Some sources reckon we read 50 000 words a day. Others estimate that number to be closer to half a million. Whichever it is, we’re exposed to many words every day.
For anybody using words to grow their business this can be daunting. When it comes to online marketing there’s no time for mincing words. Your copy needs to be clear, concise and creative. It also needs to have a clear tone and style that distinguishes your offering and establishes your identity in some very crowded spaces.
If you can, eliciting the services of a professional copywriter is the way to sleek, fresh and original copy. If not, be sure to pay heed to the points below and you too can be your own best copywriter.
Check, and check again
Your spelling and grammar, that is. Almost nothing will cheapen your brand as much as badly written copy. If you don’t know the correct spelling, look it up. Online tools like Grammarly are everybody’s copy editor.
Get the basics right. Understand the difference between their, there and they’re, and your and you’re. Don’t use apostrophes in plurals. Know the difference between where to put the apostrophe in singular versus plural possessives. This may seem silly if you do know, but you probably only have to look at your Facebook feed to see how many people don’t.
The case for consistency
A brand’s tone of voice is an important part of its identity as it determines how a brand communicates across platforms. It’s important that it always sounds the same. You don’t want to sound like you’re talking to corporate executives on one day and schoolchildren the next. Decide on your style and tone of voice and stick to that.
This applies to word choices, or diction, too. Consider compiling a glossary for your brand of the types of words that best describe your offering. Also include the kinds of words you don’t use.
For a better understanding of tone, consider the dry humour of the Savanna cider brand or the tongue-in-cheek quirkiness of the Kulula airline in comparison to the “expertise you can trust” philosophy that informs the Mediclinic hospital group’s ethos.
Use every opportunity to be creative with your copy
Copy is not just the words in your “about” section or the paragraphs in your latest blog post. Think product descriptions, your contact page and even the line you use to encourage newsletter signups.
Local fashion retailer Zando makes a great effort with product descriptions. Rather than just telling you it’s a black summer dress (which you can see anyway), it lures you into a lifestyle while offering some helpful fashion tips.
Growing your database is key to content marketing success so how about making it a bit more enticing? “Sign up to our newsletter” is boring and generic. General Assembly invites potential subscribers to “make it official” while theSkimm suggests you “try waking up together”.
A contact page is another great way to be helpful and humorous. Yuppiechef guides you to “get in touch with a real human” (which is always useful). Content Bar says: “Don’t hesitate to give us a call or drop us a mail. We might not have super powers but we do wear capes sometimes.”
While we’re not advocating for hyperbole or exaggeration, your copy could probably always do with a dash of cheek, boldness, fun and friendliness. Just make sure it is suitable to your brand voice. And steady with those exclamation marks!