Writing for SEO strategy: When an algorithm is your audience

The way you write is more important than you think

What are you trying to accomplish when you set out to write a blog post, a homepage or any other piece of content for your website? Attract more visitors, get more customers, provide insight on your subject matter, sure. But your writing is also engaging in some behind-the-scenes negotiations with the ranking function of search engines—the bytes of code that determine whether your website ends up on the first page of results, or in the graveyard of the tenth.

A single piece of content is doing a lot of work for you. In addition to conveying useful information to readers, it’s telling search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms that the website as a whole is reputable and worthy of a good rank on a SERP (search engine results page). There are certain traits these algorithms have been programmed to recognize in high-quality websites. Modeling your content in a way that encourages these bots to check off their list and give your site a gold star can make the difference between getting 67% of all clicks or none.

How bots help you write better content

Search engine algorithms are mainly looking for content that was created with common sense. You can use their guidelines as an outline for your content. Here’s a checklist of what makes a high-quality webpage, according to Google:

  • E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness
    • Formal expertise is very important to Google, especially when your webpage deals with topics concerning your money or your life (medical, financial, legal advice, etc.). Expertise can be less formal for lower-stakes content, like recipes or humor, but still involve a high level of authoritativeness if the source is reliable, well-known and well-liked. Consider what expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness mean for your website. Who are your experts? What is making you a trustworthy source?
  • Prioritizing the right information
    • Think of your titles, headlines, anchored text and image names and descriptions as snapshots. They tell the algorithm about your webpage’s purpose and what the main content is trying to accomplish. These are the places to include keywords you’re trying to rank for, but be cognizant about the user experience. Are the keywords you’re choosing the ones people actually use to find you?
  • The inverted pyramid
    • Understand how readers scan text. Headlines and subheads are really important, as is the first paragraph. Include the main message and your feature keyword in your first paragraph. People recognize the word they were looking for and feel they’re in the right spot. Make your content “top heavy” by including the most important information first—no hedging or burying the juicy bits.

Ever-changing algorithms

SEO algorithms are really unglamorous critics. They have no faces, they shape shift all the time (in fact, it’s estimated that Google makes algorithm updates 500–600 times a year) and to top it all off, you can’t really fault them. Their whole purpose is to make it easier for the average Googler (or Binger, rare breed that they are) to find the most useful and user-friendly information. While most of these hundreds of updates are minor tweaks, there are major changes once or twice a year; you’ve just got the hang of Penguin when Pigeon flies in your face asking you to play by new rules.
We understand, it’s frustrating. You’ve gotta be a people pleaser, as well as a code coddler. What’s a writer to do? It’s not really as bad as all that.

Writing for SEO algorithms (without writing for SEO algorithms)

Scale it back. While, theoretically, most of the world could have access to your content, it’s highly unlikely that an audience that size is searching for what you’re serving up.

Sorry to be the one to break it to you.

Except not, because it makes your life much easier. You’re always going to be writing for a niche—a metaphorical audience of 10,000 and some bots. But remember, those bots are sifting through the internet finding the content that serves those 10,000 people best. They’re servants of the people, and that means…

Bots don’t want to be written to.

In fact, they penalize pages that attempt to game their system with keyword stuffing (repeating the same words or phrases you’re trying to rank for so often it sounds unnatural), shallow content (quickly created content of subpar quality and a low amount of useful information), anchor text overuse (linking to other webpages using words that you’re trying to rank for, even when it’s unrelated to the link) among other shady practices.

The long and the short of it is you can’t let the bots know you want them too badly. You’ll turn them off with needy, low-quality content. Instead, write organic and interesting content that drops hints with high-power keywords and well-written headlines that makes them want you. Play hard to get.

Do what feels natural

Write naturally. Write for people. Write for people who are specifically searching for the information you have, and don’t worry about casting your net beyond that audience. Most (if not all) web content is answering a question in some shape or form. Get to the core question of what your readers are going to be asking themselves while they sift through the web. Then, when they stumble across your website, make them feel like their search is over.

That’s the true secret to satisfying SEO algorithms.

How to use these 5 tips to write kickass social media ads

Your company has a social media strategy in place and the responsibility to write the ads that convert passive viewers into active consumers falls on you. You’ve seen hundreds—thousands—of social ads come across your personal feeds. That’s gotta be enough exposure to make you a quasi-expert. You’ll knock these out of the park, you think. You’ve got this, no problem, you think.

Welllllllllll… maybe you need a little help getting started. You do have a brand (or several) who depend on your messaging to make them money.

Allow us to share what we’ve learned.

Here are the steps we use to write kickass ads for our clients’ social media ads.

Step 1: Research.

Target Marketing

Relevancy is the make or break factor of your social ad campaign (relevant ads also save you money). If the audience you think is buying your product is different from the audience who will actually buy your product, then… yikes.

Research is key—and not just demographic research.

Age, gender and income are still important factors to consider, as they’re the way to filter who sees your ads. But they’re no longer the queen of your copywriting chess game. That position has been filled by psychographic data. Having a reliable understanding of your target audience’s attitudes, opinions, behaviors, values, activities, etc. turns you into an intuitive consumer-whisperer. One of the best ways to fill in your target audience’s psychographic profile is by listening. More on how and who to listen to in step 4.

Step 2: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Shakespear Brevity

Ads on Instagram and Facebook allow for up to 125 characters of body text to make ad magic. To paraphrase, however, just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you should use all of it.

Adspresso analyzed 37,000+ Facebook ads and came to the conclusion that the ideal word count for body text is 14 words (80~ characters) and five words for headlines. Ads with these counts saw the highest rate of engagement.

Say what you want, say it well, say it briefly.

(Fun Fact: Hamlet’s Polonius, one of Shakespeare’s most notoriously long-winded characters, is where this quote came from.)

Step 3: Death of a Salesman
No Soliciting

One of the reasons there’s a high ROI on social media campaigns is because people don’t go out of their way to avoid ads like they do TV commercials. Social ads are less obtrusive, so people have a higher tolerance.

That principle is challenged, however, when ads are perceived as too “salesman-y.” Small business owners are finding that sales pitches on social media actually drive away users. Instead of going “buy our product now, pretty, pretty please,” go for a more conversational tone that engages the viewer through values, lifestyle aspirations or helpful and relevant information, which can include how your product solves a problem.

Step 4: Blend in with your surroundings.

Hello Fellow Kids

No, not like that.

Y’all already know how much content is out there in Social Media Land. The feeds of your target audience are curated sources of information they choose to listen to (or at least be exposed to).

It’s hard to win by being a disruptive presence on a person’s feed. A better strategy is to personalize.

And how, you ask, does one make an ad sound personalized when you’re writing for a broad swathe of people? Well A, by choosing the correct audience (see step 1) but mainly B: by sounding familiar.

This is where we circle back to that whole listening thing.

It’s easier to ingratiate yourself to your audience when you sound similar to the content they’ve chosen for themselves, and you can learn how to sound similar by listening.

Listen to posts from people in your target market; listen to the celebrities your target market listens to; listen to ads that are also targeting your audience. That’s a lot of listening, you say. It is, but it helps you match your tone to the language that fills their feed, making you sound organic rather than hokey.

However.

Step 5: Don’t be afraid of the “out there” options.

Girl In Stall

I know we just said that being a disruptive voice in your audience’s feed isn’t always a sound strategy.

But sometimes it is.

If you went on YouTube in 2013, you might remember the video that started with a posh lady in a bright blue dress opening the door to a toilet stall and saying, “I used to hate pooping in public.”

I bet that was one of the few long-form ads you watched all the way through, too. You weren’t alone, it was the fifth most viewed ad in the world in 2013.

Shock value works in small doses. It needs to be well-executed, sound honest even as it sounds ridiculous and not be antagonizing for antagonizing’s sake. These ads walk a tightrope of being too provocative and being just provocative enough. We encourage you to tread in these waters, because these high-risk ads can have high rewards. But you have to have a very sensitive cultural ear (see step 4) to execute an ad that plays on people’s love for irreverence without going overboard and inciting the mob.

In conclusion.
You’ve got the knowledge, you’ve got the cause, now go write ads that bring home the bacon. But like a magician who never reveals their secrets, we’ve got a few more tricks up our sleeve. Take a look here to see our success stories. Reach out here if you want to be one.

How to Write Conversion-driven Copy

We’ve all read descriptive text that draws you in, evokes a visceral response or taps into memories built through sensory experiences. It could be a line that describes a salad—how crisp and fresh the lettuce is; the way the greens mingle to be both sweet and a little bitter; the perfectly seared tuna on top, which is perfectly seasoned to let its fresh flavors shine while adding subtle notes that complement the fish. It could go on to describe the texture, the way flavors linger between bites and how the salad pairs with the wine you’re drinking.

Words like this make you want to eat that salad. But truly effective marketing copy convinces you to buy that salad. It combines elements of the descriptive copy above with other nuanced verbiage to drive a desired action from a specific audience. No matter what the goal of your messaging may be (salad or otherwise), there are a few guidelines that apply to every word your brand puts out in the world.
 
Keep it engaging.
Today’s audiences have zero patience for one thing: wasted time. We’ve become a fidgety world with constant access to entertainment alternatives. If your copy doesn’t get—and keep—your audience’s attention, your brand is one browser tab, radio dial or remote control away from being irrelevant. Today’s sophisticated consumers require every brand touchpoint to be just as entertaining as the Netflix show playing in the background. Depending on your audience, this could require humor, heart, adventure or a thousand other creative approaches; just don’t let it be dull. This will capture people’s attention and make them more likely to give you that almighty dollar.

Keep it simple.
Think about the last time someone gave you directions. Did they say, “go north, then drive at exactly 35 miles an hour for 37 seconds before turning west into the slightly sloped entrance with a curve at 33.4805° N, 111.9477° W?” Probably not. I’d bet they said something like, “turn right, go left at the light and it’s the third house on the left.” Which is easier to remember? The simpler version that uses language we all hear on a minute-to-minute basis. The same is true of copy. Stick to a simple, consistent vocabulary that your audience can easily understand and act upon.

Keep it actionable.
Speaking of acting, let’s talk about calls to action. People like to know what they’re supposed to do next. If you’re promoting a special offer, tell your audiences how to get it in the most direct way possible—visit our website, follow us on Facebook, come to our store. These simple phrases explain exactly what you expect of people. Nothing frustrates an audience faster than extending an offer they can’t refuse, then immediately refusing to tell them how to get it.

Keep it relevant.
If your company sells hot tubs, there’s no reason to post a 20-paragraph rant about unicorns on Facebook. Unless scientific research can confirm that fans of horned horses feel a natural draw to warm water, your audience probably doesn’t care. In fact, it will likely confuse the crap out of them. Keep your content relevant to maintain consistency in your subject matter and treat audiences to the content they’ve come to expect from you.

Keep ‘em coming back for more.
If you’ve accomplished everything we’ve covered up to this point, there’s only one thing left to do: keep doing it. Using a consistent communication style each time you interact with your audience builds trust in your brand and makes consumers more likely to invest in your product or service. It may even turn them into a repeat customer or brand advocate who willingly (and freely) builds organic awareness for your business. And isn’t that really the dream?

As you can see, putting the right words in the right order for the right audience makes an undeniable impact. To make sure that happens, make it your top priority to have qualified content creators in charge of your copy. They keep your audiences focused on you, make sure the information is clear and drive the results that turn qualified prospects into your newest happy customers. For a few tips, hit us up at @thejamesagency with any copy query.

How to Write the Perfect Subject Line

Email.

It takes up so much real estate in our professional lives. There are even podcasts dedicated to it, teaching us how to wrangle it, tame it, understand it. As a marketing agency, we’re both senders and receivers of a massive amount of email—personal and promotional. We have developed a nose for what makes an email good and what makes one…well, stink.

Today, we’re focusing on the most crucial part of the entire email: The Subject Line.

Let’s begin with in-agency one-word associations:

“I say subject line, you say what?”

Creative Director: “Meaning.”
Senior Copywriter: “Inspiring.”
Junior Interactive Copywriter: “Difficult.”
Junior Web Developer: “Pivotal.”
Director of Web Strategy: “Catchy.”
Art Director: “Catchy.”

Subject lines are tricky S.O.Bs.

We’re all searching for a “Best Practice” that will increase all measurable signs that our emails are a hit, something that will get open rates up 50%, conversion rates up 40% and profits up 30%.

But what happens when there seems to be no playbook with a winning streak?

Director of Web Strategy: “One brand we worked with threw all convention and acceptable practice out the window. All they put in their subject line was the name of the recipient. I received this ominous email with just my name. I opened it and apparently much of their listerv did, too. The open rates haven’t been seen before or since. It was such an anomaly.”

(Stay tuned for why this was actually a bad strategy.)

Before you get frustrated and quit your day job as a semi-professional email crafter to pursue your daydream of being a quasi-professional kayaker, rest assured that beyond these anomalies there are guidelines that generate reliable (not the sexiest of buzzwords, we know) results for emails.

1. The subject line matters most, so spend more than a minute on it.

You’ve poured your heart and soul into this email. Never has there been such witty, informative, life-changing content. You kiss your computer screen. You pat yourself on the back. You release your creation into the world with a two-cent subject line.

“The work will speak for itself,” you’re sure.

A few days later, you check the open rates.

They’re abysmal.

This lesson is hard learned, so take it from us: your effort is worth bupkis if the subject line is not motivating someone to click on it. That’s a phenomenal email down the drain.

It may seem unjustifiable to spend as much time on one sentence (or sentence fragment, or single word), as you do on some paragraphs, but first impressions matter. A lot.

2. Click bait is quickly becoming click turn-offs.

It may rile you (or tempt you) when you see companies getting higher open rates with nothing but emojis, OR ALL CAPS, or ominous one-word subject lines (like just the recipient’s name).

Here’s why that strategy was penny-smart and dollar-stupid: you want to foster a history of healthy communication with your customer base. Trying to get them to open an email by being sly is going to hurt your brand’s reputation. No one is going to support an organization if they feel it is trying to sneak in through the back door.

Besides, the majority of internet users are savvy enough to see through someone trying to get opens with gimmicks. Often, they will intentionally refuse to indulge that.

Remember: an association with integrity never hurt anyone. Respect the intelligence of your consumers and they’ll respect you. Failing to do so will damage trust, increase unsubscribe rates and get bad word-of-mouth flowing. And really, if you need to trick your customers into looking at what you have to offer, there may be a larger issue at hand.

3. Keep it relevant.

TJAers have an endless list for why they don’t open some emails. But when asked what makes them open one, there’s a resounding answer: Relevancy.  People want to spend time doing and consuming things that directly benefit them.

The easiest thing in the world for a business to do is write about themselves. The smartest thing a business can do is write to improve the lives of those who are reading. Advice, references, anecdotes, lessons and resources that are written in a way that speaks directly to the needs of your readers will deliver results.

The subject line needs to demonstrate that direct benefit. It needs to answer the “Why should I read this?” question before it’s been asked.

The best subject lines are yet to come.

You are now armed and ready to reenter the highly competitive world of subject lines. Make sure all the work you put into the actual content is justified by getting it opened. Respect your readers by giving their intelligence more credit than your competitors and they’ll return the favor. Lastly, stay humble: it’s not all about you. Your customers are the reason you thrive, so cater to them and their needs while demonstrating why you continue to serve them best.

Now, go get read. 

10 Copywriting Tips for Advertisements

Today there is constant demand for content. Whether it be on social media, the radio or the last sheet of the toilet paper roll, people are looking to be engaged. And of course for great content, you need great copywriting. Here’s our list of 10 great copywriting tips that will help you grab your audience’s attention and connect them to your brand.

1. Research

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

                        -Zora Neale Hurston

Before you write anything, you need to know what you’re writing about. Learn everything you can about the brand and product, read reviews online to see what people are saying and research the industry and the competition. You’ll get a good grasp on the basic information you need to pass along, plus you might stumble across an interesting insight that leads to a great idea.

2. Find the differentiator.

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

– Coco Chanel

 What sets your product apart from others in the industry? Find the unique selling point, then write to that. When you think of Chipotle, what comes to mind? For most, it’s sustainable farming and fresh ingredients, because that’s how the brand markets itself. Yet it’s a quick service (or fast food in non-marketing speak) restaurant in the same category as companies like Subway and McDonald’s. Even though the industry is about affordable food and fast service, Chipotle doesn’t talk about that since everyone else in the industry can say the same thing. Discover what makes your product one-of-a-kind and focus your story around that.

3. Focus on benefits, not features.

“Good writing is suppose to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

– E.L. Doctorow

 So that new phone you’re pushing runs on an LTE network instead of 4G. That sounds cool, but what does that mean? How does that help consumers in their daily lives? It’s faster. Ok, but why does that matter? Well, maybe now you can be the first to buy tickets to that concert that sells out within two minutes, or you can make that rent payment that’s due at 5:00pm at 4:59pm. Instead of just listing features, write about how the product will actually help people.

4. Talk to your audience, not at them.

“If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”

-Hugh MacLeod

The best ads are the ones that don’t seem like ads. They’re not screaming, “Hey! Buy my product! Do it! Do it now!” Instead, they have a conversation with the consumer. Think about the difference between a politician yelling her point at a debate and a politician trying to connect with voters on a late night talk show. One seems angry and arrogant; the other appears laid back and relatable (at least she hopes so). Keep your writing sincere and approachable. You’re not trying to win over consumers who don’t need your product – you’re simply explaining how this specific product solves specific problems.

5. Keep it short.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

-Albert Einstein

The more you can explain in fewer words, the better. It’s easier for people to remember. And the message will be much clearer because you’re looking for the exact right words to use to get your point across in a short amount of time.

6. Avoid the fluff.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

-Mark Twain

Often times we think adding in a few extra adjectives or adverbs enhances the copy. But what’s the difference between the best and the very best? Does “very” make that best better than best? Sometimes it’s difficult for writers to get straight to the point, as we love words and the poetry of language. But advertising is for the benefit of the consumer, not the writer.

7. Focus on one message.

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

-Chinese proverb

It’s always tempting to pack 25 selling points into one ad, but people just aren’t going to read all of them. And forget about anyone remembering what your brand stands for. In an effort to say everything, you end up saying nothing. Pick the most important message to draw people in. If they’re interested in what you’re saying, they’ll ask for more information, and then you’ve created a conversation.

8. Write a lot.

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

-Thomas Edison

Your first headline is not going to be your best. Nor, most likely, will your 50th. But just like anything else, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Eventually you’ll start condensing your ideas into a couple of words and get a feel for the voice of the brand. Of course, we’re all bogged down by deadlines these days, but if you can find the time to write 100 different lines of copy, your ad will be better for it.

9. Consistency is key.

“Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”

-Bruce Lee

Whether you’re writing a billboard, social media post, radio spot or commercial, the tone and voice of your copy should be the same. If your print ads are sarcastic, your videos shouldn’t be sincere. You want consumers to immediately recognize your brand voice so they don’t confuse you with the competition. If you come up with a funny headline or killer pun, stop and think if it fits in with the overall messaging of the brand. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.

10. Find a proofreader.

“To write is human, to edit is divine.”

-Stephen King

There’s nothing like writing a totally amazing ad, only to have a typo completely change the meaning. It’s crucial to edit your copy when you’re done, but it’s always better to have someone else do it too. Our brains tend to fill in the blanks for us, so you’ll see a word that’s missing if you know it’s suppose to be there. A fresh set of eyes will catch these mistakes and let you know when something doesn’t make sense.
Bonus tip: When you’re completely stuck and have no idea what to say – just start writing! Eventually you’ll get into the swing of things and maybe even stumble across a brilliant idea that defies all advice from this guide.

Amy Klingler | Junior Copywriter

How to Write a Compelling Call-to-Action

Building a relationship can be tricky business. Too much attention and you’ve smothered them. Too little attention and they lose interest. The wrong kind of attention and…well, we’ve all seen the headlines.

Imagine your target audience as someone you’d like to ask on a date. You’ve seen the person around and have (um, hopefully) communicated with them – either through a friend or directly. You’ve discovered that there could be some compatibility between the two of you. You’re ready to take the next step of actually asking them to commit to accompanying you to a place of mutual interest.

In the advertising world, that next step is the “call-to-action.” Just like in the dating world, you want your call-to-action (or CTA) to make your intentions known, without coming across as desperate or creepy. Here are some tips from to help you avoid being desperate or creepy.

Make It Clear

Your CTA needs to be obvious because no one wants to spend a lot of time and energy trying to decipher exactly what you want them to do and how. In the immortal words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” A well-timed, “Let’s Get Started!” CTA makes your intentions known, as opposed to, “I think maybe we should take the next step when you feel like it, but it’s really up to you, OK? So just let me know whenever you get a second. Or not. Either way is cool.”

Do This: “Click Here for 7 Free Marketing Tips”

Don’t Do This: “Click Here for More Information”

Make It Simple

Don’t let someone get lost in the details once your CTA is out there. You want them to have an enjoyable experience throughout the process. If you make it too complicated, it’s easy for them to get turned off, distracted, or wonder if it’s really worth their time and effort. Say you’ve got someone hooked. Make sure they know “I think you’re awesome” will lead to “Let’s hang out” and then to “I know a great place for dinner” and keep it honest and interesting along the way. Now is not the time for guessing games.

Do This: Ebay’s ‘Buy It Now’ button

Don’t Do This: Craigslist’s ‘No phone calls, text only between 6pm-8pm, no emails before noon and after 4pm.’

Don’t Make It Too Easy

This sounds counter-intuitive, but think about it. When you want to have a meaningful interaction with someone, questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” can put an immediate end to the conversation. If you want to convince and convert, try to make sure your CTA doesn’t shut down the relationship before it even gets off the ground.

Do This: “Tell me about the kind of cheese you like!”

Don’t Do This: “Do you like cheese?”

Make It Personal

One size does not fit all when it comes to a CTA. You may be interested in different types of people (lucky you!). Chances are, they won’t all respond positively to the same CTA. “How YOU doin’?” might work well on one person, but it might get you shut down immediately with someone else. Being genuine and showing you’ve taken the time to discover what they might enjoy or respond positively to goes a long way. Oh, and get their name right. Everyone appreciates that.

Do This: “Hi Jessica! Click here to call us for a free health insurance quote!“

Don’t Do This: “Dear Sir/Madam, Click here if you are interested in a health insurance quote.”

Try, Try Again

Not every approach works right off the bat. If you’re not getting the results you hoped for, don’t give up! Try something different…another audience, rephrasing your CTA or changing a few words around. It might take some trial-and-error, but eventually, you’ll find out what gets you the results you want.

Jessica Tang | Copywriter

Tag Lines 101 – Be Short & Sweet…not Long & Spicy.

Writing tag lines is no simple task. Without supporting copy to hold it all together, they must stand on their own to define a brand’s positioning.. Great tag lines aren’t created overnight. They require thoughtful planning, research and just the right amount of insight. By following these tips, you’ll be better prepared to create unforgettable tag lines.

Understand the Audience + Brand

First and foremost, you must understand your audience. Without a clear understanding of your demographics, you’ll be writing blind. There’s nothing worse than an edgy tag line that’s desperately trying to appeal to soccer moms. It just doesn’t work. Write for your audience and play to the brand’s strengths.

Remember. Short + Sweet

Great tag lines are the ones you can recall. Take a moment to think about the ones that stick to memory. I bet some really good ones just came to mind. Ask yourself, “What makes them memorable?” It’s simple, really. Famous tag lines are catchy, concise and clever. Short and sweet is the name of the game.

Differentiate Yourself.

What differentiates one brand from another? By identifying a brand’s unique selling proposition (USP), you can more easily communicate your message with the right words. For this example, let’s consider domestic light beers. Coors Light claims to be “the world’s most refreshing beer.” Bud Light, on the other hand positions itself as an anytime beer when you’re “up for whatever.” Coors Light clearly defines itself as crisp, light and refreshing, while Bud Light positions itself as a more social beer. Each brand represents a very different experience, regardless of how similar they may be.

Determining the words to represent an entire brand is a difficult task. There are no formulas or rules to writing tag lines. It all starts with a solid understanding of your brand and audience, concise, catchy writing and a clear differentiating factor to set the brand apart. Get brainstorming and sooner or later, you’ll be writing tag lines like a pro.

Wesley Chaderton | Jr. Copywriter

The Science Behind the Perfect Headline

David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, understood the importance of a great headline. He once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” With the shear number of ads we encounter throughout the day, our minds are wired to filter out the noise. Whether by tuning into a different radio station, changing the channel or flipping the page, we actively try to avoid the sale. Ogilvy believed that, “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” Copywriting is a lot like fishing; you have to hook ‘em before you can reel ‘em in.

Find Your Voice

Copywriters speak in a targeted vernacular. We adjust our messaging to fit a specific target audience because millennials just don’t respond to the same messaging as baby-boomers.

Keep it Simple

When writing ad copy, it’s perfectly fine to think outside the box. However, if your headline becomes so convoluted that it fails to effectively communicate your message, then you’ve failed. Never sacrifice clarity for cleverness.

Use Keywords

In today’s age, we’re more connected than ever. When writing for traditional media, keywords serve as triggers to focus the readers’ thinking. In digital media, keywords are a great tool for search engine optimization (SEO) to help your readers find you online.

Inspire Your Readers

In many instances, a headline alone doesn’t sell. Great headlines will inspire your reader to seek more information. Often times, that information will be available immediately below in the body copy. If not, show them where to find it.

Personalize the Message

Don’t treat your reader like they’re just another face in the crowd. Speak to them, not at them. You want to make them feel like they’re important, not just a number.

The list of dos and don’ts for writing a great headline could go on and on. By establishing your voice, keeping it clear and concise, utilizing keywords, inspiring your readers and personalizing the message, you will have the best chance of getting your audience from pitch to purchase.

Wesley Chaderton | Jr. Copywriter

How to Write Killer Copy in 3 Easy Steps

As TJA’s junior copywriter, it’s probably important that I actually know how to write well. Showing up to work every day to brainstorm clever one-liners and craft quippy sentences is truly a dream come true. They say that creatives have “fun jobs”, and they’d be right. However, copywriting isn’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes, you’re tasked with creative jobs for that not-so-creative client and can even run into the dreaded creative block. It’s not always easy, but follow these tips and you’ll have no problem writing killer copy that will “wow” your clients.

1. Know Your Client + Your Target Audience

First and foremost, you have to know your client. Imagine a car salesman trying to pass off a ’98 Dodge Stratus as a top-of-the-line Dodge Viper. Yeah, it just doesn’t work. Without the proper knowledge of your client and the proper direction, you’re going to be selling ice to an eskimo. However, you mustn’t stop there. Just as important as knowing your client, is knowing their target audience. You wouldn’t speak to an adult the same as you would speak to a teenager, right? The same rules apply. You must appeal to the sensibilities of their particular demographic/psychographic. Voice is key. The more focused your thinking is, the easier it will be to accurately communicate your client’s message to their target audience.

2. Get Out Of Your Own Head + Welcome Criticism

It’s important to understand that there’s no such thing as a bad idea. However, it’s just as important to understand that not every idea is gold. In order to be a great copywriter, it’s crucial that you actively seek an outside perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in your own ideas and let pride get in the way. Swallow that pride, now. Feedback from your team and clients is the lifeline to your work. It provides you the opportunity to have your work torn apart, so you can go back and pick up the pieces. More often than not,  when put back together, those pieces are greater than the sum of their parts.

3. Translate Criticism + Build a Masterpiece

Criticism is a healthy thing for copywriters. It tells you what works and what doesn’t. So what if that headline you wrote didn’t make the client jump for joy? Take their direction and feedback, because it will offer valuable insight to allow you to refocus your writing and draft a masterpiece. Writing is an imperfect art form, and as powerful as words are, there’s no one way to satisfy everyone. That’s not what you’re writing for. Write to connect. Write to inspire. Write to engage. Your words give your client a voice in the marketplace, so speak up and be heard.

Copywriting lacks a clearly defined set of rules. However, if you follow these tips, you’ll be better prepared to tackle any client’s project. Every job will be different, but don’t let that intimidate you. With the proper knowledge of your client, the ability to take criticism and to adapt your writing to fit their direction, you’ll write killer copy that speaks to their target audience, each and every time.

Wesley Chaderton | Junior Copywriter

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