Copywriting: Everything You Need to Know

Copywriting is an extremely influential means of marketing your brand through the use of words. The goal is to generate an immediate response from someone reading that copy, generally in the form of a sale either nor or indirectly by remembering the brand in the future. 

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is the process of writing content for promotional means to encourage the reader to take action. It differs from content writing, in that it’s used primarily for marketing purposes. In contrast, content writing encompasses any written material used to educate, inform and increase brand awareness. 

Persuasive language is used to build and raise interest in a product, concept or opinion. The principle objective is to sell something, whether that’s immediately, or by planting seeds so that you will be more inclined to think of that brand later down the track. How this happens is by initiating action from the reader. This action could be persuading someone to click on a link that diverts to an online store. It might also be something more subtle, such as offering complementary advice or motivating a reader, imprinting the brand name in their mind. 

Think of it as the communication channel for your brand. Besides the visuals and logos, copy is what the external world sees and uses to decide whether they wish to become a customer. 

Why is copywriting important?

In order to advertise a specific service or product, brands employ copywriting to deliver information that they deem to be the most important to influence the reader. Copy allows audiences to obtain information quickly and easily. They can make an informed decision on a brand or product and decide whether they want to take action and potentially invest in that brand. Because of this, persuasive and convincing copy can heavily influence a reader. Effective copywriting can give your brand an edge. Your business might be great, but people need a lead; something to bridge the gap between your brand name and the purchase step. They want to find out more. Knowledge is power and if the user has more information, or has what they need to know, they are more likely to trust that brand and take the next steps; whatever you decide they should be. 

The impact of copywriting

Copywriting allows you to spread your brand messaging globally. When a reader evaluates something for purchase, they need explanations, descriptions or advice on what exactly they’re going to get. All of the text that’s published for a brand, creates the concept of the brand for users. A brand’s makeup can be described as having a core and an outer shell. The core of your brand may be thought of as the physical products or services or fundamental aspects of your organisation. Copywriting uses words to create a layer surrounding this core. This outer shell is what is visible to the public and is as much a part of the brand as the actual item for purchase. Because that messaging is what a user sees and uses to decide whether or not they want to support your business now or in the future, brand writing is incredibly powerful.

How it fits in a content marketing strategy 

Copywriting connects a brand or product to the audience. It’s necessary for a business to place themselves strongly in the market. Sometimes customers naturally come by themselves. But if you’re reliant solely on organic growth, your company isn’t going to get the reach it needs or deserves and most certainly will be overshadowed by the competition. Think of companies with incredible marketing campaigns such as Coca Cola, Apple and Nike. It’s hard to argue that copywriting accounts for a large part of their success.

Well written copy invites audiences in. It sparks curiosity, so that people want to find out more about what you have to offer. A good marketing campaign can strategically time the release of information if they want to generate interest about an upcoming product or event for example. This intrigues people and gets them excited, hanging out for what is to come. On the flipside, copy done poorly can deter a potential customer. 

What are the main goals of copywriting?

To provide clear and attractive messaging for the purposes of media and marketing channels. Ultimately it helps users understand something about your company. 

The different types of copywriting 

The type of copy required for any given project depends on the goal of a marketing campaign and the current stage of a business. A startup requires a different strategy compared to a well-established company. Copywriting material is produced for both online and offline channels. 

Marketing copywriting 

Marketing copywriting usually tries to generate a direct response from the customer and is by nature very sales-oriented. It is centred around explaining potential benefits to customers so that they will take action and commit to a purchase. It should be simple to understand, brief and highly influential. The goal is to nudge customers towards a purchase. New businesses tend to verge towards this form of copywriting since they are doing what they can to survive and a high volume of sales will help them gain momentum. Marketing copy presents items in a compelling way to make a purchase more appealing.  

Brand copywriting

Brand copywriting is all about telling your story of your brand. It infuses your brand with personality, life and emotion to influence consumers on a deeper, more personal level. It differs from sales copy in that you don’t want to pressure customers into making a decision right now, instead, you want to introduce them to the benefits of your goods. Brand copywriting incorporates things like values and the meaning behind your products, with the aim of inspiring them to keep the brand name in their mind, either consciously or subconsciously. 

Social media copywriting

Social media presence is everything for brands these days. A social media profile is a more personable method of communicating with customers. Posts, stories and reels are all used to keep viewers up to date with specials, product releases and educational content. Copy for social media channels helps to promote your brand and give it a voice. It can be used to tell the narrative behind your brand, thus building trust with users. The style of writing differs significantly between social media platforms, for example, a LinkedIn post is going to be quite different to Instagram. 

SEO copywriting 

SEO copywriting aids in the ranking of your website in a Google search. This means people are more likely to click on your page, ultimately directing more traffic to your website. Tools such as keywords, titles and backlinks are strategically integrated into the writing to help shift your content higher up the search results index. 

Technical copywriting 

Technical copywriting is slightly more complicated to produce than other forms. It generally requires background knowledge or product understanding in industries such as software, manufacturing or engineering. It involves converting technical jargon to plain language that won’t give a novice a headache reading it. Examples of technical copy include product manuals for technical sectors, brochures, ebooks and white papers. 

5 ways to write effective and compelling copy

1. Make it clear and concise

The first and most important guideline of copywriting is that it should be easy to understand. No one appreciates having to read a lengthy, complicated essay when they just want a quick description of a shampoo. You want to make the reader’s life easier. If it’s clear, effective and straight to the point, you have already won brownie points in their eyes. They will thank you for the breezy reading. You also don’t have to give away every last piece of information. Make them curious, make them want to find out more. 

A company that’s done this almost too well is Moosejaw, with image captions such as ‘Look this cool’ and ‘Follow us. Or don’t.’ Their copy is short, straight to the point and encourages a direct action from the reader. They’ve perfected the art not saying more than they need to. 

2. Shift your tone and language based on the target audience

Writing should always be relatable and connectable. Target your messaging so that the intended audience feels included and understood. A good idea is to get feedback from the desired audience so you’ll know if it’s something they’re likely to be influenced by. 

Young audiences love things to be trendy and relevant. Pop in timely hashtag phrases, catchy social media captions and intriguing stories. But be careful not to overdo it and try to make it sound as natural as possible. The last thing you want to sound like is a mother trying to slip in a Gen X catchphrase. 

Make it interesting and humorous. Everyone loves a good grin or chuckle.  If the brand cares about making you laugh, then they probably care about pleasing you full stop. As long as humour is used tastefully, this is one strategy that can be applied to many industries. 

One example we love is the ad slogan, ‘She’s (cough) just a friend’ for Ricola’s cough medicine. The bracketed work changes the context completely, adds humour and gives the sentence a double meaning that people know all too well. Although this example is targeted towards audience’s feeling sick, the reference to a popular saying keeps it fresh, young and on trend. 

3. Incorporate your brand voice

If copy elicits certain emotion, it can trigger a more impactful response in the reader. They may begin to associate certain emotions with a brand and be more likely to purchase the product. Use descriptive and emotive words that bring your brand to life. Instil that feeling in your readers. Take them on a journey. Give them a taster of what your brand can offer through your writing. 

Be original. Having out-of-the-box copy draws attention and is refreshing for readers. Catch their attention using the tone of your brand. Your brand is different so you need to express that through whatever words you are publishing. 

Don’t be afraid to go bold. Copywriting has shifted over the years from safe and predictable, to using daring, unique and adventurous language. Your target should be to almost cross the line, without actually crossing the line. But if your brand is all about playing safe, then maybe it suits you to stick with that theme.

The best example we have is from the company that has nailed marketing like no other, Apple. Copywriters from Apple are wordsmith pros and have reinvented the rules of how to play with words. Examples include:

  • ‘Ingenuity makes it thin. Aluminum makes it strong’ 
  • ‘Light. Years ahead.’
  • ‘Lose your knack for losing things.’

Make like Apple and use repetition, rhyme, out-of-the-box thinking and playfulness to charm readers. 

4. Research, refine… and research again!

See what the competition has to say about their products and what you can do differently. It’s a competitive market and you need to convince people that your item is the one to purchase, through persuasion or a good promotion. Solid research will help you to get a complete picture of the product you’re actually selling and the desired audience. Then you can figure out how to make that connection. Finding the right messaging makes all the difference and it might take a bit of digging and trialling to get to that point. 

If you get stuck, just remember, you are trying to sell the outcome for the user. Research will help you to think of ways that the product or service can help a customer by:

  • Solving a frustrating problem
  • Improve some aspect of their lives
  • Add enjoyment or excitement
  • Make them healthier
  • Look better
  • Feel better
  • Make life easier in any which way

5. Always refer back to the pain points 

Copy is scattered throughout all of the customer-facing aspects of your business, from the phrase that first catches someone’s eye, to guiding them through the steps of making a payment. All copy is important. It doesn’t matter if you are writing the company slogan, or a fine print product description for the least popular product on a website.  Don’t do a half-hearted job of producing copy that you think might not be seen. Often, copy is the last step to push a customer towards a purchase. This could be something like reminding customers to complete their shopping cart, or sending out an email reminder to a customer that may have forgotten to complete their subscription. If your brand has done so well to get them to that point, putting in a bit of extra effort will make sure your efforts have not been a waste. 

Madewell covers all their bases by encouraging customers to complete their online checkout step. In a reminder email to a customer, they’ve written, “These Look Good In Your Bag”, and in the fine print “but they would look even better on you.” It’s unique, and catchy and by thinking about the small parts of their campaign, they are able to win back customers. 

How to become a copywriter

Essentially every brand uses copy to spread their message and encourage people to become a customer. This is great for prospects looking to put their creative writing skills to use. Opportunities will only continue to grow as brands emerge everywhere. 

Of course good writing skills alone won’t get your foot in the door. Understanding a brand, its values, and the kind of message that people can relate to is the foundation of what a competent copywriter should possess.

Some tips on things you can do now to become a copywriter: 

  • Sign up for a copywriting course. There are plenty of free ones out there and this way you can see if it’s the right thing for you
  • Sign up to freelance sites for experience such as Upwork
  • Volunteer to write for blogs etc. Every bit of experience is valuable!
  • Practice writing daily. You could make a goal of 500 words per day to start with, then work your way up to 1000-2000. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but will get your creative thoughts flowing
  • Get together a portfolio that you can show prospective employers
  • Research some popular companies to get inspiration and examples of excellent copywriting
  • Apply for copywriting jobs and see what happens. There are loads of jobs available and getting your foot in the door early means you can start upskilling 

How much do copywriters earn?

Copywriters tend to earn anywhere from… depending if they work freelance or are contracted to just one company. On average, the salary is around $54,184 in the United States. 

Skills that a great copywriter needs 

Without mentioning the obvious, there are a bunch of skills that come in handy when producing copy. These include creative skills such as: 

  • Curiosity
  • Humour
  • Creativity and thinking out of the box
  • Flexibility to change writing styles and ideas 
  • Problem solving
  • Empathy

Fundamental writing skills include: 

  • Ability to write quickly and concisely
  • Editing 
  • Grammatical understanding
  • Research and reading

The bottom line 

Copywriting is a powerful means to sell basically anything. Words can evoke significant meaning onto individuals. They can be compelling, persuasive and impactful. A good piece of copywriting has the potential to inspire a user’s curiosity, with the intention to convince them to take action and purchase something. Marketing is a booming industry right now and copywriting is a major component of any marketing campaign.

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