A copywriter is a member of the marketing team that focuses on creating content designed to convert sales. The copywriter is responsible for advertising and marketing materials across different platforms, including websites, emails, social media, and even videos.
Using well crafted words, a copywriter understands the core business of the organisation they work for, and takes this knowledge into creating informative content that drives brand awareness and encourages more sales.
They work with the creative team to design coherent and exciting advertising and marketing campaigns, working on everything from slogans to video advert scripts and almost everything in between.
When you are hiring a copywriter, you need to be sure that they have the right skills and abilities to be successful. This article will highlight the tasks a copywriter will need to perform, which technical and soft skills a good copywriter needs, as well as the abilities they will need to demonstrate.
You will also learn the best ways to test for these essential skills and competencies.
What should a copywriter be able to do?
The main tasks of a copywriter are based on creating written content, but there are a few other facets of the role that need to be explored.
A copywriter needs to be able to discuss the aims and ideas of the marketing plan with the business, including presenting themes and methods as well as creating drafts for approval.
They need to be able to work in different areas confidently, changing tone and language to suit the platform and the audience while adhering to the brand voice and mission. So the copy for the website will be in the same brand tone as the content of the business Twitter feed, but written differently.
The copywriter will need to work closely with the rest of the marketing department, including the art director or creative director, to come up with a fully fleshed marketing or advertising campaign.
Copywriters need to be able to conduct research: not only about the product that they are advertising, but also customer-focused research about what they want to hear and see, keeping up with trends, and completing interviews when necessary.
They will need to be able to review and react to data in a straightforward way, be adaptable and implement necessary changes.
A copywriter must be prepared to create content from slogans and catchphrases, through to the website and social media content, and as far as scripts for commercials or even fiction or non-fiction prose, depending on what is needed.
Skills to look for in a copywriter
There are a few critical skills that a successful copywriter should have, and you should look for these when you are recruiting for someone to fill a copywriter position. These skills are necessary for the fulfilment of everyday tasks that your copywriter will have to complete, and ensuring that the applicants have what it takes will lead to better outcomes in the recruitment process.
- Reading Comprehension: the ability to not only read but understand written information from various sources.
- Writing Ability: crafting relatable, understandable content free from mistakes with a varied and interesting vocabulary to suit a range of audiences. This includes writing for different platforms, as well as formal and less formal content, and writing to persuade.
- Logical Thinking: a copywriter needs to be able to think critically and logically about presented information to be able to make rational decisions using their best judgement. This includes complex problem-solving skills and both inductive and deductive reasoning skills.
- Error Checking: the ability to spot and correct errors quickly and efficiently, in written work and in other content too. Working quickly and managing time effectively while ensuring that output is free from errors.
- Office Suite: the ability to confidently use the various applications of Microsoft Office, from Word to Powerpoint and Excel. Most copywriters produce their content in word-processing software, so navigating it successfully is important.
Other skills that might be relevant to the copywriter role in your business might include skills in website creation and editing, using sales and marketing software, or video creation software.
Useful abilities for a copywriter
The inherent abilities of a successful copywriter are related to aptitudes, which means they are not about what they might have learned in education or even through previous experience. These abilities are almost like natural talents that can be vital to future success as a copywriter.
- Persuasion: the main difference between a copywriter and a content writer is persuasion. Marketing and advertising copy has a very distinct aim - to convert sales - and this means that a copywriter needs to be able to write persuasively.
- Originality: original ideas are the backbone of any marketing campaign, and a copywriter needs to have creative originality to come up with new ways of connecting with their audience of potential customers.
- Problem Solving: not only through the skill of critical thinking but also through solving problems with the ability to spot a problem early on. Problem awareness and the originality of ideas help with problem-solving abilities because successful copywriters should find it easy to think outside the box.
- Written Expression: the ability to be able to express an idea through writing in a way that is both easy to understand and makes an impact so that potential customers are more likely to be converted to sales.
- Teamwork and Leadership: copywriters work as part of the wider marketing team, so they need to have teamwork abilities to make the most of other people's skills. However, a copywriter needs to have good leadership ability to present ideas and focus on their colleagues when creating a marketing plan.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a copywriter?
There are several different pre-employment assessments that you could use to assess the skills of a potential copywriter based on the needs of your business, but some of the basic ones include:
- Time Management: the test is based on different scenarios, with multiple-choice options for the answers. In the scenario, a candidate is given a description of a task or an issue with several possible courses of action to take. Based on their answers, the recruitment team will be able to see how well the candidate deals with work-related pressure and how they prioritise tasks to meet deadlines.
- Teamwork: often mentioned in a CV, teamwork skills might be hard to quantify without a test. The teamwork test puts a candidate into different realistic work-based scenarios to see how they would deal with a teamwork-related issue. The scenario will have several different possible outcomes, and the candidate needs to choose the one that is most like the way they would deal with it in real life.
- Accountability: part of working as a team - especially in a department that uses many different skills and types of employees - is the ability to take responsibility and ownership with discipline and integrity.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a copywriter?
For a copywriter position, aptitude and technology skills can also be tested prior to employment using a range of different options.
- Verbal Reasoning: verbal reasoning is about being able to quickly read, understand, and analyse data presented in written form, usually a paragraph or passage. This is about reading and thinking logically.
- Logical Reasoning: logical reasoning skills show that a candidate can think creatively about a problem.
- Microsoft Word: as a skills test, this assesses a candidate on their current level of proficiency so the recruitment team knows how competent they are.
- WordPress: this well-known website building software is used often by copywriters, so confidence and competence in WordPress is important.
- Google Analytics and Google AdWords: often used in conjunction, a copywriter needs to be able to use both these Google applications to ensure that their web content is SEO optimised and likely to be seen by potential customers.
Our recommended test battery for a copywriter
Our recommended test battery for a copywriter includes the following assessments:
- Verbal Reasoning: Reading and understanding written information quickly and being able to pick out key information in order to answer a multiple-choice question show that the candidate has a good working knowledge of English and can comprehend paragraphs or passages of text. The verbal reasoning assessment poses questions based on an unfamiliar passage of text, and the candidate needs to answer based only on the information they have been given.
- Time Management: scenario-based assessments are useful in pre-employment screening because they use realistic work-based situations. Each scenario is based on the need to prioritise tasks and workload to meet deadlines, and there are several different possible courses of action. The candidate needs to choose the course of action that most closely resembles what they would do in that situation.
- Error Checking: in an error checking assessment, the candidate is presented with information that contains mistakes and they need to spot them all. The information is presented side-by-side, with one side mistake-free and the other containing errors. Completing this - and doing it under exam conditions with a tight time limit - demonstrates the candidate's ability to make the right decisions under pressure.
For further reading, check out our guide on using a copywriter test.