What are the different types of copywriting?

We take a look at the most common forms of marketing copywriting.

If you have a bit of background in marketing or journalism, you will already know that the term “copy” refers to the writing that goes into articles, advertising and other forms of marketing. And if you didn’t have that background, now you know.

But actually, having pinned down what copy is, it becomes clear that there are many different types of copywriting, some of which require different skills or approaches to be effective. Today, we will park journalistic copy, as it is not our specialism. We’ll explore some of the main types of marketing copywriting which businesses and organisations use to promote themselves.

In doing this, we will cover:

  • Website copywriting
  • Blog writing
  • Newsletter copywriting
  • Social media copywriting
  • Direct mail copywriting
  • Brochure copywriting
  • Flyer copywriting
  • Press release writing
  • Product description copywriting
  • Case study copywriting

Before we dive into looking at each of these different types of copywriting in more detail, I decided to explore some musings on the essence of copywriting.

My research reacquainted me with many famous names, from David Ogilvy to Leo Burnett. But I settled on a quote from a copywriter I was not so familiar with, Joanna Wiebe:

“Your job is not to write copy. Your job is to know your visitors, customers and prospects so well, you understand the situation they’re in right now, where they’d like to be, and exactly how your solution can and will get them to their ideal self.”

Joanna Wiebe

Why do I like this? Because it cuts across all the different types of copywriting that we are about to discuss. It explicitly recognises that copywriting is not just about the writing at all, but truly understanding the target audience. If you take away just one thing from this blog, I would suggest that this should be it – regardless of the type of copywriting you are producing.

What are the different types of copywriting?

Moving on, let’s start looking at the different types of copywriting, starting with website copywriting.

Website copywriting

The copy on a website is one of the most important components alongside the design and imagery. Yet when people come to us for help, we find it has often only been considered as an afterthought. 

Chief amongst the priorities of writing website copy is to convey your business’s personality and unique selling points (USPs), but closely following in importance is to deliver navigational support to the visitor and a good user experience (UX).

A good blend of the above will create persuasive writing and a slick journey that encourages a visitor to take action according to your business’s goals.

Another consideration of website copy is search engine optimisation (SEO); that is helping your website to get found on search engines. This may not be a direct priority for you, or it may be essential – it depends what the goals of your website are.

There are a number of techniques which can be incorporated into website copy to optimise for search engines; these would be performed alongside more technical factors like how quickly the site loads.

Blog copywriting

Blogs are essentially online articles which businesses and other organisations publish to share news, expertise, opinions and other types of content. Therefore, we can say they are a component of content marketing, whereby companies publish information to attract inbound leads.

Typically, we would consider 500 to 700 words a standard length for a blog post, but there is no set rule. A blog could be as short as 100 words… Or extend well over 1,000 words, particularly if there is a strong SEO motivation behind the blogging.

Writing a blog is usually only part of the process. You also need to consider how it will be read (people generally won’t just magic themselves onto your website). Three of the classic channels for promoting blogs are:

  1. SEO – Being found in Internet search engines for specific keywords or phrases. If adopting this approach, it is important to understand this before writing, or even coming up with blog ideas. You need to carefully plan which keywords or phrases to target in your blog or series of blogs. And then keep them front of mind so that they appear naturally in the writing. The trick is to strike the right balance between including your keywords sufficiently whilst keeping it readable and useful to your audience.
  2. Social media – Using the blog content on your website as the inspiration for posts on social media, driving traffic to your site from whichever social channels you are on.
  3. Email newsletters – Sending your blog content out to your mailing list to engage with current clients, ones you have not heard from for a while and leads who have not converted to business yet.

Regardless of what channel you use (you may use all of them), you need to make your blogs interesting, useful and credible to your target audience. Competition for people’s attention is fierce and if you can’t offer value, people will not read or engage.

Article flow

Newsletter copywriting

There are a number of approaches you can take to writing an email newsletter.

The most direct way is to write a continuous piece of prose within the body of the email which conveys all the information you are trying to relay. The advantages of this are that it is a quick and easy way to keep in touch and get simple messaging out to your target audience.

The other way is to prepare a linked-based newsletter where you write a shorter introduction followed by links and snippets to pieces of content that you host on your website.

If you are publishing regular content like blogs and case studies anyway, it is almost a no-brainer to send such an email out to your contacts (as long as it is relevant and useful to them) to showcase your expertise, knowledge and service to a warm audience.

One of the things we like most about email newsletters is that they can register with your audience at so many levels:

Level one – They simply see your email (company name and subject line in their inbox). At the very least you are staying in their consciousness, are taking the time to stay in touch and reminding them that you are there if they need you.

Level two – They skim read the headings or snippets in your email but do nothing further. Now they are starting to take away more meaningful information – what is topical in your industry, a useful tip, a special offer, a new service…

Level three – They click on links and read further. Now they are really engaging – they might be showing a specific interest in a particular service or piece of news and may be nearly ready to do business.

Level four – They click through and explore your website further. They are fully engaged with you and showing serious intent to do business.

Studies have shown that we are often attracted to what is familiar to us. So even if much of your audience are staying at level one or two for most of the time, it will still bring you closer to a sale when the time is right for them.

Social media copywriting

This is usually a shorter form of copywriting designed for quick engagement with your target audience. Attention needs to be given to the latest advice on the social platform’s algorithms to ensure that your posts have the best chance of success. For example, at the time of writing LinkedIn  will penalise posts which directly contain links to third-party sites.

The copywriting will often go alongside another form of media such as video or a picture.

Direct mail copywriting

Speaking personally, this was how I cut my teeth at copywriting. It is a channel with a rich heritage within the copywriting industry, with many of the doyens having been famous for their direct mail copywriting.

What we are talking about here is that old-fashioned notion of sending people something through the post. Admittedly, it is much more expensive to do this now than twenty years ago but it still has a place.

A lot of the best copywriting is written in the second person (you) and first person (I/we), and direct mail helps to explain why.

Because, a letter received is quite a personal thing, read alone. To make it engaging you want it to appear as if it were especially written for each reader from you (or another person in your company) who was thinking of them – even if the truth is that you are sending out thousands of such letters.

The “direct” part of the mail is that the letter is intended to issue a direct response – buying something or at least requesting more information. This makes it easy to track how successful it has been, and build data on what people are interested in and how they interact with you.

One of the big debates in direct mail copywriting was whether to go with short copy or long copy – short being less than one side of writing all in, and long expanding to maybe two, three or four pages.

As with many digital channels, A/B testing is perfectly possible with direct mail so it is good to test what works for you. Generally in our experience if it is a complicated or expensive product, readers don’t mind long copy as they want to be fully informed before making a big commitment.

Nowadays, you could easily consider direct email as a form of direct mail, with many of the concepts mirrored.

Creating a content calendar

Brochure copywriting

Maybe, like direct mail, there is not such a call for brochure copywriting anymore, as digital strategies have found favour, but they still do have a place.

Typically, you would think of a brochure as being a static document compared, say, to an e-commerce website which may contain all the same information as a brochure, but include the option to buy and interact in other ways – like leave you own reviews.

Brochures will have a logical structure which needs to be determined before writing. You are taking the reader on a journey, giving them the information they need to take action – presumably to buy.

Think how the copy will interact with the other design elements. You do not want to overload any page with writing, and as the saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. You can also use breakout boxes, blown up quotations from the body copy and devices like bullet points to keep the messaging visually interesting.

If we think of a brochure in the printed sense, you need to write carefully to ensure that it will not obviously go out of date before its useful shelf life has ended, and be extra mindful of typos or other errors before it is signed off for print. Brochures can also be consumed digitally via pdf. These are easier and cheaper to amend, but it is still a pain to do!

Flyer copywriting

Another marketing document originating from an earlier age, flyers are still useful to support sales campaigns. Relatively cheap to print, they can be posted through letterboxes, included in direct mail or magazines, left on display stands or handed out by hand to your audience.

As with other forms of copywriting, make sure it has a good heading to attract your target audience; break up the copy into short paragraphs so it is easy to read on the page; and ensure your writing dovetails with imagery to create a compelling overall document.

Press release copywriting

Press releases are used to make announcements. But, particularly in the SME world, they don’t necessarily need to be picked up by news outlets. Even so, we find it is good to write them as if they will land on a busy editor’s desk.

Because of this, we have a go-to formula for writing a press release.

That is:

  • A good headline
  • A set of three bullet points that serve as an executive summary
  • A few paragraphs conveying the news
  • A usable soundbite quote
  • Contact details for any follow-up media enquiries

It is always good practice in copywriting to consider any secondary or tertiary audiences who may read the press release, and this is especially so with press releases. So if a piece of news benefits your main audience but may disadvantage another, make sure it is written sensitively to them.

Product description copywriting

This is a niche area of copywriting, but one that is needed in high volumes for eCommerce websites. It is not something we get involved with very often at On Point Copywriting and is already ripe for a takeover by AI we suspect.

It is the writing of useful, concise point of sale information for products, and is therefore very important though. In our experience, one of the key rules is not to duplicate copy from the manufacturer’s site as this can have a negative SEO impact.

Case study copywriting

I have left one of our favourite parts of copywriting to last: the case study.

These are an essential part of SME marketing, allowing success stories of past customers to be shared with future customers.

In their most basic form, they should tell the story of an initial challenge, your solution and the impact that it had on the customer or client, and then be accompanied with a testimonial quote in the direct words of the customer. Statistics or facts are great to emphasise the positive impact.

However, case studies can be written in much greater depth to highlight specific aspects of your service or particular value the customer received. You can explore the logical and emotional reasons your customers choose you and how they feel having worked for you. This can be really effective for building connection and rapport with new clients.

For us, there is no better way to market yourself than with case studies to bring what you do to life.

Would you like copywriting support?

We hope you have found that stroll through the different types of copywriting helpful. It is not an exhaustive list of what are the different types of copywriting, but it does cover the main ones.

If you want to discuss a copywriting project or just learn more about how the experts at On Point Copywriting can help your business, please get in touch on the contact form.

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Huw Bendon

Huw founded On Point Copywriting and leads the team, allocating the resources you need to achieve your goals. He has been copywriting since 2003 on both the client and agency side. Huw gets involved with all aspects of our service delivery with a particular focus on the planning and quality assurance stages.