9 tips to make every word count

The instant a person hops on the internet, they’re surrounded by words. Thousands of words that blur together in a haze of inboxes, social media apps and browser tabs. So how do you make your words come into focus and stand out amid that fuzzy crowd? And once you get them to open that email or click that link, how do you keep them interested?

With these nine tried-and-true writing tips.

9. Outline your goal.

Every word you write, from the content on your home page to the closing of a marketing email, should lead the reader to a specific action of your choosing. Knowing the goal before you start typing lets you to create laser-focused copy that produces results.

8. Avoid spam filter triggers.

Email service providers use complex algorithms to filter spam, and specific words and phrases trigger these filters to take a closer look at your message. The words alone won’t get marketing emails sent straight to the junk folder. However, use too many or the wrong combination and the message will get marked as spam. Stay up to date on best email marketing practices and watch for deliverability issues.

spam trigger words

7. Get to the point quickly.

Consumers have short attention spans—they aren’t going to wade through multiple paragraphs, or even a few sentences, unless you give them a reason. The first one to three sentences should tell the reader what they get if they keep reading. The shorter the content, the snappier and more direct the first few sentences need to be.

6. Keep sentences (and paragraphs) short.

Run-on sentences and 20-line paragraphs cause eyes to glaze over and readers to bounce. Avoid sentences longer than 15 words and keep paragraphs between two to five lines.

5. Stick to active voice (most of the time).

The goal of writing for conversion is to get people to act. Active voice sets the stage, creating a rhythm that pushes readers to your call-to-action and gets them to complete it. It also allows for shorter, clearer sentences.

Active: See the results!

Passive: The results can be seen here!

Writers argue active versus passive voice nearly as vehemently as they do the Oxford comma. For marketing, active voice works best most of the time, but a few passive sentences in longer content (like blog posts) creates a more relaxed flow.

4. Grammar is negotiable.

Misusing “your” and “you’re” or “to” and “too” reduces readers’ trust in you, but bending some grammar rules keeps copy approachable. Don’t be afraid to use a broken sentence for emphasis, split an infinitive for impact or incorporate common slang. And starting sentences with “and” or “but” keeps copy casual yet tight.

3. Break it up with headers.

Over three-quarters of readers skim blog posts rather than read every word. Break up longer content with snappy headers that tell readers exactly what each section covers.

2. Know, and use, conversion-focused words and phrases.

Statistically, certain words and phrases increase conversion rates. You’ll see “you, new, free, because and instantly” on marketers’ lists of the most persuasive words. But overusing these words can trigger spam filters and cause readers to overlook your subject line, post, call-to-action or ad. Think of these five words as ideas instead of specific words to incorporate.

word cloud

Alternatives to the “big five” power words:

You: Speak to the reader directly.

  • your
  • you’re
  • email recipient’s name

New: Capitalize on peoples’ craving for excitement.

  • announcing
  • introducing
  • improvement

Free: Highlight values, discounts and sales.

  • ##% discount
  • $## off
  • offer

Because: Give people a reason to complete your call to action.

  • therefore
  • as a result
  • due to

Instantly: Play on the need for instant gratification.

  • now
  • immediately
  • today

1. Edit ruthlessly.

Eliminate every unnecessary word, tidbits that don’t fit the goal of the content and purposeless adjectives. Lengthy, creative descriptions and rambling prose belong in novels and think pieces, not marketing content. Fun fact: This post lost about 500 words before it went live.

Writing to convert is an exercise in psychology and attention to detail. If you find yourself staring at a blank screen and a blinking cursor, just start typing—there’s a reason first drafts rarely see the light of day. When you’re done, use the above tips to mold that draft into focused, action-encouraging content.


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