Copywriting Guidelines

Effective copywriting equates to your “salespeople in print.”

“Print,” in this case, may be a direct mail letter, an advertisement, an email, or web sales pages.

Does your copywriting reflect an experienced sales pro who will close the deal (or at least lead to a prospect)?

With the advent of 21st century marketing technologies, some businesses get lost in the means of getting a message out, rather than the message itself. Now, like ever before, focus on ensuring your messages generate leads or sales.

Sure, you still need to respect the dichotomy of marketing speed versus marketing investment. But you can increase the return of your marketing investment via good copywriting and message testing.

One of the advantages of writing offline direct mail letters is the imperative to make every headline, every paragraph, every offer, every guarantee, indeed, every word pay off. Having spent a number of years scrutinizing and testing every detail of direct mail letters has etched that in my marketing psyche for eternity.

“Testing” ever detail by mailing out letters in small batches, with different elements, and meticulously measuring their resulting performance while building larger and larger campaigns is a necessity in generating profit in the offline direct mail world.

Although this requires good organization and detailed metrics, time and time again I’ve seen its importance in making a profitable campaign much more profitable, and/or making a non-profitable test completely turn around to become profitable.

Email is much less expensive and even easier to test than direct mail, and yet, outside of the ranks of true marketing professionals, it is not as frequently utilized.


Although not intended to be a complete overview of effective copywriting, the following guidelines should be included in the testing and refinement of your marketing campaigns. (Many of these points can be incorporated into articles and blog posts, as well).

  • Avoid dense copy. Sections with lots of words and very little white space are visually uninviting. Chop dense copy up into smaller sections.
  • The introduction of your message should be a short sentence: One or two lines at most.
  • Keep most of your paragraphs short, including one-, two- and three-line paragraphs.
  • Consider some one-line paragraphs that directly engage the reader’s attention, such as, “Have you ever had that problem?” Or, “What would happen if you tried this?”
  • Your copy should be presented in a way that allows a reader to scan your email or sales page and still get the message. This is accomplished by subheadings, underlines, boldface type and italics. Of course, effective use of hyperlinks also emphasizes certain text.
  • “Effective use” of hyperlinks needs to be carefully considered, as it can direct readers away from your sales message. On the other hand, adding hyperlinks that each lead to a shopping cart or sales page can result in increased response.
  • Use of bullet points and indenting is another way to break up the presentation of copy, add more white space, and feature important points.
  • Adding a “P.S.” is an effective way to summarize the most important points of a sales letter, since more often than not, a reader who is scanning your copy will read the final “P.S.” (This is also another good place to include a link to your shopping cart or sales page).

Copywriting can make or break an offline marketing campaign as well as an email or online sales presentation or marketing campaign. Ideally, you would hire a professional copywriter to assure the best results.

Regardless of whether you hire a pro, or study further on the subject yourself, analytically testing and refining your copywriting elements will lead to better responses.

Isn’t that why you’re reading this?