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The content marketer’s toolkit: 4 steps to strategic copywriting

I recently listened to a fascinating episode of the Google Partners podcast. The special guest was Joanna Wiebe, coveted conversion copywriter and Founder of Copy Hackers. It was all about the steps to strategic copywriting and it really got me thinking about the vital role content marketing plays in the overall digital strategy and end-to-end customer journey.

We use words every single day and they’re an extremely powerful force. However, when used strategically, this power extends tenfold. With this in mind, Joanna says that copy should act as your online salesperson, and can be measured to optimise and sell. It should drive people to say ‘yes’ and to do so, copywriters need to connect them to the value they’re seeking through words.

But she didn’t always think this way. Knowing what she knows now, here’s the 4 things she wish she’d known about strategic copywriting earlier.

1. Know where your messages come from

Before you endeavour on any copywriting mission, you need to ask yourself – “Where are my messages coming from?” The answer is simple: The people reading it, i.e. your customers. You can get the vast majority of your copy from customer data. For example:

  • Their pains
  • Their solutions
  • What works for them
  • What doesn’t work for them

There are a few ways to find out this information and Joanna offers some of her favourites:

  1. Interviews and questionnaires: But it doesn’t necessarily have to be yes or no questions. In fact, you can ask just 2 to 3 open-ended questions to get the most detailed answers.
  2. Comment mining: Go on Facebook Groups, competitor pages, etc. and see the types of comments people are posting. Highlight the things that stand out as interesting or are said differently to how you would frame it. Then, you can take this language to shape your copy.
  3. Thank you landing page: Joanna says there’s 1 question that every business should be putting on their thank you page – “What was going on in your life that brought you to our website today?” Normally, if the consumer is already on your website purchasing your product or enquiring about your services, they think positively of your company and are more willing to give a detailed response.

All these things the customer is telling you – listen to it, but don’t just summarise it. You’ll need to work a little bit harder than that.

2. Know what the stages of awareness are

When it comes to strategic copywriting, Joanna has identified 5 key stages of awareness:

  1. Unaware
  2. Pain aware
  3. Solution aware
  4. Product aware
  5. Most aware

Your job as a copywriter is to be responsible for educating prospects about what’s happening. So once you know which stage your consumer falls under, you then need to join the prospect in the stage of awareness they’re in.But be careful of jumping straight to the idea that “copy should be short”. The length of your copy will depend on how sophisticated your market is and how much you need to teach them.

For example, if you’re selling paper, Everyone knows what paper is, so you don’t really need much to get them to the final awareness stage. Whereas, if you’re selling search engine optimisation (SEO), this is quite specific and technical. Many know what it is, but aren’t exactly sure why they need it.

It’ll take you a lot longer to get consumers to the 5th stage when talking about SEO than plain paper, so you’re copy will differ in focus and length.

3. Use frameworks and formulas to shape your copy

When it comes to writing, don’t start from scratch EVER. Once you’ve got your customer data and know the stage of awareness, then you’re ready to start thinking about positioning it on the page to make sure that it best convinces. And this is achieved through frameworks and formulas.

There are plenty of content frameworks out there, but Joanna recommends a basic one in particular: PAS.

P – Problem

A – Agitation

S – Solution

There’s also plenty of formulas out there to help you write more strategic content. For example, when you’re formulating your headline, right it first before you seek out online tools. Once you’ve done some research, you should write about 25-30 variations. And always keep asking yourself “even if” to get the most specific headline possible.

4. Be creative at certain parts of your page – and only those parts

It’s hard for writers to pull back, but simplicity is best. So when writing, you should only be creative in your headings and subheadings – not in your body, call-to-action or anything in-between. But on the same token, don’t be over-the-top. If the headlines are trying too hard to get noticed, then they need to be edited. So dial it down and remember that clarity trumps everything.

A good example of hitting the sweet spot is Apple. The tech giant has mastered the art of nailing a great headline – but when it comes to everything else on the page, they’re straightforward and to the point.

Need help with strategic copywriting? Bang Digital have an experienced team of digital marketing professionals who know how to write copy that converts. Contact us today.