Sharpen Up Your Copywriting Skills & Drive Results
Learn industry-leading tips on writing copy that your visitors can’t help but engage with – from carrying out research with AI prompts to nailing down your brand’s tone of voice.
Are you looking to become a successful copywriter and develop your brand’s messaging? Using the Footprint Content team’s best practices, let’s run through the main skills you need to craft compelling copy.
We’ll be diving into:
- Strengthening your research skills
- Keeping up with the industry
- Writing for any tone of voice
- Using marketing psychology
- Mastering SEO copywriting
- Testing your new copywriting skills
- Seeking feedback on your work
Let’s get started.
Research skills for copywriting
Do research. And lots of it. Something that gets overlooked is that it often takes longer to do the research than to do the actual writing. This stage is vital to ensure all the information is accurate and valuable for your readers.
To speed this up:
- Use abbreviations, acronyms or incomplete sentences that you’ll understand
- Write down only information that’s relevant
- Use symbols, diagrams, charts or drawings to simplify and visualise ideas
- Note down important statistics or metrics
Use AI with a pinch of salt
Whilst AI tools such as ChatGPT can significantly speed up the research process, you must be wary of the answers it yields. Always remember to cross-reference important information with Google, as spreading false information can be detrimental to your brand.
If you’re going to use AI for research, here are 11 example prompts you can use:
- Can you provide an overview of the history of [topic]?
- What are the main benefits/advantages of [topic]?
- What are the current trends and developments in [industry/field]?
- Can you explain the key principles/concepts of [subject]?
- What are the potential challenges/limitations of [technology/idea]?
- Compare and contrast the pros and cons of [two competing products/methods/strategies].
- What are the ethical considerations associated with [topic]?
- Provide examples of successful case studies or real-world applications of [topic].
- What are the emerging research areas in [industry/field]?
- What are the key statistics and data related to [topic]?
- What are the expert opinions or perspectives on [issue/topic]?
Harness the power of search
Make the most of search engines (like Google) to cross-reference this and find more niche information on your topic. Use specific keywords and advanced search operations to really drill down.
- Quotes (“”) for exact phrases
- Site:*URL* to search on specific domains
- Filetype: for specific file types (e.g. PDF)
Know your audience!
Before carrying out research for your topic, you should know who your target audience is, what their interests are and their level of knowledge.
- What are their deepest desires?
- What are their fears?
- What motivates them?
Creating buyer personas is a great way of establishing this – and remembering it.
Evaluate your sources
- Is this research credible?
- Who is it written by?
- Can I trust this information?
Be cautious of using unreliable sources. And don’t forget to attribute them with accurate citations!
Organise your notes
If (like me) you struggle to focus on one tab at a time, keeping organised notes is a game-changer.
Use a note-taking app to keep track of important information. Summarise key points, jot down the source and cherrypick any relevant quotes or statistics.
Add your own thoughts
Once you’ve done the research, make sure to note down your own (original) opinion on the topic so this can be included. This will separate you from the other articles all going after the same keywords. Plus, other websites may quote this and provide a valuable backlink to your article!
Adaptability: keep up with the industry
Stay updated with industry trends, marketing strategies and new copywriting techniques by regularly reading blogs for industry insights. You could also attend webinars or digital events to network with other like-minded copywriters. The copywriting landscape is constantly evolving, so make sure you stay informed!
Here are some important names in the copywriting field to give you a headstart:
Top tip: Subscribe to our newsletter for bite-sized digital marketing news that’s explained simply by humans, for humans.
Tone of voice
To succeed in copywriting, you need to be able to write for any audience in any tone of voice.
Are you writing for a brand that’s authoritative, knowledgeable and strictly no puns allowed?
Or maybe the brand is quirky, fun and sprinkles in some humour every now and then?
You must know (and stick to) the tone of voice to ensure consistent messaging that your customers are really bought into.
For help with developing this, jot down 3 descriptive words that spring to mind when thinking about the brand. Voila – you’ve now got a simplified tone of voice!
Feeling stuck? We can help define your brand’s tone of voice with words that speak your customer’s language – check out our website copywriting services.
Marketing psychology & persuasive copywriting
This is a problem I encounter a lot. Many web pages (homepages in particular) are cluttered with too many lengthy blocks of copy and have way too many options. It’s been proven many a time that too much choice is actually a conversion killer, so serve your visitors limited (but considered) choices and use compelling CTAs to guide them into the next part of the journey seamlessly.
Proof that others have said yes
Social proof is an amazing way of convincing people to buy your products or services. This is based on the phenomenon that if others already said yes (and had an amazing experience), you should too. Make this more verifiable by including a photo* of said customer or even a video testimonial where possible. This supercharges your copy!
*Top tip: Do not use stock photos!
Another top tip: If you’re not using a reviews platform, you could be already turning off potential customers. Choose TrustPilot or Feefo to alleviate your visitor’s anxieties and show them why they should trust you.
Writing for SEO is a unique skill set that requires blended knowledge of both copywriting and SEO. This is not easy to execute. But when it’s done right and with the right strategy, it can really skyrocket your page’s ranking in Google.
First, do your keyword research. You’ll need to decide which primary keyword you’re going to target, which secondary keyword variants to create your on-page structure and any tertiary keywords to enrich your copy with. But weave them in naturally – don’t force it.
On-page SEO copy
The most important thing to remember for your on-page content creation is your users. Google say “focus on the user and all else will follow”.
To check if your copy meets this criteria, put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. Ask yourself:
- Is this piece of content genuinely helpful?
- Does it meet the search intent of my search query?
- Would I want to bookmark this page?
- Would I want to share this content with friends and family on social media?
Keep your reader hooked
A user has landed on your page. Great! But how to make sure they don’t bounce?
Make sure your content is skimmable, readable and digestible.
Our top tips for producing good copywriting:
- Second-person – and lots of it!
- Write as simply as possible. Don’t use complicated words. If a word doesn’t need to be said, cut it*
- Use lots of subheadings (generally we recommend not writing more than 300 words without a subheading. Use h2 tags to target secondary keywords and h3s for sub-topics within the h2).
- Add calls to action and internal links
- Use high-quality images to break up the copy
- Vary font size and colour where possible
*To check if a word is unnecessary, remove it from the sentence. If the meaning of the sentence is exactly the same, you can cut it.
Test & measure forever
If you’re not testing and measuring, how do you know if your new copywriting skills are working? Play around with new CTAs, break up copy into digestible chunks and insert social proof into pages. Use an A/B testing tool to run 2 live versions of a page – one with the new copy changes and one without. Analyse the results – then iterate to make it even better.
You could measure:
- Engaged sessions
- Button clicks
- Engagement rate
- Average amount of pages per session
Seek feedback & collaborate
I’m a big advocate for collaborating to create the best copy. This also applies to developing your copywriting skills. Join a copywriting forum, send your work to experts in the field and see if they’ll offer some constructive feedback (this is how I originally learnt – my writing got ripped to shreds! But it was the best move in my copywriting career).
Types of content
What kinds of content can you apply these ideas to? Well – pretty much anything.
- Product or service pages
- Category pages
- Social media posts
Copywriting techniques can even help with drafting emails, such as sending over a performance report to stakeholders or assigning a task to someone on your team. The simpler, more digestible the email is – the more likely you’ll be to get a positive, engaged response.
- Lots of research
- Know your audience
- Harness the power of search
- Organise your notes
- Add an original opinion
- Keep updated with industry trends
- A dash of marketing psychology
- Test & measure
- Seek feedback & collaborate
I appreciate this is a lot to take in at once, so feel free to bookmark this guide and refer to it later! All these tips make the difference between generic copy and user-focused copy. For copywriting success, you’ll need to write content that keeps your visitors engaged, informed and/or entertained.
With your newfound knowledge, are you feeling ready to take your copywriting skills to the next level? Pencil time in just 10 minutes a day to practise. Try writing in different styles, tones of voice and for different platforms/types of pages. The more frequently you write, the better you’ll get.
If you’re struggling with writing the copy for your brand or need help with the wider content marketing strategy, let us take the weight off. Take a look at our copywriting and content services (which you’ll get as part of our managed SEO services).
Published by Becky Cockcroft, Content Manager/Copywriter with over 4 years of digital marketing experience.