27 Editing Tips: How to Make Your Web Copy More Engaging, Credible, and Persuasive

Editing copy

Editing isn’t just correcting grammar errors. You need to re-arrange, clean, and polish your text.

Ever assembled a flat-pack bookcase?

As long as you can figure out in what order to assemble the parts, it’s doable.

Now imagine a flat pack from hell…

You struggle to decide which parts are just packaging. You need to cut loose a few parts because they’re glued together in the wrong place. A few parts are dirty. And a couple of screws are so rusty you need to replace them.

Editing a first draft is like assembling a flat pack from hell

(tweet this)

You need to re-arrange, clean, and polish your first draft.

You need to write the missing parts. And throw away excess parts.

Editing can be a painful process because you’re rewriting text you’ve put together with so much effort. You throw away your favorite sentences because they’re redundant. You dig deep to find exactly the right words.

But editing is also fascinating. You uncover the beauty of your ideas. You create clarity and simplicity. You make your text more engaging, more credible, and more persuasive.

Let’s have a look at the steps of the editing process. Your first task is to ensure your text is complete.

Don’t miss any important sales messages

  1. Check you’ve not missed any product features or specifications.
  2. Ensure you’ve translated product features into attractive benefits. A benefit explains what your product or service does for your customer. Your customers want to know what’s in it for them.
  3. Highlight the hassle you avoid. A list of features and specs becomes boring because the information is all positive. Keep your reader awake and engaged by pointing out a problem you help to avoid.
  4. Review the objections to buying your product or service. Make sure you’ve addressed them all.
  5. Examine the captions below your images. Do they contain a sales message to entice your reader to read on?
  6. Analyze each page like a landing page. Each page should have a simple headline and an impeccably clear call-to-action.

Remember: fuzziness kills conversion rates. Ensure your web visitors know what to do next and why. (tweet this)

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Edit your web copy for scanners

You know web visitors behave like hungry animals, don’t you?

Web visitors don’t take the time to read your text. They glance at your web copy before deciding whether to click away or not.

Follow these tips to optimize your web copy for scanners:

  1. Ensure each page has a headline in a large font that indicates your web visitors have arrived in the right place.
  2. Check that your subheadings entice scanners to start reading.
  3. Try to convert more sentences in short lists of fascinating bullet points, because they’re easier to scan.
  4. Ensure you’ve followed the inverted pyramid. Your most important information should always come first.

Make your web copy more credible and persuasive

Your bullet points and subheadings have enticed scanners to start reading.

It’s time to boost the persuasiveness of your web copy with these 7 simple tricks.

  1. Check your engagement level. Is your content focused on your ideal reader? Count the number of times you’ve used I and me versus you.
  2. Imagine you’re having a conversation with your ideal reader. Does your copy sound natural?
  3. Make your copy more specific. General statements like Leading Widget Manufacturer sound like marketing blurb. A specific statement sounds much more credible: 23,700 Satisfied Widget Users in Manchester.
  4. Put numbers into context. Relate your numbers to something people can visualize. Amazon, for instance, explains the lightness of the Kindle Paperwhite like this: Weighing only 7.5 ounces, Kindle Paperwhite weighs less than a typical paperback.
  5. Put on your devil’s advocate hat and read through your text. Where do you slightly doubt your claims? That’s where you need to add further proof. Consider adding a quote from a customer or figures from a test report.
  6. Kill blandness in your copy. Choose sensory and emotional words, because they’re more memorable and persuasive.
  7. Use the word because. Give people a reason why they should do something and you have a better chance that they’ll follow your advice. Psychologists call this an automatic response pattern.

Boost your web copy’s readability

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Tight, simple text engages and delights.

But first drafts are usually unwieldy. Too long, too wordy, and too complicated.

How can you simplify and tighten your text? And avoid chasing your web visitors away with sloppy writing?

Let’s have a look.

  1. Cut all ideas that are irrelevant. Sometimes we include stuff in our copy because we like it, not because our readers want to read it.
  2. Scrap redundant sentences. If a sentence doesn’t add to your sales message, it’s unnecessary. Saying the same thing twice in different ways is needless. Don’t repeat the same thing using different words. (See how irritating that is?)
  3. Cut excessive words. Read each sentence carefully and delete each word that isn’t necessary. Words you can almost always delete: ought, perhaps, in my opinion, just, actually, truly, and very.
  4. Scrap gobbledygook. Each word should have a meaning that adds to your readers’ understanding. Scrap overused phrases, such as innovative, best-in-class, and market-leading.
  5. Replace complicated words with simple words. Cut long words and replace them with shorter ones. Only use jargon if you’re sure your reader understands it.
  6. Avoid the passive voice. We appreciate your email sounds much more personal than your email will be appreciated.

Avoid spelling and grammar goofs

Stop looking silly.

Don’t lose sales because of stupid errors.

  1. To spot typos, read your text backwards or ask someone else to proofread your text. Remember: A spellchecker isn’t perfect.
  2. Check you’ve not committed common grammar goofs that make you look silly. Check your there, they’re and their, your complements and compliments, and your then and than.
  3. Proofread on paper. You’re less likely to skim the text and miss errors.
  4. Read your text aloud. Rewrite the text where you stumble.

The truth about writing persuasive copy

I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. ~ David Ogilvy

You don’t have to be a great writer to create persuasive web copy.

You shouldn’t worry about writing a good first draft.

Just get some words on paper. Write as if it’s a warming-up exercise. And enjoy the process of turning crappy copy into persuasive text.

Above all: tighten your copy. Cut more text. Cut even more text.

Your readers will be grateful for it. And you’ll win more business.

This blog post is part of a series about writing sales copy.

Image credit (adapted): Shutterstock
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Comments

  1. waqar says:

    That was one great post man , truth is I never has been a good writer and editor, My English is not up to that par, SO are words clumsy and incomprehensible, This would help make everyday post wroth reading everyday.
    waqar recently posted…Give Away 20$ Cash for Lucky Winner Plus Genesis FramworkMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      It can be difficult to write in a language that’s not your native tongue. It might be wise to hire an editor?

  2. Kerstin says:

    Spooky. You always write about the things just when I need them.
    Great article. Your articles are always good, but this is really good. Thank you Henneke :-)

  3. Veronique says:

    Hi Henneke, your blog is addictive! Back to my desk then. And waiting for the Kindle book… Thanks!
    Veronique recently posted…Don’t want returns? Your product description in French is keyMy Profile

  4. Diane Comeau says:

    Hi Henneke,
    I have to agree with Kerstin. You must be telepathic as I was just about to write and then have to edit (of course) and now you have given this wonderful information to finish this project.
    Thanks so much Henneke, have a great week!
    Diane
    Diane Comeau recently posted…Magicians in LeesburgMy Profile

  5. John says:

    Wow! What a great post with excellent information! I just shared via social media.

  6. Lisa says:

    My all time favorite for #14 (Put numbers into context) is “10,000 songs in your pocket.”
    Lisa recently posted…Congratulations To Qpractice Members Who Passed the NCIDQ Practicum!My Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, that’s an amazingly powerful and simple concept. I think it was Steve Jobs himself who came up with the idea, but I’m not sure.

  7. Louie says:

    Henneke, I see you’re getting “famoser” everyday :)
    Good for you.

  8. Anne says:

    Some people have a lot to say, and take up a lot of pages. You Henneke, have a lot to say on one page, and that is great copy writing. Thank you for always getting to the point.

    • Henneke says:

      That’s a great compliment, Anne. Thank you. :)

      I’d even say: some people still write a lot of pages even if they have hardly anything to say! ;-)

  9. Andrea H. says:

    Great post Henneke, really impressive. There are so many points to consider that I had to print it out and share on Twitter and G+.

    Fabulous. :)
    Andrea H. recently posted…Napoleon Hill’s Key Success Factor to MasteryMy Profile

  10. Kitty Kilian says:

    Yep. Editing. Actually it is part of the writing process.. for me. I love it, but it is also mildly annoying, since I am a perfectionist.
    Kitty Kilian recently posted…Waarom zelfs fysiotherapeuten moeten bloggenMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      I enjoy editing more than writing a first draft. :)

      But sometimes I spend far too much time replacing commas with periods; and looking for a word that is just ever so slightly better.

  11. Bill Farman says:

    Henneke I always enjoy & look forward to your posts!

    Some timely advice for me here as a serial procrastinator embarking on my blogging journey.

    Keep the good stuff coming!

    ;-b
    Bill Farman recently posted…Internet Marketing…and The Secret To SuccessMy Profile

  12. Moniek says:

    Hi Henneke,
    Sorry for the this late reaction.

    Your post is honestly motivating. I can just optimistically start re-writing nearly all the pages of my sites. And I don’t mind. Thanks! Simplicity it is!

    Moniek

    • Henneke says:

      Any reaction is welcome – it doesn’t matter when it arrives. :)

      Good luck with re-writing your web pages!

  13. Gerald Brown says:

    Could you put a PRINT button on your posts? When I TRIED to print this only part of it would print and the “Get updates” box was covering some of the content. If you are using WordPress then a print button is included in the shared area.

    Thanks.
    Gerald Brown recently posted…Do you have a lot of media in your home library?My Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Which browser do you use? I’m unable to reproduce your problem here.

      I’ve added the print button temporarily – I’ll look into a different solution, as I don’t like the clutter of five sharing buttons (that’s why I removed the “Pin it” button, too).

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