How Good Copywriting Can Benefit You, Even if You’re Not a Writer

How Good Copywriting Can Benefit You, Even if You’re Not a Writer

Reader Comments (44)

    • So often it comes back to the headline … in articles, emails, SERPs, support requests, etc. Gotta build that instant impulse and get the click!

  1. Nicely observed, especially with regard to the specific example, which resonated because of some recent experience that I’ve had ! In writing support tickets for various people, I’ve found it important to bear in mind what they need to know to help me get what I want (their help !)

    Being clear in your own mind about what you want your reader to do is vital whether that to investigate on your behalf or to buy from you 😉

  2. You are spot on!

    I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this before.. but I do tend to use my copywriting skills in other areas!

    1) I almost always create a killer headline no matter who I’m writing.
    2) Definitely employ ‘persuasive’ techniques to get what I want.
    3) Keep it short and sweet. Everyone has attention span of a gnat these days. LOL
    4) Include a clear CTA

    ~ darlene 🙂

  3. I’d say just about all of this would apply to most email communication in general.

    With just about everyone in the business world expected to use email on a regular basis, the ability to communicate what you need effectively in writing is a skill more and more people are finding important.

    Change up the examples and introductory paragraphs just a tad and the piece would work just as well for explaining how to write effective professional emails.

  4. Tip: Avoid grammar mistakes and you’ll gain more Authority.

    Example: “Yes, just like Chip Kelly had to modify a basketball strategy for the football field …”


    • Bill, can you point out this egregious grammar error? Looks like good conversational copy to me, even if there is some technical error.

      Please, elucidate.

    • After running this past my wife, who knows more grammar rules than I could ever violate, there is no error. Bill gets 15 minutes in the pedantic penalty box.

      • “Pedantic penalty box.” Here we go with another sports analogy! Man, Copyblogger is *really* speaking to me today! I’m gonna go buy all their products! …oh wait, I already own them all. Ha.

  5. Great post Jerod!

    As someone who has worked in customer support, I wish more customer had copywriting skills.

    It makes the job a lot simpler and less draining, which means we can get through more requests.

    • So true Hassan! The goal is always to process the greatest number of requests — while balancing exigency — in the time allotted. Understanding where the customer service rep’s situation can really help you craft a request that helps them so they can help you.

  6. Hi Jerod, the tips mentioned are really cool. So you mean to say is copy writing is the art of convincing people on to do something. I think writing a great subject line does half of the work. For me copy writing is a big definition like grammar and enticing write up which makes people glued to your content etc. should learn this art and know more about it thanks for igniting the hidden copy writer in me as I also feel I too can write…

  7. Brilliant tips thank you ever so much for writing them all out.

    Of course the biggest beneficiary of good copywriting is the reader. I thought before I read the post I’d already answered your headline. Thank goodness it was a more enthralling read!

  8. Proofread your writing or have someone else proofread your writing.

    Reading your writing out loud does your writing good. Listen to hear if your writing makes sense. Does your subject/headline grab a reader’s attention? If you can, read your writing to the people in your home or friends. Get feedback. 😉

  9. Just wanted to voice my STRONG support of the sports analogy, Jerod, in case there was ever a moment in your head when you were thinking: “will this resonate with readers.” At least this one, for SURE.

    The other lesson I got out of this? The best coaches support their players 100%. The critical media (ie, Bill Harrison) may be quick to point-the-finger… but a good CEO will jump in and call you out. Love it.

    • Mike, thank you! There was indeed a bit of worry bringing a sports analogy here to CB, so I’m quite glad it resonated.

      And I agree re: CEO support. That’s why Copyblogger is so great to work for.

  10. Great analogy with the customer service request. Know what you want and ask for it. Same thing with the customer. Know what you want them to do, set the stage and ask them to do it.

  11. Awesome post. I love the customer service analogy. You can really help yourself by knowing how to address people properly through writing, and it makes me cringe every time I see something like the first example you posted.


  12. Yes, yes yes!! I have always felt this way, that being a great writer is akin to being a good customer service representative (especially after having been both.) Good post! 😀

  13. Jerod, Really enjoyed this post. Loved the sports analogy and Kelly’s ‘fast break and choreography of movement’. Don’t get to watch too much American Football this side of the pond, but liked the way you transferred Kelly’s coaching philosophy to to copy writing. Compelling headline. Tight writing. A clear call to action. Your post is particularly useful to me because I write and come from a sporting background.
    The missing piece of the jigsaw for me was any experience of selling and to be honest, it took me a while to learn the meaning of ‘a call to action’. (Deep intake of breath from all you sales guys/gals out there!) It’s ok. I now understand that copy with no clear call to action is as useful as a chocolate teapot or a colour blind electrician. I quickly learnt the error of my ways but it is still good for me to have this message re-enforced from time to time.
    As for the alleged ‘grammatical error’, some of our greatest writers have bent or ignored rules, for the sake of writing which flowed and engaged their reader. Great post and whatever I write today, I will bear these points in mind. Thanks.

    • Bending or ignoring grammar rules to make a point or create a purposeful effect is fine. Mark Twain and Winston Churchill were great exemplars in this regard. But when the result looks like we “don’t no no better,” our writing and professional reputation lose authority and trust. We writers mostly do a pretty good job of following spelling rules. Why shouldn’t we be just as careful to follow grammar rules–especially when alternatives grate on the ears of literate readers?

      • @Bill — I didn’t see anything in this article that resembled: “I don’t no no better.” I (and others) seem to feel like you’re being overly critical.

        • Mike, it’s not a huge deal. The sentence I was referring to is this: “Yes, just like Chip Kelly had to modify a basketball strategy for the football field, you have to modify a copywriting strategy for customer support.” Using “like” rather than “as” just seems grating to me and to no particular purpose. Not to be overly critical, my point was simply that I think we professional writers should strive higher than this. Perhaps the reason it stuck out was that the rest of the article was excellent. I won’t beat this horse any further now.

  14. This is great advice, Jerod.

    Using what you’ve said, I’d like to add a little “extra” advice on how to use copy in customer service letters for even bigger problems… like those that require more than just a simple help ticket message.

    Like, say… a serious problem with an airline or hotel, an expensive product that’s clearly failed and needs to be replaced, and so on.

    In those, I also agree that you want to be clear very quickly about the problem. And you want to avoid panic or all caps or hostility — always.

    But sometimes, in these bigger cases, a little storytelling and a different kind of emotion — explained below — can actually go a long way.

    For example, I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation among family and friends for being able to get some pretty extreme customer service attention, just by writing a simple letter (or in some cases, using the same techniques in a phone call to customer support).

    This includes, for instance, writing a letter to Gap about a busted seam on new pants… where they sent me a $200 gift certificate for replacement clothes. This was the early ’90s, so it was many multiples of what I spent.

    It also includes getting class upgrade vouchers from Delta… a “cc” on a personal “fix this customer’s product” email from the CEO of Canon to his brother in NYC (the email was in Japanese)… and most recently, a room upgrade at a luxury Paris hotel, in which we’ll be staying two weeks from now.

    I didn’t ask for any of these things… or any special treatment at all… in the letters. All I did was follow the outline I always follow, whenever a problem requiring customer service arises.

    First, I open politely and pay a legitimate compliment about the product or service. Just a line. And I make sure it’s true.

    Then I let loose another line of emotion, usually some combo of the anticipation I had for using the product… plus my disappointment when the product promise was broken. Again, only a line and nothing melodramatic. Just enough to let them know they let me down… and here’s where you want to get specific (and be clear) about how the product has malfunctioned.

    If need be, I might throw in a little story — again, a line or two at most — about the consequences of the product failure. Just enough to let them know that when products don’t work as promised, it’s often leads to a bigger inconvenience than imagined, e.g. a busted camera meant lost baby pictures… a busted screen meant 8-hours of flight misery for tired parents… etc.

    And then I close by clearly repeating what I hope to have happen or at least asking them how we could fix the problem together. And I provide them a couple ways to contact me to let me know.

    The goal is, yes, to make them feel like they messed up… but always in the context that they’ve got the power to make things right again. I make it clear that I know they’re capable of doing better. I even finish by thanking them advance for doing just that. And most of the time, they come through.

    Just thought you and your readers might find that useful.

    Thanks again for a good piece.

    John F.

    P.S. By the way, in 20 years of writing copy, I’ve found lots of ways it can come in handy even for the non-writer. Personal relationships, storytelling, emails with colleagues, raising kids, meeting people… in so many scenarios. There’s probably a book that could be written on the subject. Or maybe it’s been written already.

    • John, such a great point! The effectiveness and relevancy of storytelling is situation-based. For a web hosting problem, where stories rarely lead to greater understanding or quicker problem solving, getting right down to brass tacks is the best policy. But for a more human issue, like the ones you’ve described, storytelling can definitely be effective.

  15. I appreciate your article. Thanks for your contribution.

    However, I am afraid the article has been written from an American point of view.

    That point of view will not sell, say, in countries that have a high context culture.

    America has a low context culture, so you are spot on with your ideas.

    However, most people do not understand nor play American football, basketball and soccer; they are not familiar with sports analogies and terms.

    I have to wonder how hard you would have to try if you step out of your comfort zone and travel the world.

    Probably, it would take some doing to adapt to the mores and nuances of other cultures and societies, what?

    Nevertheless, a good effort from one point of view.

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