Writing Wednesdays is a series on writing tips and tricks that are published on Wednesdays. Not necessarily every Wednesday. But Wednesdays.
Writers! Have you ever received feedback like these from fellow writers, colleagues, bosses, or clients?:
“That does not sound right to me.”
“Not on brand.”
“I don’t like it.”
I have. Mostly from my time working in digital agencies. The most memorable was this quip from a designer colleague: “The intern writes better than you.”
Feedback like these suffer from what Andy Maslen called “the sin of subjectivity“. It’s about me and my opinion (or my brand and what my brand is all about). That’s not helpful if the purpose of the copy is to market or sell something. When it comes to copywriting, the tastes of your fellow writers, colleagues, bosses, clients, and heck — YOU, too — should not be the main consideration.
What truly matters, then? It’s how often your audience does what you want them to do. So, according to Maslen, the one question you should ask when evaluating copy is:
Will it work?
Test to find out. In marketing, one of the most common tests is A/B tests or split tests. These involve sending out two or more variants of copy to segments of your audience, and then seeing which variant performs best. Some examples:
- Which email headline leads to better open rates?
- Does a landing page with a video embedded get more sign ups than one without a video?
- Which call-to-action button copy entices more clicks?
You can also make informed decisions about a copy’s effectiveness by referring to your data and analytics. I used to run my previous company’s Facebook page. According to our Facebook analytics, posts with pictures and stories about the team enjoying themselves at work were ALWAYS more well-received than posts about industry news. So I made sure I included more of such happy posts when planning the Facebook post calendar.
If you run a blog, check out your site analytics and find out:
- Which are the most popular posts?
- What do they have in common? E.g. topic, incorporation of images/videos, length of stories
- Can you create more of such posts since they are more well-received?
Finally, Colin Theriot recommended an iterative approach to fine-tuning copy. He said:
Real copy is: try your best at pitching whatever it is, publish that, then tweak and refine through testing.
It’s not: create a perfect offer as a final, highest converting draft through just trying really hard and knowing exactly what to see on your first try.
So many writers stress trying to create a big winner out of the gate. And I can relate – writing for launches, you have to. But most situations, it’s about getting the offer out there and seeing how the audience takes it. Adjust accordingly based on DATA and not OPINION.
Remember: don’t get too caught up with aesthetics. If your want to market or sell, then you can’t ignore the data or results you get from your audience. Or, as Maslen put it pithily:
Anyone who believes 50% of their job is something to do with art is no help to a client with a quarterly profits target to meet.
Find out what works best. Then iterate, iterate, iterate.