For many startups working on product launches, marketing is bottom of the to-do list. The company is understandably focused on building a great product. For small teams, there may not be any resources left over for other activities.
Once the product is nearly ready, the company starts building its product page, and perhaps some supporting blog posts or PPC ads. However, when an inexperienced marketing team cooks up these marketing assets, they lack a crucial ingredient.
And all too often, that means a disappointing product launch with low sales.
So, what is that missing magic ingredient? Copywriting.
When marketing materials need to generate results, good copywriting is what will grab the ideal customer’s attention and make them think “this is the product I’ve been waiting for!”
What is copywriting?
Jon Evans, our lead copywriter at Launch Mappers, has worked extensively with agencies and global brands, and now focuses on tech startups.
He defines copywriting as “any writing that’s intended to build relationships, grab attention, and persuade people to take action in some way”. It’s an essential part of marketing, used in everything from social media to emails, landing pages, business cards and sales pages.
In the past, copywriters often described their trade as ‘sales in print’, meaning it did a salesperson’s job of persuading the prospect to buy, except through writing. Nowadays, it plays a much broader role in the sales process, since most digital sales funnels begin with an inbound marketing strategy (i.e. content).
In the digital age, copywriting is still an essential tool for persuading people to buy. But it also has to inform, entertain, and win the attention of its audience. And with every consumer now being bombarded with thousands of marketing messages daily, their attention is more valuable than ever.
The key to winning and keeping attention online
Copywriting is useful from the start of a customer’s journey: the moment they Google something. “The customer has thousands of websites to choose from,” says Evans. “You need to entice them to visit yours with copy that arouses their curiosity, stirs their emotions, or offers a benefit that you know they care about.”
“But of course, we don’t want them just to read an article and leave. We want them to keep exploring and eventually enter into a relationship with us—whether that means buying our product or giving us their email address”.
“To do that, we need to offer our prospect something of value, and we need to keep their attention long enough to show it to them. Great content and great copywriting are what makes that happen”. Jon Evans
When should startups invest in copywriting?
Many startups neglect copywriting—or don’t know about it—making it an often-overlooked aspect of product launches. Other startups invest heavily in their websites through design agencies that neglect copy themselves.
In both scenarios, the startup only realises its messaging is weak after the website or product has been launched.
As Evans says, “Many businesses only realise that they need to invest in copywriting when they reach a stumbling block. They find themselves wondering ‘why is nobody buying from the product sales page?’ or ‘why is no one opening our emails?’”
“Suddenly, they realise they have a particular marketing problem to solve” Evans continues. “And while it happens at different stages for different companies, it’s almost guaranteed that every growing startup will invest in better copy at some point.”
We at Launch Mappers, recommend investing in copywriting early in your launch planning, essentially as copywriting often involves a detailed research phase.
What can copywriting help startups with?
Copywriting plays a crucial role in the launch of your product since it expresses why your solution is the right solution for your customers. And in developing the story of your brand, it can help you stand out in your marketplace.
1) Build your brand
“Branding is about the overall story you are telling the people who you want to become your customers. It is about creating a personal relationship with customers and influencing how people think and feel about your company,” says Evans.
Indeed, there are two tangible aspects of branding: visuals and verbal communication. A good copywriter will help your brand shine through in all of your communication. For example: on your website, in your emails, and even in video scripts or webinars.
“I’d go as far as to say you can’t have a brand without having at least some copywriting involved.”
Even a primarily visual brand, like a fashion brand, will usually be defined by a written mission statement”.
Branding is a long-term strategy. When you’re starting to decide how to market your company and your product, your brand is the first piece of the puzzle.
2) Launch products successfully
There are arguably two different types of product launches for marketers: those for entirely new products with no competitors, and those for established products that already have competitors in the marketplace.
They both present distinct challenges. For products in a crowded marketplace, the marketer has to convince its audience that the product is the best solution. Conversely, when the product has no competitors, the marketer may have to convince prospects that they need the solution.
In either scenario, copywriting will help you tell your brand story and give people a reason to choose your product. Evans shared some initial questions to consider when launching a new product:
- How is this product different from others?
- Why would our audience buy from us instead of someone else?
- If a prospect doesn’t need our product right now, what would help them remember it at a later date?
3) Increase conversion rates
The copy is integral to developing results for businesses that rely on digital platforms to make sales or generate leads. In this situation, it’s helpful to revisit the ‘salesperson in print’ idea of copy.
Imagine you own a physical shop, and you have a salesperson that speaks to customers. However, this salesperson is dull, hard to understand, and only talks about themselves and never the customer.
Now imagine the shop next door has a salesperson. However, this one is charismatic, easy to talk to, and able to help customers see how specific products meet their needs.
You’d probably expect the shop next door to make a lot more sales, only because it makes things easier for the customer!
Good copy is precisely like a skilled salesperson—clear, helpful, and even charming. It can show the customer why a product is right for them without being pushy or annoying. And it can even handle your customers’ doubts, so they feel good about taking action.
Of course, the goal of digital platforms is not always sales. It might be to encourage webinar sign-ups, social media follows or clicks. But the result—a.k.a the conversion—is often directly influenced by copy.
Founder of Wynter, Peep Laja shares the example of improving this product page for Ramsey Solutions:
"Ramsey Solutions saw a 15% increase in the sales conversion rate from the insights gained from their first messaging test with Wynter. The change included changing the sub-heading and the body copy by addressing identified friction and unanswered questions people had."
The landing page platform Unbounce shared an experiment Norway-based digital agency ConversionLab did on their client’s landing page, Campaign Monitor. They wanted to discover if the verb used when researching the email marketing software in a Google search would affect how the product would be perceived.
ConversionLab's founder Finge told Unbounce how "our hypothesis was that a verb defines HOW you solve a challenge; i.e. do you design an email campaign or do you create it? And if we could meet the visitor’s definition of solving their problem we would have a greater chance of converting a visit to a signup. The uplift was higher than we had anticipated!"
How do conversion copywriting and brand copywriting differ?
Branding is a long game where you will develop your identity, making sure that people will remember it in the long run. But generating sales or conversions involves influencing the reader to take action at a specific moment.
So what does this mean for our copy? Brand-focused copywriting is about speaking in a tone that reflects the brand’s identity. It’s also about taking opportunities to communicate the company’s mission and values.
Conversion copywriting is solely focused on the prospect’s journey. It’s about giving them the sales argument at the right moment, so they decide to take action. This can apply across social media, blogs, email campaigns, sales pages, videos, and beyond.
These two are both ends of the spectrum; however, developing your brand’s story should not get in the way of your sales.
“You should aim at developing both as long, as they don’t interfere with each other,” says Evans. “You always want to keep your conversion in goals in mind. But the brand should ideally be worked into every touchpoint, even if it’s only subtle—and a lot of branding is subtle.”
So, by improving your copy strategically, you can improve both your sales and your brand loyalty.
Summary on the importance of copywriting:
Jon shares his three most important tips to help you kickstart your optimising journey through copywriting:
For a successful product launch, consider working on your marketing as you continue to finalise your product. To develop your brand to the fullest, invest in copywriting early on. This way, you will have the foundations to build on. But if you don’t have a significant marketing budget early on, don’t worry.
"Rome wasn't built in a day” Evans explains. “If you don’t have the budget to hire a copywriter for all your marketing materials, start with your most important marketing assets and build up from there later. And if you’re stretched, invest in some copywriting training materials for your team.”
We invite you to follow our lead copywriter’s tips to get you started with copywriting. As you develop your strategy, continue to experiment and highlight why your solution is the right one for your customers.