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Copywriting: An underestimated aspect of marketing

Here is a discipline that few have heard of and yet it is well known to marketers in the English-speaking world: copywriting!

Copywriting or persuasive writing is defined as the art of writing advertising and/or sales texts based on human psychology and the science of persuasion, which aims to convey a clear, precise and convincing message, in line with the brand's image in order to convert, but also to sell.

It's a job name that can be translated as designer - copywriter.

The history of copywriting

Copywriting has its roots in the 1920s, with Claude C. Hopkins, considered a pioneer in advertising and for some the founding father of copywriting.

At that time, advertising agencies had very little return on investment on the ads they produced, and for good reason: they produced ads that were very similar to each other, all proclaiming that the product they were promoting was the best and without flaws. Claude C. Hopkins, on the other hand, took a more "scientific" approach and put forward a hypothesis: what if advertisements, instead of putting too much emphasis on the product, focused their message on the customer and his emotions, what would happen to him after the purchase, how the product would make his life better , etc.? This had an effect far beyond his expectations, as he allowed the Bissel carpet sweeper company to sell 250,000 "carpet sweepers" with this method.

His approach quickly proved to be much more effective, allowing it to spread to all advertising agencies in the United States, and years later it was adopted by agencies around the world.

Afterwards, more and more copywriters followed in Claude Hopkins' footsteps, including well-known names in the field such as John Caples, David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, Joe Sugarman, Gary Halbert, and many others.

The profession of "copywriter" was already present in France under the name of "concepteur - rédacteur", but the techniques that popularized copywriting as we know it today were "brought back" to France by the "concepteurs - rédacteurs" who left to train in the United States.

Domains and fields of application in Marketing

First of all, you are exposed to copywriting absolutely EVERYWHERE: stores, television, product boxes, outdoor advertising, radio ads, social networks... and the list goes on.

At the time, sales copy was published in newspapers: it was the medium with the highest return on investment, since almost the entire population read the newspaper. Copywriters spent their budget on buying pages of newspapers to write their content, the sales page was accompanied by a coupon to be returned to the company address with a check for the price of the product or service.

Just like marketing, copywriting has very quickly adapted to the web! At the beginning, it was only sales pages on websites and emails sent, then, many new media appeared on the internet and the discipline only expanded:

  • Internet sales page
  • VSL (video sales letter or the concept is to pitch your sales page, but in video)
  • Video youtube
  • Email Marketing
  • Landing page
  • E-commerce website
  • Product description
  • Blog post title
  • Title of post on social networks
  • Description of post on social networks
  • Social ads
  • Pop UP

Copywriting and marketing

And that's just part of the big list.

New media appear every day on the Internet, and they are just waiting to be conquered by copywriters. There are so many of them that a copywriter cannot be "good" or specialized in all of them, although copywriting adapts to all formats, some of them are very different from each other, and therefore it is necessary to adapt to the best practices of each.

A copywriter can choose to specialize in one medium or try to broaden his or her skills on several, but even a professional copywriter will, after a while, be humanly limited and will not be able to produce effective copywriting on all platforms.

Learn and progress in persuasive writing

At the beginning of your quest to learn copywriting, you will have to invest a lot of time and effort to learn the codes of sales writing, because indeed, this type of writing is very different from the ones you practiced at school and even more different from the more "classic" web writing. Here, you don't try to write as many words as possible, but, and this is precisely the subtlety, to write as few words as possible while remaining as convincing as possible. We must catch the prospect's attention, make him read the entire text and trigger a strong desire to buy what we are selling, and for this copywriters follow a very simple rule: KISS (Keep it simple and stupid). What you write must remain simple, clear, precise and stupid in the sense that the text must require the least amount of effort to read.

If you want to start learning copywriting, you can find many resources available for free on the web, both in English and in French. There are also a number of books on the subject that have very interesting approaches and can provide you with a solid foundation (the best books are however in English, but there is an excellent book in French which is Le guide du copywriting by Sélim Niederhoffer, in which he discusses in detail the fundamentals of the discipline).

the copywriting guide

Once you have the basics, understand the key principles of persuasive writing and learn multiple text structures, you can follow these 6 tips to continue sharpening your copywriting skills:

  1. Practice, yes, there are no surprises. To practice, first practice writing very short emails using the basic structures you've studied, or even directly from sales pages on products you have or have imagined. If the ideas don't come to you, do a quick Google search for products with little or no sales message, have fun rewriting the sales pitch to make it more impactful. Above all, remember that practice makes perfect.

  1. Reading bestseller sales pages and analyzing their structures allows you to identify what works and what doesn't on sales pages and you often discover new and interesting frameworks to apply to your pages. This exercise can be long, but it is necessary for your progress.

  1. Study marketing as a whole, because a copywriter is not just a writer: his or her goal is to promote and sell. It is essential to be a good marketer to become an excellent copywriter.

  1. Learn the science of persuasion, because yes, it is a science. Knowing how to influence/persuade will allow you to quickly understand how human thoughts work so that you know what to say to attract the prospect's attention and keep them reading your sales texts. Learning these techniques will greatly improve your copywriting skills.

  1. Human psychology, because understanding these dynamics, will allow you to quickly identify the needs of your potential customers and therefore be able to tell them what they need to hear. You don't need a degree in psychology for this! Studying cognitive biases is more than enough.

  1. Be empathetic, a last tip that is quite special, but very important because empathy is a copywriter's most powerful weapon. Having the ability to put yourself in the other person's shoes, to understand their fears, their doubts, but also their ambitions can give you a lot of information that will help you produce a sales text that will not speak to their reason, but directly to their emotions. Do not hesitate to question your prospects to try to isolate all these elements, the more complete your persona is, the more qualitative the sales text will be.

To conclude this article, the copywriting aspect should not be neglected in your marketing strategy, because even a good product, if not properly promoted, will not sell. If the sales message is not in line with your brand image, your products will not sell.

Are you having conversion problems? A vague message not aligned with your brand image?  

Our growth marketing agency GrowthYouNeed now also intervenes on your copywriting if necessary.

If you need to rework your copywriting, you can contact us via the contact form.

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