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(This article is a continuation of a previous post, “How to Write Effective Copy, Part 1.” If you haven’t already done so, we recommend reading that article first, which you can do here.)
We’ve all had our attention (and our wallets!) captured by effective marketing strategies; we’ve given in to perfectly timed sales and discount codes, bought something just because it will make our lives a little easier, or made a purchase because we are passionate about a particular brand.
Now, you’re wondering how to write similarly captivating, persuasive content for your own brand.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
This article will walk you through some of the key elements of writing persuasive, effective digital content for your brand.
This article outlines some of the key information you’ll need to know to create engaging content for your business, with a focus on the following key elements of successful copy:
Let’s dive in and start discussing what you can do to write effective copy for your brand.
“Direct response” marketing is a very common form of marketing and something you have grown used to seeing on a daily basis.
As its name suggests, direct marketing is designed to be short and sweet. It’s a small piece of writing that calls its reader to take immediate action.
In other words, the goal of this type of copy is to elicit a ‘direct response’ — a very quick action taken by the reader as soon as they’ve finished reading the content.
“Order now and get 20% off your purchase. Hurry — this offer ends at 4:00 pm ET!”
“Want to see more of our content? Click ‘subscribe’ now.”
The immediate reaction elicited by a piece of direct response marketing could be anything from buying the product or service offered, to signing up for the business’s newsletter, to clicking ‘follow’ on a social media page.
So, you need to be able to bring your audience to the point of wanting to take immediate action, then call them to do so.
To do that effectively, however, you need to be very brief, concise, and your really need to make every word count.
Also, because this type of copy is usually brief and intended to compel the reader to act instantly, this direct response copy should quickly pull at the heartstrings of the reader in some way — you will usually want it to have some sort of emotional impact on your reader.
Which of the below examples gets your attention more?
“Our restaurant offers a wide array of pasta and burgers”
“You’ve had a tough day. You’re tired. Too tired to cook. You deserve to be taken care of. You deserve to eat a good meal. You deserve the options we provide that ensure you’re satisfied”?
The second example is more effective than the first primarily because it elicits an emotional response from the reader; this piece of copy makes the reader feel understood, valued, appreciated, and promises a sense of relief at the end of a long day.
The first example above (“our restaurant offers a wide array of pasta and burgers” only mentions the business’ features.
On the other hand, the second example above (“you’ve had a tough day. You’re tired. Too tired to cook…”) mentions the business’ benefits — it doesn’t just tell the audience what products the company offers but actually goes into detail about how their products can make your life better. Because of this, the second example succeeds in making an emotional connection with the audience — you can relate to the feelings they’re talking about.
Depending on the business and goal of the content in question, the emotional impact of your copy can range from joy to fear and worry.
To be clear, we are against fear mongering and will always discourage businesses from trying to create dishonest, unnecessary, or unrealistic negative feelings just to drive a profit.
However, it’s sometimes okay if your audience is connected to a seemingly ‘negative’ emotion, such as anxiety or worry.
It’s okay because the feelings you’re conjuring up in your audience are well founded and because you’re not going to provide fear or worry with your product or service.
Rather, you’re going to call attention to a reasonable fear or worry that your audience already has in order to provide a solution.
For example, if you’re a furnace repair technician, you might make use of copy that explains why it can be dangerous for homeowners to attempt DIY furnace repairs. You may outline everything that can go wrong and highlight the fact that, even if the homeowner walks away unscathed, the DIY attempt may cost them more money in the long-run.
And this may cause anxiety in your target audience.
However, the concerns you have raised are sincere and well-founded, and you are offering the solution of affordable, professional furnace repair solutions. Perhaps, you even go the extra mile and offer them worry-free installment payments over a 24-month period.
So, it’s often okay (and, sometimes, necessary) to elicit feelings such as worry or anxiety from your target audience, and eliciting these feelings can ultimately entice your audience to act.
When we talk about topics that elicit ‘fear’ or ‘worry’ from your audience, we are addressing the audience’s pain points.
You see, a “pain point” is a problem that your potential consumer has.
The pain point is the problem they are facing.
Your business’ copy will highlight the problem(s) your target audience is facing only to immediately mention a solution — a solution your business can provide.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to clearly understand your target audience and specific consumer personas before you start writing; one of the key aspects of successful direct marketing strategies (beyond having an emotional impact) is to remember to talk to your audience not as a room of people, but as specific individuals.
You shouldn’t treat your copy as being delivered to a room full of people listening to a sales pitch or a crowded subway car of anonymous faces reading a poster.
Rather, the key is to address your prospective buyer as a person. You want to write your copy in a way that makes it seem that it is only you and the reader, and that you are speaking directly to them and their needs.
No matter what emotions you conjure up, the ultimate goal is to have them take action.
Let’s say, for example, you were writing a piece of copy intended to highlight the features and benefits of a new pair of designer glasses. You would want to finish your copy with something like, “order now and save $50 off the regular price”.
You are communicating a straightforward directive to your audience (“order”), making it clear when that action should take place (“now”), and you are enticing your audience to do this by offering them something of value (“save $50 off the regular price”) while also creating anxiety about missing out on a good deal.
Sure, you could just release an ad that showcases all the awesome features and benefits these new glasses have to offer, but your ad will be more successful if you get your audience out of their heads and ask them to take action.
For example, if your business were a home alarm/security company, you could release an ad with copy along the lines of, “in times of crisis like these, wouldn’t you like to know that your home is secure? You deserve safety. Call today and receive free installation of your world-class home security system.”
This example includes a pain point (“it’s a time of crisis”), emotion (“don’t you want to feel safe and secure?”), and a direct call to action (“call today”).
In contrast to the short and sweet direct response marketing, there is long-form marketing.
Long-form marketing is something you will often see on TV. Long form’s point is to plant an idea in your head in order to give you something to think about later on.
In this type of copy, the “act now” or “buy now” idea is out the window. Going that route is not the focus. Instead, to start, you might want to simply showcase the benefit. How?
Well, let’s say you are writing copy for a household cleaner. Let’s say that is your product.
First, you’ll want to make sure you really highlight the product’s benefits. (Remember: benefits over features.)
You’ll also still want to connect with your audience on an emotional level.
Sticking with our household cleaner, let’s say you’ll try to connect with your audience by showing them a lovely, clean home. And you’re presenting that home as your audience’s home.
What you’re saying “Wouldn’t you like your house to look like this?”
The clean space you’ve presented is now placed over your audience’s current space as a picture in their mind.
They’ll hold onto that.
We’re telling them that, “if you use our product, this is what your house will look like.”
From there, you could say it’s a waiting game or the “long con,” as it’s sometimes called.
Keep in mind, with long-form marketing, it’s not just the wait for the payoff that makes it “long” — the copy itself can also be on the longer side.
On a superficial level, you could say we’re now talking about an email or newsletter over a simple Google Ad or billboard.
But within that email or newsletter, we are not necessarily asking them to “act now.”
With long-form marketing, regardless of the medium through which you’re trying to reach your audience (e.g., a newsletter, blog posts, or commercial), the idea is to leave an impression of your product in your audience’s minds.
Sticking with the household cleaner example, you have sparked within your audience the idea that their world could be better — their houses could be cleaner, more comfortable, more refreshing.
While this idea of a ‘better world’ floats around their minds, the hope is that, the next time that person is shopping for household needs, they’ll see your cleaning product, recall what they’d seen in your commercial, and make a purchase of your product.
So, you’ve essentially seduced your reader or audience, but you’ve done so slowly. You’ve told them of the benefits of your product but not necessarily coupled with a clear and direct call to action, such as “order now!”
Directly put, this form of copy is less about being abrupt or ’salesy’ and more about a longer, slower seduction of your audience in which the value of your product or service is revealed and amplified over time.
This type of copy is about getting in your audience’s head and staying there. This allows the tension or desire for your product to grow and reinforce itself over time.
Direct response marketing, on the other hand, is about getting in your audience’s head and compelling them to act immediately, also leading to more immediate relief or satisfaction.
Before you can begin writing content for your digital marketing advertisements, not only will you need to have a clear understanding of the type of marketing content and venue you will be writing for (which we covered in our previous article), you will also need to:
-know whether you are intending to write direct response copy or long-form copy.
-have a strategy for evoking a (sincere and justified) emotional response from your target audience.
-have a clear understanding of your target audience’s pain points.
Once you have accomplished this, you will be on your way to creating effective copy for your brand.