Writing great and highly compelling copy that’s properly optimized for search engines is the first step for any profitable online endeavor, but it requires specialized training and knowledge of search engine optimization.
Many writers are privileged to have the skills that allow them to write powerful copy that converts well and shows up on the first page of Google’s search results. But let me be very clear about one thing; SEO is not the be all and end all of content marketing. It’s just one aspect of creating lucrative content.
What really matters is the way copy is written; does it resonate with consumers? Will they be moved to take action?
Great skill in copywriting is a coveted talent among marketers. Those who possess the ability to create powerful marketing content are able to persuade customers with emotionally laden words, whether they are composed for sales copies, guest blog posts, or marketing videos.
Emotionally-charged copy can accomplish the entire sales process, from attracting prospects to convincing them they need to act NOW.
Copywriting has come a long way, and evolved into a variety of forms, yet the traditional elements that make great copy content successful remain.
+ Marketing Copywriting Tips
+ Steps to Quality Copywriting for SEO
+ SEO Copywriting Resources
+ How to Keep Your Creative Copywriting Juices Flowing
+ The Path to Copywriting Success in SEO
+ Daily Habits to Improve Copywriting Success
Let’s take a look at some of the tested and proven strategies to create effective sales copy.
Start with a solid promise
Your headline, or subject line for emails, should make a bold promise that your target audience couldn’t possibly ignore. The promise within the headline should compel your audience to want to consume the entire message below.
A headline such as “50% Off for the First 10 Subscribers” has all the elements of a sure hit. Other headlines that offer gripping promises tend to include terms like Guaranteed, Fast, In Two Days, etc.
This strategy works best for marketers who have already established strong relationships and trust with their customers. However, nothing says a newbie marketer mustn’t use this technique in a headline, especially if he or she can honestly deliver on a bold promise.
Keep paragraphs short and to the point
A big chunk of text or a lengthy paragraph tends to turn readers off. Its field of grey (or whatever color the author has chosen for onscreen text) evokes the feeling that it’s going to take some effort to read the message.
Your sales copies should be easy to read. One way to accomplish this is to shorten the paragraphs. Don’t cram too many ideas into a single straight block of sentences.
Long paragraphs should be broken into smaller ones. This is especially beneficial for readers who like to skim.
It’s also highly recommended to keep sentences short.
When composing paragraphs, try to place the most important ideas or information right at the start of each paragraph or sentence. This makes it easier for readers to figure out the gist of the copy.
Write copies that appeal specifically to your audience’s needs
Don’t write about what you want; write about what your audience wants. The key to successful copywriting is to devise marketing content that empathizes: it should make the readers feel they are understood, that your copy is appealing directly to them.
That’s why you need to do enough research to determine the exact needs of your audience before you set out to write any marketing copies. What are their pains? What gives them pleasure or satisfaction? How can your product or service ease their pain or increase their pleasure?
Appeal to the skimmers in all of us
Writing copies with short paragraphs is just part of the battle. We humans have naturally short attention spans, so we tend to skim and skip through most texts to get to the important points. Make it easy for your readers to get the important points by cutting down your content into smaller chunks.
Use bullets, numbers, headers, and sub-headers. It’s also highly recommended to include backlinks that enable your readers to obtain more information from other sources.
Stay on course
Focus on your audience’s problem. Don’t try to talk about a lot of stuff or cram in several issues when you’re trying to solve just one problem.
Focus, focus, and focus. This also plays into your audience’s desire to get to the bottom line (your solutions) even more.
Combine phenomenal copywriting skills with SEO, and your content marketing strategy will be on the road to gaining highly targeted readers that instantly become hot leads and customers.
But how do you come up with persuasive copy that’s also highly optimized for search?
First, the research
Use keyword research tools to help you find keywords that have 1) low competition, and 2) a good amount of search.
There are lots of free and paid keyword research tools available, but I recommend Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Google’s very own keyword research tool helps you find keywords by competition level (low, medium, or high), search volume (local or global), and match type (exact, phrase, or broad match).
Start with the “scanners” in mind
The odds are relatively good that you’re simply scanning or skimming this very blog post. That’s actually how most people normally consume content online.
That’s why it’s important that when you write copy, first create an outline of what you plan to write. You’ll want to visualize what points you want to make, and how to break those points into smaller chunks so that readers can easily scan through it while still absorbing information.
The article’s most important points should be found in the headline, sub-headlines, bullet points, and in the first few lines of every paragraph.
The killer headline
So, you have a layout of how your copy will look; it’s now time to hook potential readers with a killer, magnetic headline.
Magnetic headlines should compel potential readers to want to read your article. Some elements of powerful and magnetic headlines include:
The keywords should be included within the headline in order to optimize for SEO, since the headline generally becomes the title tag of the page as well as the H1 tag. The H1 tag is still one of the most important elements in onsite SEO, and the title tag is the single most important factor.
The sub headline
The sub headline (which, for you SEO junkies, are usually surrounded in an H2 tag), usually comes after the main headline and before every major section of the copy. Each sub headline should contain LSI (related) keywords. For a list of LSI terms, use the Google Keyword Tool for keyword research and it’ll suggest a whole slew of related terms.
The sub headline should also summarize important points of the copy (remember the scanners?).
Highlight, bold, underline and italicize
When you highlight, bold, underline and italicize a key point, you put emphasis on the main points. That helps readers; especially the scanners. It also helps search engine robots determine relevance of your article for keywords.
Emphasizing the keywords by underlining or bolding them sends a signal to the robots on what the content is all about.
Driving the point home with bullets
The important sections of your copy could also be emphasized with bullet points. Cutting down your points into smaller chunks also makes your copy very easy to read and more engaging.
KISS – Keeping it short and sweet
The first couple sentences of every paragraph should be the most important. The following sentences should expand on those important points. In order to convey maximum information to your reader, keep your paragraphs short.
The call to action
In sales, the only way to make people want to buy your product is to “show them what you want, and help them get it.”
Your goal should be to stop when their interest level is white hot. Helping them get what they want is the ultimate purpose of the call to action. Let them know what to do next, where to buy your product or how to get in touch with you.
To optimize for SEO, be sure to include your keyword nicely within the last paragraph. Ideally, your keyword should be in the headline, first paragraph, body, and last paragraph.
The novice online copywriter needs every bit of help he can get. We’ve all been there, and we know how desperately one needs to have all the resources required to hit the ground running.
For starters, every reliable resource counts. Every reliable resource is a treasure.
That’s why I’d like to talk about some of the best resources that every copywriter — novice and veteran — can rely on. And whether you’re starting out or you’re a veteran who’s hit a wall, there are many resources that can help you.
Brian Clark’s Copyblogger.com
Think of Copyblogger.com as your daily buddy for your copywriting needs. From writing magnetic headlines to coming up with compelling sales and landing pages, you’ll get all the help that you need.
Brian Clark came from a legal background and didn’t know a thing about search engine optimization. But what he knew was something that many readers of Copyblogger.com are thankful for: his understanding of the psychology of influencing people with compelling prose.
Copyblogger.com’s blog provides daily doses of copywriting nuggets. It also has a comprehensive archive that contains a wide range of tutorials on writing compelling headlines and boosting hit counts.
Copyblogger also offers a wide range of services for any copywriting needs, and free courses that will help the novice copywriter build a successful copywriting career from the ground up.
The American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) is a repository of everything related to copywriting. Copywriters from all levels of expertise can benefit from what AWAI has to offer.
AWAI has several courses that reveal industry insider tips and are designed to help budding writers write their way to seven-figure incomes.
Whether you are a budding direct-response copywriter or a seasoned travel writer looking to sharpen your skills, AWAI’s unique courses address many needs.
Since the company started in 1997, it has helped hundreds of writers achieve financial independence through writing.
If you’re not ready to take advantage of the full line of courses the AWAI offers, you can follow their blog and subscribe to their newsletter for a daily dose of free copywriting tips.
And of course…
Don’t forget about SEO.co’s collection of blog posts dedicated to effective web copywriting.
Copywriting for the web can be a profitable endeavor. If you want to become a professional copywriter, don’t stop hunting for tricks of the trade. Dedicate a few hours to copywriting on a daily basis and refer to the resources listed in this post.
The key to copywriting success in a blog is consistency. If you keep at it, you’ll develop the tricks of the trade sheer repetition. By constant practice, blog copywriting could become a natural skill in a matter of weeks.
Knowing how to write compellingly is one thing, though; keeping the creative copywriting juices flowing is another. Having to churn out post after post, any copywriter could easily burn out or run dry of lucrative ideas.
So where do excellent copywriters draw their inspiration from, and are there ways you can take advantage to help you promote something constantly in a dependably gripping manner?
Below are some great tips on keeping your creative ideas flowing, especially if your goal is to blog to sell.
Read up on blogs and websites on copywriting
In the real world, you need to learn to adapt constantly to survive. You may be very good at something, but you also need to look over your shoulder constantly because there’s almost always someone better out there, or someone who possesses skills you don’t have but could use.
And who better to learn from than the great bloggers of our time?
It is from the bloggers who write brilliantly about copywriting that you should learn. There are plenty of excellent blogs dedicated to the art of copywriting. Read them and apply every new trick they discuss. Subscribe to their newsletters and apply every piece of good advice you glean from them.
Assess the things you like about the product you’re promoting
Say you’ve picked a product to sell – perhaps an oven toaster – and you want to write tons of posts about it. But it seems as if there’s not much to say about it.
The truth is, there is always tons to write about anything, if you assess your product deep enough.
Don’t write about all the great stuff your product has to offer in one go. Chop things down to smaller pieces – and chop them some more.
Make a list of all the things you like about your product. You could write about the manufacturer, for example, and the issues surrounding the manufacturer. You could also write about what others have had to say about the product.
Another fun tactic is to use reverse psychology, such as describing four reasons consumers shouldn’t buy your product. In this example, your reasons should be silly, or be counterintuitive so that the reader thinks “wait a minute, I disagree with this statement! I do need that ability and I should buy that product!
An example of this sort of reverse psychology advertising is circulating the national TV airwaves right now: Samsung’s advertisement for its Samsung Galaxy S III. In the ad, Samsung makes fun of Apple iPhone 5’s new features by showing actors claiming certain features are great, but with such irony that the viewer disagrees with the actor.
Let your imagination run free and think harder about clever ways to expand ideas surrounding the product you are promoting.
Talk about related topics, and use less direct promotion
Sometimes it helps to keep the promotion subtle. When you set aside the promoting for a bit, you can draw a clearer picture of the larger context and discover something new to apply.
Write about something that’s related to the product you intend to promote – for example, the industry where it belongs. Write something more general.
Remember, it takes a while to get the hang of blog copywriting. Don’t be too concerned about sounding silly. Just keep on practicing and eventually it will become second nature.
Let’s take a look at several of the most important points about writing effective web copies.
The compelling headline
Perhaps the most important part of any copy is the headline. Without a great, Adele-like headline, no one will notice your message, much less care about it.
Pundits will argue that the best way to come up with great copy that flows and persuades readers is to start by writing the headline. It’s the foundation from which you build a magnificent and magic piece of copy.
What are the elements of a great online copy headline?
In the past, we’ve comprehensively covered effective headline writing. A compelling headline is urgent, unique, and very specific. A truly powerful headline states at least 2 bold claims that will make readers take a second look.
Write with your readers in mind
Your copy should have your readers’ best interests written all over the piece. It’s all about THEM.
Write as though you are writing to just one person and put plenty of emphasis on the benefits. In other words, always, always make them feel you’re writing to satisfy that burning question: “What’s in it for me?”
Keep your readers interested. Don’t allow their interest to flag after a few paragraphs. One way to do this is to break down your copy into smaller chunks and introduce each section with a sub headline.
Ideally, the sub headlines summarize the entire set of copy below so that if you removed the rest of the content and left only the headline and sub headlines, all the important points of your message would be sufficiently covered.
Keep the following points in mind to hold the readers’ interest throughout your piece:
All of these tactics are intended to keep the readers’ mind from straying from the forward flow of the copy.
Then write for the search engines
Online copywriting includes the conscious use of SEO. By properly optimizing the page’s title, headline, and H1 and H2 tags, as well as the body of the copy for the keywords that you are focusing on, you make it easy for search engine robots to understand what your page is all about.
Make readers want to take action right this instant
After walking your readers through the entire length of your copy with all the spellbinding magnetism of your words, it’s time to go for the kill: the call to action.
The call to action instructs your readers to do something about what they’ve just read and does it with a sense of urgency. You tell them why it’s important to take action right this very instant.
With the call to action, you inform your readers where to buy the product, how to get in touch with you, or how to download your freemium.
As pointed out earlier, online copywriting is easy if you have a good understanding of how to compel your readers to take action and sufficient knowledge of how to help the search engines grasp what your page is all about.
Content marketing is becoming an increasingly competitive field, and marketers everywhere are scrambling to find ways to improve their SEO strategy. In order to be successful, you need to be unique, consistent, and valuable—but you also need to keep raising the bar to increase reader loyalty and keep a positive traffic flow to your blog and social media profiles.
It’s hard to drive a radical traffic increase without making a radical change to your strategy, but small changes can add up to form an equally substantial impact. Incorporate these 10 habits into your daily routine, and you’ll be amazed at how much the quality of your content will increase:
Reading the national news on a daily basis is a good idea even if you aren’t into content marketing. But in the content marketing world it will increase your vocabulary, give you broad insights into world developments, and plug you into the topics that people are interested in. Was there a major security breach? Write about how your company protects your users. Is there a new, exciting technology? Write about how your company will use it. Take advantage of the news to generate meaningful, relevant content ideas.
If you want to illustrate yourself as a thought leader in the industry, you have to know what’s going on in the industry. Subscribe to news feeds relevant to your industry and make it a point to read new articles on a daily basis. You’ll increase your expertise relevant to the industry and be able to incorporate that knowledge seamlessly into your future posts. Don’t just browse through the headlines; dig deep and read people’s reactions to the news to get the full scope of each announcement.
Keep a running list of your closest competitors, and check up on them on a daily basis to see what they’re coming up with. Some of your competitors won’t post every day, but when they do post, you’ll know about it, and you’ll be able to respond accordingly. That might mean doing a better job of covering a topic they’ve chosen, or it might mean developing a strategy that disrupts theirs with a different angle. Be sure to see how their customers react to that content as well. It can provide clues to how your customers might react to similar content.
Come up with at least two new post ideas every day, even if you don’t ever use them. If you commit to generating new potential article subjects regularly, it will be easier for you to churn out tons of content, and it will give you a better chance at finding great titles. If you have 14 new potential titles every week, you can edit that number down and only work with the most successful candidates. It’s like having a huge chunk of marble to use when you’re creating a sculpture.
Go back to your editorial calendar every day, even if it’s not a high priority. Find something to change in it, whether that means adding a few potential new titles, moving publication dates around, or changing the direction of your strategy. Even small updates will do. Accessing your editorial calendar on a daily basis will help to keep your broader content strategy top-of-mind, and give you a reason to expand that strategy. If you update it slightly every day, you’ll avoid the buildup of making a major update every few weeks.
Set aside time every day to shut down your work station—that means disconnecting from the Internet, shutting down your email, closing your machine, and turning off your phone. Focus on one critical content marketing task that’s facing you, whether that’s outlining a new article or expanding your editorial calendar, and do it on paper, without any distractions. Your focus will skyrocket, and you’ll have a far easier time completing the task without anything else getting in your way. It will also help your mind relax and retain more information.
If you’re stuck in a corner writing content on your own, you’re going to get stuck in a rut. On a daily basis, go out of your way to talk to other people in your company and other people in your industry. It doesn’t take much; just have an open conversation and see what’s on their mind. It’s a great way to get new insights and discover what the people around you are currently dealing with. Thinking outside the box and stepping outside of your comfort zone will make it easier for you to come up with diverse ideas for topics and content types.
Take some time every day to get to know your customers just a little better. One way to do this is to imagine your target customer profile and visualize how you would talk to them about a trending topic. Of course, you could also have a real conversation with a real customer. Create segmented lists on your social media platforms and glance through what they’re talking about, or start a conversation thread and invite your followers to respond. When your target customer is always top of mind, you’ll be able to write more targeted content.
This may seem like an obvious choice to any content marketer, but in order to get better at writing, you have to write every day. Set aside at least 20 minutes and use that time to write something, even if you feel underprepared or overwhelmed with other tasks. By writing every day, you’ll not only get a little better at it every day, you’ll also trigger the “Seinfeld productivity trick.” Whatever it is you want to do, keep doing it every day, and don’t break the chain. For as long as that chain remains unbroken, you’ll increase your commitment to your ultimate vision.
It may surprise you, but deleting is just as important as creating in the world of content marketing. For every 10 topic ideas you come up with, you’ll be deleting at least eight. For every 10 pages of content you write, you’ll be deleting at least five (even if it’s just to be rewritten). In order to stand out in the world of content marketing, you have to whittle your ideas down to the best of the best, so take time every day to weed out a few sentences or a few posts that you don’t really need. It will raise your standards and get you used to the idea of letting go of less-than-stellar ideas.
Improving your content marketing strategy takes commitment and consistency, and these 10 habits will gradually guide you to a better destination. As you start practicing these habits, you may find that some of them work better than others; every content marketer is unique and every business has unique demands, so adjust your daily strategies accordingly. Eventually, you’ll refine your practices to a repeatable, beneficial routine that bolsters the quality and value of your content while fitting in nicely with the rest of your daily responsibilities.
Copywriting is easy if you know what your target audience needs and you focus on talking about those needs.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on how to promote your online content here.