How to Write Outta This World Copy for Your Website
How to Write Outta This World Copy for Your Website
So you’ve finally settled on a design for your website. You’re pumped about this new look and feel, and you can’t wait for this opportunity to rebrand and take your business to the next level. There’s just one problem: your web designer needs copy from you and you’re completely out of words.
Not to worry. Even the wordiest of us tend to draw blanks when it’s time to describe ourselves. Ask us about our friend’s business and we can’t stop flowing, but our own? “Um, we sell…stuff. You know… things…To like…people…” We could spend hours analyzing why this is but instead, let’s focus on getting you over this writing hump, so that your business not only looks great but sounds great, too.
- Get to Know Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Whether you’ve got an entirely new invention to sell, you offer superior service or pricing, or you’ve got the coolest new spin on an old thing, your business is sure to have a Unique Selling Proposition — or else you’d be working for someone else, right? Before you write a single word for your website, it’s important to pinpoint exactly what this USP is.
To do this, take a look at your competitors. How is your product or service different from theirs? Are you different in design, function, price, placement, or in your promotional methods? What niche do you fill?
Remember that while features can help you get to your USP, they are not the USP itself. Rather, you’ll find your USP by focusing on why customers want to buy from you. What emotions do they express when they interact with your brand or product? Let your USP drive your message.
- Think About Your Customer First, Not You
On that note, it’s important to focus first on what your customer wants out of you, not on you (don’t worry, you step back into the picture later on). What is your ideal customer’s biggest problem? What have they typed into Google to get to you? What problem do they most want solved? Even better, what is the problem that they don’t know they have but that you know they do?
Putting your customer first also has direct implication for how you will write that copy. While you do want to have a voice that is unique to you, it’s crucial that this voice is one your customers can identify with. A luxury brand, for example, should have a sophisticated voice that emphasizes elegance, while a more down to earth brand will employ a voice that is more casual and fun. If you’re feeling lost on how to find your brand voice, take a look at a few of your potential customers on social media. What do they sound like when they interact? What catch phrases do they use? What topics do they most discuss? Use this to guide your own approach.
- Let the Passion Flow
Okay, now it’s time to get to you! (See, we promised). When writing your About Us section, make sure to let the passion flow. Don’t hesitate to tell your story. Let the reader know why you got into this line of business. What problem frustrated you? Why did you have to fix it? Why do you think your products solve this problem?
Let this same passion run into every aspect of your website, especially product descriptions. When you talk about your offerings, pretend that you’re talking either to your best friend or directly to a customer with a big problem. Why should they absolutely buy your product or service rather than getting it elsewhere? What does your product or service give them that none other can?
Still, we do want to offer one caveat here. The best rule of thumb is brevity over longevity. That means that each word you write should have the highest impact possible — it should absolutely have to exist on the page. Don’t worry about this so much when you’re first writing your copy: the goal at first is just to get it all out there. However, in edits, keep the “high impact” rule of thumb in mind, and know that if you have more to say, bulleted lists are your friend!
- Generate a Good Tagline
Tagline writing is an art, and it can be difficult for many of us to master. However, it can also be an excellent guide for setting the tone, mood and approach for your site. As such, if you’ve thought of a tagline for your brand right off the bat, then don’t hesitate to use this tagline to shape the rest of your copy. In contrast, you may find that you discover just what your site and brand are about, along with a tagline to capture it all, as you write the first draft of your copy. If that happens to you, don’t hesitate to go back and rewrite what you have, based on those new ideas. In general, it’s important not to fear multiple drafts, which are a key part of the writing process. After all, many of us discover the core of our message as we write it.
- When Stuck, Let SEO-Guide You
We know, we know, Google Analytics can be both intimidating and boring. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, SEO keywords can be an excellent source of inspiration. Rather than looking at them as these clunky things that at some point should be integrated into your copy, instead, let them guide the topic areas you discuss. For instance, a flower shop that wants customers to find them using the phrase, “fresh flowers” might create an FAQ section or page that addresses the question, “How can I keep fresh flowers fresh?” Similarly, in writing up product copy, they might discuss the “difference between local versus shipped flowers.”
If that’s too limiting, then simply use SEO keywords as inspiration for more expansive posts.
- Make It Skimmable
Sure, meaty websites with plenty of information are important both for selling you to your customers and to rank in search engines. But remember what we said about making your copy high impact? Few visitors will take the time to read long blocks of text — and that’s a good thing, if you’re struggling to put words on the page. Instead of forcing out a novel, instead create an outline using bulleted, bolded lists for features, and then simply flesh it out. The goal here is to go in-depth while still making the content as skimmable as possible.
A Brief Outline
So, just what will copy on a good web page look like? The answer is that it depends on the page.
Most pages will have this general structure:
- Headline: A short, attention-grabbing sentence or sentence fragment that sums up the benefits of what you’re offering.
- Sub-headline: A longer sentence that brings the reader further down into the concept, offering specifics of what you do and why it matters.
- Image: Often it’s best to break up this copy with an image before it gets too lengthy.
- Body: This is the meat of the page. This is where you break down the features you’re offering, or tell the story of how you got where you are.
- Call to Action (CTA): Every page — even an About Us page — should end with some kind of CTA. On product pages, your designer will create a purchasing button or something similar, but you’ll be the one who will need to come up with the compelling language that will motivate visitors to act. Your CTA might also drive customers to other parts of the site, like from an About Us page to a product page.
Product and services pages should also include the following:
- Product Name and Price: Also include any sale information.
- Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Customers should be told immediately why this product is different and something they must have. You should clearly state what problem it solves and how your product or service solves it.
- Product Description: In the clearest terms possible, describe what the product does and how. Use bulleted lists where applicable.
- Technical Information: This can be boring, but it’s necessary. Your web designer will help you find a way to place it on your site in a way that’s subtle yet accessible.
- Objections: Address any objections you think your customers might have.
Wondering what pages you should add to your website? Again, that varies widely based on your business, but here are a few classics:
- Home Page: You need this one for obvious reasons. People have to land somewhere!
- About Us: This is where you tell your unique story.
- Product and Services Pages: You’ll need landing pages for all of your products and services, as well as individual pages for each.
- FAQ: If you’re constantly inundated with the same questions, put up an FAQ. This is great for SEO!
- Blog: Blogs are increasingly becoming essential to the health of websites, as they’re great traffic drivers and promote social interaction. Update with news, provide expert guides, or give your customers a glimpse into your office.
- Testimonials: Collect them early and often, and display them proudly. Customers love the idea of social proofing — that is, the idea that a product, service and company are better if other people love them too.
- Portfolio: If you offer a service, then a portfolio tab is essential for showing off your work.
- Contact: Let customers know how to get in touch.
Writing copy for your website may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, you know your customers and their needs better than anyone. Talk to them, keep it simple, and tell the story of you!