By Stefaan de Vreese
You know how it is. Copywriting enables you to position your brand as an authority, gives you the ability to connect with your target audience, and builds trust with your customers. But what is copywriting? And how can you use it in your marketing strategy to get the most bang for your buck?
Copywriting vs. Content Writing
Understanding the key difference between these two will determine whether your marketing strategy sinks or swims and whether your copy lands or bellyflops.
It's in the Purpose
A copywriter sells, a content writer informs.
As defined by Albert Lasker, "Copywriting is salesmanship in print." Its aim is to persuade, connect and inspire action. It's the art of selling people on an idea, brand, or ideology. Its intent is to pitch customers to use your products and/or services.
On the other hand, content writing is the art of engaging. The goal is not to incite action, but to be insightful. It aims to build an engaged audience, establish trust and position your brand as a reliable source of information.
If you want the reader to signup, download, tune in, purchase, it's for copywriters.
If you're laying the groundwork for future sales, increasing online presence, driving referrals, it's for content writers.
While both copywriting and content writing ultimately seek to convert a reader into a sale or lead, the bottom line is that the primary objective of copywriting is to sell an idea whereas content writing aims to create valuable content to help the audience understand your brand and generate interest.
In short, content writing "builds the image," copywriting yells — "Show me the money!"
Copywriting: Art or Science?
Most people believe that copywriters are primarily ‘creative types’ — the type that just sits around contemplating, waiting for inspiration to strike. When it comes, their creative juices start flowing and they’re able to magically create educational, emotive, and effective copy.
It couldn’t be further from the truth.
While good copywriting includes an element of art, and a certain level of wordsmithing is a necessity to add a flair that helps hook attention and draw readers in with engaging prose, the creative element of copywriting is most definitely the minority.
There are no secret activities or some kind of magic involved in giving birth to the most incredible, high-converting ideas and sentences the world has ever seen.
Messages that convert don’t come from the creative recesses of people’s brains. They’re borne of extensive research, knowledge of successful formulae, and iterative testing.
So, if you think copywriters are artists sitting around waiting for the muse to strike, think again. They’re actually closer to scientists in their approach.
With that out of the way, let's switch focus to Direct Response Copywriting.
Weaponized Opposite of Psychoanalysis
That’s what Direct Response Copywriting is.
If psychoanalysis aims to make more of the unconscious conscious by increasing your awareness of your unconscious desires to increase your ability to overcome them...
Direct Response Copywriting aims to provoke action by actively manipulating your unconscious desires.
Sneaky li’l bugger.
Essentially, what you’re trying to do is get your prospect into a trance-like state to quiet down the amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain, and engage the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in decision-making, to close the sale.
If you sell too hard, the amygdala lights up, you’re perceived as a threat, and all bets are off.
Take a less pushy and more conversational approach — one that signals you can be trusted, and the amygdala stays quiet, while the prefrontal cortex lights up.
The Elements of Good Copy
When you do a search for this, you’ll be inundated with countless blogs all one-upping each other to get the top position, or at least the first page, on Google.
So, I’ll be very brief and tell you that the only 3 most important elements of good copy do not deviate from the basics. It’s how well you do these 3 that determines whether your copy will convert or not.
The first and possibly most important copy element is the headline. Its intention is to grab attention and it's what will make readers decide whether they will engage and continue reading or not.
- Body Copy
The body copy is the meat of your advertisement; and the longer it is, the better. Direct Response Copywriting focuses on the customer. So, while you’re providing details regarding the functions of your product or service, the benefits should be speaking to your customer. Ogilvy recommends plunging in the subject matter straight away without beating around the bush. But whether long or short, people are interested in reading copy because they are interested in making the best choice for their purpose. Give them a good reason to believe you are the best choice.
- Call to Action
There’s no point without an end goal. The goal is sales. The writing focuses on sales. You get sales. A strong call to action tells your prospect exactly why they should do what you ask them to do and it should give them an easy way to take your desired action.
There are other elements you can insert in between depending on your need — subheads, testimonials, risk-reversal/guarantee, giveaways, etc., but they’re all useless if you don’t have these three elements down pat.
Rules of Thumb for Good Copy
- Write only as much copy as needed
If you’re only adding points for the sake of writing longer, it won’t do anything but weaken your persuasiveness. So, when reviewing your copy, ask yourself if the point needs to be added in order to convert readers to purchase your product or service. If adding another section doesn’t make your copy more persuasive, it should be left out.
- Answer more barriers to entry
It’s your job to determine the purchasing objections that might come up from prospects. Some common objections could be that they don’t understand the product, they don’t trust you or your company enough, or they feel your product is too expensive. Different barriers to entry or excuses will come up in a prospect’s mind every time they are considering an offer, and it’s up to you to remove the doubts that may stop them from converting.
- Sometimes short copy is better
In general, longer copy is better for answering potential objections, but short copy is also quite effective depending on the offer.
In cases when short copy is required, like on Twitter, it’s your job to condense your copy into an effective short-form message that convinces your prospects to engage with your brand. The same goes for landing pages, sometimes short copy converts better.
Ask yourself if there is enough information provided to convince people to take action. If yes, then there’s no need to write more and risk distracting customers from taking action.
- Interest is in interesting copy
Of course, as we all know, the most important thing in copywriting is to make your copy interesting to your prospects. We all read what interests us, so the challenge here is knowing your prospect inside-out, head-to-toe. Only then will you know what topics would pique their interest.
The argument that people don’t like to read anymore, or don’t have a long attention span just isn’t true. If we look at ourselves, we do the same thing every day, we read dozens of articles online that we find interesting and ignore those that are not. The same applies to all marketing forms.
Don’t buy into the misconception because what’s true is that people will read what interests them and skip those that don’t. Take this into consideration when deciding how long your copy should be and remember that you’re not writing for everyone. It’s okay if not everyone is interested because the only people you want to reach are those who are interested in what you have to say and sell.
Nonetheless, there is no right length of copy. Long-form doesn’t always work best, short-form copy doesn’t either. It always depends. In general, you can expect long-form copy to work better on sales pages, but again, there are always exceptions to this.
If it’s copy for a website, you have the space to write as much as you want, and you can insert different calls to action throughout the website. But if it's a sales letter, you need to take the limited space into account and be more careful. All in all, the only real way to know for sure what length of copy works best is for you to test it.
Is Your Copy Any Good?
Again, the only way to know for sure is to test. The general rule of thumb is that if it’s not converting, if it's not making prospects do whatever it is you want them to do, even if it gets a ton of likes and hundreds of awesome comments, it’s not good enough. As Niles Crane in Frasier so succinctly put it, “Popularity is the hallmark of mediocrity.”
But if you’re into processes and KPIs, check out:
Having a goal for your copy is most important because, without it, you wouldn’t know what you’re trying to reach and therefore no way to know if it’s good or bad.
You Can't Just Write Anything!?!
Who said so..? EVERYONE says there are rules to follow — follow the rules. I say, screw that! As long as what you’re writing aligns with your purpose, plow through. You CAN so write anything. You’re writing for people, not search engines. Besides, if everyone followed "the rules" and you just went along like dead fish do, unable to go against the flow, how would you stand out in this sea of sameness? Find your uniqueness and bet on it!
This Has Taken Quite A Turn
And why not? I just said you can write anything.
I started off writing this blog thinking I’d stick to the rules. But I'm a kook... and so are my peeps! We're LGBTQ+ and we wave our flag proudly! We’re grand and colorful! We’re the same but different! We’re not into cookie-cutting it! We’re baking completely different cakes! So, while there’s good stuff you can pick up from this, I can't let this moment of kookiness pass!
With that, if there’s one piece of advice I would give, it’s that your copy MUST be written to connect with your audience. You need to understand your audience so you can write exactly what they want to read, and use the types of copy that are best suited for your audience and offer/s.
Types of Copy
Depending on the audience you’re trying to reach, there are different types of copy. It’s good to know them to have some kind of frame when creating your marketing strategy. Check out these links to learn more:
When It Comes to Your CTA — Think Like A PRO
I cannot emphasize the importance of including a Call to Action.
The best calls to action are those that are concise, catchy, and get your prospect to do your bidding. Include these elements in your CTA and see how it works out for you:
- Start with an imperative
A call-to-action's main goal is to convince someone to do something. So, use commanding language and action verbs like “join” and “click” or power phrases like “subscribe now” and “check it out” which direct people to take a specific action.
- Make it low risk
An effective CTA is low-risk but provides high value to your customers. Dispel threat by employing a zero-pressure approach. The goal is to make your audience feel that they’re simply finding out more without committing to anything.
- Use persuasive writing skills
Use persuasive words that compel people to follow your direction. Your CTA copy must be concise to build intrigue and make your audience want to learn more. Create a value proposition, an incentive that benefits people, like saving money or lower rates.
- Create a sense of urgency
A ticking clock with a promotion creates FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s an effective marketing tactic IF you’ve successfully implanted in your audience’s mind that your offer is damn good. If not, you can use this tactic until the end of the world and it won’t work.
- Make it pop off the page
A great CTA is a combination of persuasive language and great design. Leave ample white space around your button and use brighter colors. Make it stick out and catch your audience’s eye.
ON ANOTHER NOTE...
The great Adil Amarsi did a Titan Community Sessions Training with us recently where he divulged a ton of awesome tips and advice that will definitely get your copywriting to a much higher level than you can ever imagine. If you want to get on the right track and significantly improve your copy, don't a-dilly-dally, grab the audio!
Join https://titanology.world/ — it's free — and bug us for it! 😉
Nah, just let us know in a post or send a message & we'll get it to you pronto.
Get a taste of what you're gonna get:
The only way to motivate your readership is through highly engaging copy.
So, write with emotion.
Copywriting is all about writing the right message, at the right time, delivered in the right way.
There are no secrets.
There are rules that can be bent or broken.
Pick your frame and stand out. Cheers! 🥂
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