Copywriting terms from A to W
Below is a dictionary of handy copywriting terms. I hope you find them useful.
A model used in marketing to describe the stages buyers go through (and copywriting should take a consumer through) from first hearing about a product or service to buying it:
Attention – Interest – Desire – Action
Where text is placed on the page: left-, centrally- or right-aligned. This page is left-aligned.
Repeating the same initial letter or sound in consecutive words or words that are close together in a sentence to create a certain effect. Here’s a classy example:
The text attached to an online image that Google reads (and displays if an image doesn’t load), it’s one of about 200 ranking factors in search engine optimisation (SEO).
Is the clickable text in an online link or hyperlink, they’e often blue or underlined so they’re obvious to the reader.
The people who follow you on social media, read your blog, brochures and leaflets, and receive your marketing messages.
How your service or product will change your buyer’s life for the better, and the reasons why customers buy from you.
A section on a website that is regularly updated and usually displayed in reverse chronological order as part of a company’s inbound marketing, it also helps with search engine optimisation (SEO).
Blog post (or blog or post)
An individual page on a blog (like this one).
The emotions or values customers associate with a company or product. It’s how people feel after doing business with you or receiving a piece of marketing from you.
Is part of the strategy to create a brand and includes a distinguishing logo, design, mark, symbol, name or word/s used separately or together to differentiate a product from competitors’.
Instructions that tell your copywriter what and how you’d like them to write. A brief might include the type of document, keywords, the aim of the piece and your company’s USP.
A section of text that stands out from the rest of the document to draw attention to it.
Call to Action (CTA)
A phrase that encourages the reader to take a certain action, e.g. Sign up, Buy now, Take a test drive.
In copywriting, it usually refers to digital copy, such as web pages and blogs, but the broader definition is all of the words, images and videos on a website.
Writing intended to get the reader to take action.
Editing a document and correcting the grammar and spellings, and re-writing it if it can be improved. Copy-editing is more involved than proofreading.
CTR (Click-Through Rate)
The percentage or number of people who click on a certain link in, for example, a marketing email.
Targeting customers directly with relevant marketing information to encourage them to buy from you. There are lots of direct marketing channels, including mobile, telemarketing and mail.
Every version of a document before it is finalised – the second draft, for example.
Details specific to a service or product.
Text characters in different styles, weights and sizes, e.g. Times New Roman bold 12-point is a font (Times New Roman is the typeface).
Writing that draws the reader in by making them so curious they are ‘hooked’ and have to read on. It’s often used at the start of a piece of copy to get someone to keep reading.
An ideal customer is much more specific and well defined than just someone ‘who can pay for my products/services’, they might be male or female, a certain age, have a specific income, children, pets or interests. Once you know who they are and their characteristics you can target them through your marketing and copy.
Justified text is arranged so that there’s a straight edge down both the left and right-hand sides of a page by altering the size of the spaces between words.
The words or phrases search engines look for in web pages to bring back appropriate search results.
The idea that simple is best in copywriting, and in lots of other things too.
A standalone web page (often a long one) that takes the reader through everything they need to know to make a purchase. A good landing page has just one aim or call to action and no other links or distractions, so the reader either buys whatever the page is about or clicks away.
The Latin text that’s often used as a placeholder on new websites before the content is uploaded (it’s a scrambled version of a 1st century BC Latin text by Cicero with some words changed, added and removed in case you wondered).
The short description of what a web page is about that appears under the title tag in internet search results. It’s worth optimising them for search engines and knowing that Google generally cuts them off at about 160 characters.
Those very short bits of writing you see online when you sign up for something or buy something. They’re there to help you along the process, provide information and improve the customer experience (e.g. ‘Don’t worry, we won’t share your details’). Although short, good microcopy is written in the brand’s tone of voice.
Person (in grammar)
Who is writing to you. For example, I sell widgets (1st person singular), we sell widgets (1st person plural), Widgeriwoo sells widgets (3rd person). Which person you write in forms part of your brand’s voice and there are different reasons for using each one.
Checking a document to pick up and correct grammatical and spelling errors.
The flow and pattern of words within a sentence. Different length sentences, punctuation, repetition, stressing certain sounds or words all change the pace and rhythm of a piece of writing and keep it interesting.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Techniques to get your website pages and blogs to rank highly on search engines. There are about 200 ranking factors and the exact algorithm – or formula – each search engine uses isn’t widely known, but by testing websites and analysing the results it’s possible to work out the approximate importance of each factor.
Search engines use semantic search to bring back search results these days, which means that rather than just looking for matching keywords, they try to understand your meaning.
Similar to a strapline or tagline, a slogan is the phrase that accompanies a campaign. The best ones are (usually) short and memorable, and often use emotion to connect with their target market.
Social/social media copywriting
Updates on social media used to market a product or service.
A short landing page designed simply to get people to enter their email address.
Is the bit of copy that goes with a logo (sometimes called a ‘tagline’ in the U.S.). It might sum up a benefit, service or value and will work best if it’s memorable.
Subheads used in a web page or blog to tell the reader what they are about to read and to break up the writing into readable chunks of text.
A collection of brilliant writing examples copywriters collect and use for inspiration.
Often used in the U.S. (more often a ‘strapline’ in the UK). It might sum up a benefit, service or value and will work best if it’s memorable.
The people or group your copy is aimed at, e.g. older people, horse riders, dog owners.
Is the clickable link and title of a web page or post that you see at the top of online search results, it tells the reader what that page or post is about. They’re usually between 50 and 70 characters long and are important for SEO.
The tone of your copywriting, which might be conversational, formal or fun. The tone you create depends on the words you use, how you construct sentences, which person/perspective you use, and the values or information you want to communicate about your brand.
USP (Unique Selling Point)
A point of difference that distinguishes a company from its competitors.
A long, marketing document of several thousand words that brings together in-depth research and seeks to provide an authoritative voice on a topic. They are usually at least 2000 words and an average 6 to 10 pages.
“What’s in it for me?” The question readers ask themselves when they read something, and the question you try to answer as a copywriter by talking about benefits (and features).
A very popular website and blog platform with an easy-to-update content management system (CMS) used by me and lots of other people (there are roughly 16 million WordPress websites and 80 million blogs online).
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And, as always, thanks for reading.