13 tips for better copywriting

Nick Harland
October 2021
copywriting tips

Cross your fingers and hope that these 13 copywriting tips bring you plenty of luck. In hindsight, 13 was a bad choice.

We've spent quite a few years putting pen to paper, and by now we reckon we have a decent idea of what is good and what is bad in the world of copywriting. However, there's no shadowy organisation that governs Good Copywriting. In reality, every person has their own approach and their own ideas of what good copywriting is. It's all about finding the approach that works for you and the audience you're writing for.

After all, writing isn't just a straight line from total amateur to leading professional. People at every stage of their writing journey should always be looking to improve. So although these copywriting tips may not turn you into a master copywriter overnight, maybe they can give you some food for thought and help you to improve.

One final thing - we’ve organised these tips depending on the format. We think it's important to do that, because copywriting tips don't always apply to a blog in the same way they would to a landing page, for example. So you'll find the copywriting tips under three different subheadings - websites, blogs and emails.

Web copywriting tips

  1. Pass the two-sentence test.

The very first thing you communicate on your website should be what your product/service does, and who it’s for. You should be able to do that in two sentences or less. If you haven’t done that, go back and try again. 

  1. Remember that the homepage is the tip of the iceberg.

Think of your website like an iceberg, with its homepage at the tip. Cut down the copy as much as you can on the homepage - leave the gritty details for the other sections of the website. 

  1. Write for them, not for you.

Sorry to spoil it, but nobody cares if you’re the biggest supplier of eco-friendly washing machines in the South West. Instead, tell your reader what you can do for them: low(er) prices, free delivery, personalised support - that kind of thing.

  1. Be consistent in your tone of voice.

It’s very ‘in’ right now to say that your brand tone of voice should be human, relatable and personable. But in some cases that just ends up being inappropriate and, well, cringeworthy. Whatever image you want to project through your tone of voice, just make sure you stick to it. Don’t be all professional in one page and down with the kids in the next. It's confusing for the reader.

  1. Avoid jargon.

Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in your own industry that you lose grip on reality. Don’t assume that ‘outsiders’ will understand your industry jargon. Your language should be as open and inclusive as possible, and the first step towards that is cutting down on industry-speak. Before you publish your website, get someone from outside of your industry to read it to make sure they understand everything. Talking confidently about KPIs and SMMs and RPGs might impress some people, but it will put off way more.

  1. Write it like a story.

We’re not asking you to be the next Hemingway, but you should still make sure that the copy on each page on your website follows a logical, story-like flow. Each line should flow into the next one. It keeps people reading and makes your website more coherent and easy to process.

Blog writing tips

  1. Arrange your blog content in a logical order.

You have to accept that not every visitor to your blog is going to read every word. Many - if not most - will scan through it to find the information they're searching for. So make it easy for them to find. Use subheadings, small paragraphs and lists where possible, but don't sacrifice quality or readability. It should still read as a coherent piece for those that do want to read the whole thing.

  1. Give the reader what they want.

If the name of your blog is ‘how to cook a turkey’, then you should explain how to cook a turkey. I know that sounds obvious, but it's amazing how many writers include a rambling 500 word introduction because they think it’s better for SEO. It wastes your reader's time, makes them click off your site and will end up hurting your website in the long run.

  1. Be concise, but not too brief.

It’s also very ‘in’ right now to write as concisely as possible on the web. And in some cases - like your homepage - that’s perfectly reasonable. But don’t turn an in-depth blog into a mess of bullet points and five-word sentences. Explain your topic in detail when necessary, even if that means - gulp - writing long sentences *shudder*. Don't shy away from the details.

  1. Be bold.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone on the internet is an impatient maniac who will spontaneously combust if they don’t find the information they’re looking for in 5 seconds. People are prepared to read and engage with your content - but it is true that you need to get their attention first. That means the first line of your blog must grab their attention and persuade them to read on. Direct a question at the reader. Address them directly. Aim for something unconventional, controversial, out of the ordinary. There are millions of blogs out there, so boring and generic just won't cut it. Be bold.

Email copywriting tips

  1. Don’t waste people’s time.

With emails, you have an even smaller window of time than other channels to grab your reader's attention. So don’t waste their time. Emails should rarely exceed 200 words. Get straight to the point, give them what they’re looking for and get out of there.

  1. Be specific in your subject.

This isn’t the time for vague, misleading headlines. Tell people exactly what they’re going to get in the email, or they won’t open it. So instead of 'these tips will help you improve your wellbeing', use: '3 tips to improve your wellbeing in 5 minutes.'

  1. Be specific with your call-to-actions.

Include a benefit. Instead of ‘sign up’, use: ‘get your 7-day trial.’ Instead of ‘read our new blog’, use: ‘read 10 copywriting tips.’ Instead of ‘open the app’, refer to a specific section of the app: 'leave a review', 'find your new favourite film', 'see what your friends are watching.'

Nick Harland