The goal of skilled copywriting is to write something that is so relevant, so relatable, so TRUE to the reader’s experience that they have immediate buy-in: “Yep. I get that.”
It may sound simple, but it is probably the most complex part of being a marketing copywriter. There is an immense amount of research. It’s very rare that you’ll be lucky enough to personally understand an audience, and even rarer that you work with a company that has all of the right research to deliver the data to you.
Creating targeted marketing copy doesn’t start with the company: it starts with the customer.
Customer Intelligence as the Basis of Marketing Copy
Customer intelligence (CI) is a data-driven discipline, and the term encompasses the total of what you know about customers.
CI covers two main areas:
Demographics — income, race, marital status, age - in other words, objective facts about groups of people
Psychographics — priorities, desires, preferences, behavioral patterns, “likely to” or “also like” factors; the soft science stuff
Some researchers break customer data into four categories: basic/identity, engagement, behavioral, attitudinal.
Here are the customer data points you’re going to have thrown at you:
Segmentation metadata (big picture stuff, then personas/segments)
Name, location, industry
Intent (interest drivers)
Customer lifetime value
Most companies track some of this. The good ones track all of it. But the raw data doesn’t really help a writer. You need to know enough about human nature to interpret the data.
If you’re going to be a truly skilled marketing writer, you need to be a student of human behavior.
How do groups of people behave?
In my company, we play a game called “the kind of person who,” which I’ve probably mentioned on some blog before. Start creating categories. Looking at how people move, listening to how they talk, observing how they gather and connect with each other.
The kind of person who… wants their two year old to get into an Ivy League school.
The kind of person who… uses the word “Caturday.”
The kind of person who… will drive an extra 10 miles to use a coupon.
The kind of person who… never posts on social media but watches all of your stories.
The kind of person who… has a peace sign bumper sticker on their car.
The kind of person who… uses FaceTime in public.
Think about underlying motives, passions, objections/aversions. People watch. Create conclusions. The more you catalogue this on your own, the more you’ll be able to connect real world examples to the data, which is how you bridge “what you know” with “how to communicate.”
The Relationship Between CI and Relevance
There is a measurable relationship between how much you know about your customers and your ability to move from “generic” copy to “specific” copy. Yes, there’s a graph. Here it is:
The idea behind this is that the right customer intelligence can advance you from generics to specifics, which directly impacts how relevant your content is to the reader.
If you know what an audience segment/reader is thinking, feeling, cares about, knows about, the language they use, the cultural references they’ll understand (you get the idea), then you can write in a way that resonates. It wins you the “YES” and it is the ultimate goal of marketing copy.
You know you are writing relevant copy if you see improvement in certain marketing data points: email open rates, social media post engagement, site visits. There are mechanisms whereby you can test relevance, such as A/B testing email opens or ad copy.
Take the time to do this. Urge your clients to let you. Explain that the more you can find the right phrases, the more money they will make. It’s a measurable connection, not just ideologically, but in terms of outcomes as well. Great copy that “hits home,” will absolutely get results. But it’s not a guessing game.
Do the work, and your audience will “get it.”
Part of the onboarding process at Hire a Writer is an audience segmentation workshop, which then becomes part of a customer intelligence roadmap. The skeleton of the CI doc looks like this:
It’s essential for us to know our clients’ “who” before we even begin writing. And I’ve now hit the threshold for acceptable times to use quotation marks, so I’ll leave it there.