Without effective copy, your marketing campaigns are doomed to fail. And it can be a challenge to figure out how to write persuasively about your business and its products. Great marketing copy can differentiate between your products attracting new customers and resonating with your target market and everyone feeling confused or ambivalent about what you offer. Furthermore, effective copywriting can be an engine for generating more revenue, more email subscribers, more testimonials, and the like.
We explored 7 of the most common copywriting mistakes in a previous article. But what copywriting process should you use to reliably go about creating great copy? Let’s explore a 3-step copywriting process for writing excellent copy every single time.
Table of contents
- 1. Copywriting Pre-Planning
- 2. Draft Your Copy (5 Step Copywriting Process)
- 3. Finalize Your Copy
- Resources for Copywriting
1. Copywriting Pre-Planning
- Determine your target reader.
- Clarify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
- Pick a goal
Identify Your Target Reader
Who is your exact customer avatar? Your customer avatar is a hypothetical example of the people you’re speaking to with your marketing copy. This should include demographic information, such as age, income, job title, and maybe even whether they’re married or have kids.
If you are unsure of these details, try summarizing the demographic details of your best customers from the past 3 to 5 years and noticing any patterns.
Then, make sure you have clear answers to each of these questions for your customer avatar:
- What are the main challenges that your customers face? What is the main problem that you help solve?
- Note: There are six categories of pain points that customers face:
- Risk and trust
- Ease and convenience
- Productivity and time
- Processes and journey
- Communication and support
- Note: There are six categories of pain points that customers face:
- How much do they value your solution?
- How knowledgeable and aware are they of the challenge/problem and potential solutions for it?
- What other solutions are they trying to use to solve their problem currently?
- What resources/people/websites do they look to when solving this problem?
- What types of customers would you love to have? What are the most common types of customers that you currently have? Are these the same, or what are the main differences between these two categories?
Keep the answers to these questions in mind as you sit down to write the copy.
Clarify Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
Write in specific terms the value proposition of your product or service and how it directly relates to your customer avatar’s needs and challenges.
It’s important to establish these two things before working on the copywriting because a fuzzy USP or customer avatar will inevitably undermine the clarity of your message. Without these two things clearly defined first, your copy will almost certainly fail to resonate.
Example: Bob helps doctors with their independent practice to get more patients or spends less time on marketing
Pick a Goal
When you write copy, it’s helpful to have an explicitly stated goal – what you hope will persuade people to do. The ideal approach will vary somewhat depending on your goal. Are you trying to educate them? To make your products sound appealing? To directly go and make a purchase?
Here are some of the most common goals for a piece of copywriting:
- To inform/educate
- Get them to schedule a call
- Get them to follow you (subscribe on social media, etc.)
- Persuade people to take a specific action to get more information (e.g., request a pricing sheet or get a quote)
- Persuade people to take a specific action towards making a purchase (often this will be to purchase directly, but also includes steps in that general direction)
2. Draft Your Copy (5 Step Copywriting Process)
- The 5-step copywriting process
- Leverage copywriting tools
Now that you are clear on the value proposition and who you are speaking to, it’s time to put pen to paper. Here is a copywriting process you can use to create great copy efficiently.
A simple guiding framework for ensuring you include all aspects of great copywriting: Why / what / how / now?
- Why does it matter? Hook
- What is the problem to solve or the positive outcome to achieve? USP
- How does that happen? Benefits (and, to a lesser extent, features)
- Now – what does the reader/potential customer need to do now to take the next step (CTA)
(In roughly that order)
The 5-Step Copywriting Process
- Outline the main points of what you’re going to write
- Write about the core problem you help solve and how the copy will speak to that (summarize in a few lines)
- Write the “how” (painting a picture of success, addressing concerns, full list of benefits, etc.)
- Write the CTA (Directly indicating the “now” step that they need to take)
- Write the hook (how you’ll grab their attention with the headline or first couple sentences of the copy).
Use Writing Tools to Help You Do It
Here are some tools that make the copywriting process much easier (and they can even automate certain steps). At the end of this article, we also have a longer list of copywriting resources.
Sometimes establishing the perfect tone for your copywriting can be a challenge. Tools like Grammarly can help you modify or refine your tone depending on the context. It makes suggestions based on the audience you are writing for.
Landing Page Copy Generator
There are even tools that help write your copy for you (but you still need to know what great copy involves)
This tool helps highlight the words that you can remove from your copy to make it more professional and effective.
Or a more sophisticated tool that will take your writing up a notch, check out the Hemmingway app, which provides pacific guidance on making your writing Professional, easy to understand, and resonant.
Buffer’s 189 Powerful Copywriting Words
Suggestions for words you can incorporate into your writing to make it more compelling.
3. Finalize Your Copy
- Use social proof
- Make it shorter
- Test different formats
Once you’ve got the initial draft of your copy, these final review steps will help ensure you hit the mark in all the most important ways.
Add Social Proof
A great way to convince somebody to do something is to show them how others do that, especially if they are trusted brands or individuals. If Google trusted you enough to work with you, then I’ll want to work with you too!
For example, social proof can increase newsletter signups by 20%, according to Unbounce.
Using social proof in your marketing copy, such as client testimonials, case studies, ‘featured in’ sections, lists of past clients, or even references to the number of email subscribers or social media followers you have, is also more persuasive than the same information coming directly from you. After all, if a business tells you its product is great, you’ll take that with a large grain of salt. If you see your idol talking about how amazing a product is, you’ll be far more likely to be swayed by the message.
The same principle is at play when you use Uber ratings to tell you that your driver isn’t sketchy because he’s got a 5.00. That is social proof at its finest.
Make It Shorter
Messages written at a third-grade reading level receive 36% more responses (according to data by Boomerang).
That’s why it’s smart to ask yourself about the copy you just wrote:
How can you communicate the same information in fewer words?
What info is nonessential? What do you see in your writing detracting from the most important takeaways? If you find anything you could remove without negatively impacting your message, do it.
More copy can be more persuasive in some situations, like with certain landing pages. However, the default assumption should always be to lean towards more concise copy. The end goal is that every word of your marketing copy serves a specific purpose.
Here are some examples of common filler words you can usually strip out:
- A little
- In order to
Check out Smart Blogger’s list of weak writing words for a longer list of words to eliminate from your copy.
Test different Formats and See What Works Best
In copywriting, even if you follow all the steps outlined in this article, you never know with 100% certainty what will or won’t work.
Now that you’ve written your copy, you’ll want to put it into the world and monitor its performance while testing different approaches.
Different types of copy can be more effective in certain industries, for specific people, or even relatively minor things like a negative association people have with a particular term you’re using.
As you write copy over time, try testing these different approaches and seeing what works best:
- Longer or shorter
- More professional versus more casual
- Specific call to action used
- Different types of headlines
- Different ways of describing the problem
- Different white ways of describing the solution
- Speaking to different customer avatars
You can see which coffee works better by measuring:
- Amount of time people spend reading it
- The conversion rate
- The amount of shares
- How do people feel after eating it? (for example, maybe you talk to them on the phone later and find out they trust you because of this part of your copy, or are you email a different person and find that they’re annoyed because they felt your copy wasn’t very clear)
Resources for Copywriting
General Copywriting Resources
- 21 Call-to-Action Examples and 3 Rules for Effective CTAs
- How to Write Headlines That Work
- What Makes a Great CTA? 10 Examples With Test Ideas to Improve Conversion
- How to Write a Long-Form Sales Page
- Copyblogger’s Copywriting Library
- Free Copywriting Worksheets by Copy Hackers
- The Definitive Guide to Copywriting
- 20 Killer Web Copywriting Tips
- Introducing The 6 + 1 Model For Effective Copywriting (Better Than AIDA!)
- 20 Websites With Carefully Crafted and Convincing Copy
- How People Read Online [Infographic]
- The Ultimate 101 List of Copywriting Awesomeness: For Startups & Small Bizzes That Want to Write Sweet Web Copy… Sans Pain
Best Copywriting Tools
- Landing Page Copy Generator
- Unbounce’s Dejargonator
- Buffer’s 189 Powerful Copywriting Words
Top Copywriting Books
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy.
- Tested Advertising Methods
- Scientific Advertising
- How to Write a Good Advertisement
- The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells