Your website is your shop window to the world irrespective of the strategic reason for its existence. After all, your website is promoting your business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can be seen by anybody, worldwide. The sales messages within your website play a critical role and act as your salesperson on screen. This is a very important point to grasp.
As a business owner you may be feeling that this doesn’t apply to you. Perhaps your website is a catalogue or shop, and your customers know what you sell and visit frequently. Let’s stop, for a second and consider removing the shop from the internet. Let’s say you have a shop on the high street and you are serving the customers. Would you smile, greet them, make conversation and create a friendly atmosphere? I hope so. After all, you want them to return again and again don’t you? There’s an old Chinese proverb which says “man without smile should not open shop.” We need to help a prospect or customer feel warm, cosy and appreciated.
If you had a physical catalogue, wouldn’t you enthusiastically walk a new visitor through the catalogue asking questions to understand what problem or need you could help them with, and then recommend the best solution? In other words, you’ve taken them through a sales process through conversation.
A face to face discussion is easier as you can read body language, listen to the tone in the customer’s voice and enter into a discussion. Whilst it may sound difficult to create this type of conversation online, there are ways to present a friendly, informative buying experience on your website through the use of good web copy. Here’s how…
If you look at the newspaper, it is full of headlines. Your eye is drawn to those that interest you. You select what you read and what you don’t. Headlines help you make this choice. Without good headlines grabbing the reader’s attention, newspapers would not sell so easily. They would be difficult to read and therefore less enticing.
The headline is your first chance to grab your readers attention. This could be your only opportunity to engage them. The headline should contain a keyword or phrase that the reader may have searched for. It may be a great offer. The important role of the headline is to engage to keep the reader on your website.
The headline and some body text should appear above the fold. This is a term and translates today to what can be seen on screen when the reader first opens your website. The content below the fold is the bottom of their screen, which they have to scroll to, to read more. The more you can immediately engage a reader and lure them into your website, the more likely they will stay, have a good look around and possibly buy from you (depending on what you are selling)
Text supports the headline. This may include questions even though you won’t hear the response. Asking great questions is a superb way of engaging a reader. The conversation is happening in the mind of the reader. Web copy or text is the place to stack your sales messages in a more subtle way. This is where you inform and educate the reader providing good clear content. Google likes good content on websites and the reward is a high place in the search engines…providing you know how to write website content for SEO that also reads well.
Photographs and Graphics
Because the web is so visual, you need good photographs or graphics to provide an element of design. It has another function which is to draw the eye in certain directions. All photographs and graphics should be correctly labelled for SEO but also descriptive for the reader to understand what they are saying.
Features and Benefits
Many websites are very good at describing the features of products. This alone is not enough. The reader wants to know WIIFM (what’s in it for me). If you use features, add the benefit from the user’s perspective. What will product ‘X’ do for the reader, how does it solve a problem? provide greater benefit to them than another product? This allows you the opportunity to position your product in the market against a competitor – very clever. If you are selling similar products to your competitors, adding the benefit can position your business as the educator, the one that cares most because you try that much harder to help your visitors make the right decisions – a very clear difference from the vendor that simply sells the product.
We all learn by using our senses. These are sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. When writing copy for websites, it’s important that you cater for the first three but you may need to reference all of them depending on what you are selling, so let’s take a closer look.
- Sight– otherwise known as visual. We learn so much from what we see by watching or reading. This can be used in our text by introducing words such as “look, see, clear etc.
- Sound – audio. Not everyone is visually stimulated and therefore other modalities must be used too. Using words like ring, sound, screech, hear, all describe a sound or using an audio learning sensory system.
- Touch – this is known as kinaesthetic. This is where we have a feeling which may have resulted in contact. Phrases like, cold, hot, smooth, rough, grip, flowed, are all good words representing this modality.
If you think about each of these as personal traits, then a latter is considered a touchy, feely person. They are generally tactile people, talk slowly and don’t like conflict.
An audio person may be a faster speaker and louder too as they like the sounds around them.
Finally a visual person would tend to talk faster and use hand movements too.
Your job whilst writing web copy is to weave each of these into your text beginning with the kinaesthetic visitor first. Think about a time when you visited a place for the first time, maybe a foreign destination for a holiday. Initially you are quiet, a little bit reserved and worried about a great many things, especially getting lost.
Then you begin slowly finding your way around and you’re not quite as shy. By the end of the holiday you’re strolling around the place and you’re known to many. You’ve a great deal more confidence compared to when you arrived.
Now you can understand what’s happening when a visitor lands on your website for the first time. So you initially engage them using their language and lead them into the other modalities – they gain confidence and say more once they’ve been introduced and shown around.
If you have a website, I urge you to visit it today. I know you’re familiar with it. However, for once, read the text. Are you being greeted in a friendly way, carefully shown around, asked lots of questions, and made to feel welcome? Are you learning about the products and services so that you understand the good and the bad. Do you feel that the business is trying to help you or sell to you?
Professional copywriters write web copy that sells. They understand all of the key points raised in this article and apply them to websites and other marketing methods. There are numerous books that will include website copywriting, that will help you. However, why not take a shopping trip and note what happens in each shop and whether the assistant is really helpful. Note how they greet you, ask you questions and provide information. Learn from this experience and find ways to replicate it within your own website copy. It’s magic when you get it right!