First, things first. What the hell is copywriting?
This leads us to one of the first mistakes travel advisors make when it comes to writing effective sales copy for their travel websites.
Mistake #1 – Confusing copywriting with content writing and other works of literary art
Copywriting is a whole style of writing unto itself. To be a copywriter is a very different job than to be a journalist or a novelist. All three writers put words to paper, but the approach and the
Copywriting is the form of writing that is used on websites or in travel flyers or in any advertising that you might do. It’s very different from what you would write in your weekly email to your clients or on your blog.
Copywriting is meant to persuade…to influence, to incite a client to take action. Whereas, content writing and other literary works of art tend to be more educational and entertaining.
The problem is…most people aren’t taught copywriting in school. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Writing effective copy would probably leave you with a failing grade from your 11th grade English teacher. So it’s not your fault. But the best news of all…it’s an easy fix.
Mistake #2 – Following Mrs. Crabtree’s rules of English
For years…we were taught…Don’t use sentence fragments. Don’t start sentences with “But” or “And.” She was also rather dictatorial when it came to proper paragraph structure. There were, oh, so many rules.
Frig! Even as I write this…I notice that Grammarly is giving me the evil eye off to the side. Pppffftttt….I need to quiet that monkey. To be an effective copywriter…you need to forget most of the rules (not all, but most).
Write like you speak, or better yet, like your audience speaks.
The best way to influence is to be understood. And the best way to be understood is to use the language of your reader.
- Use contractions: “You are in for a treat” becomes “You’re* in for a treat!”
- Use less complicated words: “Procure” becomes “Get”; “Garner” becomes “win.”
- Lose any industry jargon. “PNR” becomes “Your booking number”
The sneaky thing is, most times, we don’t even realize how formal we sound. The habit of years of doing things properly is hard to break.
* side note – some rules are meant to be broken – others should be followed. You still need to spell properly and know the difference between your vs. you’re and they’re, their and there.
Two useful suggestions for you to try:
- Read back your copy out loud before hitting publish – Does it sound stilted? Awkward?
- Or…try dictating your message first and then transpose it into text.
Mistake #3 – TL:DR
We are a society of skim readers. 🙋♀️ Nobody has the energy to read anymore. We’ve been spoonfed clickbait headlines for so long, we’ve gotten lazy. Don’t get me wrong, there is still room for the Ayn Rands of this world…but their writing style does not belong on your website.
Here are some quick tips to consider:
- Do – use lots of white space.
- Do – use lots of bullet points
- Paragraphs should be no longer than 3 sentences
- Sentences should be short. Periods sometimes work better than commas.
- Don’t – use filler words that serve no purpose. Be concise, not verbose.
- Do – use between 45 to 85 words per line on a webpage (includes spaces and punctuation)
- Do – use 16 px font sizes. It’s the industry standard for ease of reading
Mistake #4 – Forgetting the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM)
Great copywriters are masters at putting themselves into the sneakers of the consumer. They use words that immediately scratch an itch, leaving the client wanting more.
In the travel world, not only are you trying to persuade a client to book a holiday but more importantly, to book that holiday with you.
It’s critical to illustrate the benefits a client would get by using your travel services. And here’s a hint…it’s not your expertise. That’s a “You” story. Your expertise is important, but you need to turn that into a “Me” story for them. How does your level of expertise benefit them?
I would suggest that most clients are looking for an advisor who can cut through all the noise and offer a stress-free holiday planning experience. They don’t care that you’ve worked in the industry for 25 years. All they care about is that your 25 years of experience translates to a seamless and worry-free vacation.
From your headline at the top of your page to all the supporting text found throughout your website, you need to ask yourself, so what? How does this impact my client in a positive way? Why should they care?
Even your “About Me” page isn’t really about you. It should be about how YOU can help your client.
It’s kind of the reverse of this famous movie quote that always makes me chuckle.
Mistake #5 – Burying the hook below the fold
What’s the hook? The hook is another term for your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch is a brief statement of who you serve and how you serve them. This needs to go above the fold on your website.
I’ve read many studies that suggest we have a limited amount of time to grab a reader’s attention. I’ve heard as little as .5 seconds (once the site loads) to establish a good impression. Within 15 seconds, most website visitors will have made their decision whether to hang around or bounce.
So if you are a travel advisor who specializes in family travel, you might try something like this:
This could be a sample hero image (the image that appears at the top of your page). Right away, the website visitor understands that you help families book stress-free vacations.
And if I’m a busy mom entrusted to arrange the family getaway for the year, you’ve got me and I’ll want to learn more. But if I’m a college boozer looking for a cheap weekend in Vegas…maybe you aren’t the best solution for me.
Great copywriting is a skill that takes time to develop. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need to be a great writer to be a master copywriter. They are very different skill-sets. In fact, those who aced 11th-grade English-lit may have a harder time breaking the rules than someone who never quite grasped the rules in the first place.
To practice your craft, I would recommend paying extra close attention to the websites you love most – especially the ones that are skilled at getting your credit card. Even if they aren’t travel-related, you can learn a lot from other successful copywriters.
And while throughout this article, I’ve referenced websites specifically, the same copywriting tips can be applied to all promotional content.
If you’d like help with your website copy, book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with me below. I’ll offer up suggestions to help you improve your website conversions.