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10 Secrets to Writing Web Site Copy that Sells

Published on March 25, 2008
Tags: Web Design London

It doesn't matter whether you are selling a product or a service, writing the copy for your web site is probably the most important thing you can do. It must communicate. It must persuade. It must sell! The average web visitor doesn't hang around long on a site. So, creating an impact in a few seconds is the key to persuading them to stay longer, investigate your products, and BUY!

  1. "What's in it for me"?

    Many web sites provide lots of detailed information about the company, their products, how excellent they are, and so on. But, why should the visitor buy? Let's take a hypothetical example:

    "The speedy hoover is 50% more powerful and cleans in half the time".

    This is a great feature but what can it do for the customer? For every product and service you sell, first sit down and figure out the benefits to your potential customers. Will it change their lifestyle? Will it save them money? Will it make them the most stylish person in the neighbourhood? Two quick answers for the example above might be more free time to do other things, and floors so clean they are the envy of the neighbours. Use phrases like "which means that you" or "so that you" to help link the features of your product or service to the benefits.

  2. Use a powerful heading

    Start your page with a powerful heading - draw the visitor into the page of information. Make sure, though, that the heading is a benefit not a feature. So, for example, using the example above a heading might read:

    "FREE to Every Busy Homeworker
    4 Hours A Week To Enjoy Yourself"

    Notice that every word in the heading is in capitals. This help to make sure that it is emphasized from the main part of the page.

  3. Draw them in with a sub-heading

    So you've written a powerful heading, now back it up with a sub-heading because the next logical question will be "Why? or How?".

    So, following with our theme:

    "Because When You Own a Speedy Hoover,
    You Will Hardly Ever Use It!"

    Then, you are ready to complete the main body of the page. But remember, always back your product features up with benefits. It is these that will sell!

  4. Write as you speak!

    Don't try to "formalise" your web site if that is not how you speak to your customers. Be conversational. Write as you would speak to them. Use small, easy-to-read words as there is less opportunity for confusion and misunderstandings.

  5. Avoid jargon

    Write at a level your audience will understand. For example, we sell web hosting. But, if we stated "You can use PHP, ASP, SQL", many of our potential customers would walk away - and who could blame them! Use language that is graded to your readers, that will make sense to them, and in which they can see the benefits to them of your product or service.

  6. Watch your width

    Why do newspapers have columns? It is not purely for aesthetic reasons, it is to do with readability. Reading a very long line of text is visually unappealing. Very often, the reader will get bored before the end of the line, and skip the message altogether. As a rule of thumb, keep your line length to less than 65 characters. It's true that with bigger monitors you have all that extra space, but that doesn't mean you have to use it!

    Go and have a look at a newspaper, magazine, or book and count the number of characters in a line and the importance will become apparent!

  7. Keep it clean

    Keep your copy short, and sharp. Don't waffle. If you can say it in one word, don't say it in ten. For example, why say "At this point in time" when you can say "Today"? Less words means an easier time for your reader - your potential customer. Start the page with your biggest benefit and work down from there. Split text with bullets, paragraphs, and subheadings to encourage readability.

  8. Let your clients speak

    Your existing clients can be your best salespeople - so use them. If they have been happy with your product or service, don't be afraid to ask them for a testimonial. Never make them up though!

    Don't place all your testimonials on one page where the potential client might miss them, but intersperse them into your pages so that they become part of your sales message.

  9. What do you want?

    OK, so your potential customer has got to the end of the page. They're excited by what you are offering. Now what? What should they do? Tell them - don't let them guess. Would you like them to order now? To book a no obligation discussion? To telephone your free phone number? Don't be afraid to ask!

  10. Proofread!

    Obvious, but so often missed. Once you have proofread your site give it to a friend or colleague to do. If you can, give it to several people. Ask them for feedback and don't be afraid to take some criticism. Before releasing your pages, sounding it against some trusted friends can make all the difference. Maybe they'll spot a typo you missed, or maybe they think the copy could be improved in one or two places. Their help could be invaluable before you launch your pages on the global community!

By Chelsey Evans

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