Did you know that 1 in 4 mobile visitors leave a landing page if it takes more than four seconds to load? Now, let’s try a quick experiment and count to four.
Did these seconds feel long for you? When you think about the experiment, maybe they didn’t — but when browsing the web and unaware, four seconds have been proven to be almost too long. This is especially true for mobile traffic — as of 2021, over 54.8% of global traffic came from mobile devices, which makes marketing copywriting essential in capturing user attention.
The conclusion? Killer marketing copywriting is the backbone of success. To get your prospect to act, you need to grab their attention, hold it, keep it engaged, and guide them to their intended action. Almost every marketing initiative includes some sort of copy. What is marketing copywriting, why is it important, and how can you become amazing at it? Let’s start with the basics.
Copywriting is writing any sort of language to be used in advertising. We also use the term “copy” to describe text on websites, social media, marketing emails, etc. While marketing copywriting in itself is a profession, it’s also a critical skill that all great growth marketers should have in their toolbox. The ability to write copy that captivates and engages the intended viewer with the right messaging isn’t easy, but if you’re interested in getting better at it, you’ve come to the right place!
Storytelling vs. Marketing Copywriting
These days, everyone has a story or content to spread. Whether it’s a food blog or the latest brand launch, people are constantly surrounded by new pieces of content. But what makes your content matter? Stand out? Cut through all the copy clutter that we are exposed to every day?
The foundation of good marketing copywriting is storytelling, but the two are not mutually dependent. The word “storytelling” actually speaks for itself. It is about telling stories, and being able to engage your audience, or to make something more clear. Photos, pictures, graphs, and videos really elevate the storytelling as well. Storytelling is all about painting the picture, setting the scene, and taking the reader on a journey.
Copywriting is one of the most critical elements of all forms of marketing and advertising and is also tied to great storytelling. It is like a call-to-action on a bigger scale, trying to catch your audience’s attention and make them feel, think, or respond. The product, called “copy” or “marketing copy”, is the written content aiming to increase brand awareness and ultimately to persuade the audience to perform a particular action.
First things first, let’s clarify that customers don’t generally care about your brand’s story — they care about their own. A successful brand understands that the customer needs to be the hero of the story. Donald Miller takes a unique approach to this topic in his book “Building a Story Brand”. He mentions that marketing copywriting is “the world’s most valuable skill” as according to him, there is virtually no other skill that can make you as much money.
He persists that “nobody will listen to you if your message isn’t clear, no matter how expensive your marketing material may be”, and that is something any brand should always remember. Essentially, the goal here is to put the audience at the center of your brand story — make it clear as to what’s in it for them, how the product or service you offer relates to their day-to-day. In his book, he introduces the SB7 framework which is essential for a brand to understand and follow these critical rules.
Here is the SB7 framework:
- A Character: The customer is the hero
- Has a Problem: Successful companies attend to their inner frustrations
- And Meets a Guide: The customers are looking for a guide
- Who Has a Plan: Customers trust a guide who has a plan
- And Calls them to Action: Customers are challenged to take action
- That Helps Them Avoid Failure: Everyone is trying to avoid a tragic ending
- And Ends in a Success: This principle shows people how the product can positively influence their lives.
All in all, marketing copywriting is improved by the ability to tell a good story, but don’t let storytelling take over from the end goal of actually getting your reader to take action.
Great Marketing Copywriting Essentials
Consumers are inundated with ads and marketing copywriting 24/7. They are trained to recognize when they are being sold something, and it takes more than ‘Buy Now’ to convince them to purchase. Being good at marketing copywriting takes a lot of practice. Don’t beat yourself up if your first few attempts don’t go as planned. As with any skill, it takes time and effort to develop.
Understand Your Brand’s Voice to Write Good Copy
How and where you use your words is also an essential piece of branding. While your logo and visuals are important, the way you speak to your customers is also a piece of your identity as a whole. What is your brand’s voice? This is one of the most important pieces of marketing copywriting. Your brand voice is directed to your target audience, and it can have any style as long as it feels true to your brand values and persona (e.g. authoritative, playful, intellectual, kind, fun, etc.). Is your business more professional and uses formal language or is it more casual, and your customers expect to hear from you as they might hear from a friend?
Normally, your brand’s voice is an important element of your brand’s guidelines. They need to specify the do’s and don’t’s, the rationale behind why you chose specific characteristics that tie back to your brand identity, and rules around how to maintain consistency across channels and touchpoints.
Finally, it’s important to also differentiate the value of voice vs. tone in your marketing copywriting. Remember: your voice always remains constant. Your voice is what makes your brand stand out, differentiate, and be easily recognizable no matter where the audience sees your copy. It’s an integral part of your brand identity. In contrast, your tone will adjust to the goal and intent of your marketing campaign. For instance, your holiday cheer email or social post will sound very different from ad copy that’s creating a sense of urgency around a limited-time sale.
Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) Goals
Once you’ve determined your tone of voice, focus on the goal of your copy. What action do you expect customers to take after reading it? Determine the value props that will matter to these people. A useful exercise to write better copy is to list out 5-10 problems your target market deals with, the effects of these problems, and then how your product or service solves them. Copywriters who understand how to use the SMART goal-setting strategy can create a top-quality copy.
Let’s look at a simple example. If we were a DTC eCommerce company that sold hiking boots, these are a few of the problems and solutions we would list:
Just like that, in our solutions column, we suddenly have three lines of copy that will resonate with our target market. The more rows you are able to complete, the more options you will have ready to launch when the time comes.
A Short Guide to Better Marketing Copywriting
1. Headline Writing
Start with the 4U’s that produce powerful content: Useful, Urgent, Unique, and Ultra-Specific. Keep the copy short, cut the fluff, and think of how to package your message in the shortest yet most powerful way.
2. Use Common Spelling
Correct spelling is essential for copywriters. Readers tend to notice a spelling mistake rather than a grammatical error, or a misplaced comma. Pro tip: to up your efficiency and accuracy, tap into AI copywriting tools that will help you become an even better writer. We have created a list of the best AI copywriting tools you can use as a guide to building your marketing copywriting toolbox.
3. Avoid Pulchritudinous, Long and Fancy Words
Well here, we just used “pulchritudinous” which means “delighting the sensed or exciting intellectual or emotional admiration.” In a good copy, we suggest that you shouldn’t use fancy words. Good copy cuts like a knife. Avoid big words that make you sound like you are trying too hard.
4. Be concise and clear
Writing with clarity means being concise. Unnecessary words often dilute the meaning of the conveyed message. Research your topic so that you appear as a person with a genuine interest in offering your help and expertise and of course, know your audience inside and out.
5. Follow the AIDA Model
It is a proven formula that works and here is how it works:
Attention: Get your reader’s attention with something catchy and relevant (question, statement, urgency, etc.).
Interest: Facts, social proof, and numbers capture the reader’s attention every time.
Desire: Make them desire the product/service provided.
Action: Always add a Call-to-Action. Tell the reader what to do next!
5. Use Data and Research
Knowing your audience is everything, especially when it comes to copy. Testing copy and knowing what words resonate with your audience and capture their attention is key. Don’t be afraid to build off simple phrases and let the numbers tell you what works.
6. Feedback, Feedback, Feedback
To be an expert at marketing copywriting takes time! It will definitely not happen overnight and comes with a detailed eye for seeing what works and what doesn’t. The best way to refine your copywriting is to have another set of eyes on it. Ask for feedback from colleagues, partners, or friends to make sure your message is coming through in the best way possible.
Copywriting For Different Marketing Channels
Different channels are designed to reach different audiences, at different peak times, and within different character limits. Each channel is built for a specific audience, hence there needs to be a different style of writing. Just like your visuals vary by channel, so should your copywriting. You must understand the intention of the user where you are meeting them. Snapchat is a very different platform than LinkedIn. Should you write the same copy for both? No, of course not.
When you think about it as a user, it seems obvious, but this is often lost on time-strapped marketers attempting to push content out rapidly. Sure, it may be time-effective to copy and paste, but when the copy doesn’t convert on engagement, you’re going to wish you had spent more time considering where your copy was going to live and how it would be consumed.
Get in your consumers’ heads during this time, think about what catches your eye while scrolling on Instagram vs. Twitter. Imagine what it takes for you to stop and read an ad, or click off your daily messaging. These will be the things that ultimately get your customers hooked. Don’t be afraid of getting in their head and producing it on screen.
Think About the User Journey Through the Funnel
Identifying what part of the funnel the user is in is crucial to relevant marketing copywriting that drives conversions. After all, the audience that sees your copy will have a different level of familiarity with your brand — so it’s important to meet them where they are, with the right answers they need. Here is a rough framework that will help you think of the user journey more holistically and write copy that is more relevant to your intended audience.
At the top of the funnel, you want to focus on brand awareness and give the viewer as much valuable information about your brand as possible. Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it and why should the viewer care? Content that answers these questions (while sticking to the 4 U’s) will get the quality recall you need lower down the funnel.
At the middle of the funnel, you have users who have a rough recall of your brand. You want to get more specific here: what are the exact products/services that you offer? What is the unique value proposition of each? What are some statistics or testimonials you can use to drive conversions? Be as specific as possible to build on the recall and drive their decision.
At the bottom of the funnel, you have users who already know your brand and your offerings — and they need an extra push to finally convert. At this stage, you can be very straightforward with a harder sell (that still falls within your brand voice and remains consistent with your overall messaging). Introducing extra urgency, discounts, limited-time offers, and perks at this stage can help seal the deal.
5 Great Facebook Ad Copy Examples
Let’s start with one we all know and love. Marketing copywriting for Facebook ads is something every marketer in 2022 should feel comfortable doing, and getting started isn’t as daunting as it may seem.
Here are five examples of Facebook ads with great marketing copywriting:
PayPal clearly recognizes the pain point customers are experiencing with other companies and solves it in 3 short sentences.
- “Start taking payments in person.”
- “No setup costs or monthly fees.”
- “Swipe, tap, or chip.”
Short and clear, a merchant reading this would know exactly what to expect from the PayPal card reader.
Here, Asana, clearly states their value proposition, “Whatever you do, you can do it with Asana.” A short and concise description of why users should sign up for their service.
This is a great example of a storytelling and copy combination. This ad from Google is catchy and clever while delivering a clear message and call to action.
This Zendesk example is one we come back to again and again. It is is an expert display of making your customer the hero of your story. What is the goal of an eCommerce store? To sell stuff. What does a chat help you accomplish? Sell stuff. Simple, convincing, and effective.
In this ad, Packlane highlights a critical opportunity for businesses that has become very important recently in marketing, personalization (custom packaging). Adding the “order as low as one unit” sentence can attract not only big companies but also small businesses.
6. JVN Hair
Short and simple, this ad is the epitome of drawing on social proof for trustworthiness and including clinical statistics to add weight to the statement. A big bonus is the ad’s ability to stay consistent with Jonathan Van Ness’s fun, uplifting, quirky voice!
7. Magic Spoon Cereal
Another good example of staying actionable while diversifying the calls to action. Magic Spoon’s identity is rooted in using emojis to uplift ads — yet, the ad is still rooted in valuable nutrition data that underscores the unique queness of the healthy cereal brand. What’s the story here, you might ask? It’s genius: customers can stay on track with their New Year goals while enjoying their childhood favorite flavors.
Facebook’s Copywriting Formula
Now that we have looked at some great ads let’s talk about how you can create an engaging Facebook ad as well. Facebook is a platform where you need to be able to expertly combine both text and visuals. In order to do this effectively, we like to follow a very specific formula created by AdEspresso called ERERS.
As a marketer, acknowledging how your copy will interact with other elements in an ad is important. In the Hootsuite example above, not only is it following the ERERS formula, but it is repeating it’s two key messages. 1. “Build a social org of your own” and 2. “Watch a demo video.” It is very clear what the call to action is in this ad, and customers will understand what steps they need to follow next.
According to Microsoft, the average human’s attention span is 8 seconds (fun fact: the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds). In order to write a compelling Facebook ad copy, you must be concise while demonstrating a clear understanding of the problem and how the brand solves it. Your customers don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them. It’s harsh, but it’s true. Don’t waste time in your ads explaining how great you are. If you aren’t convincing customers that you can solve their problems, your ads won’t convert. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Email Marketing Copywriting
Email copy is similar to Facebook but has its own elements as well. Because email offers a little more real estate than ads, you have more room to get creative. This doesn’t mean you get to go wild and write a monotonous and lengthy piece, but it does give you a little extra space to really sell your idea.
Squarespace taps right into the users’ number one concern right from the first line, “It’s not as hard as you think.” Is it hard to build a website? Apparently, not as hard as you thought it was. Then, the post follows with some lines that mention “helpful guides and how-to videos.” This is a great reactivation email targeted to users who signed up for Squarespace’s service but didn’t take the next step to build their website. Providing them with resources in a short and relatable way, users are more likely to re-engage.
Suiteness uses humor to solve a relatable problem. This email is part of a series where they ask if the reader likes this or this and then gives unique CTAs for each answer. This clever and unique tactic creates intrigue while still driving action.
Rooted uses exclusivity in this email marketing approach by stating that the Raf plant “happens to be quite the rate plant here in the states so snag him while you can.” Implying the exclusivity of a product or service can be an extremely effective way of driving customers to take action. Rooted also uses a very simple and friendly language and tone that their customers are familiar with. This email is like receiving a well-designed note from a friend.
Burrow gets straight to the point with this email that solves many customer FAQs. No beating around the bush or attempting to be witty or cute. They have done their research into what questions are most critical to the business, and they answer them in a straightforward way. Although funny or witty copy often gets highlighted, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the highest one converting. However, most of the time, a clear and concise copy is best!
Have a product that takes a little more explaining? There is still room in this email world for longer content. Scratch does this well with a concise elevator pitch line at the top, followed by more details below. This is what I would consider a “choose-your-own-adventure” email. If you’re interested in reading more, you can, but if you got what you needed from the snippet at the top, you can scroll straight on down to purchase.
Great Copy For Call to Actions
All great marketing copy must include a well-executed call to action. You don’t get what you don’t ask for! Make sure it is clear what you are expecting users to do when they read your ad, email, landing page, etc. So, what makes a CTA great? There are several tricks and words to include that inspire users or customers to take action.
Here is one that should feel very familiar, “Get Started Now.” Adding the word ‘now’ increases the urgency and has a more significant impact on click-through rates. Another example is using the word “free”. Who doesn’t like something for free, right? It’s a simple word that holds a lot of power. Larksuite.com uses both, “Get Started, It’s Free!”
Your CTA should inspire an urgency to take action, so take time to ensure you’re adding the right message to reach your target audience. Feel free to play around with variations of the typical formulas to discover what works best for your brand.
Of course, this is not to say that there is no room for creativity in your CTAs as well. It’s crucial to always switch them up and remain actionable while diversifying the copy you use, as long as it complements your brand voice. Take sweetgreen, for example. “Click Here if You Agree” is in no way a traditional CTA — but it’s fun, actionable, and true to their recent rebrand.
Another example is Fly By Jing. The brand found a new solution to creating urgency without necessarily using a word like “Now” in the copy, staying true to their quirky brand persona.
Copywriting for marketing is an incredibly important skill. At the end of the day, all of us have access to the same ad platforms and tools. One of the best ways to stand out is by having impeccable copywriting. Especially now, content is accessible in all ways and content creators are finding new platforms to tell their story and engage an audience. Clean and effective copywriting will help you break through the noise and stand out from your competitors.
Following the above suggestions can help you create a great copy. Understand the channel that you are creating the copy for, and think about how the copy can interact effectively with other visuals in your ads. Combine storytelling with great copywriting, and you will create effective communication with your target audience and hence, a successful ad.
If your copy can achieve these few important things, you’re well on your way to becoming a great marketing copywriter! And whatever stage your company is at, we know how to make your company grow and shine, looking for an agency to take the hard work off your plate – feel free to reach out to our team for a consultation.