Hiring a writer is one of the smartest moves any small business can make.
I’m not just saying that because it’s what I do. I’m saying it because I have seen the toll that bad writing can have on a small business, and I’ve seen the effect of good writing.
For all you out there who know your website needs updating and are thinking about doing it yourself, please read the following analogy.
You need a new computer. You’re not sure what to get. (Although if you have half a brain, you should get a mac and I’m only saying this because it’s opinion week. Any other day I will respectfully acknowledge your right to buy a PC, although I may silently judge).
Sorry for the opinionated rant…back to the story:
You walk into a store and ask a sales person for help. You pick him because he looks knowledgeable, and he has glasses. This reassures you for some strange reason that you may decide to talk to your therapist about. He’s in his mid to late 30s which means he isn’t so old he doesn’t understand computers, but he’s not so young that you’re afraid he’s going to ask for a bottle in the middle of the conversation.
You introduce yourself, and tell him what you’re looking for in a computer. And that’s when it happens. He launches into an incredibly dry monologue about the computer in front of you. You don’t really follow a word he says, he uses technical terms that make your brain hurt, and you’re not even sure he listened to what you were looking for in the first place.
After four minutes your eyes glaze over and you patiently wait for him to be done. Let’s face it, if you could have walked away in the middle of the story without being rude, you would have.
The point of this story? Poorly written webcopy gives visitors the option to walk away in the middle of a long, boring story. If this sales person were to write the web copy for the computer store, it may be very informative, but chances are, it won’t be engaging. Most visitors will walk away in the middle of his story.
Now imagine you walk into the computer store and you ask a different sales person for help. This person is younger, but now you’re thinking maybe you need someone younger who isn’t going to bore you to death with crazy words. He has kind of a hipster look to him, and smiles at you. He’s friendly so you pick him as your guy. Again, you let him know what you’re looking for in a computer. And that’s when it happens.
Guy #2 launches into an incredibly personal story about the computer in front of him and why he loves it and you just have to buy it. His aunt got it for him for his 21st birthday and he used the computer to sign up for an online dating service and now he has a girlfriend and they’re going to have sushi for dinner that night. It’s a wonderful story. You were entertained. But did he convince you to buy the computer? Probably not.
Webcopy that is full of enthusiasm and makes you want to read it really fast like a teenage girl talking is fun, but it isn’t informative. It’s engaging, but it doesn’t make the sale.
There’s a magic behind writing copy that both provides information while also engaging visitors. Most small businesses owners can sit down and write about their company, but the question is: are they giving the correct information while also making it interesting? Probably not.
With my analogy I hope I’ve shown why it’s so important to have informative and engaging copy. It’s a skill that most copywriters work their entire lives to perfect. Make the investment to hire someone to write your copy in a way that will entertain and inform those who visit your site.
So ends the week of opinions. I feel like none of mine were overly controversial but it felt good to get my ideas and opinions out there. I encourage all bloggers to do the same!
What do you think about my analogy? Did it work for you? Do you think hiring a professional writer is worth your money?
Think about the last two years. A lot has happened in your business. You probably have new services, new staff members, and new customers. So why do you have the same website copy?
You want your website copy to help your business, not hurt it. So right now, take the time to go through it and make notes of the following:
What do you offer?
Do you still offer all the services on your site ? Do you offer any new ones that are not on your site? If someone comes to your site and reads about your offerings, can they understand exactly why your business is worth their time and money?
Do you have the same customers?
Think about those people who hire you day in and day out. Does the copy speak to them? Or does it speak to a customer that used to hire you? Have you updated your copy since the recession hit? Things are different now, make sure your content reflects that.
Do you have a hook and a call to action?
Don’t try to pass old, stale copy by such a web savvy society. It’s not going to work. Updated content with a nod to the times we’re in will represent you and your company in a better light.
Keep your content fresh to attract smart customers who can tell the difference.
How often do you update your web copy?
You want to focus on turning the eyes you have into paying customers rather than procuring more and more eyes. Your landing page better rock.
What is a landing page?: A landing page is a page on a website that traffic goes to in order to take action.
The purpose of a landing page: To persuade visitors to take action on your offer.
In order to market your business effectively and make as many sales as possible, your landing page better be hot, hot, hot. And it better contain copy that sells.
If you are a business with a marketing budget that includes Google Adwords, banner ads, PPC (pay-per-click) etc., a landing page is incredibly important. Instead of directing traffic from these clicks to your home page, you should be directing them towards a landing page, or basically a sales pitch.
Now, in all fairness, most small businesses don’t have the ad budget to be paying for banner ads that run across CNN and Google. So my best advice is to treat every page of your website as a landing page.
Which means every page of your website needs to sell. It needs to have the copy that drives customers to action. Your copy needs to show every visitor why they NEED your service/product. If they can’t have what you’re selling, they will suffer.
Next question. How to accomplish this? I’m going to admit it’s not easy. It takes persuasive writing. It takes understanding what your customers are really looking for. It takes a lot of trial and error. But in the end, if you nail that landing page, your conversion rates go up.
And now the part where the actual advice starts rather than me pontificating some more.
Here are 5 steps towards writing a landing page/home page that gets you results:
When visitors leave your home page, they should know what you do, how you can help them, and why you are better than the rest.
This means having clear, concise language where you tell your visitor exactly what to do. If we are not talking about a traditional landing page, but instead your home page, a call to action may be inappropriate. But make sure there is a call to action on another page of your website. If your home page does #1 really well, visitors are going to click on other parts of your site. Make sure the page(s) where you explain your services have a clear call to action on them. For me, just titling my services page Hire Me rather than Services is an instant call to action. Additionally, buttons are a great idea. If you can add a paypal button to the bottom of your sales pitch, you will grab a few impulse buyers. Here’s a great example of button usage.
Don’t fret about being witty or showcasing your personality (that should all be saved for your blog), but focus on writing copy that is easy to digest. I would go so far as to say, run it past an 8-year-old and make sure they understand what you’re saying. And please, not a smart 8-year-old, a really average one.
Don’t waste time with an introduction. Get to it.
I am a social media writer who specializes in blog posts, newsletters, press releases, and website content.
I help small businesses take their sales to the next level through focused, customized copywriting.
It goes from selling what I do, to selling how I can help you.
My last piece of advice? It’s a work in progress. Play around, test ideas, and while I would say the written word is 75% of an effective landing page, make sure the design works with it too.
Expert copy writing has the power to raise your website from average to extraordinary. Strong words will draw in readers, converting them from random visitors to customers.
A large part of my business is re-writing static website copy and taking it from drab to fab. My job is to draw in new customers and expertly describe a company’s goals, products, services, and philosophy. A few days ago one of my clients pointed out that I’ve been harping on about how important social media is for small businesses without once mentioning the foundation which all of that is built upon: the static website. It’s time to remedy that error.
Your website can be beautifully designed and offer amazing products or services, but if it doesn’t connect with your readers, it can hold back your growth.
So how do you know if your copy is any good? If it elevates your products and helps make a sale? How do you know if it Wows?
Below are traits of good copy writing, in my opinion. This is by no means the be all and end all of website copy writing, but if you keep these qualities in mind while reviewing your website copy, you should have a good idea of where you stand.
When writing copy, make sure to consider what the intended outcome is. If you don’t know what you want to achieve with your words, then you can’t tailor them to clearly express your objectives and achieve your end goals.
To achieve effective writing, consider the following: Who are your customers? What can you offer them? What have they come to you for?
Copy can come across in a variety of ways: conversational, professional, authoritative, etc. Make sure it is consistent across the board. Switching tones throughout the site will be off putting to readers and can lead potential customers to feel hesitant about your site.
This also applies to the narrative mode you choose — either write using the informal (I, me, we, our) or the formal way, using only the company name. Do not switch back and forth or your readers will feel like they are getting virtual whiplash.
Do not hide your message behind clever words and riddles. You want your message to be as clear, upfront, and brief as possible. You do not have your readers’ attention for an unlimited amount of time. Waste no words.
What is on your site should not solely be about selling your product or service. It also needs to help your readers decide if you are what they are looking for. This means you have to really think about what your readers want to hear from you and what will cause them to purchase your product or service. You may think 1,000 words on your professional past is interesting and will help sell your business, but what will your readers think?
Keep the attention span from waning by using techniques to engage your readers. This can include breaking up text with white space, pictures, bullet points etc. Keeping the tone conversational is an effective strategy, as is peppering your copy with questions posed at your reader. You do want your copy to engage, don’t you?
Don’t assume readers will hire you or buy your product without holding their hand. Simply talking about your amazing service is not enough, you have to have a visual call to action: install a buy button on the side or a scroll bar with your products visually displayed. Make it easy to purchase so the customer doesn’t have to do the work.
This strays from the topic of the static website, but it’s worth mentioning that more people will read your static copy if you also have evolving copy (aka a blog). The more new content you have, the more interesting your website becomes, and the more readers you will attract.
There is obviously no magic formula to producing perfect website copy. If you ignore all that is above, keep in mind this last rule:
Write with your ideal customer in the back of your mind at all times. Write so that they will find your content easy to read, engaging, and persuasive.
What do you think? Did I give a good start on the benchmarks of effective website copy? Did I miss anything you consider to be extremely important? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
p.s. I have a guest post up at Design*Sponge today on using a blog to grow your business. Check it out.