Top Tips for Writing Great Marketing and Comms Copy
One of the best things about working at an agency like One2create is that we get to work on a wide variety of projects, with all kinds of clients, and with a team of talented folks who have a vast array of skills and career experience.
I’ve been here since November 2020, but I’ve been writing for all kinds of brands since 2005 – meaning our clients get the benefit of that 16 years of marketing and communications experience.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few things which I’d like to share below. Think of this as our short guide to writing good copy.
Why is good copywriting important?
Good copywriting is essential to get your products or services seen, understood, and talked about. It can convey to people that you care about the same things they do, build brand loyalty, and compel your prospects to take action, turning them into paying customers or loyal members.
How do you write good copy?
There’s no one hard and fast rule – but following our nine points below will stand you in very good stead!
1. KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid
No, that’s not me being rude. It’s actually a handy acronym and the first of our top tips to writing good marketing and comms copy: keep your wording as straightforward and down-to-earth as possible.
Your product or service might be highly technical, but your audience probably isn’t. So use plain English and short, sharp sentences to explain it to them in a way they can understand. Depending on your brand’s tone of voice, you can still be playful, quirky, knowledgeable and/or authoritative, but you definitely don’t need to try too hard at being any of those. In fact, doing so is more likely to put people off than have them warm towards you and the product or service you’re selling.
2. Watch your idioms
This is an especially salient point if you’re writing for an international audience (and much web copy is read right across the world) or penning pieces to be translated into multiple languages (like with employee-focused comms campaigns for international companies).
It might sound obvious, but some familiar turns of phrase in one country might land completely flat in another, even serving to confuse the reader rather than inspire them. The term “Knock it out of the park” might be perfect for an American audience, for instance, but a store assistant in busy Berlin might wonder where the park is and what’s being knocked out of it.
If you are going to use idioms, we’d suggest highlighting them in the text when you send them for client or business partner review. That way, they or your localisation team can think about what might work in different geo instead.
3. Adopt the AIDA model
The AIDA method is one of the most well-known frameworks for producing marketing and comms copy. And with good reason. It works!
The basis is that you write your copy to take readers through four stages, which in sequence act like a psychological sales funnel. They are:
- Attention: Write a headline or opener that catches the eye or fires the imagination; enough to make the reader pause to read further
- Interest: Give enough detail to let the reader begin picturing how the product or service could fit into their life
- Desire: Go big on the benefits and use emotional language to turn that initial interest into a real need for what you’re selling
- Action: Give a call to action that entices the customer to convert in some way – whether it’s a click-through, a buy button, a subscribe, a follow or a share. Using wording that makes this seem urgent or valuable or exclusive makes it even more likely that your prospect will become a customer at this point.
The more you practice AIDA, the better you’ll get with it and the more you’re likely to see your sales go up. That’s why it’s one of our top tips to write compelling comms and marketing copy.
4. Use punctuation and capitals sparingly
“This is so exciting!!!!!”
“YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!!!”
“Where can you get it?!?!”
The three lines above may all seem fine for a WhatsApp group chat with friends, but brands need to hold themselves to a higher standard if they’re going to communicate in a way that seems professional and trustworthy.
Exclamation marks are often the biggest offender. They’re used to make things seem compelling, but overdoing them can actually have the inverse effect. That’s why one of our top tips for writing good marketing copy is to use them only when needed. That way, they really do the job they’re intended for.
5. Consider how your reader will interact with your text in situ
When you’re sat at a screen typing away into a Word document, it’s easy to forget that your reader might end up seeing your words in a number of different ways depending on the brief you’re working on.
For instance, if you’re writing web copy, they could be on a desktop sat down on their lunch break, with time to digest what your blog, newsletter or landing page has to say. Or they could be on a train, skimming through pages on a phone or tablet between stops.
Either way, breaking up your copy into small, digestible chunks and using headers and design elements to guide the eye across the page is a good idea.
Alternatively, your words might end up in print – which carries entirely different connotations for how you’re writing. Long-form printed editorial might need a very different level of detail from a pull-up banner or poster. And the particular placement of the latter could make a specific call to action (CTA) the most important element.
As an example, creating a more general information poster for a retailer designed to be placed anywhere nationally could be very different to penning a poster for a restaurant that directs customers to the eatery’s entrance 50 yards down the road.
Likewise, if you’re briefed to write wording for a pull-up banner or event stand, you might want to consider whether it needs to give pertinent contact information, sets up an interactive display, or if it needs a CTA that encourages person-to-person interaction between attendees and your company representatives on the day.
In short, don’t just think about your wording as you write it – think about how that wording will work for the audience depending on where they’ll see it. Doing this effectively and often is one of our top tips to writing good marketing copy – and that goes for internal comms copy, too.
6. Partially alliterate to make it memorable
Writing that carries a lyrical quality tends to be pleasing to the tongue and sticks in the mind. The subhead directly above is a great example, with ‘make it memorable’ explicitly chosen for the double m. Likewise, the words ‘lyrical quality’ next to each other carry the same number of syllables and lots of L sounds.
Training yourself to add this quality with alliteration, subtle rhyming, and the rule of three (where you always give three examples, just like we have here) will make sure your wording flows in a pleasing fashion. And wording that flows is far more likely to be persuasive when you’d like a customer to think, feel or do something specific, like signing up to your service or purchasing your product.
7. Search Engine Optimise (SEO) your pages tastefully
In the internet age, optimising your copy to make sure your blogs and landing pages get found on Google et al. is an absolute must. However, that means placing keywords into your copy to make sure Google understands the topic accurately – and those keywords (often more like key phrases) can risk disrupting the flow of your writing. Our top tip for writing compelling digital marketing copy is therefore to favour readability first and pick the places for the SEO keywords carefully, rather than sprucing them about liberally.
8. Paraphrase to tell a story
Our penultimate top tip to write compelling marketing copy involves capturing the gist of a story without using lengthy quotes. Paraphrasing can be especially useful if you have a lot of research or sizeable interview with a source, but a limited word count for the piece you’re preparing. In these instances, it can be beneficial to shorten things, while keeping the essence of the point.
Another way to do this with digital copy is by using hyperlinks. Rather than describing everything at length, give a short bit of context and then link to the source material instead, trusting that those who want to know more will click the link to fill in the blanks. It’s also always a good idea to have these external hyperlinks open in a new window so that this extra reading doesn’t detract from the time readers spend on your page.
9. Bear in mind the brief is open to interpretation
The last of our top tips for writing great marketing and comms copy is to read the brief… and then decide how much of it is open to interpretation.
As a marketing or comms writer, you sit squarely between the client and their audience. The client knows their product intimately and may have some idea of what they want to say about it. And their audience may be willing to engage with that product – if you can frame it in a way that’s appealing to them.
However, tension can arise when what the client wants to say isn’t always what the audience needs to hear.
At times, you may need to use creative license to find a solution that treads the fine line between the two – or leaves out specific details in favour of hitting the right notes with the audience.
Finding this balance can be tricky, but it’s something that comes with experience and gets easier from building trust between you and your client. If you go with your gut and back your creativity, but remain open to feedback and changes along the way, you’ll be likely to end up at a sweet spot that works for everyone. That’s really what the creative process is all about.
Do you need someone to write great marketing or comms copy?
If you’re struggling to pin down what you’re trying to say, or simply need extra help with the sheer volume of written work coming your way, we can help.