Listen, I understand that it seems a little self-serving for a copywriter to explain why copywriting is so important. That would be like a turkey explaining why ham is a superior Thanksgiving protein.
But the value of copywriting is an established fact, just like ham’s dominance over turkey. Since there is often some confusion about what exactly this type of writing entails, I thought I’d share an overview of copywriting — what it is, and why it’s important for businesses of all sizes.
What is copywriting?
The simplest definition? Copywriting is the words on the page (aka the “copy”) that get the audience to take an action.
This includes the writing on your website, a sales page or landing page, email funnels, direct mail, and ads. Some writers are generalists, meaning they can write for a wide variety of formats. Others specialize, writing only type of marketing material like long-form sales pages or emails.
Copywriting is different from content writing, although many copywriters (myself included) write content as well. Content is intended to build a relationship with the audience. It often drives organic traffic to your website, too. Examples of content include blog posts, social media captions, and lead magnets.
The line between the two can get blurry, but I generally think about it like this: content warms up the audience, and copy seals the deal (whether that means it leads to a purchase or to a non-monetary conversion, like signing up for an email list.)
Now, why is quality copywriting important?
1. Good copywriting reaches the right audience
It’s not that hard to simply list the features of your goods or services. You don’t need a professional copywriter for that.
But a pro will write in a way that connects with your target audience — the people likely to buy. It does you no good to write a sales page that doesn’t speak to the people you’re trying to convince.
Instead, your copy needs to explore the emotions and pain points of your reader, and meet them where they are.
Copy is the bridge between your product or services and the people who will benefit from them. It will bring the brand’s voice together with the needs of the consumer to encourage them to take action.
2. Copywriting drives traffic
Copy (and its cousin, content) drive traffic to your website. This is often through SEO-focused writing that uses keywords and search intent to tell search engines that your business has the solution that people are looking for.
Traffic can also come from email marketing and social media. Well-written subject lines and calls to action compel people to click through to your website.
Each bit of copy guides the reader through the buying process, from unaware cold lead to interested warm lead to customer.
3. Copywriting increases sales
Reaching your target audience, building awareness, and driving traffic are important, but the ultimate end goal of it all is to increase sales. When a person clicks through your email, they’re one step closer to making a purchase!
Effective copywriting drives conversions, getting more people to click on your ads, open your emails, click through to your website, and put that item in their cart. At each step along the buyer’s journey, the written word guides them along the way.
Some business owners view a webpage as just white space to fill. A dull list of features, business jargon, and product specs aren’t going to get the job done. This is where a copywriter will shine.
4. Copywriting informs design
Are you interested in reading a 1,000-word wall of text on a company’s home page? Me neither.
Professional copywriters make it easy for website visitors to make their way down the page. They want the reader to stick around as long as possible while they make the case for why your product or service is the best solution to the reader’s problem.
So if you have a pre-designed website that just has one big block for the text, you’re making it harder on the customer. A good writer will decide how many important points there are to hit on each page to persuade the buyer. Then, the designer can arrange the site around the copy.
If you already have a site designed, all is not lost. The copywriter can work with web developer or designer to create a more effective user experience.
5. Copywriters know when to throw out the rule book
Most people learn to write in school. It’s academic, formulaic, and boring.
A pro copywriter knows when to focus on grammar, and when to say to hell with the punctuation. It’s all about readability and personality, mixed with clarity.
There’s a reason why Apple’s famous campaign in the late 1990s featured the slogan “Think Different” and not “Think Differently.” The second is grammatically correct, but the first demonstrates the very foundations of the brand. “We’re rule breakers. We do things our own way. Screw grammar! (Buy an iMac).”
Why not do it yourself?
You can! But there’s a lot to learn, and if you’re like most small business owners, you already have a pretty full plate.
Professional copywriting can get pretty complicated. But even someone who knows the basics can help improve your conversion rate and increase your sales. A modest investment in copywriting services can yield you big financial gains down the line.
Whether you choose to invest in website writing, email marketing, blog content, or something totally different, you’ll get a new way of looking at your print or digital marketing. Try it, and track the response. You might be surprised.