Getting a firm grasp on the digital tools at your disposal is vital, as is the effective use of copywriting for digital mediums.
I come from a book publishing background. I spent years working with novels and stories, so I was expecting a huge shift when I moved into writing for the digital world and was surprised when I got the hang of it quite quickly. Why was it easier than I expected? Because the principles of good writing remain the same no matter the medium. There are however, a few key differences, and it’s essential to bear these in mind when it comes to digital copywriting.

The “don’ts” of digital copywriting:


Modern consumers are time poor. So whether it’s a newspaper article, a brochure or a radio script, whatever you do, don’t waffle. Digital consumers are even pickier when it comes to surplus information. They want it snappy, they want it easy to read and they want it now.


This is a big one. Long reams of text lose the reader. Use bolding, bulleting and short paragraphs – whatever you do, make it visually interesting for the reader.

Me, me, me

This is a mistake many companies make. They open paragraphs with their philosophy and why they’re so great, not focusing on the user and the immediate benefit to them. Users don’t care about your company, they care about what you have to offer them. Write with this in mind.

Not telling readers what to do

It’s fine to go on about how great your product or service is, but once you’re done, tell the reader what action they need to take. Even if they don’t realise it, your potential clients like being told exactly what to do, whether it’s picking up the phone, filling in a form or downloading a brochure. 

Be passive

“The application for life insurance will need to be submitted” is passive, so your meaning isn’t as clear and your call to action isn’t as strong. Replace this with “Submit your life insurance application here” and watch your applications roll in.

Keyword stuffing

Stuffing your copy full of keywords to improve visibility on search engines does more harm than good. Firstly, it makes the words clumsy to read and annoys the reader. It can also dilute the meaning and the impact of your copy. This negative user experience means you could be penalised by Google. In short: never sacrifice quality for rankings.

Ignore your medium

I see so many companies who copy and paste their latest print advert onto the homepage of their brand new website, and then can’t understand why they aren’t getting any leads. Maybe too much vital information is below the fold or there are no calls to action? What works for one medium doesn’t always work for another, so keep this in mind. 

Not checking your facts

This holds true for any piece of writing but even more so in digital – because the encyclopaedia of Google is so readily accessible. But more than that, it’s about integrity and conveying facts that are accurate and verified. So before you write that South Africa has eight official languages, double and triple check those facts.


This is an obvious one: don’t copy anyone else’s work. There’s more to it though as you could commit this sin without even realising it. Maybe you copy and paste some basic facts from someone else’s piece into your document and then omit to change them into your own words or thoughts. Be extra vigilant about this when writing for a digital medium.


Oh you think your readers should think outside the box? It sounds like you need to as well. There are always original ways of describing an emotion or a situation, so don’t rely on clichés. It’s the mark of a sloppy writer.

Whether you develop an in-house resource that can write for the digital world or you outsource the digital copywriting function, it’s important to keep these key points in mind. Powerful digital copywriting can be one of the most effective tools in your marketing arsenal, so you need to get it right.

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