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(This article is an extension of our previous post, “What is Copywriting? Part I.” If you haven’t already, check it out!)
If you’re here, it’s likely because you’re wondering: what, exactly, is copywriting? And how can copywriting help me and my business?
To answer those questions, we’ll walk you through some important topics:
So, let’s get started and explain what copywriting is and what it is not.
First off, copywriting is different from content writing and entertainment writing. But, to understand exactly how copywriting is different, we first need to understand what content writing and entertainment writing are.
Put simply, “content writing” is the creation of digital content — such as website content and blog posts — to be used by a person, business, or organization to communicate their messaging effectively.
Usually, content writing is geared towards informing your audience about particular topics and offering them something of value for very little (or nothing) in return.
However, in spite of how content writing may present itself, it is ultimately intended to convert those leads into customers (albeit in a more subtle way than copywriting).
For example, this blog post is a piece of content writing. While we are sharing this information with you in the hopes of helping you and your business succeed in your endeavors, we are also hoping our content will leave a positive impression and entice you to engage with us further.
On the other hand, as this article will go on to explain, more traditional forms of marketing (like copywriting) are usually geared more towards selling a product or service in a more straightforward and obvious way.
Thus, we are of the opinion that, while content writing can be considered a type of copywriting and while it is a very important aspect of digital marketing, it doesn’t capture the full picture of what copywriting is.
We consider “entertainment writing” to be any piece of writing that is created and communicated primarily for the purpose of providing pleasure to an audience, evoking self-reflection, or communicating certain cultural, religious, or sociological ideas, such as works of historical fiction, movie reviews, or indie films.
As we will go on to explain, entertainment writing is distinctly different from copywriting in its use of fiction, its ability to incorporate or rely on opinions and shades of grey, its lack of a call to action, and its lack of clear, measurable results.
Another important aspect of copywriting is this: unlike other forms of creative writing (and copywriting is quite creative), there’s no shade of grey.
On the other hand, in entertainment writing or even journalism, there is a shade of grey, or, rather, opinion.
The journalist that reports on the latest political scandal will still tell that story through their eyes, through biases, judgments, their sense of humor, and so on. Sure, you’ll get some of the facts, but with what kind of angle?
Then, of course, you’ve got novelists and screenwriters. Well, the whole point here is to create fiction, is it not? With these forms of entertainment writing, we are typically much less concerned with authors representing the truth.
Even a biography is told from a certain point of view. Is the author a fan of their subject? If so, perhaps questionable aspects of that subject will be either overlooked or colored differently. On the other hand, if they are, on a personal level, not keen on the figure they are writing about, they may judge their subject more harshly.
And yes, even content writing contains opinions — think of all those “top 10” lists, reviews, opinions on strategy and execution, etc.
The copywriter, on the other hand, doesn’t really get to share their opinions. Sure, a copywriter may write about peoples’ enjoyment of a product or service or speak of its value, but are they sharing their opinion?
No. There is no shade of grey here, and no room for the copywriter’s opinion on the matter.
If it weren’t for your brand’s written content, how would people know about your products and services? How would they come to understand your offerings? How would they come to appreciate your brand’s values and messaging?
While we may say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” when it comes to sales, most products and services need to rely on written content to communicate the value of their offerings, and adding written content helps to ensure your marketing materials are as accessible as possible.
For example, without copy, how many items around your house would you have purchased? Without product descriptions, feature breakdowns, commercials, Google ads, Facebook ads, marketing emails, etc., would you still have known about many of those products? Even if you knew about them in a vague way, would you have known they were right for you?
So, without copywriting, what would you and your brand do? Without copy, you could be sitting on a goldmine, but who would ever know it?
In short, copywriting is a big part of what will get your brand noticed.
So, it is especially important that your copywriting clearly communicates to your target audience what your business is all about — what your products and services are and what your brand’s all about.
You’ve put time and effort into creating a brand for your business — you have established a certain visual identity, outlined your mission statement and values, identified your niche and your personas, and you’ve set clear, achievable goals.
Good copy is always in line with your brand’s image and values and works towards your goals.
Your brand, like a person, should have a clear, unique, and consistent voice that your audience can count on.
Is your brand voice more casual, colloquial, playful? Or is it more authoritative and dry? What sort of tone will your target audience respond to most positively? What sort of topics do your personas expect you to cover? A good copywriter will help you answer these questions (and more) and will ensure your brand’s copy is always in line with your business’ unique image and goals.
Copy should not communicate the copywriter’s voice. Rather, what comes through to your audience should be your brand’s voice.
As we mentioned a little earlier, other forms of writing, like content writing, certainly work towards communicating some of your brand’s value to a certain audience, and that content is an important part of digital strategy.
However, content writing doesn’t necessarily focus on selling a company’s product or service to its target audience, and it doesn’t always contain a clear call to action.
On the other hand, copywriting does always intend to sell a company’s product or service.
For example, blog posts often make use of SEO and well-crafted writing to drive traffic to a business’ site and enable companies to demonstrate some of their expertise to their target audience. However, if a company only focused on their blog content and didn’t work with a full-service copywriter, they’d be missing out on leads from other sources, and would have a difficult time converting leads without sales messaging to complement the valuable blog content they’re sharing.
For example, good copy helps us make decisions every day, such as where to order takeout from. Who has the best coupon this week? SkipTheDishes or Uber Eats? Imagine if these companies had tons of website content and an ample blog about the food industry but didn’t communicate these sales and promotions to you. Would you have known to order from these companies in the first place? Would you still use their services as often?
So, while copywriters should be skilled at developing web content (like blog posts optimized for SEO), they should also be able to help companies execute a well-rounded digital marketing strategy capable of converting their target audience into paying customers. Content writing helps to generate interest, but it’s usually the copywriting that seals the deal.
Good copy will talk about your product’s features, along with its benefits.
However, good copy will also catch an audience’s eye.
Good copy captures attention.
Then, it holds attention.
While it has your interest, it lets the reader know that this product will help them — this product will provide a solution to some problem they’ve been facing.
Then, finally, good copy will use a “call to action” to prompt its audience on what to do next.
A call to action is a part of the advertisement that tries to get your audience to do the thing you’ve just been talking about — to make a purchase, to subscribe, to get in touch.
“20% off your next order. Order now.”
“Call now for free delivery.”
“Think you’ve got what it takes? Show us.”
“Book your appointment now.”
“Sounds interesting, right? Click here to learn more.”
“Free delivery. Click here to provide us with your address.”
“Learn more by clicking here.”
All of the above examples can be found online, in web copy, blogs, clickable ads, marketing emails, etc., and will be followed by a clickable button or link. If you follow through and click that button, you’ve taken action. The copy has been successful.
Essentially, you want your “call to action” to be the thing that tells your prospect what to do next.
Yes, next. What you don’t want is for your prospect to finish the email, slogan, or social media post you’ve written and then stop all further action.
While it’s always up to your audience to decide whether they want to take any action, it is up to you and your copywriter to get the option for further action in front of them. You don’t want your copy to end like a book. “The end,” book down, on to the next thing. You do not want that, which is why the “call to action” is such an important part of copywriting.
So, your call to action will encourage your prospect to not stop. You’ve got
their attention and now you will want them to keep following you, wherever you may be going.
Copywriting is about clear, measurable results. Copywriting should lead to identifiable increases in some measure and should ultimately drive profit. If copywriting does not do this, then it does not work and a stop will be put to it.
There are clear consequences stemming from a business’ use of copy. Either the business that the copy is written for achieves what it set out to do or it does not. The end.
With content writing and entertainment writing, on the other hand, the end-goals are a bit more varied and the results can be a little more ambiguous and more challenging to measure.
For example, some movie-makers want their audiences to enjoy the film — to smile, laugh, and remember it fondly. Other movie-makers, on the other hand, want their audiences to reflect on the subject matter or call into question certain aspects of their society. In either case, you can measure how many people saw the movie from ticket sales and, perhaps, you can poll a sample of the audience to see how they feel about the movie, but the outcomes are harder to track and measure.
Think of it: if there were no copy, there would be no ads. Sure, you can say that this would suit people just fine, but would it? Would business as we know it be able to exist in such a world? Would small businesses be able to thrive? Would consumers and end-users really prefer such a world? We think not.
One of copy’s key functions is to share information about a business that your target audience will want to know. More specifically, copy demonstrates to your potential customers that the product you’re writing about will help them solve some problem they are facing or otherwise improve their lives.
Additionally, sharing copy in convenient, appropriate, and transparent ways makes the lives of your target audience a little easier by reducing their need to search for information, products, and services — you’re saving them time and energy.
Thus, copy offers value, and people want that value.
In exchange for that value, you are able to drive up your profits, adding further value to your own business and to your team’s lives.
Copywriting is a unique form of writing that needs to always keep in mind the principles we’ve outlined in this article, while still being engaging and pleasurable for your audience to read.
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