Writing good marketing copy for your website is a skill that takes years of practice. Too often, people write what they want to write, giving little thought to their audience or what action they want their reader to take. Here are twelve tips to help you write better marketing copy for your website that gets the results you want.
1. Put yourself in the right frame of mind.
Ensure you feel passionate about what you’re writing – the feeling comes through in your copy. This can be really hard when your subject is rather dry – to inspire yourself, try using Google’s keyword tool to work out what information people are actually looking for and then Google some of those terms and see how the best results have done it (or muse over how rubbish the top sites are and how much better you can do!)
2. Think about who your audience are first and what they’re interested in.
Don’t just put yourself in your customer’s shoes – think, feel, imagine and act that you are your customer. It doesn’t matter what you like – it matters what they like. Many marketing agencies create personas – a character that represents their typical customer, sharing the same lifestyle, personality traits, likes, dislikes, feelings and so on. Here’s an example.
As your typical customer, consider:
- What do you need to know?
- What factors are you buying on?
- Do you know about the company already?
- Do you know about the industry?
Many websites will have different personas using their site, and will plan a customer journey through various pages of information that cater for each persona.
3. Put the most important stuff that’s likely to make you buy FIRST.
e.g why is what you offer different.
Go and look at any news story and you’ll find:
- The headline – summarises the whole thing (your headlines must be enticing)
- A short concise summary (in marketing copy, it’s good to use bullet points)
- The story fleshed out later on with more detail if people want it
The whole page should make sense if only headlines are read.
The bullet points should also make sense if only the bullet points are read.
Bullets flesh out headline >> narrative fleshes out bullets.
Overall it should be easy to skim read – that is, if you haven’t got much time, glancing at the page gives you the overall message very quickly.
4. Use simple, emotive, punchy words.
There are already plenty of decent articles on using emotive words – this article has some examples: 50 trigger words. As well as emotive words, tell your user what you want them to believe. For example, if you want them to believe your company is trustworthy, tell them it is, and why. If you want them to believe your product is reliable, tell them it is, and back it up. Don’t overdo it or fill the page with fluff, though – you’ll sound like you’re trying to convince them of something that’s not true.
5. Use short sentence structures and short words.
Short words are best. They pack more punch.
Did you notice that all of the words in the above sentence have just one syllable?
Never pad your writing and regularly prune – ditch anything that isn’t 100% necessary to make your point, especially flowery words. Emotive is good, flowery is not. Example:
Flowery: prestigious, unparallelled, endeavour
Emotive: satisfaction, success
Short sentences ensure that the real message is clear and appreciated.
6. Make one point per sentence.
Don’t overload your reader.
7. Write in a conversational style, not a presentational style.
i.e. write it as you’d say it. Read the page – if that’s not the way you’d explain something to a friend, you need to lighten it up.
8. Use a consistent visual layout – stick to the same rhythm.
If you use the format: headlines > bullets > narrative > whitespace, use this throughout the page.
The reason for this is that human brains love patterns. Give your reader’s brain a pattern to follow and they will keep reading, and take you seriously.
This page follows a pattern:
- Summary of the tip
- Explanation of the tip
- Sometimes, examples or extra information to help you better understand the tip
And you’re still reading!
9. Let yourself go – make it fun, unique, different.
Let people hear your voice come off the page. Don’t be afraid to use real life examples as well as analogies so people can relate to what you’re saying.
Use the word ‘you’ a lot, rather than ‘we’.
People care about themselves, and what’s relevant to them.
10. Make sure there is a call to action.
What do you want people to do?! Ensure your copy is tailored towards getting them to complete this action, whether it’s to make a purchase, sign up to a newsletter or simply share something they liked.
11. Always tell people what you do already, not what you will do.
Otherwise it sounds like you’re hoping something will happen. For example:
“We build …” rather than
“We will build …”
Another tip is to tell them what they are going to do – this puts the suggestion in their head that this is the action they will take next, as if it’s envitable.
“When you contact us, you’ll find…”
“When you use our service, you’ll enjoy…”
12. Avoid writing meaningless dirge.
This point is best explained by examples, which you’ll recognise straight away:
“Our company prizes itself in looking after its customers” – as oppose to what, treating them badly? I should hope so!
“Our friendly team are trained to deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction, ensuring your every need is met” – as oppose to what, an untrained, unfriendly group of people whose aim is to ignore what you ask for?
“We’ll endeavour to get it right every time” – okay you’ll try and get it right, great! Does it ever work?!
When we read these meaningless statements on a company’s website, we all die a little inside. Believe it or not, people still write this stuff. Here’s a great example that made me cringe. Tell people the truth. For example:
“You can trust us because we’ve been in this business for 15 years and in that time, we’ve helped more than 5,000 people with their something-or-other, achieving a customer satisfaction rate of over 97.5% for the last five years”. You can’t argue with that.
As a final thought, a recent leaked Google document revealed that their raters (people who manually review website content) are instructed to rate the relevance of content along a continuum with 5 options: “Vital”, “Useful”, “Relevant”, “Slightly Relevant”, and “Off-topic”. Keep these in mind when you’re writing your copy and aim to score highly on the vital, useful and relevant factors.