What Is Copywriting? (why every business needs to master it)

March 11, 2019 | Sean Foo

Copywriting is the usage of words both written and spoken to help influence your reader to take an action or reach an outcome you desire.

Want your prospects to click that button to buy? Use copywriting!

Want your readers to sign-up eagerly for your email subscription list? You need copywriting!

Take Johnny who runs his own business selling fresh coffee beans to cafes, homes and corporates offices.

He has a long list of customers that he depends on for business and embarks on a marketing campaign to get them to buy more!

So he starts to write lots of emails that look similar to this:


At first glance, this seems like a normal sales email right?

But no one buys! In fact, hardly anyone even opens his emails, they just throw it into the spam folder or outright delete it!

And upon closer look, it’s kinda obvious – the email isn’t engaging at all, it doesn’t provide any value in its content and it all revolves around getting the customer to buy from you. It is a rather selfish email that just asks for one thing – the sale!

It’s no wonder people are not responding and sending Johnny’s email straight to the trash!

Now Johnny finally wisens up, learns the art and science of copywriting and creates an email that starts off with this amazing value-added email:


It goes so well that his open rates skyrocket and people are starting to reply to his email asking for the free sample as well as going directly to his website to check out his coffee beans!

Suddenly, sales start to trickle in just from this email – an email that provides value without asking for anything back in return!

With his newfound copywriting powers, Johnny decides to strike while the iron is hot, especially those who visited his websites and asked for the free sample of beans:


And he closes a third of those who read the email with that amazing offer that targeted the right audience with the right words. And now, business is a booming!

This is exactly the effect strong copywriting can do for businesses and marketers, it can allow you to capture attention, turning your readers into prospects ready to buy. Copywriting can then also turn those prospects into hard cold sales!

If you have read a blog article and signed-up for the blog’s newsletter or maybe you read a landing page and whipped out your credit card ready to buy something, it was copywriting that literally compelled you to act!


The Core Of Copywriting Is To Showcase Value & Inspire Action

Whether you are a brand-building a social following on Facebook or a digital marketer with landing pages and email campaigns keen to convert Google traffic into dollars, you will need copywriting.

Awesome-level copywriting.

The internet today is a massively crowded space filled with literally millions and billions of pieces of content both in the written and video format.

Let these stats shock you:

– On WordPress alone, 74.7 million blog posts are published every month

– Facebook averages 8 billion average daily video views from over 500 million users

That is a lot of content that is pumped out into the world! But with solid copywriting, you can cut through all the noise!

You might have heard there are many forms of copywriting and you would be right!

The term is used as an umbrella for the various forms of copy that is being written by anyone from big brand agencies, to digital entrepreneurs to email marketers.

When it comes to copywriting, there are 3 main types that we should be concerned about:

  1. Conversion Copywriting
  2. Content Marketing Copywriting
  3. Creative Brand Copywriting

If these 3 types sound alien to you, not to worry, we shall explain!


1) Conversion Copywriting

When it comes to driving online sales and even back in the direct response marketing days (you know, postcards, newspaper ads, that ancient stuff), conversion copywriting is king!

It is literally salesmanship in the form of words (or audio) that gets the reader to buy the product on offer or move one step down the conversion funnel towards the sale.

Looking to drive paid traffic from Google Adwords to your product launch landing page where each click someone makes will cost you $5? Your ads better convert!

Maybe you already have an email list of a thousand subscribers and you want to sell them something? You want conversions, not annoyed readers.

Launching a marketing video on Facebook that cost you $5,000 to produce that must absolutely succeed? Your bank account is screaming for conversion!

The biggest deciding factor whether you will get the conversions you desire and make a sweet profit or suffer a flop is the quality of your conversion copywriting.

Is the writing or video script compelling enough to get your reader to act?

Does it speak to their desires to the point they feel there is enough value there for them to exchange their money for your product or service?

Take this hero section (the top prominent design of a webpage) of Basecamp, a project management software for businesses.

The words you see here are primarily conversion copywriting whose sole goal is to compel (or should I say persuade), the reader to click on the ‘Start A Free 30 Day Trial button’.

They throw out key benefits, features and best practices in the realm of conversion copywriting including:

  • Highlighting the common problems such as buried email and scheduling mess
  • A risk-free offer of a free 30-day trial

Conversion copywriting is all about increasing the conversion rate of a variety of your marketing efforts that include:

  • Landing pages
  • Sales videos
  • Outreach emails
  • Email autoresponders
  • E-commerce product descriptions
  • Facebook Sponsored Ads
  • and the list goes on……

Conversion copywriting is more than just rearranging words, it is writing that takes your prospect through a journey

This can be accomplished through thorough research on your customer, the industry, your product, their pain points and lots and lots of real-world testing. Every part of your copy can be optimized such as:

  • The headlines
  • The product benefits and features
  • The offer
  • The call-to-action
  • Even the FAQ section!

Of all the various forms of copywriting that we will be discussing, conversion copywriting is likely the most lucrative to both the writer and the client because it deals with the most important aspect of a business: sales.

A 30% lift in conversion can turn a failing campaign into a profitable one.

A double in conversion rates could literally see your products fly off the shelf so fast you might be scared to launch another ad without having a month’s supply ready in stock!

In fact, with just a tiny tweak such as adding social proof (‘4500 Current Subscriber’) to the copy of their subscription landing pages, they saw an increase of their email subscription rates by 20%.


2) Content Marketing Copywriting

Ok, some might call this SEO copywriting and yes…there is some basis for that to be true, but it is far from what it really is and what it can truly accomplish!

Now there are two aspects of content marketing copywriting that distinguishes this form of writing from the rest.

  1. It is about giving tremendous value without asking for anything back.
  2. It is Search Engine Optimised (SEO-ed) so that people can find this piece of writing.

Giving tons of value without asking for anything in return?

Are you serious Sean?

Yea, I’m serious. Content marketing, from videos to blog articles, as a whole is about giving value to your reader.

It is about understanding them as people and seeking to solve their challenges and problems that are related to what you are selling.

Selling vacation packages to Europe? You can be sure many of your prospects have no idea of the best romantic spots in the region.

Why not craft an article about the Top 10 Romantic Destinations For Young Couples In Europe?

Better yet, you are a finance company selling life insurance looking to reach out to young adults early in their careers.

Create an article along the lines of The 3 Types Of Insurance You Must Have Before You Land Your First Job.

Seek to educate first and you will reap the rewards later.

And this ties into the next point regarding content marketing copywriting.

Each article written has to be Search Engine Optimized (SEO-ed)

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is simply a sequence of steps that need to be taken to allow the article to be ranked on the top of the search results.

Combined together with the first point of adding value, the sequence to content marketing copywriting is actually quite straightforward:

  1. Find a keyword or phrase that you are trying to rank for
  2. Write an article that gives a ton of value to your reader
  3. Search engine optimize the article with best SEO practices

Take Timmy who just launched his website selling winter sports gear, especially his new custom range of snowboards.

The first step Timmy does is to conduct keyword research on the term ‘Snowboard’ to see what people are searching for and keyword ideas when it comes to snowboards.

pssstt, sidenote, this keyword research was done using the free (but powerful) tool, Ubersuggest.

With these results, he zooms into one particular keyword phrase ‘Snowboard for beginners’ and realizes that he once had the same problem – namely, how to choose the best snowboard when you are a newbie in the sport.

People out there are searching for that and it is something he can definitely write about!

So Timmy, decides to create an article that teaches people how to choose the best snowboard if they are starting out from scratch:

‘Snowboard For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Your First Snowboard’

And because he knows the competition is most likely going to be fierce, Timmy decides to dedicate his full effort into making this the best post about choosing your first snowboard and it’s no wonder why.

He wants to rank well on search engines and search engines favor quality content because people will benefit from it and love it.

Timmy doesn’t just give superficial tips on how to choose your first snowboard, he goes all out on the article:

– He includes instructions and examples of the material and frame types for beginners with a list of pros and cons.

– He showcases high-quality pictures of snowboards and even highlights the subtle differences between each.

– He even interviews expert snowboarders on their tips and advice for choosing the best beginner board.

He pours all his heart and soul into the article which took him a whole day to create.

Talk about dedication! Surely the search engine gods will favor him!

But firstly, how do search engines decide if an article is worth reading?

It’s quite simple really, it’s the same thing as people discovering something cool:

  1. Other websites will link to it as it is a great resource to their own audiences.
  2. Readers themselves will share it with their family and friends through social media.

Eventually, his article will rise to the top of the search rankings and guess what that means? More people will visit the article and his website!

More people will get to also see his range of snowboards, get curious and browse around before maybe buying one for themselves!

That is the power of content marketing copywriting.

Powerful content marketing copy will help you dominate the search results in Google.

In fact, 68% of online experiences come from a search engine like Google while 72% of marketers recognize the single most effective SEO tactic is relevant content creation.

If you make the best resource for a topic, you will gain valuable attention, frame your business as an authority and eventually, you will experience an ROI in your content investment.

You will close sales easier, you will get enquiries faster and word of mouth will eventually spread as well.

Content marketing copywriting provides your business with an easy lay-up for a slam dunk down the road!


3) Creative Brand Copywriting

Ever seen those big sign-boards, posters or TV commercials done by brands like Coca-cola, Louis Vuitton & Apple?

With slogans and punchy phrases such as the Share A Coke campaign:

That is in the realm of creative brand copywriting. You can tell that just by itself, the ad really isn’t adding much value to the viewer or trying to outright sell anything and looking for an immediate conversion…so what it is really trying to accomplish?

It is trying to inspire a feeling to build up brand awareness so that in the future when you think about the brand or come across their product, you will be more favorable to buying from them.

It is one form of the various touch-points brands do. Just imagine this, you walk into the convenience store and you see a can of coke vs 5 other brands that you have never heard of before.

You will probably (actually, highly likely) choose the can of coke because somehow you trust the brand more?

How does that happen? Through their ads with creative brand copywriting of course!

Ever since you were young, you probably saw tons of Coca-cola ads like the one below.

A poster outside your school of a refreshing bottle of coke….

A newspaper ad wishing you Happy New Year with a catchy slogan about enjoying a can of coke

The famous Coca-cola Christmas advertisement with Santa during Christmas season.

All these touch points are key to ensuring you connect with the brand over time and when you think of a beverage to drink (whether you are hanging out with friends or at a restaurant), you will probably think of Coca-cola and order yourself a glass.

Essentially, the difficulty of creative brand copywriting is on a different scale compared to the other two. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, it can’t be done and it shouldn’t be.

While it could take days to create a 2,000-word article that frames your business as an authority, it might take weeks to even months to create a winning tagline or slogan for a creative ad campaign!

The process for success isn’t as clearly defined as conversion or content marketing copywriting.

Take this ad below for example:

3 words of copy: Taste The Feeling.

But behind it lies an entire strategy of capturing everyday moments and positioning Coca-cola as a simple pleasure experienced by people from all walks of life in different situations.

Creative brand copywriting can be so effective to the point that given two products with an almost similar look and features, the one with the higher price tag and better branding will likely outsell the cheaper but more obscure option.

At the upper echelons of marketing when you are pitting essentially a highly similar product against each other (think Coca-cola vs Pepsi), it is creative brand copywriting that will win the day.


Every Business Needs To Master Copywriting

Whether you are running a high growth startup or running a multi-national brand, quality copy is vital to your marketing efforts.

In fact, by just mastering conversion copywriting and content marketing copywriting you get to unlock amazing results for your marketing efforts.

Operating today requires your business to essentially fire on all cylinders. That means creating solid content to capture attention, crafting powerful conversion copy to close sales and creative copy to distinguish your brand vs your competitors.

So take a look at your marketing efforts your business is doing.

Are your online ad campaigns bringing you the leads you desire?

Is your email list converting well?

Are you building a social audience with your content and sponsored posts?

If you aren’t, then it’s time to deep dive into the world of copywriting and implement it for your business!

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