Writing compelling online copy is a tough job. Not only do you have to create effective copy for an easily distracted audience (that has an enormous amount of information at their fingertips), you also have to please the Google Gods. So, in order to achieve this, you have to craft compelling copy, copy that is engaging enough to make the browser sit up, pay attention, and keep reading.
When writing online copy you have to remember that you’re always writing for two audiences – the potential reader and Google. Ignore SEO best practice and your copy will be relegated to the back pages of Google, meaning all your hard work has basically come to nothing. Online copy is only compelling if it compels Google to put it on the first page. SEO is an in-depth topic in its own right and it is well worth the effort to take a course, or pick up a book on the ins and outs of SEO. We’d also recommend checking out this recent article on Marketing.com.au which summarised Rand Fishkin’s presentation on SEO at Problogger last year.
Creating a headline that grabs attention is perhaps the most important skill a copywriter can have. It’s not easy to grab the attention of an online reader. They are easily distracted and always on the hunt for the next page, the next article, the next product. This is what makes the headline so important. There’s no point in spending hours crafting and honing perfect prose for your copy if your headline isn’t good enough to make someone read your article or page. Your headline is your first, and usually only, chance to be recognised, so spend some time on it.
Write to your audience. The online reader is impatient, they want you to get to the point and get to it quickly. Online copy is not the place for flowery prose. Compelling online copy is about short, sharp, punchy sentences. Every sentence should contribute to the overall aim of the copy. One tedious, unnecessary sentence is all it takes for a reader to lose interest and move on.
In the online world the image always wins. It doesn’t matter how good your copy is, or how interesting every sentence is, you still need imagery to hold interest. If an image can demonstrate what you’re trying to write, use it. Combining imagery with compelling text heightens your chance of being remembered. If the copy didn’t work, the image might.
Call to Action
Every piece of copy should be designed to elicit a specific reaction in the reader; your copy is only successful if the reader acts out the desired action. Understanding the psychology of the online reader is key in making this happen. The online reader is impatient, easily distracted, lazy and easily led. The online reader likes to be told what to do and how to do it. Don’t be afraid to marry your words with action. End the copy with a call to buy the product, try the service or call the number and make it easy to do so. Have a hyperlink direct them to the purchasing page, make your page mobile-friendly so they can automatically call by clicking on the number. The lazy online reader loves all these things, so give them what they want.
Psychology and advertising have always been inextricably linked. You have to know who you’re selling to, and when it comes to copy you have to know who you’re writing for. Writing online copy is a mammoth task, but, if you get it right all the things that make it difficult become advantages. Yes, the reader is easily distracted but once you’ve got their attention they’re easy to sell to. Yes, there is a mountain of information to compete with but once you have the skills you can ensure your copy stands on top, where it’s easy for the lazy browser to find you.
For some further reading, make sure you check out this recent Marketing.com.au article on The Content Marketing Matrix and How to Satisfy Your Readers Needs (as well as SEO Considerations).
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