Copywriting for Conversions: Where the Art and Science of Content Creation Collide
13 Dec, 2018
Here’s a sad truth for the wordsmiths – well-written content is not necessarily effective content. We may consider ourselves artists (and rightly so, in my opinion), but that doesn’t mean we’re worth our salt as marketers. Nowadays, it’s not your exceptional prose or intimidating knowledge of grammar that puts a smile on a client’s face, but facts and figures – how many people read their content, what kind of people they are, and how to turn them into paying customers. Even the most talented writers out there often struggle to give their content the right treatment to achieve solid results. And while there’s no cut-and-dry recipe for success, my experience writing for all manner of brands over the years has taught me a few invaluable lessons about balancing art and business when creating branded content.
Know the difference between your client and your reader
Client relationships are important to any agency, and nurturing them should naturally be a key focus – for account managers, not writers. Occasionally, as a writer, you may need to steer away from a client’s vision with a little tough love and help them remember who they’re creating content for, and why. I’m not suggesting tossing their briefs out the window to pursue whatever artistic direction you see fit. Just be aware they’ll probably nudge you to work in a little sales push for their new product here, a few mentions of their CEO there; and before long you’ve got a piece of content they absolutely love (and are happy to pay for), but which misses the mark entirely when it comes to the actual target audience. Remember this: you’re not writing for your clients. You’re writing for your clients’ clients, and the priorities of your client and their readers may not always align. It’s your job to resist the temptation to pander to client egos with self-serving content, and to rather make it enticingly useful to their customers – both current and potential.
Dive deeper, more often
Developing an online reputation as a Thought Leader requires content that is a cut above the rest; not only in the artistic flair of the writing, but in the practical richness of the information it houses. To this end, too many writers take on a “kitchen sink” mentality, trying to cram as many facets and considerations of a topic into a single piece. This is a mistake, and as the old adage goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. In fact, the best you can aim for is to please some of the people all of the time.
What separates the casual blogger from the Thought Leader is a laser-like focus at a granular level, backed by demonstrably deep levels of research. If a topic requires more individual pieces to satisfactorily cover it, so be it. Larger businesses with many disparate revenue streams, or an extremely diverse set of products, will naturally require more individual content pieces to encompass its offer holistically, so avoid the temptation to cram in too much content. Often, an attempt to deliver extra value for money in this way ends up diluting the topic too much.
Tech is your friend… For now, at least
While natural language processing is in its current embryonic state, writers can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that – for now, at least – our jobs are safe from the encroachment of AI onto our turf. But the number of tech tools available to writers is exploding, and new innovations do exist to help us craft content that sells. Can’t decide between two equally awesome headlines you’ve come up with? Run them through a headline analyser that will rate them on length, word choice and emotive quality. Don’t have anyone to sub-edit and proofread for you? Grammarly and similar tools are always on hand. Want to get maximum SEO value out of every piece of writing? Make sure you do your keyword research before you begin. Tech, for now, is not a replacement for a competent writer, but it certainly has the ability to complement every writer and enhance their work to new levels of efficacy and audience engagement.
Your content may be good, sometimes great, and occasionally even epic – but is it doing what it’s being paid to do? Eliciting an emotional response from a reader is great, but are you eliciting an action that will ultimately translate into hard cash for your client? Balancing creative license with performance KPIs is the challenge every content creator faces every day – and it’s not always easy. Most of us became writers out of a love of language, and developed our love of advertising later on. The good news is that, with a little practice, there’s room to explore both passions in the realm of content creation, satiating your inner Dickens and your target audience at the same time.