Improve your copy

Step 2: Improve Your Copy

After you’ve created your first draft of copy, use the checklist below to gather ideas to make your copy better.

1. Inject Emotion

People’s emotions are primary motivating factors for buying. People buy on emotion and justify purchases with logic. Emotional drivers include anger, exclusivity, greed, guilt, salvation, and fear of loss. Using conversational language adds to emotional appeal. Replace rational words with emotional words: e.g. Use “speed up” instead of “accelerate” or “tough/hard” instead of “difficult.”

2. Relate to Your Customers on a Personal Level

Incorporate stories and language that your customers can identify with. Use your words to satisfy their needs and answer their questions. Don’t talk about what is best about your company; they don’t care. Tell them how you will solve their problem. Paint a picture of their life without this problem.

Authenticity builds trust and trust sells. One copywriter who uses this tactic extremely well is Stephen Pierce. You can see an example of his style of copy here.

3. Use Real Images of People

Remember the rule of copy that says that copy must look like an article and not an ad?

This applies to images within the copy too. DO NOT use stock photography as a substitute for real, natural pictures of your clients, products, and services.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

Refrain from cliche words and expressions like “think outside the box” and “advanced system design.” Don’t stuff your copy with keywords, this doesn’t come across very natural.

Breathe some personality into your words by being natural and chatty. We cover the subject of “conveying personality and trust with your words” in detail in another tactic about creating trust.

Here’s a cheat-sheet of Do’s and Dont’s.


  1. Use a personal tone, be conversational and friendly.
  2. Use contractions, like doesn’t and can’t, to sound more personal.
  3. Strategically place testimonials on your site to add credibility, flow and reassurance.
  4. Use the word “You” rather than “I” or “We.” Keep your focus on the customer.


  1. Use words and expressions that could be misunderstood by international customers.
  2. Use industry jargon and corporate lingo.
  3. Try to impress your readers by using fancy words.
  4. Be arrogant; instead of boasting about your own greatness, use customer testimonials
  5. Use complicated wording; anyone with a decent level of English should be able to understand you.

Avoid sexist terms wherever possible. This will offend a large portion of customers and turn them away. For example, use “firefighter” instead of “fireman” or “business professional” instead of “businessman.”

5. How Long Should Your Copy Be?

The length of your copy should depend on your most wanted response. For example, if you are selling something, having detailed copy is probably better. Your copy can extend to several pages in length. Don’t worry, readers are used to scrolling and long copy in most cases out-sells short copy.

However, when you are you are giving away free offers (such as a free course, white papers, or newsletter subscriptions) then short copy might do far better. For free offers you might not need any justification.

But remember to keep it focused. Long copy is fine but eliminate fluffy words. Keep cutting out excess words, sentences, and introductions. You can only get focused copy after many iterations, so write your first draft and then start cutting it down.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to have long copy, keep it focused and tight! According to Jakob Nielsen, one of the web’s top usability experts, “People rarely read web pages word for word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences…79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.”

As a result, web pages have to employ scannable text, using

  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
  • meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  • bulleted lists
  • one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

Nielsen offers an interesting chart on his site that will show you how you can reword simple sentences to improve readability by as much as 124%. See that chart here.

Step 3: Boost Your Conversion Rate

Once you’re drafted your copy and put it online, the next step is to boost your conversion rate by making your copy easier to read.

We’ll discuss this in detail in the tactic on readability. In later tactics you’ll learn more advanced techniques for boosting the power of your copy. These include:

  1. Developing headlines and using tools to test them
  2. Designing pages based on eye-tracking studies
  3. Strategically using testimonials
  4. Designing advanced signup forms that convert
  5. Applying advanced triggers within your copy to motivate readers to take action
  6. Using principles to create more trust within your copy
  7. Applying multivariable testing methodologies to rapidly test and refine just about any element of your copy


Good copy is a crucial determinant of your website’s performance and ultimate success. That’s why it is so important to spend enough time drafting great sales copy and testing and improving it along the way.

Copywriting should guide your customer to carry out the most wanted response, whether it’s a purchase or a subscription. The copy needs to gradually lead customers through the four steps of attention, interest, desire and action.

In this tactic we’ve given you A LOT of guidelines to follow when drafting your initial copy. In upcoming tactics we’ll spend more time on different aspects of your copy and improving your site one step at a time until you’re able to enjoy that million dollar business.

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  1. Lily says

    …and check the readability of the copy by using the statistics in Word, or using an online readability test.

    Use plenty of white space and bullet points wherever possible.

  2. Lily says

    …and check the readability of the copy by using the statistics in Word, or using an online readability test

    Use plenty of white space and bullet points wherever possible.

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