Capturing your customer’s attention with compelling copy is an art and a skill that can be honed and practised over time. But finding your way with words and wowing with wisdom and wit can be the difference between a sale and a potential customer choosing someone else.
In this blog, we speak to Joh Kohler from Compelling Copy about how she has strung together her sentences to become the word wizard she is today.
What makes for compelling copy?
Compelling copy comes in many shapes and forms. There is the punny, witty copy that can grab audiences with a single line and the informative copy that can educate and nurture an audience. What do they have in common? They’re all compelling and engage the reader in different ways. So, how do we create this type of copy? Here are some things to consider.
Define your target audience
Before you even put pen to paper (or, you know, fingers to keyboard), you’ll need to define your target audience. Too often, businesses define their audience as ‘everyone’ or ‘the general public’. Lose these words out of your vocabulary – these ‘audiences’ don’t exist! There is no such thing as ‘the general public’, and if you’re targeting ‘everyone’, you will struggle to convert.
Finding your niche is super important as it will define who you’re writing to. Creating a customer avatar sheet will help you specify who you’re talking to, their needs, and how best to reach them.
Finding the right tools for your writing toolbox
You may not be a builder, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t need a toolbox full of copywriting creativity. In fact, the more ‘tools’ you have on board, the better your chance of success. From tools in your writing to physical tools, there is plenty of choices. “When it comes to using tips and tricks and tools to try and capture an audience, it does depend on the audience I’m writing for”, Joh says. “When you’re writing for an audience, you’re really trying to get in their head. I’m a big fan of alliteration, but I’m not going to use it for every client! When you’re writing, you’ve got to create tone and rhythm and colour and interest by varying the sentence length and varying the tone.”
When it comes to physical tools, there are some great options out there for writers. Here are some of our favourites:
For more copywriting tips, read our blog: Copywriting 101: How to Nail Your Copy Every Time.
Finding the balance between writing for humans and writing for Google
SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) is a whole other concept that will need to be discussed at a later date! However, a common trap copywriters fall into is trying to write their content ‘for Google’ in the hopes that they will rank on the first page of this search engine beast.
When it comes to rankings, Joh says that “unfortunately, some of the old tricks do still work.” If you are considering using these ‘old tricks’, they do have the potential to backfire. “Even if you get your website to the top of the search engine results if the content that you’ve written isn’t connecting with a human and isn’t getting them to do the thing you want them to do – whether that’s to purchase something, download something or even understand a concept you’re trying to convey – then what’s the point of being at the top of the search engine?” Joh says.
To become a skilled copywriter, you need to find the balance between writing for Google and writing for your customers.
Your customers aren’t robots – get emotive!
By ‘writing for Google’ first, you run the risk of sounding robotic. Unless you’re selling to robots, you don’t want to sound like one! Your customers want to feel as though you are having a conversation with them and that they can relate to you. Great copy is emotional. It draws the reader in. At the end of your copy, your client should feel something. It doesn’t necessarily mean they need to feel happy – just that they feel the way you intend them to feel. This could be angry and wanting to act or hopeful and wanting to learn more.
If it doesn’t read right, it probably isn’t
Have you ever stumbled across a piece of copy that just doesn’t make sense? Maybe it’s a sentence that looks to be missing a few joining words or is quite repetitive. The chances are this is a keyword that’s trying to be stuffed into the content. Keyword stuffing is a big no when it comes to natural writing. Not only does Google frown upon it and drop your rank, but it simply doesn’t make sense! If you’re still unsure if you’ve used your keyword too much, try reading it out loud. We know it feels silly, but if it sounds strange when read out loud, take it out. Web tools like Grammarly can also help pick up these sorts of issues.
Make it accessible
Lastly, you need to make sure your copy is accessible to a variety of people. Joh says, “Some common things you look at include big blocks of text on your website. No one wants to read big blocks of text, particularly on a mobile phone or device.”
She also advises against using copy full of jargon or ‘convoluted’ language as “big words don’t actually make it look smart – they make it harder for the user to access your message.” As a guideline, you should write copy to suit a reading level of year 7 to 8 students (ages 12 to 14). This helps to make your content accessible to more people. Joh points out that this doesn’t mean “dumbing your writing down” but rather giving more people the opportunity to understand what message you’re trying to convey. Writing at this level helps make complex subjects easier to understand. And it’s also great for those wanting to skim the piece and understand the general gist of it without having to think too hard about what you’re referring to.
SEO(h my gosh, this is so hard!)
Now, it’s time for the big one. The one everyone talks about, but not many take the time to understand – SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation). Everyone wants their business to rank high on Google but putting in the time to do this is a whole other thing. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand that can automatically skyrocket you to number one, but there are some things you can do to give your site the best chance of ranking.
Keywords are those cheeky little words or phrases we want to be found for. This might be “dog groomer Melbourne” or “hairdresser Sydney” – something simple that sums up what you do. However, the chances of ranking for these keywords are slim to none. Unless you’re a large, established company, getting to the top of Google is extremely difficult.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though! There are plenty of keywords and phrases you can try and rank for – you just need to know how to find them. This is where tools like Google Keywords, Uber Suggest and Keyword Finder come in. They can help you to find keywords that have low or medium competition and that you have a chance to rank for. Alternatively, a copywriting specialist (like Joh!) can help.
Common misconceptions about writing for SEO
Misconception #1: You should include your keyword as many times as possible
This is a huge no-no! While using your keyword (or phrase) throughout your text is necessary, it’s important not to go overboard. Keyword stuffing is heavily frowned upon by Google. They know what you’re trying to do, and you will get penalised for it. Work the keyword in naturally, and NEVER throw it in for the sake of it. Read your writing back to you – you’ll know if it’s too much.
Misconception #2: When you add keywords, you’ll rank on Google
SEO takes time. Many businesses incorrectly assume that you’ll automatically start ranking when you add keywords to your website. Regardless of your chosen keywords, ranking can take a long time to build up your topical authority. Be patient – it can take months – but keep at it.
Misconception #3: SEO is all about keywords
Well, this is true, but there’s so much more to it. SEO is also about the page or post. Are there any images on the page? Is there white space? Have you broken up the text enough, or is it difficult to read? Are there subheadings to break things up? Have you filled out the metadata? All these factors (and more) make up SEO – it’s not just about the keywords!
When it comes to writing compelling copy, there are plenty of things to consider. SEO is important but shouldn’t be where all your focus is put. If your copy is engaging and speaks to your target audience, it’s doing the job it should. We’d like to thank Joh Kohler from Compelling Copy again for her time (and wisdom!).