Copywriting can be confusing when you first explore it.
There’s all this talk about needing to be persuasive and winning the sale. But in the world of finance, it’s not like you can guarantee anything (while keeping regulators happy) to entice clients.
Well, I’ve got good news for you:
- Good financial copywriting isn’t about persuasion.
- I’ve packed this in-depth guide with practical advice you can apply right away to instantly improve your finance copy.
And if you don’t want to do it yourself? I got you covered there too, with tips on finding a good financial copywriter.
What You’ll Find In this guide:
- What Is Financial Copywriting
- Examples Of Financial Copywriting
- What Is Financial Content Writing
- Examples of Financial Content Writing
- Why You Need Both Finance Content And Copy
- How To Instantly Improve Your Finance Copy (+ Content Writing)
- When Should You Work With A Professional Copywriter?
- What To Look For In A Financial Copywriter
- How To Work With A Good Finance Copywriter
- Now, To Improve Your Finance Copywriting
What Is Financial Copywriting?
Jacob McMillen, who’s been copywriting since 2012, writes: “Copywriting is the process of writing words intended to prompt a specific action by the reader.” Financial copywriting is that same process with a financial service or product focus.
Good copy is clear, concise, and effective. It’s typically geared towards lead capture or immediate sales.
For example, suppose you had a financial advisory practice and wanted website visitors to give you their contact info to follow up with them. In that case, you shouldn’t be asking them to sign up for email updates after giving them your brand’s mission statement.
That’s not very clear and probably not effective either.
Instead, you’d wanna tell them to “request a callback” after they read about what you can help them with.
This better aligns with your goal of capturing leads and would likely have a better success rate since you just primed them on how your offer would benefit them.
Examples of Financial Copywriting
Here’s an example of some good finance copy:
What Makes It Good
This hero shot has a headline that evokes some curiosity to motivate the reader to keep reading. “Why is it time to switch? I don’t know; I better keep reading to find out.”
Next, there’s a subheadline with two benefits, giving insight into why “It’s time to switch”. As in, if you switch, you’ll save on fees and be Questrade’s first priority.
Well, that sounds pretty good to me. What happens next?
To end the hero shot copy there’s a clear call to action. Click the link to “Discover Questrade”. The messaging continues with the mysterious vibe encouraging you to want to figure out what’s behind that link.
So this copy captures attention, creates interest, and guides the next step. With just 21 words.
Talk about being concise.
But what about bad finance copy? Here’s an example of a provincial-based credit union’s hero shot:
What Makes It Bad
This is an easy one.
There’s no copy.
Maybe they want to beat Questrade at being concise?
All jokes aside, this is what you don’t want to do.
You get one shot at impressing your visitor, so don’t blow it with a weak hero shot.
But, since this is a somewhat local business, let’s give them a chance and pretend we cared enough to scroll down.
Here’s what we’re met with:
Hooray! A call to action! So it’s not so bad after all, we just had to go looking for it. But let’s dissect it nonetheless.
While they have a clear call to action, “become a member” / “learn more”, the primary benefit is kind of weak. “It’s easy” doesn’t really offer much to the consumer.
Lots of things are easy, but the reader needs to know what they’re going to gain from giving you their time or money.
Moving on, we see a stronger, implied benefit of the credit union seeing banking differently.
This is more of a brand-building statement, but at least the reader can think about how they could benefit from “a different perspective”. Not as clear as Questrade’s “You come first”, but at least it’s something.
And last but not least, we have a paragraph about how awesome this credit union is, which again doesn’t have any clear benefit to the reader. There might be some implied benefit there, but if it’s not absolutely clear how the customer will benefit, it’s not good enough.
So what’s the takeaway here?
Focus on the reader! Think about them first, not how big you’ve grown. You can definitely brag about your growth to prove authority and experience, but make sure you clearly translate how that will benefit your customer.
So now you know what good and bad financial copywriting looks like. But what about “content”?
What is Financial Content Writing?
Content writing is similar to copywriting in that it’s for marketing, and good content will also have a clear intent for what you want for the reader. Except with content, you aren’t typically trying to get your audience to take immediate action.
With content, the goal is to offer value to the reader so that they develop trust in your brand. The idea is that if you give them enough valuable information, then when they are ready to make that purchase, your top of mind as an option.
Content is also used to get targeted traffic to your website.
For example, if someone types “what is financial planning” into google, there’s a good chance that person is interested in financial planning.
If you’re a financial planner and have some content on your website that can answer that question, you have a much higher chance of capturing that person as a lead than someone searching for “cheap t-shirts”.
So, content writing is used to drive relevant search traffic to your website and begin building a relationship with those visitors so that when they’re ready to buy, they buy from you.
Examples Of Financial Content Writing
Let’s look at some examples, shall we?
Here’s a WealthSimple article on investing basics, an example of good finance content writing:
What Makes It Good
First up, this article packs a ton of value into one post. It’s almost 3800 words and full of practical advice.
Anyone reading this would benefit just from the content, without ever signing up for any of WealthSimple’s products or services. That’s content goal #1, to provide value to your reader.
Next, it’s showing up in the #2 spot in google when I search for “investing 101”, #3 for “investing basics”, and #2 for “investing basics for beginners”. All that means is it’s checking off all the SEO (search engine optimization) boxes.
Those two things combined are helping WealthSimple reel in tons of qualified leads and position them as the market leader for when those leads are ready to convert.
So what about bad content writing?
I sang Questrade’s praises in the copywriting example, so I’m gonna pick on them a bit now.
Here’s an example of terrible content writing:
What Makes It Bad
There’s no content!
This is even worse than our credit union’s poor copywriting example.
Good content is all about the user experience, and this is a very poor experience for anyone who finds this page.
And unless you were exploring their website like I was, you likely wouldn’t have found this page because without any content, you can’t optimize it for search engines.
The takeaway here is that just like with copywriting, any content you write needs to always focus on your audience. Don’t publish it if you’re gonna miss the mark with your audience.
Why You Need Both Finance Content and Copy
So which do you need? Content or copy?
The short answer? Both.
Content writing and copywriting go hand in hand when it comes to websites.
Generally, content is your channel for bringing leads to your site, and copy is how you close them.
You have the best copy in the world on your website, so good that anyone who visits the page converts instantly. But there’s just one small problem:
Nobody visits your site.
A page with a 100% conversion rate is useless if nobody can find it.
The reverse is also true. Say you’re driving thousands of visitors to your site every month with quality SEO finance content.
If none of that traffic is converting to clients ‘cause your copy is weak, all of your content marketing efforts are being wasted.
So how can you make the most of both your copywriting and content writing?
How to Instantly Improve Your Finance Copywriting (+ Content Writing)
Here are some writing tips you can use to get some quick wins with your financial copywriting:
First up, you need to make sure your writing has a purpose. Nobody will want to read a bunch of fluff that doesn’t apply to them or your business.
For example, my finance copywriting landing page intends to get the reader to give me their contact information so I can follow up with them and sell them my services. This is an example of copywriting with the purpose of lead capture.
On the other hand, this post intends to provide a comprehensive guide to financial copywriting so that I can a) rank in google for terms related to finance copywriting and b) brand myself as an expert in the niche.
So the next time you sit down to write for your businesses, even if it’s a simple email, stop and think about what you’d like to get out of your writing. Then, keep that goal in mind as you write your message regardless of how long (or short) it is.
Remember Who You’re Talking To
Once you have your goal set, you need to figure out who you’re writing to. If you don’t have an audience in mind, you can’t write effectively.
You’re thinking of writing a service page for financial advice and want to target younger generations for your associate advisors. Are you going to re-use your copy that stipulates a $500,000 account minimum?
Of course not. But if you weren’t thinking about your target audience, you could have accidentally overlooked this and published it anyway.
Kind of like when Questrade published an outline instead of content.
So, before you write a word, decide who it’s for so you can tailor your messaging accordingly.
Talk About Them, Not You
Now that you’ve determined who your audience is make sure you stay focused on them.
Your audience is all that matters in copywriting. You don’t matter unless you spin it to matter for them.
For example, I intentionally wrote that last sentence as “Your audience” and “You don’t matter”. I could have easily written “My audience” and “I don’t matter” or “The audience” and “The author”, but writing to you (“the reader”) develops a bit of a connection that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
And connection = trust. Which leads to sales, retention, or whatever your objective from tip #1 is for that piece of writing.
I found this on the homepage of a local financial planning firm:
“[Company] is a professional financial brokerage firm located in [location]. We service the entire [Location and surrounding area]. We have access to well over 20 different companies for your insurance, investment and group benefit needs. We work with a variety of individuals, businesses, and corporations on their financial needs. We offer quality financial planning and group benefits. We are very passionate about our client’s financial success. Come talk to us today and you’ll see why [Company] is the right place for you.”
Notice how often they copy say “we” compared to terms that relate to the reader?
This copy could be a lot more effective if it had more “you” phrases.
One small change could bring this:
“We have access to well over 20 different companies for your insurance, investment and group benefit needs”.
“You’ll have access to well over 20 different companies for your insurance, investment, and group benefit needs”.
See how the second version feels like it’s talking directly to you?
Dumb It Down For Them
Reduce personal expenditures.
Which would you rather read?
The majority of people reading your copy aren’t going to want to read an essay, so don’t make them.
Keep your writing clear, concise and to the point. Just like this section.
Give Them Direction
The golden rule of good copy is to always have a call to action.
Look back on our Vision Credit Union example, and you’ll remember the hero shot doesn’t have a call to action.
You need to make it as easy (and clear) as possible for what you want your prospect to do.
Want them to contact you? Give them a button that goes right to your contact information.
Want them to explore what services you offer? Give them a button that takes them to your services page.
Want them to fill out a form so you can reach out to them later? Give them a button that takes them to your lead form.
The same is true for content. You can write the best piece on how to invest in growth stocks, but if you don’t leave your reader with an action item, they’ll likely wander off to do something else (like consume your competitor’s content.)
Now go and pick apart your own site and see where you can apply these writing tips.
When Should You Work With a Professional Copywriter?
So you’ve gone over your business’s copy and were able to spruce things up a bit.
But what if you still aren’t getting the results you hoped for?
If you’re at the point where you:
- Are too busy running your business
- Would just rather run your business
- Aren’t getting the conversions you want
- Aren’t getting the traffic you want
- Have wasted enough time trying to do it yourself
- Have wasted enough money trying to do it cheaply
- Don’t want to waste time trying to do it yourself
- Don’t want to waste time trying to do it cheaply
Then it might be time to hire a professional copywriter.
A pro can help with all the things mentioned so far in this post. And they’ll do a much better job than if you had been going it alone thus far.
What To Look For In a Financial Copywriter
So what should you look for when hiring a financial copywriter?
You might be thinking that finance know-how is the most important thing a finance copywriter needs to know.
And while that’s understandable, it’s not as crucial as copywriting know-how.
If you’re ready to hire a writer, you want to get a return on your investment.
If your writer knows a ton about finance and nothing about copywriting, you’re going to end up in the same boat as when you tried to write your copy yourself.
A good copywriter can write copy for any industry. They can pull out the details they need from you or other subject matter experts. They don’t need to be the subject matter expert.
They need to be the copywriting expert.
So how do you judge their copywriting knowledge?
Ask them for samples of their work and evaluate it based on the tips above. If they missed all five, look for another writer.
If their work makes you want to buy the product or service they’re writing for, they’ll probably be able to do that for your business too.
While there is some divide between content writing and copywriting, it’s worthwhile for your writer to be good at both.
If nothing else, for the sole purpose of them knowing when they are moving into the other’s territory.
As we discussed earlier, content and copy have very different goals. And if you’re mixing your copy and content in the same piece, it’s not going to only be ineffective but will likely turn your prospects off of your business altogether.
Imagine if I tried to sell you my services at each section during this post. That would be pretty annoying, right? I mean, you are reading this to learn something, not be sold.
Now think back to Questrade’s 21 words of copy from our first example. If they crammed 500 words of educational material into their hero shot when you just wanted to open an account or browse a product, that would be equally as annoying.
So how do you judge their content knowledge?
Ask them for some samples of their content work. If it does anything but pull you through until you’ve read the entire thing, then look for another writer. On the other hand, if it hooks you right away and you don’t realize you’ve lost track of the last 10 minutes, then they can probably do the same thing for your business.
Wait a minute… didn’t I say finance knowledge doesn’t matter? Not quite.
While your copywriter doesn’t need to be a finance wiz, having some first-hand experience or exposure to the industry will help.
If they’re actively working in the niche, they’ll be aware of trends that other businesses are using and succeeding (or failing) with.
It also helps to explain complex topics in simpler language if someone truly understands the concepts.
So while it wouldn’t be fair to say finance knowledge is most important when looking for a copywriter, it still does have its role to play.
This one’s up to you if you want to judge your writer’s finance knowledge. However, I don’t see it as necessary since you’re likely to be the one supplying the expertise.
But if you wanted to test them, you could always have a conversation with them about your business and see whether your jargon is flying over their head.
How To Work With A Good Finance Copywriter
So what do you do once you find your ideal finance copywriter?
While I can’t speak for every copywriter, I can at least outline the process I take when working with clients so you can get a general idea of how it would work.
Whether you wanted copywriting or content writing, we’d start by filling out a questionnaire covering everything about your products and services and who you sell to.
We’d also go over your competitors and what you like or dislike about their messaging.
Next, we’d collaborate on a value proposition if we were writing copy or a content outline if we were working on a content piece.
Once we were all on the same page there, I’d go off and write your project and revise as needed until you were thrilled with it.
If this process seems simple, it’s because it is. Which I guess is another reason to hire a professional copywriter – they simplify the process, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Now, To Improve Your Finance Copywriting
Now go and look at your website and blog posts.
Do they look more like the good or the bad examples from this post?
Do you see anywhere you can apply the quick wins mentioned earlier?
Make those changes now to improve your financial copywriting today.