Use Plain Words to Communicate Your Message

Want to know one of the top keys to copywriting success? It’s one you won’t hear too many pros mention, but it’s super important. To get the reader’s attention, you must make your message clear. Nobody cares how many big words you or I know. In fact, the more complex the subject the more important it is to use simple words.

The truth is, people just want you to fix their problems as-fast-as possible so they can get back to what’s really important. Give them 3 steps, not 10. Give them short sentences, not long. And, if you do, they’ll reward you by coming back to read again.

Easy-to-read copy is one of the most important rules in good copywriting. I can tell you from experience that writing this way isn’t as easy as you might think. To make the task easier, I’m going to share a few tips to get you started. If you use them, you’ll begin to see results right away:

How Simplify Your Writing

  • 1. A single great idea is more powerful than two

    Have one main point and restate it throughout your narrative. Research shows that it takes up to six times hearing something before you start to remember it.

  • 2. Use parallel constructions

    Group like ideas together. Contrast where possible. Short bursts of concise sentences is refreshing and memorable.

  • 3. Use lists to pull the reader through your piece

    Lists easy are to follow. They allow people to make a quick scan of your material and decide what they need.

  • 4. Remove as many words as you can without losing the message

    Edit, edit, edit—get rid of words that add no meaning. The saying: less is more is true. Removing visual clutter allows what’s important to gain strength.

    Make sentences clear, concise and useful.

Follow these four tips and you will make your readers happy. And entice them to come back for more.


4 Simple Tips Pros Use to Write Better Headlines

Are your headlines doing the job? Headlines perform a critical task. They entice your reader to actually read your content. If your headline isn’t clear or doesn’t promise a powerful reward, people will pass it by.

Professional Copywriters spend up to 50 percent of their time developing the perfect headline.

Here are four simple tips that will help you improve the quality of your headlines.

1. Promise something useful

People read articles because they’re looking to solve a problem. They need to save time. Your headline let’s them know exactly how you’re going to help. Don’t make people guess.

If you want someone to click on your headline promise something they can do right away.

2. Use Numbers

Readers like lists. They’re easy to follow. People are more inclined to click a post with a list because they feel the odds are good that they’ll find something useful.

Algorithms like Google Hummingbird reward useful content. Numbers tell search engines that your content intends to deliver something.

Use random, 2-digit numbers like 13 or 27. It’s an old copywriter trick. These numbers telegraph authenticity to readers.

A word of advice: if you promise 17 essential tips, be sure all 17 of those tips are high quality.

3. Use a Logical Keyword

If you sell tires, use words in your headline like: traction, tread, wheel-hub or grip. If you sell software for autonomous vehicles, use words like: driverless, WiFi, or self-parking.

Think of this like deposits into your search-engine savings account.

The more you include keywords naturally used by searchers, the easier they will find you.

4. Keep Headlines Under 65 Characters

Algorithms penalize headlines that are over 70 characters. That’s because they’re harder to read. That aside, the important takeaway is not muddy up your message with too many words.

Make sentences clear, concise and useful. These qualities will entice interested readers to read your article.


Brand Copywriting: How to Get it Right

Marketing copy that grabs your attention is either effortlessly cool or unbearably cringe-inducing. Hubspot recently profiled a few companies who are getting it right and also distills the learnings from each great copywriting example into some actionable tips.

We’d like to share some of our own thoughts on how to consistently write great marketing copy that hits all your goals: to grab and hold your target audience’s attention amidst all the other social noise, get them interacting with you on social channels, and keep them coming back for more. Ultimately, we hope this relationship-building is also leading toward more lead generation, more sales, and more brand awareness of your products/services, but first things first.

While it’s true that other forms of media are successfully grabbing the lion’s share of consumer attention (Vine, SnapChat, Pinterest, Instagram), the written word will never lose its impact. Especially when it comes to translating your brand vision, voice, and mission. What’s a picture of a Nike shoe without the tagline “Just do it”? It’s fantastic to show all of this through great video campaigns and the perfect graphic image, but we think the combination of showing AND telling is where the lasting power of brand messaging lies.

As the Hubspot blog puts it, The continuity of a brand, despite the advent of new media, hangs on the tenor of a singular voice.

The B2C Marketing Voice: Selling a Brand Vision

Some of the most successful brands out there (Red Bull, Levi’s, Xbox, Nike) know exactly who their audiences are and how their interests align with the brand’s vision. They’re not going to waste their time coming up with universal copy that appeals to everyone and offends no one. They know exactly who they’re selling to and why.

Hubspot uses Red Bull as a good example of this: their social campaigns, or a stand-alone Instagram post, probably won’t make sense to the average person. Your Midwestern grandma has no clue what a “#HippieJump” is, much less how a hashtag works, so their picture of a snowboarder grabbing massive air with this tagline won’t mean much: “Son, rise. #HippieJump for @arthur_longo #snowboard.”

But to their audience, it’s cool, it’s clever, and it’s inspiring. The Red Bull customer is into extreme sports, video games, and anything edgy so they can cater to these people directly and not worry about who they might be alienating.

Companies who don’t know their audience opt for the safe (read: no one gets fired) option and over explain so everyone gets it.

You want to be in a position where you don’t have to explain what your brand is about and what you represent – it’s evident in every product, every ad campaign, every image, every social post, and most importantly, every nuanced and highly-targeted piece of copy. People who connect with it are “in the know” and like that feeling of belonging to a larger community. You know there’s a community of Red Bull drinkers even if they aren’t instantly identifiable, just like there’s a huge and highly active and vocal community of Xbox gamers.

The B2B Marketing Voice: Press Release on Steroids

Almost every B2B company I’ve worked with as a social media consultant also had a full-time Content Marketer and a full-time publicist on staff. When you’re selling a product or service to other companies, you can’t fake it if you don’t have a good brand story. If you’re selling CRM software to companies in all different types of industries, for example, and they all have the common goal of managing their customer databases – they’re going to need a compelling reason to subscribe to or buy your software instead of the many other options out there.

This is why every piece of copy about your business has to be aligned and consistent: your Web copy, your product descriptions, your social media channels, your infographics, your press articles. It’s a lot to manage, and it amounts to every business also being its own publisher.

HubSpot uses Intel as an example of a non-sexy company that nonetheless has created a compelling and exciting story. They make semiconductor chips – if you’re not a tech nerd, why should you care, right? People do care, because they’ve created a brand message and copy that inspire. Their slogan is: “Look Inside.” This is a clear call to action that expresses Intel’s brand promise of innovation. It also doesn’t exclude anyone.

Intel also pushes this message out across all their ad campaigns and Web copy. They’ve created IQ, which is a series of well-developed case studies and press releases that are presented like a virtual magazine. It’s updated daily, so content is always fresh. It also always highlights some aspect of Intel’s offerings: their computer chip is basic but mighty. It’s the heart or brain of a computer and that computer is involved in every type of technological innovation out there.

Intel’s IQ tirelessly looks for and presents stories that point back to how Intel is relevant. You can’t get better press than stories you create yourself and push out in the right way.

Your message is your brand

Whether you’re B2C or B2B, and no matter who your audience is, your marketing copy should be as true, unique, and inspiring as your brand. Written copy is the heart of your branding, and what you combine it with to get audience attention (video, ad campaigns, social) is the conduit for that heart blood. Your social media strategy is only as effective as your brand messaging – the most successful companies have both closely integrated and working together to grab (and keep) the love and loyalty of your target audience.