Writing has never been so cool. And who’s to blame? The web. With huge free platforms at our disposal – blogs, social networks, forums, websites – anyone can leave their words imprinted on the Internet forever. Are you ready to enter the world of online copywriting?
What is copywriting?
Intimately linked to advertising – first offline, now online as well – copywriting is the act of writing the advertising text that accompanies an image in an advertisement or that makes up a radio or television ad. Today, copywriting is used for a heck of a lot more than simply selling a product or service. It is used to sell an idea, an emotion, a story... the right words can ultimately have the consequences that we want.
What is copywriting for the web?
Writing for the web is something we all do daily, whether consciously or unconsciously, we practice copywriting every time we think of a cool title for the post we just wrote for our blog, for our good morning message on Facebook, for the description of yet another trendy pin we just added to our account on Pinterest, for the comment that will accompany the retweet of something that inspired us or the picture that we just uploaded on Instagram... Copywriting for the web can be described as the art of using words to influence and persuade, triggering an action (sell, register, call, click, book, reserve, like, share ...). Above all, it is the ability of finding the right words, to tell the right story, to the right people.
8 golden rules for web copywriting
Quoting Kelton Reid: "Every writer can memorize rules, but how you get people’s attention requires some creativity," we can affirm that there are no strict rules when it comes to copywriting, however, there are some guidelines that are always important to take into account if the goal is to be successful with the words that you ultimately choose to write.
- Know your target audience: knowing who you are writing for and what you need to say to these people, helps define the best approach and tone for the copy.
- Define the purpose, which simply means cut to the chase, in a natural and friendly manner. Have something to say? Say it!
- Don’t forget to contextualize, to be relevant and to relate information. At the end, make it clear what you expect from those who are reading: call-to-action or pointers on what to do next.
- Sell what you have to sell, but with a spin: what story do you have to tell?
- Share this story using clear and concise words – less is definitely more!
- For copywriting that lingers in the mind and heart, write with passion, with emotion and with intelligence.
- Believe the words you type: when copy has its own voice, a voice that believes what was written, those who read it will also believe.
- Some important techniques to take into account in order to ensure the success of your copywriting: AIDA (Attention | Interest | Desire | Action) SWOT (Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats), the 4 "U’s" (Useful | Urgent | Unique | Ultra-specific).
10 sins to avoid in web copywriting
Talking about copywriting sins may seem a bit exaggerated, but it really is not if you want the words you write to have impact and success. In reality, there is a line that separates good copywriting from bad copywriting.
- Using big words that are hard to read, hard to pronounce or downright unusual: here is where KISS always comes in – keep it short and simple!
- Clichés, sappy talk or other bla, bla, bla that does not add anything new to the copy makes whoever is reading look away and think "this is more of the same."
- Copy that is absurd, surreal, impossible: what you write can make you dream, but you cannot make that dream unattainable!
- Beware of humor: it is not easy to write for laughs. It may seem that you’re trying too hard or you may simply not get any laughs out of whoever is reading, so be very careful with this style of copywriting.
- Too technical: the technical part of a product/service is always essential for those who are really interested in it and demonstrates professionalism and knowledge, however, it has to be easily understood above all.
- Too abstract: here is where the AIDA technique comes in, in order to help anyone who is having a hard time writing an objective and clear enough copy.
- Text so long that we lose interest, text so short that it doesn’t even have time to kindle our interest.
- A set of words that say nothing, that do not add value and/or novelty and that will basically be forgotten within moments – here we’re talking about the creativity that must be attached to any good copy. This is the real challenge and it is totally worth investing in it!
- Sloppy formatting: our eyes read, but they also eat up everything. There is nothing like well written and well presented copy.
- Errors – of any kind!
Ultimately, and in the words of Amrit Hallan: "It all depends on the words you use, on the way you use them, how you combine them and how you decide not to use them: it has everything to do with words." Use them in the most creative and unexpected way possible: tell your story ... the web wants to hear it!