IMPORTANT: Your website’s main job is not to look good or entertain but to drive in business.
It can still look good and entertain as long as it does this as well
As such it follows the rules of advertising – writing good web copy is similar to writing a good ad.
A good effective website should contain the following elements
1. HEADLINE – DO NOT MISS THIS STEP OUT!
Use a Headline statement at the top of the (each) page.
And not just the word “home” or “about us”.
Something enticing, interesting and something that grabs the persons attention.
If your site has the page title as well (eg home, about us, contact us) that’s fine as it helps orient the person… the headline can go immediately under this
This is the most important element of most sites. Do this wrong an no-one reads any further.
A Sub-Headline can also go after the main headline as an option to back up the headline and encourage people to continue reading.
Clearly specify the Benefits of what you offer. NOT THE FEATURES.
If you are unsure what the difference is then here’s a tip I got from Brett Mcfall.
Write your list of features and then add to each point “which means” and complete the sentence.
- My websites are easy to update via the log in admin area
- My websites are easy to update via the log in admin area which means you can update them anytime you wish at no extra cost.
As well as pushing benefits don’t be afraid to remind them what might happen if they don’t take action – what they will lose out on.
So you reinforce the benefits of what you have to offer as well as (subtly, please) the potential losses if they don’t.
People like to see proof. Otherwise how will they know that you will deliver what you promise?
Testimonials are good.
Evidence of completed projects are good too.
But you must prove that your product does what you say it will do.
4. NEGATE RISK
Make it as risk free as you can. Offer a free trial, low start up fee, or even a money-back guarantee ( in which case there can be no risk whatsoever!)
5. PHOTOs & GRAPHICS
This isn’t absolutely required, but it can definitely increase your response rate.
Eg Showing someone enjoying the product or service can solidify the proof provided above.
Or a picture of yourself makes the communication much more personal and real
Of course an online shop needs good quality pictures of the items being sold.
For information/ services sites choose your graphics carefully to enhance the message and flow of the copy.
Not to distract the reader and interrupt the flow of the words.
6. CALL TO ACTION
If you haven’t done so already tell the reader what it is you are offering and what you need them to do now. Tell the people what to do and they’ll do it ( well some of them will). Don’t tell them and you’ve lost them. So don’t forget to tell them what you want them to do once they have ready your page/ site and want to know more. Tell them to “fill out this form now for a free quote” or some such thing. Invite them to buy now, even. If you don’t have a call to action then steps 1 – 5 above could be great and you’d still get a low response
Make it easy for people to take the next step and they will. Make it hard and they wont.
Now 1-6 are all about what to write. There is an important element that precedes this which could be called How to Write. I don’t mean spelling or grammar but mindset. Write as if its a conversation between you and another person.
Then when you read it back to yourself jump into the viewpoint of that other person and see if the message being communicated works.
Again another tip from Brett McFall ; try reading it out loud.
If you stumble, get confused or lost then so will the reader.
Revise your web copy accordingly
8. LENGTH (long or short copy)
Now I am not saying all these elements need to be on the one long page – you can split your message over many pages. Just be sure that each page still has these elements in it eg a headline a call to action and so on.
There’s a bit of a disagreement as to how much copy (words) should go on a page.
Some people opt for the long sales letter type page with everything above in the one place. These seem to work well for “buy now” type of products.
Personally I haven’t found them to work so well for service and long-term type products.
I do know that a page with 12 words and an image is unlikely to impress though – as well as being a potential search engine disaster.
The rule here is there are no rules. Each market is different and you should experiment with what works and what doesn’t.
9. ADWORDS AND LANDING PAGES
And finally try combining these elements to make a landing page for your adwords campaign and direct your PPC traffic there rather than top your home page. You’ll be rewarded with a better / higher listing from google if you do – they check how relevant your landing page is to your ad and the keywords selected. And a lower cost per click.
But more of this another time…