Category Archives: Website Content

Don’t forget the copy

In the early days of the Internet images were few and far in between. Your typical website was just page after page of text (or worse, a single page of text about a mile long).
Now it would be hard to find a website that doesn’t have an image.

That’s not a bad thing. Images catch people’s attention, and a good image can often explain a concept better than words ever could (e.g. infographics).

And thanks to digital cameras and smartphones we have access to more photos of people, places and events than ever before.

But this doesn’t mean you can ignore your copy. Your words are still important. In fact, if you use images your words are more important than ever. Here’s why.

Good copy can make your image clearer

Remember the drawing where you can see either two faces or a wine glass? Neither one is wrong—it’s just the way you look at it.

Now the meaning behind your image probably isn’t so… well, black and white. And while you might think it couldn’t be interpreted any other way, there’s always a chance. And the last thing you want to do is confuse (or even annoy) your readers.

Complementing your image with good copy takes away the confusion. Your image still draws them in, but the copy makes it clear what you’re trying to say with it. And using the two together can make your message much more powerful.

Good copy can motivate your customers

If you want to see a great example of how words can motivate people, check out this Apple keynote presentation by the late Steve Jobs.

He certainly uses images—lots of them. And most of them don’t include any text whatsoever. So, is this an example of images making copy redundant?


The copy comes from Steve when he speaks. And while the images may be enough to pique people’s interest, it’s his words that make them want (if not need) to buy that iPad.

And his words aren’t just a bland sales pitch, either. He’s passionate about the iPad, and pretty soon his audience shares that passion. And by the end of his presentation half the audience are willing to trade a kidney to get their hands on one.

Good copy can bring your images to life

You may have a great product, and a great picture that shows it off in all its glory. But adding good copy can really make it come to life.

Got a photo showing the incredible view of the beach from the balcony of your seaside resort rooms? Great. Now tell everyone about falling asleep to the sound of waves lapping the shore, and feeling the ocean breeze on their face as they open the balcony doors.

Even the best images invoke only one of our senses. Combine them with good copy, and you can stimulate all five.

As I said, using images can be a good thing. But no matter how great they are, you still need good copy to complete the picture.

6 things you need to tell your copywriter

Copywriters are amazing people. They can take your ideas and turn them into amazing copy that will attract customers and get you sales.

But they’re not mind readers.

So before your first visit with your copywriter, make sure you can give them the answers to these questions.

What’s your budget?

As much as you’d like the guys in Accounting to give you unlimited funding for your copy, that probably won’t be the case. (Especially if you are the guy in Accounting.)

But rather than stopping your copywriter mid-project when the money runs out, let them know up front. They can work with you to come up with the best solution you can afford. You may not get all the copy you want, but you will get the copy you need.

What’s your timeframe?

Copywriters are busy people, often handling multiple projects at a time. So don’t come along expecting your copy to be finished the next day.

Even if they can start straight away, they may charge extra for having to get the work done so quickly. Remember the saying: “Cheap, fast, accurate. Choose two.” And you definitely want one of them to be “accurate”.

So make sure you give them enough time to get the work done properly. (And make sure you’re available to answer any questions that come up.)

Who’s your audience?

Good copy speaks to your audience, and convinces them to buy your product/service.

So who will your copy be talking to?

Your audience may well be the clients you already have, and you just want more of them. But maybe you want to start targeting small companies as well as individual buyers.

Whoever they are, you need to let your copywriter know.

What do you want to say?

Now, what are you going to tell them?

You can’t expect them to buy just because you tell them to. You need to convince them your product/service is worth buying. Your copywriter will do most of the work. But you need to give them some ideas.

Is it cheaper than the competition? Does it have more features? Is it more prestigious? Will it make them more successful?

This is what your buyer needs to know. So make sure your copywriter knows as well.

How do you want to say it?

If you were speaking to your customers face-to-face, how would you talk? Would it be a formal presentation about your product/service, or would it be more like a casual chat?

In most cases, the tone of your copy should match the tone you’d used when speaking face-to-face. So let your copywriter know so they can do their best to replicate it.

What do you want your customers to do?

You’ve worked out what you want to say to your customers, and how you want to say it.

Now, what do you want them to do when they’re finished reading?

Do you want them to click the ‘Buy Now’ button? Come in for a chat? Tell their friends about you? Like your Facebook page?

Whatever it is, you need to make it clear you want them to do it.

And that means your copywriter needs to know as well.

Now chances are these aren’t the only questions you’ll need to answer. Every copywriter is different, and will probably ask different questions to get the information they need.

But knowing the answers to these questions will definitely get things off to a great start.

Writing Website Content that really Speaks

Ever read a website and decided to impulse buy?  I bet you don’t know why, it just “spoke” to you – well, creating copy that speaks is not just about being a wordsmith (although it helps) it’s about helping the reader to really want it.

Golden Rules for good copy:

So, what do you write?

Before you type a single word, spend some serious time thinking about your brand.  Know everything there is to know about your business and your customers and know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.  This might take a little brand soul searching (otherwise known as a Brand Discovery, Think Tank, Creative Brief or Creative Discovery) so that every word is the right word for your brand’s personality.

Position your Positioning Statement

Your positioning statement is those few little words that sum up what your business is all about, what you do, what is unique about you, what’s in it for your customer and what market position you own – simple?  Not on your life.  Finding a unique, desirable position (and positioning statement) is the foundation of your branding and it deserves your time and attention.  It also deserves to be prominent on your website as it tells your readers exactly why you are the best at what you do and why what you do is better than what your competitors do.

Logo and Tagline, a match made in heaven

If you manage to make your positioning statement succinct and catchy, then you’ve got yourself an all-in-one tagline.  If not, you’ll need a separate “catch phrase” that your readers can take away and remember you by.

So your positioning statement might be:

The only makers of psychic Garden Gnomes.

And your tagline might be:

Gnomes that know.

Your tagline will be attached to your (relevant, meaningful, emotive, engaging, memorable, replicable) logo and your positioning statement should be given pride of place on your site and repeated through your copy.

Online Marketing still needs to be Marketing

In the rush to jam pack all that SEO goodness into your site, don’t lose sight of the key principles of real world Marketing.  It’s great to be an outstanding online marketer, it’s the best shop front on the busiest street, but when it comes to purchasing, it’s people, not computers that make that final decision.  Always keep everything you know about marketing in mind while you write.  Everything you considered when you designed your flyer or newspaper ad still applies here.

Don’t keyword stuff, be clever but clear, spell and grammar check, get someone smarter than you to proofread it, use white space and titles to make it readable, use appropriate pictures and make sure it’s something you’d read if you were a potential customer.

The more you say, the less valuable each word becomes

Keep it short and help the reader find the information they’re after with headers, bolding, dot points, numbering and design layout.  You’ve got just eight seconds to show them something they like – so don’t mess around.

Talk to everyone, and nobody listens, but speak to one person and everyone eavesdrops.

Always write copy like you are speaking to one person – refer to them in the second person (you) and talk about their business specifically (your business needs…).

If your product has a diverse customer base, create a new page for each market segment.  So if you cater to both small business and domestic buyers, have an easy to find page targeted specifically to each.

Sell the benefits not the features

Say your business stitches logos onto T-shirts.  Which sounds more appealing to you?

“We stitch logos in any colour, on to staff uniforms and T-Shirts”

“Give your business a professional, memorable image with full colour logos on all your staff uniforms”

It’s not about you!

One of the most common mistakes when writing copy is to make it all about you.  Your potential customer wants to know just one thing “What’s in it for me?” so make sure your copy is at least 75% about just that.  Tell them how their problems will be solved, tell them how their customers will feel or how their neighbours will be jealous – it’s ALL about them.

Be honest

If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make a promise.  If you can’t supply meals for 4000 people, don’t fake it.  If your product is average quality, don’t say it’s high quality.  If you have to lie, then you are in the wrong market position.  Have faith in your brand, it has customers out there somewhere, tell the truth and they will come, tell a lie and you’ll just annoy somebody else’s customers – do that and you’ll end up with nothing but a bad reputation.

Be true to your brand

If your brand image is elite and sophisticated, don’t run a “CRAZY 50% off sale” just because times are a bit tough, and if you successfully sell goods at a “CRAZY 50% off” don’t throw some overpriced product into your mix just because you can – every business decision you make effects the position you own – don’t waste it or water it down because someone else will come in and grab it out from under you!

Plagiarism – for people with no idea

It might be tempting to find a website you like and “borrow or paraphrase” content.  Firstly, that’s illegal, secondly, Google doesn’t like people who copy and may punish you with awful page rankings and thirdly, how are you going to establish yourself as unique if you are just a copy of someone else?  Your brand is the most valuable thing you own, make sure you look after it properly.

Finally, never assume you can just do it

Would you assume that you can install electrical wiring, speak Cantonese or de-sex the dog? Never, these are tasks for skilled professionals.  Just because words are a tool you use everyday, don’t assume it makes you an expert on marketing.  If you can’t afford to engage a professional copywriter, at least do your research before attempting to write your website copy. It’s the online face of your company, make it one worth gazing upon!