Your perfect project: What kind should it be?

Not sure what kind of project you need? Let’s explore acquisition, conversion, engagement, retention and re-activation projects.

So you’ve covered the basics and are ready to get stuck in with a copywriting project. But wait – you still need to work out what you want to achieve.

There are five broad kinds of projects you can dig your teeth into: acquisition, conversion, engagement, retention and re-activation.

What’s the difference?

It all comes down to which point in the customer lifecycle you want to target.

  • Acquisition: Grabbing the attention of potential customers who may or may not know about your business.
  • Conversion: The next step in acquisition – getting them to sign up or buy.
  • Engagement: Growing loyalty to keep existing customers using your services or buying from you.
  • Retention: Getting in before your customers churn and head to your competition.
  • Re-acquisition: Coaxing past customers back to your business.

What you focus on will depend on a number of things. But, in the end, it all comes down to dollars. It’s generally easier (and therefore cheaper) to sell to an existing customer than a new one. And trying to sell to a customer in a competitor’s ecosystem is even harder because your competitor is working hard to keep them there.

So let’s dive a bit deeper into these kinds of projects, and the forms they can take.


Depending on what stage your business is at, your acquisition project might focus on:

  • Advertising: Good old-fashioned advertising is acquisition through and through. Where, when and how you advertise is up to you. It could be anything from TV to radio, billboards to buses, or online advertising (which includes social media and search engine marketing).
  • SEO: Optimising your website to build your Google rankings and (ideally) ranking number one for certain keywords. Before starting an SEO (search engine optimisation) project, you’ll need to research what customers are looking for and the words they use to find it. Keep in mind that customers in other countries may use different terms, so you’ll need to ensure your website is optimised for them as well.

    Back in the day (around 2005) keyword stuffing was the in thing. But these days Google will penalise you for it. The main trick is to know your customers and write for them.

    Good web hosting platforms generally take care of the technical parts of SEO. But you also need to consider things likeaccessibility, navigation, and strategic link building.

    It’s worth working with a specialist SEO copywriter for this kind of project. Of course, every man and his dog calls themselves an SEO expert these days so ask them to show you how they’ve improved the rankings of other sites before you get started.


Customers coming to your site but not clicking that all-important “Buy” button? Then you need a conversion project. But what kind? To make that decision you’ll need to dig into your analytics or do some user research.

  • Messaging: A messaging project looks at your target customers, your value propositions and how you’re framing your products or services to ensure there’s a match. Sometimes you need more customer research, and sometimes you just need a fresh pair of eyes to help you out.

    Many businesses fall into the “We’re so great!” trap. They focus on the features of their products or services rather than the benefits. The features are what you provide, while the benefits are what your customers pay for As my wonderful proofreader, Bill Harper, put it “People don’t buy a drill because they want a drill. They buy a drill because they want to make a hole.”

    It’s not always easy to distinguish the difference – even the best of us sometimes fall into the features trap.
  • Customer journey: A customer journey project focuses on the path customers take from site entry to purchase completion. Here, you’re looking at the exit points – where do customers give up and leave? You could have confusing content, mismatched messaging, or long and frustrating signup or checkout forms.

    The aim is to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy while ensuring they still have all the information they need before they do.


Building loyalty, increasing usage and encouraging repeat purchasing is vital for ensuring ongoing revenue. There are a few ways you can go here:

  • Social media: Building your social media presence can be a great way to stay in touch with your customers and stay abreast of what they want and need. Your social media can focus on customer service, building loyalty, or a combination of the two.
  • Education: Helping customers use your products for better outcomes is a great way to encourage ongoing membership or repeat purchasing. Great examples of this are Canva’s Design School and Mailchimp’s resources.
  • Product development: With customer insights and analytics, you can improve your existing services or develop new ones. While it’s not part of a copywriter’s realm, a content strategist can help you define the right solution for your business.


Retention projects are all about keeping your customers engaged and capturing them before they move on. To start, you need to work out what their pain points are. Is your offering a luxury they can no longer afford? Has your competition tempted them? Or has a bad experience broken their loyalty?

A great way to find out this information (and how they feel about your offering in general) is with a customer survey. Incentives (like a one-off discount) cost money but encourage participation and help you find the answers you need.

To build a good retention project, combine the best aspects of your acquisition, conversion and engagement projects. Nail your brand awareness, refine your value propositions, and help customers get more from your services or their purchases.

Retention projects often also include special offers or discounts. These can work, but be aware they’re a short-term solution.


Just because your customers have moved on doesn’t mean they’ll never come back.

Re-acquisition projects are a bit different to the other project types. The customers already know who you are, they’re not actively looking for your services, and you have limited ways to communicate with them. Getting in front of them with the right message in the right place at the right time (and knowing when to stop) is vital.

If you still have permission to email them, a personalised “We miss you” email (perhaps with a special offer) might be enough to bring them back. If not, a retargeting ad campaign may be the way to go.

But the perfect project is never just one thing

No matter which type of project you’re working on, you’ll likely see some improvements across your other customer segments too. But focusing your efforts is key to setting goals and tracking success.

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