Let's imagine for a moment that someone lands on your website. Not just any someone—but a dream-client-type someone. This person would be amazing to work with, and (at this moment) it's all up to your website to reel 'em in.
This person starts reading your copy and the words are jumping out at him.
He is thinking to himself: "This person gets me."
He reads on and is so enchanted by the story you are telling that he clicks over to your services page. Things keep getting better, because your service descriptions are so spot-on, he immediately feels the desire to trade his cold hard cash for the chance to work with you.
Sound too good to be true? It doesn't have to be.
The Web is chock-full of boring copy. But your website doesn't need to mingle with that group.
Creating copy that connects with your audience is easier than you think. But it's not enough to just "talk benefits" and "use your own voice" (and other such vague advice you've likely run across).
Instead, you need ultra-specific tactics that you can put to use on your own website. Here is a list of five such tactics (plus a bonus if you read until the end. Yes, that's a bribe).
1. Branded statements
Have you run across businesses or entrepreneurs that have perfect snippets of advice they use over and over again to sum up the core of their brand or philosophy?
These people are onto something.
Repetition is known to be effective, and there is a way to put it to use in your copy to enchant your audience and help them remember you long after they've wondered away from your site.
I like to call that little trick "branded statements."
How to do it:
What do you believe about your industry or niche that makes you unique? What piece of break-through advice do you love to offer your clients or customers?
Once you find a nugget or two of wisdom or wit that's uniquely you (it might take some brainstorming), you have the basis for your very own branded statements.
Condense that piece of advice or insight into a short sentence or two. Word it in a conversational way (so it doesn't sound awkward or scripted when spoken out loud). Memorize it.
Whenever relevant, use your branded statements on your website. And here's a bonus: Use it in guest posts or during interviews to help build brand awareness online.
Remember to use it often: The power of branded statements is in repetition.
2. Use fragments
Grammatically correct copy can be awful to read.
Don't get me wrong, structure and rules are important. But if you stick to them too religiously, your copy runs the risk of turning out so uptight that your audience will avoid it at all cost.
When we talk out loud, in conversation, we tend to communicate in a more casual way—and it turns out that this way of talking translates well onto the Web.
One super-effective way to break up with traditional grammar is by deploying the sentence fragment. This little guy breaks up the monotony of your copy and helps emphasize important points. Plus, it's just plain fun to use (and read) for some reason.
How to do it:
A sentence fragment just means you've cut a sentence short. Like this. It doesn't include all the elements of a proper sentence—which is exactly why it works. It stands out. Grabs attention.
Use sentence fragments sparingly (they can get annoying if you go overboard). Put them to use when you need to break up the flow of a paragraph or create an abrupt rhythm, or when you want to emphasize a point.
3. Show vulnerability
We all go to great lengths to hide our shortcomings and weaknesses. But it turns out that when you show vulnerability, you can actually endear yourself to your audience.
People want to make a human connection, even on the Internet. And hiding behind a perfectly polished persona doesn't make you seem human.
Showing vulnerability allows your audience to relate with you. More important, when you've overcome (or you admit to trying to overcome) something (a problem, a shortcoming) that your audience desperately wants to overcome as well, they grow to trust you, which in turn increases your authoritative online presence.
How to do it:
What have you struggled with that your audience struggles with as well? What past experiences have you had that makes your work close to your heart?
Showing vulnerability is as simple as incorporating those types of stories into your copy.
But this one comes with a caveat: You need to be super extra careful to avoid TMI (too much information) syndrome. People don't want to hear about your problems unless it relates to them.
So be strategic with your vulnerability and make sure it serves a purpose and offers value.
4. Steal words
Want to know the real-deal secret to enchanting copy? The secret that even top-paid copywriters use?
It has absolutely nothing to do with coming up with your own perfect words. It's all about hunting down the words your dream clients and customers are already using, and snagging them for use in your own content.
Your audience is busy expressing themselves all over the Web—using words, phrases, and ideas that, when transplanted into your own copy, will make your audience feel right at home (and completely understood).
How to do it:
This is probably the most effective way to make your copy memorable, relatable, and completely nonignorable (I made up that word. See tip No. 2 about breaking grammar rules).
But it also happens to be one of the simplest. It doesn't require wordsmithing on your part, since your audience will be doing most of the heavy lifting for you.
All you need to do is listen in on what your audience is saying. Using social media is a great place to start. Check on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Hit up popular blogs that attract your dream customers and sift through the comments.
You're looking for a few specific things:
- How do your prospects express themselves? (Do they use a lot of slang? Are they into polished, professional prose?)
- What specific words do they use to describe the type of service or product you offer?
- How do they express their fears, concerns, and desires related to your offering?
Once you've gathered some from-the-trenches verbiage, infuse that language into your own copy.
5. Get visual
I know we're talking copy, and photography and design are so another topic. But hear me out.
Creating enchanting copy basically comes down to connection. You have to have a connection with your reader. Part of building that connection in the online world is presenting yourself visually.
When you use actual images of yourself, your readers can picture your actual person while hearing your voice in your copy—which makes their experience more personal.
How to do it:
Just as your copy should be uniquely you and should represent your brand story, your visuals should be unique as well. There's no need to pose for a buttoned-up, traditional headshot. Be yourself. Represent the type of brand you're building.
Whether you hire a professional or enlist the help of nothing but a tripod and self-timer, let your personality come through in your photos and give your audience a real preview of the person they are listening to.
Now it's your turn
A lot of tips for creating enchanting copy just didn't make it into this post (space issues and all that). One of the finalists that didn't make the cut was interaction.
Your copy shouldn't be a one-way expression. It should get your audience involved. And the same applies to this article.
So now it's your turn to weigh in. What makes you sit up and pay attention to some bits of copy and not others? What brands or businesses have you completely in love with their online voice?
Share your opinions in the comments (major bonus points if you suggest ways to readers for incorporating your observations into their own copy).