10 top tips for effective copywriting

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Part 1: The top 5

I’ve been lucky enough to work in an industry that I love for nearly 20 years. While writing persuasive, engaging commercial copy fortunately seems to come quite naturally to me, it is a skill and a learned craft – one that I’ve carefully honed over time.

Over the years I’ve worked out what it is that works in commercial copywriting, and what doesn’t. In a two-part post, I’d like to share my top 10 list of copywriting essentials. Here is the top five to begin:


  1. Clarity

This is probably the most important point. By being 100% certain on your message, you can be crystal clear and get to the point quickly. Gracefully, yes, but fast.

Your reader will most likely be incredibly busy (and probably at work), so you’ll need to grab them in the first line. If they’re having to read three paragraphs before they get to the point, they’ll switch off.


  1. Understand your audience

Chances are your readers are not reading your material for pleasure. They want to solve a problem. Understanding what your reader is about is key to effective marketing.

So before you even start to think about writing, have an imaginary conversation with your intended reader. By keeping in mind there’s a real person reading your work, this should help you stay relevant. Your audience is only going to keep reading something that interests them.


  1. Set the tone

In my experience, most customers still use emotional drivers in their decision-making. So once you’ve worked out your audience, think about how you can connect with them emotionally.

Think of the tone in how you speak with them. Are they official and professional? Warm? Fun? Can you joke with them or do you need to stay formal? And once you’ve nailed your tone keep it consistent.


  1. Be truthful

You love your brand and you want your readers to go away loving it too. Which means they have to trust you. Be compelling, yes, but most of all be authentic. Be engaging and still truthful. Be passionate, while avoiding ‘fluff’. Include proof: testimonials, case-studies, statistics. These will instil in your audience a sense of believability.


  1. Simplicity = readability

Your audience will likely be skim reading the words, taking only a couple of points on board before they lose interest. Successful commercial copywriters know this, which is why we like to keep things simple.

Avoid jargon and overly complicated language if you can. More simple words are more readable, more memorable and therefore more effective.

But it’s not just the words that need to remain simple. To keep your reader interested, the whole look and feel of your text needs to be inviting too. Use a minimal number of words in a short sentence and keep your paragraphs tight and to the point. Making your copy easy to read pretty much dictates how long your readers stay reading.


Look out for five more tips on copywriting, coming soon in the next post.