SMU 102 - Session 8: Closing Your Digital Copy
Purpose/Aim of this session
We've spent a considerable amount of time developing your ability to produce strong, effective headlines and openings. You've moved on to explore how to structure the body of your digital copy using the inverted pyramid approach to writing. And now we come to how to close your copy aimed at online audiences. Not including a call to action is one the biggest and most fundamental mistakes copywriters and brands make.
This session will develop your knowledge of writing an effective closing for your copy.
Learning Aims for this session:
- You will explore and analyze the call to action function in copywriting.
- You will explore the key features that make up a call to action
- You will develop an understanding of the various forms calls to action take
Learning Outcomes for this session:
At the end of this session, you will be able to:
- Explain the function and benefits of calls to action in copywriting.
- Apply the theories explored in developing calls to action to AIDA and inverted pyramids in copywriting.
- Apply theory to practice by developing calls to action
How this Session Works:
- Read through the Overview that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session
- Work your way through the items on the Preparatory section that accompanies this session
- Listen to the Lecture that accompanies this session
- Work your way through the branding scenarios in the "Scenario" tab. Scenarios are practical activities to develop your critical thinking and apply your knowledge to a specific component of copywriting
- Work your way through the template in the "Template" tab. The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your own brand messaging copy
- You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab. These materials will build upon your knowledge of copywriting
SMU 102 Session 8 Study Activities
- Preparatory Activities
- Reading Room
All stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. In our journey over the last two sessions of this unit, we have covered a story’s beginning (the Openings session) and its middle (the Inverted Pyramid session). Now we come to how to end a story. Believe it or not, this is one of the most fundamental aspects of copywriting that’s overlooked or forgotten.
The ending is just as important as the beginning and the middle when it comes to telling a story or conveying an experience. Think about it like this. How many times did a movie’s bad ending ruin a film for you? How many times did a book’s bad ending ruin the book and/or the story for you?
Not into films of books? That’s ok. Here’s one last analogy.
Think about a gathering of family or friends in a restaurant. The meal has been excellent. Your waiter or waitress was perfect. The conversation and the experience was magical. All round, it was a top evening out. And then the bill arrived and your wait person didn’t split the bill as s/he was asked to do. And then the quarrels and complaints about who owes what begins… The evening ends on a sour note that it didn’t need to end on. This is what a bad ending – or forgotten ending – in brand copy can do.
Endings in copywriting are just as important as the beginning and the middle.
All marketing copy must deliver a clear call to action. Do you want the consumer to phone, or write? How about, place their order now online? This call of action in most copy happens at the end of the brand message. "Enroll today”, "subscribe now", "click here to save 35% right now”…these are all calls to action.
Yes, it is true that online we can be more inventive. Online, calls to action can be banners, buttons or links and we can put them wherever we like. However, it is one of the last thinks a prospective reader will act upon.As residents of the 20th century, we are conditioned by hundreds of thousands of advertisements a year to respond. So make the call, as firmly and as directly as you can.
This is straight forward, yet needs to be very specific. Tell your audience to buy by saying do this (e.g. click the buy button), then this will happen (e.g. you will be directed to our secure order form where you will make payment via credit card or PayPal) and then this (e.g. you will receive a confirmation email within a few minutes of processing your order).
It's worth noting that any brand message should only have one, clearly stated, call to action. Keep it simple. Only ask a reader to do one thing - and one thing only. If you ask people to do multiple things - or your request is complex - you are not going to get the results you want...people will simply ignore it.
When it comes to endings, summarize your main sales points clearly and succinctly. Empower your marketing copy to close on just the right selling note.
Don’t just say "please buy now", tell them how to do it and say do it now. This needs to be explained as if you are teaching someone how to use the computer for the first time. And if you have created the right buying environment for your audience, if your slide was indeed slippery, and if you embedded power words and emotional triggers in your copy - as well as clearly articulated the value and benefits of your brand - you have greatly improved your chances of turning a prospective audience member into an actual audience member who will act on your call to action.Read More
- Read the following short article that outlines how to effectively end copy pieces:
Clark, B. 2006. How to Go Out In Style With Your Ending, copyblogger.
- This second article builds upon the points introduced by Clark. The article below covers the different ways you can close your copy:
Patel, N. and Putnam, J.. 2003. The Definitive Guide to Copywriting, Chapter 7: How to close the deal with your copy, Quick Sprout.
- The short article below covers additional ways to close branding copy:
Clark, B. 2006. How to Go Out In Style With Your Ending, Copyblogger.
- Having an effective "Call-to-Action" can be the difference between minor success and tremendous success. When crafting your call-to-action always keep these six tips in mind. Watch the video below to discover more.
- The video below breaks down the important difference between Urgency and Scarcity. Both are important factors in getting your target to "act now"... but there is a correct time and place for each.
- The short article below takes a look at how to write compelling offers, which is another effective approach to closing your copy:
Gillebeau, C. 2012. How to Craft an Offer That Can’t Be Refused, copyblogger.
- The short article below covers the art of making brand offers - and why offers are important:
Clark, B. 2008. “Kids Eat Free” and Other Irresistible Offers, copyblogger.
- The short article below covers how to write a compelling guarantee that establishes trust with a reader - and empowers yuor call to action.
Gillick, C. 2013. Writing a Guarantee That Converts, The Daily Egg.
- The last article below follows on from Gillick and delves a bit more deeply into how to write guarantee copy.
Rieck, D. 2010. How to write a powerful, response-boosting guarantee, Pro Copy Tips.
The lecture video for this session comes from a talk by marketing professional Jeff Johnson. It is an synthesis of the learning and knowledge for this unit. It also a succinct bridge to the various integrated marketing units you will soon be studying, notably the social media and blogging study units. You will gain an initial understanding of how the various components of integrated marketing - brand messaging, advertising, marketing, websites, social media, etc - are directed by copywriting.
Johnson provides an excellent explanation on how calls to action - one of the most overlooked aspect in the integrated marketing arsenal - have an important role in copywriting. And how calls to action are a critical component for the entire integrated communications process.Read More
Below you will find two examples of effective brand messages designed specifically for online audiences.
If possible, print the page. Read through each of the two examples. Each has an effective slippery slope. Map all of the copywriting elements in each example. The purpose of this activity is for you to understand how each and every copywriting element leads to its call to action, including the psychological aspects that we have covered.
Think about the audience. Think about the language, the words, the vocabulary used specifically for that audience. Ask yourself just how well the copywriter understood the audience s/he was writing for. How did s/he use the inverted pyramid? How strongly did s/he convey a benefit and a value proposition? What questions from the audience did s/he anticipate and answer? How did she create the right buying environment? What emotional triggers did s/he use?
Finally, note the call to action and evaluate it's effectiveness. Evaluate the call to action and assess the likelihood of a prospective audience member's likelihood of action.
The template below is provided you to guide you through strengthening your closing copy and your call to action.Read More
The Reading Room for this session provides carefully selected resources for you to further explore copywriting concepts, elements, issues and practice.
DeMers, J. 2013. The Definitive Guide to Crafting Winning Calls to Action in Your Content, Huffington Post Business.
DeMers, J. 2013. The Four Elements Of Any Action, And How To Use Them In Your Online Marketing Initiative, Forbes.
Paul, A.M. 2012. The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction, The New York Times Sunday Review.
Smith, J. 2014. Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action, Kissmetrics.
Zulkifly, H.Z. and Firdaus, N. 2014. Persuasion and the Online Consumers: Investigating Copywriting Strategies in Native Advertisements, International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 4, No. 6, pp 430 - 434. November 2014. http://www.ijssh.org/papers/393-H00010.pdfRead More