What is ‘good’ copywriting and can it really increase sales?

How a website speaks to visitors can be the difference between them reaching out to you or looking elsewhere. But there is a lot more to good copywriting than most people realise.

Good copywriting is not just about how well a site reads, having good grammar or keeping sentences concise. Nor is it necessarily about being witty, using words like ‘quality’, ‘free’ or scare tactics like ‘quick – selling fast’. Although all of that can help, copywriting that converts goes a bit deeper by taking into account the different ways people process information. It connects with the primary motivating drivers of each audience, in order to encourage them to take action on a site.

But what are these drivers, and how do you write to appeal to them? Let me illustrate with an example you may be familiar with.

Have you ever gone to view a house with a partner, wife or husband and come away with completely different perspectives of it?

One of you is immediately taken with the house.

The openness, feel and vibe is just wonderful. Look at that view! Oh, and I love that weeping willow – I’ve always wanted a house with a willow tree. We can do so much with this house!

This person is looking for what is ‘right’ with the house. They are what’s known as a ‘match thinker’.

The other person immediately hones into what is wrong.

Firstly, have you seen the cracks in the ceiling, look at the paint lifting in the bathroom, the mould in the corners and I can’t imagine the drainage issues with that tree – do you realise how far and deep those roots reach? This house needs so much work!

These people are your ‘mismatch thinkers’.

One of you may focus on how the home ‘feels’, and makes decisions primarily based on emotion. While the other will compile a detailed list of what is right and wrong with it, and only if the pros outweigh the cons agree to purchase it. These people rely more on ‘thinking’ than feeling to make decisions.

Let’s say you get past these different perspectives and agree to move to the next stage and get a builders inspection.

One of you suggests a detailed builders report. This person is fear avoidant, they immediately think of the worst case scenario. They are what’s known as ‘away from’.

The other says, “my mates a builder, I’ll just get him to look at it. We’re just wasting money otherwise, as the inspector isn’t going to tell us anything my mate can’t”. They are what’s known as a ‘towards’ person. Solutions focused, they think not of what you could lose by using a mate, but what you could gain by way of savings.

The ‘away from’ thinker replies – ‘Well what if your mate gets it wrong, what if they miss something – then what? I’d rather spend a bit of money now for peace-of-mind, then risk losing thousands with repair bills if something is wrong with it’.

Now, for the purposes of this illustration we’ll assume you both agree to a builders report and fast forward a week to when the report is ready.

One of you goes straight to the summary, and decides the house is perfectly fine to proceed with. This person is what’s known as a big picture person.

The other needs to read the report line by line and discuss every detail of it with the inspector. They need to fully understand the report before they feel comfortable with proceeding. They are a detailed person.

The time comes to secure finance, and one of you insists on locking-in for 5 years. This person wants the security of knowing what their repayments will be for the next five years. They want to avoid paying more if interest rates go up.

While the other person disagrees – what if interest rates fall further, and you end up paying more than you had to. They say – ‘no, I think we should fix it for just a year’. We may end up saving a lot more money in the long term. They are focused on what they could save, not what they could end up paying.

By now you’ll be getting the gist of where I’m going with this – we process information and make decisions in vastly different ways.

But what does any of this have to do with copywriting?

A lot.

How we process information has a big impact on how we view the world, and in turn how we act. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP in its abbreviated form, meta programs are used to describe how we process information. I touched on a few of these programs in the above illustration, but there are many more.

A good copywriter understands different meta programs, and will create content to appear to the different ways people process information in order to encourage them to take the next step on your website.

For example, they’ll include high level messages and banner statements for those ‘big picture’ thinkers. For these people, too much information is an irritation. They like to make decisions fast, and appreciate high level overviews, or specific bullet points.

While for ‘detailed oriented’ people, they’ll layer on information like case studies, FAQ’s and detailed descriptions of services, qualifications and the experience of the people in the company. For these people, information is their ‘safety net’, and they can’t proceed to the next stage without it.

Others may act on their ‘gut-feel’, which is essentially the language, tone, images and look of the website. These people are our ‘feelers’, which is the opposite of a ‘thinker’ who will be looking for testimonials, accreditations, projects and facts.

Because we process information in vastly different ways, content needs to appeal to a wide variety of audiences and connect with the motivating drivers of each one. A skilled copywriter will map customer journeys with this in mind, taking into account the different paths each audience needs to follow in order to feel comfortable purchasing from or getting in touch with you.

How a copywriter crafts content has a big impact on whether or not the website visitor takes the next action, be that a phone call, form submission or purchase. Our preferences influence how we process information, and in turn what action we do or do not take.

Are you thinking about investing in a new website? Are you considering professional copywriting? To learn more about how website copywriting can help your business, view our Copywriting Services and Copywriting Portfolio. Digitalstream has offices in Hamilton, Auckland and the Sunshine Coast. Our clients are all over NZ and Australia. You can also find pricing for our Copywriting Packages on our website.

Once you’ve browsed our work and packages, get in touch with us for a free, confidential chat about how our copywriting service can help generate more leads

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