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6 tips for copy-editing marketing materials

Repeat after me: copy-editing marketing messages is not optional!

It doesn’t matter whether you are working with a large amount of copy for a brochure, writing a landing page or crafting a 140-character social media post – copy-editing to refine your message is crucial.

Writing in a rush and posting without double-checking is taking a huge risk with your communications. At best, you might post something with grammatical or spelling errors. At worst, you may post something that confuses the reader and damages the likelihood of conversion.

The good news is that copy-editing doesn’t have to be an onerous task. There are a few basic things you need to look for which, when corrected, will make a substantial difference to your marketing copy.

My top tips for editing marketing copy are:

  1. Examine your sentence structure. Keep the subject of your sentence as close to the beginning as possible so people aren’t waiting to find out what you are talking about. Take note of instances where you have to read a sentence more than once to understand it. When this happens, it means that your copy is too long and/or complicated. This is particularly true for digital mediums where people skim read, so try to keep sentences to around 30 words in length.

  2. Do the ‘So what?’ test for each sentence. If the sentence doesn’t convey essential information or provoke an emotional reaction, delete it.

  3. Remove duplication and rehashes. The customer should be able to clearly understand the full magnitude of your message in once sentence. If you have to repeat or rehash the message because you are concerned the reader will miss something, start again.

  4. Have you used the word ‘we’ too many times? Customers don’t care about you, they care about them. Refocus your sentences as often as possible on the customer and how they feel.

  5. Cross-check your copy with your tone of voice and style guide. Does the copy reflect your brand’s personality and style? Would your customer use those words? Except where approved in your style guide, remove slang (unless you are very clearly using it in a tongue-in-cheek way) and, conversely, really long words (like conversely!).

  6. Use a grammar tool like Grammarly as a back-up. I have qualifications in editing and proofreading and I still use it! Often when writing marketing copy it is perfectly fine to break a few rules – particularly if the message is quite short. However, it's a great habit to get into for long pieces of copy. Your customers will notice.

Finally, ask another person to proofread the copy to ensure you catch any spelling errors or glaring issues you may have missed. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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