Tag Archives: copywriting

What essential skills should you have as a content marketing copywriter?

As content marketing goes mainstream it is becoming more and more difficult to stay ahead of the pack or to use another cliché, stand out. Since everybody seems to be using content marketing to promote business people tend to think that it must be quite easy. Yes, it is easier and more economical compared to native advertising, but just because you can run your content marketing strategy practically for free if you have got lots of time to spend on it, it doesn’t mean it comes easy. Companies like Coca-Cola are spending billions of dollars on their content marketing. The more businesses use it, the more difficult it gets to compete.

So naturally, the content marketing copywriter needs to have exceptional skills to give your business the sort of leverage it needs. Surely, content marketing doesn’t just mean writing stuff. It also means creating high-quality videos and visuals but since I am a content writer by profession, I am more interested in the writing part rather than the video and graphic part.

This Content Marketing Institute blog post by Neil Patel lists 5 essential skills that a content marketing copywriter must have in order to perform well.

Undoubtedly, copywriting is a big part of content marketing because whenever there is marketing and selling, there is copywriting. You should know how to put your point across convincingly and compellingly. You should know which words to use to convey which emotion and for what effect. According to the blog post written by Neil, the essential content marketing copywriting skills are

  1. Great writing skills that allow you to create easy-to-read content and organize your ideas in order to make complex topics simple and convincing.
  2. An ability to create trustworthy and compelling headlines.
  3. Awareness of user experience.
  4. Authority and specialization.
  5. Awareness of the only marketing fundamentals and an ability to tailor content accordingly.

How to find your content writing voice

Finding your content writing voice

It isn’t just about website content, no matter what you are writing, you need to have a unique “voice”. What might that be? It is sort of a signature tune. When you hear a signature tune you can immediately recognize which song or movie it belongs to. Something similar happens with writing. When you read something, you should be able to make out who is writing this. In Hindi film music (mostly Bollywood) I can immediately recognize music composed by Naushad, RD Buran and the greatest among all, Madan Mohan. Among writers, I think I can recognize Garcia and to an extent also Charles Dickens.

Of course when it comes to content writing what it basically means is – having your own voice – expressing yourself in a language that you normally use when you talk to people. It gives you a natural flow and it also helps you make a connection with your readers.

Here is what you can do to find your content writing voice:

  • Don’t try to impress, at least not always: Trying to impress people can be cute sometimes, but it may stop you from remaining focused on your central message. Always remember that it’s the message that you intend to communicate that’s important and then, the impact that you make. Don’t use superfluous words and phraseology that is not only difficult to pronounce (verbally as well as mentally) but also difficult to comprehend – this breaks the flow and the person may leave your website altogether.
  • Avoid writing with search engine optimization in your mind: I’m not saying totally ignore the guidelines provided by search engine companies, but don’t bog yourself down with how many keywords you should use, what should be the frequency and such. I cover this aspect in this blog post titled Are you still creating content for machines?
  • Address the core issues faced by your prospective customers and clients: You need to empathise with them. You need to understand why they are coming to your website or your blog? What do they seek? Remember that nobody comes to your website or blog simply for the heck of it. They may stumble into your content unintentionally but if that is the case, they will leave within a couple of seconds. So provide answers in a clear, convincing manner.
  • Talk to your readers: This is something that I have already mentioned above but it deserves to be repeated as a separate point. Use conversational writing as much as possible. It doesn’t mean you have to incorporate the F*** word every second sentence (amazingly some people can do this beautifully) but talk in a manner as if you are talking to a friend, a colleague or even your own kid (I sincerely hope you don’t use the F*** word with your kid and if you do, shame on you).
  • Don’t try to suppress your natural style: Sometimes we feel that there are certain words or certain expressions that we use a lot but this should not be expressed in writing. “You know?”, “Yeah, right”, “precisely”, may seem annoying but if you can naturally fit the day-to-day expressions they can become a part of your writing, rendering unique voice to you.

Why is it important to find your content writing voice?

There are many reasons. The most important reason is that you are able to connect better when you write in a natural manner as if you are speaking to people. A holistic reason is that every person in this world is unique and we all have our unique ways of expressing ourselves. In order to stand out, you need to be unique (this sounds hackneyed, I know) and a great way of being unique is using your own writing voice rather than copying someone else. Just imagine, millions of webpages and blog posts are being added every day; how do people recognize you if you sound like everybody else?

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What do you understand by copywriting?

There are many writers who cannot/do not draw a distinction between copywriting and content writing. Originally the word “copywriting” comes from advertising whereas, content writing, as far as I know, is a more recent terminology mostly used for creating online content. Although I might be wrong because even for newspapers, magazines and even course books, what you do is write content. Anyway, about copywriting.

Copywriting is basically content written to promote a product, a service or an idea. Copywriting can be done for a website, for a radio advertisement, for a print publication advertisement and for television. In copywriting you have to come up with highly engaging, entertaining and contextual content whose primary purpose is to increase sales or promote an idea. Writing blogs and information articles cannot be called copywriting, but it surely is content writing. Even on your website whatever content you publish that prompts your visitors to do business with you is copywriting, including your sales copy.

The thought came to my mind that although I’m writing content for various business websites, I never draw a distinction between a home page, the primary pages and information pages, although I charge more for the homepage and the primary pages (product descriptions, services, profile, about us etc.). A big reason perhaps is that the client is not bothered about what I call it. He or she simply wants text that helps him or her sell more. But if the client really wants to appreciate the criticality of the content he or she is publishing on his or her website, then he or she must understand the fundamental difference between content writing and copywriting.

Copywriting is about selling

As I mentioned above, the primary purpose of copywriting is to sell/promote a product, a service or an idea. It can exist in the form of a story that eventually leads its audience to the final goal – purchase of a product or a service or an endorsement of an idea. If you simply produce text then it is called sales copy and when you write it for audiovisual advertisements you call it a script. Since copywriting helps businesses sell, some copywriters can ask exorbitant amounts of money for coming up with even a couple of paragraphs. Copywriting does the job of educating the audience and selling the idea at the same time, although selling the idea is of utmost importance.

Content writing is about informing

From the perspective of websites, content writing paves way for a more effective copywriting, or vice versa. You first inform your audience with content writing, and then you sell your product or service with effective and compelling copywriting.

So which is important, copywriting or content writing?

Going by the amount of money charged by copywriters, I would say copywriting is much more important compared to content writing, but this doesn’t mitigate the role of content writing. If your audience is not informed it is all the more difficult for your copywriting to work.

Am I a copywriter or a content writer?

I can wear both the hats, I mean that’s why I’ve been writing sales copies and I always write the homepage when I take on a content writing assignment. On the homepage the primary purpose of your content is to engage the visitors, inform them as concisely as possible, and get them hooked to your website. The text must be informative as well as entertaining. It must be created keeping in mind the core audience (techy, geeky, spendthrift, miserly, etc.). It must be able to convince. I manage to achieve that.

Multiply your conversion rate immediately with compelling headlines

Your headline is the first thing a visitor sees when he or she lands on your website or blog. A headline is not just the title of your page. It is not something that you need in bold and enlarged typeface just because straightaway starting with a paragraph doesn’t seem good. A headline presents the most compelling reason to go through the following text.

You must be wondering sometimes why there is so much hype around creating headlines when they just seem like the titles of the articles or blog posts proceeding them?

You must have often come across the expression “screaming headlines”. What are they? These are the headlines that often make you pick up a newspaper (I know, I know, not many people these days pick up the newspaper) or a magazine from a news stand. The entire newspaper and tabloid industry survives or thrives (as long as it lasts) on the ability of the headlines to draw people towards them.

The same happens on your website or when people come across your link on search engine result pages, other websites, and social media and networking websites. It is your headline that draws people to the actual page. If the headline is not compelling enough they are not going to click the link.

So how do we create compelling headlines?

When you are walking through a local market you often come across signboards on top of the doors of the shops. Every shop tries to attract you through the signboard and the words present on it. They may simply mention the service or product they are offering. They may also highlight the most special offer they have got for you. If they are offering a discount or there is a sale going on there is 100% chance they will have a banner proclaiming the irresistible bargain of the day. They even sometimes have moving advertisements or banners and posters at various prominent locations from where they can be easily viewed. But mere words don’t attract you towards them. It is the offer that catches your eye.

The same psychology applies to your website or blog headlines. Whatever you are writing, draw from it the most exciting reason why people should go through your content and formulate the headline from that reason. For instance if you are going through this blog post you want to know how you can increase your conversion rate tremendously by creating compelling headlines. This may not sound like a very exciting headline but there are many people who are quite desperate to improve their conversion rates and they will definitely want to check what I am trying to say here even if they are not very much impressed.

Address the main pain point in your headline

When I look at your headline I should be immediately able to know what you’re trying to offer. Of course you cannot tell me everything in a single sentence but this will definitely want me to read further. Suppose I am suffering from an old backpain. If your headline goes something like — “this revolutionary technique will definitely cure your backpain no matter how old it is” — I am definitely going to read this. Similarly, if you are looking for an effective content writer “content writing service that actually boosts your sales” may catch your attention more compared to “best content writing services on the Internet”.

Include the most important keywords or key phrases in your headline

This works well both in terms of getting targeted search engine traffic and influencing your visitors in a positive manner. All major search engines take headlines very seriously; in fact for them they are so important that they use your headlines as anchor text when they show your link on the search engine result page. It has been established beyond doubt that there is a greater probability of search engine users clicking links that actually contain the search term they have just used. This shows them that your link contains information about the exact phrase you are looking for. So using your primary key words and key phrases within your headlines definitely increases your search engine rankings.

Using keywords within your headline also increases the overall conversion rate of your copy because people immediately want to read the finer text if the headline uses the same language that they have been using in order to arrive at your page.

Create buzz on social media and networking websites with your headlines

The social media and networking scene is similar to a crowded marketplace: everybody is shouting and there is lots of noise and jostling. Everybody you are following or befriending has interesting stuff to post and whatever you post may fast scroll down the timeline. If you create a headline that cannot be bypassed it increases your chances of getting more traffic from websites like Facebook and Twitter.

Considering the importance of headlines I often spend and ample amount of time trying to come up with headlines when I’m working for my clients. OK, I also try to create decent headlines when I’m writing for my own website.

How to make your content more informative

There can be various purposes for publishing content on your website or blog but when you want to generate business from your content, you need to impart the right information as clearly as possible. What’s right information depends on how your customers and clients perceive your content, not you, unless there is a parity.

Whenever you are writing content (or working with a content writing service) for your business you should step into your customers’ shoes. This means not only presenting the greatest benefits of your product or service, but also addressing their concerns before they raise them themselves. This means highlighting even the negative aspects of your product or service. But this doesn’t mean you’re conveying something negative about your business: you are simply informing your visitor so that he or she can make the right decision. Here are a few things you can consider to make your content writing process informative:

  • List all the benefits: What do your customers gain when they purchase your product or service? Don’t go on a boasting binge. For instance, if you want to avail my content writing services it doesn’t matter much to you if I’ve done my higher studies in linguistics or if I read abstract literary classics in my spare time. You are interested in knowing whether I can consistently provide you quality content or not, and if yes, what system I have in place to ensure it. Additionally, what benefit you get by working with me and not by working with another content provider?
  • Who might benefit the most: Don’t try to sell your product to everybody under the sun (although this seems very desirable). When you are selling, you’re not selling a product or a service, you’re selling a benefit, a usage, a value. So whereas selling combs to bald men may seem quite smart, you are simply cheating people and when they realize it they’re going to have a really bad feeling about your conduct. Help people make a better purchase decision.
  • Clearly mention if there are any drawbacks: You may think, what am I talking about? Am I trying to help you increase your sales or lose your prospects. The truth is, if you think there are too many drawbacks then may be you should reconsider your offer, and if you think their are more benefits then drawbacks then your customers are going to thank you for informing them. Don’t let your customers find out what your product doesn’t do — tell them on your own and also tell them when a particular feature will be available in case it is currently missing.