When I rewrite websites for companies, it’s usually to either 1) better focus the messaging on the company’s target audience; 2) translate marketing-speak into clearer, more effective copy, and/or 3) make the content web-friendly.
These three elements are key to speaking to prospects on their terms, the only way to get real results. So how can you improve your website content to meet these goals? Here are 4 of my top fixes.
1. Benefits, benefits, benefits
Many websites don’t effectively tie the company’s offering to the prospect’s needs. It’s understandable, really—inside staff can be too close to the company, repeating the same messages used in marketing collateral without questioning whether they actually resonate with clients.
As you write your website content, go back to your key value propositions, making sure each one passes the “So what?” test. Be clear about how your offering benefits the prospect. Writing directly to your audience’s needs is the most crucial element of effective web copy.
2. Be more conversational
A lot of website copy comes across as unnecessarily stiff. Some people just aren’t comfortable writing, while others think it makes them sound smarter. But the truth is, you’re much more likely to make a real connection if you take a conversational tone. It’s more authentic, and people will naturally trust you more—a huge step in making the sale.
So how can you make your writing more conversational? First, use contractions as you would in normal speech. Second, it’s okay to use sentence fragments, or sentences that start with “but” or “and.” I’m as much of a grammar nut as the next person, but we need to recognize this isn’t third grade English. This is marketing. Even professional service firms can get away with using a contraction now and then.
Still not sure your copy sounds natural? Try reading it out loud.
3. Break up the copy
This is probably the fastest way to improve your web content. Long blocks of text are boring, so try splitting up paragraphs the way you might see in a feature article. For example, the content on my home page could easily be combined into two paragraphs, but breaking it into seven makes it flow more like a conversation, also adding some much-needed white space.
Give it a try next time you write. Put one sentence all by itself. Pose a question. Make a one-word paragraph and see the impact a single word can have.
3. Vary your sentence length
I have to give props to my junior year english teacher for the next two tips (thanks, Mr. Bounds!). While Mr. Bounds was a bit nutty, his demand that we alternate long with short sentences is something that’s stuck with me. Why? Because it makes text flow. Multiple long sentences sound clunky, but interspersing them with shorter sentences makes reading much easier.
If you’re not used to writing like this, start by breaking up compound sentences. And remember, don’t be afraid to use fragments, or start a sentence with ‘but’ or ‘and’ where it gives your copy more impact.
4. Cut the fat
Saying something in fewer words is always better—it’s more efficient, making your message clear without extra distractions. Plus, it lets you say more in less space, an important consideration for today’s impatient prospects. You have to be willing, as they say, to kill your darlings, if you want your writing to hit home.
Some places to start:
- Extraneous words like “that,” “very,” and “really,” which you can almost always do without.
- Clichés. Get rid of those tired, overused phrases. The last thing you want is someone cringing on the other side of the screen.
- Marketing speak and buzz words that don’t really mean anything to the reader. That includes words like “enhance” and “industry leading.”
Does your website need a refresh? Email me at racheltracy [at] oncallcopywriter.com for a free consultation.