10 Tips for Writing Short Copy

Many popular marketing strategies only accommodate short copy, which means you’re allowed a limited number of characters or words in order to quickly grab the attention of your audience.

Whether using Twitter, Google AdWords, preparing a print advertisement or brainstorming a pithy subject or headline, short copy can be incredibly effective. To give your promotions the greatest chance for conversions, use the following 10 tips for writing short copy.

short copy

Get in the Head of Your Audience

Marketers should always know their target audience. Before you even start writing short copy, know your target demographic, think about the age group, how they speak, what they want. Only in truly knowing your target can you create short copy that will entice readers to click on your ad. If you have difficulty, consider who is most likely to purchase your product and write as if you’re speaking directly to them – remember it’s easier to speak to one person rather than trying to convince everyone, so narrow your audience down as much as possible.

Know Your Goal/Call to Action

Once you define your audience, determine the goal of your short copy. The goal should revolve around one clear point – and the point of short copy is not to close the sale. The point is to engage a reader enough that they want more information; pique their interest enough so they click on your link or open your email. Is the goal or call to action for a reader to visit a landing page? Sign up for a newsletter? Once you know the goal, think about what it would take for you to take the action you’re asking of your audience. If it’s a call to action, make sure it’s active and uses strong verbs to encourage interaction.

Determine the Platform

If you’re writing for social media, keep in mind that each social network has its own individual personality and customers are in different frames of mind when browsing each one. Consider what your customers are doing when on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and write short copy in the appropriate tone (i.e.: the casual nature of Facebook vs. the professional nature of LinkedIn vs. the rapid fire nature of Twitter). Though there are tools that can share a single post to multiple networks, it can be more effective to modify a single post to suit each platform as needed.

Why Should I?

Instead of mentioning the features of a service or product, focus on how it will benefit the reader. Will your product or service give them more free time? Make them healthier? Happier? Your short copy should be snappy, have personality and offer some sort of promise or guarantee to get readers to want more information. In short copy, you don’t have the space to cover all the benefits of your product, so make a list of all of them and then select the most compelling one (to your audience) on which to focus – and stick with it.

Be a Tease

It’s impossible to tell the entire story in short copy, so end on a cliffhanger that the reader has no choice but to follow the link to get the rest of the story. One of the most effective techniques is to avoid nouns and simply use 3 words: it, these and this. Instead of naming a specific product, write along the lines of: “This is the most effective way to lose weight. It’s been used by celebrities …” Being vague creates mystery and the reader is likely thinking: What is? For the answer, they’ll have to engage further.

Tighten Up Copy

Once your short copy is drafted, take a break and let it be. If you step away for a bit, your head will clear and when you return to it, edits will come more easily. To tighten up your copy, make sure it’s easy to read by removing wordiness that takes up space and isn’t essential. In general, superfluous words like “that,” “really” and “very” can be eliminated without altering the message of your short copy.

Choose an Interesting Photo or Graphic

Nearly everyone is attracted to a graphic element before they read copy. If a photograph catches the eye, chances are a customer will read the copy that goes along with it. Capture someone’s attention with an interesting photo, you’ve got them started – you just need to reel them in with great short copy.

Use mentions and hashtags

Tag (mention) other users to increase chances for engagement and shares in your short copy. When a user is mentioned, they are notified, which may cause interaction or their sharing your post with their network. In a similar vein, use a hashtag to become part of an online conversation on a certain subject. For example, when sharing a post titled “What is iBeacon and How Does it Work?” use hashtag #iBeacon. In doing this, your post is added to any overall conversation about the technology and when iBeacon is searched for, it will be included.

Spell Check and Double-Check

No brand or company wants to be associated with a poorly-written post — this goes for grammar as well. Remember that online posts can last a lifetime and beyond. Don’t give your short copy the chance to go viral for the wrong reason.

Read it Aloud

A good rule of thumb before posting anything is to read it out loud. This allows you to hear the words and feel the cadence of the sentence(s). Do the words roll smoothly and intelligently? If so, post away. If not, re-work your short copy and try again.

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