How To Write Great In-App Copy, Even When You’re Not A Writer
In the vast sea of apps, how do you get yours to stand out? What’s the key to building and launching an app that gets great reviews and a steady stream of new users? You might be surprised how important something simple like copywriting is to your app success… If you take a look at the market today, in-app copy is a key component of all of the most successful apps. Great copy enables users to easily and successfully navigate around an app, plus it adds value and enhances your brand identity.
Here are some top tips to polish your in-app text so it gets results for you and your users.
Know your audience
First things first, before you even begin to write your in-app copy, you need to know exactly who you’re writing for. The way a 16-year-old engages with an app is very different to the way a 62-year-old does, so you need to have a clear picture in your head of your target market.
Ask yourself who your users are – what age, gender, etc. What other apps do they already use? What is their level of technical knowledge? What are they looking for when they visit your app and how do they want information delivered? If you don’t know the answers to these basic questions, it’s time to start some doing some customer research – ideally set up some groups and really get to know your users to find out what makes them tick.
Once you know who your users are, your next task is to hold on to them. A 2016 study by localytics showed that 23% of users abandon an app after just one use – so your copy needs to not only connect to your customer, but deliver exactly what they’re looking for first-time around.
One surefire way to annoy your users is with overly complicated, long-winded copy. Unless you’re writing for a seriously technical app, it’s best to keep your in-app text clean, simple and straight to the point – cut out all the jargon. Users don’t want to have to work hard when they’re using your app, they want the copy to guide them. Aim to write at a fifth-grade reading level and use tools such as Hemingway Editor to check over your copy and ensure there’s nothing too complex or convoluted in there.
Keep copy essential
When writing about your own business, it can be tempting to stuff your app with all the information you have available. However, remember that by default, apps are limited by their small mobile screens, so reams and reams of copy is a big no-no.
Also, remember that your users will likely be engaging with your app while they are on the move, and therefore will have plenty of distractions surrounding them. So, you need your copy to be exact and straightforward. No one wants to sift through paragraphs of text to find what they’re looking for, so you need to hook your customers and keep them there.
Once you have written your copy, take a step back and see if there is any non-essential text that can be cut. Keep coming back to it and don’t stop editing until your text has gone through at least three or four edits with significant chunks being cut each time – it’s brutal, but essential to make your mobile application user-friendly. Follow the spirit of this famous quote: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Build your app personality
Amazingly, there are roughly two million different apps available to download (and counting) in various stores. Therefore, it’s not surprising that it takes a lot for businesses to stand out from the crowd when creating their own app.
Although we’ve established that you need your text to be concise and to-the-point, this doesn’t mean boring! One of the ways you can really make your app stand out is with effective copy that showcases your brand perfectly. Think about your business’ personality and try to come up with keywords that define who you as a brand – are you wholesome, sincere, intelligent or cheeky? Think about what you want to convey about who you are with your app and ensure your copy reflects that.
Make it easy to navigate
Along with content that’s relevant to your user, and copy that reflects your brand, your text needs to do another essential job – direct your customer around your app. According to eConsultancy, 47% of users would stop using or delete an app if it is hard to use.
For most e-commerce store owners, converting an online store into an easy-to-use mobile app is surprisingly easy – all you need is a compatible app builder. In this case, much of what you already have on your website is converted into a mobile app-friendly format – all you have to do is tweak accordingly to make getting around straightforward on a smaller device.
Once finalized, put it through a few user tests and ask volunteers to say what they did and didn’t like about the app journey. This should expose any missing instructions and help you utilize your copy to improve the user experience.
Proofread & evaluate
No matter what level of writer you are, you need to ensure that any published copy is free of typos and grammatical errors. They instantly make apps look amateur and unprofessional and users will lose confidence in your business.
Always proofread your content before publishing. A fresh pair of eyes will pick up on any errors, so ask a couple of colleagues to give it a once-over too. There are plenty of amazing proofreading tools out there, so if you’re really anxious, give a service like Grammarly a go.
You will also need to think about whether you are actually nailing the sales aspect of things. From product descriptions to app landing pages, sales copywriting is a fine art. What will help you here is if you take a step back and evaluate what you’ve done so far, and see whether you need to re-balance the features/benefits ratio, or add a more enticing call-to-action. A fresh pair of eyes never hurts…
Never stop tweaking
You’ve followed all these top tips, written some seriously sparkling copy, given it a thorough proofread and uploaded it to your app – you’re done right? Ah, unfortunately not. As with any e-commerce medium, content is never ‘finished’.
Once you have uploaded your copy, you need to give it a couple of days and check your analytics to see how users are responding. Are they getting bored at certain points or confused at others? If so, you need to tweak. You could even try split-testing if you’re not sure which way is best.
Even if you think your in-app copy is pretty darn perfect and your audience is engaging with it exactly as you want them too, you still need to constantly revisit and tweak your copy to ensure it is fresh, brand and working as hard as it possibly can.
When it comes to good in-app copy, don’t forget the basic rules – check for typos, know who you’re writing for and keep your text essential. Great app copy should have its own unique voice and personality, but also be easy for the user to understand. It’s a fine line to tread and getting the balance just right will take time, experimentation and lots of editing – but by considering what your users really want from your app, and having a strong brand identity throughout, you can definitely achieve the perfect app copy.
Victoria Greene is a brand marketing expert and writer. Her blog, Victoria Ecommerce, is packed with marketing tips for e-commerce businesses looking to scale and make the most of multichannel commerce.