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I’ve noticed recently that more and more people with writing backgrounds (ie journalists, English majors, etc.) are landing in direct response online copywriting jobs. Without delving too deeply into the reasons for this, I think it’s useful to think about how to help equip these people with the tools they’ll need to be strong copywriters, and in this case strong PPC copywriters in particular. Whether they’re working on ad text or landing page copy there are a series of basic tenants that I think are helpful to convey to strong writers who are new to the Web and direct response.
Web Copywriting Fundamentals
For online marketers (even those who aren’t strong writers) some of the basics around creating compelling, skimmable content are basically second-nature. I think this often causes those of us steeped in this world to under-explain to these good writers with limited Web experience five key fundamentals.
1. Your Visitors are Your Prospects
It seems pretty basic, but you’d be surprised by how many new-to-the-Web copywriters – smart people who understand on some level that they’re writing to generate sales – don’t take compelling a site visitor to act into account in crafting Web copy. This is obviously a crucial mind-set for the copywriter, and encouraging them to think about the nature of persuasion and to stay focused on the action they’re trying to induce is vital.
2. Brevity is Your Friend: Get Out of Your Own Way!
Short copy doesn’t always win, but it’s important to emphasize the value of leaving gratuitous turns of phrase and unnecessary preambles out of your direct response copywriting repertoire. A clear emphasis on the fact that brevity is your friend is vital. I think often explaining the concept of bounce rate and the sheer volume of people who leave a site quickly and never come back can be helpful and compelling here.
3. Web Visitors Skim
Many of you reading this likely know that the use of headlines, bold, and bullets are commonplace in strong Web content, but often individuals with more of an academic writing background need to be instructed to break up large chunks of content. I find a good way to emphasize the importance here is just to have a couple of Word documents – one with rambling paragraphs and another with liberal use of bold, bullets, headlines and line breaks. When put in the already established context that:
- We’re trying to sell something to a swath of different types of prospects coming to the site
- Lots of people give you small amounts of attention and bounce immediately
- Economy of language gives you the shortest possible path to conversion
This side-by-side visual will usually resonate (looking instantaneously, which is more aesthetically appealing?)
4. No One Cares About You!
Obviously we’ll want our green copywriter to understand the benefits of benefits. I think a good way of explaining this is to ask them to think about conversion as a conversation: what makes a great conversationalist? It’s not someone who talks about themselves, but rather someone who can relate to the other person in the conversation, is engaging and interesting, and conveys a sense of credibility (smart, funny, likable). It’s similar with creating great Web copy – it’s not about you, you need to be engaging and interesting, and you need to establish trust and authority to sell effectively on the Web.
5. You Need to Be Willing to Compete
Whether it’s AdWords or Facebook or even AdCenter, PPC platforms are getting more and more competitive. This means you need to have anyone crafting ad copy for you in the mindset that they’ll need to compete. A good way to orient them to this idea is to get their mind wrapped around click-through rates – in many industries 1% is actually pretty good! That means your competitors and the organic results are grabbing the rest – to increase your CTR you need steal back some of that share. Explaining things in this way will help them start to think about how they can differentiate their copy from the competition, and hopefully will get their competitive juices flowing and get them thinking about creative strategies for driving clicks and conversions.
What Am I Missing?
Beyond turning them loose on great copywriting blogs like Copy Blogger what else do you tell copy writers who are new to pay-per click? Drop a comment if there’s anything you’ve found to be particularly crucial/effective advice.