Whatever type of business you run, the odds are you’ll need copywriting at some point. Well-written copy can help you achieve goals like improving audience engagement, increasing conversion rates, and boosting sales—all of which can add up to greater profits. Good copywriting can mean good business.
But just when might you need copywriting, and what makes for effective copy? Plus, how can you recognize a great copywriter when you want to hire one for your business? Read on to find out:
- What is copywriting?
- Benefits of hiring a copywriter
- Who uses copywriters?
- Types of copywriting
- Copywriting vs. content writing
- Characteristics of a good copywriter
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is a unique type of writing that aims to persuade the reader to take a certain action, such as clicking a link, buying a product, or scheduling an appointment. Copywriting techniques are used in diverse promotional and marketing campaign materials, from traditional print advertisements to websites, social media, and more. The text that copywriters produce is known simply as copy.
Benefits of hiring a copywriter
How can a freelance copywriter benefit your business? It depends in part on the type of business and your business needs. These details will help determine the goal you want copywriting to achieve for you, whether it’s getting more people to subscribe to your corporate newsletter or selling more products.
Here are some of the common reasons a business might hire a copywriter:
- Increase engagement with your target audience. By crafting persuasive content, copywriters can generate interest in your products, services, or brand.
- Boost conversions and sales. By convincing audiences to take action, great copy can help you “close the deal” on transactions.
- Ramp up visibility. Effective copy grabs the reader’s attention. Plus, digital copywriting can incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to boost the visibility of your website, social media, and other online platforms.
Best of all, you don’t have to hire a full-time team to reap the rewards of effective copywriting. There are many talented freelance copywriters available. These professionals have the skills to recognize your copywriting objectives and translate your brand voice into persuasive, targeted promotional and marketing campaigns.
By leaving copywriting jobs in the hands of freelance talent, you can maintain focus on your core business competencies, and save you time and stress. Plus, the copy produced by an experienced professional is more likely to result in a better outcome. Good copywriters have some unique skills, which we’ll discuss below.
Who uses copywriters?
From health care to education, energy, government, and beyond, copywriting is relevant to pretty much any sector you can think of. Why? Any business owner, nonprofit, or government agency wants to engage with people in some way—ideally, by getting them to take a certain action.
For a business, that could mean closing a sale. And a nonprofit, it could mean convincing someone to make a charitable donation or volunteer in their community. For a government agency, it could mean anything from encouraging someone to vote to convince them to file their taxes on time.
These entities all have goals when it comes to how they interact with consumers. By engaging with and persuading current or potential customers, well-written copy can help reach these goals. Here is just a sampling of industries that use copywriting:
- Higher education
- Beauty/personal care
Types of copywriting
Copywriting can take different forms, being used in everything from billboards to TV advertisements, webpages, and more. There are also distinct types of copywriting. Here are four different types of copywriting that your business may need.
Brand copywriting helps build brand loyalty by showing how a brand is unique from its competitors. It conveys the brand’s unique voice and values while persuading the reader to take action. Brand copywriting is often about inciting an emotional connection. Here are three examples of brand copywriting:
The Basecamp homepage employs a popular copywriting technique of “pressure the pain.” It identifies a problem (“projects feel scattered …”) and offers a clear solution (Basecamp). It reflects the brand’s user-friendly, solution-oriented nature.
This is a print ad from Ricola that employs another fun copywriting technique—humor! This approach helps frame the brand as fun and modern, differentiating it from other products in this industry that take a more serious, dry, and medicinal approach to a topic like coughing.
This super simple packaging copywriting reflects the RXBAR brand. It’s a bare-bones, minimalist protein snack without fancy ingredients and fluff. This simple approach to the product description speaks to the relevant target audience—active people who want a no-nonsense way to fuel up.
Social media copywriting
Social media copywriting is done across various social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. As with all copywriting, it’s about encouraging action. It might be about getting the reader to engage (e.g., follow or like) or click on a link. Here are some examples of social media posts done well:
This Facebook post from GoPro accomplishes a lot. The copywriting tempts the writer with a question to explore the GoPro MAX and encourages them to take action by clicking on the user guide. The visual complements the writing by showing just what a GoPro can do, inciting curiosity.
This tweet from Pop-Tarts uses humorous copywriting. The goal is to engage users (which worked effectively, as this tweet got more than 50,000 likes and 10,000+ retweets). It’s also conveying the brand’s image of being fun and laid back.
This Instagram post from Fenty Beauty encourages the reader to take action by specifying exactly which foundation (and shade) is being shown. By honing in on the specifics, the social media copy increases the odds of a positive action. The copy also speaks to Fenty Beauty’s open-minded and forward-thinking brand by including the model’s pronouns.
As mentioned, all copywriting has a goal. In the case of SEO copywriting, that goal is very specific: Improve an online platform’s rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs). To accomplish this, SEO copywriters must deliver value while utilizing SEO techniques, like leveraging relevant keywords. Here are three case studies of SEO copywriting in action:
MOZ is an SEO pro, so it’s no surprise they do SEO copywriting right. Their homepage is a good example. It incorporates keywords (e.g., SEO software, increase traffic) while keeping the copy compelling (“a smarter way to do SEO”) and inciting action through persuasive tricks, like offering a freebie.
This example from Geico, a top-ranked car insurance provider, shows how technical SEO makes a difference in copywriting. The page’s meta title and description (what shows up in the Google search results) tells the reader what to expect when they click: a free car insurance quote. The landing page sticks to this promise, immediately directing the reader to a free car insurance quote tool. Why does this matter? Search engine algorithms prioritize user-friendliness. Promising one thing and delivering another is frustrating for users and can result in a lower ranking on the SERPs.
Highrise ran an A/B test on their sign-up page to see how copywriting could impact their performance. It made a big difference. The page that emphasized the “30-Day Free Trial” performed 30% better than the other page. Here, we can see how persuasive copywriting speaks to the target audience’s wants (in this case, a no-risk solution).
This is a form of copywriting that’s delivered via email. Copy includes the subject line and the body of the email. Email copywriting generally includes a clear call to action (CTA) at the conclusion, encouraging the audience to make a specific move. It has to deliver value while still encouraging a CTA. Here are some examples:
This email from Dollar Shave Club aims to get the user to reactivate their subscription. The copywriting uses humor and maintains a fun conceit from the subject line (“Have you been seeing someone else?”) to the end of the email (“Let’s get back together”). The whole email speaks to the brand’s laid-back vibe while still conveying a clear CTA (reactivate).
This email from Paperless Post is dedicated to a Mother’s Day promotion. It gets right to the point, encouraging the reader to get a card for mom. It then goes the extra mile by encouraging the reader to think about the other moms in their life. A great way to boost product sales!
This Barkbox email shows another type of CTA. In this case, the company wants to solicit feedback from their customers. The CTA is clearly marked via a button. The copy below explains the motivation and how it will benefit the consumer. Plus, they add a fun pun in the tagline (“We pawmise!”).
Copywriting vs. content writing
Copywriting shouldn’t be confused with content writing. And is a specific type of content writing. Its defining characteristic is that it wants to prompt action—good copy can encourage clicks or close a sale, for example. It’s all about persuasion.
This sets copywriting apart from content writing, which isn’t exclusively dedicated to inciting action. It might be used for entertainment purposes, for instance, or for education. An informative blog is an example of a piece of content that isn’t necessarily meant to spur the reader to action but simply to entertain, educate, or engage them.
It’s important to keep this distinction in mind, especially if you decide to work with a copywriter. It’s important to select a professional who focuses on copywriting, not a content writer or content marketing expert.
Characteristics of a good copywriter
Ready to hire a copywriter for your business? Great. Have no clue what to look for in a copywriter? No problem. This list covers some of the attributes a copywriter should have to excel in their role.
Know their audience
A copywriter needs to know how to encourage action. This requires taking into account the target audience and adapting their techniques accordingly. For example, a successful copywriter will adapt their verbiage to the age group (e.g., Gen Z vs. baby boomer).
Understands the channel
Marketing and sales copy appear in a wide range of media, from traditional print ads to billboards, websites, social channels, and beyond. Skilled copywriters understand how to write for different channels. For example, crafting an Instagram post with relevant hashtags is very different from writing a quick tweet with a set character limit.
Copywriting often spurs people to action via an emotional connection. Thus, storytelling is a valuable copywriting skill, allowing writers to communicate a message through a narrative. The Dollar Shave Club ad above shows that the traditional breakup narrative can be adapted to tell a story and drive a copywriting campaign.
Sets the right tone and language
Given the myriad of formats copywriting work takes and the array of industries it caters to, copywriters must know how to set the tone of their work. For example, while humor can work in some instances—like in the Pop-Tart ad above—it isn’t appropriate in every context.
Creates engaging titles
Powerful copywriting work is often driven by catchy, short bits of text. Having the vocabulary and creativity to come up with compelling yet meaningful titles, headers, subheaders, and taglines is useful. For example, in email marketing, even being able to write a short but interesting subject line is critical.
Focuses on UVP
Brands and businesses frequently use copywriting to stand out from the competition. To accomplish this, copywriters need to hone in on and highlight the unique value proposition (UVP). The writer needs to understand what makes your business unique and must be able to convey that to another person.
Uses action verbs
The entire point of copywriting is to spur action. Great copy often uses action verbs toward that end. Examples might include “Click Here,” “Get Your Free Trial,” and “Subscribe Now.”
Quotes data and research
Copywriting isn’t just about stringing words together in a clever way. Many successful strategies include eye-catching data and research, bringing credibility to the copy. For example, incorporating a surprising statistic is a great way to get the reader’s attention.
Understands pain points
One way copywriters get people to take action is by highlighting and pressuring a pain point (i.e., a problem they have) and then offering a solution (i.e., a product). The Basecamp example above does just that.
Tests and reviews your copy
The best copywriters are open to tweaking their work, figuring out what makes customers take action, and adapting accordingly. A/B testing is often used to determine which marketing strategy works best. The Highrise example above is one case study.
Elevate your copywriting
Ready to put copywriting to use for your business or brand? Ndiwano.com has the talented copywriters you need. With a global pool of independent talent to choose from, you’re sure to find a professional who can help you reach your goals.