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Content Marketing | Feb 19
Jessica Malnik on September 21, 2020 (last modified on November 2, 2020) • 19 minute read
How many website visitors take your desired action after reading your copy?
That’s the goal of website copy — conversions.
Whether that’s signing up for your email list, scheduling a call, buying a product, or something else, great website copy persuades people to take your desired action.
In this post, we’re sharing 23 website copywriting tips for improving the effectiveness of your content, including:
“Don’t discuss what YOU can do,” says Brandon Towl of Words Have Impact. “Discuss what YOUR PROSPECTS can do, with your product or service. Being able to take the perspective of your target market is just as important as keywords and analytics, if not more.”
Diane Howard of Esthetic Finesse says, “A lot of business owners think their website should be about them, when they should be writing to help the customer make a choice!”
Adam Korbl of iFax adds, “Creating copy isn’t about proving what a fantastic writer you are, it’s about caring and understanding the type of wording that customers will react to, be enticed by, interact with, and eventually purchase from.”
“Be clear over everything else,” says Brian Lenney. “Focus on clarity. Don’t try to be cute or funny (unless your brand calls for it). Tell people what to do in a way that cannot be misunderstood.
For example: Click the link on this ad to see my step by step training where I show you how to start doing this from home without having to quit your day job… in only a few hours a day… as soon as tomorrow. The training is free and I’ll show you everything, then you can decide if it’s right for you or not after. All you have to do now is click the link now.”
Benjamin Sweeney of ClydeBank Media adds, “A focus on the journey you want your site visitors to take using easy to understand and clear sentences is the best way to get results on your site. Looking at traffic statistics can be a quick way to see where traffic is abandoning your pages and your copy.”
“Write as if your reader is about to leave for an important meeting,” says Ciaran Bruder of Realm of Film. “They want snappy, unpretentious writing with character so they can understand you immediately and feel that they are validated in their choice to read what you have to say rather than leave that extra bit early.”
Artjoms Kuricins of Tilti Multilingual adds, “Always check that you deliver the main message right away, in a topical relevant and concise manner. The F-shaped reading pattern is an established phenomenon (i.e. each subsequent line of text gets less and less attention), and a wall of introductory text invites the reader to either skip it or outright close the page.
If your task requires you to have a longer text, or a text with more keywords, you can include all that after conveying the gist of the text, as if elaborating the thought. Otherwise you risk having a high bounce rate that negates any SEO or other marketing effort you might have put in the copywriting.”
“Learn how to put yourself in your clients’ customers’ shoes,” says Danny Grainger. “The goal of copy isn’t to make your client happy – the purpose of copy is to make your clients’ customers happy.
Before writing any material, I suggest copywriters trawl product and service reviews of related companies. Discover exactly who the target audience is and what their problems are. Gather the vocabulary the audience uses, then write the copy using this language.”
Keyoka Kinzy of Pelicoin says, “Research, research, and research. Doing thorough research before you start is the best way to write effective copy. The more information you have at the start about your field, the easier it is to complete effective copy. Research will help you know who you’re targeting and how to get their attention so you can turn website visitors into leads.”
Lisa Whelan of Creative Copy adds, “Visitors to your website aren’t interested in how great you think you, your product, or your services are. Instead, they want to know what’s in it for them, and how your business can improve their lives. So, when writing website copy, ask yourself the following questions:
Answer these questions in a clear, concise, and easily accessible way, so your customers don’t waste time searching for information or move onto your competitor’s sites.”
Related Article: The Most Effective Channels for Reaching Your Target Customer
One of the most effective ways for writing persuasive copy is to imagine you are writing an email to one specific person.
Chaya Valier of ChaiCopy says, “Write with one person in mind – someone you know personally who is your ideal customer/client.”
“The easiest way to improve the effectiveness of your website copy is by using conversational words like “You” and “Your” in the copy,” says Junaid Ahmed of LambdaTest Inc. “Conversational copy makes it about them, and it instantly evokes a closer connection.”
Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging says, “Make people sound like you are speaking directly to them. To do this, you need to write in second person. Use “you.” Ask questions. Sound conversational. Start with a hook that makes it sound like you relate to your reader. Then tell a story. Use the AIDA acronym as your guide: Grab their ATTENTION with a hook. Get their interest by telling a story that shows you can relate. Generate their desire for something you have that can help them. Tell them how they can take action to get this solution.”
Katrina Dalao of Referral Rock adds, “Focus your message on the customer rather than the company. A good way to do this is to use you and your instead of “I” and “we”.
For example, instead of, ‘We offer high-quality platforms with excellent service,’ say ‘Easily manage your team and operations – all in one place.’”
“Be conversational,” says Jordan Lassiter of DC Social Media Group. “Use an active voice. Make statements that include the subject in the action. Make commands and use verbs to lead your sentences. Your writing will be shorter and easier to read and personalize.”
Bruce Hogan of SoftwarePundit adds, “On websites, it’s best to use shorter sentences. Readers generally have a short attention span. Sticking with one concept per sentence will help keep your copy succinct and easy to digest.”
For example, Nate Rodriguez of LIFTOFF Digital says, “If you can sell your product face to face, you can sell it using the same words on your website. Use the words you would use to sell it face to face.”
“Don’t be ashamed to use formulas or tools to help you get the job done,” says Alex Birkett. “Creativity and innate talent are helpful, but you’ll probably get better results if you use a formula (like AIDA), plus deep customer research (Voice of Customer being the key), and do some testing, either via a tool like Copytesting (copytesting.com), or if you have the traffic, by running A/B tests.”
For example, Jarie Bolander of JSY PR & Marketing says, “I use the AIDA formula combined with PEL Persuasion to outline all of my website copy. AIDA is Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It’s an old copywriting framework that’s made even better with the 3-act persuasion of Pathos, Ethos, and Logos (PEL) that comes from story structure.
All Persuasion must have Pathos (Emotion), Ethos (Creditability), and Logos (Logic+Numbers) to make your case. The order is important because Emotion is what hooks them while Ethos and Logos pays off the offer.”
On the other hand, Trina Moitra of Convert.com adds, “I am a big fan of a framework like StoryBrand or an approach like MECLABS’ motivation, incentive, friction & anxiety LPO technique.
I use the following template in my work:
[CALLING OUT BIGGEST PAIN POINT OR MOTIVATION IN HUMAN SOUNDING WORDS]
CTA: To build on the interest generated
KEY ADVANTAGES (Based off of benefits)
FEATURES (In the jobs to be done pattern — don’t drown them in 50+ disparate features … show them how they work)
SOCIAL PROOF & RESULTS
If I have the budget, I run the copy by 5-second tests. If not, I apply the grunt test with my colleagues.”
“Be authentic,” says Francesca Newton of EVE Writing Services. “It’s what makes one business stand out against the rest.
With so much content out there, businesses need to make an impression rather than blending in with the competition. The best way to do this is to let your authenticity shine through.
Think about how your business solves problems or adds value, and what makes you different. Lead with these benefits and differences, talk to the customer directly, and give your copy that personal touch that enables a human connection.”
“Having conversationally written messaging that isn’t salesy has always been our most effective approach,” says Alex Cascio of Vibrant Media Productions. “We’ve done split testing on pages with different phrasing/style and almost every time, the page that is written in the conversational term will outperform.”
Chris Jordan of DigitalCurrent.com agrees, “TALK LIKE A HUMAN, NOT A SALESBOT. Everyone in this digital world is wise to marketing tactics, and no one wants to feel like they’re being “sold.”
I’ve had my best successes when I keep sales copywriting focused on providing a solution to consumer pain points.
In other words, don’t lead with, “I sell the best widgets in the USA!” Who cares? Lead with, “This is the Widget That’s Saving Parents 5 Hours A Week on Meal Prep”. Always remember to “give”—offer something of value and play to your audience’s emotions by talking about pain and gain points. That’s what hooks a reader.
Want to make your pitch even more effective? Consider your tone carefully. If you’re selling Enterprise B2B solutions, craft sentences that speak to C-level executives: you should be brief, clear, use business terms, and a professional tone.
Talking to a casual audience? Be topical, use humor or pop-culture references—good copywriting engages by mimicking a real conversation. You want to start a conversation that’s worth having.”
“Kill your darlings,” says Amelia Whyman of Global App Testing. “You might think a section of copy is fantastic, but if you have used it for years with no tweaks, the likelihood is it’s outdated. Tear down your copy and start from the beginning with a fresh set of eyes and keep editing, you will be surprised at the high-quality copy that comes out of it!”
“After writing: Use the ‘So What?’ test on every bit of info or argument you present,” says Ruth Trucks. “Is it relevant enough for your audience to keep them from going, ‘So What?’ This way, you focus on the reader’s benefit.”
“Edit,” says Casey Halloran of Costa Rican Vacations. “Great writing is about effective editing. I am a huge fan of Hemingway and appreciate the fact that the man was BRIEF. It’s far more difficult to tell the story effectively with fewer words than it is to vomit a pile of copy. With cell phones making up the majority of web traffic these days, being efficient with copy is a must. Folks just aren’t going to pay attention for more than a minute or two, so you must write clean, crisp, to-the-point copy that tells your story in a concise and clear way.”
Emily Gant of The Loop Marketing says, “Look at the data. No matter what type of copy you are working on, focus on what your audience is searching for on your website. Focus on keywords, well-constructed content that offers the answers to the questions site visitors are looking for.”
“As with any business decisions, copy decisions should be based on data rather than a gut feeling,” adds Tam Johnson of Smallpdf. “One of the ways we do this at Smallpdf is by regularly conducting copy surveys with our users. We simply ask them to rate both copy understandability and copy likability on a 7-point Likert scale. This takes less than a minute of their time and yet it delivers some powerful insights: It helps all of our writers across 24 languages understand the perceived usefulness and delightfulness of our copy on a given page at a given time.”
“My best tip is to look at the ads that show up when you search for your main money keyword,” says Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. “However, don’t just look at one ad, instead examine all of them, and also those that show for searches related to your money keyword.
Jot down words and phrases that appear again and again and use them in your website or blog post copy.
And to be more specific, use them in the headline and first paragraph of text.
You can even bold them so they stand out.
Because people looking to buy are eager to spend money and absolutely hate it when they end up on a page that can’t satisfy their intent.
Use those trigger words to tell them they are on the right page. So they stay put, read and convert.”
“Write copy that matters to your target audience,” says Chris Wilks of BrandExtract. “Don’t spend too much of your time telling users about the features of your product/service. Instead, tell them the benefits and how it’s going to solve their problems or make their life/job easier.”
“Write for other humans,” says Jakub Rudnik of Shortlister. “Don’t write for search engines. Don’t write like you’re writing a college research paper. Write for the people you want to engage with your content. Then make tweaks for SEO and have an editor ensure the copy is clean.”
Annabel Maw of JotForm adds, “Write for SEO, but make sure it’s still interesting. SEO lingo can sound robotic sometimes, so when you’re writing website copy keep in mind that at the end of the day, you’re writing for humans. Try to spice it up a bit and make it engaging when you can, so it is relatable and personable.”
This starts with knowing who you are writing for.
Tiffany Lewis of More Meaningful Marketing says, “Define your ideal customer first, then perform SEO research second to find out what frustration they are searching to solve. Answer their questions with a combination of addressing their pain points + being a thoughtful and informed solution provider.”
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers adds, “You want to solve your audience’s problems.
For a high-performing website copy, you need to know whom you address to. You need to know your target audience very well. What are their problems? What do they need? What are they looking for?
If you know their problems, you can talk about the solution you have for them. Don’t talk about the features but write about the benefits of your solution.”
“One of the best website copywriting tips is to perform your initial keyword research and have the content pertain to user-intent,” says Christopher Grozdon of Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants. “You know your audience/user best, so use your experience and expertise, paired with initial keyword research, and you’ll most likely find the success you’re searching for.”
“My best copywriting tip is to think about the user experience side of your content—mainly as you’re editing, but absolutely as you’re writing it too,” says Carey Shook of ATCO Pest Control. “Google recognizes thicker, well-written content, meaning that a landing page or blog should be pretty long (800-1,500+ depending on the topic). If there aren’t subheaders, bold copy, bulleted lists, pictures, and section breaks, the reader will get overwhelmed and more than likely bounce off the page. So as you’re writing, make sure your content is well-researched (both for keywords and the topic), edited for grammar, and organized for the best reader experience.”
Jenny Abouobaia of SEO with Jenny adds, “Keep it simple, relevant, and interesting with the key information easy to find. Visitors will get bored and click away if the information is not easy to find with a quick scan through.”
”Prior to the last Google core update, I had been working on updating technical content on a client’s website in order to assist their rankings for existing content which should have been appearing more prominently in the SERPs,” says Eleanor Bennett of Eleanor Leonne Bennett Art. “After revised content was made live shortly before the Core update in May, I noticed that those pages started ranking for more keywords than ever before. This trend of revisiting content to boost traffic has been noticed across a variety of industries that focus their efforts on continual optimization of existing content.”
Editor’s Note: In fact, when we updated 24 posts on this blog, we saw a 75% increase in search traffic.
If you are looking for a way to monitor the search traffic of all your landing pages and blog posts, use this free Decaying Site Pages & Posts Dashboard Template.
“When it comes to measuring the website copy, we rely on Google Analytics a lot,” says Andre Oentoro of Breadnbeyond. “And there’s one metric that we use as an indicator: average time spent on-page.
Since we produce a lot of website copy to provide value to our visitors and inform them about our company, it’s crucial to monitor how long they stay on our website to read. Of course, we know that the average time spent isn’t everything. That’s why we keep an eye on the bounce rate too.
When we see that a page gets a high average time spent and low bounce rate, that’s when we know that the copy performs well, and our visitors seem to like it.”
Editor’s Note: Looking for a simple way to track the average time spent on a page? Use this free Google Analytics Website Engagement Dashboard Template.
“You can’t know the effectiveness of your website copy without split testing,” says Kenzi Wood of Kenzi Writes. “Everyone talks about split testing, but few actually do it. Google Optimize is free and lets you start split testing without the headaches of other software.”
Dan Gower of Buddy Gardner Advertising says, “Remember that good copywriting is as much a science as it is an art. Test everything when possible, and treat keyword research as an ongoing task instead of a one-time thing.”
Denny Putsh of Hitting the Golf Ball adds, “When looking at testing your website copywriting, most people only think about setting up one AB test. However, there are many different segments of people that come to your website from different sources and for different reasons.
We usually have a three-step approach where we go more granular with our copy testing.
First, we do technology targeting, meaning AB tests on a device level (mobile or desktop).
Our second step is a split by source (organic vs referral). Sometimes we already have a clear winner at this stage and there’s no need to go further.
However, sometimes, particularly on high traffic pages we then test a couple of target demographics that we know are our core clientele.”
Frank Rocchio from Lone Fir Creative shares his top 3 tips for writing catchy headlines:
Rocchio’s colleague, Gray Gill, adds: “Make your content skimmable. You don’t want to make it too hard for people to find what they’re looking for and get the information they need. “
“Write in short sentences and break up the content into sections with clear, bold headings. Most people aren’t going to read long paragraphs, even if the content is helpful or relevant.”
Want an expert to evaluate your website messaging and copy? Request a free data-focused audit of your messaging from Databox Premier Partner, Lone Fir Creative.
In sum, copywriting is all about writing copy that converts. Your goal is to get the reader to perform the desired action. These 23 tips can help you write a more effective website copy.
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