I don't know about you, but sometimes I get annoyed by how long it takes someone to make their point. Perhaps the person is worried about sounding abrupt or not being understood, or maybe the person is just long-winded. Either way, it can be off-putting, and that's in everyday conversation. Imagine what it's like when a marketing copywriter produces copy that drones on and on.
Actually, you don't have to imagine, because researchers have already examined it. In one 2011 study, marketing emails with shorter copy enjoyed a 16% higher click-through rate than emails with longer copy. The reasons don't matter; the point is, online consumers like it short and sweet, so if you're a marketing copywriter, you've got to learn to trim the fat in your writing.
Don't worry, I'm not saying you have to be as succinct as Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein (look it up, kids). I'm just saying you can follow these three tips and get your marketing copy in fighting shape.
1. Tighten (or eliminate) introductory clauses.
As an editor, I'm starting to think I should be paid extra for every time I have to alter sentences that begin with, "There are a number of ways that you can..." Of course there are - why else would you be writing about it in the first place?
A good marketing copywriter understands that selling a product doesn't have to include an exhausting walk-through of the issue. If you've written a killer title or headline, you don't need to explain that "there are" or "this is" anything. So skip the introduction and just get into it.
"There are many different types of opportunities available to content writers." I've read this sentence (or others like it) in more blogs than I can count. So have other readers, and if they're like me they're saying "Duh" or "Yeah, so?" By changing the sentence to,"Take advantage of these opportunities to write content," you give your readers something to look forward to, without the wordiness.
2. Take out the descriptive words.
If anyone's starting a petition to eliminate words like "very," "really" and "much" from the English language, I'll be the first to sign. How bad is the problem? I've started red-lining those words in spoken conversations!
An inexperienced marketing copywriter might use these words to emphasize a point, but to his or her audience it says more about the writer than the content, none of it good:
- "I don't have a large enough vocabulary to find the right word, so this is the only way I can get my point across."
- "I have to meet a minimum word count, but I don't know enough about the topic to add more substantial information."
- "I don't understand the concept of copywriting, so to me this extraneous, non-descriptive phrase will do just as well as some fancy word."
It won't matter how fantastic the product is; if your copy isn't selling it, no one will buy it. If your draft includes any of the following empty words, go back to the drawing board (or, more appropriately, a thesaurus) and find a more effective word. Why promote "very good" service when people are more likely to respond to "first-rate"?
3. Use active words and phrases.
You're writing a piece about a successful entrepreneur, and you want to describe a typical day at work. If you write that the entrepreneur is responsible for managing a small staff or does several things every day, you may get replaced by a marketing copywriter with a more dynamic writing style.
Instead, use active words and phrases. A manager isn't responsible for anything; he or she leads people, analyzes things, or creates strategies. No one should go running for an hour a day; they should run for an hour a day. It might seem like a difference without distinction, but the subject of your copy sounds more alive when it does something than when it's doing something.
Brevity is the soul of wit; it's also the key to more effective copywriting. If you think your writing could stand to lose a few words, put these tips into practice and watch the fluff melt away.