Copywriting 101: Basics for Beginners

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Writing comes in many forms. But, in the world of online marketing, there’s only one form that you need to familiarize yourself with: copywriting. Admittedly, it’s a tough skill to master, but it’s crucial to the success of your business if you’re planning to entice customers.

So, where do you start? We’re here to break down the basics for all the beginners out there. We’ve all got to start somewhere!

What is Copywriting?

Let’s start with the very essence of copywriting. Copywriting is the art of writing for promotional material, like advertisements or marketing.



A copywriter’s job is to encourage some kind of action. Some misconstrue copywriting to be the practice of merely selling services, but it’s more than that. Do you want a snappy Instagram caption? Maybe your business wants more email captures. A copywriter can help you accomplish a multitude of goals.

Why is Good Copywriting Important?

We all want people knocking on our door, right? Regardless of which action you’d like readers to take, solid copywriting can bring you that much closer to that conversion.

But, copywriters have their work cut out for them. Did you know that in 2007, it was reported that people see an average of 5000 ads each day? If you look at the explosion of marketing and advertising in recent years, it’s hard to imagine that number decreasing.

As you can imagine, with the soaring number of daily advertisements, copywriters need to have their work stand out. Not only are they competing with thousands of other promotions, but people’s attention isn’t exactly as high as we’d like. So, copy needs to grab attention and fast.

Additionally, great copywriting is a large piece of marketing in general. If you want those leads coming in, copywriting needs to be a part of your content marketing system. While systems vary from company to company, their main goal is to layout your marketing goals and how you plan to achieve them. Successful copywriting plays a large role in that.

Where You’ll Find Copywriting

As we mentioned earlier, copywriting can be found in many places. Advertisements, brochures and CTAs are often the examples that first pop into mind. But, you can also find copywriting here:

– direct/email marketing campaigns
– scripts for videos and podcasts
– gated content like whitepapers and case studies
– blog content
– social media copy and captions

Awesome Copywriting Examples

Look at Captain Obvious for hotels.com. You’ve no doubt seen the commercials. A person on vacation booked a hotel last minute and now they’re stuck with some sort of problem. Enter Captain Obvious to provide his hilarious two cents on their situation, often prompting a “Thanks, Captain Obvious.”

The campaign established a voice, separated their brand from others, and addressed customer pain points. Plus, the little character certainly helped brand recognition.



Apple is another top-notch example. Their advertisements and brand voice have often been cited as some of the best in the industry. It’s not hard to see why either. Their ads are short, memorable, and persuasive. Not to mention, the repetition in their ads often makes it easier for consumers to associate copy with their brand.

Takeaway Tips

To quickly bounce back to our initial point, copywriting can be tough. The writing needs to be informative, catchy, and enticing, all without sounding too much like a salesman. Smart copy needs to walk a fine line. However, with the right guidance and a few handy tips, almost anyone can get their foot in the door.

Address Customer Pain Points

Neil Gordon says the most important thing a copywriter should have is an understanding of their audience’s problems. “People click on things, open things, and ultimately buy things because they want an end to the pain that they’re in around that problem,” he said. “The success of your copywriting, as well as your marketing as a whole, will be based on how successfully you convince others you can help them out of their pain.”

He went on to say that there’s a simple way businesses can hone in on the most persuasive copy for their target audience. “Send out a single question to 10 or 20 of your favorite customers/clients,” he said. “Ask questions like ‘Which problem motivated you to sign up for our products/services?’ Then provide a multiple choice of 5-7 options as to what might be their top problem with a fill-in-the-blank option. Once you have a winner, write copy that starts with, ‘If you’re struggling with (insert most popular choice from the survey), then you’re not alone…’”

Write Like Your Audience is With You

Dion McInnis, founder of Dion McInnis Initiatives says you should copywrite as if the person you’re writing to is sitting across from you. “What does that mean? Know their interests, lifestyle and concerns; listen to them, pay attention to them and what they react to, and what motivates them,” he said.

“Of course, you can’t really sit individually with each reader. But, through focused research, you can learn about your intended audience,” he added. Research allows you to dive into the concerns and issues that speak directly to them. “Once you truly understand your audience, you can write to their hearts and minds, instead of only about yourself or your business.”

He finished with, “Think about a lunch meeting with your friend. Do they want you doing all the talking and not show interest in their lives? Nope. Neither do your readers.”

PAS and AIDA

Elizabeth McCumber, a content strategist for Wpromote believes you should start with a formula. There are two common formulas copywriters should follow: PAS (problem, agitation, solution) and AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). These strategies “help you keep your audience’s needs at the heart of your message, which is the most important component of effective copywriting.”



“Use your audience’s own words,” she added. “How would they articulate their problem? Would they say they need a comprehensive customer relationship management system? Or rather, do they want a central place to track and manage leads? What do they call themselves? Would they identify as entrepreneurs or small business owners? Speak to them in their language and don’t complicate what can and should be simple.”

Final Thoughts

Copywriting is a skill almost anyone can learn but few can truly master. Just like with anything in life, though, that shouldn’t deter you from testing the waters. Focus on building a solid foundation for your copywriting. Incorporate valuable formulas, learn about your customers, and speak their language in your writing.

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