Welcome to my copywriting tools shed.
Every artist needs a toolkit. My copywriting tools requires electricity and a fast internet connection.
You’ll find a lot of familiar names on the list. That’s intentional. The key driver is to use the simplest copywriting tools to do the job really well. And also to explain quickly and easily how to use it. With a gajillion features comes confusion and lack of focus. So I keep it simple. And don’t just take my advice – try out the copywriting tools and see what works for you.
SEMrush – This is my keyword research tool of choice and is great for search volume. Quickly find information about search traffic, competitors, and shared keywords. The free version does most of what you’ll need, and it contains a treasure trove of information. For instance, I named this blog “Tools of the Trade by a Copywriter” rather than “Tools of the Copywriting Trade.” That’s because “copywriter” gets twice as much traffic as “copywriting.” Thanks SEMrush.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner – It’s been the go-to paid keyword tool forever and still provides great data. The Planner usually has slightly different results than SEMrush. It’s also like getting the scoop on keywords directly from the horse’s mouth. All you need is a Google Adwords account (free).
Your Competition – Scoping out your competition is the best, free-est thing you can do. Sure it requires time, but it’s the set up to a long term payoff. Your competitors all reveal their keywords, their desired conversions, and even their sales funnels if you just do a bit of digging. This helps you learn some really key information. The biggest thing you’ll be able to do after good competitor research is BE DIFFERENT. That’s a pretty important thing to be.
Google Scholar – This is my go-to for academic journals and stats. When you need rigorous, scientifically tested answer this is the place to turn. It doesn’t apply in all settings but it can really come in handy.
HitTail – A product of the ever-busy and insightful Rob Walling, HitTail is my goto long tail tool. It stores search terms used by your organic visitors to suggest keywords to you. Let’s say you sell shoes. HitTail will tell you if a searcher landed on your site for the term “custom shoe laces” and that you have an opportunity to rank for it.
Google Power Search – so this isn’t a tool so much as a class. I HIGHLY recommend this if you do any online searching whatsoever. This free class from Google shows you ways to find better information, faster.
BuzzSumo – this is the best site for learning about the most shared content on any blog or keyword. BuzzSumo will tell you not only the content that is popular, but also how popular the content is on each network. Added bonus – it also tells you who shared the content that you’re researching.
Optimizely – My tool of choice for website testing. Its drag and drop editor allows you to change text, positions, images, and more of your live web pages. The first time you use it = mind blown. Start testing your headlines, CTAs, and images in five minutes with no coding or previous experience.
UserTesting.com – Find real people to test out your website and watch them do it. Specify your test and your demographic, and UserTesting.com finds test subjects for you. The interwebs are a crazy place.
Starbucks – Similar to UserTesting.com but a lot cheaper and faster. Just go into Starbucks with your laptop, ask to buy someone a cup of coffee, then ask them to use your website. Give them a few goals and watch them go for it. Interview them after and ask them to describe their experience. Be sure to record video of them while they’re doing it (I recommend Camtasia for this).
Google Docs – Ah yes, the now-ubiquitous underdog of office software has grown up. It’s simple, easy to share, and has all of the basic web-style formatting you need. For serious word processing jobs you’ll still need Word, but Google Docs does 100% of what I need when I’m doing my biggest job: writing.
Draft – The standard in collaborative writing. Has the best versioning of text so you can compare before/after comments on one screen. Also has one-click editing: pay a few bucks and someone will read and edit your draft. Draft supports Markdown and can publish your drafts directly to WordPress – if you’re into that sorta thing.
Analytics and Behavioral Data
Google Analytics – Tried and true. It collects a TON of useful information that will teach you a ton about your visitors and email recipients. If you want better information about what individual people (and customers) are doing, check out Kissmetrics.
ClickTale – Clicktale can actually raise your temperature and make your head explode. It will actually show you recordings of how people are using your website. It also has heatmaps and click tracking. The free version does everything I described but has some limitations. Otherwise it’s expensive.
CrazyEgg – Heat mapping supreme for your website. Check out hovers, clicks, and more to see what people are doing. This is a great tool for testing your visual design.
Mailchimp – the easiest to use free email tool available. It has email testing built right in and makes it a snap to produce well-formatted beautiful emails that convert. It has great list management and customer data and connects to pretty much any platform you use on the web for anything.
Todoist – The most balanced of all todo list managers. Oh how it makes me happy. I use Chrome and Gmail for my interwebbing and Todoist plays well with both. I can create todos that link back to emails, mark web pages, and add a todo from anywhere on the web in less than five seconds. All communication happens by task, so you’ll significantly cut down on your email clutter too. This is by far the fastest and most ubiquitous of all todo lists.
Google Drive – The storage locker for my work files. It’s cheap, functional, and keeps all of my most important files in sync so I can work from anywhere on any device. That’s quite a value prop.
What are your most important copywriting tools?
Tell me the most amazing, indispensable, life-hackable copywriting tools you’re using in the comments below.