What Should You Expect From A Modern Copywriter?
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, ecommerce 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.
Understanding of Modern SEO
Did you know that well-written content and attention to keyword placement, format, structure, hierarchy and internal and external link building are key parts of good Google search rankings? This fact is a quote by Search Quality Senior Strategist for Google, Andrey Lipattsev, from a 2016 Q&A.
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 as 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.
Comfortable With 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. Modern copywriters 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.
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. 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. Even if the 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 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.
Knowledge of 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:
(Source: Nielsen Norman Group)
- Users do not read all the content on a web page.
- People tune out any element that looks like a banner ad.
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 understanding the type of content they are creating as well as the behavior of the user that’s being targeted. Many times, you will be providing this information to the writer 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.
With the technology that’s available today, it’s possible to test the actual effectiveness of writing 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 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 ecommerce company with thousands of skus. 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 best selling product titles are ones that have the base product, brand, color, and quantity you’d want to find that out relatively quickly so you could duplicate it across your skus. 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 copywriter really mold the content into something amazing.
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.
Familiarity 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 it’s reach, instead of just a wide-casting net. While coming up with the buyer personas is on the business to create, a 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.
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 do 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 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.
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, excellent digital skills, an interest in user behavior and optimization, and the right experience or education. This combination of characteristics results in a 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 copywriter or copy editor, we can help! We’ve spent years perfecting the process of identifying 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!