What is good copy?

Jan 07, 2016

Good copy, just like ‘good’ anything else, is copy that achieves its purpose. Commercially, there really is no better measure than that, and I have seen plenty of examples of ‘technically poor’ content delivering exceptionally good results. You see, it is all about what you are looking to achieve from your copy, and most people (especially those who consider themselves ‘good at writing’) get too caught up in seeking perfection. In business, the focus should always be on ‘results’.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sales copy needs to identify and the engage the emotions and desires of its reader, leading to a call to action…
  • Blogs should attract, inform, entertain and leave the audience wanting to hear more from the writer…
  • An ‘about us’ page needs to share a story or history, aiming to engender trust and confidence…

There is skill involved in all of the above, but it is centred on understanding your reader, not having a Masters Degree in written English.

I would even be bold enough to say that good copy is not ‘necessarily’ about good grammar, correct sentence structure, or even a concise message… because sometimes that is not its purpose. That is to say that, in some cases, it is merely about volume, optimisation, or what I tend to think of as ‘copy fodder’ (yuck). This could be seen as ‘good’ simply because it achieves its goal of saying to Google, “here are some keywords that you might like to notice”.

By the way, please don’t ever ask me to write ‘copy fodder’ because the very idea causes my soul to weep. But I live in the real world, so I know that it has a place – it’s just not my bag.

There are many types of copy and the most important RULES I can leave you with, to make sure that yours is good, are really simple. Firstly, understand your reader, be clear about your message, and aim your copy at the point where those two meet. My secondary RULES would be to write at a level that is appropriate to your reader. Don’t use language that you wouldn’t use in speech and don’t overcomplicate the idea or call to action.

A final thought. Perhaps a better question (and indeed answer) would be to discover what GREAT copy is! I believe it is good copy which gets a better result than anyone else’s.

Category: Marketing