Recently I was flipping through a current affairs magazine and there on one of the pages I noticed an ad of a car. It is a well known brand. Although the copy waxed eloquent about the design team and the superb technology used, not even one word was used to tell me why I should buy the car. It talked about dreams, it talked about “reaching there”, it talked about the feeling of elegance you get when you drive it, and it talked about the fact of it being a masterpiece. It didn’t at all tell me what mileage it gives me, how safe it is, how easy it is to get the servicing done, what’s the pickup or how easy it is to maneuver it. This is bad copywriting, and print copywriting often hinges upon such kind of waywardness.
Online copywriting, on the other hand, is conversational, and hence, it generates higher response. But it’s not that every work of online copywriting can do the trick and earn big bucks for the client companies. Most copywriters, even on the Internet, try to apply the same offline print methodology and juggle with quixotic words instead of delivering the real message.
When I’m planning to buy something, I don’t want to know what a genius sample it is, I want to know whether it can do what I want it to do, and how well it can do it.
Effective online copywriting does two things as soon as possible:
- Highlight the benefits of the product
- Establish a conversation with the reader
An average surfer is in a hurry not because he or she has a small attention span, it is because there is so much choice and it is so easy to go to another website. When I do a search on Google I open multiple links on different tabs to save time (instead of clicking the back button each time I want to go to the next link). The same must be happening with your users.
So grab the attention in the first line
The first line of your copy can be the most important part of your entire online copywriting endeavor. It sets the tone. Highlight your first line, and encapsulate the entire gist of your message there. Your first line is the only chance you have got, so make the optimal use of it.
The first line of the page is usually the headline, and if the page doesn’t have many distractions (like animations and images), the headline is the first thing a visitor sees.
Use the headline tags (h1, h2, etc.) wherever possible
Organize your various sections under compelling headlines. Once your headline has managed to grab the attention, you can rest assured that the following text is going to be read. Talk in figures. For instance,
Memorize 150 phone numbers in just 5 minutes!
is far better a headline than
Improve you memory!
Use active voice
It’s like, instead of saying
This can be done.
you should say
You can do this.
Active voice has more action words, and it directly talks to the reader in terms of “you” and “I”. If you say “Great photographs can be taken by this camera,” the reader might think that “Yes, great photographs can be taken, but not by me.”
On the other hand, if you say, “You can take great photographs with this camera,” you are directly telling the reader that he or she can take great photographs. Here, there is a less chance of ambivalence.
Address the concerns of the readers, not your company
You can serve your business well by showing concern for the needs of your readers. Convince them — sincerely — that you want to solve their problem. Show them you have exactly the solution they need. Don’t try to trick them, don’t try to sell them something they don’t want to buy or if they are unsure at the moment. In fact a great trait of effective online copywriting is that it allays the fears and mitigates the doubts by clearly stating what the pros and cons of buying a particular product are.
Online copywriting that generates higher response is all about establishing trust between the two transacting parties. You can only establish trust by delivering a sincere, unambiguous message. Your copy shouldn’t merely deliver your company’s message, it should talk to your readers, and it should solve their problem.