Written By: Zeynep Goral
Nothing convinces a new client to work with you better than showing proof of your results. This is true as much in copywriting as in any other industry.
Working with someone new naturally comes with risks. Even after an initial phone call to screen new clients, you don’t know how well you’ll work together until you actually try. For this reason, the Write Your Way to Freedom course recommends starting every client relationship with a small project before committing to a package or retainer. The last thing you want is to run into problems with communication or billing after you’ve invested a lot of time on a new client.
Prospective clients have similar fears. They want to know they’re going to get good value for their marketing budget. They may have had unpleasant experiences with marketers in the past. Some may need a little extra convincing to take the leap to work with you.
It’s the age-old question: how do you convince new clients to work with you? You know you’re great. Now how do you get other people on the same page?
Here are a few classic ways to show clients you’re legit:
Client testimonials help prove your copywriting ability with real people vouching for the quality of your work. Testimonials cover the emotional factor – you go from being an unknown entity to someone a potential client can trust because other people do.
Portfolio pieces add to your preponderance of proof. New clients get to see actual samples of your work and confirm the quality with their own eyes.
The combination of testimonials and portfolio pieces is enough to leave a good impression on most clients you approach, making them much more likely to work with you.
But what if you had such convincing proof that clients actually reached out to you?
What if you had cold, hard data to back up your skills?
My client outreach process changed overnight when I published my first SEO case study with Google Analytics data.
I posted a link to the article on LinkedIn, where I had connected with potential copywriting clients in my niche. Shortly after, I started getting unprompted client inquiry messages, some of them specifically mentioning my Analytics results. The effect was so pronounced that I quickly wrote and published a second case study with data from another client.
Google Analytics results like this can send an incredibly powerful message to potential clients.
People find it much harder to argue with numbers than words. They figure client testimonials can be subjective, so it helps to get as many as you can to overcome their doubt. Actual data can be worth as much as ten testimonials to a skeptical client.
I always include case studies in my portfolio to make sure potential clients see them. Even if a client is already convinced about working with you, a strong case study can increase their trust in you and prove the value behind the prices you charge.
Of all the online marketing channels available to clients, SEO can feel the most opaque. Unlike the instant results of pay-per-click advertising, SEO marketing can take time to build and pay off. To some clients, search engine algorithms are mysterious boxes where content goes in and search engine results inexplicably appear on the other side.
Of course, as SEO copywriters, we know this isn’t true. There’s both an art and a science to search-engine-optimized content. So when you show actual SEO campaign results, you prove to people: SEO works for real, I know how it works, and I can make it work for you. This realization is incredibly powerful and sets you up as an SEO authority in the minds of clients.
The ability to understand Google Analytics gives you an edge over many copywriters out there. A case study not only shows off your SEO copywriting skills but also demonstrates that you know how to read and interpret search engine traffic.
This article covers SEO case studies in Google Analytics. However, the same principles apply to other marketing platforms and types of marketing campaigns.
As a copywriter, you may be writing conversion copy for pay-per-click ads. If so, whatever advertising platform your client is using should have its own analytics reports. You can also use Google Analytics to see user behavior on a website after they click through an ad.
Always reach out to a client and ask for permission first before using their website as a case study. It's important to respect your client’s privacy and protect their data from competitors, especially when it comes to keywords you’ve targeted for them. Although case studies don’t have to be anonymous, I like to remove any information that could identify my client. That includes blurring or erasing keywords and names in any screenshots I use.
A case study is your time to shine – so don't be afraid to show off a little bit. Think of it as celebrating the awesome results you’ve achieved.
To create a good case study, you will need:
Notice that I didn’t say you needed any clients for a good case study.
That's right! My first case study wasn’t even for a client. I based it on my own website.
Numbers are numbers. Whether you’ve achieved amazing SEO statistics for a client or for yourself doesn't matter – it's not like you’re writing a subjective testimonial for yourself. You're reporting actual performance data.
You can benefit from writing for yourself wherever you are in your SEO copywriting journey – whether you’re just starting out or you have an established career. You don’t have to stick to your niche, either. You could try new and different topics just for fun.
The subject of my first SEO case study is a personal hobby website that has nothing to do with my professional copywriting career. I wrote just a few articles for the joy of it – I also optimized them as I went, because as an SEO copywriter that's what I do. I wrote the case study because I was so impressed by how well the content performed.
My second case study covers an actual client’s SEO results. This particular client was my first ever copywriting client and is now my longest client relationship. I wrote the case study right around our one-year mark of working together.
When writing your case study, use your copywriting skills like you would for a client piece. Include a keyword phrase – something like “[your niche] copywriter” – to target potential clients. Make your copy engaging and interesting enough to keep your reader’s interest.
A lot of marketing is all about research. Analytics data helps you as a copywriter by showing you what content performs the best. Your work will benefit from asking your clients for access to their analytics from the start. You can make educated, calculated content strategy decisions based on traffic data and keyword performance.
If you haven’t gotten Analytics access yet, you can simply ask your clients. More often than not, clients appreciate the extra attention, effort, and expertise.
The same practice goes for any copy written to convert on any other platform. Usually, advertising platforms have the option of adding user access to performance reports.
As copywriters, we love our words. But it’s true what they say about pictures.
Visuals are powerful.
A steep graph could carry the weight of a hundred testimonials. When clients see the data, they can visualize the same success happening for them too. Analytics graphics are so compelling that I’ve included them throughout my copywriting website.
Fortunately, Google Analytics gives you all of the graphics you need to show off your results.
Although Analytics gives you the option to download most of your reports as a PDF, I like to take screenshots. When you're including images in your case study, you want to focus on specific graphs and figures instead of entire reports. That means cropping your reports to use only the most relevant portions. This is much easier to do with a PNG image file instead of a PDF.
You can use the default option for taking a screenshot of your screen (shift + command + 3 for Mac OS or the PrtScn “print screen” button on Windows) or you can get a free screen capture plugin for your browser. I use GoFullPage on Google Chrome, which gives you the option to take a screenshot of an entire page even if it’s long enough to scroll. This will help save time by allowing you to take multiple reports off of a single screenshot. You can crop and edit images with a simple application like Preview on Mac OS or Photos in Windows.
Lead with your best statistic. In fact, include your best statistic in the title, too. We know that adding numbers to headlines makes people more likely to click to read the article. The more impressive your numbers, the more attention your case study will get.
The title of my first case study is almost unbelievable: “How I Boosted Organic Traffic by 42,375% in 4 Months of Blogging.” The initial disbelief that number inspires makes someone want to click through to find out if I can actually back up my claims. When my case study provides proof with data, they’re even more impressed at the outcome.
I specifically picked those four months because they represent my best performance statistics. In your Google Analytics property, you should explore different date ranges to find the statistics that best show off your SEO achievements. For example:
I go into the most important Google Analytics reports for SEO copywriters in my Google Analytics lesson in the WYWTF course, which I recommend you check out. In the meantime...
Although the more specific reports in Google Analytics offer more in-depth information, your Dashboard provides some of the best graphics to make a good impression.
Specifically, I like to take screenshots of the audience overview graph, the traffic channel graph, and the active user trends graph. You can pick custom dates for these graphs but you can also pick from one of the preset date ranges. I like to pick a large date range, anywhere from 90 to 180 days for the most dramatic graph curves.
The audience overview graph automatically compares the time period you select to the previous time period. It also calculates the % change in performance over time.
I like to take screenshots of the traffic channel graph at the end of the week otherwise the most recent data point can get cut short.
The Acquisition Overview report under Acquisition > Overview shows:
Your acquisition report is most useful from a date comparison view. Figures like the total number of users don't give us that much information on their own. Say your website gets 100 users one day – that would be amazing if you’re used to seeing 50 but awful if you normally get 200. Comparing dates helps put the report numbers in context.
That’s essentially what you'll do in your case study: explain and put Analytics numbers into context. Specifically, you’ll translate those numbers into real benefits. Real benefits you can create for future clients.
The easiest way to convey concrete benefits to clients is if they have goals set up in their Analytics. If you're lucky, your client will already have had their web design company set up their goals. Goals measure specific user events on the website. For example, your client may have a goal set to count every time someone submits a contact form or stays on their website for longer than two minutes. These count as “conversions.”
You can see the total number of goal completions separated by channel. Looking at the organic channel, you can report to your client that they’ve had an X% increase in client inquiries from search engine visitors. If you’ve been writing your client’s web content, that improvement is because of you! It means you’ve reached more people organically with your content and inspired more of them to actually contact your client.
Your Channels report under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels also has valuable information.
To analyze SEO, I like to take a closer view of the “organic search” channel under this report. You can see specifically how visitors who found the content through search engines interacted with the website. If you've been writing social media content for your client, you can also look under the “social” channel to see how those users are acting.
Again, the date comparison view is key to help put these numbers into perspective. You want to see the percent change over time based on your copywriting efforts.
The best part about these reports is that they give you all the statistics you need. You don't have to do any extra math. It's all right in front of you. And once you pick a date range, Google keeps that date range selected as you move about your reports (except for your dashboard).
The Audience Overview report under Audience > Overview has a nice layout for presenting audience behavior metrics like bounce rate and average session duration.
This report gives you insight into how your content performs with your target audience. A date comparison view helps you understand the changes over time.
Google and other search engine algorithms put a lot of weight into audience behavior. So these metrics show whether your website SEO is going in the right direction. Hopefully, your Analytics reflect your SEO efforts with positive results.
No one’s perfect so don't get discouraged if your case study doesn’t show improvements all across the board. It’s normal for a website’s SEO performance to have its ups and downs.
If you have Analytics metrics that didn’t improve, make sure to address them in your case study. Turn them into teachable lessons. Write about the strategy you would recommend to help turn them around. This helps keep your reader's expectations realistic.
While you're talking about SEO performance, take the opportunity to include tidbits of SEO expertise as well. Cover any interesting SEO facts or useful SEO strategies that come to mind. All of this will help demonstrate to potential clients that you’re an expert SEO copywriter.