For many businesses, copy is an afterthought. It’s the Lorem ipsum placeholder for text on a web page or new document. It’s what happens when every other element of design is in place.

When copy is treated in this way, it’s easy to see why people bounce from your landing page. Or leave your email unread. Or fail to click through on your ad.

Online audiences are targeted every day by someone trying to sell them something. They know what motivates them to take action—and what motivates them to keep scrolling.

You have to grab their attention, of course, with thoughtful headlines and visuals. But most importantly, you have to keep it with copy that speaks to their interests, desires and moves them to take action (aka convert). These starter tips should help.

Pay Attention to Formatting

Before we touch on the words you use, let’s talk about how you format them. If the goal of your copy is to keep people reading and eventually convert, you want to make sure your copy is easy to read.

Short, simple sentences and paragraphs are your friend. Forget what you learned as a kid about four-sentence paragraph minimums and get comfortable with one to two sentences instead. 

This makes it easier for readers to visually consume what you’re trying to get across. Bullets are also a useful formatting tool for quickly speaking to pain points and benefits.

Additionally, be conscious of the font you’re using and color contrast. Avoid formatting elements that make your text more difficult to read, especially when displayed on a screen.

To make your copy more accessible to those with disabilities, all of the above is crucial. As well as using alt text on images. UX Writers Collective has a great piece on getting started with writing inclusive copy.

Speak Like Your Customer

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business is to assume you know what your customer wants or needs. You may have an idea but how valid is it?

Your sales volume can answer that question pretty quickly. If you have a good product but you’re struggling to sell it online, how you’re selling it might be to blame.

Ideally, you’re able to dig in with your customers—through email surveys or user feedback interviews—on what motivates them. You can also turn to product reviews for insights. And if you don’t have many reviews yet, check out reviews left for your competitors.

Pay attention to the language customers use in describing your product and how it makes them feel. What problem does it help solve?

Are there words used frequently across your customer base? If so, try to incorporate them into your own marketing copy.

Incorporate “Power Words”

Buying something is emotional. It’s an action triggered by a feeling.

You want your copy to evoke emotion and persuade readers to take the next step in purchasing. Review your writing after the fact and highlight the verbs and adjectives used.

Check out this list of power words, pick a feeling and see if any of the words highlighted could be replaced with others that are more, well, powerful.

Using more descriptive, power-packed words in your writing may not come naturally overnight. The more you practice not only writing but editing your writing, the better it’ll become over time.

Want to learn more about writing copy that sells? Check out our list of recommended books for brand and business building.