When people write web copy, they often take an “If You Build It, They Will Come” approach to their website. There are two major problems to thinking like that:
- That phrase references Field of Dreams, and the “they” in that statement are ghosts. Ghosts don’t buy anything. In fact, we’ve written about the problems ghosts cause on websites.
- If people do come to your website, but the content isn’t interesting, people leave. In digital marketing, we call this “bounce.”
Design Attracts New Visitors–Content Converts Them to Returning Visitors
A lot of people will tell you that a snazzy design or some kind of catchy name will fix these issues. While they do help, in my experience, a bigger factor is written content—you know, what many website owners think they should get from an unpaid, unproven intern.
Your written content is your customers’ first chance to find out what you do and what you’re all about. More importantly, perhaps, it’s also your best line of attack and defense in the never-ending War to Control Search Algorithms via SEO (another service you should vet and take seriously, but that’s another blog for another time.)
No lie, there are millions of websites that purport to teach people how to write effective, SEO-friendly copy. Of those, Heather Lloyd-Martin’s emails are the best I’ve found for effective advice on real-world websites. If she hasn’t run into it, it’s unlikely to be a real problem.
But for those of us who are pressed for time, I use the following rule:
Answers Two Questions on Every Page You Write
1.) Who Are You?
Have you ever been to a website that purports to be the best at something, but you have no idea who the company is or why they’re so great at that thing that they do? This means that the webpage(s) you saw failed to establish who it is that’s doing the talking. We accomplish it on the Chow-Bryant blog by associating an article with an author. Pretty easy, huh? If you don’t have the picture option, there are others. Pictures help. Stating experience helps. Doing both, though, is priceless. Even simple in-text links to your about page is a step in the right direction.
Speaking of, on a website, your about page needs to drive home who you are and why you—as a person or a company—are relevant to what you’re selling. If you can, use the rule of thumb for screen writing: State it three times. Be abundantly clear on who you are, why you’re interested in what you’re doing, and why you’re relevant to your field. If we don’t know who a website is about and why we should trust them by reading the about page, the copy has failed completely.
2.) Why Should I Care?
It’s not enough to tell people you sell things. You must also tell them what those things are and why they’re so needed. In digital marketing, we usually call this a USP, or unique selling proposition. Honestly, the name doesn’t matter. What matters is the substance. On average, people have an 8-second attention span, so the lengthy, wordy text of ads of yore just doesn’t work anymore. We read, but we read in blurbs and snippets. It’s best to get to the point—why people want what you’re selling—fast. Foot in the door tactics? Sweet Brown is right: https://media.giphy.com/media/10PcMWwtZSYk2k/giphy.gif