Once you immerse yourself in the world of e-commerce, you're constantly confronted with all kinds of marketing terms. Leads, conversion, hook, brand identity, ad copy and many other technical terms appear everywhere when we start talking about online shops. Most of them come from marketing and are ultimately related to what's always the biggest goal of every shop: generating sales.
When an online shop has been launched and the products listed, boosting sales is at the top of the to-do list. After all, you want all the effort you've put in to be worth it, don't you?
This is exactly where copywriting comes into play. It acts as a link between product development and sales and should ultimately ensure that potential customers are captivated with carefully chosen words and persuaded to buy.
Accordingly, good copywriting should be a high priority in every e-commerce and shop project. It often transforms an ordinary product into a winning product for your shop.
Even if you're not planning on becoming a copywriter, you should read this article. Copywriting is relevant for every company and a cornerstone of modern marketing. Knowing the basics will make you much more flexible and your marketing more efficient. And not every start-up can afford professional copywriters right from the beginning.
There you have two good reasons to learn more about the topic. If you ever needed to, you could simply write your own advertising copy.
As copywriting is important for any business, it's worth taking a closer look at what it's all about. Firstly, what is copywriting anyway? What skills do I need to write good copy? And above all: how do I write first-class advertising copy that turns my visitors into customers?
I'll answer all these questions in this article and, hopefully, you'll also be eager to pick up a pen and get started yourself by the end.
What is copywriting?
But before we start with the implementation, we need to talk about the definition. The term "copywriting" comes up incredibly often in the marketing world, although most people don't even know the clear definition.
Copywriting basically means nothing other than "advertising texts". This refers not only to the writing of texts such as product descriptions, but also to everything that belongs to the marketing of a company. This includes brochure and flyer copy, blog articles, ad copy, email newsletters, video scripts and much, much more.
Copywriting has become a fundamental pillar nowadays, especially in e-commerce. But it's ultimately relevant to any company that does marketing. And, as we know, in reality that's every company.
As a copywriter, you have the important function of bridging the gap between product development and sales. This means the copywriting must express the marketing message of the company or product concisely and in a way that's appropriate for the target group.
The main task is thus to put the added value of a product (or any object to be advertised) in the foreground and to communicate it clearly and understandably to potential customers.
In the next chapter, you'll learn how this works and which skills are needed.
What skills are needed for good copywriting?
Copywriting is much more than simply "writing texts". It encompasses many aspects of marketing, product development, branding and data analysis. Creative copywriting is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
These are the essential qualities you need to write killer copy:
As already mentioned, you need to have an overview of all essential areas of the company to produce the right advertising texts. You need to know the target group, the product concept and the company's long-term brand strategy. These data points act as a compass for you when writing the texts and are essential to reach your goal. Otherwise, you're writing "blindly" and the likelihood increases enormously that your texts won't express the marketing message well enough, won't describe the product correctly or even reach the right target group.
Feeling for the written word
As a copywriter, you deal with texts every day. In turn, you need to have a really good feel for words. You have to know exactly which word arouses emotions at which point. Precise, concise writing that is clear without a lot of fuss is required here. This also includes a high degree of linguistic correctness. Spelling, grammar, commas and punctuation should not be foreign words – they need to be second nature to you.
Creativity: giving old things a new shine
Likewise, creativity is something every copywriter needs to have. Very few companies are reinventing the wheel with their products and concepts these days. With copywriting, you have to be able to communicate familiar ideas in a new, modern way and, at the same time, convey the added value. This is why copywriters usually have a huge vocabulary. A substantial vocabularly serves as a source of creativity and makes it possible to always give concepts something new and unique.
Empathy: understanding your target group
Empathy, the ability to put yourself in other people's shoes, is always needed in copywriting. You need to be able to understand your target audience at the deepest level, to grasp their problems and desires, and to understand emotions. Empathy allows you to understand your potential customers and to tailor your copy accordingly. Always remember that you're not writing your texts for yourself, but for your target group. They are in the foreground and must be guided through your copy as comfortably as possible.
Natural curiosity and an open attitude
Curiosity is a very important factor, because in copywriting you need to understand the target group, the product and the company. What characteristics make it what it is? What is the product characterized by? What benefits does it bring to people that many may not have in mind? Curiosity helps you develop interesting content and write exciting texts that captivate your readers. This also goes hand in hand with an open attitude, because the more open you are about (still) unfamiliar possibilities, people and facts, the more precisely you can write your text. If you choose to close yourself off instead, only writing about what you already know without learning anything new or having new experiences, your texts will be fundamentally limited. Openness and curiosity, on the other hand, turn simple words into an adventure.
Let's get started with the preparation
You now know what copywriting is all about, why it's so important and what skills you need to be equipped with. Now it's time for practical implementation. How is professional copy produced?
It's like so many things in life, copywriting starts with preparation. Good preparation is crucial to achieve the desired results later on.
Define your target group
One point that's unfortunately still too often underestimated even by the best writers is the target group. You can write the most creative, witty and enchanting texts. But if they don't reach the right people, you won't see any results.
Time and again, I see outstanding texts gathering dust in a tired corner on the website and inspiring no one. The reason is quite simply that the wrong people have been approached. All the writing effort and valuable creativity that went into it thus becomes completely worthless.
To avoid this, you should always – and I mean always – know exactly who your target group is before you start writing.
You must be able to answer the following questions:
1. What are the demographic basics?
This includes origin, gender and age. This is important because an 18-year-old man from Ireland should be addressed differently than a 40-year-old woman from Spain.
2. What language does the target group speak?
On the one hand, this means the national language (there have already been cases where texts were created in the wrong language) and the style of language is also important. What's the typical jargon of the target group – colloquial language, youth language or technical language? Even if you can offer a good product and a suitable solution for your target group, they will still turn away if the communication is skewed.
3. What are the needs, problems and wishes of the target group?
Your text must be tailored to the problems and goals of your potential customers. Know the pain points of your target group and address them clearly and unambiguously.
4. What is particularly important to the target group when buying?
Some people attach the highest importance to a cheap price. Others are happy to pay more if the service is good. Know your target group's relationship to money and costs so that you can take this into account in the text and possibly present it as an advantage.
How to find answers to these questions
It's not easy to get precise answers here. But it's definitely worth the effort – so you should take your time with this part. In my opinion, social media is one of the best places to learn about user behavior.
An example: your task is to write advertising copy for a company that produces sportswear.
To clarify the questions about the target group that are important for you, you can easily follow sportswear pages "undercover" on Facebook or Instagram.
Take a look around the comments section and discover how people talk and interact with each other. It's an ideal opportunity to get up close and personal with your target audience and gather insights. What conversations and interactions are triggered by certain products? Are there controversial topics, running gags or other leitmotifs in the target group that you can address?
Social media is the most efficient way to get to know your target group in the 21st century.
Define your goal
Just as important as the target group is the aim of the text itself. Are you writing a blog article, a product description, a flyer text or a video script? The format also has a great influence on the goal the text is aiming for.
In order to write as efficiently and precisely as possible in the copywriting process, it's essential that you define the goal.
Generally speaking, you'll be trying to achieve one of the following:
- Click on a link
- Newsletter signup
Almost all of these popular goals can be summarized under the term "conversion". A conversion is therefore an action by users on your site or your shop that possibly converts visitors into buyers.
If you don't know what goal you're pursuing with your text, you're like a pilot who doesn't know where to fly. Even creativity, great formulations and innovative wording can't hide this, because the most modern and technically best aircraft is no use if it flies around aimlessly.
Knowing the goal helps you put your text together correctly and lead readers step by step to the desired action.
Picking up the pen: tips for implementation
Now we have definition and preparation are behind us, it's time to write! Many newcomers to copywriting find it difficult to get started, even after extensive preparation. A structured approach can help here.
The perfect headline
Whether it's a blog article or a product description: the headline of any text is a decisive factor for success. It's the first thing that's seen and decides whether readers stay or bounce.
Writers often find the headline a hard nut to crack and spend hours scribbling various drafts on paper until they decide on a mediocre version. But there are simple methods to create the perfect headline and save yourself the frustration.
My tips for a "catchy" headline
Numbers are very popular in headlines and titles at the moment. They make the headline extremely concise and convey the added value very precisely and unmistakably. Example: "Seven quick tips and tricks to optimize your conversion rate".
Make a promise
Promises are a sure way to attract attention and draw users to your website. Let's stick with our example: "Quickly optimize your CR by 3% with this one trick".
Describe the added value
With very clear formulations, you can show users the added value within seconds. They then know exactly what they'll get out of the article or your product and will therefore be willing to take a closer look. Example: "Reasons why your conversion rate is still stagnating".
Playing with emotions
Use certain words to make it clear to readers what emotion is waiting for them and what problem is being solved. If you manage to establish the emotion in your headline, clicks and traffic are certain to come rolling in. Examples: "Easily increase the conversion rate"; "Say goodbye to stress – how you optimize your conversion rate".
The more experience you gain, the easier it will be to develop headlines. You can also combine the methods to get the most out of them: "Three tricks to easily optimize your conversion rate".
Always make sure that the headline is easy to read and not too bulky. A good guideline for headline length is six to eight words. Generally speaking, people tend to pick up the first three and last three words of a headline.
A length of six words therefore seems ideal. In the end, always decide individually which length is the right one for your text. Also compare yourself with the competition to find clues.
Use the APSA principle when writing
There are virtually infinite different ways to structure texts. Most of them are based on the same marketing insights and have the same value. The important thing is that you choose one and stick to it. This will give your texts a clear structure and a common thread.
My favorite is the so-called APSA layout, which I'd like to tell you a little bit more about here. You can use this principle to structure any text, whether it's a blog post or a product description.
Point one is attention. This is logical because we want to catch the reader's attention at the very beginning. Then we can introduce them to the product, company or whatever the topic of your text is.
You can attract attention with a snappy headline (as explained in the previous chapter) and with exciting introductory lines. Address the emotional needs of your target group and make it clear to your readers what added value the text will bring them.
For example, consider some of the opening lines of this article:
Firstly, what is copywriting anyway? What skills do I need to write good copy? And above all: how do I write first-class advertising copy that turns my visitors into customers? I'll answer all these questions in this article and, hopefully, you'll also be eager to pick up a pen and get started yourself by the end.
In this way, you address the reader's problems as concretely as possible and take into account the most important pain points. Since your readers know from the start they'll learn something new by reading the text that is relevant for them right now, they will keep reading until the end.
So ask yourself which questions are most important to your target group and set out the answers right at the beginning.
Over and over again, we make one particularly major mistake in marketing. We constantly hear how we need to "sell a solution". In principle, the claim is correct. But before selling the solution, you first have to sell the problem. This means it must become clear to your readers why your product or company is relevant to them the first place.
Imagine a technology company developing a laptop with an unprecedented technical setup: the fastest processor, the largest memory and many other technical highlights.
Now the question is whether it makes more sense to focus on these highlights (the solution) or on the problems instead.
Let's take a look ourselves. Which text do you find more appealing?
Variant 1: "The new MegaNoteBook: 8.0 gigahertz processor power, 2 terabyte SSD".
Variant 2: "The new MegaNoteBook: No more loading screen or error messages".
The second variant should be preferred to the first. Here, the concrete problems are highlighted. Readers can identify with these problems. These are usually much more tangible, since all of us have experienced them at some point. We all know about annoying loading screens and error messages on slow, outdated PCs and laptops. And we'd all appreciate not having to see them anymore.
On the other hand, most people don't know the processor performance or RAM of their hardware at all. Confronting them with bare facts and figures – the solution – is not going to be effective here.
So the first thing should always be to focus on the problem. What pain is the problem causing the client? If you express this well enough and your readers identify with it, they'll also look at your solution.
Now the solution comes into play. When presenting the solution, always make sure that it's related to everyday life and concrete. You need to describe exactly how the problem is solved and how the customer gains added value. Highlights and facts can also be mentioned at this point.
You've now attracted attention, described the problem and presented the appropriate solution. The biggest part is done, but one essential detail is still missing – the action. It you leave this part out, all your work up to now may have been for nothing.
After you've managed to keep your reader's attention from start to finish, be sure to include a call to action (CTA) at the end.
A call to action is intended to convert passive attention (reading) into a concrete action (conversion).
This could look like this: "Do you want to learn more about conversion optimization? Subscribe to our newsletter now and look forward to new tips and tricks every day."
In this example, I've once again included the benefits next to the call to action. This makes the CTA even more palatable and efficient.
And that's the APSA layout in a nutshell. Each point builds on the other, so you should give each area the same attention and dedication. If one screw doesn't fit, the whole text may no longer work.
With a well thought-out text according to the APSA principle, you guarantee a comfortable user experience and increase the probability of a conversion.
Always think customer centric
The last tip I want to give you in this article is to always think the customers are at the center of what you're doing. This means you must always write from the customer's point of view and put yourself in the shoes of your target group. Thinking in this way requires a great deal of empathy, but it is one of the most important factors for success.
Many copywriters focus too much on their own idea of added value and a good text and disregard the customer's point of view. As a result, the content of your words is only partially absorbed because the target group cannot identify with it 100 per cent.
In addition to a detailed target group research, you should therefore always focus on the needs, wishes and goals of your potential customers. Choose a topic that interests you and a shop where you regularly buy products. How do you want to be addressed? What points are you interested in and what don't you care about? What questions need to be answered for you to buy the product?
You then proceed in the same way with the target group for whom you're writing texts. This way you're guaranteed to hit the right note.
Conclusion: Copywriting basics
In the introduction, I said you at least need to know the basics of copywriting to become active yourself and enhance your website or shop. You've now learned a lot about the basics – and hopefully more beyond that.
We've looked at the definition and meaning to the correct preparation and practical implementation. Of course, this is no guarantee you'll be able to produce outstanding copy immediately. As with any other topic, practice makes perfect.
But you now have the tools and knowledge you need to start with a plan and write your first texts, gain experience and turn visitors into customers!