When companies hire us to write copy for their website, they often participate in some capacity, from gathering raw content to drafting certain pages themselves. Many ask for guidance on the best way to approach writing for the Web. We've gathered a few of the main points that seem to help most people focus on what's important.
Mastering your website's copy is an important step in driving traffic to your website and holding the attention of your customer. One must take into account that website copy isn’t read like a book — it is browsed and skimmed through by people looking for answers. In order to give the people what they want, your copy should:
- Speak to your customer’s needs
- Get to the point
- Sound like your brand
- Provide the right amount of information
Speak to Your Customer’s Needs
Websites are about getting people to take action. When deciding which information to include, consider addressing the following questions:
- What is your visitor's primary motivation?
- What might his or her objections or concerns be?
- What calls-to-action do they need on each page? Are they redundant with others in the main navigation or other sections on the page?
- Does my audience care about this detail as much as I do?
Get to the Point
Start at the end of your story. Figure out exactly what you’re trying to say and say it first, whether it’s in the headline or the lead sentence of the body copy. Your audience will thank you for it. Don’t take the “once upon a time” approach unless you’re confident that your writing will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the stunning conclusion. However, some people need to write from the beginning to find out what their point really is. This is fine, just remember that when you revise a paragraph or page (and you should always revise before publishing) you might want to flip it upside down and start with the last thing you wrote.
Sound Like Your Brand (AND A REAL PERSON)
Think about how you want your audience to perceive you. Make a list of brand personality words (i.e. smart, passionate, friendly, irreverent, etc.) and give them to every copywriting contributor to keep them in mind while writing. Here are a few tips to think about when defining your tone:
- Humor is best delivered with intelligence and subtlety — puns should be prohibited.
- You can be serious without taking yourself too seriously.
- Be clear and honest. Clichés and jargon signal the Marketing Receptors in the brain to shut off.
Provide the Right Amount of Information
It is natural to want to provide every piece of related information when explaining to people why they should care about doing something, but people prefer to digest content in small chunks. To do this, take into consideration the following tips.
- Try not to write more than 2 or 3 paragraphs without a subhead to break up the content and to help people scan the page for main points.
- If you have more than 400 words of body copy for a page, consider creating a subpage with more detailed information. On the other hand, if you have less than 100 words of body copy, consider adding additional information.
Your website content is not only for your audience, it is also used by search engines to rank websites. This doesn’t mean you should go out and write exclusively for search engines just to improve your website’s position. Just keep in mind that the more useful and accessible your content is to your audience, the more search engines will see its value.