Before you start your next big copywriting project, get back to basics. What are you selling? Who wants to buy? And are they actually buying?
The other day my mum called to ask for a referral to a copywriter. (Before you ask, no she couldn’t hire me – a little thing called conflict of interest.) She’s part of an NGO community centre that’s applying for funding to help them build their membership base. After a better online enrolment system, their first thought was better website copy.
“Alarm bells started ringing.”
A copywriter is a brilliant investment for most businesses at one time or another. But you need to know what you want and what you need first. And that’s why you need to do some background work first or hand it over to an experienced content strategist who can make recommendations for next steps.
While we were talking, I checked out the community centre’s website and social media. Here were my immediate findings:
- The site isn’t mobile-optimised. Pinch and zoom forever. Nope.
- Socials came across as cliquey rather than open and inviting.
A copywriter can help, sure, but there were fundamental things the community centre needs to work on first. They need to get back to basics and work out what they are and what they want to be.
So how do you identify the kind of project you need to be running?
Go back to basics
- Do you know what you’re selling?
What you’re selling might not be what your customers are buying. Are you selling a cookbook or a healthy lifestyle? An online bookkeeping tool or financial control? Yes, putting it that simplistically sounds crap, but getting your value proposition right is vital to reaching and connecting with your audience.
- Do you know who your audience is?
If you haven’t defined your audience, you might find yourself spending all your time focusing on people who don’t need or want what you’re selling. It could be your family and friends, or people who are equally passionate about your field. These people aren’t your customers.
- Is your site usable?
According to StatCounter, 39% of Australian web browsing was on a mobile in May 2020 (and it was up at 47% in December and January). So if you’re not mobile-optimised, you’re losing your audience. Google punishes you for it in search rankings too, by the way, so get on it. It’s 2020. Mobile optimisation should be standard.
Then get to know what’s going on
Dig into the data. If you don’t have data, rectify that immediately!
Google Analytics is your friend, but even simpler tools that come integrated with your web platform may be good enough. You want to know things like:
- Who’s visiting your site?
- Where are they?
- How do they find you?
- What day and time do they visit?
- What pages?
- What’s their path through your site from entry to successful purchase?
- Where do they exit your site?
Identify the trends. Follow the paths. Find the stumbling blocks. Work out what’s working and why. And what’s not and why not.
Dig into your social media data too to see what types of posts resonate best. What days work? What times? What themes? Which hashtags?
Finally, work out what you need to achieve
Once you’ve got to know what’s what, you can start working out what a successful project means. That generally boils down to a dollar value, but there are a few ways to get there.
- Do you need more customers? If so, what percentage of your site visitors buy? If it’s high, do you need more visitors? If it’s low, is there a problem with your offering or your site?
- Do you need customers to buy more per purchase? Do you want them opting for gift-wrapping or express shipping, or do you want them adding more to their carts? For service-based businesses, this might be a question of paying by credit card vs bank account, or needing them to sign on for higher-value services or package?
- Do you need customers to buy more often? And how often are we talking? Have you worked out your current customer lifetime dollar value and your ideal?
When you know all this, only then are you ready to kick off your next project.
And if you’re a freelancer…
If you’ve had a client reach out and they haven’t done the groundwork, there’s a great opportunity here for you pitch something exciting.
Your gut will tell you what they need, but do a bit of background research into their business and competitors to start. Then catch up for a coffee to find out what’s really going on with their business before pulling together your proposal.
When you’ve got a client who’s not sure what the problem is, you’re in a fantastic position to provide more value than they ever dreamed while building a project you can’t wait to dig your teeth into.