Copywriting best practices

Whether you’re writing semi-permanent copy for webpages on your company’s site, writing longer form copy such as white papers or shorter form copy such as blog articles or social media posts, and even if you’re writing very short form ad copy such as text messages for your SMS loyalty program, it’s important that what you’re writing is compelling and effective. Here are four tips that will help you to write more effective ad copy.

Time is money, be concise

Copy is most effective when it’s concise and “punchy.” A good habit to develop in your copywriting is using the fewest words possible to say what you’re trying to say. With concise language, there’s less of a chance that your target audience will misunderstand what you’re saying. Avoid using throwaway words like “really” and throwaway phrases like “due to the fact that” in favor of more direct language that gets right to the point. This skill is especially important for short form ad copy such as text messages and “tweets” since these platforms actually have a cap on the number of characters you can use per message but it’s also a good skill to have for longer form ad copy as well.

Don’t be repetitious

For SEO purposes, you’ll probably have a handful of keywords that you want to use several times in your website copy or blog articles to get higher priority with Google’s search algorithms. But if you go overboard, even with important keyboards, the overall result can be negative. People reading your copy will grow tired of seeing the same words being used again and again. Try to mix things up. Perhaps there are synonym keywords you’re not using that you can incorporate to avoid repetition and improve SEO simultaneously. There are plenty of free online resources to help you come up with different ways to say things so you’re not always having to revert back to using the same words.

Avoid lazy language

Here, some online courses in creating writing–or at the very least, some independent online study of creative writing–will come in handy. Often in writing we rely too heavily on qualifiers like “very” or “really” or we have a tendency to use adjectives when better verbs are what’s needed. In a famous scene from the film, Dead Poets Society, Professor Keating, played by Robin Williams, tells his students: “Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys–to woo women–and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.” Not only is it sound advice for wooing a romantic interest, it’s valuable advice for wooing potential customers.

Read it aloud (or hire a proofreader)

Science tells us that we’re very bad at catching mistakes in our own writing. Even if you read over what you’ve written three or four times, you’re bound to miss a few errors because you can’t help but skim quickly over things you’ve written. The way around this is to read it aloud. You’ll catch obvious typos as well as less obvious problems with syntax and awkward phrasing. Another option is to pay someone else to go over what you’ve written with fresh eyes.