Copywriting is the strategic art of crafting written content that persuades, captivates and influences an audience to take action.
Whether it's a catchy headline, a convincing sales letter, or engaging website copy, successful copywriting plays a crucial role in driving conversions and achieving business goals. There is so much confusion around the inner workings of copywriting, the fundamental principles of copywriting, and even techniques and strategies that writers learn that take a business from meh to global success. Understanding a brand’s target audience, conducting research to create captivating headlines, structuring compelling content, and incorporating psychological triggers also known as CTAs. Simply put: copywriting is magic that engages readers and drives desired outcomes.
I once had a consultation with a brand that had all the right ideas and product, however, their copy was extremely poor. The structure of the copy, the messaging and the actual language they chose to use was clunky at best. They didn’t think they needed a copy audit but truth be told, they needed much more than an audit. This company needed an entire website rewrite. They didn’t understand why their product wasn’t as popular as they expected it to be, and yet, I was seeing the glaring red flags.
How Copywriting Doesn't Work...
Their content didn’t flow, their headlines were too long with run-on sentences and a whole bunch of other copy issues. As a professional, it wasn’t clear to me who their audience actually was. They were trying to speak to multiple people at once which created a confusing message. Unfortunately, this type of issue is not a-typical. Often new or smaller companies skimp on copywriting thinking that it isn’t a big deal. It is. It’s just as important, if not more important than website design. Which copy will always dictate.
Understanding Your Target Audience
Regardless if you’re a start-up, small business, or a global juggernaut, effective copywriting starts with a deep understanding of your target audience. Is your audience new moms? Maybe old car enthusiasts? Or perhaps those on a spiritual awakening. Each audience is different and needs to be targeted directly through compelling copy and messaging.
That’s why copywriters invest time in researching an audience’s demographics, pain points, desires, preferences, and motivations. By collecting insights about the target audience, copywriters can tailor their messaging to resonate with the specific needs and objectives of the audience. This understanding allows copywriters to create content that speaks directly to their target audience, making it relatable and engaging and bridging the gap between consumer and company. Without understanding your target audience you’re likely to miss the mark 100% of the time.
I have a friend who’s in the process of opening an online business, selling clothes. This person knows the gender they want to sell clothes for and that’s it. When I pressed my friend about their target audience and any type of demographic or psychographic they had nothing. Still to this day my friend has no info on his target audience besides their gender and plans to open their business in the coming months. To me, this is business suicide. You can’t expect to sell to anyone if you’re selling to everyone. Selling to everyone usually means you don’t know who to actually sell to.
Researching the Product or Service
To write compelling and scroll-stopping copy, copywriters must educate themselves with the product or service they are writing about and selling. This involves conducting research to understand the product's features, benefits, as well as its unique selling points. By gaining an understanding of the product or service, copywriters can successfully highlight its value and sell it as a solution to the audience's problems or desires. People buy services and products to fix a problem or better their lives in some way.
When copy isn’t written to reflect these benefits and highlights, it often falls flat and stale and doesn’t garner the attention of its target audience. This is why a lot of businesses hire copywriters to do site audits and overhaul their copy to create new, fresh copy that resonates with the brand’s target audience. Yes, your audience can stay the same but your copy shouldn’t nor should your content. Updating and repurposing should be done at least once a year (that’s a story for another blog).
Curating Attention-Grabbing Headlines
No one can argue that we live in a world where our attention is constantly being sought after and pulled in every direction. However, capturing an audience’s attention is paramount. Copywriters use various techniques and models to create attention-grabbing headlines that attract readers to continue reading. Headlines can be playful, educational, intriguing and even provocative at times.
Headlines should be short and concise, compelling, and include powerful words or sometimes even phrases that pique curiosity and interest. An example of a catchy headline is “Everyday Tools to Help You Lose Weight.” Now imagine if the headline read: “Tools to Help You Lose Weight.”
Which is more intriguing? Which do you want to learn more about? For me, it’s definitely not the ladder as it’s too broad and vague and doesn’t give enough information on what kinds of tools can be used or the level of effort needed to use these tools, whereas the first headline does.
Structuring Persuasive Content
The structure of copy is vital. If a blog reads poorly it isn’t going to be read by many. If website copy doesn’t usher the customer down a path that leads to a desired outcome (assuming the customer will follow through with the desired outcome) then the copy isn’t doing its job.
Copywriters meticulously organize their content to guide readers through a persuasive journey.
They typically start with an engaging introduction that hooks the reader, followed by a clear and concise presentation of the main points. Copywriters emphasize the benefits of the product or service, using persuasive language and storytelling techniques to evoke emotions and create a need and desire for the product or service.
Copywriters often include product or service testimonials or statistics to magnify credibility and build trust. Copywriters also must create strong call-to-actions that push readers to take a specific desired action, whether it's making a purchase, engaging with the post, signing up for a newsletter, or contacting the business as a lead.
Copywriters can take a cue from screenwriters when it comes to story structuring. Someone like myself who is both a copywriter for marketing and advertising and a scriptwriter for film and TV knows there is a structural formula to writing. Just like viewers go through a journey with the hero and protagonist of a film or show, readers should go through the journey of a product or service and its ability to solve the pain points of customers. If there isn’t a beginning, middle, and end to the copy, there isn’t a structure.
Incorporating Psychological Triggers
Copywriters have to tap into psychological triggers to influence a reader’s decisions. How might they do that? Copywriters leverage principles such as authority, scarcity aka FOMO, and social proof to create a sense of urgency and credibility. Nothing makes someone buy now when they see a countdown and think they will no longer have the option to later.
I like to think of copywriting psychological trigger like dating. When someone sees the one they desire is desired by others, it often puts a fire under their butts to move in or show interest immediately rather than playing it cool. After all, people want what everyone else wants. It’s human nature.
By appealing to a reader’s emotions, fears, and desires, copywriters can connect with readers on a deeper level, making the content more persuasive and compelling and building trust between the consumer and the brand because the consumer feels seen, understood, and like the product or service was made for them. Again, this is if copywriting is done right.
Oftentimes businesses will skimp on copywriting and have someone who is not skilled or experienced in handling the content and copywriting. And when their website isn’t landing them sales or their blogs aren’t being read or shared, or even ranking in Google they don’t understand why. Copywriting isn’t just words strung together to make sense. Copywriting is much more than that - it’s storytelling and story selling.
A/B Testing and Keyword Optimization
Successful copywriting often involves an ongoing process of testing and optimization. Copywriters usually analyze the performance of their content, such as engagement metrics, click-through, and conversion rates, to identify areas for improvement. Oftentimes writers may conduct A/B split testing to compare different versions of copy and determine which one garners the best results. By continuously refining their approach based on data-driven insights, writers can enhance the effectiveness of their content and copy over time, thus creating the perfect messaging to effectively and exponentially increase purchases.
Whether you know little or tons about copywriting, the best takeaway is to understand that copywriting is a powerful tool that combines the art of persuasive writing with strategic thinking. By understanding your target audience, conducting thorough research, structuring persuasive content, crafting attention-grabbing headlines, and incorporating psychological triggers such as CTAs, copywriters can engage readers and drive desired actions.
Through constant testing and optimization, copywriters can refine their approach and maximize the impact of their content. Through the process of trial and error copywriters often find the sweet spot in their sales messaging that hooks readers in.
As businesses naturally want to grow and increase reach, sales and heighten engagement, investing in skilled copywriters who understand how copywriting works can be invaluable. By leveraging the power of persuasive messaging and language, businesses can connect with their audience, drive conversions, and achieve their goals. Copywriting is both an art and a science that, when executed effectively by skilled professionals, has the potential to propel businesses to new heights of success.
If you'd like to learn how to scale your marketing and work with an experienced copywriter, let's chat!