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How To Tell Good Copywriting From Bad

A great copywriter can be tough to find. While you’re looking for one, it’s important to keep some objective standards in mind.

It’s easy to be wooed by copy that is dramatic. Some people can get wrapped up with copywriting that has a lot of jargon or slang. These things can make the reader feel like they’re in with the hip crowd. If they’re the right reader, that is.

Great copywriting appeals to more than one or two people, though. It simplifies complex concepts and ideas for the broader audience.

While humor is a good thing, it’s important to know that it’s subjective. Not everyone will find the jokes funny. Make sure the joke strikes the right tone with your intended audience if you think of one.

Here are some of the most important aspects of great copywriting.

Killer Headlines

Without an enticing headline, people just won’t read the rest of the copy most of the time. Great copywriters spend a lot of time perfecting their headlines. Great headlines are like a huge highway sign that screams “Necessary Reading Ahead!”

But a headline serves another purpose these days. Sensible and optimized headlines are essential for search engines to rank pages. So don’t settle for anything boring in this category.

A Lack of Exclamation Points

We can all use a few well-placed exclamation points. But that is no excuse to put them anywhere and everywhere. They simply do not make sense.

A good rule of thumb is that if the copy doesn’t make an impact without the exclamation point, adding one won’t help. This type of punctuation should flow naturally.

Short Sentences

In contrast to academic or scientific writing, copywriting is about being short. The reason is that copywriting is about selling. People don’t want to have to work to understand why they should buy something.

Think of the audience’s time as a gift. Just like you would quickly thank someone for a gift, you should be quick about showing them a value proposition. Short sentences are easy to read and understand.

Things That Are Truly Funny

This is subjective. The job of a great copywriter is to come across with just the right amount of wit for the intended audience. It’s a fact that you just can’t please all audiences. You can get copywriting for one or two audiences per sheet of copy.

This is why many marketing campaigns have different versions of their ads. You can’t take copywriting as a one-size-fits-all deal. You write new copy for each customer persona. They will often contain different tones and types of humor.

Normal Formatting

Things like headings, layout, and bulleted lists have certain ways they should be formatted. Here is one place where a copywriter doesn’t want to stand out. The formatting should flow easily and look normal.

If you see tons of capitals in headlines, bulleted lists that begin with different types of words, and unusual levels of headers, you know you’ve got an inexperienced copywriter on your hands.

Unique Sentences

All sentences should not begin with the same words. They should not contain anywhere near the same information. But a key copywriting mistake to avoid is the overuse of colloquial phrases. Don’t publish copy that uses “kind of” “the type of” or any similar phrase too often.

In short, the work needs to sparkle with unique words.

Relevant Adjectives

Adjectives should be woven in naturally with the copy. Strings of three or four adjectives together is a sure sign of a newbie. Avoid unusual or overly dramatic adjectives.

A key thing to remember is that people will hold their own opinions about products and services. While sales copy should be accurate and descriptive, it should narrow down the scope of the product. People have their own inferences as well.

Active Voice

Copywriters absolutely must use active voice. The whole piece of copy must feel active and alive. Just like you wouldn’t buy from a salesperson who looks bored out of their mind and hedgy, people won’t buy into sales copy that isn’t active.


The copy should be inspiring in some way and energetic. Of course, it shouldn’t come across as obnoxious or look “loud,” either.

Formal Words

The rule of thumb in sales copy is to use the plainer word. People prefer to buy when they are approached with copy that is simple. They want to read something straightforward.

Even if you are selling something like a formal gown, engaging sales copy will use words like “buy” instead of “purchase”. The simpler approach is best.

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