Think of your site copy as the outfit you’d wear to a sales meeting. Every article of clothing is going to say something about you, whether it’s the stain on your tie or the wrinkles in your shirt.
Dressing for success applies to your website as well, and as your visitors read or even scan your copy, they’re making snappy judgments based on what they see.
Interrogate Your Copy
When you’re writing for your brand in any medium, whether it be blog posts, product descriptions, marketing materials, or white papers, your chief priority should be to convince your target audience that you’re to be taken seriously. The quickest way to fail is to muddle your text with errors, poor word choice, and clumsy sentence structure.
But that’s not all. Apart from proofreading, if you haven’t tailored your copy to your target audience and purpose, you’re still going to miss the mark. So take that product page you’re writing right now and ask yourself these questions:
- Is the copy speaking their language?
You should know your target audience better than anyone. If you haven’t made a customer profile yet, do it. It should outline their age range, socioeconomic status, education level, needs, wants, pain points, and general mind-frame (how do they solve problems?).
- Is your header/headline compelling?
Take time on your headline. An effective headline, especially for an article, is going to promise—in succinct terms—exactly what benefit(s) the reader is going to get out of the article.
- Is your lead sentence a hook?
After the headline, what reason have you given your visitor to continue down the page? Your lead sentence is going to present or share a personal experience, a controversial statement or opinion, a problem that requires a solution (which you’re going to present ideas for), a riddle, an interesting or unexpected announcement, or a quotation. The key is to make sure it’s compelling and original.
- Does it focus on what’s at stake?
When talking about your product or service, you need to make specific distinctions between the features of your product and the benefits, and then you need to consciously focus on the benefits. Instead of focusing on the speed of your ice-cream maker, focus on the pleasure of eating homemade ice cream, spur of the moment, on a hot day. Focus on what the reader is missing out on by passing up your product.
- Does it have a beginning, middle, and end?
You’re not going to present a problem without offering a solution are you? Just make sure you’re telling your product’s full story, as if you’re moving through scenes in a play. Present the conflict, pose the benefit-laden solution (your product), conclude and convince the reader to act.
- Has it been proofread?
When you first sit down to write, let it out, remembering that you will have the opportunity to edit. When you do edit, you’re looking for typos (obviously), excessive language (cut out anything that the core message of the copy can do without), awkward phrasing that impairs readability, and redundant language and ideas.
- Have you chosen your words carefully?
Don’t waste an opportunity to connect with your visitors by using empty, clichéd language. We’ve all read the sales page that touts groundbreaking, best-in-class, peerless, and cost-effective products. Decide what benefits your product has to offer and don’t waste your time on throwaway adjectives that serve no one.
Put Your Copy Through the Ringer
How has your copy held up against the onslaught of questions? If it hasn’t answered to your satisfaction, revise until it does. Your customers, and your bottom line, will thank you for it.
Which of these questions does your copy generally struggle with the most?
Barone, Lisa. “How to Write Better Copy While Barely Trying: 6 Foolproof Tips.” http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2352150/How-to-Write-Better-Copy-While-Barely-Trying-6-Foolproof-Tips. (June 27, 2014).