3 things you should know before writing for digital

The Marketing Pod

The Marketing Pod

As a copywriter, it’s likely you’re used to adapting our copy for different channels and formats. When it comes to digital content however, the checklist of considerations can feel overwhelming.

From SEO to meta-tags, writing for digital can seem like more of a science than an art. By keeping these top tips in mind, you should be able to create copy that’s a beautiful blend of the 2.

Right now, it’s likely that your audience is spending more time online than ever before; internet hits have surged by 50%-70% since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

It means there’s a great opportunity to connect with new readers or customers through digital campaigns – but with so many people rushing to seize the opportunity, you’ll only reach your audience if your copy is optimised for digital.

Here are 3 important things to remember:

1. Your audience is skim-reading

A recent review of the differences between print and digital reading experiences found that when reading online, people tend to browse and scan, look for keywords and read in a less linear, more selective way.

Multiple studies have found that reading from a screen makes us far more likely to skim the words we’re reading, and even when we’re skimming, we’re not reading linearly – instead our gaze tends to jump around the page, our minds distracted by visual elements like pull-out quotes or images.

This means that copywriters need to write ‘skimmable’ copy, to ensure that key messages and calls to action are picked up by online readers. There are a range of ways you can do this, but perhaps the most important is to keep your copy concise. Every sentence you write should add something – there’s no room for waffle, as key messages will be likely to get lost with the ‘fluff’.

Breaking up your copy into smaller paragraphs and using sub-headers to make the subject of each section of your copy clear can also help you to ensure your messages get across, allowing readers to simply skip to the section they’re most interested in.

2. It’s all about intent

Always remember that when you’re writing for digital, you should be writing for your audience first and search engines second. SEO is important, but it’s vital that you focus on creating useful, relevant content above all else.

If you write a blog that’s filled with keywords but not much useful information, then you might get people to visit your page, but you’re unlikely to convert them to leads.

That being said, there are some simple ways to ensure that your content ranks highly on Google. Years ago, copywriters could ensure their content ranked highly simply by cramming it with keywords, but this is no longer the case.

Google has started penalising copy that’s too keyword heavy, so now it’s all about keyword intent: the searcher’s purpose when they’re using a certain keyword.

Google rewards content that closely matches keyword intent because its continued success as a search engine depends on providing high-quality results.

There are three main types of keyword intent:

  •  informational: searches performed to answer questions or learn something
  • navigational: searches performed to locate a specific website
  •  transactional: searches performed to buy something

With keywords, the trick is to think carefully about what users are really looking for when they use certain keywords, then ensure that your content delivers.

If you’re writing a blog, for example, you should be thinking about informational keywords. On your website, use more navigational keywords and on your product pages you might want to include more transactional keywords.

3. You need to get personal

There is so much competition for your audience’s attention online that you need to pull out all of the stops to ensure your copy cuts through the noise.

And just like in many other mediums, personalisation can make a real difference to whether a prospective customer engages with your content.

From a marketing perspective, many digital channels also give you a greater opportunity to define and target your audience than ever before, which means there’s no excuse not to tailor your copy to the person who’s going to be reading it.

Google Analytics can give you demographics on your website visitors, for example, and many email marketing platforms give you insight into the recipients of your emails. You need to use this insight to give your copy a more personal feel, which is much more likely to resonate with your audience than yet another one-size-fits-all message.

Feel more ready to write for digital? The next time you’re asked for copy for a landing page, don’t panic – just keep it concise, add a personal touch and make sure it gives your audience what they’re looking for.

These are actually tried-and-tested techniques that copywriters have been using successfully for years, they just need honing for a more digital age.

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