Steven Kent has been a man of words for more than a decade, helping clients from dynamic start-ups to global brands like Microsoft, Intel and Sitecore. Taking us behind the scenes of content production, Steven shares with OD how copywriting is so much more beyond conversions and the key points of selling your campaign to success.
With such diverse ways of communication like images and videos, why do you think copywriting still matters?
As long as humans use words to communicate, copywriting matters. Humans are still motivated by the seven sins – it’s still a copywriter’s job to tap into one or more of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath or sloth.
How has copy writing evolved over the years?
The environment definitely has changed. Target audiences are looking at small screens – instead of newspapers. They’re influenced by user reviews – instead of reading a supposed expert’s critique. Copywriters have piles of qualitative and quantitative data to test and analyse – instead of having to wait until a campaign has run its course.
Which channel do you think copywriting performs the best on?
Email has the biggest ROI by far. As long as you send to the right people…
What drives conversion in copywriting
How important do you think copywriting is when it comes to conversion?
A landing page with brilliant copy and basic design will always convert better than a landing page with brilliant design and basic copy. Unless you’re Apple, Nike, Ferrari, for 99% of businesses, copy is your sales executive. By all means, have a stylish showroom with a fancy revolving door for visitors to enter through, but you still need a sales executive to make the sale.
Any other success measurements/KPIs for copywriting except for conversion?
Conversion on its own should never be the measure of success. Let’s say you’ve an eCommerce website, selling Armani jeans at £100 a pop, with the conversion rate at 2%. Sell those jeans for £10 and you’ll soon see more than 2 out of every 100 visitors buying. But at what cost to your bottom line?
Any copywriting KPI should always be based on ‘Will this KPI grow the business?’ Of course, how you define growth depends on your business model. If you’re selling Armani jeans, measure copywriting KPIs in terms of revenue increases. If you’re a charity relying on donations, copywriting KPIs should be around increasing the amount of donations coming in.
“A landing page with brilliant copy and basic design will always convert better than a landing page with brilliant design and basic copy. ”
Writing to inspire
Any good copywriting examples out there?
Timothy Taylor Brewery : Perfectly pitched tone of voice, with quirky storytelling that makes you think. Jon Buchan : Direct mail with humour – very hard to pull off (also very hard to find clients brave enough to go along with it). Firebox: Ecommerce product descriptions like no other.
Where do you normally source inspirations for creative ideas?
I have a fat swipe file, gathered over 10+ years of flicking through newspapers, magazines, and online. I rip out (or screengrab) ads that appeal and split them into industries and styles. Mostly I don’t know the impact of the ads, but for sparking ideas when you’re facing the dreaded blank page, building your own swipe file is the way to go.
Any great copywriters are inspiring to you?
Drayton Bird, Andy Maslen, Dave Trott, Joanna Wiebe, Henneke Duistermaat, Bob Bly, Joseph Sugarman, John Caples all stand out. Decades of experience, no corporate BS, and always entertaining.
Sharpen your tools
Can you recommend some good tutorial channels or reading materials for improving one’s copywriting? or any certificates for career seekers to get such as for SEO writing?
The best way to improve is by testing your copy on real audiences. Whether you do it for a client, an affiliate, or by creating your own campaign for a product and investing in some PPC ads. If you prefer theory over practical, read up on the names I mention above. They all have books, newsletters, blogs, or courses. Sign up and absorb the knowledge. If you feel you need a certificate, ConversionXL leads the way on up-to-date, practical courses. But really, if you want a career in copywriting you need to show results and/or a portfolio.
“The best way to improve is by testing your copy on real audiences. ”
Last but not least, if you drop a message to OD’s members for your upcoming talk, what would that be?
OD is great, and so are the people who attend. So if you miss out it’ll be your worst mistake ever. Ok, maybe not worst ever. So how about I guarantee plenty of practical ideas and examples – the sort of stuff that works across industries. You can fire questions at me and I’ll answer as many as I can. Then we’ll finish by having a chat and a drink together.
Interview by Junjie Dou
Steven is giving a speech on strategies of conversion writing on Wednesday, Oct 30 2019, secure your place for his upcoming OD talk here.
You’ll learn how to:
– Define the best conversion metric for your copywriting
– Choose the right conversion copywriting formula for your project
– Brief designers on conversion copywriting principles
– Uncover the voice of your audience to boost conversions
– Apply best practices for buttons, fonts and other conversion elements
– Develop a scientific approach for testing and optimising your copy