My tips on online copywriting

Copywriting for web

My work formula for anyone to write digital marketing copies

First off, what is copywriting?

Copywriting is considered one of the most powerful digital marketing elements in today’s online realms. Simply put, copywriting is to call-to-action with words, generating audience’s interests and drawing attention towards your brand. Combine your artistic take on writing with scientific thinking on your strategy. If you are writing for digital marketing purposes, your copies should involve writing skills, good choice of words and flair, backed marketing strategies and data (think SEO and keyword research).

Copywriting is applied wherever your digital presence is and wherever your copies are placed on various digital platforms, spanning from your landing page, web content, product descriptions, direct marketing emails (or eDM), to even just blurbs and captions of your social media posts.

online copywriting tips

So how is copywriting done?

If there is one golden rule to copywriting, the key to ensuring your communications effective is to keep your copy short yet succinct, especially for web copies.

“The key to ensuring that your communications are effective is to keep your copy short yet succinct.”

Every word matters, be it in terms of clearly delivering your message or finding the right word to channel your brand identity and characteristic, so copywriters must choose their words wisely. Cut the excess with little substance or relevance to your message. These parts will only lengthen the copy, which does not help as you may lose readers’ attention. Cramming in more keywords will not make your copy more SEO-friendly. In short, your copy should be just long enough to cover your messages and useful information, short enough to hold your readers’ attention.

How do copywriters work?

I’m the editor at Digital Candy in Hong Kong. On a daily basis, I do copywriting and social media management for our clients. Here is how I work.

  • 1. Identify my copy’s mission and message. Who is my audience? What messages does this copy have to cover? This will help define the copies’ tone, objectives, content, and length.
  • 2. Visuals and visualise. Imagine how it would appear visually on my audience’s device. Do a mental drill of the user experience. For example, if I am drafting an email copy, think about the notification that pops up on my audience’s phone – how will the subject line and tag line be displayed? Is the tagline too long that it will be truncated? Is it appealing enough to prompt an immediate click to open the email? How much time will my audience spend reading the copy? What would they do next – click on the call-to-action buttons, share the news, save for later or delete mail?
    email subject line tag line preview

    Here is how a subject line looks on Mobiles using the Gmail app

  • 3. Know what you say. Always do plenty of research on the subject of the copy. I would take my time on research, often I spend more time on the research than the actual writing itself. The research lays a great foundation and makes the writing process a lot easier once it is done right. It is also important to have the accurate terms. Look at other publications – take reference of the best choice of words; avoid repeated contents available online and find the edge to stand out from the crowd.
  • 4. Set the tone and vibe. Just before I begin to pen anything down, I would remind myself: who am I reaching out to? What is my subject? How would my audience perceive my copy? To make a lasting impression, it is always better to inject a personality and tone to the copy.
  • 5. Break it down. Structure the entire piece and break it into sections and pieces, such as subject line, tag line, product names, paragraphs for each idea and message. Divide the copy into manageable sections and us copywriters can easily tackle them one by one.
  • 6. The only thing to do: WRITE! Once I have the full picture in mind, that’s when I am ready to start writing. This may seem like the scariest part and it always starts off with cold feet. We all worry that the copy will turn out to be different from what it was originally planned to be. But don’t worry – it will differ anyway! The key is to not be affected by that. (Like Dory!) Just keep writing. This is the stage where I can focus on the use of words and piece ideas together. Whenever I am stuck and undecided on the choice of words, I would write down all the words I can think of before I forget, then I come back to the words later.
  • 7. Edit, reread, write more. Now that the first draft is ready, take a break. Come back to the copy with fresh eyes. Look at the choices of words, linkages between sections and ideas. Are the paragraphs coherent and connected? Did I make unnecessary repetitions that I can trim down? Polish the copy. Add a slight fancy touch to make it a pleasure to read.
  • 8. Word counts. Often there is a word limit that copywriters must meet and being restricted by, especially when there may be limited space on layouts. Always check if the copy might have exceeded the word limit. This is when the copy has to be trimmed down or different words have to be used (in the case of character count).
  • 9. Spell check and grammar! Needless to explain, these are things that copywriters must not miss out on 🙂
  • 10. A final check on business or corporate guidelines. In a professional manner, each business should practise a consistent code of copywriting, such as the way of presenting numbers (one vs 1), dates (1 Jan, 1 January etc.), prices (HKD, HK$ etc.), abbreviations or technical terms. Make sure the copy follows suit.

And you are good to go! Good luck, copywriters!

Here are some links to my favourite related blog posts for extended reading:

Has this piece been helpful? How can my work formula and tips be improved? If you have other ideas, I would love to hear from you! Your sharing and comments are appreciated.

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