Copywriting is tricky business. It’s not enough to have someone land on your webpage or see your banner ad; you need to grab and hold their attention so they’re compelled to take the desired action. This is why slapping a few nice-sounding phrases on a page just won’t cut it; you need to hone a certain skillset to succeed in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing. Of course, there are a number of content tactics and strategies you can apply to ensure your copy is hitting the right note, but if you don’t have the below skills in place as your foundation, you’re likely going to miss the mark.
1. A mastery of language
Polished writing skills are a must. This may seem like stating the obvious, but ultimately even the most sophisticated of grammar and spell-checking tools can’t replace human editing (not yet, anyway). Language is the currency of the writer, which means if you don’t have a handle on grammar, spelling and punctuation, you’re likely going to come up short. First impressions matter, and you don’t want to lose clarity or credibility from a typo that could’ve been avoided. That being said, mistakes happen, which is why it’s always important to get a second pair of eyes to proofread your work.
When it comes to copywriting, or digital marketing for that matter, adaptability is key. The industry is constantly changing and evolving—and so is the work we do. In an agency environment with a wide range of clients, copywriters are constantly switching gears from one project or media platform to the next—and the projects or platforms they work on may look completely different in a few years’ time. In addition to being flexible on a day-to-day basis, copywriters must stay curious and embrace change; otherwise, they’ll get left in the dust like AltaVista.
Surprise, surprise: a good copywriter is humble—although not necessarily in the ways you might think. Sure, we all know that person who not-so-subtly exclaims, “I wrote that!” every time their work comes even remotely within view, but humility pays off in spades when a copywriter: a) puts their target audience first, and b) isn’t married to their work.
Unlike other forms of writing, copywriters aren’t writing for or about themselves; they’re communicating on behalf of a brand, with the intention of marketing or selling a product or a service. That’s why good copywriters listen to the client’s needs, understand their unique selling points and do their research. They’re not throwing copy on a page because it sounds poetic; they’re diligently working to service a brand and its target audience.
Once in the throes of work, copywriters quickly learn not to be too clingy with their copy, because campaigns can change directions at the snap of a client’s fingers. Instead, they’re open to feedback and changes, because growth as a writer—and a digital marketer—often stems from breaking the script.
Never stop learning
As languages shift and digital marketing evolves, one thing is certain: there’s always something new to learn. Honing the above skills is not a one-and-done task; it’s an ongoing endeavor, so the best thing you can do is stay curious. If you’re continually sharpening your writing skills, diving into research, asking questions and embracing change, you’ll be well on your way to copywriting success.