Marketing executives are always debating whether the material they deliver should be long and enlightening or short and to the point. Truth be told, there’s no concrete and surefire method, despite us all wishing there was. There are just far too many variables to account for. When designing short and effective copy however, there are a few primary considerations to start with: cost, method, and purpose.
- Cost: The more expensive your product is, the more reasons you’ll have to give to buy it. Offer a rebuttal before your potential customers have an option to say no.
- Method: How you deliver your message has a lot of control over your options. Social media calls for short, attention-grabbing copy, whereas email communication allows for a little more wiggle room.
- Purpose: Adjust your writing length to what you’re trying to get out of your audience. If there’s a significant amount of information you’d like to obtain, you need the copy length to support your client doing so.
The moral of the story is, don’t make your copy longer than it has to be. Use your best judgment and ask yourself “if I was reading this as a blind customer, am I likely to be engaged by it?” On the other hand, if you read it and as an impartial judge find yourself with too many questions or a sense of mistrust, there is probably a requirement for more substantial writing. So how do you know? Here are five tips for short, effective copywriting that will command results:
1) Need Effective Copywriting? Research your clientele
Know the needs and wants of your audience. Just as importantly, know what they don’t want. A good way to establish a basis of understanding is to offer small rewards for survey completions to attain a sound idea of exactly who you’re writing your short copy for. Young/old, male/female, stylish/simple are demographics that have very different preferences. Aim for a specific target to avoid having to lengthily write for each group. If there are multiple groups you’d like to sell to because your products are more generic, offer copy on different pages to guide each demographic to their specific target areas.
2) Stick to your Guns
Remember when your teachers always told you to avoid fluff in your essays and overstating your point? Well, turns out they had it right. Maintain your main idea without straying. This is very important to conceptualize before writing your copy; if you don’t know what you’re writing about, how is your audience supposed to? Don’t let your reader forget your idea by using drawn out anecdotes or examples. If there’s a shorter, more straight-forward method of getting your thoughts across, then that’s the way to go about it.
3) Don’t beat around the bush
Similar to our last point, you know what your idea is, but then what? After reading, what exactly do you want your viewer to do? Again, pretend you are the client, and ask what it would take for you to do the same. Include your call to action early in your message. People know when they are being buttered up, and most don’t appreciate it because it undervalues their intelligence. State what you want, be confident about it, and your writing will be effective. Not that two sentences is going to get the job done for you, so this is the time where professional writing will do wonders for you.
4) Give them a reason to listen
So they’ve read your copy, and they’ve seen your call to action, but many will ask “what’s in it for me?” People know what they’re getting when they’re being sold a car, but they can’t see what they’re getting through your message. You can describe your product to the nines and offer hi-res images from every angle; but if your prospect can’t touch and manipulate it, they’llll be skeptical. Your writing must be as deep as it is definite. People may sign up for your email subscription for weekly coupons, but they also need to know that they’ll be saving more than a couple cents. Be honest, and let them know their exact personal benefit. Answer the question, “so what?”
This could also include a satisfaction guaranteed or customer resolution statement. Giving your reader two concise sentences will keep your copy both short and effective: 1) what they get and 2) their possible quick and easy out in case of a buyers remorse.
5) Don’t go out on a Limb
Again, just like our reliable teachers used to say, edit your work. Test with a sample size to see what the reaction is like. No matter how short, concise, effective you think it may be, it’s important to prove it to others before adding it to your permanent strategy. Did your sample group understand your point? Were they bored? Were they confused? Also, grammar and spelling errors will seriously discredit your work and give your viewers a good reason not to listen. Think about those billboards and posters you see that somehow made it through the printing press using “your” instead of “you’re”; how did you feel about that?
Do your best, and go with your gut. You’re where you are because you worked hard and deserve to be there. With these tips and you personality, we’re bound for success. But most importantly, from start to finish, keep asking yourself what was the most effective short copy I have ever read, and how can I replicate and personalize it to better optimize my conversions?