The world of copywriting is stuffed with head-spinning jargon – transcreation, localization, tone of voice… the list is long!
In some of my previous blog posts, I’ve already defined a handful of these key concepts including “copywriter” itself. Today, I’m going one step further to compile a more complete copywriting glossary to help you understand copywriting, your copywriter and how to create compelling content.
Before we set off, remember that this list is far from exhaustive – the focus here is on making sure your messages hit the mark (and compel your customers to act).
When selling a product or service, it can be tempting to focus on the latest functionalities (the ones none of your competitors have even thought of yet) or its impressive technical specifications, see features. This is all well and good, and they will definitely get a mention somewhere in your message.
But, there is a far more effective way to connect with your customers.
This means always asking yourself:
What value does your new functionality add for your customer? What problem does your innovation solve?
Present your product or service as a solution to your customers’ problems, rather than a standalone innovation.
Call to Action
This is a short, punchy message (often at the end of the copy) that compels the reader to take some form of action – this is the aim of copywriting after all! Online, this usually means a link or button that takes the reader to the contact page, sign-up form, or payment.
You need to convince the prospect to act in just a few words. So, make each one count!
Copy is the word that those in know use to refer to any piece of (copy)writing, be it an email, product page or tweet – logical given our job title!
This is your imaginary typical customer based on the profile of your target audience (who you want to sell to) in terms of socio-demographics, as well as interests and needs. Imaging your target audience as a real person – rather than an abstract group – makes it easier to build the right message.
These are closely linked to the benefits we looked at earlier in the list. The features are the “facts” or specific elements of your product or service – e.g. speed, memory or number of pages. They are important in providing concrete details, so the prospect can understand and compare your product or service.
Just don’t forget to prioritize those benefits!
This is your make-or-break chance to hook the reader, so it needs to have that wow factor. How can you make your headline more appealing? Here are a couple of suggestions:
- introduce a key benefit
- use a surprising statistic
- create a cliffhanger
I’ll take a closer look at creating great headlines in the not too distance future, so watch this space.
Every day, we’re bombarded with thousands of messages, so make yours stand out!
This is the next step beyond translation. Rather than providing an as accurate a version of the source text as possible, the aim is to adapt the source text for the local audience. What exactly does this mean? For example, using local formats, references and locations. A UK audience will relate to pounds, Nottingham and tea more easily than to euros, Reims and macarons.
Yes, this means you won’t necessarily find every word, sentence or even paragraph from the original source text. But, don’t worry, this isn’t an “error”, it just means that your message will be easier to understand and therefore more powerful.
This is the phrase that sums up who you are and what you do. Usually only a few words, the tagline should be as memorable as Nike’s “Just do it”.
This means completely adapting an ad or message to resonate with the local audience. This may involve changing the format, topic and even visuals. Although the transcreated text retains the overall spirit or message of the original version, it moves far beyond translation to create a whole new piece of copy.
In advertising, this is often the only viable option.
This is an ideal way to express more factual information – such as product pages, user guides and catalogues – in different languages. Although some grammatical changes may occur, the translated text will usually remain true to the original.
Tone of Voice
This is all about expressing the personality of your brand. To make your messages powerful and coherent, the way you write needs to embody your brand’s values. Once you’ve worked out what makes your brand tick, you can create a truly unique voice that customers will recognize and learn to trust over time.
The most convincing messages often aren’t invented by copywriters, however good they are. Rather, they are given to you by happy customers and satisfied partners. Including testimonials is a powerful way to reassure potential customers that others have tried, tested and approved your product or service. Rather than singing your own praises, let others do it for you!
Remember to make your testimonials as personal and detailed as possible – this means including a photo, job title or others details that make the account more believable.
Unique Selling Points
What makes you different from (and better than) your competitors? Once you’ve worked out your unique value proposition, communicate it as clearly as you can in all your copy. If you’re the only supplier who delivers worldwide, let your prospects know. You have the widest selection of products on the market? Tell your prospects just how many choices they have.
As for testimonials, make these USPs as tangible as possible. Simply say you’re more innovative than everyone else doesn’t quite cut it! This is an ideal place to bring in any awards or patented technologies.
A few closing (copywriting) words
I hope this glossary has given you some helpful insights into the mind and vocabulary of a copywriter, as well as the copywriting process.
I’ll keep updating this list with more useful copywriting terms and, even now and then, I’ll dedicated an entire article to particularly important concepts. So, stay tuned.
Any suggestions for additional words? Is there a copywriting term you’d like to understand better?
I’d love to hear from you!