How to Write Better Web Copy
:: By Alex Weinbaum, MioDatos ::
Why is McDonald's successful?
Is it because their food is out-of-this-world spectacular? Is it because their television commercials master the art of persuasion? Is it because they are culinary trendsetters, exemplary in customer care or donate to charitable causes? No.
McDonald's is successful because it’s a simple business model. Walk in. Choose from 10 numerical menu items. Purchase. Wait two minutes. Walk out.
It’s fast. It’s efficient. It’s consistent. It’s simple.
Now, if you conceptualize this business concept and view it as your website.
Does it resemble a similar process?
If your answer is yes, congratulations, you probably convert customers like hotcakes (or McMuffins). If your answer is no, you may want to take a closer look at your website, and the first thing to look at is your copy.
Writing website copy that is simple, persuasive and provokes the reader to action isn’t easy. To get started, you need to know exactly who it is you’re trying to convince.
1.) Become Conscious of your Tone
It isn’t enough to simply realize the pain points and needs of your ideal visitor.
You’re well aware of that.
Effective Web copy depends on how well you’re able to hold a conversation. Instead of telling what your customers want to hear, speak to them.
A good idea is to visualize your reader as if he or she was right in front of you.
How would you start the conversation? How would you answer their questions? What do you want them to walk away with? What should they do once the conversation ends?
Think of it as a story.
Great storytellers don’t just make their audience listen, they make them hungry to listen for more.
How well you’re able to connect your product with a great story plays a large part in how your website performs.
2.) Self-Interest Outweighs Everything
People, for the most part, base their decisions off of how it will affect them.
The truth is, your customers don’t care about you, your brand, employees, accolades, experience, etc.
People only care about you if your product will help them.
Everything else is secondary.
Luckily, your website gives you the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this self-absorbed reality.
Before you start writing, think about how you can unify these underlining themes together:
• What is your value proposition?
• List each feature of your product or service(s)
• Define how each feature aligns with your customer’s self-interests
• What problem does each feature solve? Focus on the benefits of each feature
• What questions/objections might your ideal customer have?
• How would you answer each objection?
• Does your answer persuade a decision or influence a desired action?
• What is the “after-purchase” transformation?
Take a look at how San Diego SEO marketing agency, Ignite Visibility, implements their “after-purchase” call-to-action at the bottom of their homepage:
Begin by viewing your business from a broad perspective; this helps narrow your copy down to the things that matter, and ultimately, incite action.
3.) Write for Scanners, not Researchers
We live in a go-go culture.
People are impatient, stringent on the information they choose to read, and have small attention spans.
A beautifully scripted, exquisitely choreographed exposé on the life-changing benefits of your product means nothing if it can’t be instantly processed.
How do you write for scanners?
• Start with your conclusion by putting the most important information first (on the homepage)
• Stay away from verbose phrasing, adjectives, jargon, repetition and overly clever wording
• Keep sentences short and sweet (between 11-13 words)
• Use white space, bullet points, images, italics, fonts, bold text and sub headers
• Make keywords easily identifiable so that the reader knows they are in the right place
• Explain what you do in one sentence
• Proofread and edit your copy often
4.) Expect Visitors from Everywhere
Many of us assume website visitors follow a synchronized order, starting at the homepage and end at “contact us” or “request demo.”
However, Web traffickers are unique in that they can be introduced to your site and products from any Web page.
Each page on your website should have elements of an entry page, for example:
A clear and concise call-to-action, where visitors know what to do or where to go next
Easily scan-able copy with sub headers, keywords, images, white space, buttons, links, etc.
Clarification into what you do, who you help and what your site is about
5.) Use the Power of Active Voice
Which sentence do you prefer?
The first example uses active voice, which gives the sentence clarity and a simple direction. The second sentence uses passive voice, which is wordier and noticeably more disorganized.
Active voice gives your sentences fluidity and liveliness, allowing the reader to easily interpret what it is you’re trying to convey.
Passive voice clouts the objective of your words, making it not only difficult to scan, but long-winded and overall less effective.
6.) Seduce Search Engines
You’re not just writing Web copy for humans, but also complex search query algorithms.
Search engine sites such as Google, Bing and Yahoo prioritize their rankings based off of how quickly they can match key words with a Web page.
The best way to write for search engines is to write for your targeted audience. Think about the first words someone would use when trying to find your product.
Ask yourself what words you would use if trying to help someone find you (without stating the name of your business)?
1.) Place of business: Surfing lessons
Keywords: surfing for beginners; how long it takes to learn surfing; how to surf; no experience surfing
2.) Place of business: IT services
Keywords: computer support and repair; my computer is broken; what to do when computer crashes; etc.
3.) Place of business: Steak restaurant
Keywords: most romantic places to eat in San Diego; best restaurants to propose in; best restaurants with ocean view; etc.
About the Author
Alex Weinbaum is the content marketing specialist at MioDatos, the global leading provider in Synchronized Channel Marketing services. MioDatos provides businesses with a robust, automated platform for creating, scheduling and distributing co-branded digital marketing material for customers and channel partners.