You may have wondered, “what is copywriting?” It is rare that people would ask what copywriting is. In some cases, it is quite surprising. That is because copywriting is everywhere. There is a statistic that has been going around in my circle that states that we come across over 5000 ads per day. Although this figure will vary wildly depending on where in the world you are reading this from.
No one can dispute that 5000 seems like a heck of a lot of ads. What may fly under the radar is the fact that most of these ads make use of copywriting. It is the means by which their message is enhanced to get the desired results. I am aware that this explanation sounds somewhat complex. So, let us simplify it using one of my favourite examples.
The art of Copywriting
Many years ago I came across a video of a blind man who was begging in Edinburgh or Glasgow. If I am not mistaken. I am not to be quoted on this one. While he was out there begging, no one seemed to be paying him any attention. As is the nature of most busy parts of the city. People tend to mind their own business and rush past anyone in their way. This blind man had a sign in front of him.
His sign initially read, “I am blind, please help.” One can say that there are two parts to the sign. The first part is the problem, which in this case is the fact that he was blind. The second part is the “ask”, which is his request for help. Based on the results that he was getting, this message was either being ignored or not being received at all.
A lady then comes by. Just as a select few others did, she gives to the man and strolls past him in her heels. When she reads the sign she turns back and stands in front of the man to change what the sign said. The man noticed that someone was doing something to his sign.
Her departure saw a turn in fortunes. All of a sudden people began to give hand and foot to the dumbfounded blind man. He knew that whatever the woman who stopped had done was responsible for this. She later returned to find an elated and equally inquisitive man.
She had changed his sign to read as follows, “It is a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” That is what resulted in all of the giving. Think about it, what would you say made the difference for him? They all knew that the man was blind from both signs. One of the key differences is that the second sign did not even have an ask. Yet, it was effective. It was persuasive. That sums up copywriting in a few words.
What is Copywriting NOT?
Not everything that is written is copywriting. For instance, when we produce articles for affiliate websites, they are not copywriting. The purpose of the articles is not necessarily to drive conversion in the same manner that one would approach this if the products listed on the affiliate website were their own.
Affiliate sites are giving a review or opinion of a product in such a manner that it would convince the buyer to try it out. This is somewhat similar to what you would find with people checking TripAdvisor before they visit a restaurant. We benefit from someone’s unsolicited experience as a basis for our own decision making. That is not copywriting. We will look at clear definitions and examples that drive this point home.
Why Does Copywriting Matter?
Would you say the salesperson that you meet when you are looking to make an important purchase plays a significant role in whether you complete the transaction or not? Of course, they do. This is the same principle that applies here.
Copywriting is a determining factor on how many conversions you have when prospective customers visit your page or read your advert. Good copywriting matters because it drives more sales. It makes more money.
Who Needs Copywriting?
The simple answer is that everyone needs copywriting. Yet, that is not the whole truth. To be more precise, everyone that has a product or service to offer needs copywriting. Although that is closer, there are still some nuances to that statement. If you have an audience that could be would probably buy from you if they knew about your product/services and the benefits thereof, you need copywriting.
Most SMEs have an advertising or marketing budget for each year. Part of that budget will be utilised for copywriting. Every marketing campaign will require some well-written copy to go with it.
Good Copywriting is Audience Specific
There is often among the masses about why Ferrari does not advertise on television. It supposes that this is because the people that can afford Ferraris are not watching television. Where there is no definitive truth to that statement. Let us suppose it is true, for the sake of this example. If these potential customers did not watch TV, there is no point in creating adverts targeting them on a platform they would not be reached.
In the same vein, good copywriting is tailored to the audience for who it is being written. No matter how well crafted a piece of copy is, it does nothing when presented to the wrong audience. The right audience is those that are either in need of the product or service that you are writing about. When we say need, it does not necessarily mean that they are actively looking for this. It simply means that they fall into the user demographics.
This is where your customer avatar comes handy. Good copywriting pairs your avatar with the service that you want them to buy into. If they already have an express need, the aim would be to convince them to take action and purchase. For instance, a mother with a newborn baby will undoubtedly have a need for nappies.
They will probably have some already but are always open to new products, provided the benefits outweigh those of the ones that they are currently using. Other variables that will come into play in this example is that of affordability and accessibility. The right audience for your copy is those that can afford the product and services that you are offering. These products are services must be accessible to them in their location. Do you deliver there?
Speaking of being audience-specific, good copywriting is moulded around an understanding of the said audience. It not only speaks to their needs but speaks to them in a language that they understand. It should feel at home to read, as though it was written for them by one of their own. One’s identity will always play a part in what they purchase.
Your goal should be to cater to that identity. There are countless examples of this today. The easiest ones to find are within clothing. Print-on-demand companies are built on this. Individual identity is seldom reflected in mass branding. As such, people will always gravitate towards the things that are clearly tailored to them. Failing to tailor your copy to the audience is largely going to fail to yield great results, even if the rest of the boxes are ticked.
Benefit or Promise
Before the reader gets to the end of the copy that they are reading they ought to be convinced beyond doubt that the service that you are offering is incredible. Better yet, that it is one that they cannot miss out on. There are no guarantees that conversions will always result from this.
People usually require several touchpoints before they can make a purchase. However, if the landing page is the next touchpoint after several others. It must be that award-winning salesperson that closes the sale each time.
Good copy is value-driven. What value is in this product for the user? What makes it better than the one that they may already have?
If you answer these questions clearly, you are closer to a sale than you think. Any questions that remain unanswered are seeds of doubt.
Offers Strong Proof that the Product is a Winner
The premise should always be that the reader has no reason to take your word as gospel. You are trying to sell them something. There is a famous saying that goes “There is no such thing as an honest salesman!” Why should they believe what you say?
The only acceptable answer is that you provide them with proof that they can neither deny nor ignore. If your product is the winner that you say it is there should be enough proof to provide for the user. This can be down to testimonials. People will sooner believe what other users with no incentive to sell the product have to say than the salesperson.
Guides the Audience to an Appealing or Beneficial “Call to Action:”
Everyone knows that your page ought to have a good Call To Action (CTA). What often goes unspoken is that the text that comes before and after the CTA is just as important. The text before should be compelling enough that the CTA becomes a no-brainier for the visitor. The text after the CTA acknowledges that not everyone will click through. It becomes a safety net for those that don’t.
There are two ways to do it. The first way would be to provide an alternative CTA. Perhaps they do not want to put their card details. What about an email or telephone number instead? The proposition here is that they will receive a call from someone who will answer their questions.
That is quite reasonable and would undoubtedly attract a lot of those that don’t use the main CTA. The second option would be to place a second CTA within the body of the text. It is less salesy-looking. Some people would rather follow this natural-looking option.
Tested and Tweaked Over Time
No matter how much data you have access to when preparing your copy, it is hardly ever foolproof. A good copywriter knows this. They would be aware that their copy will always be a living document until it becomes a clear winner. Even then, it may still need to be tweaked when replicated for a different audience.
Copy should always be tested. No matter how well it reads to you, you are not the target audience. When running ads to copy, most organisations will do split tests of several versions of the copy. Some will differ in layout, while others will have some tweaks to wording.
Copywriter or Content Writer
Sometimes it may be difficult to know if what you need for your project is a copywriter or a content writer. Why does this matter? For starters, cost. In most cases, a copywriter has a sales element to the content that he or she delivers, as such they charge more. There are more revenue ties to the results that they deliver, so the cost is justified.
A content writer does some copywriting but is more focused on responding to queries instead of conversion. They charge less. Some writers can wear both hats. In our case, landing pages would fall under our copywriting services while affiliate content and product reviews would fall under our content writing services.
There is a certain cross over between the two. This is usually in cases where an affiliate website is divided into money pages and informational pages. The informational pages would be content writing, while there is copywriting required for the money pages. This is largely due to the fact that these pages have a sales element to them. They are there to convert.
Copywriting for Email Marketing
Email marketing differs from a blog post, social media and direct mail. The rise of social media brought with it the opinion that email would be phased out. For a while this was not to be disputed, it seemed inevitable. However, that trend has not materialised.
There are different types of methods that can be applied to email marketing. One of the key features is the importance of your headline. The open rate is tied to this more than other factors. If the headline does not hit home in an inbox with a ton of other emails, you will miss an audience.
The simple trick to apply to this is asking yourself if your heading sounds “personal”. No one likes to be part of a chain email. They are more likely to respond to emails that are written specifically for them. Once they have opened the email, we are back to the usual copywriting techniques.
Copywriting Success Calculator
How can you measure the success of your copywriting? There are many ways that you can do this. The most basic way is the same way that you would calculate the profit of any business.
How much you made – How much you put into it = Profit
Once you have these numbers down, tweak the copy or accompanying images and see if it makes a difference. This is how you find the successful copy that we are all after. You can even run multiple pages with varying copy on them to see which one performs best on a target audience. The winning campaign would then get an increased budget to see how much it can scale in profit.
What happens to the not so successful campaign. You can either pull the plug on it or tweak it to find the sweet spot. Another approach is testing it on a different audience.
An empirical measure of the success of copy has to factor the audience that it has reached. For instance, if copy A reached 1000 people and converted 100. And copy B reached 700 people and converted 80. It would be easy to think that the one that converted 100 is the better version.
It would have brought in more money but would likely have a higher cost per acquisition. It may vary depending on the goal of a campaign. If it is to simply drive traffic and get views then this may be easier to achieve. Would you factor in those that save to watch later when dealing with video content? These are things to consider.
Copywriting for Search Engine Optimisation
You cannot write about marketing without covering search engines. Most of the traffic to any marketing materials that you produce will either be driven by SEO or PPC. The former tends to be a more cost-effective approach.
Copywriters are often approached to create material for online publication with search in mind. The fickle balance between writing to convert and writing to rank starts to rear its head. It can be a difficult one to get past. Your best bet is to write for users instead of search bots. Make your opinion count in your pieces, that is what people connect with. Bots should always be secondary.
Whether you are a freelance copywriter or a fulltime employee in a corporation. All of this will apply to you. If you have any comments or questions, pop them below.