Add "Digital" and it's sooo much better
I've been to the Bizcamps and BEN in the City Hall and the Social Media talks and I was thinking in spite of everything, times were promising in digital marketing land, or maybe not. It appears that digital agencies are going to great lengths to con marketers to part with their budgets.
Typical is the claim made by some digital types that you need specialist digital copywriting skills for the internet - skills that of course only their binary scribes possess. With due respect, what a load of old bollocks.
There is only one skill needed to write copy for online advertising, website content or e-mail messages. It's the skill known as copywriting. And you need to be a copywriter to possess it.
What has binary code got to do with copywriting and communications? Next you'll hear claims that specialists are needed to write copy for ads on the back of toilet doors, or for writing stairway advertisements at railway stations. Or does it really mean a digital copywriter has no talent for writing press, or radio, or outdoor, or television, or mail, or brochures or...
Nearly every digital expert making the specialist claim is not a copywriter. They've never trained as writers or journalists, or written copy in the real world. They may have written copy in the virtual world, but typically it's rather ordinary, just like most copy written in traditional media by people who aren't copywriters.
One of the biggest shortages in the marketing industry has always been talented experienced copywriters. In particular, direct response and retail writers - which are the type of writers you need for online advertising and content. The internet is a pure direct marketing channel, as every ad and much of the editorial content seeks to get readers to click-through and respond in some way. So your writer needs to know how to use words to make this happen - not an easy task in any media.
And as it has been for decades, it is the job of the copywriter to adapt the content to the medium, be it television, mail, website, e-mail or outdoor poster, etc. Because internet users (or should that be visitors?) are likely to scan web pages and e-mails (miraculously in the same way they scan printed newsletters, mail, press ads and articles) the writer must use headlines, sentence and phrase structure, cross-heads, sub-heads, indents, bold type, bullet points, layout and other techniques to attract and keep the attention of the reader.
If you subscribe to any professional copywriters' e-mail newsletters you'll discover that many of them produce their newsletters in text format. And they publish them with serif fonts and often many pages long. They do this because they know their craft and they conduct tests. They discovered for example that content published as text can often work better than HTML for newsletters and e-mail messages. That's because often their readers print the newsletters to be read and stored as hard copy, or because text is regarded as more personal.
I recently saw a test where the text version of a newsletter achieved over 320% higher response rate than the identical newsletter delivered as HTML.
But ask any alleged digital copywriter about testing and you'll likely receive a blank stare - they've never done any copy or creative tests.. Sadly they won't have a clue what you're talking about and won't be very useful to you. Yet digital marketers perpetuate the claim they possess amazing black magic that poor simple analogue marketers don't understand.
The main skill digital marketers possess is usually related to binary code - they produce ads using slightly different software to those who produce ads for newspapers or catalogues for example. Much of this digital skill, such as HTML programming, is taught in high school these days. And as far as I can tell most copywriters of all persuasions already use a digital technology to produce their copy - it's called a keyboard.
It seems that getting a digital expert to write your copy is like getting a software programmer to write the ads for a new computer brand, or a motor mechanic to write the brand plan for a new vehicle launch. Why would you risk it?
So beware the digital voodoo and avoid any big mouth who claims mystic digital copywriting powers. Look for copywriters who are experienced in all media, not just online - you'll get much better results and be safe from the mumbo jumbo.
That's the rant from Newry on a Saturday afternoon, if you agree or you want to stick up for our digital cousins drop me a line