Copywriting is one of the most valuable skills in the digital age. In this post, we explore what copywriting is in depth, why it is necessary, how it can be employed and most importantly how to hone your own skills so that you can sell anything or find lots of work.
Copywriting is writing (copy) that will appear on a website or web page for business purposes. Today, this might include forms of content marketing, which in turn can mean writing blog posts and other journalistic type content. However, the term is traditionally used to refer to advertising copy (meaning the content that appears in the ads and persuades people to buy) or to copy that will appear on homepages to describe a business.
Copywriting has never been as ‘in-demand’ as it is today. Because the internet and SEO are so heavily driven by content, writers are needed in order to create site content, corporate blogs and more. At the same time, persuasive writers are also needed in order to write sales scripts and sales copy in order to help sell products. Copywriters are even used today to help businesses communicate with clients and more.
If you’re a writer then, you can find an almost unlimited amount of work by selling your copywriting skills. At the same time, if you run a business online, you need to seriously consider hiring a copywriter and think about how you are handling your own writing tasks.
There are many different skills that will be required for a copywriter. As mentioned, one of the most important will be the ability to sell via a script and if you can do this, then you will be able to find a lot of work. This skill also needs to adapt to different contexts on the web though. A sales page works very differently from a video script. Likewise, this works very differently from an email marketing campaign.
Contacting your leads and customers by e-mail is a form of marketing that has a great many advantages. Not only does it mean that you’re addressing them right in their inbox where they’re going to be highly likely to see the messages that you’re sending them, but it also means you can get to them wherever they are thanks to the ubiquity of the smartphone and e-mail notifications. Wherever someone is in the world, you can reach them and they will at least be aware of the message you’ve sent.
From there, it is your job to use convincing enough a subject heading to get them to open said e-mail – and if you have found a receptive audience that is interested in your business and the service you provide then you shouldn’t find that this is particularly difficult to accomplish.
But just because your recipients are aware of your messages, and just because they are reading them, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they’re going to be effective. Once you get people to read your messages, it’s then just as important to make sure that those messages are convincing and effective in getting them to buy your products or services – or at least just look into them further.
To accomplish this, you need to understand the very basics of persuasive writing. Here we will look at those, and help you to write messages that will really sell.
These days few people have much time for reading. We’re constantly in a hurry, we usually have about 20 things we need to do, and we’re used to getting the information we need online at the touch of a button. Once you have your reader’s attention then, you need to deliver on the goods fast to make an impression.
One way to do this, is to tell the entire story through your headers. Many readers will simply skim through the headings, so your job is to ensure that even those ‘skim readers’ get drawn in and get tempted.
And that story should be a personal one – it should be about you, about someone you know, or better yet about the reader and addressing them directly. We are genetically evolved to pay more attention to information that feels like it is directly relevant to us or people like us, and we tend to make most of our buying decisions on an emotional and impulsive basis.
That said, an emotive story on its own isn’t going to be enough in most cases – you also need to back that up with facts, figures and hard science. This way you can show your readers that you’re not just blowing smoke and you can give them the assurance they need go with that gut impulse.
Once you’re written your text, read it over. Your aim is to get the whole thing to flow naturally from start to finish so that it doesn’t lose the audience’s interest at any point. If you find sections where your attention wanes, then go over it again and streamline it until the whole text compels you on to keep reading.
Find more statistics at Statista
As mentioned, another common place that copywriting is used is on sales pages: the pages on a website that are designed specifically to sell a product.
If you have an eCommerce site, a business site or sell affiliate products from a blog, then it's important to recognize all the different factors that contribute to someone making a purchase or not. Of course, the quality of your product or service will come into play here to a big extent, and so too will your site and whether or not it looks professional and is easy to navigate. What's most important though is your ability to convince the visitor to make a purchase, to get inside their head and to understand their psychology so that you can subtly influence their behaviour and get them to make a purchase. This is the art of persuasive writing, and if you can master it, then you'll find that getting more and more people to place an order becomes almost a predictable science. Here we will look at how to employ great sales script that will help you get to that point. You will see how the nuances here are slightly different to selling via an email script. On the whole, you can usually be more ‘salesy’ and ‘bombastic’ here, whereas the email marketing campaign should be gentler but also more personal.
The first thing to keep in mind is that when someone reads your sales script they are going to automatically go into a critical mode. They know you're trying to persuade them and they've probably been let down by products similar to yours. Thus, they're going to have audible doubts running through their mind - things like 'I doubt it's the cheapest available' or 'it probably doesn't work that well'. The best way to deal with this negativity then is to tackle it head on - by acknowledging their concerns and expressing why they aren't valid.
For instance, then you could write 'At last, a system that actually works and is proven by scientific research' as your heading, or you could write 'By far the cheapest option on the market - Get in touch to find out why'.
However well you address these concerns though you should recognize that they are still going to have a few and they will worry that spending the money is going to be a mistake. Allay these fears then with a money back guarantee of some sort. If you promise to refund them - no questions asked - if they aren't happy, then you eliminate any risk and demonstrate confidence. Of course, most people never get round to asking for refunds even if they do want one.
Statistics are great because they can't be argued with (or so one would think) as we discussed in regard to email, but a personal story is always more effective here where you have more space due to the evolution of our psychology. We have developed to learn from others and to respect social signals, so if you can use personal stories of how people have used your product, and if you can make it look popular and hip, then you will greatly increase your conversion rate.
Instilling a sense of urgency into the purchase is also a good idea. Most purchases you see are impulsive and emotional, but this is something that gets lost over time - if your visitor goes away to 'think about it' then there's a good chance they won't buy.
If you want to be a copywriter, or if you want to handle the copywriting work on your sites, then of course you need to be able to write well. While this is something that many of us are naturally talented at, others will find that they need to practice and hone their skills over time. Here are some useful ways you can improve your writing abilities to become a highly adept copywriter.
Writing: This is an obvious one, but it's something that a lot of people overlook. Simply, practice makes perfect so if you want to develop your writing you should make sure to use them regularly. Don't shy away, instead 'learn on the job' by writing as many e-mails as you can and even typing out stories and other things for practice. If you are nervous about writing e-mails or content in a business setting, then just get someone to proof read what you do - but make sure to listen to the suggestions they make and engage with their changes. This will improve you typing speed too.
Reading: Reading regularly is an important way to develop your vocabulary and your ability to create a 'voice' for your pros. The more you read the more you will learn how to write well via osmosis and the more confident you will feel when you come to write. Just make sure to read around on a wide range of topics and a wide range of styles to avoid adopting too much of one writing style. This can mean reading anything from comic books, to magazines, to blogs to novels.
When you read you should also make sure to be thinking more in depth about the way the text is structured, the things you like and don't like, and how you might adopt some of those techniques.
Vocabulary: There are a number of ways you can add to your vocabulary, one of the most effective of these is simply to look up new words and there are plenty of apps and calendars designed to help you learn a new word on a regular basis. Even just talking and making sure to ask what words mean when you don't know can help you to grow your repertoire.
Courses: There are a number of courses designed to help you develop your writing skills, and these vary from 'general' writing, to more specific courses that aid in business writing, persuasive writing, fiction and whatever else you may be trying to improve. These courses can help you not only to practice, but also to come up with the right structure and to choose the correct vocabulary and style.