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The Truth About Words: Why the Problem is a Copy Problem (Almost Always!)

Is your landing page not converting the way you want? Your emails not being opened or clicked? Your social media platform not growing? Your pre-order campaign not engaging your people? Your Facebook ads not working?

The problem? Copy.

The problem is almost always a copy problem.

Here at the agency, whenever we’re seeing subpar results on a campaign or less than satisfactory conversion rates on a web page (assuming all the back-end pieces are working), we look to the copy. I always say that 99% of the time, the problem lies in the words.

Yes, visuals are important, too. They’re the elements that draw a viewer in and keep them engaged. But it’s the words themselves that persuade the consumer to buy.

Visuals draw us in; words persuade us. Click To Tweet

Copy is a brand’s conversation with the potential buyer. That conversation is what persuades or dissuades.

Let’s say you’re on a first date. The other person looks great (hello, branding). The restaurant atmosphere is nice (hey, visuals). Your friends think highly of this person (hi, influencers). But if the conversation is terrible (if it’s awkward, unclear, cliche, over-the-top cheesy, totally uninteresting…), you’ll surely call the date a failure.

Conversation is where the connection point is; copy is where the conversion point is.

Copy is where the conversion point is. Click To Tweet

Strong copy is rooted in knowing your target audience. Whom are you reaching, what are their pain points, and how does your book/product alleviate those?

Most authors and marketers know they need to consider these questions when writing copy, but very few actually put in the research, the strategy, and the time to perfect their messaging.

Whether you’re writing back cover copy, website copy, email copy, or even social media copy, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • Am I being cliche? Limit the use of phrases that are not unique and fresh.
  • Am I writing for my target audience? Don’t write for “everyone”; it will resonate with no one.
  • Am I hitting an audience felt-need? Use the words your audience uses to describe an urgent or immediate need they feel.
  • Am I offering a solution to that felt need? Show how you offer promise and relief.
  • Do I have a headline? Show your reader what to read first, second, etc., through a headline or bold words.
  • Is this too lengthy? Use the smallest number of words possible to explain your idea.
  • Am I making this all about me? Let the focus be the buyer, not you; the buyer is the main character.
  • Do I sound too salesy? Watch out for “used car sales(wo)man” lingo. Lead with value first.
  • Am I being too logical? Purchases are often emotional decisions; play into feelings.
  • Do I sound like a robot? Be you; be a real person. Build empathy, human to human.
  • Am I only thinking of myself? You are not your customer. Don’t write what you like; write what they like.
  • Am I writing in my brand voice? Seek consistency in voice and feel; this builds familiarity and builds your unique brand identity.
  • Am I focusing on features only? Instead, focus on benefits. (Don’t mention how many graphs the book has; mention how it will transform a life.)
  • Am I starting with copy? Don’t try to fit copy into your design; build design around your copy.
  • Is my copy easily digestible? Make sure it’s appealing and easy to scan in 1 minute.
  • Will this work on mobile? Think about how the words will be received on an iPhone or iPad.
  • Are my most prominent words the most impactful? Examine what’s big and bold; make sure it’s the most powerful of all.
  • Did I test it? Do A/B testing or survey your people to know what resonates best! Don’t guess.

Your brand is built on trust. It’s a relationship. And the cornerstone of that relationship will be the value you offer through the words you use. Spend time with your copy and be ready to refine and refine in order to optimize it.

One caveat, though: remarkable copywriting can’t fix a bad product. Your first step is the development of a book or product that rocks in the value it offers your audience. Your next step–and the step you come back to over and over… copy.

 

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