What is Copywriting? What Does a Copywriter Actually Do?
Although you will definitely be familiar with the outcomes copywriting produces, you might not fully understand what it involves.
Think of something you recently bought. Was there an advertising campaign behind it? Did you read a review or an article about it? Was the website so engaging that you clicked ‘Buy Now’ before you even knew it? If you were persuaded to buy or sign up for something, then you can bet that a copywriter made it happen.
In this article, I’m going to break down what copywriting is, what a copywriter can do for your business, give you examples of the most common types of copywriting, and explore how a copywriter uses mind games to create revenue for you - their client.
So, what is copywriting?
Copywriting is writing that sells or persuades.
Fairly simple... right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than just nice words on a page.
Copywriting is an essential part of marketing, and if you’re going to have a marketing strategy for your business, then you need to think about the copywriting aspect of it. That is to say: which words are you going to use?
What do copywriters do?
Copywriters aim to connect your brand with the right audience and to understand what it is this audience really wants. They then inform your target audience about the best solution to their problem, which is your product or service. And using various proven techniques and powers of persuasion, copywriters engage with people and get them to buy your product, subscribe to your newsletter, get in touch with you, read another page, sign up to a program, hire your services… Really, they can entice a potential client to do anything you want them to do!
But the art of copywriting is more than just nice words and pretty phrases - there’s a good deal of psychology behind the methods copywriters employ to get the results that you want (more on that later).
Types of copywriting
There are many different strands of copywriting - just think of how many types of media you consume on a day-to-day basis!
Here are a few of the most common that you will have seen and that you will probably be looking to use for your business.
1. Marketing copywriting. This is content with the intent to drive sales. Here, a copywriter is promoting your business and generating leads. Examples include online adverts, billboards, direct mail, radio and television commercials.
2. Brand copywriting. You need to make your brand resonate with your target audience. You can do this by communicating what you represent and who you are. A brand copywriter aims to reveal your business’s personality and values. This can be done through a logo, theme song, or a slogan/phrase. Some of the most famous examples of this include Nike’s iconic slogan: 'Just Do It', or McDonald’s's recognisable jingle and catchphrase: 'I’m lovin’ it'. Tesco - a British supermarket - has the slogan: 'Every little helps'. It’s clever, because it portrays them as a supermarket that wants the best for their customers, that they are trying to help the individual out by having low prices, because every little penny you can save helps.
3. Direct response copywriting. Here, the copy has the intention of compelling the reader to take a desired action. This can be buying a product, clicking a link, sharing a post, hiring a service - whatever you want a reader to actively do. Website landing pages after you click on an ad are good examples of this, as are pop-ups (‘Sign Up to our Newsletter Today’, ‘Become a Member’), and strong Calls-To-Action (CTAs).
4. Technical copywriting. Technical copywriting aims to sell technical products by explaining what they are. It presents lots of information in a digestible way so that the reader can make an informed decision about the industrial or high-tech product or service they might buy.
5. Email copywriting. This is a very direct way of communicating with your target audience, and it needs to be eye-catching and compelling in order to stand out from the sea of spam we get in our inboxes nowadays. Email copy doesn’t just have to be endlessly (and sometimes forcefully) sales-oriented. It can be educational, such as newsletters.
6. Social media copywriting. Fairly obvious, really. Social media copy tends to be shorter and more informal, often combined with a visual element. It has to be striking and notable to keep someone’s attention as they scroll through their feed where they’re seeing post after post of similar content.
7. SEO copywriting. Want your texts to rank highly on Google? SEO copywriting optimises copy for search engines by utilising keywords and key phrases to push that site to the top of the search results. It involves trying to fathom the secret of the search engine algorithms and giving your online material the best chance possible of reaching your target audience.
8. SaaS copywriting. SaaS stands for ‘Software as a service’. SaaS copywriters create text which describes a company’s software product to generate leads and to eventually persuade these leads to become paying customers.
These variations of copywriting all fall under one of two categories: B2B copywriting or B2C copywriting.
What exactly is the difference between B2B and B2C?
B2B stands for Business-to-business. So as a copywriter, you’re writing for businesses who sell to other businesses. B2C stands for Business-to-consumer, meaning you’re writing for a business who is selling to consumers.
B2B copywriting aims to build and maintain relationships and sales between two businesses. Here, the decision makers within a company are the ones being targeted. The copy is likely to be more factual and concise, with a more formal tone of voice. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! It still needs to appeal to the decision maker’s logic and convince him or her that he should do business with you and not your competition.
Types of B2B copywriting can include: technical writing, social media posts, landing and sales pages, or whitepapers (reports which place your company as the expert in a certain industry).
When writing for B2C, it is crucial to keep the business’s target audience in mind. Copy is produced for a certain demographic, and a copywriter will use emotions to appeal to this customer. The copy should excite, draw in, and persuade the consumer to take action, and the best way to do that is to interact with them on a human level. This can be achieved - to give a few examples - using a more conversational tone of voice, playing on words, and social proof.
How B2C copywriters use emotion to generate sales
At the start of this article, I mentioned that copywriters employ psychology to get the results their clients want. Let’s dig into that just a little.
Take the beauty industry as an example. Beauty is big business. In fact, the beauty industry is estimated to be worth a mind-blowing $571.1 million dollars in 2023. This industry targets women, and the emotion it plays on is one of the most instinctive we have: fear.
You might think: ‘Huh? I’m not buying a moisturiser because I’m scared.’
Actually, yes, you are. See, you bought that L’Oréal face cream because the advert in the magazine promised to:
‘Banish dull skin and wrinkles with our all-new, revolutionary retinol infused formula. For a radiant glow in just 2 weeks!’
‘Aha,’ you think, ‘So this moisturiser will be better than the one I currently have because it’s a new formula with a fancy, trending ingredient.’
For better or worse, the beauty industry is relying on the reader’s thought process to go something like this:
‘Dull skin and wrinkles are things to be banished, therefore they are undesirable.’ > ‘Is my skin looking dull? I do have a few wrinkles here and there…’ > ‘I must be getting old and undesirable.’ > ‘This cream will give me a youthful, radiant glow.’ > ‘I will become desirable again and not lose social standing or the attention and affections of my partner/friends.’
Because we, as humans, are scared of being excluded and afraid of competition, the beauty industry tells us that they are here to help! They tell us that buying these products will solve our problems. These products will erase your fears by making you beautiful. (Because, after all, being beautiful is the most important thing a person can be, right?)
A copywriter understands this. They realise that this is how the industry works and that this is how people subconsciously think. They use negative adjectives like ‘dull’ and ‘wrinkled’ to describe how skin looks without using the cream, and then words which describe how skin will look if, and only if, you purchase this product. Throw in a scientific-sounding ingredient and the shiny promise of something ‘all-new’ and ‘revolutionary’ and there you have it: a moisturiser you just can’t do without.
You can sell the best product or offer the greatest service in the world, but if you aren't communicating with your audience properly, you won't get the results you really want. Top businesses understand this. That's why they value copywriters so much.
All the things that copywriters can do for you - make your brand stand out, keep customers loyal, drive engagement, increase subscriptions - all serve one ultimate purpose: to increase your revenue.
And which business doesn’t want that?
Have you realised that your business might benefit from a great copywriter? Get in touch for high-quality English texts today.