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Marketing / Business writing

How internet dating improved my copywriting

I gave internet dating a go once. It proved to be a salient lesson in what’s important in copywriting and grabbing attention online. It provided me with some great copywriting tips.

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Gain attention with an attractive image

In the online dating world, a drop-dead gorgeous image is the most important element of your profile. The same goes for your business blog or webpage. Good images convey a strong first impression and encourage you to read on. 

When looking for a prospective date, photos that were blurry, poorly composed, badly exposed or weirdly cropped put me off. Especially those that showed a disembodied arm over the woman’s shoulder, the body to which it was originally attached carefully erased. 

Poor photos will let your website down, too. Many websites have amateurish photos, obviously taken by a staff member. That’s a false economy. Invest the money on quality images and you’ll be rewarded. Images on photo websites such as iStockphoto are good, but investing money in a professional photographer is even better. 

Write an engaging headline

Along with the image, your headline is the key element. You need to write a headline that shouts out, ‘Read me, I’m worth the time’. 

If your headline doesn’t capture attention, your body copy won’t be read. 

"If your headline doesn’t capture attention, your body copy won’t be read."

Your headline should be meaningful and engaging. It should convey a promise and state your benefits. 

Your headline should also be targeted directly at your reader – the specific reader that you want to attract, whether that’s your dream date or your ideal client. 

Be specific, be direct, and address the two main things that motivate people: the desire for gain and the desire to avoid pain. 

Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.

Get to the point quickly

Remember, people tend to scan when they read online. Their eyes flit impatiently over the page seeking points of interest, with a finger poised over the mouse ready to click on. This means you need to engage and hold your reader’s interest quickly. 

One way to do so is to get all your key points upfront. Write like a newspaper reporter, in what’s called the inverted pyramid style. Put the key messages in your first one or two paragraphs and supporting info in descending order of importance in the remainder of your page. 

Write in plain English

The dating profiles that engaged me were the ones written in everyday language using clear, precise expressions. Adopt the same style when writing a webpage or other marketing material. Avoid corporate buzzwords and clichés. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Be economical with words, don’t waffle, be positive, and focus on the needs of your reader. 

Ask for a response

On a dating site, successful profiles usually have a strong call-to-action. A simple statement like ‘Message me and I’ll write back and tell you more’ is effective. It’s enticing and offers an alluring promise. 

You can do the same on your website by having a call to action on every webpage. It can be something as simple as a Contact us phone number or email address, an option to register for your newsletter, or links to allow visitors to download further information. 

Got any more copywriting tips to share? Frequent commenter on FS articles seeks same. Must have GSOH and like walks in the rain.

Gary Chow

is a plain English copywriter who helps businesses develop website content, marketing collateral and corporate publications. He specialises in writing investment prospectuses for the financial services & superannuation industries.

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