Even if you work with an experienced online marketing team, there are times when you're bound to have to do a bit of copywriting yourself. Even the busiest business owners and executives get tasked with the occasional tweet, article, or email, and it pays to be able to convey key messages in a succinct way.
With that in mind, we'd like to share with you seven tips for world-class copywriting that virtually anyone can use:
1. Write with a single person in mind.
Here at Kayak, we use marketing personas for this exact reason. The more you can picture your perfect client in your mind's eye, and write something that appeals directly to him or her, the easier it's going to be to create a one-on-one marketing effect (which, of course, should be your goal).
2. Say what you mean, as clearly as possible.
Where a lot of business people trip up is trying to think like professional writers, when they should simply communicate clearly. When in doubt, use a simpler word instead of a more complex one. Aiming too high with your language doesn't always make you look smarter; it can just as easily come across as jargon. Or worse, it may sound like you are talking down.
3. Support your key statements.
If you are making a claim that flies in the face of common sense, or accepted wisdom, try to back it up with something credible. Often, a statistic or case study will do. However, if those aren't available, a personal anecdote or testimonial from a customer can be helpful. There is a fine line between being unconventional and being out of touch, so support your strongest statements in the best ways possible.
4. Always end your writing on a strong point.
Every marketing communication you put together (with the possible exception of short tweets and personal notes, of course) should end with a definite conclusion, a call to action, or both. If at all possible, invite the reader to take the next step, or share an opinion. I practice this rule in every communication I write, from emails to staff or clients, to closing out my twice-weekly blog articles. Simple truth: if you don't ask for a response, it's less likely you'll get one.
5. Write once and edit twice.
A lot of what people consider "writer's block" is just a lack of momentum. For your first draft, just keep putting words together and trust you'll find the ones you need. After you have a complete draft, edit twice. The first time for structure and organization; and the second time to eliminate anything that isn't needed to help tell your story or make your point.
6. Read the document out loud before you send it.
Most simple typos, grammatical errors, and structural problems that people struggle with can be fixed by simply reading the draft out loud. Take your time and don't rush over the words. You'll find that as much as 90% of the most common writing issues can be taken care of this way.
7. Never send or publish something you'll have to take back later.
We live in a world where a single ill-advised email, blog post, or social media comment can lead to big problems. So, before you publish something to the Internet, or send it to any of your contacts (or especially, to all of them), think carefully about whether it's an idea you really want to express, or a thought you may want to keep to yourself.
You don't have to be a born writer to put together effective business communications, or add blog posts or social updates to your online marketing efforts. All it takes is a bit of focus and attention to detail... the rest just comes with practice.