What is Technical Copywriting? (Definition + When to Hire One)
- Andrew Folkler
Technical copywriting is one of many sublevels of the large copywriting umbrella. As you learn about the field of copywriting, you might be surprised to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. When you apply the principles of copywriting and content marketing to large businesses, the angle you approach it changes.
Smaller businesses tend to market their products and services directly to their clients. Thus we call these businesses B2C companies (Business to Client/Consumer/Customer).
The further you go up the business ladder, the more complex the buying process becomes. Instead of selling directly to customers, you are selling to other businesses. These businesses are known as B2B companies.
So what happens when you have to write copy for a B2B business that is selling an expensive piece of software or a highly calibrated machine?
That’s where technical copywriting comes in.
In this article, you will learn what is technical copywriting, how it differs from other forms of technical writing, and what to look for when you are hiring a technical copywriter.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
What is Technical Copywriting?
Technical copywriting is the process of informing and selling complex products through copywriting. Good copy will move the reader to take a specific action, such as purchasing, booking a consultation call, or clicking a link.
Thus, technical copywriting is where you combine these marketing principles with today’s cutting-edge technology.
Examples of this can include a biotech company is ready to launch a new product that is capable of identifying specific amino acids in a solution or cutting-edge hosted phone system provider launching a new product to enhance the communication and collaboration capabilities of their customers.
If this company wanted to use technical copywriting to promote its product, they might hire a technical copywriter to write:
- A landing page for the product.
- An email sequence.
- Direct response sales letters
Now you might think, “Wait a minute, that’s not so different from other copywriters.” And you would be correct, but here’s the catch.
Technical copywriting involves a much deeper understanding of the subjects that lay the foundation for the copy. In the case of that example biotech company, the copywriter would need a strong understanding of biochemistry, machinery, software, and corporate culture. Without that knowledge foundation, the copywriter will have greater difficulty writing copy that is easy to understand.
Here are some other B2B niches that require technical copywriting:
- SaaS (Software as a Service)
- Fintech (Financial Technology)
- Martech (Marketing Technology)
- IT (Information Technology)
- Hardware and Manufacturing
- Supply Chain Management
- Defense and Military Equipment
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning
- Chemical Supplies
Each of these niches requires an understanding of its unique jargon and strong foundational knowledge. After all, the purchases made at this level are significantly higher.
Let’s go back to the example of the biotech company. Presumably, their clients would be large medical corporations that perform cutting-edge scientific research. Each machine might cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the client would probably purchase it in bulk for their research facility. This purchase could be several hundred thousand or even millions of dollars.
The stakes are that much higher.
That’s why technical copywriting is different from many other forms of copywriting. The purchasing power of the target audience is significantly higher than the average citizen. Therefore, technical copywriting is significantly different in style than typical copywriting.
How is Technical Copywriting Different from Technical Content Writing and Technical Writing?
There is a distinction between technical copywriting, technical content writing, and technical writing.
Each of these has a specific purpose and place in the overarching marketing strategy. Technical copywriting is constructed to persuade and sell. As mentioned before, this can come in the form of direct-response sales letters, landing pages, and email sequences.
Technical content writing is written for educational purposes. It might include blog posts, podcasts, instructional videos, brochures, white papers, case studies, and press releases.
Technical writing, on the other hand, is instructional. If you’ve ever bought a product with an instruction manual, that was written by a technical writer.
What Skills Does a Technical Copywriter Need?
Whether you are a copywriter looking to add technical copywriting to your repertoire or a business owner looking to hire a technical copywriter, there are specific skills that a technical copywriting professional needs to be successful.
First and foremost, a strong technical copywriter must have mastered copywriting fundamentals. The writer should be familiar with market research, buyer psychology, and target audience research.
The copywriter must also be familiar with the marketing strategies of B2B companies. Since the stakes are higher in B2B purchases, the buying journey takes significantly longer. A company board of directors may review the offers of several companies for months before deciding. Remember, these buying decisions might range from several hundred thousand dollars to millions.
Another critical skill of a successful technical copywriter is the ability to take complex terminology and jargon and translate it into easy-to-understand copy. Typically, a copywriter aims to produce copy at a 7th-grade reading level so that the text is easily digestible. However, that can be challenging when you are writing about complex subjects like machine learning, biochemistry, or cutting-edge technology. Writers who can take complex subjects and write about them clearly are an absolute must. Otherwise, the copy performs poorly, and the company will miss the opportunity to close important deals.
Technical copywriters should also demonstrate some level of technical knowledge in the field they write about. Imagine you spent one day learning about a complex subject you had no prior knowledge of and then had to write 3000 words about it. It might be a bit challenging, right? Having an experienced technical copywriter can cut through the learning curve. It mitigates the risk of unclear writing or inaccuracies.
The final skill that technical copywriters need is the ability to convey the benefits clearly. In each of these industries, there are a large number of complex details that were part of developing the product. However, the target audience does not need to know about all of them.
For example, let’s say you need copy for selling a new top-of-the-line computer graphics card to major computer manufacturers. The copywriter should be able to convey how the different attributes of the graphics card benefit the computer manufacturer instead of just listing features.
Often the key stakeholders who make the buying decision are not as well versed in the building blocks of the product as the developers and engineers. Therefore, saying something like, “This graphics card has high VRAM” means less to the buyer than, “This graphics card has the capacity to run games in 4K without any latency, making it the ideal choice for gamers.”
What’s the Difference Between a Technical Copywriter, a Technical Writer, and a Technical Content Writer?
Fundamentally, the stages of a B2B buying journey are similar to B2C. You start by generating leads and nurturing that audience. Then, you close sales and focus on fulfillment.
As mentioned above, the difference in technical copywriting lies in the nuance. This means that if you need a writer to assist you with your technical writing needs, you must identify which stage of the buying process your copy will be in.
Technical Content Writers
If your focus is on lead generation, authority building, and audience nurturing, you will need a technical content writer. Content writers specialize in taking complex ideas and breaking them down in an educational manner. Technical content writers avoid hard persuasive techniques as they can alienate the audience too soon. The goal of a technical content writer is to build interest so that the reader will advance to the next stage of the sales process.
Once your leads have been nurtured by the content, they are primed and ready for your promotional material. This is where you will need a technical copywriter. The copywriter will build upon the foundation set by the content writer and persuade the reader to make a purchase, schedule a consultation, or click a link.
After a sale is closed, technical writers assist with fulfillment. Technical writers provide detailed instructions so that new users know exactly what they need to do to get the most out of their purchase.
When Should You Hire a Technical Copywriter?
Hiring a technical copywriter is a critical step in your marketing strategy. The more complex and esoteric your product is, the more likely the average reader will not understand how it works.
When you are writing technical copy, you are not speaking to the lead engineers and developers. You are speaking directly to the key stakeholders. If you write to impress the reader with complex jargon, you will alienate the readers.
So if you have a complex product that you are selling, it’s worth your while to hire a technical copywriter. Not only will they have the skills to persuade your audience, but they will also help you simplify your message so you can close more sales.
Bridge Complexity With Technical Copywriting
As the world continues to innovate, technical copywriting will continue to be the bridge between the complexity of the product and the simplicity of the purchase. After all, if the target audience cannot understand how the product works, they will not feel comfortable purchasing it.
If you are a business owner, you will want your clients to feel taken care of and satisfied. You will want to ensure their expectations are managed well and that they have a clear understanding of what they are getting.
Optimizing your technical copy is an extremely effective way to attract more customers, boost your revenue, and grow your business over time. So start today and look for opportunities to incorporate technical copywriting in your marketing strategy!