January 16, 2018

8 Ways to Elevate Your Website Copy

8 Ways to Elevate Your Website Copy

There’s no doubt that when it comes to your website, looks matter. 

But, while beautiful design can capture attention and pique interest, great copy can capture hearts and minds. If you confuse people, you'll lose them, and with all the money, time and effort it takes to get potential customers to our websites, we want them to leave with complete clarity about what we do and how we can help them.

When design and copy complement each other in a strategic way, they can make all the difference in turning your website from ho-hum to stand out, turning your site visitors into customers or brand advocates.

Today, I wanted to share some of the tips that have elevated my copywriting and editing skills. Try them on for size, and if they work for you, add them to your arsenal!

1. Know your brand

I cringe when I think about the copy I wrote for our first website. It was uninspired, with no compelling or unique messages about our brand and not even a hint of personality.

We didn’t really know what we wanted to say about ourselves and how we wanted to be perceived by others, and our copy reflected this lack of brand direction. 

So my first tip— I recommend spending a bit of time working out the key, repeatable messages you are trying to communicate about yourself and your products and services. Understand how you want to position yourself as a brand. Your writing will likely be a lot better for it.

If you need a helping hand developing your brand strategy, check out our Invaluable guide (shameless plug) or get stuck into the free branding articles on this blog.

2. Speak to one person

Instead writing for a target audience or mass audience, try focusing on writing for one person—your ideal customer. If you've done #1 on this list, you should know this ideal customer pretty well.

When I first started writing copy, I was trying to appeal to everyone which diluted my message and made it difficult to address specific challenges. Now, every time I write I take a step back to consider our ideal customer and the outcomes they are seeking as they are reading my copy.

This makes it a lot easier to address their specific needs, such as—

  • What are their challenges?
  • What are they hoping to achieve?
  • What have they already tried?
  • How can I help get them from where they are to where they want to be?

Customer surveys and interviews are a great way to gather some of this golden info.

Once you know who you're speaking to, what problems they're facing and how your offering solves it, you're well on your way to writing conversion focused copy— just make sure to always position your customer as the hero in your story.

3. Ditch the BS

Oliver Markus Malloy said ‘the secret to good writing is to use small words for big ideas, not to use big words for small ideas.’ Smart guy.

Great copywriters don’t need long-winded paragraphs or flowery language to communicate their message. They keep it simple and purposeful.

When someone first lands on your website, you only have a few seconds and limited space to make a great first impression. Vague, or overly-complex copy simply won’t cut through.

I always aim to use clear and concise sentences to tell people what a business does and why it matters. My goal is to be straightforward and I select every word carefully. If I can my point across in fewer words without changing the meaning of what I’m saying, I always opt for brevity.

4. Have a goal for every page

On every page, ask yourself this— if someone only took away one piece of information or completed one action on this page, what would it be? You can then write your copy and any calls to action to achieve this one goal.

If there's no purpose to a page on your website, there's probably no point in having it. It's simply an extra click for your visitors. Be smart about the information you're presenting and how it aids your overall website goals.

5. Use copywriting formulas

If you haven't heard of copywriting formulas before, I can't wait for you to try them out, because I think they are going to be your new secret weapon in the fight against blank pages and blinking cursors. They add a little bit of science to the art of copywriting, helping you to flow all those ideas you have swimming around in your head into a structure that works.

Go ahead and bookmark this formulas list from copyhackers. It is exhaustive and jam-packed with examples. Give some formulas a whirl and let me know if they work for you! With any luck they will make writing your copy easier and much faster.

6. Make it memorable & personable

In my opinion, many brands could stand to inject a little bit more personality into their copy. They don’t do it because they don’t want to deter any customers, but in failing to be a little bit unique, they’ve made themselves very forgettable to everyone, instead of loved by a smaller tribe.

There are a few ways to inject memorability and personality into your writing. Here are my favourite tips;

  • Write like you speak. You may have heard this before, and with good reason. It’s a great tip to keep you from writing stuffy, formal, essay-like copy.
  • Keep things conversational by using conjunctions (don’t, can’t, wouldn’t) and writing in first person (I, we, us).
  • Tell stories to keep your writing relatable, generate rapport and build memorability into your writing. Your readers are much more likely to remember a message that’s wrapped in a story.
  • Don’t take it too far. It’s easy to write from behind a screen, but if you wouldn’t or couldn’t say the same words to your customers’ faces without feeling embarrassed or disingenuous it’s probably not right for your website.

7. Edit with fresh eyes

I usually do a few drafts of any copy I write. Sometimes the first draft is in pretty good shape, and other times (usually when I write at the end of a long day) it’s questionable. Once I’m pretty happy with it, I always ask Kane to read what I’ve written as well. If he’s struggling to see my point or has ideas or edits, I rework it again.

Finally, I read it aloud. It should sound sharp and easy to read. If I’m stumbling over a sequence of words or gasping for breath, it’s a pretty clear sign that my sentences are too long or need to be restructured. Reading aloud also helps me fix missing words in sentences and notice if I’ve used the same word too many times.  

8. Know how to spot great copy in the wild

If you know what good copy looks and sounds like, you’ll be better equipped to edit your own words with a critical mind.  

  • Read more books to learn how to tell a compelling story. What qualities make up the books that keep you engaged vs. those that you put down and forget to pick back up?
  • Pay attention to how successful brands write and communicate. If you like/dislike how something is written consider why. Think critically.
  • Write more. Flex that copywriting muscle. The more you write, the better you will become at writing.

I hope you can use these hacks to improve your website copy (and other copy too). If you found this article useful, I would love it if you shared it with your friends or followers. And, if you have any copywriting tips for me, lay them on me! You can leave them in the comments.

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