Website design is undoubtedly important for delivering the wow factor, and in three seconds can tip the balance of visitors hang around or leaving your site. But, as a copywriter (I write words for marketing messages) I am going to focus on website content and how to create effective marketing copy to improve your click-through and conversion rates.
Understanding web users
Writing for the web and writing for off-line material requires very different writing styles. It’s important you understand where your copy will be used and who will be reading it. Quick, catchy text will appeal to web users that haven’t got time to hang around reading reams of text, and to be honest who wants to sit and plough through loads of copy – doesn’t that defeat the object of having an appealing website?
Before you start writing think about who your site is aimed at, what information do they want from you? What are their expectations, needs and motivations? Why are they visiting your site? What do you want people to feel and do when they visit your site? What image do you want to portray? These questions need to be answered to determine how you write your copy and the language and tone you need to use.
An insight into web users:
- People visit a site with a specific task in mind and quickly leave the site if they can’t find what they are looking for.
- Rather than read every word on the page web users scan web pages reading only the headlines and looking at the images.
- Web users want to feel like they are being interactive with a website and proactively using it i.e. clicking etc.
- Web users have a short attention span.
- Web users don’t want to be doing lots of scrolling up and down, and scrolling left and right is not recommended.
- Flash intros are dated and a waste of time – web users want to get to the information they came to see rather than look at flashing images.
- Visitors to your site will navigate through it in different ways, and won’t necessarily start with your homepage.
Writing great web copy
Now you’ve learnt about the behaviour of web users let’s talk about writing copy that will blow them away.
- Write as if you are talking to someone in the same room as you.
- Use language that will engage people visiting your site.
- Your copy should be original, creative and well-written.
- Don’t write large amounts of text – people won’t read it.
- Avoid jargon, acronyms, ambiguity and abbreviations.
- Use simple and unpretentious language so everyone can understand it.
- Make your message clear and understandable – don’t make visitors go hunting for the information they need.
- It should be obvious from your first paragraph what your website is about.
- Write about the emotional benefits of using your product/services not just the features. How will your product/service benefit people? What value does your product/service offer them?
- Use sections and headings to break the web page up.
- Write concise sentences and paragraphs and don’t just write for writings sake. Write it once and as succinctly as possible, otherwise people will get bored.
- Include a ‘call to action’ so they know what to do next – click a button, fill out a form, subscribe etc.
- Include links to other pages on your website. This will give them the opportunity to find out more information and explore what else you have to offer.
- Be consistent throughout your website and make sure words are spelt correctly.
- Be sure to include your keywords in your copy to ensure your target audience can find you. When considering your keywords think about the words and phrases people will search for in order to find you.
- Ask a copywriter to proofread your text, they will check for spellings, grammar, tone and consistency.
- If writing isn’t your thing get a copywriter to write it for you.