Effective Website Content Saves Prospects from the Jungle
Many people have a hard time understanding why writing copy for a website is different from writing copy for anything else. It’s not unusual. When you’re putting together text, images, video, and audio for your website, you’re beginning a process called content development.
If you’ve been tasked with putting content together for your website, it’s important that you keep the following tips in mind.
Make it EASY.
The #1 most important thing to remember when you’re developing content is your customer. Through every step of this process, it’s that prospect that should be hovering over your shoulder, asking, “Remember me?” While personal preference plays a part, it’s most essential to think about the customer through every phase of the development process.
The #2 most important thing to remember is that customers like things easy. It’s why they like big-box, one-stop-shop stores, buying in bulk, and sales. You owe it to them to keep things simple – all the time.
Think about it like this: If you want to help someone escape from the middle of the jungle, you can do one of two things: (a) hope they find their way out on their own or (b) give them a clear path from where they are to where they need to go.
Developing effective web copy is like building that path. The better the path, the faster the customer gets out of the jungle that is the Internet, finds your business, and becomes a lead. That’s all your visitor wants, to be done with the endless searching and get the answer he’s seeking.
Print doesn’t translate directly to web.
Web copy is its own animal because it is approached by your customer in a different way. When you offer your customer a printed brochure, there is a direct connection being made between you and your customer. However, when someone comes upon your website for the first time, unless you’re sitting next to them at the computer, it’s likely that he or she has no relationship with you or your business.
Always be thinking of ways to tailor your content to entice that stranger to stay on the website, pick up the phone, or fill out an online form. Get their information so you can build that relationship.
Trim it back!
This is an easy one. Someone who isn’t familiar with you or your business doesn’t need to know every single detail you can think of to describe it.
If your content is too long, they’ll often jump ship before they get two paragraphs in. Forget what your English teacher taught you. This is about getting information to your customer easily, quickly, and in a compelling way. When we read copy on a website, we skim. We look for keywords that will trigger an understanding and link a website to what we’re seeking.
Your customer is back in the jungle. He is in a clearing, but unsure where to head. He spies an area where the underbrush appears to have been thinned. He heads toward it and realizes that—hark!—someone has hung torches every six feet or so along the makeshift path. He’s on his way …
These torches are keywords, headings that make skimming easier, links that drop him deeper into the site, downloads for more information (optional content!), forms that push his contact information to your sales reps, anything to get him on his way.
Variety doesn’t hurt.
If your wayward, weary traveler was heading along the path and there were no colorful flowers, monkeys swinging through trees, or tropical birds trilling, what would stimulate his senses? In other words, if a customer comes to your site, what is going to get his attention?
As you’re developing your content, think about ways that you can interact with your visitors. Use video, audio, and photos to add visual interest to your pages. These items can be just as important as copy because they not only stimulate the customer’s senses; they also break up blocks of copy that might by necessity be longer than others.
Understand the structure.
Very often, when website development hits a snag, it’s because the owner of the website doesn’t understand how content development works. Ask questions and do your homework. Look around at comparable websites and study websites you use all the time that may or may not relate to your industry.
Make sure you understand that the home page, for instance, no longer strictly functions as an introduction to a company; in recent years, it has transitioned to a navigational element all its own, meant to shoot a potential customer deeper into the site where more information lies. Sidebars and footers act like rope rails drawing visitors along the path safely.
The ultimate goal is to make contact, to pull our jungle traveler from a place of obscurity to a place of safety and awareness of your business. In order to do that, ensure that your content keeps him interested and stimulates action.