When writing web copy or web content, you have just eight seconds to rivet your visitors into place. Here's how to put your web visitors on a slippery slope that carries them along to the destination you want them to reach and the decision you want them to make.
It's a sad fact: when you attended school your teachers showed you how to write pleasantly and properly. Very few, if any, taught you how to write powerfully and persuasively.
Most educatorsdon't know how to write powerfully or persuasively themselves—they aren't copywriters, novelists or authors. Although they're technically proficient, they simply aren't (for the most part) artists or hypnotists.
This is why it's important when choosing a copywriter, to find out what they know about their craft. Your relatives and friends who got good grades in English and creative writing won't cut the mustard, either, unless they can tell you what I'm about to tell you. If they can, they've read copywriting books and they just might work out for you.
The following is what you need to know about writing persuasive, powerful copy. In knowing these few facts, you'll be able to choose a copywriter instead of a charlatan. Heck, you might even be able to write your own persuasive, powerful copy. (But read a few copywriting books before you try. You don't want to shoot yourself in the foot. It's costly to recover from a pathetic premiere!)
Every time your Ideal Clients reach the period at the end of every sentence in your copy, they have permission to leave. BUT!
If the next word after a period piques your visitors' curiosity, they'll stay put. If not, it's sayonara, baby.
So, starting a small handful of subsequent sentences with and, but, or, so, unless, did you know,why, because or another intriguing cliffhanger-type word makes it next to impossible for your audience to disappear on you. Their minds will insist on continuing. Why?Because the human brain is insatiably curious; it hates being left in the lurch with unfinished business.
Using alliteration, cadence and rhythm, metaphors, similes and other stay-with-me techniques also help keep your audience enthralled. (Examples: You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent. Double your pleasure, double your fun, with double good double good Doublemint gum. Turning browsers into buyers. Weaving words into wealth. Every Dr. Seuss book in existence.)
Use stories when you can. People love and remember stories a lot longer than they remember facts and figures or features and benefits.
Make sure your copy addresses your target audience's pain, problem or predicament—the one your product or service solves.
Focus like a laser on YOUR SINGLE, IDEAL CLIENT with your initial offerings, the persona most likely to whip out his or her wallet and buy from you. When you do this, their purchases will help fund additional outreach. Don't be a flashlight simply shedding light; be a laser: etch a permanent, unforgettable memory into your target client's mind and emotions.
Most large brands go to a lot of time and effort to get to the right messaging to properly tell their story. This involves a lot of soul-searching, creativity, rewriting, brainstorming and approvals – taking up time from a wide range of people. But when the final approval is given and the brand guys breathe a sigh of relief… then what?
But it's not just different parts of the business briefing communications you need to think about. Most large brands these days (and, increasingly, many smaller ones) make a large percentage of their sales in foreign markets. In fact, although it's easy to think in your 'master' language, the reality is that a much larger number of customers are reading your messaging, and accessing your brand, through a different language.
And that means getting your translations right.
It's tempting to just 'throw' your copy to a translations agency and forget about it. But it's important to brief them properly too. Think about what they have to go on when they do a translation. Do they know, and understand, the background of your product and brand? Are there phrases you always translate in a certain way?
What happens if your brilliantly crafted copy in English (or your core 'source language') doesn't translate at all in their language? Many brands use 'transcreation' to deal with this, especially for their more creative copy. This is a mixture of translation and original writing – it costs more and will require a much more robust brief, but if your top-level copy carries the reputation of the brand, it's surely worth it.
Of course, it's not practical (or cost-effective) to use transcreation for all of your copy. But you do need to think about other languages when you originally brief or write. Avoid idiomatic language, for example, and try to steer clear of cultural references. In fact, for some messages, there could even be a case for creating a separate English master for each country – which means some texts are adjusted to account for cultural differences and even language nuances. This can also give you the opportunity to tailor a text for differences in your business per country, like product specifications.
There's a lot to think about if you want your brand messaging to properly 'translate' to another country. Sometimes just automatically replacing the words with those of your target language aren't nearly enough. And translation can be a tricky thing – if you don't understand the language it's hard to judge the output. But there are ways to do this – with clever copywriting, proper briefing and reuse processes you can cut through the potential Tower of Babel that multiple markets can create.
How do you prepare your carefully crafted master text for translation? I'd love to hear from you!
About the author: Waynne Meek
Waynne is passionate about all things content, especially how copy merges with other elements to make compelling communication. A recognised career of 20 years spanning various media has given him a useful insight into the way copy works across brands. Armed with this experience, he has delivered and managed effective copy solutions, from award-winning internal magazines to compelling brand and product messaging. Find out more about him on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/waynnemeek/, or on www.brandcopylab.com.