The internet can be a crowded place, but these web copywriting tips can help you stand out online with content that is designed to draw your readers in, and persuade them to take action.
For businesses, it’s crucial to understand how to stand out in this kind of environment, where all sorts of pages essentially say the same thing. While there are hundreds, if not thousands of businesses that do what you do, as Dr. Seuss said, there’s no one who is youer than you.
Below are 43 Web Copywriting Tips to Help You Generate More Business
Know Your Audience
Web copywriting begins with understanding your audience. When businesses are asked “Who’s your target audience?” the tempting answer is “anyone who wants to buy.” But when you try to market to this wide swath of the population, you end up engaging with no one.
If instead, you market your business to single mothers in their 30s, or seniors with an active lifestyle, or medium size b2b companies in the office supply industry, you end up with a clearer vision of how to approach them. Suddenly the marketing message crystalizes.
Do Your Research
It’s tempting to throw out a skimpy 300-word post that barely covers a topic. After all, it’s the web, and he (or she) who publishes the most content wins, right? But what about publishing the best content? This means doing a thorough amount of research and understanding your topic before you start writing about it.
Yes, this is true even if you are already intimately familiar with the topic at hand. You don’t want to leave out obvious points whether it’s a web page or blog post that you’re writing. It’s also easy to assume that your audience may know something that isn’t immediately obvious to a novice. By doing research, you are witnessing how others treated the topic before you.
Relationships are the true currency of the web. It’s not the search engines that will end up becoming valued customers. And speaking of valued customers, these are people who still have options for where to seek out your services. But when you can build relationships and show others that you value them, you can run a powerful business.
Futurist Kevin Kelly wrote an essay about building a business with 1,000 true fans. The point is that you can build a sustainable business with a small group of engaged customers, versus a big audience that won’t do much of anything.
Stay Contemporary and Current
With a blog especially, it’s always good to keep a steady stream of information in front of your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to tie your business in with current events. How does your business relate to a favorite television show? How does it relate to a current news topic, or a new, hot trend?
I can’t answer this for you, but the more you can tie your business into larger world events, the more visible you’ll become.
I don’t care if you’re operating a large technology company, a small bakery, or anything between. Online readers will gloss over rigid writing and words that they don’t really understand. You may think that you’re showing off advanced knowledge or a high-end degree. In reality, you’re just chasing readers away in droves. If someone has to look up the meaning of a word that you used, chances are they’re not coming back.
A low-key conversational approach builds rapport. It shows your audience that you’re one of them. When you write the way that you speak, your audience is all of a sudden very comfortable. It’s like you’re sitting at the table across from them, building trust for the eventual sale. This is one of the most powerful web copywriting tips for
Data equals credibility. It lends an authoritative bend to your argument. When you can show your success rate in numbers, or show that people who use your product are more successful – it translates to sales. Your audience is being sold to all the time. But if they can clearly see how you can benefit them through statistics, they’re more likely to convert.
While statistics are significantly important, it’s not what we walk away from marketing materials remembering. No, stories fill that role. It really, really helps if your marketing tells a compelling story. This can come in any form, really.
For example, case studies can tell the story of a customer who used your product or services to solve their problem. Your company’s about page can tell your company’s origin story. Blog posts, web pages, and social media posts all tell individual stories relating to your brand. The more compelling these stories are, the more memorable your marketing materials.
This is one of the most important web copywriting tips for keeping readers engaged and creating content that they’ll remember after they’ve left your website.
Ease Your Customers’ Pain
One of the main purposes of your company’s marketing is to create a rapport with your customers. People who find your website online may only give you a few seconds before they determine if they’ll buy from you. This means that you have to capture their attention quickly. The best way to do this is identify with what brought them to your site to begin with.
Show them you understand the situation that they’re in, empathize, and present them with the best possible solution to address their problem (YOU!). This approach is much more effective than immediately launching into your business and what it does.
Benefits Over Features
When you think about product features, think about computer memory, or your car’s horsepower. These are just numbers outside their proper context. Sure, they’ll make a difference to the initiated and obsessed, but that’s the minority.
Which would make you want to purchase a convertible more…If I mention the car’s horsepower, or if I told you to picture what it felt like as you hit 85 mph with the wind in your hair on the Interstate?
The product benefits are how it helps the customer, and how it makes them feel.
When you’re writing for the web, it’s crucial to stay on point. People’s attention span and desire to read is extremely short. It’s important to write in a concise fashion and get straight to the point. This doesn’t necessarily mean short, but it means on topic.
Use Subheads and Bullet Points
Readers online are looking for scannable material. If they see long, heavy paragraphs with little to break up the material, they are less likely to keep reading or take action. Subheads and bullet points break up the content into manageable chunks.
This is one of the most important website copywriting tips for keeping people engaged and reading through your material. It also helps them to understand what parts of your copy are truly important for their decision making.
It’s All About the Headline
The headline is the most valuable real estate in web copywriting. It’s tempting to just slap something up there and move on to the next project. Here’s why that’s not the best idea.
Your headline is what readers use to determine whether or not they should continue. I’ll let marketing legend David Ogilvy speak to the importance of headlines in his own words:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Entire books have been written about the importance of perfecting headlines. I’d highly recommend reading them. My favorite two are David Garfinkel’s Advertising Headlines that Will Make You Rich and Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks.
Spending the time to perfect your headlines is one of the most important web copywriting tips for attracting readers to your page and drawing them in to your marketing.
Work on Writing Productivity
Finding the time and a conducive environment to write can be challenging. I’d recommend trying something called the Pomodoro Technique to get more work done. The technique goes like this. Set an alarm on your phone for 25 minutes and write for that time.
The catch is that you cannot get lost in meaningless internet tabs, or make that phone call that you’ve been meaning to make. No cleaning your office, or quick trips to the store, either. For that 25-minute window, you do nothing but write. After that, you can take a 10-minute break to do anything you want. Then, back at it.
This is a simple, practical way to get more done.
Work on Your Calls to Action
In addition to your headline, this is an important piece of any web copywriting. Your calls to action should be more than you raising your hand, jumping up and down, and screaming “HEY!!! BUY MY STUFF!!”
It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a blog or a sales page. You’ve earned the right to ask for the sale. In those closing sentences you should think of yourself as a lawyer making a closing argument. One of my favorite ways to do this is to remind them that they could go back to their normal way of doing things. But now that they know better, why would they? It looks like this.
Life is hectic. You’re a working parent with a packed schedule. You could go on living in a messy home. But with Matt’s Cleaning Service, why would you be ok with caked layers of dust and pet hair? Why would you work around the piles of dirty dishes and clutter? For a free estimate, contact us today!
*Anyone who knows me knows that I do not operate a cleaning service, nor will I. I was illustrating a point and feeling mildly uncreative with my title.
Appeal to Emotion
When you are working on web copy, emotion is your friend. As much as we all want to believe that we are educated consumers making sound purchasing decisions based on the data, that’s just not the reality of the situation. As consumers, we make purchases because we like the version of ourselves that owns that product. With our product you will be happier, safer, more relaxed, or more secure.
Make sure that your writing invokes this type of emotion.
Focus on the Real Hero of the Story
I’ll cut through the suspense. The customer is the hero of your story. Sure, you developed the product or service that helps them, but they overcame their problems themselves. To pretend anything else will simply come off as narcissistic. Make sure that your web copy is written in a way that commends the customer for fixing their issue.
Address Buyer Objections
A savvy customer will almost always be reading your sales copy with internal objections. If you can address those objections in real time, it creates a situation where you are almost reading their minds as they’re going through your web copy.
If you’re selling a luxury product, you can talk about the importance of the investment, and how it may save you money in the long run. If you’re an unproven startup, you can point people to the growing number of customer testimonials, that show how people “just like you” were able to use the product with great results.
Don’t be afraid to address a negative and turn it into a positive. It shows that you have a human side, and it’s a powerful way to build a connection.
Avoid Using Jargon
There’s a popular saying: No one wants to see how laws or sausages are made. Chances are that your customer doesn’t know as much about your industry as you do. There’s no need to rub their noses in it with high-end industry jargon that only you understand. Their reaction will not be “Wow, they are smart.” It is more likely that they’ll leave your website because they don’t really know what’s going on.
Instead, it’s better to focus on how your product or service will benefit the customer. For this purpose, it’s best to leave out the industry jargon. If you have to use an industry phrase, make sure to define it.
Avoiding jargon is one of the most important web copywriting tips for allowing readers to stay committed to your marketing.
The web is a visual medium. Make sure that everything you write is accompanied by at least one high-quality photo. If you’re writing long-form content, more than one photo is even better.
This can help break up the content, and use visual methods to help illustrate your points.
Always Be Selling
You work too hard on your website copy to avoid selling. There’s a school of thought out there that somehow it’s not ok to use your blog to sell. This isn’t true. Let me explain.
Your blog should provide value. It should educate potential customers about your industry, and how becoming a customer might be of value. It can even provide tangential benefits, like answering questions that are only loosely related to your industry that you are in a unique position to know.
For instance, a real estate agent or a hotel would be in a unique position to blog about the amenities within their community. Those amenities would be of interest to a potential home buyer, or a hotel guest. However, your work doesn’t end there.
You can always place a call to action at the end of a blog post for additional questions, or for the sale. Invite them to talk with you. If you’ve done your work providing value and educating the reader, they’re not going to mind a few sentences where you pitch your product. The blog post itself is conducive to building relationships. The call to action at the end is because you are in business, and therefore like making money. We live in a nuanced world, and both can be true at the same time.
Include the word “You”
“You” is a compelling word in web copy. It means your bringing the reader along with you on the journey. This second-person approach makes it easier for the reader to identify with your writing and your brand.
It makes it easier for them to visualize a life where they’re already a customer and using your product. They can see the future, and the good that you’re doing for them.
One of the best time-tested copywriting tips is to create urgency around a product or service. It’s a way to make the reader feel like they need to take action now. They may put their purchase at the bottom of their to-do list, and it may take time for them to come back to it, if they ever do. Creating that sense of urgency is your way around that.
This can come in many forms, such as a sale or a limited release for example. For services companies, you may have to get even more creative. I’ve seen companies say they are only going to help a limited number of companies in your geographic area. This also works to force the reaction that you need to act right away.
Use a Positive Voice
We all have that friend whose default setting is to complain about a situation. No matter what happens in their life, they’re never quite satisfied. It’s hard for them to be grateful for what is in front of them. The truth is, that sometimes this can be challenging to listen to.
In our web copy we’re attempting to grab the readers’ attention and nudge them in our direction. It’s easy to default to the negative in this situation. The thing is, you may test your readers’ patience with this approach.
Instead, try showing them what life with your solution looks like. What are all the great benefits that your customers experience on a regular basis? Show your readers those benefits. Keep your marketing angled in a positive direction. Your readers will appreciate it.
People don’t want to buy from businesses, they want to buy from the people that they like. If you can show your human side in business content, it’s a way of establishing trust and rapport. So, talk about your personal life. Share your interests. But do it in a way that relates back to the business.
I’ve written about my obsession with Cubs baseball in times past, and it always provides an ice-breaker with a new contact. These are the things that people will remember as they prepare to buy from you.
Consider the Audience’s Interests (over your own)
Your readers sought you out for a reason. They may not directly know it, but they are looking to solve some sort of problem. If you can speak to that problem rather than tooting your own horn, you’re already a step ahead.
Here’s a formula that I’ve found extremely helpful in web copywriting:
- Identify their problem.
- Show empathy. (This can be as simple as saying “I know this is hard” or “We’ve been there ourselves” or something to that effect.)
- Show why your solution is the best for solving this particular problem.
That’s it. This formula allows you to write about your business in an empathetic, customer-centric sort of way that will be successful, every time.
Work on Writing Without Distraction
Having the proper environment can go a long way in determining how much we get done. If the people around us are loud, it may help to seclude yourself and shut your office door. It may help to tell your secretary to hold phone calls.
I’ve always loved music as an easy way to seclude myself. A few weeks ago I received the perfect way to seclude myself for Christmas – a pair of noise-canceling headphones. I can work in my downstairs office with people in the home, no problem. My son’s loud footsteps above my head became a faint noise, if anything at all.
Study the Competition
It always helps to know how other people have marketed themselves in your industry. Study the competition and understand what types of things they’re writing about. Make sure that you know what kind of blogs attract visibility through the search engines. Just don’t feel obligated to write about the same subjects in the same ways. Sure you can take the concept of their blog post, but make it your own.
In all honesty that’s what I did with this post. A lot of these points are out there in other places. But I’m using personal examples, and writing in a transparent way so that you can see how they may help you. My hope is that whatever brought you to this post, you have some strategies to incorporate into your web copywriting that you didn’t have before.
That’s what I mean when I say make it your own. Yes, you need to study what’s out there. But it doesn’t mean you need to do everything the exact same way. Stay true to yourself and be creative.
This is one of the most important web copywriting tips for producing marketing that is relevant to your audience.
Write First, Edit Later
It’s easy to get caught up in what your web copy could look like. You have an idea in your head, and you have certain standards that idea needs to meet. It’s all understandable. The thing is, it’s also a trap. When you mentally edit before words hit your paper or computer screen, that’s how writer’s block starts. While overcoming writer’s block is a subject for another post, I’ll just reinforce that the important thing to do here is to simply get the idea out in the rough draft form.
From there you can always rewrite, polish, or edit. It can go through multiple iterations. But you don’t want to stifle an otherwise good idea because the words won’t leave your head in final draft form.
Write in Active Voice
This is a simple one, really. Active voice is just easier to read. Here are some examples so that you understand the difference.
Matt cleaned his office and made three phone calls.
The office was cleaned by Matt, while he made three phone calls.
Which sentence is easier to read? If you chose the first, you would be correct. The second just sounds funny.
*Again, I’m not really sure why I’m writing about cleaning like I own a cleaning company, or I’m faintly interested in it. But it does illustrate the larger point I’m trying to make about active voice.
Consider the Search Engines
I’ll start this off by saying that it’s people who fill out your contact form. It’s people who pull out their phone and make a call. They’re the ones who pull their wallets out while reading your content and make an actual purchase.
Write for them. If you try to keyword stuff your writing, it reads extremely rigid and no one will be able to get through it, let alone be persuaded to take action. I’d rather have a small audience of motivated readers than a large audience of indifferent readers who leave the second they sniff out my motivations.
That being said, it’s important to understand what the search engines are looking for, and to provide it.
What’s the related phrase that people are searching for? How can you naturally incorporate it into the flow of your content? Don’t overdo it to the point that your content sounds rigid, and written by a robot.
Keep it sounding natural. The search engines will pick it up from there.
Social Proof is Huge
Maybe you have the most effective copy in the world. Maybe you’re really really good at telling your readers why they should go with your business over the hundreds or thousands of competitors they could have hired.
But…and there is always a but…
Your readers’ response is “How do I know you can do what you say you can do?”
It’s a perfectly valid question, and that’s where social proof enters the equation. Social proof can be anything from testimonials to case studies. It’s your customers telling your readers that what you do really works – and this is powerful.
If you were looking for a job, an employer might ask for references. Social proof is your next customer essentially asking for the same thing. It’s their way of determining that what you’re about to do for them really works, and on the web, that’s crucial.
Your Credibility is All You Have
In an age of online reviews, reputation management is key. The best foundation to begin the process of protecting your online reputation is to not make promises you cannot keep. Don’t embellish what your product or service can accomplish. Instead, under promise and over deliver.
Make Your Writing Actionable
There’s no shortage of content on the web, and any idea that you have has probably been written about before. So how do you overcome this reality? You provide value – and that means writing content that your reader can take action on.
If it’s an educational piece, it means providing detailed instructions for them on how to do something. If it’s a sales piece, it’s telling them exactly what they need to know in order to make the purchase.
Whatever the case may be, don’t just assume that your reader knows exactly what you want them to do.
Convey Your Value
Make sure that your copy is crystal clear on this one. Quickly convey your value, and what it is that you can do for your customers. In short, your readers need to quickly ascertain why they should choose you over the competition.
While the world may have no shortage of businesses in your particular industry, what we’re short on is you. If you have a strong sense of self, and a distinct message, you can do very well at whatever it is that you do.
Test Different Versions
The great thing about the web is you are not committed to solely one version. Write different headlines. Test them. Write different body copy. Test that, too. This goes for blogs, website copy, LinkedIn profiles, or just about any type of website copywriting. The data can tell you which version is better.
One word of caution, however. Don’t test too much stuff at one time. You won’t know what is producing the desired results at that point.
Grammar and Spelling Count
Web writing doesn’t need to be nearly as formal as other types of writing. In fact, informal and conversational writing do just fine a majority of the time. But informal writing still needs to be professional. That means placing a premium on spelling and grammar.
If a reader notices too many spelling or grammar mistakes, they may become agitated and leave the site. If you’re lax about these issues, you may be lax about other elements of running your business – at least in the mind of the reader. In other words, these types of mistakes can erode the very trust that you’re working hard to build. Good grammar and spelling are the foundation for the rest of your efforts.
Expand Your Audience
At the risk of stating the obvious, opportunities abound on the web. But here’s a little more on what that means for you. Your social media is an extension of your brand. You also have the opportunity to write for industry blogs that are larger than yours. There are websites out there that do nothing but aggregate blogs. Guest blogging is still a valid way to expand your reach.
What opportunities are you leaving on the table? How can you use your copywriting skills to expand your audience?
Everything you write or say online influences your brand. If your copy is short, sloppy, and muddled, it will have a negative impact on your brand. If your copy is well thought out, and does a good job of explaining how your company helps customers, it will have a positive impact. There are plenty of books out there on personal branding and business branding. I’d recommend learning as much as you can on this topic, and what sort of impact quality web content can have.
Make Promises You Can Keep
As I tell my 6-year-old son on a regular basis, your word is all that you have. So, if you promise a certain delivery time, do everything within your power to make sure that your product is in their hands within that window. If you promise results in all sorts of scenarios, make sure that what you sell can help customers to achieve those results.
You should be making some sort of promise within your web copy. Just make sure that it’s something realistic and achievable.
Get a Second Set of Eyes
Silly mistakes and sentences that don’t make sense can do more harm than good. Sometimes you are too closely invested in a piece of copy and need the input of someone who can be objective. This may be a colleague or employee. It may be a third-party copy editor.
If the piece is important, and you feel like the ideas may be twisted around, let someone else see it before you hit that publish button.
Clearly Explain Who You Are and What You Do
I’ve already mentioned that readers’ have a short attention span when it comes to anything published on the web. If you want your website to help you convert sales (and you should) it’s critical that you have a concise explanation of who you are and what you do.
Your home page should quickly and easily explain what you do. Your about page should answer the question “But why should we hire you, or buy from you?” Clear answers to these common questions make your site much easier for your customer to use.
This clarity is one of the most important web copywriting tips for getting your customers to understand who you are and to want to take action.
Consider Your Menu Structure
Your website shouldn’t be a maze of links that are only visible in certain places. Your main menu should link to every page in a logical and clear format. This way, people won’t get trapped in a rabbit hole and confused as to where they are.
Use a Distinct Voice
As we’ve stated above, your web copywriting conveys your brand. Your pages could either sound like every other business in your industry, or they could sound like you. A distinct voice helps set your brand apart and gives people a way to remember you. This can be an important distinction for someone who’s been reading through numerous blogs while researching their purchasing decision.
Plus, it’s just more fun to write this way. You’ll allow readers to see that you are a real person, and that makes it easier to build trust and strengthen relationships.
Wrapping it Up
These web copywriting tips can help you market to your audience in a more effective manner. They can help you to produce content that is unique to your business and remains effective. Whether you are producing:
or any other type of online marketing content, make sure that you are doing everything you can to make it appeal to your audience. If it makes more sense for you to hire a copywriter, let’s talk!