There are so many things to consider when you are creating a website, that it’s easy to forget who you are creating it for. Cool coding, dynamic design and Google-friendly SEO are all very well but getting people to visit a great-looking website is only half the battle. If you don’t engage with them, using copy that they will read, understand and act on, the rest is just a waste of time.
Why copy is key
Some websites don’t need copy, because they are offering exactly what the visitor is looking for. For example, Amazon takes you straight to the item you want to buy and Unibet IN takes you straight to the most popular sports bets. Other sites, however, need to do more of a soft sell, introducing themselves and winning over their visitors before inviting them to buy their products and services or engage with their site. Unless you already have an established reputation and a captive market, chances are your website falls into the second category.
Who? Why? What?
These are the most important things to think about when writing copy for your website (or any other communications for that matter). Who are you talking to? What do you want them to do? And why should they do it? The clearer you are about these three questions, the more effective your copy will be, so spend some time really thinking about them.
Who are you talking to?
You need to be very specific about your audience if you are going to understand their desires and motivations, speak to them in their language and really engage with them. You may think your product, service or site is for everyone, but this is rarely the case. Identifying your audience,and putting yourself in their shoes,will help you find a tone of voice that will instantly click with them, getting them on your side from the start. Remember, it’s a conversation, not a lecture.
What do you want them to do?
It is amazing how many websites don’t have a clear call to action. Yet if you don’t tell your visitors what to do, then how can you ever expect them to do it? This means more than just telling them to ‘buy now’; you need to think about the visitor’s journey through your site, and include the right calls to action at each step. This starts by encouraging them to find out more and it may take several steps before they are ready to buy, subscribe or take other action.
Why should they do it?
This is perhaps the most important of the three questions, because at the end of the day, you need to understand that people don’t actually care about your company or organisation. It’s tough, but it’s true. What they care about is themselves and what’s in it for them. So that’s what you need to tell them, as clearly as possible. Always talk in terms of benefits and not features, explaining what the feature will do for them, and don’t waste too much time telling them things they would expect or take for granted. It is your unique selling points or competitive points of difference that will make you stand out and get the response you asked for in your calls to action.
It’s not about you
The key to great website writing is to keep in mind that your website is not about you; it’s about them. If your copy talks endlessly about how great your organisation is, it will never truly engage the visitors. As we discussed above, they simply don’t care. You need to talk about what you can do for them and why they need your product or service in their lives. Take a look at your web copy and if most of the sentences start with ‘we’ or your company name, then it’s time for a rewrite from the customer’s perspective.
You visit websites all the time, so you have plenty of opportunities to see what works for you and what doesn’t, and to model your own site on the very best. Chances are these will be the sites that you feel are written for you, by someone who understands you and who wants to help you.