If you’re not a professional writer, like most of us, you may end up staring at a blank screen for hours while trying to come up with the right copy for your website. You’ve likely been told that website copy is crucial to getting more business and leads for your company. We understand, because we’ve been there. There’s pressure to craft compelling copy that is understandable, very professional, mildly entertaining, somewhat interesting, yet fully informative. How can one meet all of that criteria?
There’s a few tips we’ve developed and researched over the years to create strong website copy, and we’ll walk you through them in this blog post. Whether you are a copywriter working on the content of a website or a marketing manager given the task, we want to make this guide simple and easy to follow.
Before you begin writing the copy for your website, we recommend determining who your target audience is in order to create content that will appeal specifically to them. Content that resonates with your target audience will be more likely to attract them and bring them into your ecosystem. To figure out who your target audience is, consider these three questions:
Who are your current customers?
Who benefits most from your products or service?
Who are your largest audience groups according to your website or social media analytics?
If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you have the ability to see which age group and gender is visiting your website. In addition, you can also see what their interests are in order to tailor content to appeal to them more. While these factors aren’t the whole picture of who your target market might be, they can give you a starting point for categorizing your audience. Understanding the insights that Google Analytics has to offer is key to creating valuable website content. When your users feel you are talking to them, they will trust your brand more and feel motivated to explore your site.
This guide is not designed for a specific industry, so whether you have a SaaS business or are running a non-profit, we have a few tips tailored to all businesses. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out to us to learn more about content marketing or to chat about how we can help your business.
Our Guide to Writing Strong Website Copy
Have a conversation
1.) The best way to get words on paper is to simply write as though you are having a conversation. How would you explain your process and workflow to your peer? Your tone and phrasing matters here. When you are being sold on a product or service, you don’t want to feel like the salesperson’s pitch is complicated and difficult to understand so stick to simple language where you can. By using simplified sentence structures and verbiage, your customers can quickly understand what it is that you're trying to communicate.
2.) Copy that is too specific to the company is confusing to users visiting your website. The same goes for any industry specific jargon that isn’t well-known to everyday customers. The key is balance between trying not to sound too smart and also showing your expertise in your product or service. The way to do that is through your word choice and explanation. Friendly explanations help customers feel like you are taking the time to educate them and are approachable enough to contact.
3.) Creating a brand and tone guide for your website is also helpful if you have multiple editors or copywriters working on the content. It’s important to maintain a tone through the copy, in order to keep the text flowing. The caveat here is if you intend for each author to explicitly state that they wrote this content. Then they can feel free to adopt their personal style. When writing as the organization though, you’ll want to ensure consistency.
Solve your customer’s problems
1.) The purpose of most marketing websites is to create more leads and build awareness. A slightly depressing truth is that most users won’t make it past your homepage so it is imperative that you create clarity around what your business offers as quickly as you can. Ideally your potential customers can get a good idea of what you do and who for without scrolling at all on the home page. The first section of your homepage is the most viewed space on your entire website, and it has great influence on your customers.
2.) Throughout the rest of your website, your main goal is to describe how your business solves their “X” problem. You may not solve everyone’s problem, but once you discover your target market, you will want to talk in great detail about the benefits of your product/service for that target audience. Spend more time talking about benefits before you talk about features and background/history. Identify their pain points and address them by explaining your benefits and features. Benefits help customers understand how you can help them, features help search engines rank you for the things that people search. Both are important but we recommend starting with benefits.
Talk to your current and past customers
1.) To understand the motivations and thoughts behind the purchasing process of your product/service, we recommend first talking to your current and past customers. Past customers can give insight on what motivated them to work with you, what stood out, and any areas of improvement. The benefits of working with you should be highlighted across your website, because those will likely appeal to potential customers.
2.) Ask what hesitations they may have had and do your best to shed light on those through the website, limiting any doubt the future customer may also have. Ask past and current customers what they were looking to solve before they found you. Finally, determine what was the deciding factor for them to move forward with your business. These questions will help frame how you write your website copy, in order to be more appealing to customers and minimize confusion around your business.
Use Keywords in your favor
1.) Using keywords can have a great impact on your website copy, but it’s important to only use them with intention and purpose. Keywords placed through the text in an unnatural way feel forced and make reading the copy less enjoyable for customers. We recommend doing research on what customers are searching for before they reach your product. Find out what phrasing works in search queries, and try to naturally incorporate it into your website.
Include visuals to help users understand a concept
1.) While illustrations and graphics aren’t exactly copy, they are an important aspect of your website content. Visuals help users understand content better and help break up the text to be more digestible. Illustrations and other visuals are another way to show your company’s creativity. They are engaging and should be used with purpose. Placing images through the text with little to no meaning doesn’t add much value to the page. Instead, using graphics to better explain a concept about your business is a huge added value.
Make yourself unique to your competitors
1.) There’s an analogy shared by Seth Godin of the Purple Cow. He explains how if you’re driving down the road and you see cows next to you, you're not likely to get out of the car and check them out. Why? Because it’s a cow, and you’ve seen a cow before. There’s nothing really special about that. But if you looked and the cow was purple, you’d think Wow I’ve never seen that before!
2.) No one wants to share a regular, expected experience, but they will share if they were treated like royalty and were given an experience that was remarkable. The same could be done with your copy. Instead of being another “Market Leader” or “Best-in-class,” try being more conversational and sincere in your copy. Instead of writing that you are innovative, spend time writing what exactly your company is doing to be modern and creative in your approach and process.
Format your content properly
1.) Once your creative copy is complete, you will want to focus on how to present it. Having someone on your team proofread your copy and make suggestions is a great place to start. You also want to make sure your headings are incorporated to break up text. Eliminate any unnecessary words to simplify your writing. Another way to make your copy more effective is to use shorter paragraphs. By breaking up the content, it is easier for users to read and track.
Your Marketing Plan
Your website and content are valuable resources for your business. We believe it’s one of the key driving forces to reaching more business and growing as a whole. Other questions to ask yourself while working on copy:
Who is going to see this?
How can I get more eyes on my website?
Will my efforts lead to more business?
When we finish websites for clients, we also work on creating more awareness for their brand. This looks different for many companies. With some companies, we create a marketing calendar of blog content and ads. With other companies, we focus our efforts on Google ads to create more buzz around their business. It’s important to note that creating a new website is only part of the process.
We would love to chat with you about your marketing plan for this year. Whether you are in the middle of it or just now getting started, we can share more ways on how you can be growing your audience and getting the most for your marketing budget.