What is Copywriting? | A Brief Introduction

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Copywriting is the use of words to make money.

If you’ve never heard of copywriting before, you’re in for a treat.

Copywriting can do absolute magic for your business – and is often the driving factor behind the success of a company.

The world is absolutely full of copywriting – and you may not even realise that you’re looking straight at it.

Scroll through your feed on social media right now, and you will see copy piece after copy piece after copy piece. Words that are trying to make you do something – click, like, comment, buy.

Drive on the highway, and you’ll see a parade of copy on every corner.

Check your email, and witness a barrage of copy. The latest sale, the requests for surveys, the free downloadable guides available for 24 hours.

Search something you like on Google – and you’ll see line after line of copywriting trying to desperately get you to click on links.

But what is a copy anyway? You may be thinking – well, ads. Commercials. But copywriting is not just that – it is so much more.

Below, we’ll outline everything you need to know.

So, what is copywriting?

Copywriting is the use of the written word to persuade. It is salesmanship put into text.

Think of a salesman who personally persuades you into buying an item – say, a car. They have the gift of persuasion, but they only work well when spoken. 

A copywriter is also a salesman. However, they entice people to do something through written text. Think of those clickable buttons that say, “Buy Now” or “Browse Our Catalogue”.

Copywriting is all about sales psychology. It’s the use of words to trigger your curiosity, poke your emotion, rouse you up and – eventually – get you to take an action.

Copywriting usually starts with an absolutely killer headline, before using very particular tactics to delve deep into your mind, your soul and your heart. According to David Ogilvy, one of the world’s most legendary copwriters: “On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”

what is copywriting

This ad from Felix Gray, for example, talked directly to its target audience – namely, people who are at the computer for the whole day. Clicking on the ad then leads the reader to a blog post about their product.

It puts everything it wants to say in one line, and anybody who wants to know more about this topic will click the link. It’s not salesy, it pokes curiosity, and even offers value in one sentence.

If the blog in that link pulls everything off, the reader may even want to buy those glasses.

what is copywriting ad

Take this other ad from BlockBlueLight, who are using Facebook ads to sell their blue light glasses.

The commercial speaks straight to their target audience’s most pressing pain point – people who stare at screens all day, and are having trouble sleeping at night.

The ad entices a viewer to watch the video, go to the company’s landing page, and buy not just a product – but a solution. A solution that can help people who too are suffering from a lack of sleep, only to stare at a computer 10 hours a day the following day.

See – an effective piece of copy will hook the audience to read the body of the copy. This is where the art of persuasion comes in.

Copywriters who have mastered the art of persuasion, will craft their copy by laying out the value of the service or product they are trying to sell. From there, they will insert the action button or link subtly in the body of the text.

bbc great copywriting example

Look at this work for BBC News. This is classic copywriting on a billboard, using the art of both copy and physical design to create an advertisement that piques curiosity and targets a very particular kind of audience. That audience being those people who perceive themselves to be well-informed, and who only want to read top-quality journalism that looks at all angles of a story.

“See both sides of the story.” It’s a powerful message in a few words. And its delivery is carried out just right. It shows BBC as an execptional impartial news agency that this audience can trust.

These are just a few examples of how powerful written words can be. But let’s go a little deeper. There are different types of copywriting that you can incorporate into your marketing campaign.

The many types of copywriting

You can put in a lot of creativity and have a fully fledged marketing campaign. You can have the best colours, the best lighting, the best artwork. But, without exceptional copywriting, you are leaving your money on the table.

The different types of copywriting you can use will often depend on the platform you have. It also depends on the product or service you offer.

Do you own a website? Do you have accounts on social media pages? Do you need to communicate to your audiences through email? This will all impact the kind of copy you write.

Let’s look at them one by one.

Direct response copywriting

Direct response sales copywriting takes advantage of the moment.

It aims to create a compelling piece of copy that will influence the reader to act: to sign up, make a purchase, follow social media accounts, or download a freebie.

This can be website copy, but it can also copy on physical objects like brochures or leaflets.

Direct response copywriting is aimed to get you to take an action immediately. It will not let the audience off the hook.

Good direct copywriting will be much more persuasive, and will directly influence the readers to make an immediate response. It therefore will need to directly address the reader’s issues, emotions, worries, pain points, and immediate needs.

It starts with a creative headline that makes a promise, justifies logic, targets emotions, and creates curiosity.

It keeps the readers engaged, and when done effectively, readers get to read up to the bottom of the page. You will never know you ready an entire four thousand-word sales page.

You will often see this copy on Facebook Ads, landing pages, email newsletters, sales pages, PPC ads, and magazine ads.

netflix direct response copywriting

This is a good example of Netflix’s ‘direct response copywriting’.

In only a few words, Netflix has created curiosity (‘see what’s next)’, outlined a benefit (‘watch anywhere’), and quashed an objection (‘cancel anytime’). Viewers will be intrigued at the possibility of watching endless movies and TV shows, wherever they are in the world, without having to lock themselves into a long-term contract they can’t get out of.

You’re damn right they’re going to “try it now”.

Pure copywriting genius.

Email copywriting

Email copywriting, as the name suggests, will be copy found in the email inbox.

According to Statista, there were about 320 billion daily email exchanges in 2021. That’s a lot of copywriting opportunity.

Email is – obviously – an effective communication tool. It is useful to establish a relationship, and a great platform to convince your reader to consider your services or product.

An email is typically considered a more professional way to convince someone to do business with you, or buy your product. Much like other copywriting types, email copywriting aims for the reader to take action.

This could incude any action like:

  • Download freebies
  • Register for an online event
  • Apply for membership
  • Purchase an item
  • Avail promotions
  • Book a call
  • Send an inquiry

Unlike direct response copywriting, a lot of email copy comes in sequences — especially if there is cold email outreach.

Email copywriting focuses a lot on click rates and open rates.

If nobody is opening your email, then you know your email copywriting hasn’t been efftive.

If people are opening your email but not clicking the link in your email to go to your landing page, then the body of your email probably isn’t that great.

Marketers often take time on tweaking subject lines that work for a specific group. This is why it is important to have a creative email copywriter who can write different subject lines that get opened.

Check out some of these headlines written by Alex Cattoni, one of our favourite copywriters and head of Copy Posse:

email copywriting subject lines

Alex runs her a copywriting course, and has dedicated her business to helping aspiring copywriters grow their own copywriting business.

Her headlines speak for themselves. They create intrigue, and get her target audience wanting to open her emails to see what the legend has to say.

SEO copywriting

SEO copywriting is much more different than other forms of copywriting. It’s also controversial. Some people would argue that SEO copywriting isn’t actually copywriting.

We disagree.

SEO copywriting is combining two skills into one – using the written word (in the traditional conversion copywriting sense) to take advantage of search engine algorithms, so that your copy can actually be found when it’s being searched on search engines like Google and Bing.

You could have the best website copywriter in the world.

But if nobody can find their copy on Google (because it’s not SEO optimised), then what on Earth was the point of hiring them?

For this reason, SEO copywriters focus on producing high-quality copy that answer the keywords typed in their search engine.

But SEO copywriting isn’t just about using keywords. SEO is about high-quality content that not only gets people onto a page, but keeps them there. This involves optimising a page or a post to provide for a good user experience.

So aside from putting keywords , SEO copywriters also focus on keeping the readers engaged on the page. The practices include:

  • Writing a catchy search title
  • Optimisising subheadings to keep readers interested
  • Using high-quality backlinks
  • Using bullets and numbers to organise the copy
  • Keeping paragraphs and sentences paragraphs

Can you see how similar this is to more traditional ‘conversion’ copywriting?

In SEO copywriting, the goal is still to convert readers into leads. This means that SEO copy does not necessarily need to be longer like a blog.

With SEO practices applied, and a great user experience created, SEO copy can become highly effective.

Technical copywriting

Technical copywriting is also much different than other forms of copywriting. It involves persuading people in a particular technical field, and requires a high level of specialised knowledge. It aims to prove a particular individual or business is an expert in that field: finance, insurance, freight forwarding, medical or even real estate copywriting.

These are just a few examples that require technical knowledge to write effective copy.

What sets technical copywriting apart from technical writing is its intention for readers to take action. Technical writing aims to inform, but technical copywriting wants you to book a call, avail services, buy a product, or accept proposals.

Technical copywriting would focus on laying out the benefits of a product or service than just enumerating the features. It aims to educate readers and then sell.

Technical copywriters would write normal marketing materials like case studies, email copy, product descriptions, and web copy. However, they are differnet because they use a degree of technical terms that speak to their target audeience.

Although, they won’t go too technical. The trick is to translate technical terms using easier-to-digest words.

In the end, a reader will have more knowledge about the products or services they’re being offered, and can inform themselves on whether they take action.

Social media copywriting

One of the most commonly used platforms for marketing is social media. Marketing and copywriting on social media platforms is more effective if you target individual customers.

Marketers use social media copies to get leads, increase followings, make purchases, share or drive traffic to social media posts, or get them to sign up to something.

While sales are the end goal of any marketing funnel, social media is a powerful tool to engage and build a relationship with your target audience too. Social media copywriting aims to increase brand awareness, broaden following, and keep followers updated.

Social media copywriting can include posts, captions, images, product descriptions, hashtags, and even comments. People would think that social media copywriting is easy because of the short amount of text used.

But it’s not easy to find the right words to know what triggers the money cannon.

Why exactly is copywriting important?

Did you know that copywriters are the most sought-after writers by many businesses?

They are probably the highest-paid writers in the world.

They get paid that much because copy is directly linked to the money a company makes and attracting paying customers to their business.

People spend a lot of time online and in front of the computer, and they have an incredibly short attention span.

With effective copywriting, people tend to read more even if they don’t read a lot. When the words become relevant to them, when words pull their curiosity or heartstrings, and when they feel that they need your products to resolve their issues – they will unconsciously keep reading.

They just won’t be able to stop.

When the benefits have been laid out carefully after a catchy headline, these readers – if exposed to the right copywriting – will feel the urgency to take action.

Effective copywriting turns prospects into paying clients. It’s the first step of a great relationship that can turn a first-time paying client into a retainer, referrer, and repeater.

The power of words expands your reach to more people without leaving your living room.

What makes good copywriting?

Excellent copywriting is very difficult to put together. Here’s what it takes to make.

It connects.

They say the first ten seconds are the most crucial part of reading anything. Put simply – you will lose a sale when a reader disconnects themselves from the copy.

That is the reason why copywriting must target the reader’s emotions, weaknesses, or fears.

It hooks.

“Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”

Now imagine removing the last four words from that line.

This copy is one of the most hilarious email subject lines we have ever seen.

Without the last four words, you probably wouldn’t open the email.

But because the subject line is not only catchy – but also humorous – you will certainly check out what is more in the email body.

That’s why we used the words “we don’t bite” on our home page. It’s funny (well, we thought so).

It comes from listening.

The first step to writing killer headlines is to understand your audience.

The audience has to know that the copy is about them.

It makes your copy more personable when it seems like listening to the problems of your audience.

That means a good copywriter must research the h*ck out of their market before they put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

It gets to the point.

Look at how this brand pulled off their home page copy.

website banner good copywriting

It is just a banner, but it puts in a single line what the product series does.

It has only a few words, but it will not leave customers clueless about it. Quite the contrary – they’re left curious to find out more.

Copywriting work that gets to the point speaks a powerful message.

So, where do you get good copywriting?

There are so many platforms where you can find so-called copywriters. But it takes only a few people who know their job.

It’s all in the conversion rate, and all you need is that one who has proven copywriting experience.

You will never know how much your brand will transform, until you hire a copywriter at Copyshipper.

Reach out to us today – and let’s kickstart your copywriting journey.

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