What Is Copywriting?

Definition & Examples of Copywriting


 Getty Images / pixdeluxe

Copywriting is the craft of writing persuasive messages that prompt people to take action.

Learn more about copywriting, how it works, and the different types that exist.

What Is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the skill (as well as the field of work) of writing sales promotions and other marketing materials for products, services, fundraising campaigns, and more. The point of it is to persuade people to take action, whether it's buying something, entering an email address, donating money, or clicking a button.

When it comes to marketing and advertising your business, copywriting is an important skill to have.

Copywriting is not about legal trademarks. Protecting one’s inventions or creative works is a copyright, which is completely different.

How Copywriting Works

Copywriting is much different than typical writing, such as writing an article, blog post, or other pieces of content. Effective copywriting works to drive responses and increase purchases.

Here, we'll look at five of the components of effective copywriting using a cat product to illustrate the points.

Addresses a Specific Audience

If you’re promoting a product that provides fresh water to cats around the clock, the copywriting must speak to cat owners. In a one-on-one “conversation,” the copy needs to explain how the product solves the cat owner’s desire to provide fresh, healthy water.

If outsourcing your copy, work with a writer who has experience in your market, understands their wants, needs, desires, and knows their type of language or jargon.

Offers a Unique Benefit or Promise

Cat owners have thousands of product options to consider, so the copywriting must differentiate this cat-water product from any others available. What makes this the best solution (the easiest, safest, healthiest, etc.)?

Many people refer to this as your USP or unique selling proposition. What makes you different from every other me-too product or service out there?

Gives Strong Proof

To make sure cat owners don’t hesitate or worry that the product is not going to live up to its promises, it’s best to provide specific proof that the product works, such as customer testimonials, test results compared to other cat-water products, or a marketing video on how easy it is to use.

Guides the Audience to a Call to Action

If you’re trying to get cat owners to watch a demo of this brilliant water-dispensing invention, the copywriting will need to clearly guide them with a call to action, which could be something like, "watch this video to see how simple it is." In addition, the copywriting should offer something special that makes the cat owner want to act now: “Save $25 if you order by XX date.”

Telling people exactly what they need to do next and why they should do it right now are two things every marketing piece you create should include. Offering bonuses, discounts, incentives and most importantly a reason why they should act now rather than procrastinate are extremely effective.

Tested and Tweaked Over Time to Improve the Results

A few simple copy changes can boost response by 10%, 20%, or even 150%, so it pays to test different messages and offers.

It's important to track everything to understand what's working and what's not. In addition, constantly test to see if you can improve the results you're already getting.

The rate a copywriter charges is usually much higher than a regular writer because copywriters are specifically trained to compose copy that sells.

Types of Copywriting

You know that TV commercial you just watched before the evening news? A copywriter wrote the script for that commercial.

How about the brochures you picked up at the local home and garden show? Yes, copywriters wrote those too.

And the content on that website you just visited? One or more copywriters likely wrote the content on every single page of that site.

These are examples of broadcast, print, and online copywriting.

Traditionally, before the days of the Internet, copywriting was needed for about a dozen different types of marketing materials, including direct mail packages, postcards, newspaper and magazine ads, TV and radio commercials, brochures, posters, coupons, sell sheets (for sales reps to carry), and products.

Today, the world of copywriting has exploded online as a critical component of hundreds of types of marketing tools and tactics, such as websites, email copy, online articles, social media posts, blogs, online ads, videos, webinar presentations, and so on.

A marketing campaign for just one single product may require all of these types of copywriting and many more, depending on the type of product:

  • Product sales page online (think LL Bean or Amazon product descriptions)
  • The product’s packaging/label
  • Product ads in Google, Facebook ads and other popular online venues
  • Product ads in print magazines
  • Brochures to be handed out at a trade show
  • Product demo video(s)
  • A white paper or special report on a problem the product solves
  • Emails promoting the product
  • Case studies that explain how customers benefit from the product
  • Product specification sheets and how-to-use web pages
  • Articles and blog posts about the product
  • Testimonials and customer stories
  • Sales letters for direct mail and/or online web pages

Key Takeaways

  • Copywriting is the craft and field of writing persuasive messages that inspire people to take action.
  • It varies from other types of writing, such as writing for articles, blogs, or books.
  • Effective copywriting addresses a specific audience, offers a unique benefit and strong proof for what is being sold, and ultimately guides the reader to take action.
  • Copywriting is needed in most businesses for marketing materials for products, services, fundraising campaigns, and more.