Digital marketing competition is stiff. And, bringing your A-game means strengthening your content. But, with copywriting samples flooding the market, sorting through the good, the bad and the ugly proves more difficult than might be imagined.
Now admittedly, the extremes of stellar copy and horrid content tend to rise (or sink) to our attention. However, do you know why they are great or miss the mark? When reading provided copywriting samples from content writers, do you know which characteristics shout, “Yes, this is good!”?
From ads to blogs to sales letters and beyond, quality copy gets noticed and moves you ahead of the competition. (Though, strategically used poor copy causes this effect as well.) But, how do you recognize writing worthy of reward?
Identifying excellent copywriting through samples requires skill beyond personal preference. While your gut instinct may offer some navigation, this method fails to produce the best results over the long haul.
Knowing compelling content when you read it improves your copy directly or helps you discover hire-worthy copywriters. Fortunately, honing these skills comes through a bit of know-how and a spattering of hands-on learning, not years of training. While experience indeed fine tunes your eye, you can get started today with a basic strategy.
Read on for insight into making your next hunt for solid content writing samples a success…
The Strategy of Identifying Good Copywriting Samples
Recognizing commendable copywriting falls under three general categories. First, writers must possess a grasp of online writing basics. Second, a connection to your company or organization proves key. And, third, engaging the reader proves equally as important.
Check out the details:
1. THE GAME BASICS
Quickly assessing the basics of web copy gives you a first impression of a content writer. Even skimming the text reveals clues as to the quality of copywriting in front of you.
As you are aware, the depth and breadth of content used to market across the Web are deep and wide. Copywritten digital pieces include blogs, ebooks, ads, sales letters, social media posts, press releases and more. And, each type of copy requires a slightly different skill set to effectively produce.
In looking for samples of a copywriter’s work, ask for or find those pieces written in the format you look to create. For example, to be clear, the writing of attention-grabbing ads proves difficult to assess when viewing a blog.
While many copywriters create across platforms, a content services team offers even greater flexibility in regard to quality. Plus, working together, the team approach ensures unity of brand and message through various pieces.
Hits and Misses
Perhaps one of the most obvious elements to look for in writing samples is the basic ability to write. Can the writer form cohesive ideas in clear ways? Does the article or ebook flow and show organized thought processes?
Furthermore, spelling errors and grammar faux pas raise a red flag in any piece. The ability of a writer to compose and edit his or her work proves vital. Typos indicate a lack of attention to detail or rushed work.
And, while by-the-book grammar proves unnecessary, content should be distraction free in this regard. In other words, well-placed sentence fragments and conversational language may help rather than hinder your efforts.
Each piece of content needs key elements to be successful in its unique purposes. For instance, an ad for a sale fails if the date is forgotten in its copy. And, a blog falls short of the mark if a missing backlink to your site or nonexistent opportunity to comment leave the reader clicking on to the next site without taking action.
Knowing the basic elements you are looking for in each type of marketing piece helps them stand out when missing in action. For instance, look for pertinent information and clear language in ads, and call to action buttons and social media links on web pages.
Finally, a simple understanding of SEO tactics informs your sight and questions in this regard. While SEO proves harder to assess for the untrained eye, you may be able to pick up on a lack of keywords or the overstuffing of keywords. Both of these cases, reveal ineffective content.
2. CONNECTION WITH YOU
A copywriter spins copy which represents you and your company or organization. Therefore, the words, graphics and more should positively and cohesively reflect who you are and what you stand for.
In the writing samples, do you recognize your voice? Can the writer speak in your language? For instance, medical authority papers for professionals require different language than blogs for a toy company. While this may seem obvious, writing in both languages may (or may not) require a change in writer.
Knowing the tone of your company and site helps identify quality copy which fits your company’s brand. Do you prefer a professional or conversational voice? Do you desire a spunky and fun vibe or a serious take on the subjects at hand?
Remember, your brand and audience dictate this voice and tone. And, speaking in the language which best represents both builds authority and trust. Previewing a variety of content samples by one author helps determine his or her flexibility with voice and the ability to speak the language of your audience. Plus, if you are looking for a specific tone, ask to see samples which better reflect your preferences.
Game Plan: Mission, Vision, Values
Voice and tone help establish your brand. But, the mission, vision and values of the company do as well. Each piece of content should stay true to these components. For instance, a blog on the worthiness of fur coats misses the mark on the PETA site.
While this example is extreme, subtle side steps away from your values confuse readers. Writing samples prove difficult to assess in this regard. Fortunately, some samples may list a company or type of company for which the piece was originally created.
Further understanding of how a writer addresses these components comes through conversation. Keep in mind that reviewing content samples is a mere step in determining the worth of a copywriter to your marketing campaign.
Entertaining the Crowd
Does the content grab your attention? Do you find yourself wanting to read more? If you are not interested, likely your readers will not be either. Look for creative writing which holds your interest and is easy to understand.
Shirley Polykoff of Clairol fame describes good content this way, “Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.” As you review copywriting samples, imagine the dialogue with the reader. Is it natural? Can you visualize your audience joining the chatter?
Finally, looking for copy which persuasively emphasizes benefits over features ups the game. Consumers want to know how a product or service improves their lives. Content which offers this information connects their needs to solutions and them to you. In other words, avoid self-promotional content.
Is there a goal listed for the sample? How well did the writer fill it? Objectives relate to drawing traffic, informing readers, promoting an event and more. In essence, it is the call to action (CTA) a company desires to make clear through the piece.
For instance, most ads intend to promote an event, product or service. Does the sample do so? A blog may lead readers to choose an ebook download for more information. The landing page encourages a click for more information. Can you identify the CTA in the samples you review?
Great writing falls flat if it does not meet the goals and objectives laid out. While this aspect of a sample may prove more difficult to assess, whether the central focus of a piece is clear or not provides a clue. And, in samples given to you directly by a writer, you can ask the intended direction of the copy.
A love for the work in any field carries people a long way in terms of motivation and productivity. This passion births vision and creativity. In writing, this leads to successful content campaigns over the long haul.
The heart of a writer comes through on the page. Do you sense a passion for the work across topics as you read the samples? Does the writer seem to care about the content? The audience? Do each of the samples sound the same (i.e. same format and outline, different topic)? Or, does each piece offer something fresh?
Hints of passion within a content sample are worth exploring further. In fact, finding a writer with a passion for writing content proves one of the greatest assets to your marketing campaign.
3. CONNECTION WITH THE READER
Ultimately, engaging the reader in your content breeds a sense of team loyalty. Without the ability to draw and persuade those skimming the Web, copy loses the heart of its purpose.
Cheering for the Reader
Author George Gribbin stated, “A copywriter should have ‘an understanding of people, an insight into them, a sympathy toward them.” In other words, the reader should be valued by the writer. And, this worth should be clear be in the content.
How does a writer value the audience through the words he or she chooses? Look for content which is relevant to the readers and relates to their struggles. Does the content provide useful information or an answer to a problem? Are complex ideas broken down in understandable terms? Or, do pat, simplified solutions give way to self-promotional talk?
Name of the Game
“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy,” reminds advertising tycoon, David Ogilvy “It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money…”
Pay attention to the headlines of sample works to understand a writer’s grasp of the importance of this copy element. Furthermore, the ability to craft titles with SEO, the reader and the endgame in mind requires skill. Noting the level of expertise a writer wields in this regard affects your bottom line.
Keep Your Eye on the …
Connecting with the reader also considers the look of a given piece of content. And, yes, text-heavy formats such as blogs and ebooks are included. If the layout of a web page, blog or social media post appears stale or uninteresting, users click away.
It is true that images and pictures boldly appeal to human beings. In digital marketing, they prove powerful in captivating and engaging consumers. So, in assessing content samples, be sure to notice the use and placement of graphics, images, infographics and the like.
Outside the Penalty Box
Rosser Reeves, the pioneer of television advertising claimed,“You must make the product interesting, not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in the U.S. today don’t yet understand.” Finding content written from a different angle or an unusual perspective makes the product stand out in new ways.
Furthermore, content extends beyond the written word. Videos, podcasts or other eye-catchers draw traffic left untapped by traditional copy. In reviewing content samples, add these other formats to the list as well.
Winning the Game
Copywriting samples reveal the skills and heart of the writer or writing team behind them. Learning to uncover these secrets hidden amid the copy benefits you. Specifically, recognizing compelling writing on the web improves your content by giving you the opportunity to:
- Change up some of your less than stellar content in-house.
- Identify a hire-worthy copywriter through his or her work.
By making adjustments or overhauls to your content through an in-house or hired content writer, you increase traffic and drive leads to the finish line. In other words, you boost your worth over the competition and gain the advantage.
If you are in the market for a copywriting service team, grab your free consultation by contacting us, check out our copywriting samples and gab with us about it. Our expertise is to give you a leg up on the competition.
P.S. Leave a comment to share what qualities you look for in good content. And, share this blog post if you find it useful. I would appreciate it!