Writing web copy is a different breed of cat than writing most anything else.
Writing web content is a way of achieving the objective of your website. For most of us, that means having your reader take action. Buy now, click to make an appointment, get you free information, donate to our cause, etc. etc. and so forth.
Writing Web Copy Is, Therefore, Like Writing An Advertisement
It must be structured in such a way, that you attain your objective. At minimal, you need to do three things:
- Present The Facts
- Tell Your Story
- Paint A Picture.
Present The Facts
Placed first, because it must be first.
When people come onto a website, they want to know three things within 7 seconds:
- I’m in the right place
- I know what they do
- There are benefits here for me
Let’s take these one at a time
I’m In The Right Place
How many times have you surfed the web, clicked on a site, and still had no idea what this company does? It happens a lot more often than you might think. It happens because the website does not answer that question in the “above the fold” section of the homepage. A foolish and costly mistake.
Use the Banner section of the homepage (the top-most area that stays the same on the other pages in the site). It’s a space for your Name and Logo and a great Tag Line. Add a phone number and maybe an email address, and you’re set.
I Know What They Do
I’ll never understand why so many small businesses fall short here. It’s the easiest thing in the world. Often you name is enough, especially if you have a good tag line. As in the case of Don’s Diner – Family style Comfort food – Open 24 hours.
When writing web content, a good Value Proposition goes a long way. It engages your reader and keeping them on-site longer (a key analytic). Don’t let this term scare you. A Value Proposition is the modern way of saying “Benefits”. Let the reader know how they can expect to benefit when the purchase your product or service.
It’s critical to your success that these Facts are stated within the “above the fold” section (ATF). You’ll know the ATF because it’s the section of your website that displays upon opening without scrolling down. For illustrative purposes, I say it’s the first 7 inches of your website. (The 7-inch number comes from the top to bottom measurements of a screen on an average laptop computer).
Tell Your Story
I deal overwhelmingly with small businesses. Unlike most mega-corporations, a small business is most often owned and run by one or two owners or a family. And, almost certainly, they have an interesting story to tell. Why you? Why this business? Why now?
“I’ve had a passion for Chess ever since my grampa taught me the game when I was seven. We’d sit on the front porch (especially on rainy summer days – which in Vermont was pretty often) with the chess board and grampa’s favorite cheese crackers. So, when the opportunity came for me to actually own a game shop heavily concentrated on chess, I just couldn’t turn it down.”
Stories humanize your business and put you out front, instead of some faceless corporate entity. So, tell your story on your homepage. Make it simple and real, and above all – true.
Paint A Picture
Here’s a little web copy I wrote for a cruise line, many years ago. It still works.
“Picture yourself cruising the turquoise blue Aegean, gliding past history at every turn. Travel back in time to ancient Ephesus on the Turkish coast. Then pause on the island of Santorini to explore pristine beaches and secluded coves via your motor scooter. And when it’s time for lunch and refreshments, take yours in style at one of the many sidewalk cafés in the bustling Agora and sample delicacies just hours removed from the sea.”
No matter what business you’re in, Chess, Cruises, even Carpentry, you can paint a picture of what your customers’ lives will be like when they purchase your product or service.
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