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So you’ve decided you want to write a website. Now what? How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to an impressive online marketing presentation, one that will attract visitors to your website and convert them into customers?
Fortunately, it’s not quite as difficult as it seems. First, realize that when it comes to purchasing products or services on the web, most people really don’t care what company they buy from. They are seeking a solution to a problem.
If you can persuade visitors that your product meets their needs and they can trust your claims, then they’ll buy from you.
With that objective in mind, you want to write web copy that:
You can’t toss random content on your site like a basket full of clean laundry that needs to be sorted. Readers won’t sift through the mess. The disorganized pile becomes an overwhelming deterrent, and the visitor will hit the back key to search for another website that’s easier to read.
To be effective in your web copy, you need to carefully organize the information, employing words and categories that make sense to the reader.
Much like you probably did in English class, a good place to start is with an outline. In designing your website, your outline will help determine your navigation.
What will your main menu say? Which topics deserve their own buttons? And what will your sub-menus or pull-down menus say? Use recognizable terms and logical organization so your visitors can quickly find what they need.
While every website is unique, there are some pages that most have in common. You can use them as a starting point to frame your site:
Once you’ve identified the pages you plan to have, start listing your main points for each one. You’ll soon see your page content taking shape.
At its most basic level, good website copywriting provides the facts. It has the information that your customers seek and ultimately compels them to take action. Forget the flowery imagery and be straightforward in your delivery.
Use topic sentences and limit each paragraph to one main idea. Provide the right amount of information, enough to satisfy the readers’ questions, but not so much that they’ll be overwhelmed.
Clarity is key. So is the tone. Website copy should be conversational, written as if the author were actually speaking one-on-one to the visitor. Use simple sentences. Informal, down-to-earth language and a friendly manner will connect with your reader.
Let your personality shine through. Even humor has a role in business websites. Copy that reads like an impersonal term paper or legal brief is boring and hard to comprehend.
Website visitors are impatient. They want pages to open instantly. They want results. They want to find the information they seek or complete the task they came to do as quickly as possible.
The most essential features and text should be placed in the easiest-to-find locations. Unnecessary clicks, extra steps, requests for personal information, and other actions need to be eliminated. Tasks should be streamlined.
Scanning is the norm. Visitors want to glean the essence of your pages often with a mere glance. Strip away all the filler content to create a clean, lean website that focuses on exactly what your customers care about most.
Applying some basic design guidelines can help your copy look as good as it sounds. The use of simple tactics will make your pages more readable, including:
Your website’s design should go hand-in-hand with its copy. Together they must send a cohesive message that resonates with visitors.
Too many businesses make the mistake of creating a site that works for them, rather than the customer. You’ll want to test your ideas and get feedback.
Once you’ve built your website and added your content, ask a few friends to evaluate it as though they were prospective customers. What’s their first impression when they start on the home page? Do they like what they see? Does it make sense? Watch their reactions as they go through your site.
User tests can be extremely helpful in fine tuning the effectiveness of your site. Watch what paths users take. Is the way they proceed through your site logical? Are they able to find answers to their questions? Do they feel they can trust the claims made on your website? Would they feel comfortable buying from you?
Finally, if your site has an e-commerce component, have your tester make a purchase. Are your instructions clear? Does every step in the process go smoothly? If your site has a form, have your tester complete it and identify any areas that caused confusion.
Getting real feedback is an invaluable way to determine which parts of your website work and which don’t. A positive user experience is imperative if you want people to return to your site, purchase your product or service, and refer your business to friends.
Once you’ve launched your website, your work isn’t done. Look for opportunities to continually improve it.
A wide variety of software programs exists that can analyze your website’s traffic and suggest changes. You’ll be able to measure important data like sales and conversions, clicks, and page views and then modify your site accordingly. Sometimes even the smallest tweaks — a word here or there, or the location of a link — can have a significant impact.
You should also routinely go through the content on your website and remove any outdated information. Unlike a printed brochure, a website is so easy to update; there’s really no reason not to.
Make your website dynamic. Continually add fresh content and modify existing content to better suit your customers’ needs.
Consider adding themed or seasonal information. Mention any upcoming specials.
Visual content is important to. Add new, relevant photos whenever possible.
Your website should grow along with your company. Write new pages regularly to attract new visitors and keep the old ones coming back.
More importantly, a site that isn’t current will hurt your credibility with visitors as well as the search engines. Yes, Google does know when your site was last updated.
Maintaining a quality online presence takes effort but is essential for today’s businesses, no matter how large or small. The quality of your site’s content influences customers opinion of your company.
A well-designed, well-written website with authentic information creates a favorable impression. It inspires trust in the company.
Ultimately, the objective is to create a website that is truly customer-centric. It must speak your customer’s language, not your company’s. With compelling web content, you’ll make more sales and build a stronger brand.
Now that you’ve read all these tips, you might be itching to start writing the copy for your website. But be realistic about your situation.
Don’t spend months hoping to fit it into your busy schedule. If you don’t have the time or desire to write your website content, consider hiring a professional copywriter.
A pro will get you to the finish line much faster. And the quicker you get your website launched, the sooner you’ll be able to market your products and services and begin reaping the benefits of your online presence.