To the untrained writer, “copywriting” may sound more technical and intimidating than just plain old writing—but it’s a skill that anyone can master with consistent study and practice. The first step is understanding what it is and what it can do for your business, product, or brand.
What is copywriting?
When you combine effective sales techniques with the written word, you have the art of copywriting. The term “copy” refers to text displayed in print or online.
Copywriting has many purposes, including to:
- Provide information to readers
- Highlight products or services for consumers
- Increase sales for products or services
- Boost brand awareness
- Drive traffic to a website, blog, or storefront
- Lead consumers through a sales funnel
When you visit a website to learn more about a company or to compare prices on products, you’re reading examples of written copy.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of copywriting: indirect and direct response copywriting. The two vary based on their time frame for getting users to act, such that:
- Indirect response: Copy that takes a long-term approach, generally by positioning a brand to become more memorable or to leave an impression on consumers
- Direct response: Copy that’s focused on immediacy—in other words, getting users to act then and there
Where is copywriting used?
Once upon a time, marketing was all about printed materials, like flyers, brochures, and pamphlets.
But with the advent of new technology like the internet, content has transformed dramatically. Besides printed materials, professional copywriters now produce content for all kinds of online media, including:
- Website landing pages
- Display ads
- Ecommerce store product descriptions
- Social media posts
- Sales letters and emails
- Podcast and video scripts
Copywriting vs. Content Writing
You may have heard about “content writing” and wondered how it relates to copywriting. Are they synonymous? Or are they completely separate?
In truth, there’s a lot of overlap: both concern producing valuable content for readers. Their key difference—the exact purpose behind writing.
While copywriters strive to get readers to buy a company’s products and services, content writers focus on developing customer-brand relationships through their writing. How? Their content—which generally takes the form of blog posts, ebooks, and white papers—provides valuable information so that readers can learn about a topic of their interest. Along the way, readers generally begin to view a brand more positively—as a trusted resource.
In this way, content writing focuses on driving user engagement, and is an integral part of content marketing. Meanwhile, copywriting has a larger emphasis on selling, or more broadly, getting users to convert. Of course, while the two are not quite one and the same, they are closely interconnected.
Influencing through Text
Companies with big budgets often partner with influencers—such as celebrities and well-known social media personalities—to promote their products and encourage fans to make a purchase. These influencers typically use videography and photography to sway their followers.
Copywriters do the same thing—but with the written word.
Effective copy guides readers to take specific actions. Some examples of those actions include:
- Sign up for an email newsletter
- Click through to a website, blog, or store
- Explore additional copy to learn about a product or service
- Call or visit a brick-and-mortar store or service provider
- Follow or like a social media account
- Enter a contest or giveaway
- Purchase a product or service online or offline
- Join a group or membership program
In order to move users into action, copywriters focus on readers’ needs and desires. This means they must understand a business’s target audience. Based on this audience’s defining attributes, they produce relevant copy that incites action.
Effective copywriting is persuasive—but not overly pushy. The writer must convince the reader that taking that action will help them solve a problem, reach a goal, or otherwise accomplish something of value.
As new competitors enter the arena, strong, captivating writing is more important than ever to making sales and boosting brand awareness.
That includes copywriting. After all, copywriters largely produce content for promotional and advertising purposes, with the ultimate goal of enticing readers to act. Done well, copy can double, triple, or even quadruple a business’s leads.