Five Must-Know Facts About
Web-Copy Success

Today I was struck by the number of ezines in my mailbox talking about the changing face of online marketing …

One talked about preparing for the “future of search.”

Another invited me to a fascinating webinar about improving ROI through mobile media.

And still another provided new insights into boosting email open rates by sending messages overnight.

All of these grabbed my attention, because I’m a web copywriter and I need to know what’s working online to drive sales and grow businesses.

Clients count on us web writers to know these things.

If you’re a student of what works on the web, you may become overwhelmed by the idea that we’re all learning new things … not just every day, but practically every hour.

That’s because the landscape changes nearly every minute!

For example, today, email subject lines work best when you follow “this” set of guidelines. Tomorrow? Something else entirely.

So to keep up, I’ve found it useful to subscribe to at least a handful of online media ezines, two or three print publications, and a few websites that post new data constantly.

Case studies, tips, guidelines, reports, data, white papers, and so on … try to read and retain key facts from these materials every day. It’s not always easy for a budding geek like me – but it’s worth it.

Why? Because if you want to be a successful web copywriter, change comes with the territory.

The good news is – staying on top of these changes can be exciting and fun … and it shows dedication to your craft. So, as you embrace these changes and work with them, keep these five facts in mind to help you stay sane:

  1. Everyone – even seasoned copywriters and online media experts – is learning, adapting, and learning again on a daily basis.

    Don’t worry about knowing all the answers when you work with a web client. I’ve come to realize that NO ONE knows all the answers.

    I recently attended a webinar where the presenter admitted his team had failed. They followed all the best practices to optimize a client’s subscription landing page, and it bombed. For that particular client, with its unique offering and audience, the landing page performed better when it was pared down to a couple of sentences and an order button. Barely any persuasive copy at all! Go figure.

    It just goes to show that rules are sometimes meant to be broken, and that guidelines are a great starting point but are not necessarily the gospel. Testing brings you and your clients the real answers as to what works for them.

    If possible, encourage your client to test headlines, email subject lines, landing page copy, and other elements that can lift response.

  2. You’re never “done” with your understanding of what works online (because the minute you grasp a concept, it may shift).

    Think back about two years ago. Was Twitter a big deal back then? I don’t believe so.

    Now it’s all the rage, and many marketers swear by it. It may be THE number one coolest new tool for getting your name out there. But if you’re not ready to dive into it, just wait – something equally powerful will come along in a while.

    Every day, week, month and year, marketers discover new tools and platforms that attract customers and increase sales. For example, LinkedIn just announced its own advertising platform. Someone will need to write those ads, yes?

    Change means you’ll always have opportunities to write compelling content for those tools.

  3. It’s good to be a geek! Keep studying and applying new online marketing ideas EVERY DAY to really let them sink in.

    Carve out a part of every day to absorb information about web copywriting. It will all sink in and be very useful when you’re writing for your clients.

    And don’t fear the geeky part of your learning, such as keyword analysis, hit reports, or bounce rates. The more you read about these terms and understand what they mean to your work, the better copywriter and savvy consultant you’ll be for your clients and their web programmers.

    You can turn to a number of wonderful resources to accelerate your web copywriting skills, including AWAI’s library of web-specific programs.

  4. Your clients can’t possibly keep up with all of this while running their businesses … so you get to be their valued hero.

    Many companies, even the big guys, aren’t necessarily on top of what’s working online. It’s almost shocking to see that some well-known companies and mid-size business-to-business organizations do not follow even the most basic standards of content that will appeal to their customers. There’s still a lot of corporate “we, we” out there: “We do this … we do that … we’ve been around since 1895.”

    There’s reassurance in this. It means there’s still an infinite need for web copywriters who understand customer-focused, direct-response content written for the short attention-span of online shoppers.

    You’ll provide enormous value to clients by being a skilled web copywriter and daily trend-watcher.

  5. You need to take a methodical approach to all of this, or you’ll go mad and never get anything done!

    It’s easy to get sucked into the information-overload syndrome, so be deliberate with your learning and in how you capture insights that help you guide clients through the maze. Here are three ways to do this:

    • Subscribe to just a few key ezines or e-newsletters at any time and try to skim the information all at once, after you’ve focused on projects and marketing yourself. This e-letter, Wealthy Web Writer, is critical. You can also try online media sites that offer free information via email and webinars, such as
    • Set up a system for capturing the main tips and ideas you discover. You may want to keep Word docs in an “Industry Trends” folder and dump the best stuff into those documents, so you can refer to them later.
    • Organize your tips into categories such as “PPC,” “SEO,” “landing pages,” “e-letters,” etc. … so when you’re working on a project that calls for a specific type of email (for example), you’ll quickly find the best approaches as a reference point.

Remember, change is good. It offers you an unlimited source of copywriting opportunities and a chance to offer valued, knowledgeable services to your clients. Embrace it!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: January 21, 2009

2 Responses to “Five Must-Know Facts About Web-Copy Success”

  1. Well said, Pam!

    Paula Williams

  2. Nicely written Pam.


    The best part was tip 5 - organizing the useful information you are able to glean from scanning ezines. We are all time challenged, and it's so easy to forget the details of what may turn out to be a critical component for a future client.

    Rod Newbound RN

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