Think about a time when you exchanged your contact information for a piece of content from an organization – in the form of a written guide, in-person or online event, video, or similar. More than likely, the copywriting in the ad, email, social media post, or on the website landing page for the offer played a big role in compelling you to decide you wanted the offer at that moment and to take action to get it.
One of the keys to writing effective offers is thinking like a journalist. News journalists grab their audiences’ attention with a headline and then convey information in priority order from most to least substantial, interesting, and important in order to keep their audiences’ attention throughout the story.
An effective priority order when writing marketing offers is to answer who, what, when, where, why and how for your audience.
Who – Who is providing the offer? Who is the offer intended for?
Communicating whom the offer is from may seem obvious, such as using your firm’s name as the sender name used in an email campaign about the offer, or having your firm’s logo in the email and on the offer landing page.
But there are more personal and recognizable ways to communicate who the offer is from that could improve your results. One technique is instead of using your firm’s name as the email sender, use the name of your firm’s managing partner, or the name of the person at your firm with whom the email recipient has the closest relationship.
At Hinge, we found sending offer emails from our managing partner Lee Frederiksen gets higher email open and click-through rates than sending emails using the name of our firm.
Communicating credibility is key
In general, people take advice from, and do business with, other people they trust are knowledgeable and experienced enough to solve their problem. Your current and prospect clients and partners are no different. Therefore, expressing how your firm, or an individual at your firm, is uniquely qualified to provide the information in your offer is a critical second stage of communicating whom the offer is from.
Examples of how to communicate credibility:
- When offering attendance at a live or online event, such as a webinar, use a photo of the presenter, the presenter’s title and organization, books they’ve authored, awards they’ve won, years of experience in the industry, or similar information. Choose the presenter’s accolade or experience that best resonates with your target audience.
- Highlight the number of years your firm has been in business
- State the number of clients your firm has
- Share data from research your firm has conducted
- Utilize third party endorsements from industry thought leaders, or client and partner testimonials. Here are examples of testimonials from well known and respected marketing industry leaders for Hinge’s book Inside the Buyer’s Brain:
Communicating who the offer is intended for reassures offer recipients that your offer is relevant and useful specifically to them.
Here is how Hinge communicates who our live and web events are intended for:
What – What is the offer?
Clarity trumps creativity
When writing offer titles, sub-titles, and copy about your offer, being clear is more important than being creative. Being clear means using the most direct way to say what you're trying to say, without the use of jargon and literary flair that detracts from the meaning.
Ask yourself if your writing passes the “blink test” – the commonly accepted 3 seconds you have to orient visitors to a web page they click through to on your website. If within 3 seconds, a site visitor can't glean what exactly they can do on that page, they click the back button.
Once you're done crafting the copy for your offer, read over it, and cross out every single word, phrase, and sentence that is not absolutely necessary to clearly convey meaning.
Keep the message straightforward and avoid using splashy promotional phrases, all capital letters, or exclamation marks.
When and Where – When can your audience get the offer? Where is the offer located?
If you’re offering a live event, such as registering to attend a webinar, ensure you include the:
- Location, in this example online via GoToMeeting, WebEx, or other provider
- Day of the week
- Time and time zone, such as Eastern Standard Time
If you’re offering a piece of content, such as an eBook, state that it’s available immediately upon signing up.
If you’re promoting a piece of content prior to it being published, such as a book, state the date the content will be emailed to them if they sign up to receive it.
Why – Why is the offer valuable and relevant to your audience? Why should they get the offer right now?
Value + relevance = conversions
The more value and relevance you can convey via your offer copy, the more conversions you are likely to get.
Using a clear value proposition answers your audiences’ questions about why they should download a specific offer from you at this very moment. They might wonder if they've already downloaded something similar somewhere else. Or maybe they’re not convinced of the value your offer is going to bring to them in exchange for their email address.
Make the benefits of your offer crystal clear. This is particularly important in your call-to-action, such as a button for someone to click. On your CTA, give a quick description of what happens when they click on it. Will they become better at their job? Will they save time? Regardless of what you want them to do, it should be very clear what is going to happen when people click and how they will be able to use the offer.
It’s important not to disappoint offer recipients by making outrageous claims you can’t support. So keep your copy relevant and focused on the benefits, but don’t over-exaggerate.
Emphasize offer time-sensitivity to encourage immediate action
Tap into the element of authentic urgency when telling your audience to do something right now. While words like “now” or “today” are okay to use, they don’t create a sense that someone will miss out if they don’t take action now or in a short period of time.
For example, MarketingExperiments web clinics are limited to 1,000 attendees. That is truly the limit of the webinar platform they use. When they added that fact to the call-to-action of their web clinic email invites, they increased their email click-through rate by 15%.
Another example is using research data to convey urgency. An accounting firm offering a guide on how publicly owned companies can avoid audits might cite data from an accounting association research report that states audits of publicly-owned companies increased 20% from 2012 to 2013. The sense of authentic urgency is that executives and comptrollers at public companies should take action now to ensure their company isn’t audited, or worse, fail an audit.
How – How does your audience get the offer?
Do people get your offer by filling out a web form, calling a phone number, sending an email, or other means? Ensure this information is included in your copy, especially your call-to-action.
6 common offer writing mistakes to avoid
- Writing in first person (“I”) or third person (“he”, “she”, “it”) point of view
Writing in second-person point of view (“you”) enables you to communicate with offer recipients instead of talking at them. It’s more conversational, better engages people, and reinforces that your offer is for them specifically.
- Failure to use action-oriented verbs
Action-oriented verbs like discover, unearth, find, and learn are more compelling and descriptive than ones like “be better.” It’s particularly important to use action-oriented verbs at the beginning of sentences and in your call-to-action.
- Writing out numbers instead of using numerals
Using numerals, such as 94%, instead of writing ninety-four percent, is more eye-catching to offer recipients when they’re quickly scanning your copy (remember the 3 second blink test?) and makes the copy more concise.
The exception to using numerals is when a number is at the beginning of a sentence. Try to re-structure sentences to avoid this.
- Failure to use SEO keywords
To give your offer the best chance of being found in search engine results, use keywords that your target audience uses to search for your offer topic in your offer title and within landing page copy.
- Inconsistency across campaign tactics
There are normally several different marketing tactics used in a campaign promoting an offer, such as emails, a landing page, ads, and social media. Maintaining consistency in your writing throughout the campaign is a crucial part of its success.
The title of the offer you are promoting should be the same in all promotional tactics. If an engineering firm is promoting a guide titled “The Ultimate Guide to Computer Aided Engineering”, then they should use the same title across the campaign.
You should also be referring to the offer in the same way in all materials. For example, if you have a LinkedIn ad with the call-to-action to download an eBook, you shouldn't call it a guide on the landing page.
- Lack of proofreading
Seemingly small errors to you can make a big difference in your audience taking the call-to-action. Mistakes are distracting and don’t instill confidence that you’re credible or could provide a high level of service to them should they become a client.
It’s best to have someone else proofread your offer once you’ve written it. Fresh eyes and a different perspective help to spot errors in spelling, grammar, consistency, and facts more readily that you can after working on it for hours.
If that isn’t possible, take a break and come back later to proofread your offer copy.
Examples of mistakes to look for:
- Did I spell “eBook” the same way on all materials? Did I use a lowercase “b” anywhere else in the copy?
- Did I consistently spell the social network “Google+”, not “Google Plus”?
- Did I consistently put the name/title of the content offer in bold font everywhere in the copy?
What marketing offer writing techniques have been effective for your firm in converting prospects into leads? Post a comment and share your advice and tips.