You create first class content for your website or your clients. Your writing is smart, your analysis is good, you even have a compellingly readable style. Your words look great on the page and make your clients feel warm and fuzzy!
But does it matter?
According to emarketer, the percentage of US companies that will adopt blogs for marketing purposes will rise to 43% in 2012, up from 34% in 2010. The use of blogs has been steadily increasing throughout many industries, with a forecast for adoption throughout media companies, retailers, marketers, and broader businesses such as B2B firms, academic institutions and government agencies. While this data is US specific, we have seen blog adoption throughout most industries in various countries.
With marketing and media shifting, the mentality has quickly changed from “tell me” to “show me”. Being a great copyrighter isn’t much by itself, not anymore. If you want to make it in the industry it doesn’t matter how great your writing is, you need to be able to show how and why you’ve made it a success. If you can’t measure it, you’re behind the competition.
The copywriters that make it in this world are the ones that can show why they’re the best. They apply data to their craft, and this combination will win damn near every time.
The Modern Copywriter
Great copywriting is no longer about who’s worked for the biggest media company or advertising agency. What makes copywriting great is the facts. Your content has improved conversions on a client’s website by 62%. You grew a website’s subscription base from 1542 to 12,194 over the past 8 months. When it comes to business, numbers always speak loudly, everything else is just a means to an end. If you provide data and prove success you’ll take people’s attention.
Copywriting isn’t what it used to be, the difference between then and now is measurability. It’s easy to get numbers to back your words, and you should do this if you want to be successful in the industry.
Here are a few reasons why data-driven copywriters are going to be successful, and those who ignore it will quickly become irrelevant.
1. Show me the data!
What may seem like common knowledge to some isn’t to most. If you consider copywriting applicants, how many pair numbers with their works as proof? Next to none. In fact, even though pieces of work may have been quite successful, they still don’t think to use them.
A lot of people have their portfolio, digital or otherwise, comprised of blog posts, articles, email campaigns, websites or anything else they wrote. This is great, but is this really going to fly with top agencies? How many portfolios do you think they sift through? What are you doing to make yours standout? This is where success metrics come into play – these are a must when showing work samples. Here are a few different things you should be looking at:
– Viral ability – is your content that good? How many Likes or Tweets has it gotten? Over what time period? What’s the estimated total exposure?
– Views – how many has it gotten since being published? If there’s a good data sample, what are the average views per month? Per day? Show something with consistency.
– Comments – do you have them? This is a blog, what sort of engagement is there? Is this a top piece of content?
– Conversions – have there been any? Are there calls to action in the content, why/why not? Are you engaging? How many conversions per month has this piece created?
– Search rankings – are people referring to this article? Traffic referrals? How about keywords, is this article ranking? Backlinks?
– Anything that’s relevant to the client or potential employer
If you don’t have access to any sort of analytic data on the content you’re creating, you need to get access. By seeing what’s working and what isn’t, you can get a strategic feel for improvement, something that most business people see as important. Without data there are very few ways to measure goal progression, and let’s face it, every business has goals.
Good business sense says that you share information with sources that you can trust. If you’re not at that level, there’s something that needs work.
2. Data? Where’s the measurement?
Don’t over analyze, nothing is ever 100% certain. Marketing basically comes down to doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Of course in order to do that, you need measurement.
Measurement is so applicable to copywriting, and it’s easy to do. If you’re copywriting as a profession, do you really think that’s where the line is drawn? Top copywriters are consultants, they test and tweak, constantly improving and getting results.
So how about you? Have you encouraged clients or managers to explore split testing of landing pages? How about headlines and copy approaches? Calls to action? If these are things you aren’t presently doing, you should be.
3. Copyrighting bonuses – they’re here!
Measurement has become such a big part of copywriting that journalists are being rewarded for measured success. Corporations are a little behind on this initiative, but as more businesses progress with process integration, many will wake up and realize that every company is a media company.
It’s true, the majority are still struggling with even the most basic aspects of analytics, but there’s hope! As measurement and strategy progress, those who are producing successful content will leap to the front of the pack. Hard efforts will be realized, mediocrity will be weeded out.
Oh freelancers, we haven’t forgotten about you! Do you want to attract top paying clientele? Do you want to show value to existing clients? Show that your writing works!
Still don’t know how to measure it? Be prepared to lose business to those who do.
4. Be all that you can be
Position yourself as someone running a business. You want to know about operations – expenses, ROI, product/service valuations. You want to measure everything.
If you’re presently in a position and you’re not already active with measurement, you should get involved. Sure, it could be easier said than done, but going the extra mile to track success adds value. Not only in terms of your personal productivity, but perhaps by increasing efficiency in other ways. Set a benchmark, note areas of scientific improvement – become accountable!
So your numbers aren’t the best, that’s the beauty of data, there’s always something better than something else! And hey, maybe your page views are poor but your conversion rate is stacked. Get involved with metrics, understand what’s happening and develop a plan for improvement.
5. The copy analyst
It’s not enough to simply be a copywriter anymore, given 21st century tech, you’re expecting to be more and do more – you need to become an analyst.
The days of “this might be cool” are done. Well, sort of. If you can make a business case out of something it’s much more likely to succeed. You can refer to trends and past successes; you can meet demand head on and leverage interest. Forget predictions, nothing is over 100%, but you can make fairly accurate estimations based on data. You can make decisions. Will you achieve your goal? Maybe. But with measurement you can define weakness and make adjustments accordingly. If you try, you’re setting yourself apart from most.
Copywriters should be able to analyze a business and develop strategic content, period. Sure, maybe you charge more; maybe you have to spend a little more time, but that’s the price that needs to be paid.
After all, when it comes down to it, you’re the best. And people will love you for it.