Few business owners have a background in copywriting, so creating content for their business’s website might seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, it doesn’t take the precision of destroying the Death Star or the concentration of pulling your spaceship from a swamp using the Force. It just takes a little creativity and some knowledge of best practices.
Writing website copy is more about relating the right information in the right way to your audience than it is about crafting clever sentences. To help you do this, I’ve compiled a quick list of tips you can use when writing your website copy. These tactics can help you create engaging, effective copy that draws in customers.
What Makes Good Copy?
Good copy is more than just clever writing. It’s a means to convert clients by using effective messaging and a clear call to action. As a certified StoryBrand agency, we like to take a unique approach to writing website copy. The main tenet of StoryBrand is that your marketing messages should focus on your customers, not you. They’re the main character in your brand story.
So when you start to create content for your website, consider what topics address your customers’ pain points and solve their problems.
To do this, there’s a little bit of prep work involved. You want to make sure your messaging is clear and precise. So before you start writing, consider these three questions:
- What is the purpose of the web page where the copy will be posted?
- What is the specific problem your customers are facing at the corresponding stage in their journey?
- What specific solution can you offer to this problem?
Once you’ve answered these three questions, you’ll have a clear direction for your writing. Now you can move on to the writing part. There are lots of things to keep in mind once you start creating copy. I find these few tactics the most helpful.
1.) Emphasize Solutions
The biggest part of focusing on your customers is finding helpful solutions for them. StoryBrand teaches that people don’t want to learn about your company (the year you were founded doesn’t tell them much about who you are), they want to know how you can solve their problem. It’s the classic “what’s in it for me” mentality.
For this reason, your web copy should always emphasize a solution. For example, your marketing strategy to sell a vacuum cleaner could focus on how easy it is to use and how little space it takes up in the home. This would probably mean more to the person cleaning the house than knowing the technical specifications of the engine, right? So you can see how this works.
When you’re crafting these messages around a specific product or service, there are two different approaches you can take:
- Feature-driven. This style focuses on what makes your product or service unique. It works well on product description pages and places people are looking for more specific details. Let’s look at the vacuum cleaner again. If you’re creating feature-driven copy, it might sound like, “two-liter dirt tank and specialized motor technology to keep it so quiet it won’t scare your cats.”
- Results-driven. This style focuses on how your product or service benefits the user. This is your StoryBrand message that shows potential customers how your product will improve their life. You might describe your vacuum cleaner as “powerful enough to clean the whole house without having to stop and empty the tank.”
2.) Be Relatable
Another valuable lesson of StoryBrand is that people pay more attention when you’re speaking their language. If you’re throwing out high brow industry terms and only speaking in acronyms, your customers might stare at you like Jackie Chan did Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. They’ll feel confused or leave your page unsure of how your services could benefit them.
There are a few easy ways to structure your website copy so it appeals to the widest audience.
- Use active voice. (Subject first, verb second.) There’s a saying in journalism that you have to grab readers by the nostrils and drag them to the end of your story. Active voice helps to smooth out this process. It’s more direct and engaging for readers, so it captures their attention and holds it all the way to the end of your post. No dragging required.
- Keep your sentences short. You want to be the punchy sitcom one-liner over the dramatic Shakespearean monologue. When people read online content, they tend to scan through it instead of hanging on your every word. Short sentences create scannable content that people can read quickly.
- Use clear headings and subheadings to help guide people through your page. You can use headers to ask questions (that you’ll answer in the text), to establish steps or just to clearly mark what you’ll be talking about. Think of these like the exit signs on a highway. Some people are along for the ride, but others are looking for a specific destination and your section header helps them find it.
In addition to your copy’s format, you want to try to write in a tone your target audience can identify with. For example, if you’re a CPA firm looking to land business clients, you’ll do better with concise, professional copy. But if your brand caters to teenagers who enjoy roller skating, you have more room for a fun, spunky tone and some modern lingo. Speaking like your audience helps you to build a relationship with them and makes it easier for them to come back when they need more information.
Finally, relating to your audience means matching their intent. You have to identify not only who you’re speaking to, but also what they want. A classic example is typing the word “kiwi” into a search engine. Is the user looking for the fruit, the bird or information about New Zealanders? You want to make sure you’re not giving people fruit facts when they actually want to learn some avian trivia.
3.) Create a Style Guide
Writing web copy is just one facet of digital marketing. Your brand messaging will go far beyond your website pages. That’s why establishing a consistent brand voice is important. It will set the tone for your brand across all marketing channels and guide how you relate to your audience.
When you have multiple people on your team handling content across email lists, social media and your website, it’s easy for your brand voice to get lost in the shuffle. That’s why an in-house style guide can be invaluable. It keeps your brand from appearing to have multiple personalities, one for each platform.
A style guide helps to establish guidelines so that everyone can craft messages in the correct tone whether it’s on your website’s homepage or your Instagram bio. You can even go so far as putting in punctuation preferences like the Oxford comma. Having this information in one central location makes it easier for your team to work collaboratively on every kind of copy and ensures consistency across all channels.
4.) Get Your Formatting Right
We’ve talked about structuring your copy, so now let’s look at your web page as a whole. Properly formatting the pages on your website can help significantly with SEO and make it easier for readers to navigate the information. This is where you have to put on your rational thinking hat and find the logical path through your page.
Think about your landing pages. The copy is incredibly important to help move people through the sales funnel and boost your conversion rates. There are a few easy optimization tricks you can use on these pages just by adjusting the format:
- Use keywords in your headers and subheadings to easily capture a searcher’s attention and show you have plenty of information about what they’re looking for.
- Use bullet points to convey lists of information. (Like I’m doing now.) This structure helps to break up complex ideas and make them more easily digestible for readers.
- End your page with testimonials. It sends people to the next page with warm, fuzzy feelings about your brand and a little extra confidence in your product.
5.) A/B Testing
Even if you use all these tricks and turn out some truly stellar copy, it can still be hard to tell if your content marketing is working the way you hoped it would. Instead of throwing your ideas into the void and hoping for the best, you can use A/B testing.
A/B tests are an easy way to see which version of a web design element or style of web copywriting is the most effective with your specific audience. In the test, your computer program will show website visitors either option A or option B and keep track of the metrics for each. After the data has been gathered, you’ll see which option your customers prefer and can implement that version permanently.
Don’t Forget Design
Website design is just as important as website copywriting, and the relationship between the two can’t be overlooked. It might seem like each of these elements exist independently of each other, but you actually get the best results when they work together.
The easiest way to make sure your copy and design are effectively coexisting is to create a wireframe. This is a bare bones drawing that acts similar to a blueprint for your website. It shows where images will be placed, where headers are located and how much space there will be for text. This can help copywriters determine how many words they can use to convey their point or describe a product.
Wireframes are typically used when you’re crafting a custom website. For some small businesses, though, the pricing of templates on easy-to-use website builders might be more realistic. That’s okay! Use the parameters set in your template of choice as your wireframe and craft copy around those predesigned pages.
Other Helpful Tips
Aside from these core steps to creating great copy, there are smaller details you can consider too if you want to get more out of your web copy. First, you can structure your information using the inverted pyramid. This is a technique used in journalism that puts the most important information at the top followed by the details in descending order of importance.
Keyword research is another helpful tool if you’re struggling to find relevant topics to write about. Exploring keywords with the help of websites like AhRefs or SemRush can give you an idea of what phrases people are searching for in your industry. This might spark some inspiration about a topic you’re well-equipped to write about.
Finally, don’t forget the pictures! A picture is worth a thousand words so why not use one with your copy? Images can enhance your message and infographics can help you organize lots of information into one easy snapshot. They also help to break up the text of a web page so readers aren’t confronted with an intimidating wall of words.
Here at Hughes Integrated, we love helping our clients find ways to leverage their web copy to help their business. Let us help you create messaging that works and copy that converts. Schedule a call with us today!