Your copywriter is asking for your feedback
Your copywriter has submitted your first draft for feedback and now it’s over to you.
But what kind of feedback are they looking for and what do they really need from you?
In this article, I’ll show you how to give your copywriter constructive and actionable feedback they can work with, so you’ll get the results you need.
Before you start compiling your feedback
Before you start compiling your feedback, there are a few things your copywriter would like you to bear in mind.
The copy hasn’t been written for you
I mean, obviously it’s been written for you, because it’s for your business and you’ve requested it.
But it’s your audience who’ll be reading it and acting on it — so it will actually be written for them.
Your copywriter will have spent time researching your audience and will have written copy they can relate to, that answers their questions and that gives them what they need to take action.
Read it at least twice before giving feedback
Knee-jerk feedback isn’t helpful and can often overlook the intention of the copy.
You should read through the copy at least twice before you even start thinking about your feedback. This will help you get a better feel for it and for what it’s trying to achieve for you.
If you can, take a break between the first and second readings so you have time to process it and consider it properly.
A first draft is just a first draft
The first draft is rarely perfect and you’ll probably find things wrong with it.
But this is totally normal, it’s only a draft, and your copywriter will work with you to put it right.
Understand why your feedback is needed
If you’re one of a team reviewing the copy, it’s important to understand why you’ve been asked to give feedback.
For example, should you be looking at the tone, the message or the quality of the information?
Giving the right feedback on the right elements of the copy makes it easier for one person to collate all the feedback and pass it back to the copywriter.
Treat this as a collaborative process
You’re the expert in your business. Your copywriter is the expert with words and communicating your message.
This stage of the process is about combining your knowledge with your copywriter’s skills to refine the copy into exactly what you need.
For this to work, you should be prepared to listen to each other and understand each other’s point of view.
If you’re unsure about parts of the copy, give your copywriter the benefit of the doubt and ask them to explain their reasoning. Most things will have been written a certain way for a reason.
Don’t keep us waiting too long
Submitting a first draft is always a nerve-wracking time — even for an experienced copywriter!
We prefer to work on amends and changes while the project is still fresh. The longer between submitting the draft and getting the feedback, the more time we have to spend getting back up to speed.
What to give feedback on
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of the things you should be looking at:
- Clarity and accuracy — is the information clear and correct?
- Language — is it right for your brand and audience?
- Tone of voice — does the writing style suit your brand?
- Communication — do the key messages come across clearly?
- Call to action — is it clear what you want your audience to do next?
- Overall piece — is everything included or are there bits missing?
Unhelpful vs helpful feedback
❌ Unhelpful feedback
Unhelpful feedback is vague, opinion-based, and doesn’t cite specific examples.
“I don’t like it”
This doesn’t really tell us anything.
Which bits in particular don’t you like — and why don’t you like them? Is this a personal preference or is there a logical reason why you think it won’t work for your prospects?
“It needs to be more [subjective description]”
More punchy? More creative? More dynamic?
These kinds of words are subjective and mean different things to different people. You and your copywriter might understand them differently. And if you’re not on the same page, you won’t get what you’re asking for.
“I’m not sure what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it”
There are a number of variations of this feedback, but the common problem is that you don’t really know what you want. And if you’re unsure, your copywriter will just be aimlessly redrafting without any direction and hoping something sticks.
Clearly this isn’t going to work. Most copywriters only include a limited number of revisions, so, unless you can make a decision, you’ll end up paying extra and ultimately getting nowhere.
“It’s [single adjective]”
One adjective might work for a word or two, but it isn’t enough to describe why a whole piece or section isn’t working — so you’ll need to be more specific.
Saying you’re happy while planning to rewrite it
This isn’t helpful and defeats the whole purpose of working with a copywriter.
Clients who rewrite the copy often make mistakes, lose the essence of their message and end up with copy that doesn’t work as effectively as it should.
✅ Helpful feedback
Helpful copywriting feedback is objective, specific, constructive and actionable.
Tell us what we got right — and why
Start with the positives. Knowing what we got right can be just as helpful as knowing what we got wrong — and it means we can do more of it.
Tell us what we got wrong — and why
If we’re going to put it right for you, we need to understand exactly what’s wrong and why it’s wrong.
Be specific and give examples
There are three things we need to know.
1. Explain exactly where the problem is.
Is it a:
2. Explain what’s wrong with it.
Is it because it’s:
- Incorrect or incomplete?
- Unclear or misleading?
- Off-brand or the wrong tone?
- Unnecessary or irrelevant?
- Not making the right point?
- Lacking or missing something?
- Something else?
3. Explain why it’s wrong.
- What needs to be added/amended?
- Why is it confusing?
- How is it off-brand?
- Why is it irrelevant?
- What point should it be making?
- What do we need to add?
This will help us learn so we can look at our second draft more critically.
We want you to be happy with the copy, so if you feel there are issues, let’s work through them together.
If you’ve pointed out problems and have the solutions, please tell us.
How to send your feedback
Now you know what to give feedback on, let’s look at the best way to send it.
Consolidate your feedback
This is essential. Because your copywriter can’t possibly please several different people, all responding individually and all with conflicting opinions.
So we ask for one full set of feedback to work from, which includes feedback from all the decision-makers.
The feedback should be consolidated into one document and it should be agreed by everyone who has a say.
Presenting your feedback
There are a number of ways to give your feedback. Let’s look at some of the best ones.
Giving your feedback in person or over the phone enables a two-way discussion with your copywriter. This is especially helpful if you’re struggling to articulate some of the points you want to make in writing. And it allows your copywriter to talk through their decisions.
Email is fine if there are only a few simple changes to be made and you can easily identify where they are.
But if the feedback is more extensive, it would be better to choose another method.
Using tracked changes in Microsoft Word
If the copy has been sent in a Word file (with the file extension .doc or .docx), your copywriter should have Word or a Word-compatible alternative.
Using tracked changes, you can highlight the specific parts you want to comment on and the changes you want to make.
In Google Docs
Your copywriter may have created the document in Google Docs, in which case you can suggest edits directly on the document.
Before you start, make sure Suggesting Mode is selected, using the button at the top right of the toolbar.
In this mode you can highlight or suggest edits to the copy you’re not happy with and leave a comment to explain.
Remember, you need to save each comment after you type it.
What not to do
Don’t make changes directly to the document
When you get your draft you may see things wrong and you may want to make changes.
But please don’t make those changes directly to the text on the document, because:
- We won’t be able to easily see what you’ve changed
- You might compromise the flow of the copy or the effectiveness of the SEO
- We won’t know what you felt was wrong with the parts you changed.
Instead, please use tracked changes or suggestions.
Don’t delete whole sections of the copy
Each piece of copy is a carefully crafted message. If you rip out parts haphazardly, it will be difficult to put it back together in a way that makes sense and retains the meaning.
It’s much better to tell us what’s wrong with the parts you want to delete, so we can work on them and fix any problems.
Copy that works for your brand
The ultimate goal of the feedback process is to get copy that clearly communicates your message and gets the results you need for your brand. And that’s something you and your copywriter both want.
The best way to get it is to work together, help each other and learn from each other.
About the author
I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter based in Leicester, UK.
I write smart copy for savvy SMEs and specialise in:
- SEO copy and content for websites and blogs
- Writing in clear, plain English
- Conceptual copywriting for creative projects.