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How to evaluate copywriters and their material

01 Jun, 2020 Marketing communication, Messaging

This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.

As communicators, we will inevitably need to appoint a copywriter at some stage to prepare creative material for direct marketing campaigns of one kind or another. Or we write the creative material ourselves. Either way, it helps to understand what to expect from copywriting work.

A couple of traditional ways to evaluate copywriters’ work is to measure the response rates and ROI they have achieved in previous campaigns. But what other ways can be used to find out if they are any good?

Photo opposite: Alan Rosenspan

Direct marketing expert Alan Rosenspan offers several questions to enable you to assess the effectiveness of anyone who writes direct marketing material for you. And if you write it yourself, you can ask yourself his astute questions.

Anyone can declare themselves to be a copywriter – there’s no test to pass, no professional association, no ongoing certification.

Therefore it helps to know what to expect from copywriting. Here are 5 criteria on how to evaluate copy and copywriters:

  1. Did the copywriter do his or her homework? Did they tell me something I didn’t know, or present a new way of looking at or thinking about something I did know?
  2. Is the text easily readable? Does it sound right when read aloud? (Your ear is a better judge of copy than your mind – if something’s well written, you can hear it better than read it.)
  3. Does the text flow naturally, moving easily from point to point and building the argument or the story? If it stops and starts, it’s probably not going to work effectively.
  4. Is the copy action-oriented? Is it written in an active rather than a passive voice? Does it sound like someone asking me to do something?  General advertising asks for a “share of mind.” Direct marketing asks for a “show of hands.” We want people to do something.
  5. Is the copy compelling? Does it make a strong case for the product, service or offer?

By asking these questions of yourself and copywriters, you will improve your marketing communication results.

Top photo by John Schnobrich-FIPc9_Voc14-on-Unsplash.

About the author Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in the eBooks available from

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