It’s time for a new website.
You’ve found a great web designer, you’ve got all your images together, you’ve agreed your site map and your branding is looking pretty sharp.
You’re ready to go. But wait, what about the words?
Maybe you thought that your web designer would include them as part of the package and write them for you?
Your website is your shop window.
It’s often your potential customers’ first experience of your company and what you have to offer, so it’s essential that they understand your proposition immediately and the benefits this will bring to them as a customer.
Great copy is worth investing both your time and money into, it can turn visitors into customers, into income for your business.
Poor, unstructured copy could lose you that potential customer and ultimately cost you money.
Writing can be tough and creating concise, engaging and relevant copy for your website can be even tougher, but it can be done if you follow a few basic golden rules.
#1 Know your audience
When you sit down to write the words for your website, your first thought might be:
- What do I need to tell my potential customers that will make them buy my product or service?
While of course your ultimate goal is probably to persuade your customer to make a purchase, that shouldn’t be your first thought when writing website content.
Start off the process by identifying who your audience is and asking yourself the following:
- Who will be visiting my website?
- What is the reason for their visit?
- Do they have a particular problem that they need to solve?
- How can I help solve that problem?
By looking at your website from your audience’s point of view and identifying what they might need from you (rather than what you can sell them), you will find it easier to make that immediate connection and start the process of building a relationship with them.
#2 You only have a few seconds!
Surprisingly, for a person who writes words for a living, I’m going to recommend that you keep the words to a minimum on your website, especially those above the fold on the homepage.
Visitors typically leave your website after around 10-20 seconds if they aren’t engaged by what they see.
So that leaves you with around 10 seconds to effectively communicate your proposition and grab their attention before they move on.
Your homepage is definitely not the place for long, descriptive paragraphs.
You’re aiming for that one killer, attention-grabbing statement that enables your audience to understand who you are and what you offer, at a glance.
So, keep it short, snappy and easy to understand.
Your aim is to engage your audience immediately and draw them in, so that they want to take the time to find out more.
#3 Be human
It’s extremely important that you consider your tone of voice throughout all communication you have with both potential and existing customers.
Think about your brand, how do you want your company to be perceived?
Nobody wants to visit a website that feels like it was written by a robot.
Communicate your expertise and professionalism, but also try to be approachable and friendly.
Your customers will appreciate the personal connection you are trying to make with them and are more likely to engage with you and your call to action.
#4 Keep it simple and jargon free
The key to effective communication with your customers is to keep things clear and simple. Don’t use over-complicated words and try to avoid acronyms and jargon. Remember, you are likely to be communicating with people who don’t work within your industry, so words that are specific to your sector may not mean anything to your audience.
Rather than write long, involved paragraphs of copy, try to keep your sentences short and snappy. Use bullet points to simplify information, create attention grabbing headlines and don’t be afraid of leaving space. Space around your copy will make it easier to read and will help your audience focus on the points most relevant to them.
#5 Be unique
Don’t plagiarize. Copying content from other company’s websites is not OK. Coming up with original content can be difficult, but it’s worth persevering, after all this is your business and your story, why would you want to tell it using someone else’s words?
#6 Don’t just say you’re great…prove it!
It’s easy to tell your audience how great you are but, in order to establish credibility and build trust, it’s important that you provide evidence to back up your claims.
By using testimonials, reviews and case studies, you are able to prove to potential customers that they can trust you and that you will deliver on your promises.
Don’t forget to include a clear call to action. It is critical that you include this in every section of your website.
The great content you are writing will be much less effective in converting your audience into customers without it.
Whatever action you would like your audience to take next, make sure it’s clear and easy to understand. For example, include actions such as ‘sign-up’, ‘request a quote’ or ‘buy now’.
The easier you make it for your audience to take action, the more likely they are to take it.
Check, check and then check again
You’ve finally finished.
The website is written, your fingers and your brain need a well-deserved rest and you can’t wait to upload your words or send them off to your web designer and move onto something else.
Take a moment to consider whether the copy is really ready to sign off.
Have you checked it for typos, extra spaces, repeated words, spelling mistakes or other grammatical errors?
You have taken all that time to craft your content and to communicate your proposition, do you really want it to be spoilt by silly mistakes?
While your audience may not contact you to complement you on your excellent website content, they will not be shy about pointing out your errors.
Take a break.
Walk away from your copy for a few hours, maybe even sleep on it and then come back and check again – it can be amazing the mistakes you will spot with a fresh pair of eyes.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most copywriters are happy to cast an eye over a piece of copy and make suggestions or edits to improve it and ultimately to make sure that no pesky mistakes end up on your website.
Phew – I’ve finished!
OK, the website is live, it looks great, the copy is really sharp…you’re all finished, right?
Creating a great website and then leaving it alone and neglecting it will not help you to convert your audience into customers. Your website should be ever evolving, just as your business is.
You must ensure that your product information is always up to date, that your company news is current and that you don’t neglect your blog by forgetting to update it with new and engaging posts.
Remember to look after your website, it’s a vital part of your marketing activity and the content must be continually up to date in order to help:
- maintain and build the relationships you have with new and existing customers
- improve your SEO
- build your reputation and enhance your brand
- educate and inform your customers
Your website is your shop window. It’s often your potential customers’ first experience of your company and what you have to offer.
So, keep it tidy, interesting and up-to date – a new customer could come by at any moment!