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The Fundamentals of Copywriting

Copywriting | 29 Sep 2011


Copywriting is a skill that every online marketer should understand and utilize. It is not so much a specific collection of techniques as it is a perspective that works toward a goal. That goal is selling. Copywriting has long been a necessity in many forms of advertising, and it is becoming so for online marketing, too. While developing expertly balanced copy can take a lifetime to perfect, there are fundamentals that even novices can incorporate into their writing. We’ll examine some of those fundamentals today.

Start with a Hook

The hook is the mechanism that you use to draw your readers in. Whole books have been written just about what constitutes the best hook for any given situation. Most of the time, the hook consists of a title that presents a situation that the reader can’t resist. The entire point of a hook is to draw the reader into the copy. So, no matter how good the copy is, it’s useless without a hook gets the customers to the copy. While there are many different opinions on how to create the best hook, there is some consensus among marketing experts:

  • Be Clear: While there is room to draw your audience in with mystery, most attempts will backfire. Copywriting isn’t a collection of gimmicks; it’s a study of response. Clear titles will always be the safest bet.
  • Be Concise: If you can’t explain your product quickly, you probably don’t understand it well enough, don’t expect your audience to wait for you to make sense.
  • Be Aware: You can’t sell to an audience you don’t know. Research the customers you are selling to, and make sure their needs are the highest priority in the hook.

Any effective hook will incorporate some or all of these. Once you’ve drawn your reader into your copy, you’ve achieved a significant victory. Your job is not done, however. The copy must hold the reader until the end, and relies on its own fundamental techniques.

Write to Sell

There are many types of writing that fulfill many types of functions. There are conventions of fiction, of journalism, and narrative. All of these conventions are superficial to copywriting. The point of copywriting is to sell, and any sentence—any word—that doesn’t serve that function is nothing less than dilution. Impressing your audience with catchy alliteration, creative metaphors, or stylistic enterprise will not be effective. What will be effective are tight formulas that address exactly what compels the customer to buy a product in the first place.

The basest function of any sale is need, so your mission is to convince your audience that they need your product. Once again, there are many theories about how to accomplish this. Three major formulas are used to ensure that no words are wasted getting to the point.

  • ACCA: Awareness, Comprehension, Conviction, Action. In this formula, the copywriter makes the customer aware of the product, gives them an idea of what the product does, convinces them they need it, and finally tells them how to get it.
  • AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This formula aims to start with the customer need, develop their potential interest into a desire for the product and then compel them to action.
  • 4 P’s: Picture, Promise, Prove, Push. This formula plays on the imagination of the buyer to give them the potential of the product, make promises to fulfill that potential, justify those promises, and then convince them to buy.

Coordinate all Elements

Copywriting is not just a matter of words. The copy needs to be supported, and that comes with a lot of factors to consider. Where is the copy going to be? The environment will have a major impact on the success of the copy. Are there images? Do the images support the copy, or confuse it? What is the education level of the audience? What is the reading level? What is the income level? These questions may seem incidental to simply writing, but all of them should be established before the writing even begins. The best copywriting is that which serves its audience the best, and everything about that audience should be reflected in the copy.

Get Started

Naturally, copywriting is far more difficult than these fundamentals, but they will give you a powerful leg up in a market where many people don’t understand copywriting at all. Like any trade, practice makes perfect. Practice copywriting as often as possible, and supplement your practice with professional reading in the subject. Famous copywriters and advertisers have been working to develop the skill for decades and many of them have written books that serve both beginners and professionals. The next step is to continue your education. Happy selling.

Related posts:

  1. Why Copywriting Matters in Online Marketing

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