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What is Copywriting? Your Comprehensive Guide

Ask an online dictionary what copywriting is and it will tell you it’s “writing copy.” Right. While this is technically true, it’s not exactly useful. 

Well, we’re here to help. Copywriting is a vital element of marketing and advertising. It’s a particular kind of written messaging that is an essential facet of any marketing strategy and is used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes.

Here, we’ve broken down exactly what copywriting is, giving a comprehensive overview including:

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Copywriting: a definition

Copy is the written messaging on an advert, a website, a blog post or a social media post. It’s not just any old writing. It’s persuasive writing with the goal to inspire a certain action from the reader. 

Essentially, copywriting is the art of putting words together in a compelling enough way to elicit a desired response from the reader.

What is the purpose of copywriting?

The purpose of copywriting is to inspire action. This action could be to buy a product/service, to browse a product/service, to sign up to a mailing list or similar, or to get in contact.

Sound simple? Well, there’s an art to it. Persuading someone to take an action is not as easy as just asking or telling them to do it. 

The copywriter must wield their words in an engaging way that isn’t too pushy. Copy needs to be readable. Compelling. Persuasive. Appropriate for its target audience. It needs to emphasise the right benefits that solve the particular problems of the reader.

That’s why copywriting is such an essential skill. 

What is the role of a copywriter?

Despite the famous depiction of copywriting as seen on TV’s Mad Men, copywriters do not spend the day drinking and generally being troubled geniuses. For the most part. 

The copywriter needs to have a view of the bigger picture in order to craft effective copy that fulfils its purpose. They need to understand the brand identity and the target audience of the copy so that they can use the most appropriate tone of voice and emphasise the most relevant benefits of a product or service. 

It’s a multifaceted role that isn’t just about writing. It’s about understanding the psychology of the audience and what words and phrases can best move them to a particular action. The copywriter needs to come up with a way to best connect with the reader and present a solution to their problem.

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How is copywriting used in marketing?

Fundamentally, copywriting is used in marketing to increase sales. It’s used in adverts, social media posts, websites, emails, newsletters, product descriptions, and more.

Copywriting is converting. Converting readers into buyers. Converting newcomers to subscribers. Converting website visits into leads. 

But there is no single type of copy. For example, a short advert in a magazine will be written differently than a social media post or a product page. Different audiences, different tones of voice, different goals, different copy.

What is a ‘call to action’?

This brings us to one of the most important parts of copywriting for marketing. A call to action (often shortened to CTA) is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the particular word or phrase that encourages the reader to take a particular action:

“Get in touch”

“Fill out a contact form”

“Browse our products”

“Subscribe today”

Every bit of copy for marketing purposes, if it’s done right, contains a CTA. This is true whatever the copy is – but do read the section on content writing to learn the difference here. 

The body of the copy is all about persuading the reader of something, explaining your product or service’s benefits, and alleviating a potential customer problem. It all leads up to the CTA. The body of the copy and the CTA work in tandem, with the former providing the necessary persuasion that then pushes the customer to actually follow the CTA.

How is copywriting used in digital marketing?

The ever-expanding online world has put digital marketing at the forefront of marketing strategy for any company. This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) comes in. 

While the principles of SEO copywriting are the same, there’s a particular focus on improving search engine rankings.

Let us explain. 

What is SEO copywriting?

A strong digital presence is vital for marketing, and SEO aims to achieve this. Utilising SEO tactics in copywriting is essential for websites to rank well on Google, which is where most people will go to find out about a company or brand and buy a product or service.

SEO copywriting is writing focused around a particular word or phrase used in a popular search term with the aim to rank highly on the search engine results page (SERP) for that particular term. Ranking highly on the SERP means increased traffic to a website and, if the copy on the website is good, increased sales. 

So what is the role of an SEO copywriter?

The role of an SEO copywriter comes back to converting again: converting web traffic into leads.

What is online copywriting?

SEO writing and web copywriting are about writing for both people and bots. Google will push content that ticks certain technical boxes, but people will only click on that content if it’s sensical and compelling. The SEO copywriter needs to deftly cater to both.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the search terms that users type into Google. An example:

“What is copywriting?”. 

A web page optimised for search engines will cater to this specific keyword and the search intent behind it. Keywords are the cornerstone of writing web copy. Using a keyword signifies to both the search engine and the user what a page is about.

If you’re after more information on this,  read our detailed guide on the art of SEO copywriting

What is the difference between copywriting and content writing?

You’ll often see talk about “content” and “content writing” in digital marketing. SEO content comes in the form of web pages that are informational articles, blog posts, guides, inspiration ideas and much more. There won’t be a hard sell in a piece of content: its goals are more long-term. 

While copy and content both function as persuasive forms of writing as part of a brand’s larger marketing strategy, they have different intents.

Content works with more subtlety than copywriting and does not have the direct aim to sell. It’s designed to educate, inform or entertain. It’s a savvy method of increasing brand awareness and brand trust by providing useful information with no strings attached. 

The same principles for SEO copywriting, keywords and writing for both Google and people, also apply to SEO content writing.

Read our full guide on the difference between copywriting and content writing. 

How can getting copywriting services benefit your brand?

Hiring copywriters who understand what it means to craft persuasive copy to increase a brand’s awareness and sales is one of the best ways you can optimise your marketing strategy. A skilled copywriter knows how to persuade a potential customer to become a fully realised customer. 

And when you get a copywriter who understands SEO, you’ll see your online conversion rates skyrocket.

If you want to see how crafting crisp, compelling copy can benefit your brand, get in touch with one of the leading SEO and content creation agencies out there. We are a rapidly growing company at the forefront of digital marketing, helping put countless brands on the digital map.

Learn how our digital marketing experts can help you.