Copywriting 101: 15 Traits of Excellent Copy Readers Will Remember

15 Copywriting Best Practices to Captivate and Convert Your Audience in 2024

In today‘s crowded digital landscape, cutting through the noise and connecting with your target audience is more challenging than ever. That‘s where the art and science of copywriting comes in. Whether you‘re crafting website copy, social media posts, email newsletters, or product descriptions, the words you choose have the power to engage, persuade, and ultimately drive conversions.

As we head into 2024, mastering the latest copywriting techniques is essential for marketers looking to stand out and achieve their goals. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive into 15 proven copywriting best practices, backed by real-world examples, data, and insights from industry experts. By the end, you‘ll have a toolkit of strategies to take your copy to the next level and capture your audience‘s attention like never before.

  1. Develop a distinctive brand voice.
    Your copywriting should be an extension of your unique brand personality. Are you witty and irreverent like Dollar Shave Club? Aspirational and adventurous like Red Bull? Sincere and helpful like Zappos? Defining your brand voice upfront will ensure consistency across all your communications.

"Your copy should sound like your brand is talking directly to your target customer, one-on-one," says conversion copywriter Joanna Wiebe. Avoid bland, generic copy in favor of a distinct style your ideal customers will instantly recognize and relate to.

  1. Write customer-focused copy.
    Effective copy is not about you, it‘s about them. While it‘s tempting to tout your brand‘s amazing features and accolades, your messaging should revolve around the needs, desires, and challenges of your target audience.

Research is key to gaining a deep understanding of your buyer personas. What keeps them up at night? How can your product or service make their lives better, easier, or more fulfilling? Use these insights to shape copy that speaks directly to their experiences.

  1. Nail the headline.
    On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. In other words, your headlines have a lot of heavy lifting to do in terms of grabbing attention, sparking interest, and enticing readers to keep reading.

Great headlines often incorporate one or more of the "4 U‘s" – urgency, usefulness, uniqueness, and ultra-specificity. Experiment with numbered lists, questions, and bold claims to see what resonates with your audience. Don‘t be afraid to write 10, 20, or even 50 headline variations until you land on the perfect one.

  1. Keep it concise and scannable.
    In our fast-paced, distraction-filled world, you only have a few precious seconds to capture your audience‘s attention. Aim for short sentences, brief paragraphs, and ample white space to improve readability.

Use bullet points, subheadings, and bolding strategically to break up walls of text and highlight key information. The Hemingway App and Grammarly are helpful tools to assess your copy‘s readability and get suggestions for simplifying complex sentences.

  1. Leverage social proof.
    As humans, we‘re wired to follow the crowd. Social proof, in the form of testimonials, case studies, and user-generated content, can be incredibly persuasive in building trust and credibility.

Sprinkle customer quotes and success stories throughout your copy to show real-world results. In a case study for Superhuman, an AI research assistant, 98% of users reported being more productive after using the tool‘s AI-generated copy suggestions.

  1. Evoke emotion.
    People make decisions based on emotions, and then justify those decisions with logic. The most impactful copy stirs feelings like joy, excitement, relief, or even fear of missing out. Apple‘s iconic "Shot on iPhone" campaign, featuring stunning user-generated images, evoked a sense of wonder and creativity.

Use vivid storytelling, descriptive language, and sensory words to paint a picture and help the reader imagine a better version of themselves or their life with your product or service.

  1. Make it skimmable.
    Let‘s face it, most people won‘t read every word you write, at least not initially. Knowing this, use design and formatting elements like bulleted lists, callouts, captions, and images to make key information easy to pick out at a glance.

In a Nielsen Norman Group study, website visitors read, on average, 20-28% of the words on a page. However, by making copy more skimmable, you can entice them to go back and read more.

  1. Focus on benefits, not just features.
    It‘s easy to get caught up describing all the bells and whistles of your product or service. However, to truly engage potential customers, you need to translate those features into tangible benefits.

For example, instead of simply stating "Our software includes AI-powered analytics," dig into the "so what?" – "Harness AI insights to make smarter decisions, faster, and unlock 10x growth." Always tie features back to the value and transformation they enable for the user.

  1. Test and optimize copy.
    In copywriting, there are no static rules, only educated guesses to be tested. Whenever possible, run A/B or multivariate tests on key messaging to see what resonates best with your target audience. Even small tweaks to headlines, CTAs, or body copy can yield significant improvements to clicks and conversions.

Hubspot ran a test of two headlines on a landing page: "Get more from your online leads" vs. "Online lead generation made easy." The second version increased conversions by 10.46%. Continuous testing helps you iterate towards the most impactful copy over time.

  1. Leverage SEO keywords strategically.
    In our digital-first world, copywriting and search engine optimization (SEO) must work hand-in-hand. Do your research to identify the keywords and phrases your target audience is using to search for solutions like yours.

Incorporate these keywords naturally throughout your headlines, subheadings, and body copy. But avoid keyword stuffing at the expense of readability – write for humans first, and search engines second. Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs can help identify high-intent keywords to target.

  1. Address objections head-on.
    Anticipating and addressing your audience‘s potential objections, doubts and concerns within your copy can powerfully preempt hesitation and build trust. Think about the most common questions or mental barriers that arise before customers are ready to buy.

Are they worried about the cost? Not sure if your solution will work for their unique needs? Lacking buy-in from key stakeholders? Tackle these head-on with clear, direct copy. Statements like "Join 50,000 marketers who have increased ROI by 40%" or "If you‘re not satisfied within 30 days, we‘ll refund you no questions asked" can overcome doubts.

  1. Master the art of the CTA.
    Your call-to-action (CTA) copy often determines whether a prospect takes the next step or bounces. Great CTAs combine urgency and value while being crystal clear about what to do next.

Generic phrases like "Submit" or "Buy Now" won‘t cut it. Instead, get specific and focus on the benefit of taking action, such as "Get My Free Guide" or "Start Saving Today." Unbounce found that adding one word after "Get" increased clicks by 95%! Also experiment with first-person phrasing like "Count Me In", which outperformed "Get Started" by 90% in one test.

  1. Use AI tools to spark creativity.
    While robots won‘t be replacing copywriters anytime soon, AI writing assistants like HubSpot‘s Content Assistant, Jasper, and CopyAI can be powerful tools for brainstorming ideas, breaking through writer‘s block, and streamlining research.

These tools can suggest headline variations, social media post ideas, and even full paragraphs based on a simple prompt or key points. However, always review and edit AI-generated copy to ensure it aligns with your brand voice and sounds natural. Use it to enhance your writing process, not replace your own creative judgment.

  1. Tell a compelling story.
    Since the days of cavemen sharing tales around the campfire, storytelling has been a fundamental way we connect to ideas and each other. Authentic, relatable stories help your audience see themselves in your brand.

Jewelry brand Pura Vida‘s "Pura Vida Bracelets – This Is the Story Of" video tells the origin tale of two college friends discovering colorful string bracelets on a Costa Rica beach trip and building a brand that celebrates the simple things in life. It‘s compelling, memorable, and perfectly captures their free-spirited ethos.

Look for opportunities to weave storytelling into your copy, whether it‘s your brand‘s founding story, a customer success story, or an imaginative narrative of how your product can transform a life or business.

  1. Write like you talk.
    At the end of the day, the most engaging copy reads like a natural conversation with a knowledgeable, charismatic friend. Use everyday language, short sentences, and even sentence fragments to make your writing personable and relatable.

Read your copy out loud – does it flow easily or feel stiff and clunky? Don‘t be afraid to start sentences with "And", "But", or "So" for a friendly, casual effect. Contractions like "you‘ll" and "we‘re" also create a conversational rhythm.

As the legendary copywriter David Ogilvy said, "Write the way you talk. Naturally." People connect with copy that sounds like a human, not a jargon-spouting robot.

Put these copywriting best practices into action
If you made it to this point in the article (which I sincerely hope you did, since skimmable headings can only convey so much!), you now have a proven toolkit of strategies to craft copy that captivates and converts your audience.

Of course, knowing isn‘t the same as doing. My challenge to you is to pick just one technique to focus on this week, whether it‘s nailing your brand voice, writing irresistible headlines, or weaving in compelling stories and social proof. Run mini copy experiments and see what moves the needle.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, one thing is certain: powerful, persuasive copywriting will only become more essential for cutting through the noise and connecting authentically with your audience. So roll up your sleeves, open that blank Google Doc, and get to work writing words that move people to action. I can‘t wait to see what you create!