If it’s not marketing something, it’s not copy because any word or phrase you put in front of an audience has a price. Whether it’s your audience’s dollars, clicks, trust, time, attention, or effort, you’re selling it.
Essentially, this means that all of your copy – product descriptions, mission statements, homepage, landing pages, social posts, blogs – must be selling. But how do you get to that point?
In this post, I’m going to sell you on the 5C Formula – clear, concise, credible, compelling, and call-to-action(s). And how they can be used to structure your content to be more effective.
The 5C Formula
These are not just five tips, I’m going to walk you through our tips to write copy that sells, and I’ll cover:
- Formatting and language tips to help you make clear points.
- Easy grammar fixes that create concisely but value-packed messaging.
- Must-haves for true credibility and destructive mistakes.
- Creative exercises and ideas to compel your readers.
Some of these tips might seem contrary, but it depends on the content you’re working on, where it lives on the internet and your site’s intent.
Creating Clear Copy
Writing clearly can be difficult when you’re used to technical language and extended explanations. So, these tips will help you to start writing without ambiguity getting in the way:
1. Make It Easy To Read
Your user should never have to stop reading to make sense of what you’ve said. Even a nanosecond break in flow will lose their attention and they’ll miss the important points. Readable doesn’t always mean skipping fancy words, but you should always use what your audience is familiar with.
2. Use Keywords
But not just for SEO and SERPs by researching what your audience is using. When you use their terms, you can convey the value of your offerings to resonate with them. Simply put: use their jargon, not yours, and convey topics that they care about.
3. Write about Features and Benefits
Copy that sells should always answer two questions: What’s in it for me and How do I know I’ll get it? The key to answering these is to write with features and benefits in mind. For example, when you’re writing a tips list, you’re talking about the features. But when you’re writing about benefits, you’re showing how they’ll help someone get it right.
4. Directly Address Objections
Feature-benefit copy might sell your reader on actions and go through your funnel. But as they get closer to spending money, they’re going to think harder about it. Your questions change from “what’s in it” to “what if”, which are not barriers to selling, just reasons to address them head-on.
5. Strategically Place those Bullets and Lists
According to the serial position effect, people will always remember the first and last items in a series the most. So, when writing bullet points, place the MVPs accordingly. So, put the feature first, and the benefit for your user at the end to make the biggest impact.
How To Write Concise Copy
In other words, use less to say more and get the ball rolling. Concise copy has the obvious benefit for character-limited content (say meta-tags), but can be used in your page or blog.
1. Remove Redundant And Empty Adverbs
These add unnecessary words to your copy and tend to sound desperate to the casual reader. For example: carefully curated – just curated; critically important – critical; and extremely helpful – helpful. By saying less, you’re more authoritative and keeping the flow going.
2. Replace Adjectives With Strong Nouns
Another tip I have is to trade adjective-noun pairs with a single powerful noun. I.e., difficult situation – dilemma; specific group – niche; and close connection – rapport.
3. Remove “Nonwords”
Copy can be technical, conversational, friendly, or dry depending on its intent. Here’s a quick example for you:
Thing – here are five things you can do to improve rankings (good). Stressing about copy deadlines is a thing we can relate to (no) – rather: we can all relate to stressing over deadlines.
4. Kick Tautology
Fluff has a technical term – tautology, which is saying the same thing more than once with different words. Some experts call it “black-hat” redundancy because it fills space with no use.
5. Be Blunt or Die
Take concision to its extreme with one or two-word sentences. Let’s make a meta-description for this site: Search Engine Optimization for Beginners. Expert tips for effective copy. Free guide to SEO.
Writing Credible Copy
With clear and concise content, your readers can get to the point, but does it sell? Follow our tips to ensure you’re selling and not just wasting their time.
- Content that sells is assertive but can be defended with more detailed copy later on. Here’s where you’d benefit from justifying how you help people and why.
- Stay away from empty testimonials/reviews that are too short. Instead of getting the minimum, ask for a quote from your users.
- Never share opinions, only statements about what you’re offering. Instead of “quick delivery,” use “same-day delivery” and “expedited shipping”.
- Use verbs to explain how your content will benefit someone, and keep the adjectives for your next trivia quiz.
- Stop using empty adjectives and break up your content until it’s describing benefits in one line.
- Adjectives aren’t always negative, but you need to use them in a specific and factual way. Unique can work, but why not use proprietary instead? You’re making it exclusive and fact-based
- Use data and graphics to illustrate your point because nothing beats data when you’re trying to be credible.
Creating Compelling Copy
Compelling copy is magnetic (adjectives are our friends here when used correctly).
- Figure out the hopes, assumptions, doubts, or fears of your users. Then you can capture the real thoughts your audience has and create a personal connection.
- The hallmark of selling is making it urgent, so use words like “now,” “hurry,” or “today” in your CTA. Essentially, you’re communicating the cost of indecision by pulling attention to how urgent their interaction is.
- Factual copy sells, even if not all content is factual. Emotions hold power, and you can break down your intent to desires or pain points. Translate those into emotions they do or don’t want to feel, then elicit a reaction.
- People want to feel confident, excited, and proud of what they’re getting. But they don’t want to feel worried, overwhelmed, or defeated. Speak their language, and they’ll feel more confident that you’ll solve it.
- Try some power words like captivating verbs to get someone’s attention. When you’re selling, you want to eliminate, empower, or inspire to get action.
- Make it personal and keep the theme on your users to ensure that you’re keeping them in the know.
- Introduce the problem your readers have and use emotion to agitate the problem. Then offer solutions through storytelling and how they can get rid of the problem.
- Try some catchy statements in headers and social posts. Use the contrast approach through the “not this, but that” method. Offer solutions after presenting the problem, rhyme, use alliteration, as long as it draws someone in.
- Finally, treat assumptions carefully because it will hurt you to patronize or belittle your users. Phrases like “obvious” or “we all know” can cause subtle destruction by making your audience feel inadequate.
The 5C Formula at Work
The fifth C is Call-To-Action, and all copywriting is about a CTA. Make people trust what you have to say, stop scrolling, click that button, read the review, etc.
You don’t need to be closing, but you should always be selling and giving your audience what it needs. And now you’ve got everything you need to insert the 5C Formula into your content.
One last thing: the 5C Formula intends to improve the structure of your content and present the copy in the right order. If you intend to sell your copy to someone who needs a pressing query answered, it needs to be near the top of your page.