Characteristics of copywriting for education marketing

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Copywriting is an art that offends the sensibilities of academic writing. That can present unique challenges for education marketers who live in an academic world. To help out, here’s a cheat sheet on what copywriting for education marketing should look like.

Copywriting shares a lot in common with content writing. It’s airy, conversational, and informal. But the main distinction is in their objectives.

Content writing objective
Build your education brand by attracting and cultivating prospective students or donors.

Copywriting objective
Persuade prospective students or donors to take a specific action.

Just like content writing, copywriting is a tactic used within the larger strategy of inbound content marketing to accomplish the ultimate goal of moving your school towards its institutional goals.

Made for each other
Content writing attracts and nurtures prospects throughout your enrolment or gift-cultivation cycle.

Copywriting should be used each time you need your prospect to move from one stage of the cycle to the next.

The ultimate goal of copywriting is ‘to convert’ or to persuade your audience to a specific action.

Content marketing will not work without strategically placed, well-written copywriting. Without it, your audience will not be moved to do anything.

Having a content marketing strategy without copy is like publishing an encyclopedia. Great content, but no conversions.

And copywriting without quality content pieces will come across as ‘salesy,” pushy, or untrustworthy.

Copywriting without great content is like pressuring a person to buy a new car without giving them a test drive first. Suspicious…

Today, let’s talk a little about the elements of copywriting for education marketing, an art that’s even farther removed from the formality of academic writing.

Copywriting elements:
Audience focused. Everything begins and ends with your target audience. Of course, there are the pre-writing questions you should answer before writing like…

  • What do they want?
  • What is in their way?
  • What questions do they have?

And in copywriting, it’s about your audience, so address them directly. Use a lot of the second person singular “you” as if you were writing to a friend about their desires, questions, and challenges.

Clear. In copywriting, you have one clear call-to-action for the audience. Copy is direct and transparent about what it is asking the audience to do.

The art of copywriting is being clear about your request of the audience without pushing, coercing, or misleading. Pushy copy or copy that makes extravagant claims comes across as “salesy” and never works.

Emotive. Successful copywriting identifies the emotional challenges that confront your audience as it regards your area of education. When writing about adult education, we identify with such emotions as concern over balancing ongoing education and raising a family or frustration with a dead-end job.

Reader beware! The emotional element of copywriting makes it hard to use for many educational institutions. The raw emotion of copywriting is different from the objective, neutral language of academia.

A lot of research shows that all of us — including PhDs — make our decisions for emotional reasons. So resist the temptation to strip your copy of its emotive content.

Hopeful. After identifying with the audience’s emotions, copywriting positions the desired action as the solution to the problem. When you write copy, you have to describe how the action will bring a solution to the problem for your audience.

For example, if you’re writing copy for a landing page, you’ll want to identify the emotions around making a college decision. Here are some possible emotions:

  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Overwhelmed
  • Pride

Then, your copy should show the audience how your white paper, ebook, case study, or other offering is going to address their feelings (negative or positive) by giving a solution — an answer — through the information they receive by signing up for your content.

If they sign up for your e-newsletter by downloading your ebook on financial aid, (again, for example) their anxiety over money will be swept away by their newfound information on all the potential aid available.

You need powerful copy
When you write powerful copy for a landing page, you may get pushback from your academic reviewers from time to time.

But remind your colleagues of just how important this tactic is to the success of your inbound marketing strategy. Show them examples of other schools like yours who have well-crafted copy on their marketing materials.

Your school needs powerful copy, too.

Landing pages, email copy, and direct mail copy are all critical elements of your work to move your educational institution forward.

By mastering the art of copywriting, you can serve your target audience by bringing them to some of the best decisions of their lives, like going to your school.

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