7+ Cross-Channel Copywriting Tips to Use IMMEDIATELY!
Last month's Direct Marketing IQ Brunch & Learn webinar "Cross-Channel Copywriting Tips You Can Use NOW!" attracted a motivated crowd of inquisitive writers. Many thanks to those who attended and asked such great questions. What follows are some of the questions we didn't have time to answer. (If you missed this 45-minute webinar, no problem. You can still catch it here, on demand.)
1. The opening sentence of anything — email, letter, brochure, blog post — is difficult to write. Writer's block sets in. Got any tips?
Answer: First, don't waste your time staring at a blank page. Just start writing. Then look for your lede buried in the second or third paragraph. Another source of good openers is your customer. Talk to customers about why they buy. An opening sentence may come from an offhanded customer comment. Here are 48 more ideas for writing attention-grabbing openers.
2. I have trouble editing my own copy. Any suggestions?
Answer: Read what you've written aloud. It's often easier to hear than see a needed change. Write for scanners; people scan copy before they read it. Keeps words, sentences and paragraphs short. If a sentence is more than 1 1/2 lines, break it into 2. If a paragraph is longer than 6 lines, break it into 2. Put compelling copy points (benefits, call to action, etc.) in copy hot spots, where the scanner's eye goes first. Use active verbs to encourage action: go, get, see, buy, act, find, compare ... you get the idea.
3. What are some tips for jumpstarting creative thinking when you write about a product or service daily that never changes?
Answer: Mine customer comments, reviews, even complaints. These can be a good source of different ways to talk about the same old thing. Also look at competitive messaging. Don't be a copy copycat, but do look for new angles. Check out related blogs and YouTube videos. All it takes is a single word or image to provide new insights.
4. I recently was asked if I'm a content developer. What's the difference between writing copy and content?
Answer: Copy promotes and content informs. Copy is disruptive ... it taps the reader on the shoulder and says, "Read me. I've got something of value to tell you." That tap can come as an email, direct mail solicitation, or banner ad. Copy convinces the reader to take a specific action.
In the case of content, the customer goes in search of information — a whitepaper, blog post, video or website — to help solve a problem, answer a question, and gather data. As content informs, it builds rapport, credibility and (hopefully) the start of a mutually rewarding relationship.
But in marketing, the ultimate goal of copy AND content is the same — generating response that generates sales. Both need to be relevant, engaging and provide value.
5. What are best practices for writing product copy and headlines for e-commerce websites?
Answer: One word: benefits. Lead with your strongest benefit that's most attractive to your targeted audience. It could be durability, color, price, new release, exclusivity, multi-purpose, etc. Generally, you want to keep copy short, succinct and benefit-focused. The beauty of web product copy is that it allows a highly interested customer to dig deeper and learn more just by clicking on a link.
6. What are current stats on direct mail? I'm read print is dead, but my mailbox is full every day.
Answer: Here are some stats from the USPS Household Diary Study 2013 and Brian Morris' post "10 Print Marketing Statistics You Should Know" on Digital Marketing Ramblings.
- 44% of customers visit a brand's website after receiving direct mail from the brand.
- Direct mail brings in 78% of nonprofit donations.
- 48% of people retain direct mail for future reference.
- 79% of households say they read or scan direct mail.
- 39% of customers say they try a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising.
- USPS projects Standard Mail to grow by 69% by 2020.
- 53% of postcard mailings are read by recipients
Want to learn more? Read this.
7. What is a cross-channel copywriter?
Answer: Cross-channel writers are equally comfortable (and successful) writing messages delivered across marketing channels. They know when and how to apply proven direct response techniques whether they're writing email subject lines, direct mail teasers, Twitter posts or whitepapers. Here are some examples.
One last tip: In today's mobile world, it's unlikely your copy will be viewed in an 8 1/2" x 11" format. Make sure your copy is readable on a small screen.
Pat Friesen is the author of the best-selling Direct Marketing IQ report, "The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook." She writes for direct mail, email, blogs, catalogs, the Web and other direct response media. She's also a sought-after copy coach, workshop presenter and columnist for Target Marketing magazine. Contact Pat at (913) 341-1211 and Pat@PatFriesen.com.