Copy Editors: The Secret to Successful Content Marketing

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Sentence case or title case. Serial commas or no serial commas. Stop words. AP vs. Chicago Style vs. client style guides. Attention-grabbing deks.

If these things don’t make sense to you, a copy editor can help. 

If they do make sense to you, then you know how much additional time it takes to abide by all of the style guides and grammar rules while delivering engaging copy that informs and delights readers. Again, a copy editor can help.

You don’t have to handle every aspect of content creation yourself. And really, you shouldn’t. In this post, we’ll break down this important role and explore the benefits of hiring a copy editor (or an agency that has copy editors on staff), including: 

  • Building trust in your brand
  • Reducing mistakes
  • Saving time
  • Offering valuable expertise

What Is Copy Editing?

Copy editing is the process of reviewing content and making revisions to ensure accuracy and readability. Think about it: If you went to a brand’s website to read more about a product you’re interested in buying, but the description was confusing or complicated to read, would you want to buy that product? Probably not. 

About 58% of marketing budgets go toward digital marketing, but this content has to be clean, clear and in line with a brand’s tone to have any success. Copy editing ensures the messaging is always on point, whether a product description, an informative blog post or leadership bios.

Proofreading vs. copy editing: If you want to clean up your Oxford commas and match your verb tenses, a proofreader will get the job done. But compelling copy is much more than clean grammar and mechanics, and that’s where a copy editor comes in. Copy editors will clean up the grammar as they go, but they also ensure each piece of content follows brand guidelines and expresses the intended tone.

Copy editing vs. copywriting: Copywriting is the process of creating valuable content. This process usually involves pulling together research and writing content that conveys a message and weaves in the brand voice. Copywriting can be powerful, but copy editing takes the writing to the next level by double-checking that the research is factual and credible while ensuring the messaging is on-brand and the content is cohesive. 

Benefits of Hiring a Marketing Agency for Copy Editing

Copy editors and marketers go hand in hand. Marketers spend much of their time researching trends and becoming deeply familiar with their clients’ brands. Marketers are experienced and well-researched, ready to craft campaigns that intrigue and convert users using their research.

But to do that, marketers need copy editors to ensure that the messaging works as intended with the best possible copy.

However, marketers and business owners don’t have to add copy editing to their already overflowing plates. Working with an agency for copywriting and copy editing can provide several benefits, including: 

Reducing expensive mistakes. Copy mistakes can cost you millions. That’s not an exaggeration. Take, for example, a travel company called Banner Travel, which purchased an ad with Pacific Bell telephone company meant to promote its “exotic travel.” However, Pacific Bell published the ad as “erotic travel,” and Banner Travel claimed this mistake cost it 80% of its usual business. Banner Travel then sued Pacific Bell for $10 million.

Hiring a marketing agency for copy editing means you have a dedicated team who knows exactly what to look for and what type of improvements they need to make. You may be able to clean up copy yourself or hire a proofreader to strengthen your grammar game, but working with an agency is key to spotting those expensive mistakes. 

Building trust and brand reputation. Audiences can quickly lose trust in a company that doesn’t invest in copy editing because unedited content can look sloppy and unprofessional. Let’s say you want to generate more leads, so you put together a presentation on the importance of SEO. Even if the content is sound, how can a potential client trust you with their business if the promotional materials come off as complex, boring, or outdated?

Don’t just take our word for it. While the value of copy editing is hard to quantify, one study by Fred Vultee, an associate professor at Wayne State University, gathered eight published articles and provided unedited and copy edited editions of each piece to 119 students for review. The students then evaluated each copy for professionalism, organization, writing and value. Across all categories, the copy edited versions performed better than the unedited ones.

In one UK-based study, 74% of respondents said they pay attention to grammar in website copy, and 59% would not work with a company with obvious errors in its copy. That means more than half of the people visiting your website could be persuaded against buying your products or services simply because of subpar copy.

Improving content quality. Even if your copy is pretty clean in terms of spelling and grammar, copy editors will take content from good to great by improving other elements, like the rhythm of the sentences or the transition of one idea into the next. copy editors aren’t afraid of cutting fluff, and they know when to add more examples or insert stronger verbs. They can clean up passive voice to make copy sound more authoritative or check headlines for consistent style and tense. (And given that users only read about 20% of the text on an online page, informative, easy-to-read headlines are more important than you might think.) 

Saving time. Your company’s marketing department needs to spend time planning campaigns, tracking KPIs and monitoring current trends. By hiring an agency, copywriters can take your research to create content, and copy editors will go through the copy thoroughly to elevate it further before sending it back to you for review. 

Working with an agency for copywriting and copy editing can save time by tasking professionals with this job. As experts, copy editors can efficiently improve content, and you can spend more time on other marketing tasks.

Not only do you save time from having to do the copywriting and copy editing yourself, but you can also save time in client meetings. The agency will provide clean copy for you to present to a client, and the client can spend less time sending back additional edits for you to address.

Providing additional perspective. One unique benefit of hiring a digital marketing agency for copy editing is that this third party can look at content from a fresh perspective. Members of your internal team are naturally consumed by your product or service — they know it inside and out. 

That’s a good thing, but it can lead to content that is too complex and filled with industry jargon. Often, those who are most familiar with a product or service forget that the target audience doesn’t have this same depth of knowledge or understanding.  

An agency copy editor is coming to the information as an outsider. If terms don’t make sense to the copy editor, they aren’t likely to make sense to an average reader. But that’s okay. That’s where the copy editor can help by suggesting other phrases or inserting additional information to improve copy flow.

How to Find the Right Agency

As you can see, hiring a marketing agency has several benefits if you want excellent copy. But how do you find the best agency to help you meet your goals? There are a few steps to take before you sign a contract:

Review their website. In addition to marketing for their clients, a marketing agency will be marketing themselves. Be sure to check out prospective agencies’ websites to get an idea of the quality of content they provide. If their website is riddled with errors or content that is difficult to understand, they may not be a good fit. But if you see clean copy, informative blog posts and engaging content, it might be time to fill out that contact form for a consultation.

Look at case studies. Check out the agency’s wins. Most agencies will publish case studies detailing the work they’ve done for clients to improve performance. These can give you insights into what the agency can do for you. 

Read testimonials. Happy clients have no problem singing praises of the marketing agency they hired, so check the website for testimonials. The more, the merrier. If you don’t see testimonials, check for online reviews through Google to get an idea of how other customers feel about their time working with a specific agency.

Set up consultation calls. Any marketing agency worth its salt will provide consultation calls to determine if you and the agency are a good fit. During this call, you can share your goals or current strategies, and the agency may offer some feedback and tips on how they would improve your tactics to meet your business goals. You can also use this time to ask questions. 

Clean Up Your Copy By Working With a Marketing Agency

Copy editing is so much more than reviewing grammar and syntax. Although perfect spelling and impeccable grammar are important for professional, reliable copy, copy editing goes the extra mile by ensuring the messaging is factual and engaging and contributes to meeting your business goals. 

Skipping out on copy editing doesn’t save you time or money — in fact, it could cost you, especially if you overlook an expensive mistake. Working with a marketing agency means your copy will go through a copy editor for clean, interesting and valuable content every time.

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Paige Bennett

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