Data helps your copywriter improve everything

Giving a copywriter access to your data for the job they’re doing (or just completed) can turn a mediocre piece of marketing into a winner. The reason: your copywriter gets to see what’s going on. Here are 4 possible ways they can improve your emails if you let them have a look-see at how your emails are tracking.

I know a few friends and acquaintances who love hitting the gym, working out and seeing the results after a few weeks or months. But sometimes, despite all the work (and man, some of them work insanely hard) there’s not much to show for it.

While I don’t do the “gym thing”, I feel the same can happen with copywriting. We puff and we pant to create top-shelf copy, but often don’t get to see the fruits of our heavy lifting.

    How a Job Usually Goes
  1. Client asks for copy
  2. Copywriter slaves away to produce fantastical copy
  3. Client gets the fantastical copy
  4. Client bids us adieu

Now, I know there’s a lot of copy you can’t track – offline material like flyers and brochures being especially so. But despite more and more copy heading online, it’s surprising how rarely we discover how the copy performed for our client (though if they come back with another job, it’s a signal we kinda sorta did well enough).

But this “ne’er shall it be seen again” business isn’t great.

In fact, it’s a bad thing.

Not because we want to wallow in success (or drown in tears of self-pity), but because copywriters don’t always nail things first time round. We’ll do the research, talk to people, agonise over headlines and give our all to deliver damned fine copy. But at the end of the day, nobody (least of all ourselves) knows how well that copy’s going to be received by the market.

Let me repeat that: nobody knows how copy will perform in the market until it’s out there.

But… once that copy is out there, it’s “game on”. We can track it. We can measure it. And most importantly, we can change it.

Turn losers into winners. Improve messages of “meh” into words of “wow!”.

Recently, I got to work for a marketing company that tracked its emails.

The brief: write an email sequence to help increase conversions for prospects who had just signed up to get offers for a cruise-related product.

Once we released the emails “into the wild”, I was able to jump onto the list management app (ConvertKit) and see the conversion stats. To put it shortly, it was a mixed bag. Some emails were doing their job, others were clearly not.

I was ecstatic!

Finally, objective feedback on what I’d written. Hard data. Which emails were getting opened, and which weren’t. The exact emails that were producing a higher click-through rate compared to others.

And as I studied the stats, 4 things quickly dawned on me around how I could improve the emails with my new-found learnings.

1. Test your subject lines. Every. Damned. Time.

This is an ultra-obvious one, but a good subject line pulls more than their weight.

Ultimately, the only metric that counts is conversion (be it sales or something else). But your customers have got to get to the point where they’re ready to sign-up or buy. If they’re not interested in opening your emails (because your subject line can’t persuade them to), it’s going to hurt your conversion. People who might have jumped at the chance to buy never give you a chance.

So when you see emails with an under-performing open rate, test the subject line. Find something better.

And don’t stop there: if you have subject lines doing OK, don’t be afraid to try and improve them. Every percentage point boost counts.

It was the first and most important recommendation (in my view) I made to the client. I always provide several possible headlines with my copy, so testing different ideas would require almost no extra effort.

2. Mix it up: change the order of your emails

You’re bound to have some spiffingly super ideas in your email sequences.

However, those ideas may be popping up in the wrong place through your series. People may not be ready to read them if they’re too early in the sequence, or bored / switched off / tuned out if they crop up too late in the sequence.

For example, we had a “first time” email that addressed concerns people going on a cruise for the first time might have. It was 4th or 5th in the sequence, but looking back, it could easily be an earlier email, stomping big objections that people reluctant to buy a cruise might have early on.

Like subject lines, it comes back to testing. Swap the order of the emails with one another (if it makes logical sense and is measurable) to see if you can’t boost the reception for a couple of those under-performers.

3. Chop them out: get rid of the under-performers

Just like you have some great ideas, they can’t all be winners.

In fact, you’re going to have out-right dogs.

And the longer the dogs hang around, the more they’re likely to hurt you. Sure, try moving it around in your sequence or re-working it if you can. But if the idea is a dead duck, rip the band-aid off and chop it*.

If it’s an integral part of your sequence, adapt the others to accommodate its removal. Emails that aren’t helping are harming.

As part of the sequence, I wrote an email around cruise safety – a subject that probably isn’t going to persuade people to buy. So I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but we decided to give it a run to see how people took to it. Turns out it wasn’t a great performer, so that’d be a prime candidate for the chopping block.

4. Just ask: get your customers to tell you what’s not working

While it wasn’t in the original scope of the job, I added an email at the end of the sequence to ask readers why they didn’t buy. It’s a simple concept that’s been popularised in marketing circles of late: ask your prospects what they want.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of work to organise how the data would be collected and the email was never added. It’s a shame, as it would have shed light on why people weren’t clicking through to the sales page. And data like that is a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

Getting your copywriter on-board with how their work is tracking isn’t hard. You can see the potential dividends it could reap. So why not do it?

    How a Job SHOULD Usually Go
  1. Client asks for copy
  2. Copywriter slaves away to produce fantastical copy
  3. Client gets the fantastical copy
  4. Client uses the copy and tracks it
  5. Copywriter sees the tracking data
  6. Copywriter improves the copy based on data
  7. Client and copywriter celebrate ultra-winningness!

* Apologies for the mixing of metaphors.