Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise… Writing copy is hard work.
English is hard. It’s full of exceptions and rules that are defined by their exceptions. There are several hundred thousand English words, many of which sound alike or are spelled the same way. Commas and apostrophes have precise purposes, but they stick out (or change your meaning entirely) when they’re in the wrong place.
And I’m a huge fan of this crazy, confusing, and complicated language. I love it so much, I made it my full-time job!
But I’ve seen that there there are a million ways to put your idea into words. So whether you’re writing for your website or a caption for a post on social media, it can be easy to second-guess what you’re writing. And, even more, it can be hard to figure out which words are the best ones to use.
It can be daunting to try to get it all right. And a focus on perfect grammar can result in formal, stuffy, or confusing copy.
Clever copy is where you can bring in personality, humor, humanity, and all the things that make you, you! Do you say y’all, or have a habit of calling your best friends, “gal pals?” Or are you a person who talks only in puns? Oh, or are you someone who’s heart skips a beat when you read something with alliteration? (Guilty!)
Those are all examples of copy that’s clever, playful, or full of personality.
Clear copy can be defined as words that readers don’t have to work hard to interpret and take action. Was that clear enough for ya?
You may have heard, “If you confuse them you will lose them!” And that’s the idea that clear copy is built on.
The argument for clear copy is if your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, then they’ll move on. After all, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of other websites out there that might provide what they’re looking for.
Your website visitors need to understand three things as soon as they land on your site: where they are, what they can do on your site, and why they should stick around.
If you’re at all unclear about any of these things, you’ll lose credibility and the visitor.
The human mind is drawn toward simplicity and clarity and away from noise and confusion. With reports showing that only 16% of people read word-for-word online, content must be readily scannable and clear for the consumer.
Clarity in communication always leads to more conversions.
The goal in all our copy should be clarity. We want to get to the point and use words that our ideal client will understand.
When you read through your copy, you might look at it and be in love. Or think you’ve checked all the grammatical boxes. You might think your message is clear. But do your readers know how you help them with the words they’ve just read?
To make sure your copy is clear, when you’re writing, ask yourself:
How aware is your audience of what you do?
Where do you need to be super clear?
Where can you afford to be a little more clever?
Do they know the words you’re using?
Are they familiar with the industry jargon?
Too often, industry-specific vocabulary, witty puns, and too much information upfront require more effort than readers are willing to give, which ultimately stops them from clicking through and engaging with your brand.
In today’s content-driven, clickbait obsessed, and short-attention-span world, the move towards shorter, clearer copy is, well, clear.
So clarity in our copy is the goal. But clear copy does not mean boring copy! The idea that copy is exclusively creative or clear has been debated since the dawn of marketing.
It’s a misconception that a “clear” copy has to be boring, and “clever” copy has to be off-the-wall hilarious, creative, or whatever.
Clear doesn’t exclude clever; cleverness doesn’t have to exclude clarity. They can work together throughout the copy on your website!
The chances are that if your copy makes your target audience smile, you’re more likely to be remembered. And in a sea of Google search results, being memorable is a very good thing.
This balance between cleverness and clarity is a tricky one to strike. And you’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed trying to find that balance. I hear creative business owners struggling through it on the daily.
After writing hundreds of blog posts, social media captions, and websites, there is a balance that I think is your best option when crafting your message.
Write like you talk.
The copy you read and think is “clever” is really just steeped with that specific brand’s voice. They’re not necessarily trying to come up with something especially unique or clever. They’re simply using their brand voice and communicating a pain point that they know their audience has.
Whether your copy is clear, clever, or a balancing act of both, it needs to be sure to do ONE THING. Your copy needs to give your reader exactly what they’re looking for the moment they find you.
If they’re looking for hope and encouragement, your words need to speak into that need. And if they’re looking for a way to get involved, your copy should clearly tell them how to get started.
That’s a big role for your copy to fill! Need help?
If you’re struggling to make your copy clear when it matters and clever enough to turn a reader into a raving fan, there’s hope!
Wanna skip the guesswork in writing your copy? Get the tools to write content that converts!