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!