3 ways to rethink writing your website copy

Website copywriting

3 ways to rethink writing your website copy

There’s a lot of pressure from people in my industry to blast out content—any content, doesn’t matter what, just get it out there, damnit.

Where’s the quality control? Is the copy any good? Is it motivating your customers to contact you or make a purchase?

These three tips for powerful copywriting will help you get a better response from visitors:

1. Where’s the passion?

Not in the mood to write a blog post today? Don’t.

Time and again, you read passionless, uninspired, and often uninformative blog posts and web pages. What’s missing?

Verve.

From the terrific article by Henneke Duistermaat at Kissmetrics (highly recommend reading the whole thing!):

Write your first version fast. You have to write while you’re enthusiastic. Because your enthusiasm is contagious.

And when you write, write with passion. And with energy.

You’ll gain more sales. And your business will grow.

I guarantee you that this is true. For several months, I neglected my own blog. Every once in a while, inspiration would hit, but for the most part, my heart wasn’t in it. Instead, I was pouring that energy into my clients’ work. Not a bad thing, but not helping 816 New York’s visibility at all!

I hired a copywriting service, but the quality was horrible. I ended up rewriting the copy anyway, so I ended the contract.

So I just stopped for a while. Did I feel guilty? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes.

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You’ll get back in the swing, if you’re mindful about returning to it. You will. And when you do, you’ll likely find yourself excited about the copy for your next blog post and across your entire website.

I was able to put fresh eyes on it (which stimulated another blog post, and another, then redesigning our email newsletter, setting up automation for new email subscribers, rewriting some services copy… and on and on).

Because copywriting isn’t a one-and-done thing.

2. Short, punchy sentences with powerful thoughts

Try this. Take one of your less popular blog posts—especially if it’s one you’re proud of—and remove most (or all) words that end with “-ly” (a common form of adverbs) and any excessive use of adjectives. 

Does it read better? Denser writing has its place, but if you’re trying to make a point, do it succinctly.

Use one-sentence paragraphs.

Concentrate your power on your verb choice. Don’t stuff multiple ideas into one sentence. Split complicated ideas into shorter sentences and paragraphs.

Single-sentence paragraphs break things up and capture attention—especially if that one sentence hits a primary or secondary benefit of your product or service.

Writing short, broken sentences and paragraph feels unnatural, but it works to capture the audience’s attention. Blog posts, page content, landing pages… short sentences are key.

Also from Duistermaat’s article, “How to Write Seductive Sales Copy Like Apple“:

Your high school teacher did not approve of using broken sentences. But in high school, you learned a more academic way of writing. Sales copy is different. Sales copy needs to be easy to read. Your readers don’t want to make an effort to read your content.

Don’t overdo the one-sentence thing, however. Some blog posts and pages read like rapid-fire gun shots—not in a good way. They lack flow.

Vary the paragraph length so that you have a few one-sentence paragraphs, to really emphasize points, together with a few 2-3 sentence paragraphs.

3. Benefits (not features)

Traditional copywriters have always worked under a very simple rule: Copy must capture the customer’s attention in just a few seconds.

They have to think from the customer’s perspective, understand exactly what they wanted the most and why, and feature that prominently—usually in the headline or opening paragraph. They have to focus on benefits.

When crafting copy for your website, get attention by highlighting the benefits (not features) of your product or service in the most prominent areas of your site.

Many website owners make the mistake of listing all their product features—and I mean ALL. Pages read like 10-page brochures. Calls to action are sporadic if at all existent. They ignore that the button-click, the call, or the online-form submission is the goal.

For mobile users in particular, these endless pages and posts create a lot of bounces (and frustration). And when you consider how mobile usage is growing… this is important.

Mobile usage 2014-2018

Somewhere buried in all that copy are the benefits, but they’re neglecting the #1 question customers have: What’s in it for me?”

The features are important, of course, but no customer will care if your widget comes in five fabulous colors if they don’t know why they can’t live without it in the first place.

Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, writes:

So, how do you successfully extract true benefits from features? Here’s a four-step process that works:

1. Make a list of every feature of your product or service.
2. Ask yourself why each feature is included in the first place.
3. Take the “why” and ask “how” does this connect with the prospect’s desires?
4. Get to the absolute root of what’s in it for the prospect at an emotional level.

Tweak away

If you own a website, there’s always some content you could tweak to make it better—more informative, intuitive, and stimulating.

By focusing not just on the look but on the overall message and its delivery, you build a better resource for your business and its customers.

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Sarah Williams

Founder & director of 816 New York and passionate about all things strategy.

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