Digital copywriting trends for 2012
2012 is here. Happy new year!
Now, I'm no Nostradamus. I've got no psychic powers, as far as I'm aware. I'm not even a publicity seeking analyst. Not by trade.
But I am a working digital copywriter who keeps his ear to the ground. So why on Earth shouldn't I share my predictions for the most significant copywriting trends of 2012?
A new set of rules will emerge for online marketing copy
Web copy used to mean written content for a website, as designed to be viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. Audiences developed certain habits in how they used this content, and copywriters have often tried to describe the best methods for appealing to those habits. Like this fella. "Make it easy to skim, anticipate users' questions"... all that stuff.
Now the devices we use to read websites are diversifying. It's not just smartphones. It's Internet TV, it's tablets, it's games consoles and who-knows-what-next. Here at the beginning of 2012, use of these devices has reached a point where the web is all around us.
Perhaps we'll need to design most "web copy" to be read aloud (i.e. in video). Perhaps text will get shorter and typefaces bigger, to accommodate reading on the TV. There’s already evidence that both these things are happening. One thing's for sure: web copy conventions are changing in 2012.
Google Plus will take off and change SEO copywriting
There's a lot of suspicion and dislike of Google Plus around. Personally, I like it. And given how deeply Google is embedding it within its services, it looks like the search giant will stick with Plus and make it work.
With its `+1' buttons, and simply because Google is the West’s most popular search engine by miles, Plus has the power to change organic search results. +1 is a public recommendation of a web page, which already shows up in friends’ search results if you’re signed in to Google. That means with enough active Google Plus users, search results on Google will look very different.
If that happens, pages that are shared often will become much more valuable, and the rules of SEO will change drastically. And because we tend to share online the things we find entertaining and practical, I predict that corporate website copy (which is usually neither) will shrink further into the background. It won’t necessarily happen in 2012, but it will happen.
Demand for video script writing will increase
Video content is becoming ever more important to web users, and increasingly prominent in Internet search. SEO people are getting excited about it. And when SEO people get excited, demand for content follows shortly behind.
If you're a digital copywriter who isn't prepared to tell clients "I write brilliant video scripts," you need to do something about that now. Go on, get your voiceover/script writing skills in order. You'll make more money in 2012.
Email marketing will bring in much less cash
Email has issues. People are sending them far less often, because they'd rather share on Facebook and Twitter. Email is even getting a bad rep as a business time waster - and I believe it's deserved. I spend way too much time reading and writing them, when often a phone call would be quicker and friendlier.
So while email marketing isn't dying, copywriters probably shouldn't put too much stock in this kind of work in 2012. One major brand I write for has definitely gotten much tighter with its email project budgets lately. What have you noticed?
Performance data will be easier to come by - so get some ready
The economy is still gasping for breath, and will continue to pant heavily this year. Corporations are still obsessed with efficiency, and probably always will be.
As a result, marketing plans in 2012 will be keenly focused on measured, meaningful results. And thanks to the dominance of online advertising, campaign performance is very easy to measure.
Copywriters who can prove their writing gets results, preferably with hard data, will get more work. That was always true of course, but it’s more relevant than ever in 2012. Ask clients for feedback and testimonials on successful projects, and always get performance data where possible.
Well, those were my tips for the copywriting trends of 2012. I'll be back in December with another article that triumphantly celebrates their accuracy.
In the meantime, feel free to dissect or pooh-pooh them in the comments below.