Whether you have just started a business or joined one, you will have heard the term "copywriting" floating around. Copywriting is essential for any business, as it's a core method of advertising.
On average, it's estimated that people read around 20% of the text on a page. The more concise your message is, the better. If your website or marketing methods have poor writing, it's unlikely that your message will get through to readers.
Powerful writing that captures an audience's attention is vital for any business, especially if the business is a start-up. Businesses need to make a good impression on their potential leads and customers, or else they risk falling at the first hurdle.
In this introduction to copywriting, I'll cover the following:
So, crack your fingers, get your thesaurus ready, and let's dive into it.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the art of creating copy that best suits the intended target audience. It is about choosing the right words and phrases to convey your message. You want to convince potential leads and customers that your product or service is worth buying.
The term copy refers to any published text. This includes words and text used as a tool in advertising, which is what most people will associate with copywriting. The job of a copywriter is to write copy that will be used in advertising (or sales).
A brief history of copywriting
Despite its current associations with the digital age, copywriting goes back at least a century. The history of copywriting is fascinating and is worth writing a whole post on. But for this post, I will keep it brief.
There is still some debate about who the first official copywriter was. Some sources suggest it was Claude C. Hopkins (1866-1932), a pioneer in advertising. Others suggest the even earlier figure of John Emory Powers (1837-1919), who is argued to be the first independent copywriter. Either way, the concept of copywriting dates back to the advent of consumerism, as people began buying more things (consuming) to improve their quality of life.
With consumerism and capitalism came the need for advertising. Writing in advertisements was one effective way of encouraging consumers to buy a company's product or service. At its heart, this involves storytelling.
Telling a good story appeals to people's emotions. It's one aspect of copywriting that hasn't changed throughout its history.
Copywriting in the digital age
In the current age of digital marketing, people are more aware of how advertising influences them, therefore they are less likely to buy on impulse.
This hasn't made copywriting obsolete, however. Writing is still used in marketing just as much as it was over a century ago. But what has changed?
Firstly the diversity of content and copy available, largely thanks to the internet. Previously, traditional advertising focused on snippets featured in film and television, magazines, newspapers, billboards, and so on.
In the past two decades, there has been an explosion of online content formats, with new tools such as blogging, email marketing, and social media coming into play. Copywriting now focuses heavily on nurturing a niche audience and persuading them over time, rather than relying on an advert reaching a huge audience.
The key takeaway here is the niche audience. Advertisements you see in magazines and on television reach a wide audience, but are not personal to the audience. Digital copywriting, however, can produce content targeted towards different audience personas.
Why is Copywriting Important for Digital Marketing?
So why is copywriting important for digital marketing? Let's look at some statistics.
1. 37 seconds is the average time spent reading an article
In internet terms, that's a long time. But what matters here is capturing your audience's attention. Good copy that engages and speaks to an audience will encourage them to spend longer on your article and website.
This means you can capture their attention with targeted call-to-actions, thereby producing conversions and, eventually, turning leads into customers.
It's no good creating copy for the sake of copy. Meaningful copy produced for your target audience(s) will have higher engagement and will be more likely to create conversions. Capitalise on those 37 seconds!
2. Landing pages with a lower word count have higher conversion rates
Have you ever come across a landing page with so much information that it puts you off? I certainly have.
Creating a concise message on your landing pages helps potential leads and customers understand what you're offering and how it can help them. It also means they aren't bombarded with unnecessary information that will likely discourage them from giving their information.
Therefore, high-quality copy that is clear and concise leads to higher conversion rates.
3. 60% of consumers who received marketing emails made a purchase
(Source: Constant Contact)
HubSpot suggests that social media marketing is on the rise, particularly for the younger generation. Naturally, many businesses are turning towards social media in their digital marketing strategy as a major source of lead generation.
However, email marketing is still vital for conversion rates, as shown by this statistic. Writing good copy for emails is just as important as the rest of your branding strategy. Engaging subject lines will boost open rates, and the body of the email should ramp up those click-through rates, eventually leading to customers.
Copywriting is therefore essential for digital marketing strategies. Implementing high-quality copy across all your marketing channels, from blog posts to social media, will encourage people to read and engage with your content. You can capitalise on this engagement with landing pages and email marketing campaigns, transforming your leads into customers.
3 Best Practices of Copywriting
1. Be clear and concise
Copywriting isn't producing an essay - it's a method of selling. You want to get to the point quickly.
What I want to know from a business is:
What do they have to offer?
How does it benefit me?
I doubt many people would want to read paragraphs and paragraphs of writing detailing a business or person's life story. Being concise means you get to the point faster.
You also want to have clarity in your writing. The average reading age of people in the UK is around 9 years old. Depending on your industry, you want to adjust your copy based on who your target audience is.
A good rule of thumb to go by is to "write like an 8th grader". Treat your readers like the intelligent human beings they are, but avoid complex terminology and over-complicated sentences. Avoid jargon and industry-specific terms, especially if you are a B2C business. B2B businesses can get away with slightly more jargon, but don't overload your copy with complex terminology. Keep it as simple as possible.
2. Proofread everything
Seriously. As an editor, it saddens me when I see fantastic copy ruined by spelling and grammatical errors. Check each word thoroughly, read it aloud, or get someone else to check it for you.
My top tip for proofreading is this: when you have written something, don't look at it for at least 24 hours. Come back to it with a fresh perspective, and you will be surprised how many errors you missed while writing and editing it the first time around.
3. Be consistent
Consistency in your copy means your brand voice will stand out. Customers will recognise your brand not just through your visual content, but your written content too.
So, you'll need to choose a tone and style that suits you, and remain consistent across all your content channels. That includes your blog posts, email marketing, social media, and other website copy.
Can't figure out your unique style or brand voice? I will cover this topic in my next blog post, so stay tuned!
Wrapping It Up
So that's a brief introduction to the wonderful world of copywriting. I've talked a little about its history, how it has changed with the rise of the internet, and its uses in marketing today.
You need high-quality writing in most aspects of your business. Being clear and concise, proofreading everything, and maintaining a consistent tone and style will benefit you and your business by attracting loyal customers.