How To Write Copy: A Guide To Developing A Copywriting Process

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March 6, 2023

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 be the difference between your products attracting new customers and resonating with your target market…and everyone feeling confused or ambivalent about what you have to offer. Effective copywriting can be an engine for generating more revenue, more email subscribers, more testimonials, and the like.

In a previous article, we explored 7 of the most common copywriting mistakes. But what process should you use to reliably go about creating great copy?

Let’s explore a 3-step process for writing excellent copy every single time.

Table of contents

Step 1 – Copywriting prep

  • Determine your target reader
  • Clarify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) 
  • Pick a goal

Step 2 – Drafting copy 

  • The 5 step writing process
  • Leverage copywriting tools 

Step 3 – Finalizing your copy

  • Use social proof
  • Make it shorter
  • Test different formats

Bonus – Copywriting resources

Copywriting Pre-Planning

Step 1 – Copywriting prep

  • Determine your target reader
  • Clarify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) 
  • Pick a goal

Identify your target reader, and how you can resonate with them

Who is your exact customer avatar? Your customer avatar is the hypothetical example of the people that you’re speaking to with your marketing copy. This should include demographic information, such as their age, income, job title, 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:

  1. 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:
      1. Financial
      2. Risk and trust
      3. Ease and convenience
      4. Productivity and time
      5. Processes and journey
      6. Communication and support
  2. How much do they value your solution?
  3. How knowledgeable and aware are they of the challenge/problem they have, and The potential solutions that exist for it?
  4. What other solutions are they trying to use to solve their problem currently?
  5. What resources / people / websites do they look to when they are trying to solve this problem?
  6. 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 is the main differences between these two categories at the moment?

Keep the answers to these questions in mind as you sit down to write the copy.

Clarify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) 

Write down in specific terms the value proposition of your product or service, and how this directly relates to the needs of your customer avatar, and the challenges that they face.

It’s important to establish these two things prior to 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 own independent practice to get more patients or spending less time on marketing

Pick a goal

When you write copy, it’s helpful to have an explicitly stated goal – what you hope it will persuade people to do. The ideal approach will vary somewhat depending on your goal. Are you trying to just 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, follow you on social, 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 directly purchase, but also includes steps in that general direction)

Draft Your Copy (5 Step Process)

Step 2 – Drafting copy 

  • The 5 step writing 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 process you can use to create great copy, efficiently. 

A simple guiding framework for ensuring you are including all the 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’s the reader/potential customer needs to do now to take the next step (CTA)

(In roughly that order)

The 5 step writing process

  1. Outline the main points of what you’re going to write
  2. Write about the core problem you help solve and how the copy will speak to that (summarize in a few lines)
  3. Write the “how” (painting picture of success, addressing concerns, full list of benefits, etc)
  4. Write the CTA (Directly indicating the “now” step that they need to take)
  5. 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 process of copywriting much easier (and they can even automate certain steps). At the end of this article, we have a longer list of copywriting resources as well. 

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 your (but you still need to know what great copy involves)

Unbounce Landing Page Copy Generator

Unbounce’s Dejargonator 
Highlights words that you can remove from your copy to make it more professional and effective.

Or a more sophisticated tool that will really take your writing up a notch, check out the Hemmingway app, which Provide 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.

Finalize Your Copy

Step 3 – Finalizing 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 make sure 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 other people are doing that thing, 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, list 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 that their product is great, you’ll take that with a pretty large grain of salt. Whereas 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. Social proof at its finest.

Cut the fluff

Messages that are 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 the following about the copy you just wrote:

How can you communicate the same information, but in fewer words?

What info is nonessential? What do you see in your writing that is detracting from the most important takeaways? If you find anything that you could remove without it negatively impacting your message, do it.

There are some situations where more copy can be more persuasive, like with certain types of 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:

  • So 
  • Really
  • A little 
  • Even 
  • Just 
  • Perhaps 
  • Of 
  • Like 
  • That 
  • In order to 
  • Maybe 
  • Very 

Check out Smart Blogger’s list of weak writing words to see a longer list of words to eliminate from your copy. 

Test different styles and see what works best for you

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 out into the world and then monitor its performance, while testing out different approaches over time.

Different types of copy can be more effective in certain industries, or for specific types of people, or even relatively minor things like a negative association people have with a particular term that you’re using.

As you write copy over time, try testing these different approaches and seeing what works best:

  1. Longer or shorter
  2. More professional versus more casual
  3. Specific call to action used
  4. Different types of headlines
  5. Different ways of describing the problem
  6. Different white ways of describing the solution
  7. Speaking to different customer avatars

You can see which coffee works better by measuring:

  1. Amount of time people spend reading it
  2. The conversion rate
  3. The amount of shares
  4. How 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

Copywriting tools

Copywriting Templates

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 

Copywriting Courses

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