I’m Charlotte Butler, a Freelancer working in Marketing and PR with experience across brands like Sky,Travelodge and Special K. I also offer marketing consultancy including copywriting for local businesses and SMEs. I’ve worked with Lucy on a number of websites and she has kindly given me the opportunity to write a guest post for her readers about the importance of copywriting.
As a marketer it seems natural to me that anyone would prioritise strong copywriting on their website, social media and marketing material. You’ve all heard about Content Marketing and I hope you’re all practising it, sharing valuable and engaging content across multiple platforms – be it blog posts, Memes, video or sound bites.* Which should, in theory, mean you all know copy is content in its most basic form and as such, understand the importance of it. However, this fact is often overlooked so I will start with the basics:
- What is copywriting and isn’t it just a fancy word for text?
No, good copywriting isn’t simply writing a bunch of words to fill space on your website.
Type in copywriting into the online Oxford English Dictionary and the top result (when speaking of language or words specifically ‘copy’) is “Copiousness, abundance, fullness, richness”. This is telling – it doesn’t mean the more words you write the better, rather that the words you do use should have a function. They should be selected to convey information and meaning, tone of voice, or serve to enhance or characterise your brand’s personality.
Copywriting is important because wherever you use text you are telling the audience something about your brand. If you claim to be a trusted, professional accountant offering a quality service, do you think poor grammar and typos portray this effectively? You’re providing beauty treatments at your salon and send a sales email to loyal customers who know you personally as their beautician. You market your salon as friendly, welcoming and affordable. Do you think overly technical language and formal sentences will demonstrate your salon is what you say it is?
Copy tells a story and to tell the right story you need to do more than put random text on a page.
- I’ve got a beautifully designed website but as yet no ‘good’ words. Where do I start?
Clear and concise copy is a must – conveying what you do and how you do it is integral and must be explained in a way that is easy to understand. Though you need to clearly inform what your products and services are, this isn’t your only goal when copywriting. Copy must engage, enthuse and persuade. The best way to achieve this is through knowing your target audience.
Are they corporate and professional or will colloquial and friendly language resonate with them? How old are they? Are they male or female? Do they all have any common personality traits or interests that you can appeal to? This information will help you understand what language and overall style will appeal most to them. If you can illustrate your unique selling point and why you’re the best person for the job/product/service, even better.
- Is SEO more important than online copywriting?
No. SEO is a useful tool and keyword meta-tags, search terms and backlinks are important in optimising your website. Yet as any SEO specialist or online marketer will tell you, Google ranking relies heavily on good content.
Google’s algorithms change all the time which means SEO can never be an exact science, but we do know Google likes to rank based on how reliable and trustworthy a source is. Websites that keep customers clicking and looking at it are ranked higher than those that don’t. This means online copywriting is equally important, if not more important than SEO. If you have a proficient copywriter creating appealing content for your audience you will know this is immeasurably valuable.
- What resources or tools can you recommend to help me with the process of copywriting?
– A thesaurus and a dictionary – yes, seriously. It is amazing how often people use American spellings or the same words repeatedly throughout their prose.
– Think about brands who have a similar target audience or brand positioning as you. Take a look at their websites/leaflets/emails/social media and how their copy is written. For example, you may have a cupcake shop and you see your brand as warm, friendly and fun. Innocent (juices) do this well, they litter their site with playful language and colloquialisms that really appeal to their target audience.
Do remember not to simply copy someone else’s work as this is plagiarism and may also breach copyrights.
– A trusted friend, relative and/or colleague – as many eyes as possible should look through the copy before it goes live. They may notice something you missed. Ask them for feedback about the style, tone of voice and to check spellings, grammar and any facts included.
– Simply Measured has a great blog for all things social media. They have good posts on how to write an engaging post and a great blog post on the perfect formula for writing a tweet: http://bit.ly/1DlllVm
- I’ve tried all of this and I’m still not getting anywhere. My product/service is amazing and I feel the copy needs to be better in order to reflect this.
Not everyone is a natural writer, it isn’t merely a case of harnessing creativity and writing pretty sentences. It is challenging selecting specific language and carefully crafting sentences that are appropriate for your audience. Furthermore, conveying a brand’s personality as well as the facts can be difficult and writing in a particular style with a certain tone of voice takes practice.
Take a few days away from the project and don’t think about it at all. Inspiration may hit you and when you come back to writing it will be with fresh eyes and a clear head.
If you are really struggling, look around for a copywriter or ask for recommendations. Make sure you are prescriptive and specific in your brief and include as much information about your target audience and customers as possible.
If you’d like more advice on copywriting, a quote, or to talk about how I can help you please don’t hesitate to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and quote ‘Lucy’s Web Designs blog’ in the subject line.
*If you’re not on the Content Marketing bandwagon yet, you should be! It’s not just a gimmick and will help convert your target audience into paying customers.