Copywriting is one of the most important aspects of a great website. Copy influences UX, SEO, branding, and conversions. There's so much to learn about copywriting, but let's focus on the basics, like how we can make a site better (or worse).
Websites are tools, so treat them as such.
The more efficiently a tool is built and maintained, the better the results will be.
When writing copy, it’s not about flowery words, and it’s not the opportunity to show off what a strong vocabulary you have. It’s about being as clear and concise as you possibly can, while surprisingly, keeping it to about a seventh-grade reading level.
This is excellent news for those intimidated by the thought of having to write out all your copy.
Stick to these copywriting fundamentals, and you’ll be surprised at how powerful, straightforward writing can be.
The following fundamentals are the building blocks of all good copywriting. You will be able to use these techniques in any form of copywriting; blogs, emails, social media content, billboards, websites, commercials, etc. Most of these techniques have been around for decades, and while the delivery system might change, these core fundamentals will not.
The Fundamentals of website copywriting
Determine who your target audience is
Your target audience is who your ideal customer is—the person who is buying your product or service the most.
The copy you write for a target audience of men ages 18-25 will be very different from the audience of women ages 45-55. You have to use the language of your audience, and the more narrowed down you get, the more effective your copy will be.
Where do they work? What is their age? What kind of car do they drive, if they even have a car? Do they have a dog, kids, or both? Are they married? What are their needs, and how does your product or service fill those needs? All of these details come into play and will help you to understand how to build your copy.
A good technique to practice is to close your eyes and try to imagine exactly who this person is. What do they do first thing in the morning when waking up, what do they eat for breakfast, how do they get to work? Creating this persona in your mind might have some surprising revelations that will allow you to speak more directly to your target audience.
Determine your copy’s primary objective
Now that you know who your target audience is, you need to figure out what exactly it is that you want them to do.
Do you want them to fill out a form? Collect their email address for future sales and events? Guide them to your product page? Inform customers of the intricacies of your services?
Your website is a tool, and all tools have a specific purpose.
What is your website’s purpose? Before writing a single word, this should be very clear to you, so you know how to direct people to each page’s main function. An About page will have a different purpose than a pricing page. Think about what you want each page of your website to accomplish.
Write as you would speak to a friend or relative
Warren Buffet is well known for his quarterly letters to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. They’re informative, accessible, fun to read, and he’s careful not to put in too much business jargon.
When asked about his approach, he says that he pretends he’s writing to his two sisters. He puts their names at the header, and when done, he takes the names off. (Personas!)
Doing this creates a tone that will put readers at ease, builds trust, and eliminates the feeling of being “sold to.”
When you’re done, try reading your copy out loud; if it’s robotic, stiff, or “professional” sounding, start over as though you are speaking to an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time.
The only things that matter are your customer’s wants and needs
When writing copy for your website, everything has to come back to your customer’s wants and needs. Anything you write should be about how it’s benefiting your customer. Always put the user/customer first. It makes for great sales copy, as well as the website users experience.
What’s in it for them? If you’re going to write about the state-of-the-art software you use, you better make sure that it’s phrased in a way to let the reader know it’s going to make all their problems go away.
Don’t talk about yourself or the product unless it’s directly showing how it benefits the customer. They don’t care about how long you’ve been in business, how much profit you make per year, how many locations you have, how your product is produced, none of it, if it doesn’t precisely show that it benefits them. (Blogging and social media are great avenues for discussing more of your brand's story)
I’m not trying to say anything negative about people in general. It’s just that when you’re home alone searching the internet for something you need, you’re going to be pretty cutthroat about whether or not the copy is speaking to you.
If it doesn’t connect, people will leave, and the only way to connect it is to keep it all about the customer.
Don’t make any assumptions when writing copy
Don’t ever assume that your reader already knows something about your business.
It’s a great example of why you avoid business terms and jargon. It makes people confused, like this is information that they should already know, but somehow, they don’t.
The last thing you want to do is alienate your potential clients.
When copy is assumption-free, it’s clear, concise, and very easy to understand.
Always focus on clarity
Being clear with your message is by far the most important ingredient of copywriting.
Your goal is to let the person reading know that they are in the right place to solve whatever problem they have.
An example of this is a strong Value Proposition at the top of your homepage. When a user visits your site for the first time, they’ll know exactly what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it differently than your competitors.
Putting in unnecessary words and information muddies up your message. Every line needs to serve a purpose, and its purpose should be evident immediately.
People want solutions to their problems, and the more quickly you can show that you have the answers, the more likely they will be to buy from you.
Let your product or service speak for itself with how well it performs.
Use testimonials and reviews as social proof
Testimonials are your greatest asset and help legitimize you to the public.
People have a natural tendency not to trust marketing. We are assaulted by thousands of ads every day, and a lot of them use clickbait titles and sneaky tricks to get your attention.
Don’t ever do this.
Once you lose the trust of your customers, it’s a long uphill battle to gain it back.
Use testimonials instead.
Customers naturally trust each other more than marketers, so when they read the words of a previous customer, it carries a lot more weight than any clickbait title ever could.
Nectar does an excellent job of this. They have over 30k reviews and a 4.7 rating. As a potential customer, that's really convincing!
Plus, you can use those testimonials to write some of your copy.
Read reviews and articles related to find your customers pain points
Enlighten yourself by reading reviews of your products or services and those of your competitors.
Read any articles or case studies that you can find related to what you do. This will help you in understanding your potential customer’s pain points.
If you see something that people are constantly complaining about from your competitor, you’ll now have a new angle to approach your copywriting. Let the public know that they won’t experience those issues with you.
Amazon reviews, Reddit, and Yelp all hold treasure troves of customer pain points. See what problems customers are having, and address them in your copy. Show them how your service doesn’t fall short like your competitors.
Putting It to Work
Now that you have the fundamentals let’s put them to work in a real-world scenario, your website.
These pages make up the large majority of what you’ll find on your everyday website.
You’ll now learn how to write copy for the following web pages.
Before we get too far, let's address something. There isn't a one size fits all approach, because every business (and every website) is different. But these suggestions should give you a great jumping off point or inspiration is you're stuck.
How to write a Homepage
The homepage is your make it or break it moment. You have seconds before someone clicks that back button, so getting this right is critical.
Also, be sure that it’s easy to navigate. Any additional pages should have links that are easily identifiable and take them straight to it.
Headlines are the first thing people read on your site, so you have to get it right. It’s your first impression, and we all know how important those are.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make people work to find out what you do. This is where clarity comes into play. Let customers know who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
Our client, Solarc Energy Group, is an example of a great headline.
Your copy needs to speak directly to your customer and let them know that they have finally found it; all the answers to their problems are right here.
The father of advertising, David Ogilvy, said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents of your dollar.”
Ogilvy said this in the ’60s, and it still stands today. It’s important.
When writing your headline, you need to be thinking about the core of what you offer and state it. Don’t get creative and flowery with it, don’t say “welcome to our site,” get straight to the point.
Also, make sure your logo is easily identifiable. Many times, this will be the first time someone experiences your branding.
Subheadlines expand on the headline.
If you have an awesome headline that says it all in one go, that’s great, but I’ve found that a subheader provides clarity.
It supports the headline and helps solidify that people have come to the right place. This will also help to pull people in a little more, deepening the desire to learn more.
Our client, Rogue Pack, does an excellent job of this.
Condensed Brand Story
The brand story will further solidify in people’s minds that they are in the right place.
You don’t want to launch into a complete brand story, but you want to expand on what the headline and subheadline are saying.
Stories build trust with people. It needs to be simple, and like we’ve said before, it needs to be clear.
Remember that it’s always about the customer’s wants and needs, so anything written here needs to address their pain points. Describe the problems and issues that your business solves, and then explain how you do this.
We love the brand story for our client Resplendence Design Studio.
Keep your target audience in mind. If you sell economy cars, you don’t write copy like you’re selling high-end sports cars.
Testimonials are magical. They carry the most weight with your target audience, your customers write them for you, and they help you sell better than anything you could write.
You want these throughout your site, and having a few on the homepage is good practice.
Social proof reinforces that people trust you and that your products or services are legit.
Don’t put them all in one spot. Place them intermittently, so as people scroll down, they’ll have a new one to read as they navigate.
If any publications have featured you, online and off, have received any awards, or worked with many well-known brands, put it on your homepage.
You can create a brand bar. A bar with the brand names and logos of the more distinguished companies you’ve worked. People want to see that they’re buying what the pros buy.
CTA (call to action)
Your website is a tool, and its purpose is to get people to use the CTA button. All the words you write on each page of your website have the one goal of getting people to perform an action.
You’ve seen these a million times. A high-lighted square or rectangle with the words “Learn More,” “Take a Look,” “Sign Up,” “Reserve Your Spot Today,” etc.
You’ll want to place these at convenient-to-use locations. Someone might not want to read all your copy, so don’t make them scroll all the way to the bottom of the homepage to find the CTA.
Make them readily available so the moment they think, “This works for me,” they can hit that button and not change their mind.
You don’t need to be clever with CTA’s. It should be clear, concise, and contain verbs, pushing people to take action.
How to write a Service Page
Writing a service page is similar to writing a homepage. You’ll start with a clearly stated value proposition (headline).
Instead of stating your overall brand value, you’ll be focusing on what value your service provides.
If your business only provides one service or product, this will act as your homepage.
PAS (problem, agitate, solution)
Once you’ve given the offer, you’ll want to highlight the pain points or problems you solve.
Agitate the problem, giving scenarios where the problems exist to paint a clear picture of how you solve the issue.
It will look very similar to the condensed brand story on a homepage.
When talking about how you solve problems, really go into detail about how you accomplish this.
Doing so will distinguish your business from competitors, and you’ll be educating customers about your process at the same time.
Be sure to list the benefits of working with you in your descriptions as well.
Hit them with the testimonials again. Testimonials are where the true power of selling lives.
People can be most of the way to hitting that buy button, but a lot of the time, it’s the testimonials that push them over the edge.
A two-sentence review from a customer’s experience is more powerful than the rest of your website combined. Get those testimonials.
Pro Tip: Ask for a testimonial as soon as you wrap up work, or have delivered your product. Send a digital invoice? Include a link to your preferred review site. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to rave about you and remove any friction.
You’ll want to place your call to action button in an obvious place.
If your copy goes below the fold, you’ll want to have one at the top and the bottom of the page.
You might have them go to a contact page to fill out a form or set up a quick call; either way, make the process of reaching out to you as simple as possible
How to write a Product Page
Most people think of Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy when the words product page come to mind. Let’s talk about the elements that make these pages great and, more importantly, work.
This explains itself and seems pretty obvious. You have to have high-quality photos of your products, or people won’t take it seriously, and more than likely think that it’s a scam.
Spend the money to hire someone to do it right. Your return on investment will be worth it. And high quality photos can be used for social media, brochures and your Google My Business profile.
These are the nuts and bolts of the products—things like material, dimensions, weight, color, shipping information, etc.
If you feel like you’re missing some key details, check out what your competitors have written, and be sure to include that data in your writing.
Be sure to list the features, but do not forget the benefits. Benefits are what sell products.
If you’re selling a water bottle and one of the features is that it’s BPA-free plastic, you’ll need to list that it’s better for the environment and your overall health.
This is also where you will insert keywords for SEO purposes. “BPA-free plastic” would be included in the title, and early in the description if possible.
It’s essential to get a good description, not only to sell your product but also to keep people from leaving your page.
People clicking on and then off your page (called a bounce rate) tells the Google search engines that people aren’t finding what they want, then, Google will move you further down the search results list.
The call to action on a product page is usually “add to cart.” You can choose a different CTA but be careful with the words you use.
If it is at all confusing, it will hurt your sales. Like always, keep it simple and to the point.
On the homepage and service page, we use cherry-picked testimonials, meaning we hand select reviews that make us look awesome.
On a product page, it’s good to have a spot where anyone can leave a review.
Doing this will allow you to learn more about your customer base as well. If there’s a recurring problem, you can nip it in the bud.
How to write an About Page
Having an about page is more important than you might think. It doesn’t add anything to the actual sales process, so why do we have to have it?
It’s because people expect to see one, and it helps them to connect with you. So, in reality, it does help with the sales process.
You could have a customer who thinks, “this product is too good to be true,” and they’re hesitant to buy, but by reading your about page, it makes that final connection, and they go all in.
All of this boils down to two things; would I feel good about giving them my money, and is this business legitimate.
Make A Connection
People want to see that you have similar values and ethics. Not having an about page can make people subconsciously think that you’re hiding something.
People can tell when someone is being disingenuous, so be honest and straightforward with your writing.
People want to know that they will feel good supporting you and the vision that you have set out for your business.
Are you legitimate?
Talk about stand-out achievements or any well known people or brands you have worked within the past.
If you have a degree that relates to your business, be sure to mention this, it adds to your credibility.
If you spend time contributing to a cause or participate in charity every year, put this in your story.
It shows people that you care about the community and that there is a real person behind the wheel and that it’s not just a faceless corporation.
The number one mistake people make when writing an about page is talking about themselves.
Sounds weird, right?
But we have to remember that the only thing that matters are our customer’s wants and needs.
Anything that you say about yourself needs to be somehow benefiting your customer.
Tell the story of how your business started because of a problem you fixed, and so many people liked the results that you made it your full-time ambition to help others.
Call to Action
The CTA will finish up the about page. It’s vital people have the opportunity to reach out to you the moment they decide to buy.
Don’t make them search for that button. The whole purpose of your website is for them to hit that button, make sure it’s always available.
How to write a Contact Page
We’ve arrived at the star of the show and by far the most simple of all your pages.
If someone is on this page, there is an excellent chance that they are about to spend some money, and as the person on the receiving end, you do not want to screw this up.
Keep it above the fold
Meaning people shouldn’t have to scroll down to find contact information, it’s visible as they land on the page. All the information should be apparent, easy to read, and easy to use.
Multiple forms of contact
Give people as many ways to contact you as possible.
If your main objective is to have them fill out a form, have it front and center, but also have other ways to be reached.
Someone might not like the idea of filling out a form, but that doesn’t mean you should throw away that lead.
List your email address, phone number, and physical address if you have one. If you’re open to text messages, let people know.
Be sure to use a really strong testimonial on this page, we want to remove any hesitation a buyer might have. Just make sure that it doesn’t get in the way and is only there to reinforce the strength of your brand.
You’re now a pro at website copywriting
And there you have it. You have everything you need to knock out some great website copywriting.
Use the fundamentals of copywriting as your guide and take it a page at a time.
There isn't a one size fits all approach, because every business (and every website) is different. But with these foundational principles, you're now armed with the knowledge to make the best copywriting decisions for your business.
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