How To Write Persuasive Copy For Your Website
If you are promoting a business, service or product via a website (or blog) you need to be interested in the subject of copy writing. The words you put into your website are an important aspect of the first impression you make on your visitors as they arrive on your website.
What you write and where you put it can make the difference between an immediate exit or the first step towards making a purchase or at least a deeper look into the content you have, or should have thought carefully about during its construction.Writing for the web is not the same as writing for a book, newspaper or magazine. You will find a fickle and impatient audience on the web, with more choices than you can shake a stick at. So if visitors are going to stay on your site, you had better make sure it is worth their while arriving in the first place.
Rule One of Writing for the Web:
Hit your reader between the eyes in your first sentence. You are competing against hundreds, perhaps thousands of websites. So get on with it. State what you can do for the visitor: ‘We Help You Write That Book’, or Looking For Incredible Holidays? We’ve Got Them.’ Research indicates that potential customers browsing through websites make up their minds whether or not the site is for them in under ten seconds.
This should also tell you something else: if your website designers have persuaded you to fall for a graphically enchanting opening page that spends countless seconds showing a chicken laying an egg, or the dawn rising over Wapping, find a professional! These are amateurs, spending your money recklessly. The ‘landing page’ the first page visitors see on your website, should open immediately, and the prime message should appear at the top, either as a heading or as the first sentence of ‘the copy’, the words that communicate the message.
Rule Two of Writing for the Web:
Having made an opening claim on the page, don’t ruin things by veering off message and introducing other products or services you can offer, unless they directly bolster the initial claim made. In one of the examples above, if you initially say you help people write and publish books, for goodness’ sake don’t follow that powerful sentence with a second stating ‘. . . but if book writing is not for you we also show you how to become a proofreader!’ What on earth’s going on? The focus has departed, and so will your website visitor.
Rule Three of Writing for the Web:
Don’t try to be Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. Go for the shortest words possible, unadorned with adjectives and adverbs, that convey signals unambiguously: ‘Contact us today. Our designers are standing by.’ Excellent. Not, ‘As soon as we receive your enquiry one of our professional designers will email you within twenty-four hours so that you can explain precisely what your writing project is all about.’ What you’ve written may be valid, but it’s also long-winded and deflates the urgency of your appeal.
Rule Four of Writing for the Web:
Unless your business is set up to ‘sell off the website page’ and you intend to seduce visitors to make an instant online purchase of a product or service when they reach the end of your pitch, don’t waste words on trying to sell anything. Why? Because unless you are selling off the page, you are overlooking the one thing that has to happen first before you can do business with potential clients: they have to decide whether you are a worthy potential supplier of that product or service, and then they will need to contact you for further details. So make it easy for them to do just that. Which takes us to . . .
Rule Five of Writing for the Web:
Keep the opening page uncluttered. Make a single powerful claim, and back it up. By all means offer links to further pages that offer complementary products and services; but don’t start describing these as well because the focus of the prime message will evaporate, in seconds. If your website designers know their business they will have helped you identify your prime marketing objective, and then provided a website page that hits the right buttons. And these buttons should end the page, ideally a couple of large buttons, offering a choice of actions: ‘Click here’, for example, could enable them to instantly email you for further info; ‘Click there’, and they could receive further information on the product or service they seek. Words matter, as does the order in which they are introduced. Great websites have simple messages, well supported by graphics, that call on simple responses.