I for one hate waiting. Perhaps it’s my mixed blood for I certainly do not fall into the ‘Brits love to queue’ category, and I especially don’t like having my time wasted. I will take the quick option where possible but only if it is effective…and I have learned that self checkouts are certainly not this! But if there is something I can do in five, ten or fifteen minutes that can make a difference, I will… This week’s topic is about improving your online copy and includes quick tips and things that you can do straight away.
So, first and foremost, why do you need to improve your online copy when you have brochure content that you can replicate? Although copy needs to be consistent in its message, there are nuances and characteristics that mean your copy must be tailored for online use.
The most common mistake companies make is that they treat their web visitors just like readers of printed text. That poses a few issues because web copy tends to be scanned, or glanced at, and not read as such. Your web visitors are hunting for information or products and they make quick decisions without thinking as in-depth as your printed text customers will, so with that in mind, I have put together these points so you can capture and keep their interest.
Get straight to the point
“What do we want…?” “Information” “When do we want it?” “NOW”
And, of course, you don’t want to let the angry mobs down so make sure you put your most important information first, where the eye naturally falls. Time is of the essence, and the objective of website copy should be to get straight to the point and bring to the fore the essential information. To do this you should try and bring the benefits to the customer out immediately, reduce unnecessary information, or if you insist on keeping lots of information, make sure that it is in a secondary area of the site, and keep your message clear.
For instance, on your homepage, tell me what you do, what makes you different, and the benefit to me (the customer) straight away. I want to know why I should stay on your site and buy from you, I don’t have time to search for information and I don’t want to read a story that is not relevant to my purchase or enquiry. Try it yourself. Search for a product and enter the first four or five sites that the search engine returns. Do they tell you exactly what you need to know, and did this relate to your search? If not the reality is you will probably leave and go somewhere else.
Think of your USPs, this is always a great place to start. For example, tell the customer “We sell X thousands of products a month”, “We deliver direct to your door throughout the UK”, “Best Price Guaranteed” and “Delivery is Free”. This means that within approximately three seconds your visitor knows exactly what they need to, to determine whether they are in in the right place.
Use bullet points and short sentences
This formatting is particularly important on homepages and product pages. According to research, interest drops 90% after 14 words of copy, so try and incorporate essential information in 14 words or less, or within the first 14 words. You should try and keep one message per point so that the information is more easily absorbed and remembered too.
Don’t try to be too clever
I don’t like to put this in as I am a sucker for a play on words and clever headline, but the truth is that sometimes it is easier just being straight to the point and simple statements often do work best.
Every page could be a homepage
On average only 50% of people land on your homepage. The reality is people land on product or offer pages depending on the link they clicked through on. Make sure that each individual page contains all the information the customer would need if that was the only page they landed on. In other words, treat every page as a homepage and don’t be frightened to repeat some information on every page or multiple pages.
Be friendly to Search Engines
SEO is an acronym we all hear, and is a total blog series in itself, but make sure your web copy is SEO friendly. Ensure you use key phrases that people search for in your copy. This will increase your visibility in the search jungle.
Add meta tags to your website and images
Meta tags help tell search engines and users what your site is about and may help with your ranking.
Write for Scanners
Write your copy with those scanning or skimming information in mind…
• Does your headline communicate the right message?
• Does your image caption communicate the right message?
• Do your sub headlines summarise key points?
• Do easy-to-scan bullet points communicate effectively?
You’ll know yourself what you like to see as it’s safe to say that we have all visited sites and thought they were awful for one reason or another. When writing your site, think as a customer. This can often be difficult as you can be too ‘close’ to the content or products, so if you have any queries about improving your site or even re-writing it then we at Début Marketing are happy to offer some advice or do it for you.
Next week we will look at improving offline copy…until then, comrades!
Photo credit: “1950s Bristol Shoppers queue to get a bargain in the sales” by Paul Townsend