It starts with a question: How do I get more people to visit my website? How do I get more sales? How do I get customers to share about it on social media and come back for more? The answer is knowing how to write good website copy.
COPY v CONTENT
Just a quick aside here to be clear, because there’s a lot of confusion – what’s the difference between copy and content?
Content is used to inform. It can be written communications, but it also includes images, video, blogs
Copy is written communication used to persuade readers to buy something, or to communicate a brand message, or take a certain action. It is used in landing pages, adverts, email marketing, wherever you’re presenting your company or making a persuasive offer.
Here we’ll be focusing on website copy specifically, and how to write good website copy.
Anyone reading your web page should feel compelled to take action. They should be thinking “Wow! That’s amazing!” or “I’m going to try this myself.” This article will provide you with tips on how to write good website copy.
WE’RE ALL LOOKING FOR THE SAME THING
When someone lands on your website, assuming it’s intentional, they are there to fulfil a need. And they are there trying to decide whether your product, service or company fulfils that need.
The sounds pretty simple to handle, right? For example, if you offer website services, and we’re assuming they’re after a website, you make it clear about how wonderful your company is and what great websites you make, and hey presto you have yourself a new client! Well not quite. It’s rarely that simple.
Your website has 0.5 seconds to impress before a visitor will decide to stay and implicate or will lose interest and consider clicking away and looking elsewhere. It’s brutal. But now that you know, you can create copy that will keep them interested.
BUYING A FEELING
The truth is that most people don’t set out to buy a product or service, they set out to buy a solution. But more than that, they set out to buy a feeling.
On the surface, the potential new website client, to continue with the example above, is likely looking to sell more of his products or services. He may be looking to do that to earn more money, to have a successful company, to build the business up and so on.
But behind that is the feeling. What he is really after is likely to be something like – to feel proud of his achievements, feeling satisfied that he’s taking care of his family, feeling free knowing he has a lot of options for his holidays, car, home, time off, or whatever is important to him.
It is never about the product itself. It’s about what the product will make him become. It’s not about the website, it’s about the website making him feel successful, a good provider, free…. etc.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Before writing any copy, it’s important you know your target audience. Consider their goals, their needs, priorities, pain points, interests.
Identify the age, sex, education, location, interests. Build up a persona, a personality for the customer you are aiming your copy for, and your product or service. Knowing who you’re talking to can help you tailor the message accordingly.
Write copy as though you’re talking to just one person in particular. Even if there are many people who might read it, and you hope there will be, assume that each sentence is going out to someone very specific – have that person in mind as you write.
How do you know who your target audience is? How can you find out what their goals are and what they need? Even if your business if new, you’ll have a fairly good idea who your target audience is in broad terms. To narrow down their aims and needs, a good place to start to speak to past clients. If you have the budget you could carry out market research. Alternatively another good source of information is on forum discussions, such as Reddit and Quora, or any industry specific forums. You’ll get a good idea of peoples preoccupations around a topic through the chat. Also look at the bottom of a Google search result for the term your product or service covers to the section People also Asked.
Don’t leave a window for potential customers to say ‘no’.
Your copy should anticipate potential client concerns. If you’re not sure about what these might be, again, have a look on forums to see what discussions about concerns are centred around. Use these to create a Frequently Asked Questions page or section.
FEATURES & BENEFITS
There was a time when it was enough for copy to simply list out the features of a product. Those days are long gone as consumers have become more sophisticated, have become spoilt for choice and have almost infinite information a few clicks away.
So you need to talk about benefits, not just features. Tell them what your product will do for them, not how it works. Tell them what they will become if they use your product or service. Tell them how it will benefit them and change their lives for the better.
Of course you should include the features, but don’t make them front and centre. You can include them in a Technical Specs or More Info tab, if it’s appropriate.
Remember, people don’t buy a website (or whatever the product is) they buy the perceived benefits that the website will bring them.
get an online presence
get more customers without leaving your office
get a mobile responsive website
get more sales
If your copy has more ‘we’ than ‘you’ , then you’re focusing on features, not benefits.
Focus on who your customer will become once they have brought your product. Make it obvious why they should buy from you, by focusing on the benefits to them. If you get stuck try to write answers to the question, ‘what’s in it for them’.
USE IMPLICIT SIGNALS
Rather than just listing facts or spelling it out, paint an image, paint an outcome. Again, focus on how the customer will benefit, and use implicit language and signals.
These are often included in company slogans or ad tag lines. A few great examples are:
Skittles – Taste the rainbow
iPhone X – Say hello to the future
Visa – Everywhere you want to be
Nike – Just do it!
Implicit signals can be very powerful in positioning a brand or product, as well as being an opportunity to inject some humour or light heartedness.
FEELINGS & EMOTIONS
As we saw above, it’s emotions that are behind pretty much every decision to buy a product or service. It’s possibly a perceived lack that needs to be filled or an aspiration, but behind the obvious logical reason there’s emotion driving the intent.
When logic and emotions battle out a decision, almost invariably emotion wins, with the majority of people. This is due to how our brains developed and operate. How many times do we know that we really don’t need another pair of shoes, but still we can’t help buying that fabulous pair we’ve just met? How many times do we know we’ve probably had enough to drink and should go home, but don’t. How many times have we made pros and cons lists then completely ignored the obvious winner, because it just didn’t ‘feel right’?
Consider what your customers’ emotional goals are. What are they trying to really get from your product? Ask yourself how the visitor will FEEL when they read your copy. Find the right motiving emotion for your particular product and target audience, to speak to the emotion that is likely propelling the sale.
Also be aware that different industries may value the same word differently. An interesting experiment was carried out on this by Hubspot – Ways Emotions and Word Count Affect Your Landing Pages
BACK UP CLAIMS
If you claim that people will look 30 years younger after using your product for 5 days, back it up. Use science, use testimonials, or use whatever is appropriate for your particular industry, to give credence.
Including testimonials or customer reviews on your website has a positive impact because they are perceived in the same way as if a friend had made a personal recommendation. If you can link Trustpilot or Google reviews it’s even better because it gives the impression of greater impartiality.
It’s also been found that reviews with a clean 5 out of 5 stars, is actually less trusted than reviews with 4.8 or 4.9 out of 5 stars, as people are suspicious that they might be faked.
BE CLEAR AND SUCCINCT
Even when you’re talking about technical aspects of your product, try to avoid industry jargon and abbreviations unless your copy is intended only for other industry specialists. Most people will be quickly put off by things they don’t understand.
- keep the copy simple with short sentences
- avoid long words – short words are more easily understood and they’re easier to skim read
- pitch the language level at about about Year 9 (8th Grade in the US), not to alienate some readers
- keep writing plain and simple, avoid getting grandiose, and write like you’d talk instead
MAKE IT EASILY DIGESTIBLE
- use a headline with a strong hook – remember you only have 0.5 seconds to impress
- include headings and sub headings to break up text and convey key points
- use short paragraphs to make readability easier
- include bullet points
- use great images
INCLUDE FREQUENT CALLS TO ACTION
What action do you want your website visitor to take? To buy something? To contact you?
More importantly consider what a potential client wants, and where they want to go next. Use buttons and highlighted text to encourage action, with wording that competes the sentence ‘I want to …’ – for example Get A Quote, Get A Free Trial.
DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR COMPETITION
Consider what differentiates you from your competition. It could be things like
- geographical area
- service element – good customer care, no quibble returns, free postage
- price comparison
- fast delivery
Whatever your unique selling point is, make sure to make it very obvious on your website.
OFFER A CLEAR UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION
If you can’t communicate what your value is how do you expect potential customers to understand why they should buy from you?
Always be clear about your value as a company and that of your products. Highlight how you serve and benefit your customers, how you will be solving their problems and how you are different from the competition.
Knowing how to write good website copy will help you connect with your customers better, increase customer engagement and will lead to more sales. Really try to understand your customers and create copy which speaks to their needs.
Remember the old adage –
It’s not a matter of convincing a potential client to buy your product, it’s a matter of convincing him to buy it from you.
Hope this has been helpful in showing how to write good website copy. Now get to it!
How To Write Good Website Copy July 2021