Businesses are always running marketing campaigns. When it comes to writing copy that not only meets the marketing needs of the company but increases conversions, there are many frustrations hiring managers face.

Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers wrote an epic post about charging serious coin for writing sales page and shared some of the frustrations some of today’s thought leaders and marketers felt about hiring freelancers to write copy.

Clients are looking for copywriters with serious skills

Writing copy, writing good copy that will impact a business’ bottom line, up their game in the eyes of their customers and continue to convert isn’t for the faint of heart or the creative writer.

Clients aren’t impressed by pretty writing, yet how many times have you been paid to write copy and the client DOESN’T measure results? They’re throwing a lot of stuff out there, but not taking time afterwards to see what sticks.

This got me thinking. Then there’s the flip side.

Freelancers want clients that get the value of a good copywriter

There’s also the perspective of a copywriter, and the frustrations copywriters have in not only finding clients that understand the benefits of good copy, but are willing to embrace what constitutes effective conversion copywriting.

Clients that think they can write their own copy if they just had the time, don’t understand the value a copywriter brings to the party.

Clients that “like” creative and pretty prose on their websites want the results, but don’t understand why they aren’t getting more traffic and don’t have the sales they expected.

To make it work there needs to be a greater level of understanding in the business purpose of copy and the overall scheme of their marketing strategy. Peep Laja of Conversion XL has a great quote is his article about effective copywriting that captures what many people think.

I dont need to learn copywriting, I write based on how it sounds to me.

A good copywriter is worth their weight in gold

And they’re damn good at seeing the big business picture and marketing strategy that fits the mission. What makes a copywriter a good, hardcore copywriter? (from here on we’ll call them HCCs) Let’s take a look.

HCCs CARE first.

Hardcore copywriters want to know about your business because they care…maybe even more than you. They care about your WHY. They care about your clients. They care about conversions. They care about ROI. HCCs put your customer’s mindset before yours…not that yours doesn’t count, but customer-centric copywriting focuses on how to best talk to the customer, as Marketing Profs puts it, when you’re so close to the material it’s hard to be objective. They research the client first.

They understand the mission of the company. They understand the market. They understand the scope of the project. They understand the industry. They knock down the learning curve.

HCCs talk to client’s customers.

Creating a buyer persona is a start, but it’s only the framework of what comes next.

The only way to get into the heads of customers, to write copy that converts, is to…get in their heads. Guessing doesn’t work. Real conversations do.

Asking the right questions and then LISTENING is the way. Hardcore copywriters survey, interview, pour over case studies, and go into forums and reviews to see what your customers are saying.

HCCs also bring empathy into the picture.

They stand in the shoes of your client to understand their challenges and they don’t offer solutions until they drill down to the real change the client is looking for. (Hint: it’s not to save time or money…it could be to save face in the eyes of the boss, or kick-butt in order to get the bonus that’ll go in their kid’s college fund.)

There are real people on the other side of the messages. People with emotions and challenges. They don’t want to be sold to. They want solutions that will change their life.

HCCs aren’t wordsmiths…they’re word scientists.

They write copy based on data gathered from talking with the client’s customers and using voice-of-customer research. They understand buyer psychology and motivation of the reader. They understand people.

Impulse buying occurs when a consumer experiences a sudden, often powerful and persistent urge to buy something immediately. The impulse to buy is hedonically complex and may stimulate emotional conflict. Also, impulse buying is prone to occur with diminished regard for its consequences. (The Journal of Consumer Research)

HCCs understand the “conversation” that needs to be written in order to engage a reader.

They don’t write for literary approval. They write for the conversations that are happening in people’s heads.

Gregory Ciotti, content strategist at Help Scout, wrote an article for Unbounce that has some good references to scientific research about how copy affects buyer decisions.

In a Carnegie Mellon study, it’s surprising how simply adding one word can increase conversions by 20%! The Difference in copy was:

  • “a $5 fee”
  • “a small $5 fee”

This came down to what people perceived as the opportunity cost … the “what’s in it for me” perspective.

HCCs don’t care if you “LIKE” their copy.

It’s not about LIKE….EVER.

Does it WORK?

The HCC has let go of ego. If a client says they “like” the copy, while that’s nice it doesn’t mean anything when it comes to conversions.

Copy is written to attract, engage and bring a reader to action.

Copy is written to convert people into customers.

If copy isn’t doing that…it’s not working.

To remedy that, copy has to be tested, it has to be optimized. Then it’s rewritten and tested again. The gold is in the testing.

User testing gives you direct input on how real users use your site. You may have designed what you believe is the best user experience in the world, but watching real people interact with your site is often a humbling experience. Because you are not your user. (ConversionXL)

Most clients are familiar with A/B testing.

Multivariate testing splits visitors into viewing groups. One group views the control page while the other group(s) is lead to the treatment page.

The actions of the visitor helps to see which page performs better.

These tests give results over time…the more traffic to the pages the more data is gathered.

Other user tests such as heat maps (CrazyEgg and Hotjar) and eye-tracking gather data on the elements attracting the visitor and the sequence of actions the visitor is taking.

Web analytics give you data on traffic, bounce rate and conversions.

Using all the data provides granular insights that help a copywriter write “better” copy.

HCCs don’t come cheap

They’ve spent years on their craft.

They keep learning. They keep reading. They keep testing.

They understand that there is no right or wrong when it comes to copy, there is only learning what works and what doesn’t.

They learn from the data and they pivot.

Since the dawn of consumerism, people see everything, even copy, as a commodity first.

The perceived value comes AFTER it’s proven to work.

It’s seen on the sites and networks where people get paid $.01 per word or $15/ hour.

My plumber gets $100 per hour…that’s no shit. He cleans my pipes, which keeps my house “flowing” but doesn’t grow my business.

HCCs are there to help grow your business and add to the bottom line of your company.

Just as your attorney protects your business at a rate of $150/hour to upwards of $1000/hour or your accountant at a range of $60/hour (junior accountant) to $500/hour. 

Your HCC will know more about your business, your clients and your sales than any ONE person in your organization (unless you’re a solo entrepreneur) because they take the deep dive into every corner of your company.

Roy Furr has made a great case for copywriters also getting paid royalties. As Roy puts it, as a copywriter you get paid for the work you do (research and writing) and then royalties are your “commission” for the results of your deliverables…how many sales your copy generates.

If a campaign control generates $350,000 in sales and your copywriter writes a campaign treatment that generates $780,000 in sales, that’s a difference of $430,000 (that you didn’t have before.)

Isn’t a royalty of even 1-3% worth it? (That means you pay your copywriter $4,300 to $ $12,900 “commission” for a 122.86% lift in sales.) Now, that’s a perfect world number.

What if you got a 35% lift in sales…from $350,000 to $472,500? Your copywriter would make $1,225 to $3,675. It’s worth it for the lift, don’t you think? And, the piece de resistance…

HCCs don’t give up.

An HCC will fight for conversions and fight for lift. They will test. They will optimize. They will rewrite. And they will work their asses off because they take what they do very seriously.

What is your copy worth to you and your business?

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