The reality of consumer behavior today is very simple. People don’t sit and read marketing messages from beginning to end. Today, people are very busy and move extremely quickly. If you can’t communicate your messages to them in a way that’s easy for them to digest, understand, and apply to their own lives within a few seconds, you may lose your chance to connect with that audience entirely.
There are several rules that have evolved in the world of copywriting since the Internet and speed of communication changed the way people access and share information. These rules are described below. Read them. Memorize Them. And apply them to your own marketing messages starting today. Your bottom-line will thank you for it.
Your copy needs to be scannable. People skim. It’s that simple. If your copy isn’t presented in digestible chunks, no one will get all of your messages. Use headlines, lists, callouts, and short paragraphs. Long blocks of text scare people away but short blocks of text invite them in to keep skimming.
A picture is worth a thousand words. The vast majority of people look at pictures before they read words. Therefore, you can assume that most of your target audience does the same thing. Use images that pique people’s interests and motivates them to pause and learn more by reading your text. Include captions with photos that standout from the rest of your copy, and use highly important messages as callouts so they stand out separate from your main text. Just make sure that callouts and captions don’t become long, boring blocks of text unto themselves or you defeat the entire purpose of using them.
Put your best foot forward. You should always lead with your most important and most compelling messages. You can’t hope that people will read everything you write. Pick your top one or two messages and try to focus your marketing piece on those limited messages. People typically remember just one or two messages, so you don’t want to give them too much to digest at once. They might remember the wrong message! Prioritize the messages that you want to get across and make sure you lead with those messages, seed them within your copy, and remind the audience of them at the end of your copy.
White space is your friend. It can be tempting to use every bit of room available to you and fill it with messages. Don’t do it. White space breaks up heavy blocks of text, adds visual relief to text-heavy pages, and helps you draw attention to your most important messages. Don’t skimp on white space!
Use a call to action, and then use it again. Don’t forget to tell your audience what to do when they finish reading your messages. You should give them very clear and specific directions that tell them what you want them to do next. Don’t save your call to action for the end of your marketing piece. Your audience might never see it! Instead, include your call to action at the beginning and the end of your marketing communications. At the very least, you should supply your contact information and your website address.
Features are nice, but benefits are even better. The features of your branded products or services are important. They tell consumers what your product is and what it does. But features don’t sell products as well as benefits do. That’s because benefits tell consumers how your products or services can help them or make their lives better. Benefits add an emotional element to your brand that can be hard to compete with and leads directly to brand loyalty. Of course, some products require more detailed descriptions than others, but for the most part, benefits outweigh features when it comes to building brand perceptions and closing sales.
As you write, remember these two key elements of effective copywriting: clear and concise. Copywriting is not like any other kind of writing you’ll ever try, but if you follow the rules above, you’ll have a far better chance of connecting with consumers and convincing them to read your messages.