A Complete Guide To Marketing Copy

Updated June 24, 2022

Businesses use marketing copy to communicate to clients and potential clients. The right words in the right place can attract customers and convince them to take action. Marketing copy can introduce products, tell a story, explain features and encourage people to buy your products. In this article, we discuss what marketing copy is, what makes successful marketing copy, the differences between copywriting and content marketing and how to write effective marketing copy.

What is marketing copy?

Marketing copy is content written to promote or sell a product or service or to persuade readers to take a certain action. Marketing copy is a useful tool that educates customers, provides resources and details contact information to help businesses increase awareness of their products and services.

Different types of marketing copy include:

  • Long-form: Long-form copy refers to articles or posts that contain more copy than average, generally 1,000 words or more.

  • Short-form: Short-form copy includes less copy, usually between 500 and 800 words.

  • Web content: Web copy appears on company websites and may include staff biographies, company history and service descriptions. Web content may also include blogs and online magazine articles.

  • Social media: Social media copy includes posts on social networks designed to sell or promote a product or service. These posts often include direct links to purchase products.

  • Sales: Sales copy is any descriptive or promotional content and may appear in advertisements, advertorials or product catalogs.

  • Technical: Technical copy is copy focused on product or service features and customer support through user guides, white papers and proposals.

  • Public relations: Public relations copy refers to copy designed for public-facing mediums, such as press releases and company statements.

What makes good marketing copy?

Many elements make for good, effective marketing copy, including:

  • A clear call-to-action: Good marketing copy convinces readers to take the next step of engagement and answer the call to action right away.

  • Easy to read sentences and tone: Copy should be easy to read, intriguing and persuasive.

  • Solutions to reader problems: Successful marketing copy speaks to the intended audience, addressing the specific concerns, needs or interests and identifies a problem and offers a solution.

  • Emotional reactions: To maintain readers' attention, marketing copy can be emotional, humorous or shocking. Surprising readers or initiating strong feelings can help make your product and company memorable.

  • Brand and company personality: Effective marketing copy also speaks directly to distinct elements of a company, product or service. Copy is a representation of a company, and the components that make a brand unique should feature prominently in marketing copy.

Marketing copy is successful when it meets productivity and ROI goals. This can be measured by the following metrics:

  • Increased website traffic

  • Increased number of clicks

  • Increased email or telephone queries

  • Increased number of newsletter subscribers

  • Increased time spent on a website

  • Increased social media engagement, including likes, comments, shares and follows

  • Improved conversion rate, or the number of website visitors or social media followers who become paying customers

What are the differences between copywriting and content marketing?

Copywriting and content marketing differ in purpose and scope. Copywriting functions to convince the reader to take a specific action, such as calling a business or registering for a conference. Content marketing works to increase customers and website traffic or enhance brand awareness.

Copywriting and content marketing require different strategies to be successful. Effective copywriting is concise and direct with clear calls to action. For example, a copywriting call to action may say "Learn more on our website." Content marketing, in contrast, is often more descriptive and explanatory. It focuses on educating and engaging readers rather than selling something to readers. In the previous copywriting example, the "learn more on our website" call to action may link to a landing page that contains content marketing copy about products, services or team members.

Copywriting appears frequently in the following mediums:

  • Print and television advertising

  • Direct mail campaigns

  • Sales emails

  • Banner ads on websites

Content marketing appears in the following spaces:

  • Blogs

  • Articles

  • Podcasts

  • Landing pages

  • Educational emails

  • Advertorials

Related: Q&A: What Is a Copywriter?

How to write effective marketing copy

Here are 21 tips for writing effective, engaging marketing copy.

1. Define your goals

Before writing any piece of copy, decide what your specific goals are, such as an increase in website traffic, new social media followers or more visitors in-store. Knowing your goals ahead of time allows you to brainstorm solutions to those issues and integrate the solutions into your copy. Since copy can be used for many marketing purposes, you can select the type of marketing copy you're going to write—whether a blog or an advertisement—once you know what your goals are.

2. Know your audience

Identify your ideal customer and research this persona thoroughly, including:

  • Likes and dislikes

  • Lifestyle and family habits

  • Career goals

  • Interests and hobbies

  • Major concerns

Understanding who you are writing to can enhance your ability to offer readers what they want and need.

3. Use the right tone

The voice and tone of marketing copy should reflect the values and culture of the company the copy represents. An international corporate law firm may benefit from a formal, professional tone, whereas a local skateboard shop may choose a casual, conversational and friendly tone.

4. Add a strong opening

A marketing copywriter has a small amount of time to gain readers' attention. Choose bold, descriptive headlines that tell readers what information you're providing and why it is important for them. You can also pose questions, describe how to do something or offer a personal reflection. Consider the following examples of titles/headings:

  • 10 Ways to be More Productive at Work

  • Do You Know What Your Retirement Will Cost?

  • How to Give a Keynote Address

  • Why I Decided to Open My Own Business

5. Put the reader first

Write with the reader's interests and feelings in mind by using "you" and "your" statements rather than "I" and "my" statements. For example, instead of writing, "I think my customers are ready for a sale," try "You don't want to miss the sale on your favorite products this weekend."

6. Solve a problem

Once you know your target audience, you can determine what products or services you offer that can help meet a specific need for that audience. For instance, a dog grooming business may target busy professionals with copy promoting mobile services, such as "Too busy to get Fido a haircut? We come to you!"

7. Make your content exclusive

Create a sense of exclusivity by sharing a small portion of content and offering readers the opportunity for more through a strong call to action, such as subscribing to a newsletter or providing a telephone number or email address. Only readers who take this step receive additional content or exclusive deals.

8. Appeal to emotion

Using strong emotional language can increase reader interest and engagement. For example, holiday advertisements for grocery stores often appeal to the emotion of gathering with family and making memories.

Consider copy that evokes some of these emotions:

  • Shock

  • Surprise

  • Joy

  • Comfort

  • Anger

9. Make readers laugh

Making readers laugh can help them remember your brand and share it with others. Humorous copy can be silly, shocking or dramatic. For example, self-referential copy is unexpected and may include a line in a social media ad like "Stop scrolling! I'm trying to sell, I mean, tell you something."

10. Help the reader understand

You can enhance the impact of your copy by using examples and metaphors, which help create meaningful and memorable images. For example, an information technology company may use everyday examples to describe how their security software functions, such as a door with 1,000 locks.

You can also use analogies to help explain abstract concepts. A health care company may use an analogy to better describe to patients how a certain medical procedure works.

11. Include unique benefits

To distinguish your products or services from competitors, you can share the unique differentiating factors that set your company apart. Here are some examples of unique benefits you could include in marketing copy:

  • Handmade products

  • Special licenses or certifications

  • Environmentally conscious practices

  • Ethically sourced supplies

  • Industry awards

  • Community involvement

12. Integrate statistics

Statistics can add credibility to your writing, making it even more persuasive. Rather than using terms like "most people," consider using percentages or other numerical data.

13. Simplify sentences and paragraphs

Find the simplest, clearest ways to communicate your message. Simplify your writing by:

  • Writing shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs

  • Choosing smaller, more reader-friendly words

  • Using lists or bullet points instead of paragraphs

14. Use customers' own words

Including testimonials and success stories in your copy helps readers connect to your brand. Seeing real people experience real results can help validate your marketing claims.

15. Show, don't tell

Instead of telling about a feature or service, try to show readers the benefits through imagery and action. For example, a restaurant can replace the copy, "Try our delicious large pizzas" with "Enjoy 18 inches of fresh-grated, melted mozzarella cheese with homemade pizza sauce and locally grown roasted vegetables."

16. Choose action verbs

Choose active verbs over "to be" verbs. For example, you could replace, "This home is comfortable and updated" with "Relax on the plush couch, and explore all the convenient upgrades."

17. Include a specific, creative call to action

You can improve your conversion rate and sales by including a clear call to action in your marketing copy. Creating urgency encourages readers to act quickly. You can use phrases such as "limited supply available" or "offer ends soon."

Calls to action vary depending on the step you want readers to take and may include:

  • Calling

  • Visiting a website

  • Signing up for an email list

  • Registering for or attending an event

  • Buying a product

Consider also using creative, clearly defined calls to action that gain readers' attention. For example, instead of "Call for more information," a swim school may use "Dive into swim lessons this summer by calling us today."

18. Optimize your content for the appropriate medium

The higher your copy ranks in internet searches, the more likely potential customers are to find your site and make purchases. If you are writing web copy, use search engine optimization techniques to improve search rankings for your content, including:

  • Using keywords

  • Adding headings and subheadings

  • Editing meta description to include keywords

  • Determining the type of high-ranking similar content, such as a list, blog post, etc.

If you are writing for print materials, try to incorporate engaging headlines that will encourage readers to stop and read.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

19. Edit and re-edit

First drafts are your opportunity to write freely and explore many different ideas. The editing process is critical for streamlining your good ideas into effective content. When editing, you can improve organization and clarity by:

  • Adding organizational elements like headings and numbered lists

  • Removing unnecessary content

  • Implementing proper spelling and grammar

  • Ensuring a consistent tone

Related: What Does a Copy Editor Do?

20. Ask someone else to read the copy

Consider asking one or two writers, editors or supervisors to read your copy before publishing it to ensure the writing is error-free, makes sense and communicates your intended message.

21. Test your copy

Use two or three different versions of your marketing copy and test which version is most successful. You can use metrics such as click rates, sales and phone calls to compare the effectiveness of each version of copy.

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