As a business owner and internet marketer, you need a way to market to your prospect. There are many ways to market, and almost all internet marketing methods have one thing in common. They all rely on writing, specifically writing copy.
The art of writing copy is called copywriting. Copywriting is how you communicate with your prospect and learning how to copy write is one of the most important skills you can learn if you’re doing business on the Internet.
Basically, copywriting is using words to influence someone to take some sort of action. According to Wikipedia, “copywriting is the use of words to promote a person, business, opinion or idea.” The actual writing, the copy, is “promotional text,” which is written content that is used in both offline and online media.
The purpose of copy “is to persuade the reader, listener or viewer to act – for example, to buy a product or subscribe to a certain viewpoint.” A great quote Wikipedia uses is by Robert Nightingale, copywriting is “getting across the perfect message, with the perfect words.”
Copywriting is used in all businesses (offline and online) for their marketing materials. For an online business, copy is used in marketing venues such as website and landing pages, sales letters, and ads. For example, when you write a tweet to promote your product on Twitter, you’re writing copy.
The book, The Copywriter’s Handbook, by Robert Bly, is a good resource for learning about copywriting. The introduction starts off with a quote by Judith Charles, the president of her own retail advertising agency, which gets to the heart of what a copy writer does.
“A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter.” (or PC; the original book was published in 1985)
You may be uncomfortable with the word “sell,” but persuading someone to do something is a form of selling.
The quote highlights that the goal of writing copy is to persuade the reader to take action. So for an online business, the goal is to get your prospect to take action, such as entering a name and email or clicking on a link to go to a landing page.
Don’t confuse the design of your copy with the intent of your copy. If your copy is funny, entertaining, or pretty, great. But funny, entertaining, and pretty don’t sell. The primary focus is telling someone how your product or service is going to benefit them. Luther Brock defines selling as “placing 100% emphasis on how the reader will come out ahead by doing business with you.” So it’s imperative that you understand why someone is looking for a business (or product or service) and translate what you have to offer into benefits that answer their why.
A major question many marketers have is does the Internet change the rules when it comes to copywriting. Generally speaking, the principles and techniques of copywriting still apply because, according to Robert Bly, human nature hasn’t changed. Robert Bly does see 4 ways the Internet has changed things, which do affect how you approach copywriting.
1) Reduction in human attention span. Your copy has to be minimal, concise, and to the point.
2) Information overload. Your copy has to be relevant. People don’t want to waste time.
3) Smarter consumers. Your copy has to respect them. No one likes to have their intelligence insulted.
4) Busier lives. Your copy has to deliver quickly and be easy and convenient.
If you’re writing web copy and want to get high ranking in search engines, there is a niche of copywriting called search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting. This type of copywriting is based on the keywords related to your web site. This type of copywriting does take skill in that you have to incorporate the keywords into the copy in way that doesn’t come across as spam. Whether you are focusing on general copywriting or SEO copywriting, however, the key is to understand the problem or question that drove someone to search for an answer. As in all marketing, the best way to find out is through good keyword research.
Learning how to copywriting is a skill you have to master if you plan to do any sort of business online. The sooner you learn this key skill, the better. Don’t be intimidated even if you think you can’t write. You may actually be a better candidate for learning how to copy write because you won’t have a lot of unlearning to do.