One of the biggest reasons people don’t give is from a feeling of futility—how can my contribution really make a difference?
To turn this feeling around, you must show a donor how important they as an individual are to your cause. A personal way to do so that continues to get results is direct mail. A direct mail piece that sends the right message, to the right recipient, at the right time, is a compelling and effective way to connect with your target audience.
But what makes a powerful mail piece?
Let’s look at a recent appeal mailing from Giffords PAC, an organization working to end gun violence founded by former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.
But how much of your copy is actually being read? According to Hinge Marketing, visitors only read an average of 28% of the words on a web page.
The good news is, this is an average, and won’t be true for every website. While some websites aren’t user-friendly, your site doesn’t have to be one of them. You can increase the percentage of words read on your site, generate more traffic, and drive more sales using these 5 tips.
1) Know your SEO
Driving traffic to your web page is the first step, and it’s an important one. In order for this to happen you’ll want to know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO involves implementing strategies on your website so that it will appear higher up on a list of search results. It’s based on how search engines like Google use words on a web page to locate the content you’re searching for.
Some places to implement SEO are:
Title Tag: Text that appears in the tab when a page is open in a web browser.
Meta Title: This is the clickable link that appears in a search result.
Meta Description: Text that appears under the meta title in a web search.
You can also use software like Google Analytics to track the number of visitors to your site. Analytics can tell you what pages visitors are looking at, what links they are clicking on, and how long they are spending on your web page. And you can test out different title tags, headlines, etc. to see if it affects the traffic being driven to your page.
2) Concise Content Converts
Next time you’re on a webpage, consider how you’re reading it. It’s highly likely that you’re skimming the content, looking for key words and important points.
The reality is, most web users skim. They are generally not going to read dense paragraphs of text, as it is time consuming and they are eager to get at the facts.
The layout of your page is key for ensuring the content is read. Too many words and not enough spacing will give you low read and response rates.
Strong copy relies on brevity. Make your web copy concise, removing unnecessary words and breaking it up into short paragraphs. Start with a solid lead, the most compelling and interesting sentence, so that readers will want to continue down the rest of the page.
You should use headings and bullet points to make it easy for visitors to find the information they’re looking for as they’re skimming. And present key terms you know your audience is looking for in bold so they will stand out.
Also include links to other pages on your site that offer in-depth information. While you help grab a visitor’s attention with short copy, they will eventually want more information about a product or service you’re offering. Links will bring them directly to what they want to know. External links are also helpful, as they can bring credibility to your claims.
3) Speak to the “Experience”
Copywriting is all about selling an experience, and that’s critical to your web copy, too. You may be tempted to write copy that focuses on the intricacies of your company and its products/services, because it’s what you’re dealing with every day. However, your website should have an outward focus rather than an inward focus.
Why? Web users take between 10 and 20 seconds to decide whether or not to stay on a web page. That means you have to communicate value to them fast. Your prospect is searching for an answer to the question, “how will this site help me?” If they’re not finding answers right away, they’re going to look to another website, and another company, to solve their problem.
Make your copy about the prospect and the experience they are going to get from your product or service. Simply listing the features offered is not going to keep the reader’s attention in the same way as showing the value the product offers, how it will give the prospect what they want.
This is a great place to include a link to a separate page with more details about the features and benefits of the product. Once you’ve emotionally hooked the reader with your initial copy, they’ll be looking for more information to rationalize why your product is a good buy.
4) Know Your Audience
Any copy you write needs to be understood by your audience. Your website is no exception. When you know your prospects and can visualize who will be visiting your website, you can write web content with that demographic in mind. What words are they using? What ideas/concepts are important to them? And why are they searching for your product or service?
Most businesses use internal, industry-specific language to refer to their products and processes on a regular basis. It may be easy for you to talk and write about your company this way. But technical terms mean little to your audience. Think about the search terms your prospects will use to find your page. Incorporate that kind of language into your copy, rather than writing jargon-filled sentences that are likely to confuse and lose visitors.
You also connect with your audience better when you write like you talk. While keywords are an essential piece of driving traffic to your site, overusing them or using them in a manner that reads awkwardly will make prospects stop reading.
5) Always Include a Call to Action
While some of your web pages, like blog posts or an About Us section, are meant to inform, your website’s main function is to generate leads and sales. Every page that includes a product or service you are selling should include a call to action (CTA). You don’t want your prospects to read your web page passively. Instead, you want copy that intrigues them and language that compels them to take action and make a purchase.
You should also make it easy for the prospect to take the desired action. Create a button in a contrasting color with text like “Order Now” or “Learn More.” You can make the CTA more compelling by adding value—try “Order Now to save 20%” or “Get Your Sample in 24 Hours.” A CTA becomes stronger when your webpage includes testimonials and reviews, guarantees, and/or generates a sense of urgency (buy now or miss out!)
Lead generation is an important piece of marketing any business. If you’re reading this blog, cultivating leads is probably a topic that’s on your mind.
Writing compelling copy is essential for lead generation. The right copy with the right message behind it will give your marketing campaigns a significant edge over your competition.
When you’re selling a product, you may think that hyping up the product and describing all of its desirable features is the best way to market it. This information certainly has a place. But when you adopt this approach, you may be surprised that sales aren’t coming in the way you thought they would.
Why might this be happening? The most important factor in copywriting is not you, your business, or your product—it’s the prospect. If you want your prospects to engage with you, you must have a deep understanding of who they are and what matters most to them, and make that information critical to your copywriting process.
Here are 4 key tips for ensuring your copy will make the right connection with prospects.
1. Get to Know Your Prospect
One of the most important things to remember is that what is right for one prospect or product is not right for another. Your copy may be well-written and your message effective for a certain audience. But if it’s not the audience your product is meant for, your product is not going to sell.
That’s why it truly pays to take the time to identify and understand your prospect. Key demographics like age, gender, average income, and location are important. But for a truly effective sales message, these categories aren’t enough. You’ll also want to ask yourself, what are my prospect’s interests and worries? And go even deeper: what are their core beliefs and desires?
Develop a system or form that you can use to chart out information about your prospect, from the most basic to the most personal. When you get to the core of what really matters to your prospect, you can better target your message. And, you will be making a deeper connection with your audience, leading to increased sales.
How do you find information about your prospect? While you may have a basic idea of who is purchasing from you, there are a few resources you can use to help get to the core of who your prospect is and what matters to them:
Read customer reviews, testimonials, and surveys
Get to know the product well and test it out yourself
Look at past promotions to see what was and was not effective
Talk to the individuals who developed the product—why did they create it?
Remember that each product you sell may have a different audience. Or, you may have multiple audience segments for just one of your products or services. Personalization techniques allow you to segment your audience, communicating a unique message to each group.
2. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Prospects
Think about a time when you went into a store to make a purchase. Maybe you encountered a pushy salesperson, who kept up a constant spiel of details about the product you were looking at, pressuring you to buy.
How did that make you feel? Did you just want to walk out of the store?
If you did, you’ve experienced a feeling many consumers have: prospects don’t like the idea of being sold.
So, how are you going to get any sales? You need to create an emotional connection with your prospects. Your product or service may have great features. Yet the features alone are not compelling enough to a prospect.
Instead, consider the benefits. This is where knowing the struggles and desires of your prospects will be extremely helpful. If you can show how your product provides a benefit you know your audience is looking for, or how it will help them to achieve a goal or solve a problem, you will create a deeper connection with them.
Here’s an example. Say you’re writing copy about a new car model you are selling. Rather than structuring your message around the materials or technical features, you can focus on the notion of safety. Maybe your car is a sedan or SUV you plan to market to families, who are rightly concerned about getting everyone safely from one place to another. If you know your prospect, you’ll know that safety, comfort, and being good parents are important ideas for them. You can then market your product accordingly.
3. Story + Transition = Sales
One of the best ways to bring emotion to your marketing copy is by telling a story. Stories are an engaging way to show the benefits of your product or service.
An effective story could run like this: start in the middle of the story, describing an instance of a fear or desire you know your prospects have experienced to draw them in. Then, go on to show how your product will benefit the prospect by solving the fear or allowing them to achieve the desire.
You want the prospect to see themselves in the story. Use the story to bring to life the benefits your prospects want. Then you can demonstrate how purchasing your product will directly lead to those benefits.
Something to keep in mind when writing copy or a story is to market a transition. As a part of defining your prospect, you’ll want to think about where they are now as well as where they want to be.
We can use the example of the car to illustrate this. The prospect may be anxious about driving their current car because they feel it isn’t safe enough to protect their family in an accident. Where they want to be, and where your story can show them ending up, is in a place where they are able to relax and enjoy driving again because they know they’ve chosen the best car for their family to travel safely.
You want your copy to illustrate this transition is possible and will bring the desired benefits—but only if the prospect purchases your product.
4. Speak to Your Prospect
Language is an essential piece of copywriting. Even a compelling, emotional story will not be successful if you don’t write in the language of the prospect.
Formal and technical writing is not your friend here. This style certainly has its place, but marketing copy works best when you write the way you talk. It requires you to use words and phrases your prospects regularly use, written in a conversational, one-on-one tone.
In general, copy should be made up of short sentences and commonly used words, and free of jargon. The individuals who developed your product or service probably speak about it in technical terms, which may have little to no meaning for your prospects. It may seem like using these kinds of technical words will give your prospects the impression that your product is well-developed or backed by science and technology. However, there is a greater chance you’ll end up confusing them.
Certain words will have certain meaning for certain groups, so, again, you want to be specific about who you’re marketing to. In a B2B context you may have more flexibility with technical terms that are commonly used in the industry of your audience, so some jargon may be appropriate.
Think about the last ad you saw, watched, or heard. Maybe it was a radio jingle that’s now stuck in your head. It’s catchy, right? And it was likely written by a copywriter.
Often the words “copywriting” and “content writing” are used interchangeably. But they’re actually quite different approaches to marketing, requiring different techniques to be successful. Though they function differently, copywriting and content writing ultimately have the same end goal: to generate leads that convert into sales. And both are essential tools of a well-rounded and successful marketing strategy.
So, what’s the difference? How can you make use of both to jumpstart your marketing?
What is Copywriting?
Advertisements are everywhere in our lives. We see them in print and on the web, hear them on the radio, and watch them on TV. Experts estimate that each of us is exposed to an average of 5,000 marketing messages per day.
Of course, our minds don’t register all of these messages, though many slip through our subconscious. We may only consciously register a handful of the ads that we see. And it may take multiple impressions before an ad sticks in our mind.
With so much competition out there, it’s critical that your message stands out and leaves an impression. That’s why good copy is so important. Think about slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It” or “I’m Lovin’ It” from McDonald’s. Hearing these phrases triggers an immediate association with the brand, and they have inspired brand loyalty.
These slogans are an example of good copywriting, and illustrate the basic idea of what copywriting is: short-form content written with the intent to drive sales. We can define copywriting as writing meant to persuade the reader to take an action, typically to purchase a product or service.
Copywriting appears on any kind of advertising content you can think of, including a direct mail piece, a website landing page, a digital or print advertisement, and a sales email. All these pieces function as channels to increase company sales. While copywriting is not branding, it works to fuse your products/services and your company personality together to create a brand identity.
It’s important to be concise with copy. You have a limited amount of time to gain someone’s attention. Your copy must be short enough to be consumed in one glance (think “Just Do It”) or compelling enough that readers will be intrigued and eager to read more. You can think of copywriting as a three-step process:
Create an emotional connection with your prospects by identifying a major pain point or desire
Cultivate need by showing that escaping pain or achieving desire is possible for the prospect
And position your product/service as the solution (with a call to action)
What is Content Writing?
Content writing is written to inform. It should also be engaging, if not entertaining, and it must align with your brand’s personality and voice. Though it still functions to increase sales, content writing does so in a less blatant way than copywriting.
Offer your customers informational content to help them solve problems in your area of expertise. This could be in the form of a blog, video, ebook, or whitepaper. Customers will often do a great amount of research before committing to a purchase. If you position yourself as an expert in your field, it will attract more sales in the long term. You can provide your customers with answers to questions before they even have to ask.
Through consuming your content over time, you will build trust with your audience, eventually converting them to customers. Content writing leads to sales by information and examples, rather than a snappy sales pitch. Since content writing doesn’t have to be as concise as copywriting, you can expand upon your topic and really show your knowledge.
It also has the added step of requiring search engine optimization (SEO). Keep key words and SEO in mind when writing to ensure that your content is found on the web. Web searchers can ultimately become clients—but only if they can find your content. Content writing pieces are also the type of marketing content your customers will share, often on social media.
What Can Content and Copywriting Do for You?
Here’s how to think of the difference between copywriting and content writing, using the example of Nike. Through copywriting we can learn that Nike is a fitness apparel company focused on being trendy and active, as well as advocating customers to achieve their fitness goals. This is their brand. With their content writing, Nike can establish themselves as qualified activewear providers by creating content to inform their audience on topics related to fitness, athletic footwear, and health/wellness goals.
The important thing is that neither copywriting nor content marketing works very well without the other. Including both copywriting and content writing in your marketing strategy is critical for development of a well-rounded marketing plan. Businesses need a concise sales pitch to drive sales and increase brand awareness. And long-form content is becoming more and more crucial to development of a brand’s story and credibility.
Both types of writing offer value to the customer, whether by showing them ways you can solve their problems or by providing them with high-quality information that they’ll find useful. They can be used in conjunction to turn leads into return customers and ambassadors for your brand.
Though each type of writing requires a different thought process, both must be well-written, and require the writer to be in the mindset of the audience. The prospect is the most important person in the copywriting process. You have to speak to them in ways they can understand and relate to. If you aren’t reaching your prospective audience, your marketing efforts will be for naught.
Working for a nonprofit, you want to do as much good as possible. One of the most effective ways for nonprofits to achieve larger development goals is with a capital campaign. A capital campaign is a period of heavy fundraising efforts. Nonprofit organizations work to raise a significant amount of money within a specified period of time. Often this kind of campaign is used in order to raise funds to acquire, build, or expand a facility, or to set up an endowment. A large-scale campaign like this can be the only way for an organization to achieve goals that are vital to its efforts.
Targeting your efforts is essential to ensure you meet your goals within the time period specified. Unlike more general fundraising efforts, capital campaigns are specific. They require defined target benchmarks as you move through the campaign timeline. Capital campaigns give your supporters a specific, concrete goal that their dollars will go directly towards funding.
Printed materials like brochures are an effective way to educate your donor base about your campaign. Making use of official printed materials helps to give donors a sense that your campaign is structured and professional. A well-designed brochure can give you the confidence that your campaign is being presented in the best light. It also gives your campaign goals a greater chance of being met.
A brochure helps to tell the story. Mention who is involved, the mission of your organization, the details of the project (including costs and intended outcomes), and how to give. With a brochure, as with all of your campaign materials, you’ll want to focus your message on the benefits your campaign goal will have for the community that you serve, rather than just on the building or item itself that you’re looking to raise funds for.
Capital Campaign Brochure Outline
Part 1: The Introduction
You probably have a lot to say about the needs and deeds of your organization. But you’ll want to keep your brochure’s introduction brief. This is a good rule of thumb to follow throughout the brochure. Your copy should be clear and concise. Write in an enthusiastic tone that speaks to your donors. Help them become excited about your mission and the positive outcomes that will result from their contribution to reaching your capital campaign goals.
Readers may have extensive knowledge of your nonprofit, or they may know very little. To make your brochure accessible to everyone, you’ll want to include a short overview of your organization. Include who you serve and the types of programs you provide. This can help to give your nonprofit credibility as you guide donors throughout the specifics of your campaign.
Part 2: Your Mission
Towards the beginning of the brochure, you’ll want to include a concise version of your nonprofit’s mission statement. It’s also important to show donors the current impact of your organization. Incorporate specific facts/figures to reiterate to donors the good work that you do and show them why they should contribute to your growth. This section is a good place to include an impactful quote from someone that has benefited from your organization’s services.
Part 3: The Capital Campaign
You’ve shown donors who you are and the good you do, giving them a reason to support you. Now it’s time to outline the details of your capital campaign.
This is the meat of your brochure. Start with describing your need, and make sure to be specific. Show donors that this campaign is well thought out, both in terms of your needs and the intended outcomes. Donors will want to know specifically what their contribution will be funding. Having a concise description of your vision, proposed outcomes/solutions, and how exactly the funds you raise are to be used will give your campaign credibility.
Part 4: Why Now?
It’s important to ground your capital campaign in relevance. You’ve already described the needs of your organization and how you hope to resolve them. Here is your chance to show the larger community impact and the timeliness of your campaign. It’s likely that your nonprofit works to meet the needs of individuals as well as the larger community in which you live. Showing how you fit into the bigger picture can be an effective way to compel your donors to contribute.
Part 5: Where Do You Fit In?
When developing your brochure, put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Anticipate the kinds of questions your donors will have, and answer the major ones in your brochure. Then, your donors will see your materials as a credible resource for understanding the issue or cause you work to aid. You’ll give them confidence in the necessity and success of your campaign’s mission. Draw the donor in and make it personal with context that makes them part of the solution. Lead with something like, “this is where you come in….” You want your donors to feel that their contribution is vital to your campaign’s success and to show how the larger issue may be affecting their lives. You can also use this section to thank your donors in advance for their support.
Strong visuals are crucial to ensure that donors can visualize the intended outcome of the campaign that their dollars are going to fund, as well as the people who are going to benefit from this development.
Focus on being visually cohesive. Bring design elements from your nonprofit’s website or other printed materials into your brochure, so readers will be quick to associate your campaign with your organization. If you have a logo or design aesthetic in use for other campaign materials, be sure to use them consistently across the board. Consistency and a unified message will enhance the credibility of your capital campaign.
Leave a generous about of negative space to help the most important information stand out and make it easier for readers to process. Try to keep your information simple, but as effective as possible, with a clear call to action.
Adopt a multi-channel approach. A brochure can help drive traffic to a website, where donors can learn more about your organization and make donations. Include the essentials in your brochure and integrate it with your digital marketing, making it easy for your donors to donate, contact you, and find your digital resources.
We are surrounded by words. They are spoken to and by us, written to persuade us, intrigue us, and inform us. Words are a major way that we communicate. Putting words together in creative and compelling ways is a big part of what marketing is all about.
But not all words are created equal. It takes time to come up with just the right copy to convey the value your brand or organization has to offer and make the case for why you are the perfect fit for your audience. Words have power. When you find the right combination, your marketing strategy can shine.
So, what do you need to know to make your copy more compelling and ensure it is read?
1) A Personal Touch
Try addressing your marketing copy from one individual to one individual. If you’re writing a direct mail letter or sending a marketing email, you can send that piece from a specific member of your organization. This makes it more personal. Addressing your copy to an individual member of your audience will grab their attention and give a sense of added importance to the piece. The recipient will feel that the piece was intended for them specifically, rather than as one of many. They will be more likely to read your copy, get the message you want them to receive, and, hopefully, act on that message.
2) Place Your Audience at the Center
When crafting a piece of marketing content, you want your recipient to be at the center of the letter, not your business. This seems counter-intuitive, right? Isn’t the point of marketing to show the value of your company?
Yes…but you want to show your audience that you know who they are, that their individual needs and contributions are important, and that you can provide a relevant solution for them. This shows the value you have for your customers and gives them a reason to value you. Use words like “you” and “your” in your marketing material. Avoid using “we,” as it can work to separate your audience from you. Instead of “we improve children’s lives” try “you can improve children’s lives.” Which one encourages you to act?
Compelling copy will show your audience that you understand their needs and emotions and can address and solve those needs with your products or services. It may take more time to consider things from your customers’ standpoint. But it will pay off in the end when you’re able to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
Nonprofit copy shows the value of this. When it comes to communicating with donors, you want to empower them so that they feel their support is making a positive impact, and that their continued help will allow that positivity to continue. Using “you” gives them an active role in your mission, making them feel more connected and powerful. Show them they’re the superhero that’s saving your cause, and you’ll help to ensure their continued support.
When you give your recipients a sense that they can make a difference, you’re tapping into their emotions. Maybe your copy makes them laugh, feel sad enough to want to change something, or relieved that you can provide a long-awaited solution. The use of emotion is a powerful marketing tool. Whether you are looking for someone to donate to or purchase from you, they are compelled to act due to the emotional response your marketing gives them.
3) Grabbing Attention with Marketing Copy
Effective marketing copy stands out. Maybe it causes your audience to see things in a different light, or cites a surprising fact. It may seem like writing copy in the same way as everyone else is a safe bet for maintaining a conflict-free relationship with your audience. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to be edgy or striking in your marketing campaigns. You want your marketing, and by extension your business, to be remembered.
The best place to kick-start your unique copy style is in the headline. Media company Upworthy found that readership of an article can vary by 500 percent just from changing the headline. The first sentence of a piece is where you are going to either lose your reader or pique their interest, keeping them reading on. Your message will not be received if you don’t hook your reader in the headline.
4) Keeping it Simple
Interesting doesn’t have to mean long-winded. It certainly means cutting out exaggeration, overused words, or excessive business lingo. Don’t feel like you have to make your company or product sound extra impressive, using cliched words like “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking.” If you understand the needs of your audience and can speak to them using the same language they’re using to describe your business, you’ll be more effective. Choose the fewest words that are truly going to say the most, so that every word counts.
5) Style Choice
We all want to believe that our marketing copy is going to be read from beginning to end. But that is not often the case, at least at first. You should assume that pieces like your newsletters will only be scanned by recipients. This doesn’t mean your message will be lost. It means you have to make the most important information you want to convey the easiest to find. Recipients are most likely going to scan the headline, any photo captions, pull quotes, and bold or bulleted information. If you can make these parts intriguing, readers will go back and read more in order to dive into the context.
The most important takeaway about writing good copy? Make it count. The copy you produce is your main way of communicating with customers, both current and potential. If you want to be a successful marketer, you can’t afford to have bad copy.