Copywriting: enigma or marketing game changer?
What the fudge do I do??
At parties, school pick-up or anytime I meet someone new. They ask what I do for work and when I tell them the look on their face shows me they have no frickin idea what I’m talking about.
So let’s dig into what copywriting is (and isn’t).
Copywriting definition – Writing words to sell products or services
A copywriter’s job is to persuade the public (B2C) or businesses (B2B) to buy stuff. We combine art (creative thinking) and science (psychology and data) to write messages which invoke emotions.
Copywriting is not:
- Forcing people to buy stuff.
- Writing for the sake of it – copywriting always has the goal of getting the audience to take action.
- Copying other people’s work. (Never. Not Ever. Hard No.)
Why do I love copywriting so much?
Because it’s so darn powerful.
Our words change people’s perspectives. How cool is that?!?
What is copy?
Copy is the words copywriters use. Pretty straightforward.
It gets complex when you try to define what’s copy and what’s content. Copywriting is about selling and content writing is about educating and growing your community.
The argument about what’s a copywriter’s role and what a content writer does has writers throwing erasers at each other. I’m not joining the fray about what a copywriter does vs a content writer because the lines get pretty blurry and every writer has their “expert” opinion on it.
Instead, here’s what a copywriter might write for you:
- Adverts (radio, TV, digital, podcast)
- Billboards and posters
- Direct mail
- Flyers and brochures
- In-store signs
- Pop-up messages
- Sales emails
- Sales pages
- Social media promos
- Video scripts
- Web pages
Next are the types often considered content writing instead of copy:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- FAQ webpages
- Lead magnets
- Magazines (digital or print)
- Newsletters (digital or print)
- Press releases (also considered to be PR territory)
- Social media content
- White papers
Copywriters and content writers often have a set range of services they offer and it won’t be all of those. Or like me, they have a specific niche they serve.
My main services are a combo of copy and content – web pages, sales pages, landing pages, lead magnets, emails and blog posts. But I’ve also written video scripts, social media captions and taglines. Plus, I provide keyword research, SEO guidance, content planning sessions and marketing coaching.
You’ll find every writer has their own mix of services (sometimes products too). We’ve all got types of copy we love writing and skills from past roles which make our services extra special. This is why we make sure we’re a good fit for what you need before starting a project with you.
Uplevel your marketing
Want to improve your marketing?
Write better headlines.
Headlines are super important in copy because they grab your audience’s attention.
Once you’ve got people interested, each sentence needs to keep them reading till they get to your call-to-action (CTA).
But without a headline, they’ll never start reading.
Whether it’s the header on your home page or the first line of your social media caption – headlines are also called hooks. They’re designed to catch your reader’s eye.
Humans are energy savers – our brains are wired to burn as few calories as possible in case we need to outrun a tiger. So you’ve got 3-5 seconds to get people reading your copy and 8 out of 10 of them will only read the headline.
Your first words have gotta be magnificent.
To whip up a fresh, curiosity-building headline try my top three copywriting hacks:
- Make the first three and last three words the absolute best. These are the ones people will remember.
- Cut every word you don’t need. Every word you use needs to serve a purpose and if it doesn’t – trash it.
- Use a thesaurus. Thesauruses are my fave writing tool – they help me find shorter words when I’m stuck on a long one or swap an overused word for one with more impact. Great becomes remarkable. (Try Wordhippo, you’re gonna love it!)
What about optimal headline length?
Six to eight words are often recommended but it’s hard to make a specific headline with so few words. If you can pack a punch in six words and it still makes sense – go for it. If not, opt for making it relatable instead.
Next to headlines, a call-to-action (CTA) is a vital part of copywriting. Too often I see web pages and social posts without a CTA. People don’t take action unless you tell them to. It’s not being blunt, it’s helping them get past their hesitation and deciding to act.
A CTA is the last line in your social media post and can be anything from “drop an emoji in the comments” to “DM me for the link”. On your website, sales pages and landing pages, the CTAs are your buttons.
Average conversion rates for CTA’s are 1-3%. Pretty low hey? So if that’s where you’re stats are currently at – don’t despair. CTA’s are easy to improve.
An underperforming CTA often ticks one (or all) of these boxes:
- Too generic
- Too big or too small
- Two CTAs positioned too close together
- Low contrast colours
- Has weak words
Ready to turn those around and create powerful CTAs?
First – make sure your CTA stands out by making it a button, not just text in the middle of your page. A study found that making a CTA look like a button boosted clicks by 45% (CreateDebate).
Now make sure your buttons are clickable for adult-size fingers and there’s enough gap between each of them if you have more than one. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to tap something on your phone and ending up on the wrong page.
Next, look at your colour choices. Light grey on dark grey? Hardly eye-catching. Pick a bright colour like green, blue, orange or red. (Stay away from yellow as a button colour or text colour, it’s hard to read. And avoid black as the button colour because it fades away from the eye rather than popping out as much as a vivid colour does.)
Finish off by giving your buttons a bit of breathing room. CTA’s with plenty of white space convert 202% higher than CTA’s squished in with text and images.
Hubspot found CTA’s with keywords get 87% higher conversions than CTAs without keywords. So knowing what your audience is searching for when they hit your page is ultra important.
Your CTA needs to be strong. People need clear direction but they want to feel in control. So don’t use the word please, it makes the CTA about you – not them. It’s also a pretty flaky word. When I see it in copy, it makes the business sound like a kid begging for ice cream.
Words to ditch from your CTAs:
- Submit (when do you ever IRL want to submit?)
- Click here (for all the scanners this won’t make any sense)
- Download (add more words to make it compelling)
One-word CTAs are feeble, they don’t bring enough oomph. Switch download to something like “Grab yours now”.
CTAs are hardcore workers in your copywriting backpack. But like adding ginger to your breakfast smoothie, it’s easy to overdo it. Stick to one CTA per page or email. (It’s okay to repeat the same CTA in your copy, just don’t ask your audience to do two things at once.)
- Landing pages with a single offer perform 266% better than landing pages with multiple offers. (Wishpond)
- Emails with only one CTA increased sales by 1617% (Wordstream).
Last tip – Always test your CTAs! Broken links are super common and a fast way to lose leads.
Knowing what copywriting is, why you need to master it for your business and how to create attention-grabbing headlines and CTAs puts you four steps ahead in the marketing game. Now take all this sweet info and use it to help turn your audience into clients.