A company without a website might as well not exist. The web is a crowded space, and your site is your online gateway to let your customers know what you do, what you stand for, and, and what you sell. You may have gloriously wonderful products, but without good website copy to describe your wares and the company behind it, the pretty stock photography and clever navigation will only get you so far.
But your copy? Well, your copy can sell, just like a smooth-talking knowledgeable salesperson can sell.
Website copywriting isn’t as easy as it looks
Just because we all passed English in high school doesn’t mean we can write beautiful website copy. See, copywriting isn’t just about perfect grammar – good copywriting is more about knowing your audience and writing to them accordingly. Capturing the language your audience uses, and putting down words that draw them in – that’s what makes website copy sparkle
So how do you get to know your audience?
When you built your business plan, you specified what your company does, who you’re trying to sell to, and who your ideal customer is (you did do this, right?). Through selling and interacting with your customers, you probably have a pretty good idea about who they are and the language that they use, but not necessarily. In fact, if you’re like most companies, you’re probably pretty-inward thinking. You focus on product development and improving what you’re good at.
So right off the bat, you’re in your own world, while your customers are in their own. Before you write copy, you first need to really understand customer needs, perceptions, what the competition says to them, and what they expect from you. The best way to do this is to get an objective third-party company to help you out because no matter how hard you try, it will be impossible for you to see outside of what you’ve so lovingly built in your company. (Kind of like how it’s hard to describe to a fish what it feels like to be wet.)
A word of advice: Invest in some research – the qualitative and quantitative kind – as your first step. Through this process, the researchers will interview your customers, examine your competition, interview your employees, and do statistical demographic studies on your target audience. From here, you’ll get a report detailing the different “personas” who your website is marketing to, and armed with this, writing the copy will be much easier, since you’ll now know whom you’re speaking to.
Tricks of the trade
Once you know who you’re writing to, you still have some work to do, so you can refine your copy and place it in the right spots. Here are a few tricks of the trade:
A/B Split Testing: Websites are such an awesome arrow in the marketing quiver; they allow you to test, quickly, what draws customers in. You can set up A/B split testing to try out different headlines, images, and web layouts. It’s worth going through this process so that you can track how people respond and move through your website. If you’re working with a solid website firm, they can help you set this up and test copy, images, and layout.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Even the best copy in the world won’t get you found without the right keywords and SEO-web build strategy. Any website developer worth his or her salt will be able to build you an optimized site. To add to your content, include a blog that is relevant, interesting to your customers, and has the right keywords.
Hyperlinking: Hyperlinks within your website and to other websites (see what we did there?) are another SEO best practice. Additionally, when you write great content and have an awesome website, other sites will (hopefully) link to you, boosting your SEO power.
A final word of advice for great website copy: Your brand proposition statement
A final word of advice to help your website content sparkle: Clear, concise copy. Specifically, you want your brand proposition statement to live cleanly and clearly somewhere prominent on your home page. This will be a few-sentence statement that clearly says what your business does, who your product is aimed at, and benefits of your service. Don’t go overboard with paragraphs upon paragraphs – your brand proposition statement should be super clear and easy for people to understand. Because you went through the steps of investing in qualitative research, you’ll have no problem crafting a statement that matches your target consumer. You know who they are, what they want, and the benefits of your product that appeals most to them.