By guest, 16-May-2013 16:37:00
About Me: I don’t normally start articles writing about myself but I realised that many of you who have popped by here may not have heard of little old me. I’m a copywriter, journalist and blogger, some like to call me successful, I think I fall more into the “workaholic” category, as my mother said when I received my last writing award, “even if you were stacking shelves in Tesco working the hours you do, you’d win the best shelf stacking award without a doubt”. I do like to believe that my talent also plays a part but I leave that feedback up to my paying clients.
My clients include British Gas, Calpol, Austin Reed, Linens Direct, Funky Giraffe and LavenderWorld where I produce web copy, press releases and blogs to help with SEO and to bring buyers into their brand. I also give relationship advice weekly through Temptations Direct and I’m the head journalist for the Integrated Retailer, a publication from the RBTE that as business people you’ll be familiar with (I hope!)I do believe that anyone who can spell can add compelling copy to their website, all it takes is a little insight, some tricks of the trade and bingo, your visitors are hooked from the word go.For the benefit of this book, this amazing cause that’s close to my heart, I’m willing to share my secrets for successful copy that promises to increase your sales, but don’t tell a soul!Here are the rules I live by when creating web copy for companies big and small:
Keep it Simple
This is why many start-up businesses hire someone else to do the copy as they believe good copy involves a plethora of adjectives and lots of four syllable words. In fact, visitors will be put off if your copy takes effort to read. Conversational is key. If you wouldn’t use the words when having a chat to the supermarket checkout lady, you shouldn’t use them on your website.
At best the overuse of the online thesaurus will make you look pompous and pretentious; at worst you’ll actually lose custom as you make people feel a little bit stupid when they need a dictionary to translate your website!
Remember the Twenty Second Rule
Is there something you’re thinking of buying at the minute or services you are considering using? Pretend you need a domestic cleaner, have a Google and have a look at the websites that catch your eye. No doubt Google will have thrown up hundreds of results so how do you make sure you pick the one that’s right for you?
You scan! We are all a nation of scanners and this is how we do it. We land on a website and if the copy doesn’t pull us in within twenty seconds, we leave. There’s just so much choice these days and the consumer has all the control so we must bear this in mind when creating compelling copy.
Forget Left to Right
On top of the scanning visitors will read a webpage differently to how they’d read a magazine or book. The general consensus is this.
On landing they’ll view the top right hand corner first (insert contact details here), then they’ll look at the top left, they’ll assess some of the middle before having a glance at the bottom left (look at websites, this is usually where the phone number or social media links are) . The bottom right hand corner is quite useless. Unless you put animated gif of a juggling cat there it’s unlikely to get any attention so use this as storage or leave it blank, there’s nothing wrong with white space on a webpage.
Forget Beginning to End
Now you know where to put the copy you need to know what to put. Visitors will only read the first and last lines of a paragraph and then only the first and last few words of a sentence. This is scanning at its best. I believe the pyramid technique works well here, start with what’s important. Highlight your USP straight away, then if you’ve drawn them in, they’re hooked and you can expand a little on the detail to compound the notion that you are the best and they won’t find better elsewhere.
Good copy will entice from beginning to end and it will encourage a user to learn more which lowers bounce rates, to click to contact or to buy it now.
Cut Out the Clutter
A cluttered website will be an assault to the senses and will put people off in an instant. Try not to worry about white space and use 50% less copy than you believe you should. Less is more in copywriting and every word counts, which is usually why copywriters charge by the word.
Streamline the appearance by making it digestible in bite size chunks. Use meaningful titles, make use of bullet points and only sell one point per paragraph (as only four words will be read anyway you don’t really have chance to promote anything else).
Use a Little Psychology
One trick all copywriters use (and if they don’t they’re not a copywriter) is to harness the power of writing in the second person. Talk to your audience, appeal to your target market, let visitors believe you’ve written the copy and developed your business especially for them. Let them know how your services will help them and how choosing you will be the right step to take.
So use phrases such as “we offer you an unrivalled service that promises to make you smile, enhance your life and leave you thankful that you found us as soon as you did”.
Add a Personal Touch
As a journalist for the Integrated Retailer (I did mention this didn’t I?) one thing I often report on is retailer marketing, such as Omni channel solutions and so on. I’ve talked to bigwigs such as the CEO of Marks and Sparks and picked the brains of the best PR gurus in the country. All of this has confirmed what I already believed; we want the old days back!
We all love the convenience of shopping online but we do miss the good old days where we’d go to the shop with cash in our hands and have a little natter as we waited for our change. Remember buying penny sweets and as the doorbell tinkled a friendly woman would come out and greet you? That’s how welcoming your copy should be, people need to feel appreciated before they’ll part with their hard earned cash.
The truth is, although we all reminisce about these days we really haven’t the time for chin wags and browsing, so to cater for your consumers you need to give them what they want quickly and your copy will help with this!
These tips are just for applying to the Homepage as the rules change the deeper you delve into a website, for instance if a visitor has taken time to click on your About Us page then they are already interested and you can use copy to utilise that. Your frequently asked questions should answer every eventuality, even if not frequently asked, as visitors will want to be reassured that you’ve considered their needs when they flick through your FAQs.
To get started, just try one of these tips, you’ll be surprised how much your new copy will lower your bounce rates; your next step is to add SEO!
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