Creating overly pushy copy is one of the fastest ways to lose your audience. Your readers will reject the writing and approach the content you create in the future with suspicion. Even if the main body of your copy is concise and well written, your target demographic may never read it if they’re put off by the beginning. To keep your content – and your company’s reputation – out of the trash and follow these guidelines when creating content.
We’re subjected to more than 5,000 ads a day. Click here, buy this, and pay attention to that. Whether your goal is to increase sales, coverage or traffic, a poor headline will directly affect your bottom line. Avoid vague words that are overused in pitches already. Robin Wauters covered 10 words he thinks should be banned from press releases. Personally, I would like to add the words Unique and Exciting to that list. Keep your headline specific and to the point to let your readers know exactly what they’re getting into.
Weak: First there was Instagram, now this? Check out the Twitter of video!
Audiences are growing warier of salesy headlines that seem to promise to world if they just click the link. By writing a concise and informative headline, you’re well on your way to raising your conversion rates and lowering your creep factor.
The amount of salesmanship you can get away with varies by content medium. Let’s look at three different forms of content and how to sell to your audience without forcing your product on them.
The purpose of the press release is to inform, not sell. Keep sales writing to a minimum and let the media outlets and bloggers talk about how fantastic your product is.
Press Release: The fifth annual Dog-A-Palooza kicks off this Saturday, February 16 at City Park. Starting at 10 a.m. and running through 7 p.m. dogs and their owners can buy race agility courses, browse arts and crafts and enjoy treats from local vendors. All proceeds benefit the Downtown Humane Society.
Blog Coverage: I can’t wait to check out Dog-A-Palooza this Saturday at City Park! Fido and I have gone all five years – and each year he gets better at the agility course. Well be there right at 10 when it starts and Fido will already be drooling over all the dog treats to try. Plus, the proceeds help to Humane Society, to help other puppies find families like Fido found ours.
This is the hardest content to write without sounding like a “miracle cure” pop-up ad. Susan Weiner recommends taking the focus off of your product or company and put it on the consumer. You are here to meet their needs and know that your product can help them. When in doubt, take the time to have your coworkers reread your copy. They’ll be the first to tell you that it sounds like an infomercial.
Blog posts have considerably more flexibility than product copy and press releases. Rather than a mass blast to media or the consumer, blog posts have the opportunity to create connections from one person to another. For any type of blog post, reading and listening are the most important parts of the writing process.
If you’re just starting to write for a blog as a guest author or freelancer, take some time to read other posts on the blog. The more time you spend on the blog, the more you will get a feel for that blog’s brand, use of humor and level of salesmanship. That way when your fingers hit the keyboard to write your post, you can match their writing style and not sound like a sales pitch.
For those brave souls who are creating a blog and still testing the waters, follow your analytics to see what works. Test your readers with different levels of sales copy and see how they respond.
Call to Action
You’ve written a killer headline that drove readers to read on and your copy has captivated your audiences all the way through. Don’t ruin your copy with a terrible call to action.
Follow the same advice I set forth when writing headlines: keep it specific and to the point. You used your headline to tell audiences what the content will be about and now you can use the call to action to tell them exactly what you want them to do. Remember, the call to action doesn’t need to be all that pushy. Simply tell them what you want them to do and how to do it.
It’s time to take my own advice and end with a clear and specific call to action: Comment and tell me how you do it better.