What Should You Expect From A Modern Copywriter?
Despite the move from paper to digital in media and marketing, writing as a skill is as relevant as ever. To get ahead, quality copy is a must on your website, blog, social media channels, emails, e-commerce content, app and more. To accomplish this, you can enlist the help of talented writers, who are not as common as you may think. Here are the non-negotiable skills and characteristics that you should expect from any modern copywriter you work with.
Modern Copywriters Understand Modern SEO
High search rankings have a key role in any digital marketing strategy. To gain momentum online, your website needs to be one of the first results users see when they search for industry-related keywords. Unfortunately, this is also the goal of your competitors, so how can you improve your Google search rank?
Well-written content plays a large role in both search rankings and reader retention. When your content offers something of value in a readable way, this adds big points towards your ranking. However, quality isn’t the only ranking factor. This is where SEO comes into play as a modern copywriter: attention to keyword placement, format, structure, hierarchy and internal and external link building are important, too. Search Quality Senior Strategist for Google, Andrey Lipattsev, confirms this in this 2016 Q&A.
Google will pick articles that will be highly relevant and engaging to readers. If your modern copywriter is truly skilled at their job, they should already know this and many more SEO factoids like it. Ranking well in Google search results is key for businesses that want to get ahead, and a good copywriter that understands and can implement this will help you improve your rankings.
They will also understand that the definition of good SEO can change rapidly. What worked and was a best practice a decade ago no longer is effective, and what works today may not be beneficial tomorrow. While keyword stuffing was a common practice years ago, content writing has evolved to be query-based and focused on providing valuable, well-written information through web copy, blogs and SEO articles. The best copywriters are constantly learning best practices to help content to rank all the while refreshing their writing skills.
Modern Copywriters Feel Comfortable Writing for Multiple Platforms
Not every business can afford to work with writers who just focus on social media posts, who just write web copy, or who just write case studies. A modern copywriter should be skilled in all writing mediums and capable of switching effortlessly from one to the next.
For example, did you know that the optimal LinkedIn post length is a mere 25 words, while the best blog post length is a whopping 1,600 words? Or consider that most product description writers keep their copy to about 100-200 words while category pages demand 200-400 words.
Ebooks may run about 2000-3000 words while focusing on small, 300 word pages at a time while a video script may only be 75 words, but the deliverable states to keep the video under two minutes. Understanding all of these different content types across multiple mediums is a must-have for a good copywriter.
A modern copywriter will be able to write both short, pithy snippets for social media, long, research-backed visually engaging blog posts and multiple other kinds of written deliverables. This calls for a creative thinker. Skilled copywriters adjust and format content according to their needs.
Modern Copywriters Have High Digital Literacy
George R.R. Martin, author of the wildly popular Game of Thrones series may be able to get away with doing all his writing on an archaic word processor with a computer that’s not even connected to the internet, but a modern copywriter simply can’t. You should expect a quality copywriter to have a high level of digital literacy and comfort with using technology and working in a digital environment.
For nearly every area of copywriting, there is an accompanying software, from Buffer and HootSuite for social media writing to WordPress for blog writing and website copy. Content copywriters recognize these types of digital helps and typically use the software that will best help them create quality content.
Skilled content writers also look for ways to improve the quality of their writing. Grammarly and Microsoft Word Spellchecker are must-haves for the best copywriters and most use some sort of plagiarism checker to ensure their content is original and unique.
Technology is Key in Web Copywriting
Even if the web content copywriters you work with do not have access to these systems, they may still need to organize their work in a cloud environment such as Google Drive. At the very least, a laptop and an internet connection (and a savviness for learning new systems) are requirements for great modern copywriting.
If you are working with a freelancing copywriter or copywriting service as many businesses choose to, it will make life much easier for you if they are highly digitally literate. Make sure they have the tools at their disposal to get the writing job done efficiently and timely. Communicate often over email or other online platforms to ensure they are creating exactly what you need.
Modern Copywriters Know About User Behavior
We know a lot about how modern users navigate the web and read digital content, as well as what makes effective content that people will actually read. For instance:
- Readers often follow an F-shaped pattern when navigating a website. This image below shows a common pattern that visitors follow when reading an article or webpage. They typically read the upper part of the content, but as they move downwards, they absorb less and less.
(Source: Nielsen Norman Group)
This emphasizes how important it is for a modern copywriter to make incredible headers and first lines. Once your content catches the attention of readers, you have a better chance of them holding on. Here a couple more user facts:
- Users do not read all the content on a web page. This engaging article by Slate shows just how often people stop reading an article. More people are likely to “bounce” and never finish the content displayed. Readers want to be engaged, and that takes skill as a copywriter to create sticky content.
- People tune out any element that looks like a banner ad. Banner blindness is a real thing. Most readers will immediately tune out advertisements, even if they are helpful or part of the content. If your website has too many ads or pop-ups, visitors are less likely to stay.
These are just some of the pieces of information that a modern copywriter should be aware of or should be willing to research and understand. Being able to use hooks to draw people in on a landing page or delivering quick concise answers to specific questions are all products of a web copywriter’s understanding of user behavior.
Apply User Behavior In Your Content
The type of content being created as well as the behavior of the user that is being targeted are important roles in lead generation and improved retention rates. Many times, you will be providing this information to the modern copywriter to help them understand your goals, but if they’ve had experience writing similar pieces in the past it makes the content creation process much smoother and more efficient.
Knowing these facts and others can help blog copywriters become more effective writers for your organization. Encourage your modern copywriters to create catchy headers and strong introductions. Bullet points, headers and images can also persuade readers to stay longer on your page.
Modern Copywriters Have an Optimization Mindset
With the technology that’s available today, it’s possible to test the actual effectiveness of modern copywriting and understand why some content is effective and why other content falls flat. A/B testing software allows companies to compare different versions of headline copy, button copy, layout and more to see what is most effective at guiding users to an intended action. This is done by giving test groups two different versions of a content piece or web page, and then studying which one performs better overall.
This kind of testing can be especially effective when it comes to content. Using A/B testing on different titles, ad copy, bullet points and romance copy can help you to create a formula that works for content writing at scale.
A great example of this is an e-commerce company with thousands of SKUs, or “Stock Keeping Units.” With only limited real estate to put a product or category description into, you want to make sure you have the best formula to drive sales of products. If the bestselling product titles are ones that have the base product, brand, color, and quantity, this is something you want to know right away. Knowing this, you could duplicate it across your SKUs and see a large boost in sales.
The same can be true even for blogging and the copywriting of service pages. Certain types of blogs (like lists and how-tos) may have a better click-through rate than other less formatted articles. A/B testing can take into consideration the buyer persona as well as the product or service that’s being sold to help a modern copywriter really mold the content into something amazing.
Web Copywriters Can Optimize Every Article
All this is to say that a modern copywriter should see copywriting as an iterative process, the goal of which is to continually be optimizing copy. A skilled content writer should adapt as they go since many experienced writers have already learned how to create engaging content the hard way. With constant practice and the ability to think quickly, the best copywriters should know the basics of creating quality content. However, they can continue to improve and adapt strategies that best help your company.
One way to help modern copywriters stay consistent and engaging with their writing is to create a style guide. With specific guidelines and structural rules, each piece of content can radiate brand consistency. No matter the writer, you won’t be concerned with any compromised brand values or fluctuating format. A brief explanation of the target audience and any important ground rules can give your copywriters a head start in optimization.
Modern Copywriters Are Familiar With Buyer Personas
Different writing styles work for different types of people. You may like historical non-fiction, while your friend may go for self-help books or business books. You can think about buyers in a similar way. Your different buyer groups have different characteristics, pain points, needs and reasons for buying your product. Copy that will appeal to a young mother may not hit home with a recent retiree, for example.
Companies selling products and services should take the time to create buyer personas so that content can be targeted and strategic in its reach instead of just a wide-casting net. While coming up with the buyer personas is on the business to create, a modern copywriter can take their experience and familiarity to translate copy to meet those personas.
A modern copywriter you work with should know what buyer personas are and how to use them in crafting copy. Understanding the core audience that each piece of content is written for is on the list of copywriter key skills needed to create effective, engaging content.
Modern Copywriters Have an Applicable Degree or Experience
Notice we said degree OR experience? If education is a must-have for you, you might consider what copywriter degree you need to be on the lookout for. Many times, education in writing as well as in business/marketing helps to make an even-keeled web content copywriter.
Writers with degrees in business communications, PR/HR, and journalism should have a broad enough knowledge of both things to help them understand and explain the features of copywriting. While it may be incredibly helpful to have a copywriter with a degree in journalism, English or some other writing-heavy discipline, remember that good writers come from all backgrounds.
Applicable experience and an impressive portfolio can be a solid substitute for a writing degree. A good copywriter could come from a completely unrelated background but have a knack or passion for writing, research and telling a story. Or you may find great copywriting without a degree at all.
For instance, a motivational speaker may find out later in life that they make a pretty darn good self-help copywriter when they translate their thoughts into words rather than through a microphone.
The key is having a way to decipher copywriter key skills and the content copywriter who has them and the ones that do not. The skills above are good signs that the copywriters you work with are a good fit for your content marketing strategy.
Modern Copywriters Are Impeccably Good At Research
Not every modern copywriter will be an expert in your industry. One of the greatest skills a web content copywriter can have is the ability to do thorough research on the topic they are writing. From this research, they can create rich, engaging content that can bring in lead generation and significant traffic.
But how do copywriters become industry experts overnight? Copywriters have a specific plan when writing a piece of content, so they research the right topics and specific information that will help them write meaty content without the fluff. When advertising your products, they will investigate your services and learn how the product works and why people need it. They may even study competitors and decide how best to market your business.
Many content pieces are centered around valuable industry-related information. Although finding specialty copywriters or using your own staff to create these pieces may seem easier, modern copywriters are more skilled than you may think. They can reach the audience directly by incorporating crisp explanations and helpful advice that they have formed with the help of reliable research. Here are some of the questions that skilled copywriters may ask while researching to get a better grasp on the topic:
- What are the expert views on the topic?
- Why do people need the information being presented?
- What are the common concerns and desires of consumers about this topic?
- How can it benefit readers?
- What is the best way to present this kind of information?
With your feedback and a writer’s skill to find information online, a modern copywriter can create exceptional content that is accurate and entertaining. And even though they do intensive research, a skilled writer will never plagiarize. Original content that offers useful information is a copywriter’s forte.
A Modern Copywriter Is the Sum of Many Parts
What should you be looking for in a modern copywriter? A lot. In addition to being flexible with tone and style, the best content copywriters of today should have SEO and buyer persona knowledge and excellent digital skills. An interest in user behavior and optimization, the right experience or education and research skills all come into play. This combination of characteristics results in a modern copywriter that knows how to write for websites, how to write for Google, how to write for your customers, but most importantly, how to write for results.
If you’re looking for a good modern copywriter or copy editor, we can help! We’ve spent years perfecting the process of identifying web copywriter key skills through writing and grammar tests, sample articles, training and team building. Contact us today to see how our team of content copywriters can help!