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  1. #1
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    You guys offered some brilliant suggestions when I asked about colors, so I'm gonna ask you about copy now. Being a writer by profession, I'm always writing and re-writing text. If I think something will work better, I run in and change it. Since I really want people to not only click on my affiliate links, but actually buy from the companies, what are some rules I should be following to create copy that sells?

    From my prior posts, it's clear I've had some success, but I want more! and better! One thing that gets mentioned now and again is the "call to action" - what constitutes a good call as opposed to a poor call? What's the line between selling well and sounding pushy or desperate?

    Are there articles around the web, or books you would recommend specifically on writing copy that sells? I'm really serious about making the sites I'm working on the best they can be.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Rick McGrath's Avatar
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    Janiss,

    Having done some traditional print catalog ad copy I've gained a real respect for those who can do it well. It's a real skill (art) to do it well. My favorite book on the subject is "How to write powerful catalog copy" by Herschell Gordon Lewis It's an easy and amusing read.

    Actually as it happens I was just in conversation with one of our partners on this very subject. I've a brief post in our forum.

    Frankly I think you, the partners have a natural advantage over the merchants in crafting your -compelling- sales copy because you can write from the perspective of sitting along side the buyer making a recommendation. You can assume the "we" stance when speaking with the customer and make a third party recommendation, always highly valued by the consumer. Much as we try ourselves it's still from the perspective of us selling our product to them.

    The lead or hook in is critical. I like to use questions or "what if", "wouldn't you" etc. Don't be afraid to use personal pronouns. Don't be afraid to be direct with the call to action. Careful with humor, careful with showing off your expansive vocabulary. I see it almost akin to poetry. You need to be judicious in your word selection and word count. It's easy to run on and on... clearly a problem for me [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Rick

  3. #3
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    I use a book called "Words That Sell".
    It's a thesaurus/reference organized by categories.

    With my limited English, learned from school, computer manuals and computer magazines, I feel I have a major drawback.

    It has headlines, openers, transitions, 40 ways to say comfortable, 60 ways to say service etc, etc.

    This little book makes it easier for me to find more compelling ways to say things. I use it every time I need to spice up what I write, and probably will for years.

    As an example on how I use the book, I can take the above paragraph and translate it into "selling words". :

    Forget everything you've heard about writing ad copy!
    Did you know that with this amazing little book, you'll discover how easy it is to write knockout ad copy?
    This enlightening quick-reference expands your knowledge, and should always be within reach. It will keep you ahead of the game, and provide you with invaluable advice for years to come.

    I may have overdone that a bit, but you get my point. The "translated" paragraph is way more exciting. For me, this book is just great.

    [ 08-22-2002: Message edited by: OveB ]

  4. #4
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    OveB,
    Is this the "Words that Sell" by Richard Bayan? Want to make sure I'm looking at the right book! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] This and the book Rick recommended seem like good, inexpensive additions to my resource library (as a matter of fact, the Lewis book is out of print and can be had for as little as six dollars).

    For me, writing ad copy is kind of fun - I get awfully serious when I work on my other writing. Articles and books take time, a cohesive narrative and lots of details. Copy writing is more like putting together little bytes of info and it's almost a game to see what works. Plus it's easier to see what is working - more or less people buy from that link. With a book, you never know for sure why it sells or doesn't sell - it has very little to do with the quality of the writing. And few editors really ever go into detail about your article - they just edit it to their taste and have the art director lay it out.

  5. #5
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    Yes, it's the cheap (and now worn) paperback by Richard Bayan.

    Darned, I should have put my amazon link up there! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    [ 08-22-2002: Message edited by: OveB ]

  6. #6
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>If I think something will work better, I run in and change it.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Be careful there. Sometimes your first idea is really your best. You can overthink something to death.

    I do bulk mail advertising for clients. (I design the piece, take it to the printer, print and affix the labels and take it to the post office.) I have a new client, and have designed several things for her. Each time, I've designed several versions, she has always picked the first idea I came up with among the four or five I present to her.

    Also, with the Internet, keep in mind it takes search engines time to index your pages. You may be changing a great idea before it is actually indexed and had an opportunity to generate enough good traffic.

    Tracy

  7. #7
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>it takes search engines time to index your pages. You may be changing a great idea before it is actually indexed and had an opportunity to generate enough good traffic.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    True! And I myself have noticed a lag of at least two weeks before any substantial changes in buying patterns happen after changing a page--regardless of whether a new index has happened or not! I don't know what does it--possibly cached versions at ISPs are refreshed on a long delay--but I've seen it quite a bit.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>what constitutes a good call as opposed to a poor call? What's the line between selling well and sounding pushy or desperate<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That depends on the product and the image you want to project! As you may know, I love CLICK HERE best. "Click here to get" starts a lot of my calls to action, regardless of product or price.

    Mainly it should fit in with the overall tone of the ad spin. A low-pressure spin page would not do well with a sudden burst of exclamation-pointed, bolded links at the end. And it would be terribly anti-climactic to end a high-pressure page with a simple statement!

    I will say this: Don't beg. Words like "please" are begging words. There are also other forms that aren't so obvious, like "just try it for 30 days, we're sure you'll like it". Reminiscent of a mother begging her kid to try yucky veggies, it leaves the impression that you really *won't* like it (and that you're assuming that they are hesitant). Better to mention a "30 day satisfaction guarantee" to get that same point across--people like satisfaction and they like guarantees--and it doesn't have that obvious inherent assumption that the person is actually *gasp* considering not buying.*/gasp*

    In other words, think of the *psychology* of the spin...people pick up on all those (usually unintended) cues, consciously or unconsciously, and react accordingly.

  8. #8
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    I have no tips on writing ad copy, but I do want to offer a different perspective.

    You CAN be a successful affiliate marketer without writing compelling copy... without writing any copy at all, even.

    I don't write copy except in the rare cases where the merchant doesn't have any. And in those cases, I'm much more likely to just present a bullet list of features (not even BENEFITS, lol). And the only time I use a call to action is when there is a sale/coupon with an expiration date (and not always then).

    I do correct grammar and spelling of the merchant's copy, however. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    If I had to write copy for the stuff I sell, two things would be true: 1) I'd still be working on my first page; and 2) I'd HATE my job.

  9. #9
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    >>You CAN be a successful affiliate marketer without writing compelling copy... without writing any copy at all, even.<<

    See, Cedric, I AM a writer, so for me writing copy is half the fun! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] I do frequently use the merchant's copy, but I'm always messing with it, improving on it or changing it to better suit the tone of my site. Writing is how I get my jollies (at least when it comes to computer-related stuff [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] ). For me, writing ad copy gives some sort of meaning to affiliate marketing.

    I know not everybody feels that way (in fact I would imagine only a writer would feel the way I just described). I suppose I could avoid the writing part of it and do well, too - but you know how it is. Some people gotta sing, some people gotta dance, and I gotta write.

    (Actually if I could spend my whole life doing nothing but dancing and writing, I'd be pretty darn happy. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] )

  10. #10
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    Is Google your dance partner?

    [ 08-23-2002: Message edited by: go60guy ]

  11. #11
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    >>You CAN be a successful affiliate marketer<<

    See, that's why I don't write copy. I meant that to be a generic "you" -- for anyone else who was reading... I did catch that you were a writer before I wrote my message. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  12. #12
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    >>You CAN be a successful affiliate marketer<<

    See, that's why I don't write copy. I meant that to be a generic "you" -- for anyone else who was reading... I did catch that you were a writer before I wrote my message. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  13. #13
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    >>Is Google your dance partner?<<

    I do aerobic dance and belly dance these days, so no partner needed - not even Google.

    Actually... to be honest... although Google has been pretty good to me, it has never asked me to dance.

    [edited to get the darn smiley right!]

    [ 08-23-2002: Message edited by: Janiss ]

  14. #14
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    >>I meant that to be a generic "you"<<

    Oh, I know - it was just my choice to reply with a personal post. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador qball0213's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Janiss:
    >>Is Google your dance partner?<<

    I do aerobic dance and belly dance these days, so no partner needed - not even Google.

    Actually... to be honest... although Google has been pretty good to me, it has never asked me to dance.

    [edited to get the darn smiley right!]

    [ 08-23-2002: Message edited by: Janiss ]
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Well If I may be the first, I wouldn't mind seeing it.
    :cool:

  16. #16
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rick - JC Whitney:
    Janiss,

    My favorite book on the subject is "How to write powerful catalog copy" by Herschell Gordon Lewis It's an easy and amusing read.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I bought this book almost 20 years ago and it's good. Especially for people early in their careers. But I've also found so many times I try to use just the right words, sometimes I struggle for a long time (30 minutes or more) on a single sentence.... Then I come back to reality.

    KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.

    I just delete the whole paragraph and say what I want to say; direct; and to the point. "{Item name} stopped the leak the first time I used it, and I still keep a can in the garage."

    compared to:

    "{Item name} contains the most recent polymors found to bound with metal on contact creating an water tight seal in seconds. One super sized can will stop up to 100 leaks ."

    (off the top of my head)

    For me, the first one creates a "need" for the product, the second does not.

    FWIW. JMO. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    [ 08-23-2002: Message edited by: AffJus ]

  17. #17
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    &gt;&gt;KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.
    I just delete the whole paragraph and say what I want to say; direct; and to the point.&lt;&lt;

    When I have writer's block (no matter what it is I'm writing), this solves it 99% of the time! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    By the way, I got this great little article in my email today - those of you who have taken an interest in this thread (and aren't on this particular mailing list) may find these tips useful:
    Turn Browsers Into Buyers with Effective Web Copy

    J

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