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Posts Tagged ‘Copywriting’

Marketing 101: Copywriting vs. Copy Editing vs. Content Writing

June 8th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

I recently received the following request about one of our MECLABS Institute Research Partners  (MECLABS is the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa.) …

“One of the pages we are building is a Bio page/section. The Research Partner is having their people write their own bios.

I know you’re already working closely on the other pages, but wanted to see if you would be able to take those and do some minor copy editing …”

Now, we have an excellent copy editor (the blog post you’re reading right now is likely far better than my original draft, thanks to Linda Johnson). And while I’m quite confident of my copywriting skills, I readily admit I am a very poor copy editor … but I’m often mistaken for one since the different words sound so similar.

I bring up this example for the latest in our series of marketing terms posts because I’ve often seen the two terms confused by marketing managers, project managers and the like. Throw in content writing as well, and it gets even more confusing.

So to help you differentiate between similar roles and find the person with the skill sets you need for your websites, blogs, print ads, direct mail letters, brochures, product spec sheets, catalogs, and on and on, here’s a quick guide. Even if you’re on the marketing technology side and don’t consider yourself a “creative,” it helps to know the people you should call when you need help.

Copywriting — Helping the customer come to the best decision about a brand, product or conversion goal

The copywriter writes TV commercials, radio spots, print ads, marketing emails, direct mail, brochures, out-of-home advertising and other types of advertising or marketing. The goal is usually to get an action from a customer, whether that’s making a purchase, becoming a lead, giving a donation or coming to a conclusion about a brand (branding).

Harry McCann famously coined the phrase “The truth well told” for advertising.

Copywriters are the ones who tell it well.

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Making a career shift (to B2B copywriting)

June 6th, 2018
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: I came across your organization because I was searching for data showing which/what kinds of companies and industries care most about well-written marketing copy, in all forms.

I am taking on a career shift from many years of Software Engineering and Project Management, and I am targeting B2B copywriting, with a niche somewhere in the high-tech sector. I know that is too general, as just about every company today is facing high-tech challenges whether or not they know it, and I need to go much narrower.

Admittedly I am in the early stages of this transition, but I am trying to focus my efforts as much as possible. My thoughts are to eventually produce materials such as white papers, case studies, explainer video scripts, but those require more expertise and track record than blogs, short articles, etc., which is where I feel I could start. At this point I’m very open to any start.  I’m planning to get a website up and start posting some blogs on it, but I’m researching how I want to do that, too.

But back to Marketing Sherpa — As I make a wide scan of potential clients it occurs to me there will be many people who just don’t care and don’t need clean, coherent, well-organized copy. I don’t need to expend my efforts there. At the other end of the spectrum there should be people in industries where the slightest misstatement or grammatical error can sabotage one’s attempts. That’s where I want to work.

I would welcome any suggestions you might have on this point, and since I am still such a green twig in this new field, any other counsel would be great. Do the ideas I have laid out above sound sound?

Thanks in advance!

Rob Tompkins, PMP, CSM, LSSGB
Allen, Texas

Dear Rob: Thanks for your question. If you’re looking to break into B2B copywriting, the number one skill set you must prove is that you can write effective copy. And the clearest way I know to do that is to write effective copy. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Start blogging

You’re on the right track with your idea to start a website and begin blogging on it. You’d be amazed how many aspiring writers I interview who don’t do this.

When I was just starting out, you had to work hard to build your book (portfolio). Try to find an internship or nonprofit or anyone who would let you write for them. Sure, you could do spec work. But that wasn’t nearly as valuable as having real published work for an actual client.

Today, you can publish to the entire world with the push of a button. Yes, in some ways it’s still spec work. But unlike a dot matrix printout hidden in my giant black portfolio, your blog gets exposure to the world. You can share it on social media. You can look at the analytics to see who’s reading it. You can solicit comments. You can attempt to interview people on your blog.

So, by all means, do it. Start that website. Start that blog. Get yourself out there.

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Copywriting: Listen to customers so you can speak their language

December 1st, 2017
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Words matter. Both for their denotation (to ensure prospective customers understand your advertising) as well as for their connotation.

(Words are subtle indicators to tell a potential customer “we understand you specifically” and “this offer is meant for people like you.”)

To truly speak our customers’ language, we must listen to them because our customers may be very different from us.

No easy task. As Don Peppers and Martha Rogers say in Managing Customer Experience and Relationships, “‘Listening’ has never been part of most mass marketers’ primary skill set.” (I’m reading the book as a student of the University of Florida/MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program.)

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Marketing 101: What is big rock content?

November 10th, 2017
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I had three hours to kill before my next flight to Dallas departed. While sitting in an airport café warming my hands around a mocha, I overheard snippets of an intense conversation in the booth behind me.

“It’s all about your big rocks. They are the most important. What are your big rocks?” 

At the time, I hadn’t heard of Stephen Covey’s analogy, so I had no idea what these two young marketers were discussing. Later, I was enlightened.

In brief, effective people prioritize their goals beginning with the most important (the rocks) and moving on to those of lesser importance (sand). Because when you think about it, if you try to fill a jar with sand before filling it with rocks, you will have troubles fitting the rocks in. Begin with the rocks and fill in the spaces with sand. It’s good advice and can be applied not only to marketing but our personal lives as well.

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Copywriting for non-native English speakers

September 8th, 2017
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We frequently receive questions about marketing advice from our email subscribers. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we’re going to start publishing some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog since they may be able to help many other readers. And if you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: I wanted to ask you what would be the biggest advice you would give to a non-native English speaker who wants to develop outstanding copy writing.

Dear Reader: We’re all non-native in some way, right? When I started working as a contracted consultant to IBM, I didn’t speak their language either. It was my first tech job, and that industry (like every industry) has a language all its own.

So the best advice I can give you is to immerse yourself in English, especially its use in whatever industries you want to write for. Subscribe to respectable English-language newspapers and consumer and industry magazines and read them daily. Read not just the content but the advertising. Do the same with English-language blogs, websites, forums, social media, etc.

Also, run tests on your writing whenever you can to help understand what language most resonates with the ideal prospect.

Here’s an example — Test Your Marketing Intuition: Which PPC Ad Produced More Conversions?

When we ran that test, we didn’t know if the term “AccuraScope” would resonate with the ideal prospect. So we tested to discover the best words to use.

Best of luck with your copywriting career.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

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Optimizing Copy: The 7 Most Common Copywriting Mistakes We See Marketers Make

Marketing 101: What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

September 1st, 2017
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Conversion rate optimization, often abbreviated as CRO, is the practice of improving the conversion rate in any advertising, marketing, sales or other business practice that has a goal of getting a person to take an action. (The conversion rate measures the number of prospects who take an action that you’re requesting.)

For example, let’s say you have an email that asks people to click to a landing page to buy a product. CRO would focus on getting more people to click on that email (improving the conversion rate of clickthrough), in addition to getting more people to purchase on the landing page.

CRO (or at least elements of it) is sometimes also referred to as marketing optimization, website optimization, landing page optimization (LPO), growth hacking, optimization and testing, customer experience (CX), usability (UX) or marketing experimentation.

Despite the prevalent use of the word “optimization,” it is a very different discipline from search engine optimization (SEO). CRO is focused on optimizing for human behavior, and SEO is focused on optimizing for machine behavior.

Web design, copywriting and analytics interpretation are key skills that go hand-in-hand with CRO. This is because many CRO changes are either to design or copy. Also, the ability to understand analytics will (1) give ideas on where in the conversion process you should make CRO changes to have the biggest impact, and once you’ve made the changes, (2) how impactful they have been to your conversion goals.

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Email Marketing: Why you should run a win-back campaign (and how CNET engaged 26% of inactives)

August 7th, 2015
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Sometimes people fall out of love … with your newsletters and email marketing.

Or change jobs. Or email providers. There are a million reasons why they stop reading and engaging with your emails.

This is why email marketers need to run win-back campaigns. That is, reaching out to inactive subscribers and compelling or convincing them to re-engage with your email sends.

If they don’t re-engage, it’s time for a list cleansing — no longer sending emails to this group.

 

A smaller, but higher-quality, email list

The end result can be painful in some ways; it will likely result in a smaller email list (and the older the list is, the more shrinkage you will experience).

This is only painful because we all like big numbers. We like to tell our CMO, our clients and brag to our childhood friends at the high school reunion (hey, when they’re all doctors, you gotta brag about something) about how we run email marketing to a list of 1,000 … 10,000 … no … one million email subscribers.

One million email subscribers meme
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Why You Shouldn’t Target Your Marketing: Target marketing fails

July 21st, 2015
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Targeted marketing, or the practice of aiming marketing collateral at specific prospects or customers, has become so prolific that it is one of the largest tools in the modern marketer’s toolkit.  In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration lists targeted marketing as the third step in marketing implementation.

Imagine yourself attending the brainstorming session for your next marketing campaign or participating in one at a trendy advertising agency. Does anyone in the room ever verbalize the thought, “Let’s not target this campaign to anyone?” Of course not; they would be laughed out of the room.

However, simply targeting your marketing is not equivalent to being customer-centric, or customer-first, and this is where the majority of us go wrong. Aristotle hints at this in his master work, Rhetoric: “For it is not enough to know what we ought to say; we must also say it as we ought … ”

It is in the spirit of saying it “as we ought” that I humbly submit to you five steps that have the capacity to royally mess up your targeted marketing by not implementing it with a customer-centric approach.

 

Step #1: Target Just Your Intended Audience

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Creating Engaging Content: A five-step method for busting writer’s block

July 7th, 2015
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Ah … the ambience of a blank white computer screen. I am staring at one right now. There are the days when this glow speaks freedom and fresh opportunity and I take it. But then, there are those days, like right now, where the glow feels more like an impenetrable force field.

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Although I’m not a great author, it’s a comfort to know that I am not alone in suffering from terrible writer’s block. Dorothy Parker, who wrote hundreds of poems and short stories, sent this note about it to her editor in 1945.

 

So what do I do when I know I have something to say, but I just can’t get it into words? Should I start scouring the Web to find something interesting to comment on? Or should I just rehash something that I have thought about or written about before? Or, the most tempting, do I just give up and hope my muse shows up tomorrow?

I’m not going to lie — all those methods can work, and have worked for me in the past.

However, there is one particularly useful approach that I have learned over the years for dealing with content writer’s block, particularly when you are on a deadline. Because — face it — as much as we would like to let creativity gently come to us, sometimes we have to go and take it by force.

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Copywriting: What software startup YNAB knows about creating compelling copy for a new product

January 2nd, 2015
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New products make it incredibly difficult to write effective copy. Most of the time the customer coming to the page has no idea what the product is or how it works, but more importantly, they also have no idea why it matters for them.

To really help your customers understand why a product or service is relevant to them, your copy has to build a “problem.” Take this video for YNAB product that helps you budget in a new way:

 

I don’t know if you caught it or not, but they spend a full 43 seconds of their 1:52 second video building to the problem. Out of all the problems built in copywriting, video or otherwise, this one is one of the best.

So what do they do to build their problem?

 

1. They have a clear objective.

You can’t begin to build a problem without a map to the overall objective. The objective of this video is to introduce the product and get people poking around on the website.

Without an objective, you might just be building a problem that you’ll never be able to help your customers out of.

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