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The secret to writing great web copy

Whether you’re writing an informational page, a sales email, a social media update, or anything else on the web, a few simple tweaks in the way you construct your sentences and use language can make all the difference. This post provides some essential tips on how you can make your writing more persuasive and guide your readers into performing specific actions.

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Keep it short

Unless you’re writing for SEO, you want your text to be as short as possible. People have short attention spans and will typically stay on a page for just a few seconds. You want to get across the essential information clearly and succinctly.

This is especially true for emails, which people tend to scan quickly. Whilst fantastic for reaching people on a personal level, emails compete for attention much more than other forms of web communication, so you have to attract attention with an intriguing subject line or you’re probably going to be ignored altogether.

Use calls to action, particularly at the beginning and the end

Always make it clear to your reader what you want them to do, whether it’s ‘Take advantage of our amazing offer’ or ‘Order today and get 20% off’. The strongest web copy starts and ends with clear calls to action (verbs and commands), so engage your reader from the start and follow up with them at the end.

Your writing should always finish by encouraging an action, whether it’s to click through to more information or an order process, or sign up for emails, or simply to get in touch. Make sure your reader is never lost or confused about what to do next.

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Limit your readers’ options

Be careful not to pull your readers in too many different directions otherwise they may not realise what they are expected to do. Keep links to a minimum, and avoid external links altogether on sales pages and emails where possible. Decide on a consistent message, and stick with it.

Don’t repeat yourself

If you’re writing articles or sales copy, avoid copying and pasting information available on your other pages. As well as potentially creating duplicate content issues, you don’t want your visitors to feel like they’re reading the same information over and over again.

Repetition not only takes up valuable space on the page, but also dilutes your message and stands in the way of your visitors reaching (and performing) your call to action.

Use active sentences and address your reader directly

As well as involving your reader directly using calls to action, talk to them! Avoid saying ‘Our customers save 50%’, say ‘You save 50%’ for a much stronger message. Rather than saying ‘Awesome Product has a great offer on it, a saving of 50%’, try ‘Save 50% when you buy Awesome Product!’

Be intriguing

The best sales emails don’t give too much information away, and it’s a difficult balance to get right. Too much information and your reader is potentially turned off without even seeing your actual sales page. Too little information and your email risks looking like spam or confusing the recipient.

Be interesting – John Lewis recently ran a good mini campaign which had the headline ‘You know when you’ve found the one’, which is a nice example of a headline which is intriguing but doesn’t make any ridiculous claims (exaggerated headlines again run the risk of seeming like spam or disappointing the reader by not living up to their expectations).

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Use key selling points

Writing about a discount or offer? Convey urgency by directly describing it as ‘limited time only’. Avoid using dates and specifics unless it’s for one day only or you’re sending out a reminder that it ‘expires today’. With emails especially, people will often think, ‘Oh I’ll have a think and come back to it later’; you need to encourage them to act at the time or they will forget about it altogether.

If you’re offering a special bonus, it’s a one-off offer, or only a limited number of items are available (especially at a limited price), you also need to get that across.

What are your tips for writing great copy? Let us know in the comments!

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