Web Copy: Use the Right Words to Connect and Prosper

Guest post by Melody Brooks, head copywriter for Sumer, LLC

The late comedian George Carlin was fond of saying that the quality of our thoughts is only as good as the quality of our language. That sentiment can be taken a step further: the quality of our marketing copy is only as good as the quality of our language—and if that language doesn’t speak to the target audience and motivate them to take action, it’s a waste.

Every target audience or industry has its own buzzwords and lingo, and your website and marketing copy need to use that specific language, or they won’t be effective. For example, the word choices, tone, and context you use to connect with retirees in the Midwest will be markedly different from what you would use with college students in the Northeast.

If you feel unsure about which words to use with your prospects and clients, find out what they read. Magazines or books that are popular with that group are using the right words. Learn from them, especially any advertising that appears month after month. If it didn’t work, it wouldn’t be there.

If nothing else, ask your audience what they respond to. They’ll remember you for caring enough to seek their opinion.

Here are seven quick tips to connect with your audience by using the right words:

  • Clarify your intention and your motivation. What action do you want them to take and why? Where does this copy fall in your sales process?
  • Know your audience. Are they well versed in your industry, and do they know the lingo? Normally, you want to assume they don’t and keep it simple; however, with some target audiences you can use specialized language. Will they respond to 25-cent words or hundred-dollar words? Should you say get or receive?
  • Don’t censor or edit yourself when you start writing. First drafts are about putting your thoughts on paper, then going back and reworking. You can add industry- and audience-specific language later.
  • Watch your tone. You don’t want to come across as sarcastic, condescending, or patronizing. You are their partner in solving their problem.
  • Monitor your use of I, me, my, and our. It’s not about you.
  • Never use your first draft unless you have no other choice. Let it sit for a while, do something else, and go back for a fresh look. You’ll be amazed at how much better the second draft is.
  • Have someone who is in your target audience or demographic read your copy and tell you where you shine and where you could use some polish.

Remember, your choice of words makes all the difference between blah and brilliant copy, no matter the situation. Use the right words effectively to motivate your audience to act. Speak their language. Show them you understand their problems, and you know how to help.

Melody Brooks is Sumèr’s head copywriter and can be reached at [email protected].


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