Why the art of good copywriting is still vital in business

Copywriting is an essential skill in content marketing, and with my keen interest in writing and my job heavily involving writing to suit different media, Engage Comms decided to invest in my progression by sending me on a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), ‘Principles of Great Copywriting’ course in Manchester. Unfortunately, there tends to be skills gaps within marketing teams for confident and skilled copywriters and the art of strong copywriting is still under-estimated in business, even in the ‘content age’. Therefore, I hope to apply my new-found knowledge in my writing going forward, starting with this blog…

Although some of the traditional principles of writing are no longer relevant or necessary and adaptability is increasingly important, there are some fundamentals to good copywriting – creativity, accuracy, activity – which still apply whatever the medium or platform. Good copywriters adjust to the medium, the brand, and the required tone of voice to ensure the content corresponds with the brief and the audience’s preferences. A great copywriter will immerse themselves in the brand and the product/service they provide and fully understand the audience before even beginning.  Whether it’s composing a tweet, writing a thought leadership blog, or coming up with a strapline for an ad, the question remains the same: How will carefully chosen words influence audiences to take action? The answer to this question changes over time and while the basics of copywriting are important, copywriters need to keep up with current trends. Propaganda style broadcasting will no longer cut it.

Stepping into the audience’s shoes

Isn’t it frustrating when you get targeted for a specific product/service that you’re just not interested in? #SpamAlert. To avoid this, writers must step into the shoes of the person they are trying to appeal to, especially in the light of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Although the product/service may already be known to some, the writer should not assume reader knowledge. This is particularly important in an age where consumers are bombarded with so much content on a daily basis, nothing can be taken for granted and attention spans are sparse. To do this, the writer must embody the brand and get to know what makes the audience tick, understanding their subconscious desire and need for the product/service… even if they don’t know they want it yet.

Adapting to the medium

There are so many media for a writer to use: blogs, social media, websites, e-newsletters (to name a few), which means that copy must be adapted to suit the platform. Take social media for example; although Twitter has recently upped its character limit (yay!), should we really be using all that’s available? The previous tight character limit has made us masters at being concise and we shouldn’t abandon that important skill for the sake of it. This is the same with social content; if the user needs to click the ‘read more’ or the ‘…’ to view the full post, they may be disinclined to do it – so keep it short and sweet. This way the post can link to something more, like a blog or news piece on a website which will contain further information for those who are genuinely interested. This will not only allow the social posts to be intriguing, short, and snappy, but will subconsciously persuade the user to click through for more – which is often an important factor for clients as repeated website views can turn digital activity into revenue.

Adapting to the medium isn’t just about condensing the copy for social, it also relates to longer copy such as thought leadership articles, white papers or ebooks. Despite people’s supposedly shorter attention spans, longer copy such as a news piece or blog can have more of an impact with those who genuinely want to engage with the brand and with people spending more time than ever digesting content on multiple platforms, once you’ve got their attention the challenge is to keep it. When the reader is genuinely interested, a more in-depth piece will keep them engaged and stay with them.

Important note: Be intriguing, but not so much that it becomes click bait!

Creating a clear (but subtle) call to action

Content marketing is all about, well… the content. But what is content without strategy? The basic strategy with copywriting is to be informative and persuasive, but concise enough for the reader to feel like they haven’t wasted their time. This way, the reader has all the relevant information to be able to make an informed decision. The call to action must always be specific to the client’s end-goal so the writer must think, ‘what am I trying to achieve through this piece of copy?’ However, readers are savvy and will see straight through a blatant sales message or attempt to collect their precious data. Sometimes, the call to action may just be to make the reader go away feeling good about and remembering the brand.

Whether the copy is intended to persuade a reader to purchase, to inform, or to grab the attention of social users, all copy is written for a specific reason and with an end goal in mind. The adaptation of the copy to fit different media to gain as much reach as possible brings the copy to life. Having the creative flair to execute a fully integrated marketing campaign, which will positively influence the reader is essential to successful content marketing with tangible results for the client.

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