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What Makes Good Copy?

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#1 sanity


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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:15 PM

What makes good copy?

Human voice?
Authentic voice?

How does one find a balance between selling their business and engaging their audience?

Has anyone examples of sites with great copy?




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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:34 PM

Instead of selling your business... Speak to the dreams of your client... and say how you can help her achieve them.

Its not the voice or the tone - it is the perspective. Instead of you talking "I can do this"... speak so that the client's mind with think.... "I can do this".

#3 SEOigloo


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Posted 31 July 2008 - 08:26 PM

I have a weakness for copy that paints a romantic picture which pulls the readers in so that they are inside the picture, imagining themselves seeing or doing something enjoyable.

Some months ago, I wrote a comparison of 2 companies selling a French Canadian pea soup. Neither example is wordy, but to my mind, one of the 2 examples did so much more to tap emotional touchstones. If you can do this with pea soup, you can do it with almost anything.

I second EGOL's suggestion that excellent copy speaks to the reader's dreams. The best literature often does the same.

Great topic, Sophie!

Edited by SEOigloo, 31 July 2008 - 08:27 PM.

#4 glyn


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Posted 01 August 2008 - 02:24 AM

This really depends on the purpose of the copy. You match the copy with the public and what you want the reader to do after reading that copy.

#5 DCrx


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Posted 01 August 2008 - 02:53 AM

If the copy isn't engaging -- you're not selling.

#6 earlpearl


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Posted 01 August 2008 - 12:25 PM

Miriam: That was great. I'm so hungry!!!!!!!!

How right you and EGOL are. Speak to their hearts!!!!

Thank you.


#7 sanity


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Posted 11 August 2008 - 01:11 AM

Thanks EGOL and Miriam, there's some good suggestions there. I also like copy that speaks to me in a human engaging voice. There is nothing worse than a "We are the leading blah of blah"... if you get my drift.

I'd love to see some other examples of websites with good copy. Surely someone must have some they like.

#8 DCrx


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Posted 11 August 2008 - 06:41 AM

Firebox. Most people manage content the way you manage cholesterol. On most sites you get the impression the content writer hates writing, and visitors. With Firebox you get the distinct impression of a site that likes toys, and has something to say about each product.

Archie McPhee. Where else can you buy cubical action figures? I bring you The Cubes. Yes, it's got flash ...and still the subject matter overwhelms the special effects.

Clip-n-Seal. Some day more people will develop websites where the graphics actually refer to and support the writing. Until that day, I give you the Clip-n-Seal site.

Jewelboxing. What can you say about a jewelbox? Nothing, if you're like most sites. Jewelboxing Doesn't forget Rule Number One: Have something to say before you start writing.

The J Peterman Company. Absolutely gorgeous word-pictures. This is everything that most huckster copywriting isn't.

Innocent drinks can articulate their philosophy when most About Us pages are like a "name, rank and serial number" routine.

While I dislike the layout, DAK (Drew Kaplan) writes great copy. You can tell an enthusiast is writing, not a keyword stuffer at fifteen bucks per 250 words.

Apple. Online, folks tend to gravitate to the stylish commercials Apple runs. Yet for much of its history, Apple is known for long form informative copy and the occasional infomercial.

Like interface design, the hardest won insight is you are not the user. What makes good copy is denominated in sales. Not our preconceptions. Not opinions on the relative merits of commerce.

Don't do in copy what you wouldn't do in UI design. Let sales tell you what's "good."

Edited by DCrx, 11 August 2008 - 07:00 AM.

#9 Laura Varon

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 10:37 PM

What makes good copy depends upon the specifics, naturally. Are you running a corporate website? A family business website? A blog? Who are your customers? What is your target audience? Once you've determined these things, the question answers itself.

In my personal opinion, which is perhaps biased by the culture I was raised in, witty and humourous does the trick. You attract more flies with honey, right? It's not about making your audience burst in laughter every few lines, but more about appealing to a certain sense of simplicity. Technical language, or text with too many elaborate sentences, shouldn't even be considered copywriting... and some people make that mistake.

One particular website whose writing style I admire proffusely is http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/ . Granted, it's meant to be a humourous website, but it's profitable! And it has a remarkable call to action...

#10 copywriter


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Posted 24 July 2009 - 04:26 PM

Human voice?
Authentic voice?

With the exception of witty and clever (most of the time), good copy takes all these things. They can be arranged and rearranged to fit the communication style of the target customer.

While some like witty and/or clever copy, it has been proven by Marketing Experiments and other research sites that clarity trumps cleverness virtually every time.

The most important aspect of writing excellent copy is to connect with your reader on his/her level. This will mean different things for different audience members.

#11 DanielLambert


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Posted 01 October 2009 - 11:56 PM

You need to connect to your reader on an emotional level and give them a reason to read the rest of your content be that something to solve their problems or a free ebook you need to give them a reason to read. You also need to back up claims that you make otherwise people will claim it as BS.

#12 saschaeh


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Posted 04 October 2009 - 04:09 PM

Copy in some senses is like design.

Not all design appeals to all people and some design is better suited for different products/companies. Not all designers can design all styles of design. Designers usually have a style at which they are good at...

The same goes with writing copy, I guess. If you can find your niche style of writing which (hopefully) engages readers then I would say master that.

Some blogs become successful when people put their personality behind the content, Seth Goden being a good example. (also great ideas but his enthusiam carries those ideas)

In most of our cases (non pro-copywriters who can write well and do so for our small estate of websites) need to keep copy informative, to the point and yes answer the question the reader is asking.

Edited by saschaeh, 04 October 2009 - 04:12 PM.

#13 EGOL



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Posted 04 October 2009 - 09:41 PM

yes answer the question the reader is asking.

Good comment.

I would like to expand it to site content rather than just a single article.

Let's say that you do keyword research for "widgets" and you learn that "brass widgets" and "green widgets" and many other terms have high search volume. I believe that if you have articles that address MANY of those topics that you will become more relevant and powerful in Google's eyes for the term "widget"...

... because your website has what readers are asking for.

Well selected articles that cover important, queried topics (rather than content mass) will be the most helpful for ranking the root term.

Edited by EGOL, 04 October 2009 - 09:43 PM.

#14 bwelford


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Posted 05 October 2009 - 09:46 AM

That is why I find Google Insights so useful. If you search for your principal term, you get the 'cloud' of related keywords and topics and can make sure you are covering all aspects.

#15 Website Doctors

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 05:53 AM

I would say that an authentic tone of voice is the most important factor to any writing, including copy.

What separates copy from many other kinds of writing is that you owe the reader something from start to finish. It's essential to think from the reader's point of view and give them a reason to read your text.

#16 Lyrafire


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Posted 04 November 2010 - 12:23 PM

"It's essential to think from the reader's point of view."

This is absolutely true. Good writers keep the audience in mind. The content I write for a how-to site has to be direct. It reads like a telegram, but someone who came to the site via a query that reads, "How to unplug a drain" just wants you to get to the point. A few steps up from that, I might write a more detailed answer with an engaging, colorful introductory paragraph for "What is the longtail?" on one of my personal blogs. In other words, I would show more voice, but still stick carefully to answering the question. When I write a film review, I'm much more lyric and discursive.

Many of the best bloggers use an intimate you-and-me voice. They tell a story, often describing a problem they overcame and how they overcame it. The problem they had, they know, is the same problem that their readers have. They thus groom their readership to buy a product to not only solve, but prevent that problem in the future, not right now, but down the road--an ebook, a course, personal coaching. It's very effective. They're genuinely generous and build relationships first; they sell after establishing a relationship. Copyblogger uses this approach.

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