SALES COPY CAN FEEL ABOUT AS EASY TO GRASP AS A TODDLER WEARING SUNSCREEN AND AS CLEAR AS MY BACKSEAT WINDOWS SMEARED WITH PEANUT BUTTER.
Writing your marketing words ain’t always the most straightforward task, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock out your copy game by changing up a few simple things.
“I know what I want to say, but I just don’t know how to say it to get people to buy my offer.”
– Every client I’ve ever worked with
No shame in that game. Two years ago I didn’t even know what a copywriter was.
Before I started really investing in becoming a good copywriter, I knew how to write…but the technique of writing sales copy felt challenging and hard to grasp.
AND SURE, YOU CAN STUDY HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY, COPYWRITING FORMULAS, AND OLD SALES LETTERS FROM THE DON DRAPER TYPES SITTING IN THEIR OFFICE SMOKING A CIG AND HITTING ON THEIR SECRETARIES…
Or you could make a few simple changes to take your sales copy from creaking along to converting.
First things first, in case you’re new around here (hey there!), let’s clarify the difference between copywriting and content writing, because it matters when we’re talking about the words you write for your business.
Copywriting (or copy) is writing to get your reader to take a specific action.
That action being, saying “yes.”
It’s your opt-in landing page, course sales page, your website, your launch emails, your call to action buttons, online shop product descriptions, etc.
IT’S A STRATEGIC MESSAGE THAT LEADS SOMEONE TO PURCHASE YOUR OFFER.
Content is writing to build know, like, or trust. It’s informational, entertaining, and engaging. It’s your blog post, podcast, social media post, or YouTube video.
IT’S A MESSAGE THAT BUILDS AUTHORITY AND CONNECTION.
(THEY’RE BOTH PART OF THE ONLINE MARKETING PACKAGE, BUT WE’RE GONNA FOCUS ON COPY RIGHT NOW.)
If you’re wanting to scale your online business, your sales copy needs to convert like a mofo. What you write needs to convince people that they need you, and you alone, to solve their problems.
And unless you just won the lottery and you’re looking to waste so much money you end up on a TLC show, I really believe you need to be writing your own copy when your business is a shiny new baby biz.
When you’re in the beginning stages, paying a copywriter it is a huge (and very worthwhile) investment that you may not be ready for.
But more importantly, you need to spend some time practicing using your voice – trying it on like you would try on a new outfit, seeing how it feels, seeing how your audience relates and reacts to your messaging.
When you do that, our work together is much more efficient and valuable. Win-win-win! (I never know who the third win is.)
So here’s five quick and dirty hacks you can use to improve your copy faster than you can say “get back here, right now!” (← Me, screaming at my sunscreen-greased toddler.)
1. WRITE THE WAY YOU TALK
Nobody wants to buy from a robo-brand or a pushy salesperson. They want to buy from someone they know and trust, like a friend. So you need to sound like that friend!
If you can’t write the way you talk to a friend, you’re going to miss an important relationship with your reader.
READ YOUR COPY. LITERALLY READ YOUR COPY OUT LOUD.
Does it sound like you?
If not, you need to tweak it until it does.
I’m giving you permission to forget your high school AP English class grammar rules (sorry, Mrs. Harris) and polished professional jargon. No actually one talks like that!
You want to be making a connection with your audience. Without that connection, they won’t respond.
No response = no conversion.
YOU DON’T RESPOND TO SALES EMAILS FROM COSTCO OR WELLS FARGO, RIGHT? YOU REPLY TO EMAILS FROM A FRIEND – SO WRITE LIKE YOU’RE TALKING TO YOUR FRIEND.
2. WRITE FOR THE SCANNERS
Seeing a huge block of text is an immediate “pass” for most readers.
These days, our brains are so overloaded with messaging from everywhere around us (the average internet user sees 5,000 messages a day 🤯).
If something isn’t easy to understand, we move on and look for something more simple for our overwhelmed brains to read.
So if your text – whether it’s an Instagram post, a block of copy on your web page, or something on a sales page – is a big block of text, the brain goes,
“Whoa, that’s too hard. That’s a lot to read. I can’t take that in. No thank you. I’m out.”
But if you can break up your copy so that it is easily digested by a scanner or a scroller, then they are going to stop and keep reading!
Your sales copy can’t convert if the reader leaves before seeing anything.
So throw in…
- Bullet point lists (see what I did there?)
- Headings and subheadings to break down on a concept
- Using italics, bold, or parentheses to accentuate a point
- Full breaks between paragraphs (Gimme allllll the white space.)
- A bigger font for emphasis on a sentence
- Numerical lists
And for the love of pizza, break. up. those. paragraphs.
Sorry again to your high school English teacher, but we aren’t doing the “a paragraph is four sentences” business.
Two to three sentence paragraphs MAX!
If you scroll through my website, my Instagram posts, my emails, anything… I have one-word paragraphs, even one-sentence paragraphs because I want someone scrolling to see something that just catches their eye and go, “Oh, wait a minute. I actually want to learn more about that.”
Write for the scanners and the scrollers, and they’ll stick around and read.
All you gotta do is hit a couple enter bars and do a little formatting and your audience will thank you!
3. MAKE IT CLEAR
(That seems obvious.)
TO BE BLUNT: IF SOMEBODY HAS TO WORK TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE SAYING – THEY’RE OUT.
Writing copy is not the time to be clever or write the most special little unicorn message you’ve ever seen.
This is not about using your industry terms to seem super professional or seem like you know what you’re doing.
This is about writing so clearly, a five year old can understand it.
Yes, every audience is different. But unless your audience is the rocket scientists at NASA, you don’t need to write like one.
Studies show that information is most easily processed at a 3rd-6th grade level.
BUT EVEN BEYOND SIMPLICITY–YOU NEED TO SACRIFICE YOUR WORDS FOR THEIRS.
So if you use industry jargon (what you and your peers/colleagues call something) but it’s not what your audience calls it when they are typing in Google to solve their problem, that’s an issue.
For example, I had a client once say that they helped someone “bring out their Golden Buddha”.
Which is a lovely sentiment, but what I told her (and many other brilliant clients) is,
“that means something to you and that means something to your students after they have completed your program because you’ve taught them what that means. It means nothing to your audience who haven’t joined your course yet, and that’s who we’re writing to.”
You’ve gotta meet them right where they are, with the conversation they’re currently having in their head…not the ones you’re having with your students and buyers.
4. BE SPECIFIC
This one is NECESSARY for conversion.
You have to be specific in your sales copy. How specific?
If an actor couldn’t physically act out your copy in a scene in a movie, it’s not specific enough for conversion.
When I start working with a client, I always start by taking a really deep dive into their brand and their voice, their messaging, their product, and most importantly, their audience.
The process starts with a brand voice questionnaire as well as an interview I conduct to really excavate their messaging.
I always say, “Tell me what you do. What’s the problem that your Ideal Client is experiencing? And then how do you solve it?”
And almost every single person, no matter what niche they’re in (life coach, therapist, gardener, photographer, executive coach, whatever) “my audience feels stuck, overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated and I solve their problem by changing their life and helping them become their best self.”
I hear those exact words ALL. THE. TIME.
So if allllll of those entrepreneurs in allllll of those different industries and niches with vastly different products and services are saying the exact same thing…
How the heck are their clients supposed to know that they can help them?
PEOPLE DON’T BUY VAGUE SOLUTIONS TO VAGUE PROBLEMS.
But if you said:
“The paper mess on your Ikea desk is piling up and the homescreen on your MacBook looks like a mine field of unorganized folders and rogue sceenshots.
You feel like you’re losing time looking for that important download on your computer and those bank statements in the explosion you call a “file drawer.”
I give you the exact systems your need to digitally and physically to organize your work space so you can work efficiently and productively with the minimal time you have.”
Well, NOW a reader would know what they’re paying for (and probably be more willing to shell out their cash monies).
That’s so much more interesting than, “They’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed, and I help them have a better life”.
5. SPEND TIME ON YOUR HEADLINE
Okay, so you’re working through these five sales copy hacks. You’re ready for non-stop conversion.
If you can implement numbers one through four, then you’ve already got stellar body copy. You’ve got some kickass copy that is going to lead your reader down your page and encourage them to click that buy, purchase, download, or whatever button.
None of that matters if your headline is shit.
David Ogilvy, who literally holds the title “The Father of Advertising” (when this man talks, we listen), says:
When you have written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents of your dollar.
That means for a copywriter, someone who gets paid to write words for other people that makes them money, 80% of the client’s budget is going towards just the headline.
Your headline is the first thing that catches your reader’s attention that tells them whether they want to keep reading or not.
And everything you write has a headline or a hook.
It could be the title of your blog post, your email subject line, or the hook of your Instagram caption.
You can tackle your headline first but I like to write my body copy first and let the headline come from there. I’ll look at the copy and think, “How can I sum that up in one sentence up front that says exactly what they’re going to learn?” and then “How can I hint at it without giving it away?”
You have to spend time on your headline.
Is it relevant to the conversations going on their head? Is it enticing? Does it pique curiosity?
DOES IT ANSWER THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION YOUR READER IS ASKING, “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
(I call this the “WIIFM,” because, time.)
This post could be titled “5 Copy Hacks”. Ok great… but why should a reader care?
When you add “…That Will Instantly Improve Your Conversion,” that answers the WIIFM question. It shows your reader the value for THEM.
All of a sudden, your reader is thinking about how they could implement these sales copywriting tips to get their conversion rate higher TODAY
If you can write that WIIFM milkshake, you’re gonna bring all the Ideal Clients to the yard
GET MORE BUYERS WITH YOUR WORDS
Ok, quick review:
- Write the way you talk
- Break up your text
- Make it clear
- Be specific
- Spend time on your headline.
If you can improve these 5 things, you’re gonna see some big changes in your content’s engagement and conversion.
Here’s your action step:
Go through some evergreen copy that you have on a website or an opt-in landing page or something and see if you can use any one of these five hacks (or all of them!) to make some changes. Check it in two weeks and see what your conversions look like.