I`ll try to answer your question and I`ll include a few tips on finance while I`m at it. Copywriting does not generate money; it`s either an expense or an investment depending on your perspective. Exchange generates money. [ Generally, an illiquid asset such as a product is exchanged for a liquid asset such as cash. It can be hard to convince people to part with liquid assets because liquid assets are easily convertible. Whereas it`s difficult to convert something you buy into liquid assets without taking a loss. ] Copywriting is not a magic bullet. It`s a single variable in a complex system. Good copywriting helps you communicate clearly ... or speak in terms a prospect can understand ... but it won`t sell a product no one wants to buy and it won`t help ROI in a poorly managed business. Is that clear enough?
"Point is, there "good" copy that conforms to generally accepted guidelines, and then there is effective copy, as measured by $$$ generated by that copy."
I think you might benefit from some basic financial education ... or perhaps brushing up if you`re already educated. Copy does not generate ROI except in the "small picture". In the big picture, where ROI is most important ... with respect to say ... profitability ... copywriting contributes something but precisely measuring that ROI is probably difficult.
Let`s say you run one ten-word advertisment with good copywriting. You sell $100,000 worth of product to people who see your advertisment. Do you say that the advertisement generated $10,000 per word minus cost to advertise? What about the other variables such as product development? Measuring contribution can be very difficult. Maybe it took 2000 decisions to arrive at the point where you could finally sell the product. Do you say that each decision returned $50 minus costs? You can invent any metric you like, and believe me, there are many. Sales/Square Foot. Sales/Store. Sales/Unit. Profit/Unit. I could write about this for days and days and only scratch the surface.
Good copywriting helps you speak clearly, which is critically important in marketing, but won`t necessarily lead to increased sales if the other components in the system are poorly implemented. EX: Good copywriting goes nowhere if no one sees your product because of poor promotion strategy.
I`ll again propose an equation, with elaboration, from a previous post:
Good Copywriting + Good Product + No Distribution = ?
Good Copywriting + Mediocre Product + Distribution = ?
Poor Copywriting + Great Product + Poor Distribution = ?
A business is a complex system full of inter-linked variables/components. Tweaking one component causes changes to the other components. Try evaluating these equations and determine the likely result.
"Being in business, that`s the number I`m interested in, not being graded on style criteria, but on performance."
Sure. I wish the world worked this way too. But that`s like saying "Oh I`d date a person to whom I am not attracted just because the person is nice." EX: Women often don`t want to go out on dates with poorly groomed/dressed men who are "intrinsically good" on the inside. Most of us prefer to see a well-dressed, nicely groomed doctor or dentist. While most of us wish the world was not a popularity contest based on looks and style ... which are extrinsic elements of a person or business ... the world doesn`t always work the way we want, right? The fact is that looks and style do matter and they are linked to ROI in some manner ... but I can`t give you any reliable quantitative method to establish hard numbers. I can tell you that most people won`t pay attention to lengthy marketing material, especially on a landing page. Information competes with information? If you fill a page full of words, which words is the customer supposed to remember? Do you think most people will decide to remember a lot of words just in case?
Great copywriting is about establishing relevance and speaking clearly. These are two of the most important elements of marketing. How does your customer know if your product is relevant if you talk about yourself the whole time? Does bad copywriting help the prospect discover that your product is relevant?
When I wrote the article, I chose to focus on copywriting and avoid a bigger discussion of business because those matters are well outside the scope of copywriting.