The most common response I get when I tell people I’m a copywriter is: “So what does a copywriter do, exactly?” The name implies that I create written content, which is true, but in practice, copywriting means far more.
The goal of copywriting is to persuade, influence and inform and can take many forms, including website content, advertisements, direct sales letters and articles. Effectively executed, copywriting can convince your reader to make a purchase, try a service, sign up for a newsletter or join a cause.
While copywriting has always been central to advertising and marketing, with the explosion of online content, it now plays a far more critical role. Copywriting has expanded beyond more traditional forms to encompass newer mediums, such as social media updates, SlideShare presentations, LinkedIn profiles, email newsletters, YouTube video scripts, how-to guides, interactive quizzes, blog posts and eBooks. With all of these newer mediums, it’s an exciting time to be a copywriter.
If you’ve never worked with a professional copywriter, you might find it surprising that writing is one of the final steps in my process. Before I even start the first draft, I research the audience, market, and the product or service I’m writing about, so I can create content that’s fresh, compelling and engaging for your target customers.
My process generally includes the following:
1. Review the marketplace and current state of the industry: identifying how the product or service will influence and be influenced by the latest trends.
2. Competitor research: determine who’s selling similar products or services and determine a strategy to help the client stand apart.
3. Research the target audience: through market research and analysis, I zero in on the target customer and identify their needs, desires and motivations.
4. The client’s story: I work with the client to elicit and clarify their one-of-a-kind brand story, including their company’s values, mission, and preferred communication style and tone.
5. The product or service: identify the features of your product, and more significantly, the benefits your product will provide for your target customer.
6. Keyword research: in-depth research of search-engine keywords and key phrases relevant to the industry and product or service, focusing on long tail phrases with less competition and higher volume.
7. Write the content, revising to the client’s specific tastes and preferences.
Yes, there is in fact a surprising range of copywriting, which may explain why the term can be confusing to many people.
Copywriting covers numerous channels, many of which overlap and interact with one another. Some of the most prominent types include content marketing, digital media, search engine optimization (or SEO), emails and direct response letters, brand journalism, technical writing, advertising/creative copy, and public relations.
When you’ve made the decision to hire a copywriter, that’s just the first step. Once your copywriter comes on board, you both need to consider which of these mediums will best meet your needs (and the needs of your customers) and how they can be optimized to achieve your business goals.
With a background in marketing and journalism, unsurprisingly my greatest passions are marketing copywriting and brand journalism. I love weaving a story that at once engages the customer while conveying the excitement, inspiration and need for a product or service. I welcome the challenge to craft strategic content marketing solutions that deliver exceptional value to your client. And I love shaping news stories into a worthwhile commodity for your customer, a process sometimes called newsjacking—a strategy that injects your spin on news to cut through the digital clutter and deliver meaningful content for your customers.
As a content marketer and brand journalist, you may wonder why I don’t blog about how to use those strategies to improve lead generation, raise brand awareness and increase engagement. Well, because my second passion is healthcare and wellness. And since health and fitness are perennial buzzwords and frequently covered in the media, why not “newsjack” stories and give you well thought-out and interesting pieces on health-related topics? If you’re raring to hear more about trends in marketing and journalism, follow me on Twitter.
If you truly enjoy writing and conveying your message in written form, that’s great! But if you’re like many business owners and managers, you may feel overwhelmed with the prospect of creating or updating content for your marketing platforms. Copywriting is more than simply putting pen to paper. Before I even begin writing for a new client, there are several steps I must complete. Some of the questions I might consider before I write include:
• How will the content align with the business needs and goals?
• Is there a clear call to action (CTA)?
• Is the content on brand?
• Have I analyzed the user and/or audience needs?
• Have I conducted research to identify keywords for SEO?
• Do I need to outline the site structure?
• Will I be optimizing the content to make it accessible?
And my work isn’t finished after I’ve created the content. In addition to revising the copy to meet my customer’s needs, additional steps may include fact checking, encoding and converting for the web, promoting via social media, and interacting with readers.
Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, search engine optimization, or SEO, is far from obsolete. Yes it’s true Google continually updates their SEO guidelines to improve the usefulness and accuracy of search results, but SEO is still an invaluable and essential tool for digital marketers.
You can pay to rank near the top of search engine results, but research shows paid or sponsored results only get a 2% click-through rate (CTR). With such a low CTR, it’s imperative to carefully manage and optimize your paid search campaigns to ensure they’re effective, which can be a full-time job in itself.
And while paid search can help drive new traffic to your website, it isn’t always the right traffic. Targeting organic searchers almost always yields better results: these visitors are actively seeking your product or service, or one just like it. And if you target your content to highly specific phrases with less competition (called “long-tail” phrases), you’re even more likely to attract the right traffic to your site.
Bottom line: ranking well in organic search means providing quality, high-value content with keywords that target your audience. And a professional copywriter can craft that compelling content, so you can attract the right visitors.
Absolutely! Persuasive and compelling copy is essential for converting browsers of your site into buyers and lifelong customers.
As prospective buyers of your product or service journey through the customer lifecycle, you must anticipate and meet their needs and requirements at each stage. And this is where content marketing and copywriting come into play.
Thanks to the ease of information access, 61% of internet users conduct product research online prior to making a purchase. Consumers are smarter and savvier than ever: they don’t have patience for irrelevant or intrusive web ads and annoying solicitations for their email. That means your content needs to be carefully planned to engage them at the right time and through the right means. Enter the copywriter: craft the right message to meet your customer needs exactly when and where those needs arise.
Having also worked as a web designer, I can almost guarantee your developer won’t be happy creating content for the website they’ve been tirelessly building for you. Even if a developer is willing to write content for your site, there’s no guarantee that he or she has the skills or expertise to create compelling and relevant SEO-friendly copy. By hiring a copywriter, you’ll not only ensure you get awesome copy for your site, you’ll also make your developer very happy!
Maybe. Depending on the type of print collateral you already own, some of the copy may be transferrable to your website. But it’s important to remember that the way we consume print media is radically different from how we consume digital content.
Web readers “snack” on snippets of information; many times they may only read the easy-to-skim parts of a web page, such as headlines, graphics or bulleted lists. If you want your website visitors to actually read your content, it must be tailored to their needs. Content should be scannable, with short paragraphs and sentences, and plenty of breaks. Printed brochures and similar material do not need to adhere to these specific guidelines, and therefore, are often not suitable for digital media, at least not without substantial revisions.
Mark Nishikawa — Web Developer
Kirsten Monteil — Stylist and Owner, Kmonteil Salon
Candice Caimpa — Project Manager, Learning Tree International
alison (at) coopercreates.co