Copywriting for Dummies: How to Write Powerful Web Content

Copywriting for Dummies: How to Write Powerful Web Content

On the Internet, the average attention time (in copywriting) is 8 seconds, less than the concentration capacity of a goldfish.

Goldfish = 9 seconds

Humans= 6-8 seconds

Yet it is the attention of the people that you need while creating the content.

But it's so difficult.

People are in a hurry.

They read quickly because they no longer have the time to "consume" all the content they find on the web.

More than 3 million blog articles are published every day and no less than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Huge content.

How are you going to get their attention ?

It's simple, you have to learn and master the tricks of copywriting.

Copywriting is the art of using words to persuade, convince or "connect" with people who read or listen to your content.

When I talk about content, I mean:

  • A blog article
  • check
    A post on social media
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    A video on YouTube
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    An advertisement (on Facebook or Instagram)An email
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    The title of your blog posts, advertisements or the subject of your emails, etc.

No matter what content you produce, you use words to communicate your ideas. So you are a copywriter, great !

Words must be chosen carefully and shaped in such a way that everything seems natural (and not fake as we often see).

That's what we're going to talk about today: how to write words that "stick" your readers to your content.

I'll give you the tips and tricks we use to write our web content, from newsletters to blog posts to social media ads.

Start by writing a catchy title/headline

According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read your title, but only 2 out of 10 people will click on it.

If few people click, it's because the title is not attractive.

This is sad because even if your content is interesting, no one will read it because your title was not catchy enough.

Think about it.

You choose to read a magazine because the title looked interesting.

You open an email (among tens) because the object intrigued you.

I will not go into detail because headlines are a big topic of discussion, and will talk about it in detail in a future article (will update this upon finalizing the post).

Here are some rules I like to keep in mind when writing titles.

Your title should evoke a "problem" or question rather than a solution

For example :

6 beginner mistakes in Instagram advertising (and ways to avoid them)

VS

6 strategies for better results with Instagram advertising

The first title makes you want to click.

This is normal, our brains are programmed to solve problems, especially when they are OUR problems.

Another way to raise a problem is simply to use the formula "How + [Problem]"

How to get followers on Twitter (without buying them)

How to quit smoking ( without feeling depressed )

You can also add to your title the phrase "Without [what the person does not want to do or experience]"

Your title should be short

Buffer recommends writing 6 or 7-word titles, but from my experience it's very difficult to write short and catchy titles at once.

It's still possible, here's a pretty telling example:

How to build a strong brand

VS

Here are the different ways to build a strong brand

The second title is a bit too long and harder to read.

The first goes straight to the point and we know exactly what the article is about anyway.

Your title should  create curiosity

Curiosity is a bad thing and you have to enjoy it!

Titles that play on curiosity benefit from a psychological bias called the "curiosity gap"

Here, you play on the disparity between what your reader knows and does not know.

What happens then?

Your brain wants to bridge the gap between what you know and do not know. And you click ...

curiosity headlines examples

(From Gizmodo)

Attention, you must have at least an initial knowledge on a particular subject.

Indeed, we are not curious about things we do not know at all, but sometimes like in this example, I may not care much about Chinese URLs, but this little secret has got me wondering.

Here are some examples :

Do you make these mistakes with your Facebook Page?

11 SEO trends that you can not ignore anymore ...

Why you should stop watching TV.

Generally, the titles "how" or "list" naturally contain this dose of curiosity that makes you click.

Your title should be clear and specific

Clarity and specificity will always win over generalization and ambiguity.

How to make a title clear and specific at a time?

The best way to make your title clearer and specific is to use numbers or time duration.

Believe instead the results of this study.

Title Should Be Clear And Specific

Here is an example for you to better understand:

31 recipes to make in less than 20 minutes

VS

Fast cooking recipes to prepare

The second title is a bit too vague. How many recipes are there? 3 or 100? What is the preparation time?

Finally, you can also try to add the date in your titles. It's something that works pretty well.

catchy headline with dates

Finally, keep in mind that the better you know your readers, the easier it will be to write titles that will attract them to your content.

Be concrete and specific

The opposite of the concrete is the abstract.

I have already touched on the specificity by telling you to include it in your titles.

It's because it's totally important.

Something abstract, it's not for sale at all ( i dont mean services here).

People want to know exactly what they are going to get, and your words are there to show them.

That's why I use so many examples and images in every article of my blog.

This serves me not only to make my articles more "pretty" or "longer" but especially to conceptualize each point.

Here are some examples.

In sports, you have often read or seen in magazines or advertisements the expression "transform your body".

This kind of expression is very abstract!

Transform in what way?

On the other hand, if I said : "To become dry and muscular" or "To obtain a thinned silhouette ", it is already much clearer.

Think about it.

When I say the expression "thinned silhouette", you can quite easily imagine it.

While if I say "transform your body", you do not know what to think of .

Also, a sports program or even an article that has a title like "30 days to transform your body" will not interest me for a single second, because it is not specific!

Another example that struck me is the home page of samcart's website.

landing page with good headlines

As you can see samcart is an online payment solution.

But not for anyone.

Only for those who manage an activity on the Internet, especially sellers ( not buyers).

Always use concrete and specific language that helps the person visualize a result or situation in real life, thanks to:

Numbers
Examples
Deep knowledge of the problems and challenges of your buyer personas.

Related Topic : Freelance writer : 15 Secrets To Becoming Successful.

Tell me more by writing less

It is an eternal debate on the Internet.

Should we write short or long contents?

Should I write a short or long sales page?

Should you write a short or long description for your Facebook ads?

You've probably seen this kind of Facebook ads with descriptions that never end, like this:

facebook ad copy

On the contrary, this advertisement has already received more reactions, good comments and good  shares.

In general, on social networks, it is better to write micro-content (short content) because users quickly consume content on social networks like Facebook or Instagram.

On Google, it's different.

Long content tends to rank significantly better than short content., as shown by this study conducted by Backlinko.

word count for blog post

But that's not the question.

The important thing is whether the words you use are useful or not?

Do they add value to your blog post or newsletter?

Or are they just there to make the post more longer?

Check out this Landing page that features the Iphone X.

iphone x ad copy

With these few words, we understand immediately how the Iphone X is different from other phones.

it is the mobile of the future ( creativity and intelligence ). 

That's all.

Yet Apple could have used several sentences to describe these 1 feature of the Iphone X . 

With this 1 words, the reader could already get an idea of the usefulness of Iphone X, plus the image speaks about itself. 

It did not take more so Apple chose to use these word ...

And if you want more details, just read the rest of the Page.

I found the value proposition of Iphone X, pretty much, by doing a search on Google.

iphone x search

What am I trying to tell you here?

Go straight to the point!

And do it quickly.

Your title is the best example. In a few words, you must be able to communicate what the reader will learn or discover in your article or sales page.

People do not have the time, they are in a hurry.

Give them what they want quickly, without having to think or do any research.

one last example.

dell ad copy

In 2 seconds, I understood what it is:

I can buy a laptop starting $199 and save $350  in some selected PCs.

Awesome !

But that does not mean that all your content should be short ... If you tell stories, you can write (almost) as many words as you want.

This is what we will see in the next point.

Tell stories

Writing web content also means telling stories that make the reader laugh and dive into your writings.

This is what I try to do, for example: telling stories to introduce my ideas into an article or giving some context to a publication.

This is called Storytelling.

This is an art that is well used by a well-known brand worldwide.

This brand is Apple.

By observing the Apple website, we quickly notice that each sales page of the Apple website (iPhone, Mac, iPad) defends and constantly expresses the values of the brand through stories more or less poetic.

It is concluded that Apple not only sells the product itself, but what you can do with it, thanks to "mini-stories".

To do this, the brand creates universes and will put the consumer at the center of his universe.

For example, Apple is bragging about "a wireless world" with the new iPhone wireless charger, and directly includes you in this great story!

Because now you can "charge your iPhone using the wireless charging stations available in hotels, cafes and airports around the world. "

iphone x ad copy charging

Apple also likes to use analogies so that you can dive more easily into your universe.

For example, the "new" camera for iPhones 8 and X introduces a new feature: Portrait mode.

Nothing exceptional in itself, but especially how to simply explain this "new" technology ?

The answer: Using analogies!

Look: "Depth-sensing cameras and precise facial mapping create striking studio‑quality lighting effects.. "

iphone x ad copy portrait

This is a nice analogy made in Apple: it allows you to get an idea of what can allow you to do the new camera before the iPhone.

Take pictures of you as if you were in a photo studio! (it remains to be verified).

I advise you to use as much as possible analogies in your content.

It's a bit difficult at first, but you will get to use it quickly!

This will help to concretize something abstract , and when you can add a touch of humor to your content

Write as if you were talking to a friend

At school, I could never listen in class.

It's not that classes were uninteresting.

On the contrary, some courses have really served me , like negociation course. 

Only, 90% of the time, the professor who gave the course was boring (sorry),

You see what I mean, I'm sure ( the way a lecture is delivered which matters, not the content of the course).

We all had this teacher who speaks and speaks for hours with a monotonous way. We finally stop listening and it's the beginning of the end (we fall asleep).

On the Internet, I see many bloggers who adopt this kind of writing a little monotonous, with phrases like:

"You must do this"

"You can do that"

"And you should also try this"

I know how hard it is not to appear to a teacher when producing content that is meant to educate.

Fortunately, there are solutions to eliminate the "professor's syndrome".

The solution is to write as if you were talking to a friend.

Not only in your blog posts but also in your newsletters or Facebook ads.

Create a conversation using "I" and "you".

Ask questions as often as possible.

Do not hesitate to contact your readers in your Newsletters.

Do not just talk about yourself but talk to/about the reader.

example of newsletter

I also do not hesitate to write phrases like "I'm sure you'll find your happiness" rather than a  phrase like "I think you'd like to advertise in Facebook".

Also give your opinion or take a stand, exactly as you do when you are among friends.

In fact, giving your opinion is something that works.

For example, you could comment on news in your industry and give your opinion. This is the best way to get interactions because - in  Facebook for example -  users love get into debates ...

One last tip: When you can, read aloud your content (especially your ads) to see if you would really like that in real life.

Write for the reader who scans

In IELTS,

Like any good English test, you have to complete the 4 basic skills: writing, listening, reading and speaking.

For reading, the test consisted of reading a very long text and answering a whole series of questions about it.

The problem was that we had only one hour for this test, which was barely enough to read all the text at a normal reading speed.

So, our teacher had advised us to "scan" the text.

In other words, fly over the text to quickly deduce what the text is about, what are the important elements, and so on.

Even if you do not know this term, it is likely that you do it without realizing it.

This is a fairly common behavior on the web.

Moreover, research shows that 79% of Internet users "always scan" a new web page.

What you need to remember is that your readers do not read all of your content, only a small part.

They are in a hurry and we can not blame them.

This is even good news because there are some quick tips to make your text more readable.

Make the effort to use titles and subtitles

Readers tend to pay more attention to titles and subtitles.

There is a reason for that.

Titles and subtitles stand out in size and font in bold.

This is still not enough because your titles and subtitles must clearly explain the purpose of each paragraph.

In this article, if you read the subtitles, you can already get an idea of the topics covered in the article. Indeed, to write magnetic web content, I've already mentioned few tips:

  • Start with an eye catching title
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    Be concrete and specific
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    Say more by writing less
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    Tell stories
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    Acting as if you were talking to a friend
  • check
    Write for the reader who scans

Subtitles are also used with icons to communicate value a solution, as does Mythemeshop to present the benefits of its WordPress themes.

mythemeshop features

Put important sentences in bold

Some of the words you use in your content are simply not important.

Most of the words you write complete a sentence or make sense of it.

Only a part of the content is important and it is this that you must highlight in bold, as Crazyegg did .

crazyegg features

In you emails, you can apply the same, separate your text into different parts by highlighting the most important sentences, those that allow the readers to better "scan" your emails, like in this example received from Appsumo.

email copywriting

Use bullet points

The bullet points are part of the modern velaro copywriter.

On sales pages, they are used to highlight the characteristics and benefits of a product/service for the user, or to to enhance customer experiences and increase company revenue with proactive chat.

Basically, they help make the information "easier" to read, in the blink of an eye, as shown here.

velaro sales page

You can the same thing on you Facebook posts.

facebook emoji

You can add emojis, points to increase the space between the lines and numbers to give this bullet point effect to my publication.

All this makes your Facebook publication more "scannable", especially for mobile users.

For example, on mobile Facebook, users watch a piece of content for an average of 1.7 seconds versus 2.5 seconds on the desktop.

So your Facebook post must read very easily, just like your Newsletters, your advertisements and your blog posts.

Use short paragraphs for easy reading

Avoid writing paragraphs that are too long. 

long paragraph

When you read a book on paper, it is already "heavy" to read long paragraphs but then on a computer screen, it gives downright headache.

Separate your paragraphs into several mini-paragraphs of 2 or 3 lines, or even a line.

It's easy to do and it makes reading much easier.

Some essay writers  probably will not agree, but it does not matter, you write for the web. However, your readers will thank you, believe me.

You really have to have something remarkable to say so you can catch a scanner’s eye. Otherwise, you’re already forgotten.

Develop a unique style or tone

This is the most important.

Whether you are a solopreneur, a blogger or a small business looking to stand out, you need to develop your own style and your own expressions.

As a solopreneur, it's so simple.

You have the chance to be unique.

Just be yourself.

Do you like making jokes? it should reflect in your blog posts or publications.

Use the same phrases you use in real life, and do it as much as you can.

If you are company composed of many , you should also find your own style and tone other than your competitors.

All successful companies stand out with their expressions!

The point is this, more broadly: What’s your own brand voice? Does it clearly reflect what makes you you?

Conclusion

Writing web content is not easy, especially if you are just starting out.

My first contents were messy, little impacting and clearly lacked personality.

Result: nobody read it.

With time and practice, I learned to write more powerful titles to finally click on my links.

After developing a readership, I learned to give concrete to my readers, rather than the abstract.

It was not enough because I was writing too much to say nothing. So I learned to say more by writing less.

I also understood that if I wanted to "tape" my readers to my articles, I had to tell them stories, as if I were talking to a friend.

For my hottest readers, I have always been careful to structure my articles with subtitles, short paragraphs and bullet points so that they can quickly get an idea of my content.

Over time, I developed a unique style that allowed me to stand out in the jungle of the web.

On the other hand, I still make some spelling mistakes in my articles .

But it does not matter, I do not write to please someone else, I do it to help my readers better use digital marketing in thier business.

Do you know other tips for writing impactful web content? share it in the comments below.

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