We are the change

6 things you need to know about writing website copy

Biggest website mistake?  It’s when business owners spend all their time and energy on making sure the look and feel is right and then try to bash out some copy quickly so that they can make their website go live.

Absolutely, first impressions do count.  A picture is worth a thousand words and finding a website designer who understands how some colours have better impact online than others will undoubtedly help the success of your website.

But if you spend no more than a few hours writing up 5 pages of website copy, then all your lovely images, beautiful branding and snazzy colours will be wasted.

If the words don’t back up your branding and speak your clients’ language, your potential clients will be clicking the back button as quickly as they can blink.

Last year I published an article on my blog asking the question “Do Long Sales Letters Work?”  And it certainly evoked many comments and thoughts from readers.  But putting the long sales letter formula aside for the moment, there are some essential copy writing points to follow if you want your potential clients to take the next step with you via your website.

1.   It’s never about you but always about your clients.

Avoid the trap of writing about yourself and your business because ultimately your potential clients will only care about what’s in it for them.

So what if you are the market leaders in your region – what does that mean to your client?  So what if you have worked with all the big names – how does that benefit your client?  Don’t list the reasons why you are so great.  Focus on the benefits to your clients.

2.    Stop writing “we” and start writing “you”.

Print out your home page copy and highlight every “we”, “our” and reference to your business name.  Then highlight every “you” in a different colour.  There should be 5 times as many “you”s as there are “we”s – but you’ll probably find the opposite!

For every sentence that has a “we” or a “our” in it, re-write it and change the reference to a “you” and you’ll be on the right track to having copy that engages with your potential client, rather than turns them off.

3.    Speak your client’s language – not your own.

It’s easy to use industry standard pre-fixes and jargon in website copy.  After all, you probably use these words every day when you talk to colleagues or suppliers.  But your clients probably don’t!  Use words they wouldn’t understand and you’ll end up alienating them at worst or coming across too corporate at best.

4.    Correct grammar of course, but don’t be afraid of writing colloquially.

If your potential clients use informal language, then embrace it.  If they use slang, embrace it too.

Over the years, I have had the odd email from a subscriber pointing out my occasional spelling mistakes and bad grammar.  But for most of you, the feedback has been that you’ve enjoyed my natural “speaking” style – I write how I talk.  If it works for your potential clients, then use it!

5.    Use short paragraphs, bullet points and selective bolding.

Reading from a screen is different from reading the printed page.  People tend to scan and often don’t read word for word.

Make it easier for your online visitor to digest your words by using one to three sentence paragraphs.  Break it up with bullet points where appropriate.  And use the bold selectively (too much & it defeats the object!).

6.    To create action you need to demonstrate pain.

Your potential client will only contact you if they find themselves in enough pain.  Whether that’s confusion and lose of direction or losing profitability and sales – if there’s no pain, why would they spend money with you to solve a problem they don’t have?

To identify a reason to contact you, they need to identify with the problems you highlight in your website copy.  So don’t just write warm, fuzzy words all of the time.  You need to hit them between the eyes to create enough reason for them to send you an email or pick up the phone to you.

Writing website copy that sells is not easy.  But it is skill that can be developed over time with lots of practice and lots of learning.

Keep going back to your website copy once a month and review what you have written.  Read up about copy writing and get in to the habit of writing on a regular basis.  It is really worth the time and energy because to have a website that sells your business to potential clients is a business resource worth having – guaranteed!

About the Author: Karen Skidmore helps small business owners work smarter and use the right marketing tools so they can attract more of the right clients to their business. Karen created the Web Tech Club to show you how to use tools such as email newsletters, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  To subscribe to her free email newsletter and get access to practical advice and marketing ideas that will move your business forward, visit www.CanDoCanBe.co.uk

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1 Comment
  1. Alexandra Trapnell says

    Nice article Karen, you’ve made some good points, which I’m certainly going to look in to – thank you.