Have you ever read a commercial product description and decided that you absolutely had to buy the item? If so, you might owe that persuasive power to the skill of a professional copywriter. Copywriting aims to encourage potential customers to take action and make purchases. Here’s more about how copywriting can play a role in your business outreach and growth.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is the craft of writing words, or copy, that inspires readers to take action. It is a type of persuasive writing found in various print ads and digital marketing materials, including commercials, digital marketing collateral, product descriptions, blog posts, social media posts, sales-focused customer surveys, real estate listings, and sales letters. Writing copy of this type can be creative and whimsical; its principal function is to encourage sales or engagement.
Direct response copywriting is a type of copywriting designed to inspire immediate action, like clicking on a link or making a purchase. Other types of copywriting may take a longer approach, such as building brand awareness or by nudging customers through the conversion funnel with a well-crafted profile of a product’s creator or company’s origin story.
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What does a copywriter do?
Professional copywriters are people who write sales copy. Some work in-house for a brand or an advertising agency. Others are freelance copywriters who build a copywriting career by taking on one campaign after the next for many different clients. A professional copywriter typically:
- Writes compelling, persuasive copy. Persuasive writing skills are a must for any copywriting job. The best copywriters have expertise in brand storytelling and can craft copy that hooks potential customers and inspires them to engage with a business and its product offerings.
- Uses effective sales language. Copywriters use different techniques to encourage sales. Some are skilled at using detailed technical language such as specifying the wattage of a stereo or the horsepower of a car engine. Others can create strong emotional responses that connect readers to a brand or product.
- Understands the target audience. Skilled copywriters may use their research skills to learn about a business’s target audience, including their needs and pain points. Some copywriters even use this information to create a buyer persona and draft copy specifically designed for this audience.
- Adheres to an established brand voice. A copywriter must write in the brand voice that’s been established by a company’s marketing department. All brand copywriting should feel like it’s coming from the same source, regardless of the copywriter on the assignment.
- Shows a clear grasp of grammar and syntax. Copywriters must deliver output that is clearly phrased and free of any grammar mistakes.
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Benefits of hiring a copywriter
Since good copywriting is an essential part of advertising, hiring a copywriter can help give your business a competitive edge. Among the benefits of using a trained copywriter are:
- It helps move prospects through your sales funnel. Persuasive web copy and ad copywriting can persuade sales prospects to continue through your sales funnel and visit your website, peruse product pages, and make purchases.
- It brings a specialist’s touch to your marketing. Copywriters are specialists who have strong writing skills, which might have been cultivated through copywriting courses. Hiring an expert in copywriting work is just like bringing in a trained computer programmer to code new software.
- It frees your team to focus on other tasks. With a skilled copywriter on your team, you can turn your focus to other duties, like optimizing the sales process or another segment of your business.
4 types of copywriting
Here are four common types of professional copywriting:
- SEO. Search engine optimization, or SEO, copywriting is the craft of creating copy for webpages that can appear in potential customers’ internet search engine results page (SERP) based on SEO marketing strategies. These professionals write copy filled with relevant keywords and section headings tailored to internet search algorithms.
- Advertising. Advertising copywriters draft material for print or digital ads, or commercials for TV, radio, and podcasts. Their output is called ad copy or marketing copy.
- Email. Email copywriting applies copywriting skills to email marketing, or a sales letter sent to a person’s digital inbox. These emails are often conversational, but they can include product features and inspiring calls to action (CTA), much like a traditional advertisement.
- Social media. Social media copywriting involves writing for some of the most popular social media platforms. This includes drafting Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram posts using persuasive yet informal language.
Copywriting vs. content writing: similarities and differences
Copywriting is similar to content writing in that it is writing on behalf of a brand or organization with an emphasis on online materials. However, these two terms are not synonyms.
- How they’re similar: Content writing and copywriting both involve writing copy on behalf of a business.
- How they’re different: Unlike copywriting, content writing does not always push the reader to buy or take an action. For instance, content marketing is a type of content writing that provides informative articles (or other media) to drive website traffic and build brand equity.
- How they’re similar: Both are written in a consistent brand voice. The voice of both content writing and copywriting should be uniform no matter who is drafting the written materials. They both reflect the views of the business rather than those of the person writing the copy.
- How they’re different: The action the writing encourages varies for each. Copywriting typically assumes a voice that encourages a short-term action, like clicking on a link or making a purchase. By contrast, a person could read a content marketing article and never see a message about making a purchase. As such, each has a different writing tone.
How to find a copywriter for your business
- Define your objectives
- Write and post job listings
- Give a test assignment
- Conduct interviews
- Draft a contract
You can find professional copywriters for just about any type of job or campaign. This five-step process can help:
1. Define your objectives
Begin by determining what you wish to achieve by hiring a copywriter. Perhaps you’re trying to draft pithy language for your ecommerce site’s landing page or product listings, create a marketing campaign for a niche audience, or compose social media posts that highlight your product’s unique value proposition. Each objective would call for a different kind of copywriter, whether it’s one who’s comfortable using technical language or one who has experience writing social media ads.
2. Write and post job listings
Write a job listing that describes the nature of the work, requested work experience, and a salary range. Then post it on sites where writers look for copywriting opportunities. These include LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed, as well as sites focused on gig work, like Fiverr and Upwork.
3. Give a test assignment
You can screen applicants by asking them to complete a test assignment to see which of your applicants drafts the most compelling copy. Create a brief that defines a goal (such as selling an item, or asking people to join a mailing list). A best practice is to respect your applicants’ time by keeping the assignment brief and never publishing their content without providing compensation. Some companies always pay writers for test assignments—whether or not the work is published or they hire the writer.
4. Conduct interviews
Trim your applicant pool by selecting those who wrote the best test assignments, then scheduling time for interviews. Ask about their past experience and what copywriting strategies they use to achieve specific results, like boosting short-term sales or website clicks. Look for a mixture of skills and a willingness to adapt to your brand voice.
5. Draft a contract
You’re now ready to select one or more copywriters and offer them a contract. Many businesses start out with a contractor’s agreement or a month-to-month contract. Later, they may choose to hire contractors as full-time copywriters.
What is copywriting FAQ
What skills should a copywriter have?
A copywriter should be able to write compelling and persuasive copy in a brand’s unique voice. They should have a mastery of grammar and appropriate use of English language syntax. Writers can take a copywriting course to learn the essential elements of copywriting.
How can you measure the effectiveness of copywriting?
You can measure copywriting effectiveness by tracking ecommerce metrics such as long-term website traffic and sales made during the course of the copywriting campaign. A copywriting campaign should, at a minimum, pay for itself through boosted revenue. Take care to give this time: It may take weeks—or even months—for the full effect of a writing campaign to take hold.
How long does copywriting take?
The length of a copywriting job varies depending upon the nature of the job, the research involved, and the number of editing passes before publication. A short, pithy social media post could be drafted and published in as few as 10 minutes. A scripted TV commercial could go through many rounds of edits and take weeks.