By now, if you have a business, you must have heard of copywriting.
What, you haven’t?
Then this article is even more important for you since you are going to discover a whole world that can help you greatly improve the sales of your product or service.
And if you already have an idea of what copywriting is, stay with me, because I’m going to explain something vital to you.
The reason copywriting exists and why it has become the best-kept secret of advertising.
All the big companies use it and the small ones are gradually discovering it and incorporating it into their businesses.
For the simple reason that copywriting works.
If you stay with me you will learn a little about the origins of copywriting, the reasons why it works and how you can apply it to your business.
Are you staying?
Very well done.
Here we go.
What’s Copywriting? A brief introduction to its origins
The basis of copywriting comes from a book published in 1924 titled Scientific Advertising, written by Claude Hopkins, whom, one could say, laid the foundations of advertising.
A little later, in the 1940s, another American named John E. Kennedy defined advertising as “The art of selling in print”, nowadays we can dare to say that it’s the art of selling not only in print, but also on television and, above all, on the Internet.
The role of the copywriter was consolidated in the 1960s in the advertising agencies of Madison Avenue in New York.
If you have watched the series Mad Men you will know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t watched it then you should because it’s one of the best series that have been made and you will enjoy it very much if you like the advertising world.
The role of the copywriter was to devise the slogans of the advertisements and to create the stories behind the advertising spots.
Already at that time, they had realised how important it was to know and connect with the target audience in order to reach them with the advertising message.
They devoted a lot of resources to conducting surveys and market studies to find out what the audience wanted, what their daily concerns were, what motivated them.
The story of the character played by Elisabeth Moss, Peggy Olsen, and how she moves from being a mere secretary to earning the agency’s first female copywriter position, portrays magnificently the essence of copywriting.
Let me explain.
As you can imagine in the 1960s, the decade in which the series takes place, the presence of women in the workplace was very scarce and the positions they held were more of assistance than anything else.
On one occasion the agency has a brand of lipstick as a client and decides to gather all the secretaries of the company in a room to try the different lipsticks and discuss between them what they like and what they don’t like about the product.
The creatives (all of them men) watch them without them being aware from behind a fake mirror, in order to get ideas for the advertisements from their comments.
Peggy comes up with a very original concept when asked for her opinion on the product and the customer likes it very much. “Belle Jolie lipstick, mark your man“.
That’s when managers decide to hire her as a copywriter since they realise that to really know what’s going on in women’s minds they need a woman.
And this is one of the key elements of copywriting and one of the reasons why it works so well to sell anything.
Copywriting is based on a deep knowledge of the target customer; the copywriter literally gets into the mind of the customer.
To sell anything you have to convince and you can’t convince anyone if you don’t know very well what’s driving that person.
In order to sell you have to convince
I’m going to explain to you with a very simple example what copywriting is.
Imagine that you want to go to Rome on holiday because one of your dreams is to see the Sistine Chapel. But you know that your boyfriend doesn’t like art at all and hates queues.
To convince him you will list everything that Rome has that you know he loves.
The Rome stadium, the pizza, the ice cream, the Colosseum.
In addition, you will eliminate all his objections by showing him photos of the beautiful room of the hotel whose rates are cheaper on those dates.
You tell him that the flight times are perfect and that your friends Joe and Claudia also went and both loved it.
And you convince him.
If you didn’t know your boyfriend very well and you didn’t know what he likes, you couldn’t convince him to go to Rome, could you?
Well, it’s the same with your customers. You need to know how to convince them.
The classic definition of copywriting says: it is a technique used to write texts in a persuasive way in order to entice the reader to take a specific action.
Copywriting has many applications and can be used to write very different kind of texts in order to obtain different results.
The following are the most common applications of copywriting.
Copywriting for websites
This type of copywriting aims to convert more visits into customers.
It uses specific techniques in order to persuade the reader to perform an action.
This action can be:
– Fill in a contact form
– Buy a product directly
– Subscribe to a mailing list to receive a newsletter
– Call a phone number, etc.
More and more businesses are hiring a copywriter to write the texts for their websites.
Copywriting, unlike content marketing, sells and doesn’t just inform.
Maintaining a content strategy is very important to create a relationship of trust with your target audience, but without copywriting, it will be more difficult to convert those prospects into customers who give you their precious money in exchange for your product or service.
With good content you inform and provide value to your ideal customers, with sales copy you sell your product or service to them.
Let’s see an example of copywriting for websites in order to know how to differentiate it.
This website is addressed to women with hormone issues.
The sales copy is really good because it addresses all the pain points (issues) that the target customers (women with weight problems, menopause, a bloated feeling, etc.) have and really empathise with them before explaining the benefits of the Sexy Ladies Balls program and how it can help alleviate those specific issues.
Sales copy is always about how you can improve customers’ lives.
If you are suffering from any of the problems mentioned at the beginning you will keep reading because the text speaks to you directly.
This is just a fragment of the text, on the actual sales page she empathises more with those pain points and elaborates further the benefits of the Sexy Lady Balls program.
In the next two sections of this article I describe in more detail the techniques of persuasion to write sales copy.
Now let’s get on with the types of sales copy that exist.
Copywriting for email marketing
As I explained in my article a couple of weeks ago, email marketing is still one of the most important tools companies have to sell their products and services.
That’s why we also find copywriting in emails.
I’m sure you’ve heard of sales funnels. Right? I’ll explain it to you briefly, just in case.
It’s a series of emails that the target customer receives in order to “warm up engines” so that he will eventually buy the product offered.
These sales funnels are always written by a copywriter and they use gradual persuasion.
Each email has a function, first it empathises with a problem that the customer has, then it uses storytelling to continue empathising and get even closer to the customer, later on it presents the product and explains how it helps solve that particular problem, etc.
It’s a formula that works very well and that’s why so many companies use it. In most cases it’s used for more expensive products or services that need more reasons to justify the purchase.
But copywriting is not only used in sales funnels, it’s also used in marketing emails for e-commerce or to sell a specific service to a mailing list.
Let’s look at an example.
Julia McCoy is the brain behind Express Writers, a content agency which is quite popular among new bloggers because it provides very useful insight on the art of writing content.
They send emails to their subscribers every week and are a great example of copywriting. The content of their emails is always intended to inspire and offer value. Some of them are also aimed to offer a content creation online course like the one in this example.
In this email, Julia empathises with your pain points, the fact that you feel a bit lost when you start in this business, making mistakes and not being sure how to please clients. She assures you that she’s been where you are and therefore has already committed all those mistakes and learnt from them.
As you’ll see the tone she uses is very personal, it feels like she’s really talking to you.
This is the tone you should use to write copy.
SEO copywriting is used to position a page in Google’s top results. There are several techniques such as using keywords in strategic places or buying links to other pages with more traffic.
If you want to know more about SEO copywriting read this article where I describe it in much more detail.
Creative copywriting is used to make a brand known and to maintain its presence in the market through advertisements on television, press and social media.
These are the powerful slogans and phrases used in advertising to awake our interest and keep a particular brand in our minds.
Apple, Nike, Vodafone, all well-known brands use this type of copywriting to maintain their presence so we don’t forget that they exist.
Thanks to the excellent creative copywriters that exist out there we can enjoy such great ads as these:
A few months ago Pornhub launched a campaign to recruit its new creative director. To do so, they asked the candidates to create an advertisement as a test so that people could then vote for the best ones.
The truth is that whether you like porn or not, some of these ads are great.
It’s a joy to see so much creativity together.
I can spend hours watching good ads. Some are true works of art.
This Ad launched in 1984 is one of my favourites. Keep in mind that at that time Apple was not the trendy successful brand that it’s today, however, their advertising has always been fantastic and that’s why they are so successful today.
Copywriting in the Internet Era
At this point I can hear you thinking, okay that’s great, but I’m not Steve Jobs and I don’t have so much money to spend on advertising.
Of course not, but the good news is that today by investing just a little bit on your Internet presence, you can go very far.
You don’t have to hire a renowned advertising agency to write compelling texts and catchy slogans for your website, marketing emails or for your social media campaigns.
You can choose to write the texts yourself by learning the copywriting techniques.
Here I share with you the list of the best books that exist on copywriting.
– The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman, this is the bible of copywriters. This man sold millions of products with his direct response ads in the press. Although he mainly wrote sales copy for direct response print ads in the 70s and 80s, its teachings are still valid today.
– How to Write Seductive Copy by Henneke Duitstermaat. Despite being Dutch and that English is not her native language, Henneke has achieved enormous popularity among business writers, her blog and books are jewels from which you will gain a lot of wisdom on the art of writing.
– How to Write Sales Letters that Sell by the legend Drayton Bird, is one of the most widely read books on copy. It is very practical and easy to understand.
If you don’t have time to learn to write copy, you can hire a freelance copywriter. Depending on their experience their prices will vary but most of them can give you a quote without any obligation.
Copywriting works and can be a very good investment for your business because, if the texts are good, they will bring you more sales.
Once you know the basic techniques of copywriting you will be able to differentiate those websites that have sales copy and those which doesn’t.
You can try to differentiate them by doing some research on the Internet.
If the text catches you from the very first moment, if it incites you to find out more, if you feel closer to that brand, if it addresses your questions and needs, if you feel the need to contact them or receive more information, that text is most likely a good piece of sales copy.
How to convince your ideal customer
Copywriting is selling and selling is about taking away customer objections to buying from you.
In order to write good texts that result in more sales, you need to carry out an exhaustive investigation of the profile of your ideal customer and of the market and then write convincing texts that empathise with your prospects’ pain points and present your solution as the best available one.
As we saw in the example of the trip to Rome, you have to make sure that you know your ideal customer very well in order to know the reasons that may lead them to buy your product or service.
The principle of persuasion is simple. I’ll explain it to you in 5 steps:
- Draw a problem
- Empathise with potential customers’ frustrations about this problem
- Explain how your product or service helps solve that problem
- Show how solving this problem makes customers feel better
- Overcome objections and entice readers to take action
This is the scheme that you need to follow to write persuasive texts. Then there are many nuances, of course.
The text doesn’t have to be aggressive or sound like a poorly skilled huckster, it must be empathic and honest.
Good copywriters have written many texts to polish the technique, you know that to be very good at something it requires a lot of practice and a lot of previous research.
I know that I have given you a lot of information and, like everything in life, the best way to understand it’s by practising, so I encourage you to review the texts on your website or look for good examples of copywriting on the web to inspire you.
Don’t copy, just be inspired!
See you around!
I write web copy and engaging content for businesses without borders. I live in the Netherlands, I write everywhere. I love arthouse films and books that make me think. Tolstoy and Chekhov are my life coaches.