The term ‘copywriter’ first appeared in the early 20th century and was used to distinguish advertisement writers from journalists. While the schism between these two professions remains, they do share a basic tenet since good writers – regardless of their role – understand things well and know of to convey that information in a compelling way to others. Copywriting takes this idea and applies it to a product or service. A copywriter is a company’s most convincing salesperson – while sales teams contact customers individually, a copywriter can reach a wide net of customers through the content they produce and the channels on which they communicate.
Prior to Copywriting…
When trying to copywrite for a product/service, the first step is understanding what makes it unique; what are the features or benefits that will entice customers? Ask yourself the following questions:
- How would you describe the product/service as simply and concisely as possible?
- What is unique about the product/service?
- What are the key benefits it provides to customers?
- What customer pain point does it alleviate, or problem does it solve?
- What are the product/service key features and the benefits of each?
Now that you’ve examined the product/service, next step is to understand your customers by creating a marketing persona. A buyer/marketing persona is a profile of your ideal or most common customer. You should highlight key demographic information such as age, profession/salary, pain points, and motivations. These details will be critical in determining the tone and messaging of your copywriting.
Customer research should address the following questions:
- Who currently buys your product/service?
- Who is the ideal customer for your product/service?
- What does a typical customer look like (marketing persona)?
- What do customers enjoy about your product/service?
To properly understand your audience, you should know the common problems they face and how your product/service solves them. This should be particularly easy if you’ve faced the same issues yourself. However, if your product or service isn’t something you’d use personally, you may need to connect directly with your customers through surveys and research.
The key is that your copywriting matches the tone and language of your audience. Jump on competitor sites and see what their customers are saying in reviews – understand their common complaints, questions, and praises. This will give insights into what your ideal customers are looking for and where your industry’s biggest players can improve.
With an understanding of your product and your customers – you’re ready to copywrite.
Copywriting: From Headline to CTA
It starts with the headline, which should be unique, specific, and convey urgency. Copywriting is about being persuasive, so start with a compelling yet short and simple value proposition – something that touches on a commonly held customer problem and how your product/service solves that issue.
What’s critical is ensuring your audience continues reading your copy. Telling audiences mini-stories can keep them hooked. The key is to structure copy like a narrative arc – with a beginning, middle, and end – and structure your copywriting so one line of text leads to the other in a way that pulls audiences. For example, asking questions can entice audiences to keep reading.
There is a classic marketing formula for structing a copywriting: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA). Essentially, the headline should grab their attention. The next line should then pique their interest through a promise or interesting fact. After that, tap into the intended audience’s desire and how your product or service address it. The last line should be simple and effective, compelling the audience into action.
Benefits over Features
Good copywriting highlights benefits and focuses on what’s in it for the audience. People want to know how a product or service will benefit them rather than all the details of its features. For example, a simple setup feature is great, but audiences would prefer knowing they can benefit from using your product/service to save time. Always keep the audience experience in mind demonstrate benefits over features.
Benefits fall into two categories: Tangible and Intangible.
Tangible means physical, provable, or measurable benefits, so make them clear and vivid to audiences. For example: price, quality, value, speed, convenience, etc. Tangible benefits also apply to commercial customers as products can help businesses save time, reduce costs, save money, beat competitors, or gain customers.
Intangible means emotional or psychological benefits that can’t be measured, so link them to audiences’ concerns. For example: sensory pleasures, self-esteem, personal attractiveness, coolness, novelty, etc. Think Apple’s advertising from the early 2000s – it was about selling a certain aesthetic and lifestyle that was fresh, playful, and aspirational.
Remember, customers value benefits over features. They’re not so concerned about what something can do as to what it can do for them. Also, benefits don’t have to be unique, but they need to be compelling. Once the benefits you’re offering have been explained, you can then break down the features – just do so succinctly to ensure the information is digestible.
The final step is a common feature in content writing – a call to action (CTA). This is the tipping point for copywriting to convert audiences in customers. As always, keep it simple. It’s helpful to A/B test different CTA options, just ensure your clearly show what your audience is expected to do next and help them understand what the next steps are in terms of your company in terms of communication or purchase. CTAs don’t have to be long or complex, but should be clear and instructional.
Social proof can also lend credibility to your copywriting. Positive testimonials and customer reviews are especially valuable in this era of the experience economy, where every customer review has the potential to make or break your brand. Social proof is challenging to get initially, but customer reviews are powerful supplements to copywriting or any marketing material you produce.
Explore content writing further with our Ultimate Guide to Content Writing – feel comfortable connecting with any audience on any platform.