might prevent them from doing just that.

Eliminate distractions by removing all navigation and links to other parts of your site. Once the visitor reaches your landing page, the only action they should be able to take is filling out your form. Hiding navigation on your landing pages will help keep your conversion rates up.

Remove any website navigation so visitors aren’t tempted to visit another part of your website, and get rid of any other calls-to-action for other offers you might have on the page.

Sometimes words aren’t enough

Sometimes it’s just too difficult to explain your campaign using bullet points and text. If you can back up your copy with a picture it makes it much easier to convey your benefits to visual people. A picture or diagram can help you remove a lot of copy and help visitors understand a new concept quickly.

We humans are visual creatures, so it’s no wonder we’ve seen an increasing emphasis on visuals in marketing lately. (Think about all those infographicsmemes, and the rise in visual-centric social networks like Pinterest.) Hey, they don’t say “a picture is worth a thousand words” for nothing. So if your landing page doesn’t include some kind of visual — or a compelling one, for that matter — adding one is an easy upgrade. Even though you’ve explained what the offer is and the value they’ll get from it through your copy, it can still seem like a mystery to your visitors. Thus, we recommend including a visual that more tangibly shows the visitor what they’re actually going to get