To the uninitiated, copywriting might just seem like something that you copy to enhance your writing. Like with most explanations, things are not that simple. Sure, copywriting does belong to writing, but it certainly has a different content and purpose than say writing a novel. What’s more, there exist different types of copywriting that can have both different methods of dissemination and style.
Actually, even some writers who begin their venture can initially confuse copywriting with content writing. But as specialists at Zapier note, “content writing is the words you use to educate, entertain, or inspire your target audience. On a website, content writing is used in blog posts, articles, video scripts, eBooks, and infographics. Copywriting is the words you use to sell to, persuade, or get action from your target audience. It’s the more standard “marketing” writing.”
More precisely, copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation (AWAI).
To add more detail to this definition, copywriting is a specific marketing activity found across the different advertising channels. Copywriting is the main component of just about every advertising message, really, headlining the print pieces you flip through, the tri-fold brochures you throw away, the billboards you zoom by, and the emails you quickly mark as spam (RentMyWords).
So, does that mean that any writer involved in copywriting is able to cover the whole field? Maybe, but not really. First reason for that is that copywriting can be defined by the method writers present it to an audience. The other would be the style of copywriting they use to present their message.
Types of copywriting starts with purpose
Essentially, as AWAI (above) notes, copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing materials. Some types of copywriting are very sales-focused, such as obvious advertisements you see online or in newspapers. Whereas, other types are more information-based and involve very little “salesy” language, such as product brochures.
Based on this concept, copywriting can be split into direct response and content marketing types. What would direct response marketing be?
Direct-response copywriting is a type of copywriting that aims to get an immediate, measurable response from the reader. It will clearly be a promotional piece of writing that directly asks you to take action right now, such as buy the company’s product or service or sign up for a free newsletter (above). One of the qualities of direct response marketing is that you can actually measure its effects.
“Because a direct-response campaign asks for immediate action, a company will be able to know how effective the campaign is by tracking how many responses they get. This is also known as the response rate.”
Some other examples of direct-response copywriting projects include:
- Video sales letters (VSLs);
- Fundraising letters;
- Magalogs (printed magazine-style promotions);
- Online sales pages and landing pages;
- Pay-per-click ads;
- Online or print advertorials (article-style promotions);
- Sales emails.
On the other hand, content marketing can and does include some elements of persuasion. But, its main purpose is to educate or inform the reader about a product or topic. These days, most content marketing works online. AWAI cites the Content Marketing Institute which found that on average, each company had an annual content-marketing budget of $207,500.
Here is a list of more common types of content marketing copywriting:
- Blog posts;
- Article pages;
- Order pages;
- Product pages;
- Social media posts;
- Case studies;
- White papers;
- News releases;
- Informational video scripts.
There are a number of ways to present content
There are some well-established forms of copywriting any freelance writer is familiar with. From newspaper ads to billboards and film/TV commercials. But these days, copywriting whether in its direct-response or content marketing form is done online. Some of the types of copywriting types are more general, while others are online-specific. Here is a look at some of the key types.
- SEO Copywriting – Currently, this might be copywriting type most businesses and their writers work with. Essentially, every business that wants to do well online needs to incorporate search engine optimization (SEO). This is the strategic use of keywords or search terms that will help them get found through Google (or other search engines) results pages. Therefore, SEO is only found in online content such as:
• Web content
• Product descriptions
As one expert points out, when you’re writing a piece of SEO content, you still need to be able to employ creativity and insight. This means you’ll need to have strong research skills. However, your focus is also on ensuring the right terms are in there, which is a balancing act. No one wants to read a piece of content that is blatantly stuffed with keywords.
- Web content – Preparing content for web pages takes the bulk of current copywriting work. It is yet another balancing act, as the copywriters have to do a number of things at the same time. They need to inform, engage, and ultimately lead their readers to conversion. They can do this in the form of a blog, article, or through social media.
To write great content, you’ll need to be able to tell a story through products or around your key service/offering. This brings together elements of sales writing, technical writing, creative writing, and SEO.
More on presenting content
The key to above and all other types of copywriting is the ability of the writer to adapt. “Writing for blogs, online magazines, and even social media isn’t about the product, it’s about building relationships with your potential and established audience” (above).
- Technical copywriting – This is less sales-oriented writing. It has the intention of promoting the company through promoting company findings or the best use of a product. It usually takes the form of a white paper or in-depth industry guide.
“Technical writing may often necessitate in-depth knowledge of a subject, or at least a willingness to put in a lot of research. It could cover various specialist topic areas such as science and environment, health, marketing, finance, politics and government” (above).
- Creative copywriting – Creative copywriting is something the general public is most familiar with. It is usually found in all shapes and forms of advertising, like jingles and commercials. Often, it might not include as many words as other copywriting forms. Still, it has to really understand “ buyer psychology and be able to think fast and come up with slogans and turns of phrase that have the capacity to become cultural references.”
- Public relations-related writing – “Public relations covers anything that represents a business or organization to the public and can fall under marketing or communications departments. It can be in the form of press releases, statements, or similar.
The emphasis in PR content is to portray a company in the best light possible. PR writers need to have a cool head and be able to write in a neutral, journalistic tone of voice. Getting across the details is crucial while finely balancing this with maintaining and promoting a positive image for the company.
What types of businesses hire copywriters?
The average budget numbers noted above say that practically all businesses need and hire all types of copywriters. They can all be split into two categories depending on the customers they serve. One is business-to-consumer (B2C) and the other is business-to-business (B2B).
- B2C – As AWAI (above) notes, B2C companies sell directly to consumers. Examples would be most of the companies you deal with on a regular basis, including supermarkets and most other brick-and-mortar stores, as well as many online businesses, such as Amazon, Zappos, or Dell. The B2C industry uses a full range of copywritten materials, including direct response and content marketing, both in print and online. Any reviews, product descriptions, or other information sources are all part of content marketing.
- B2B – B2B businesses sell directly to other businesses, instead of consumers. “For example, most heavy-equipment manufacturers will sell their equipment directly to warehouses, factories, and other industrial businesses. Many service providers also only deal directly with other businesses, such as staffing services, logistics consulting, or in-house training.” The B2B market is currently a $6.5 trillion industry.
Some common B2B marketing materials include:
- White papers;
- Case studies;
- Sales brochures and product sheets;
- Online and print newsletters;
- Press releases;
- Social media content;
- Email sequences;
- Scripts for videos, webinars, and podcasts.
Types of copywriting – concluding remarks
When speaking about the types of copywriting it becomes obvious that it can take quite a number of shapes and forms. It is also clear that both the need for practically all of the is there. It is here to stay and it can only grow further. With all these types, one thing always has to be in mind – the purpose. “Understanding that and going about communicating it in the most effective, customer-friendly way possible is the key to writing great copy.”
Very often, businesses rely on freelance websites for their different copywriting needs. At one time, they just might need a press release. At other times, they might be looking for a freelancer that can cover a wider number of copywriting types. That is why all prospective copywriters need to need to build up their strengths in writing for a range of types of content and avenues.