How to Give Copywriting Feedback: 8 Dos and Don’ts
Copywriting feedback… Let’s be honest, it can be awkward. In this blog, I’m going to tell you how to deliver copywriting feedback that gets brilliant results for you – and doesn’t hack off the copywriter.
Now, here’s a confession:
I secretly hope that my copy will hit the bullseye first time. Bosh! Perfect.
It just doesn’t happen. Even if it’s just a small tweak, copy will always need revisions.
The copywriting process is collaborative. To get fabulous results we rely on you, our client, to come back to us with feedback. In short, you have to get involved.
Here are 8 dos and don’ts of providing feedback:
1. Do it as quickly as possible
As a copywriter, there’s nothing worse than hanging around for feedback.
OK, I’ll explain why. Picture this:
After sweating blood over the brief, the research, writing, re-writing, editing and more editing, we deliver our first draft. There is a short moment of blessed relief – followed by an extended period of nervous, antsy, nail-biting anticipation.
All copywriters feel like this. I’m not joking. Years of experience and oodles of confidence? It makes no difference.
We want you to like it.
Added to this, we’re on a roll. Leave it too long and we’ll lose our mojo. You’ll get better results if you get back to us within a few days.
2. Do read it through twice
The double read-through is especially important with website content.
• First read-through – Skim and scan the copy, preferably while being distracted by something else. You’re in the shoes of a website reader. Make a note of where your attention starts to wander.
• Second read-through – Read the copy in detail. At this point, you can start highlighting the text and making rough notes.
Hang on… What’s that you say? Rough notes?
Yep. Rough notes.
3. Please… Don’t try and re-write the copy
Seriously, it won’t help the copywriter. I once had to deal with a rewrite that included 50-word sentences and paragraphs the size of Belgium. A part of me died.
It’s also a waste of your time. Think about why you hired a copywriter in the first place.
You’re far better off picking up the phone and talking through amendments. It’s quicker for you, and easier for the copywriter.
4. Don’t be embarrassed
Feedback goes with the territory. We factor it in when we quote for the copy. Receiving feedback isn’t embarrassing for copywriters, it’s crucial.
We want to increase your conversion rate – make a difference to the bottom line. When that happens, your glowing testimonials and business website appears on our portfolio pages.
If something is inaccurate, doesn’t sound right, or the tone of voice doesn’t quite fit your brand, we need to know. Otherwise, you’ll amend it yourself later.
I don’t want to be rude (yes, I’m about to be rude). More often than not, this makes it unusable.
5. Do be specific
Being vague is a guaranteed, sure-fire, eggs-is-eggs way to make your copywriter want to strangle you.
You: “I’m not sure about that sentence. Could you write something else instead?”
Me: “What is it that’s worrying you?”
You: “I don’t know. I’d just like something else.”
Me: “I want to strangle you.”
Be as specific as possible.
• Please could you add more benefits to this page.
• We’ve updated that service. We now offer additional X and Y.
• Our brand’s tone of voice wouldn’t include “strangle”. The word “throttle” is more on-brand.
6. Do be constructive
I may be tempting fate here… But in nearly 10 years as a copywriter, no one has ever come back to me and said “I hate it. Start again”.
This is mostly luck. I know copywriters whose confidence has been destroyed by aggressively negative feedback. It’s OK to want changes. It isn’t OK to be horrible about it.
Of course you want the best possible return on your investment. This is your business voice and it has to be right. If you don’t like something, think about why you don’t like it. Is it inaccurate? Has the writer misinterpreted the brief? Is the voice wrong?
Be constructive. When you highlight what you do like, it gives us something to work on. It’s useful. We want to please you, so we’ll do more of it.
7. Don’t feedback by committee
Once and only once, I made the mistake of accepting multiple sources of feedback.
It was a disaster.
Stakeholder 1: “This sentence isn’t necessary. Please can you delete it.”
Stakeholder 2: (highlighting the same sentence): “I love this! It’s exactly what we need.”
Stakeholder 3: (rewrites the sentence using a semi-colon, several capital letters, a spelling mistake and the word `utilise’.)
Feel free to argue among yourselves, but please do so before responding to your copywriter. You’ll get a better result and your copywriter won’t have a hissy fit.
8. Do trust the copywriter
Bear in mind that your copywriter has a professional viewpoint. If a particular amendment won’t work in your interests, we’ll tell you why. Where necessary, we’ll offer alternative ideas.
Feedback works both ways. Do be open to our recommendations.