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How and Why Copy for Web & Social Differs from Print Copywriting

How and Why Copy for Web & Social Differs from Print Copywriting

“Copy” is short for “copywriting.” It refers to any words you use every day to communicate and persuade your audience. It is used to describe the words used in print and online assets.

Your copy is responsible for…

  1. Giving your brand a voice and set you apart
  2. Making people smile or laugh
  3. Helping people learn, gain knowledge
  4. Make people feel understood
  5. Lets people know they’re in the right place
  6. Lets people know they found precisely what they were looking for
  7. Makes people excited to follow you and buy from you
  8. Assists people in decision making

Copywriting’s sole purpose (both online & offline) is to connect and convert. Knowing how to write copy across all platforms (website, social media, emails, media Ads) that connects and cuts through the noise means you have the power to sell anything.

Think about this with every email subject line you make, out of the zillion and one emails your audience receives in their inbox, what would make your email subject line connect and make them open the email?

Hot Tip: Sign up to as many website mailing lists as you can & start to create a benchmark of good and poor subject lines and the email copy within. This is a good way to start noticing and learn whats good and whats average.


Personality & Tone of Voice


Writing copy that has a particular Tone of Voice and is essential to ensure consistency across all content channels – for example, the tone and personality you write on Instagram should be consistent user experience (UX) to your website. That way when someone clicks through from a post, they’re not getting a completely different vibe from your brand.

To drive engagement you also really need to have content with personality, your copy needs to sound like a person…think connection and engagement with your audience.

Your goal with having a tone of voice is to be like a friend or an authoritative (expert) that your audience not only enjoys reading and engaging with that they also refer to their friends and family too.


Tips for Writing for the Web


Perhaps the most important element of copywriting (for online) understands how users read on websites

Website users read differently on the web than print – unlike when they’re reading a book from cover to cover.

Online reading is never a word for word. Online users skim content, trying to get a quick impression of what the page or content is about, they scan for the bits they’re interested in and ignore the rest.

Hot Tip: Typically online users read in an F pattern and from left to right, ensure your content follows how users are not only wanting to read your content but how they conditionally read online content.

Write content that is easy to skim & scan

  1. Be direct. Start with your conclusion – this is called the Inverted Pyramid style
  2. Limit each paragraph to one key concept
  3. Use meaningful headings – not marketing jargon
  4. Use bullet points and numbered lists
  5. Include summaries or overviews
  6. Do not use ‘click here’ for hyperlinks – hyperlink the descriptive word
  7. Break up content into short paragraphs

Keep your wording short & simple

  1. Be brief and concise. Reduce your word count to a minimum and write clearly and simply
  2. Use short, simple words that anyone can understand, cut out words you don’t need, and remember, clarity always beats cleverness
  3. Provide easy ways for non-experts to find out what your acronyms and difficult expressions mean
  4. Give your users links to simple background information, so that the most casual visitor can work out what you are talking about

Hot Tip: Avoid using big words when short ones will do. Big words are great to know, but often mess up the flow of your copy.

  • Instead of “utilise,” try “use.”

  • Instead of “indicative of,” try “a sign of.”

  • Instead of “attain,” try “get”?

Know your audience. Who are you are writing for? What are their needs?

What will they come to your website to find or achieve? What is their level of expertise?. Review your analytics and your personas, unpack user pain points and then build a profile of your various audience groups.

Focus your content on your user’s needs and tasks, not yourself, Sales teams or your Marketing Managers opinions (user-centric content writing).

Engage your user

Refer to your persona’s and imagine who your user will be, keep that imagined person in mind as you write for him or her. Talk directly to your user. Provide interaction. Provide them with headlines that will resonate to their needs and passions, answer questions you know (from research) they typically have and always write copy to be a value-add.

Build trust. Be factual and accurate

Where appropriate, prove the verity of your information with links to trusted websites or by quoting trusted authorities – note the links I have included in this module to Wikipedia, as an example. Include only content which conforms to the purpose of your website. If you’re writing content that is of personal opinion, state that with transparency. This approach develops not only accuracy in what you’re putting out there, but it also builds trust with your audience.

Test then refine your content

First, test it yourself – review each web page/email/social post while imagining how it reads to a new user. Then test it on users to learn what works and what causes difficulties or enjoyment. Test your content on different audience groups with varying levels of knowledge – you can even do this in your immediate team or with friends and family. Feedback is the best way to check your approach and writing style and can also give off some great ideas you may not have even thought about when writing the copy initially.

Help people (and Google) find your content

Organise your content so that your website is easy to navigate. Use hyperlinks to other pages on your website and other helpful sites.

Hot Tip: When using hyperlinks to other websites, always select to open them in a new tab so your website visitors don’t have to leave your website.

Do keyword research in your monthly analytics report to determine what keywords people are likely to use to find your content.

Always include your keywords into your content phrases, paying particular attention to your page title, headings and your leading paragraph.

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