09 December 2013 by Web Bureau
Ooohh! You’re getting a website! How exciting!
Whether you’re rebuilding or taking your business online for the first time, your website is much more than how it looks and feels: what’s even more important is how it reads.
Because you can have all the fancy techno bells and whistles, but if it doesn’t say what you need it to say... it isn’t worth a virtual visit.
Plus, while you know your business inside out - and you want to tell the world about it – there’s a good chance the world just isn’t that interested... After all, we’re all busy people and the internet is a big enough place without you adding to the deluge.
Copy is this: what you’re reading now: information ordered in a way to get a message across in print or online. Good copy will also engage the reader, taking them on a journey to where you want them to be, shaping their opinions and making a compelling case for, in most cases, making a purchase. Really great copy will do that in a way that seems effortless and makes the reader feel good about their buying decision.
Think about how your favourite website or brand does that – it may be that there’s very little copy – just enough to get the message across. It may be that there’s lots of copy, but it makes for interesting reading.
The really great websites take you on a journey between the two points, starting with the top line information and leading you into the detail. So you get all of your questions answered without it feeling like hard work.
Here’s our guide to writing a website that reads like a dream... while quietly converting browsers into buyers and brand advocates...
Think you need a website because everyone else has one? Think again.
Forget about the competition and think about your customers. Think about where they are and where they want to be - and how your business can help them get there. And that’s where you start writing your copy. Starting where your customers are will give you your core message that you can start building your site around, helping to shape things like how many pages, what will each one say, and if you need a blog. Get this part right and the words will flow.
Make home where the heart is.
Your home page will be your most visited page. But don’t be tempted to park as much information here as you can. Keep it light, fun if you can: it’s your reception area if you like, where people will spend some time getting their bearings. That means they’ll not only be looking for directions to your products, pricing or services, but they’ll also be getting a feel for the personality of your business – whether you’re their kind of people and if they want to do business with you.
Welcome your visitors.
But make it a personal – ‘Welcome to our website’ is just stating the obvious.
It’s not all about you.
Well it is... and it’s not. It’s all about what you can do for you customers. Ask that question. Offer information. Make it clear that the reader ahs something to gain if they stick around.
See if you can explain what you do in one, feel good line.
It really is all about what’s in it for them – make it clear that if they don’t read your website, they’re missing out.
Can’t decide on one headline? You don’t have to.
That’s the beauty of the moving page. If you really do have lots to say – point after point with which to make a big impact – rotate a series of short, snappy headers to build interest and generate click-throughs.
Make it relevant... and quick to read!
Bottomless internet pages give you lots of room to go on and on... but however much you’re tempted to, don’t! Have you heard of TLDR? Too long, didn’t read. Yes, that’s a thing.
When presented with a bulk of text, most readers don’t read. They’ll be out of there as fast than their little mice can click them. There are exceptions of course – people will read detail when they actively want to find something out, but don’t waste their time with flowery or overblown prose.
Make it scan.
This can be more about style than content: if you really can’t avoid a large body of text, break it up into short sentences, use double width spacing and use pull-out quotes or headlines so the reader can quickly get to the bit that they want.
Start on the level.
It’s safe to make some assumptions about what your reader will know about you. For example, if you’re a baker, it’s not necessary to tell people what a baker does. Whereas, if you’re in an emerging market or selling something entirely new, you might have a bit of explaining to do.
It’s no bad thing to start writing your copy with a certain assumption about what your audience may already know. It means you’re not wasting anyone’s time and can quickly get to the crux of what’s on offer. Plus, the beauty of a website means that you can park the detail at a secondary level for curious customers to find if they’re really interested.
What is important is telling people how you do something: better, faster and easier.
And to tell them it better, faster and easier.
The conversation starts here...
So think about your tone. How formal or chatty do you need to be? If you’re providing a professional service, you need to sound professional, but without being stuffy or unapproachable. If you’re in fashion, food or fun, you can really afford to let your hair down and bring your personality out.
This really is the key to making potential customers feel comfortable with popping something in their basket, picking up the phone or visiting you in person.
....and goes on and on and on.
Make your blog easy to find and engage with. Tweet about it. Facebook it. Post Links in LinkedIn.
Once you’ve set the tone with engaging, reader friendly copy, keep doing it. A consistent tone of voice, consistently pushed out to where your audience are, speaks volumes about your knowledge, expertise, commitment to your business and – most importantly – your customers.
At its most basic, good copy comes with time, a little thought and having a clear idea about what you business can deliver for its customers.
Do the write stuff: get the professionals in.
If you don’t have the time or are too close to your business to see what it is that your customers really want, it’s really worth asking the professionals. A good copywriter can help you to set a confident tone that talks direct to your customers and either blog on your behalf or help you to shape a strong social media and content creation strategy.
Ask us at the Web Bureau – it’s what we do!