Copy is the prime mover in sales.
When people buy goods or services, how do they choose which ones they want? Typically, some combination of recommendations and independent research guide their decisions. You can’t control word-of-mouth, at least directly.
But you can control the information that’s officially available about you and your offerings.
Sales copy is what teaches people about your products and why they want them. It convinces its readers to become your consumers.
Bottom line? It sells your products.
What Is Sales Copy?
It’s the written content that appears in and on various platforms related to your business: your websites, blogs, emails, product descriptions, etc. Sales copy’s purpose is to get its reader to do something directly or indirectly related to sales.
Good sales copy compels readers to:
- Seek out more information about your business
- Like, share, or subscribe to your content
- Answer questions about themselves
- Purchase your goods or services
Only that last command may seem like the goal of sales copy, but they’re all related. Learning more about your company means learning how you can help them. Liking, sharing, and following leads to word-of-mouth (free) advertising. Polls and other user-generated data are market research. This all compounds to help you sell to these consumers and those like them.
Ultimately, people pay money for things they can trust from sources they rely on. The way to establish that trust is to build a name for yourself, a brand. Sales copy is vital to your brand.
Your Business’s Lifeblood
When all else fails, your reputation is what matters most.
We’re living in a unique era right now. Paid advertisements were once the king of marketing, but recent watershed events have changed that. The pandemic and its impact on various industries have disrupted the way that sales work in the US and worldwide.
As the New York Times reports, companies are reducing advertising of all kinds, from billboards to TV spots to banner ads on websites. And, per Barrons, digital ads are down 30%.
So if witty scripts and catchy jingles aren’t selling products, what is?
Nothing Sells Itself...
But compelling copy can make it look like it does.
There are some brands that have become so powerful that their products and services are ingrained in our everyday vocabulary. You don’t use a search engine to find information; you Google it. You put a Band-Aid on a cut or scratch. You pack food in Tupperware.
These brands are household names because of their companies’ reputations. A persuasive sales copy campaign doesn’t just help your products jump off their shelves, in-store or on the web. It also establishes your business’s reputation by:
- Walking potential customers through tough question they need answers to
- Highlighting all the best qualities of your business and its offerings
- Encouraging them to share the good news with others
- Empowering readers to be their best selves
The payoff on these more holistic aims is that they establish your brand as one that cares about its consumers. And that’s what makes people want to buy from you—and not your competitor.
Now that you know why sales copy matters, let’s cover perfecting your copywriting sales funnel.
How to Write Great Sales Copy
Writing copy is at least as much an art as it is a science, but the ratio varies. A lot of copy you come across online can feel procedural and dry, because it is. Too often, overstressed firms and writers (and even AI) take the writing out of copywriting.
Great copy that drives the most sales is equal parts:
It all starts with making sure it finds its target audience and meets them where they’re at.
Reach Your Audience
In any writing situation, it’s essential to understand and expand your target audience.
Understanding who you are writing to and for allows you to shape the content to best suit those readers. In sales copy, you’re generally writing to an audience of (potential) buyers. You’re writing for, or on behalf of, the seller. That means you tailor your message to the tastes of the buyers to achieve the goal of the seller. Knowing who the buyers are is half the battle.
The other half of the battle is making sure your readers are able to find your work.
Effective copywriting needs to be driven by Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the “science” facet of copywriting. Using data to game algorithms from Google and other search engines, SEO copywriting ensures that your content shows up near the top of the list when people look up questions you can offer answers to. It’s a complicated process, but the basics involve a few key points:
- Search engines use bots to crawl and index web pages
- Bots determine relevance based on keywords and phrases
- Authority is based upon volume and consistency of expertise
- Search results are ranked by authority and relevance
Leveraging your robot audience enables you to reach the biggest human audience possible.
Entertain the Reader
Your copy needs to keep your reader’s attention. No matter how informative and compelling it can be, you won’t teach or persuade unless you hook readers up-front. You want a quick and provocative intro that previews an answer but promises that the best is yet to come.
Then, you need to deliver in the body.
The body of any piece of copy should be direct, front-loading the main point of the piece in plainclothes language that’s easy to digest. Then, it can develop the smaller details in later sections. For the most detailed pieces, divide sections into smaller sub-sections. Every section should have some standalone value, since readers might scan through looking for one specific thing. To curb that habit, you need dynamic prose that readers won’t want to skim through.
In order to sell, your copy needs to sing.
The form a piece of writing takes determines what rules and conventions it needs to follow—or break! Those best practices revolve around brevity and directness:
- Break up a longer piece into sections
- Use short paragraphs and one-liners
- Prioritize empty space on the page
- Avoid long-winded descriptions
- Opt for short, punchy language
Whatever the form of copy, take your cue from Hemingway.
While you’re not telling a story in 6 words, you should always practice word economy: leanness and efficiency. Then again, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too much terseness, and the writing sounds choppy. You need short sentences, short paragraphs. But any great rhythm is punctuated by breaks and changes for a reason, and dispeling monotony with a longer sentence that aims for the fences helps the shorter ones stand out in relief.
Plus, you can’t hit a home run bunting.
Educate and Inspire
Well, technically you can bunt a home run.
But an inside the park homer isn’t the same as a classic dinger straight over the centerfield wall. It isn’t even scored the same way officially. When Brian Dozier bunted himself home in 2017, it took a comically off-target throw and terrible defensive positioning, and the umpires scored it as a single. But the important thing is that he scored. It did the trick.
One of the major surface-level functions of sales copy is to educate readers. Whether it’s a product description or how-to article, sales copy teaches by describing and illustrating.
To do so convincingly, it’s important to:
- Document evidence from credible sources
- Explain complex things in simple terms
- Pull out big-picture takeaways
- Define key terms
Depending on your audience and context, copy can be more or less technical.
Command (and Conquer!)
Finally, sales copy needs to persuade.
Ultimately, the goal is to get your reader to do something. The best way to do that is to use direct commands, also known as calls to action (CTAs). Fill your content with strategic CTAs and links to your services, but be subtle about it. Make sure not to overburden your reader with too many direct appeals; no one wants to feel like they’re being sold to.
A great practice is building up to a CTA-heavy end of the article or other piece you’re writing. In talk shows and radio programs, the end is where guests plug their services. Similarly, CTAs can be most effective when they come after a more meaty treatment of the piece’s purpose.
The best way to optimize your sales copy is to trust professionals. Like us!
We’re a full-service copywriting collective built on the idea that great copy is produced by great writers. We empower great writers to apply their craft to quality content for sales, email, websites, and many other contexts. Our engine vets who writes for us and applies uniform editing standards and SEO treatment across all the web copy we produce.
We can provide your business with:
- A full-service in-house writing team
- An in-house copywriter tailored to your needs
- Individual pieces of content powered by our engine
If you’ve never worked with us before, get in touch and we’ll write your first piece for free. Power your sales with exceptional copy!
Hsu, Tiffany. ‘A Seismic Shock’: Jittery Companies Pull Back on Ads During Pandemic. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/business/media/ads-commercials-coronavirus.html
IAC. [Letter to Shareholders]. https://ir.iac.com/static-files/c126416c-c7a7-45ce-982f-24ee9c8bd0fa
Google. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7451184?hl=en
Savits, J. Digital Advertising rates are Down 30%, IAC Says. https://www.barrons.com/articles/digital-advertising-rates-are-down-by-30-iac-says-51586279010
Varela, Ashley. Brian Dozier Pulls Off Bunt home Run. https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/09/23/brian-dozier-pulls-off-bunt-home-run/
Wortman, Zack. Ernest Hemingway’s Six-Word Sequels. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/ernest-hemingways-six-word-sequels