What is the main purpose of your website copy? If your answer is to explain what it is that you sell, I’m afraid you’re wrong. It’s not enough to talk about what you do. Of course that needs to be included but it’s just one small element. Here’s what your customers and clients really want from your website copy.
An emotional reaction
Human beings are emotional creatures and emotion plays a particularly important part in our decision-making process. Yes, your customers or clients will most likely need to justify their decision with logic – they’ll need to check that the purchase fits with their budget, they’ll want to know they’re getting value for money, they might need to run the decision past a spouse or a procurement team.
But in those initial Awareness and Interest stages of the buyer journey, emotion is what will keep them interested so that they move forward into Evaluation and Decision.
When it comes to your website, think about not only what you want your visitors to know by the time they leave but also what you need them to feel. For example, if you’re a law firm you might want them to feel reassured and secure that they can trust you. If you’re a nutritionist you’ll want them to feel hopeful about their ability to transform their eating habits and confident that you’re qualified to help them.
A way to find what they’re looking for
When it comes to writing website copy there’s always a tension between being clever and conceptual versus actually helping people to find what they’re looking for quickly. If your visitor is looking for your blog page and can’t find ‘Blog’ in the menu options, they may well click away before they realise that what they’re looking for is hidden away under ‘Ideas’.
But navigation isn’t just about menu options. A homepage is especially important for directing browsers to the part of your website that will be of most use to them. For example, if you cater for both individuals and organisations, you might want to have copy that allows them to self-select the part of the site they click through to.
Section headers are important as a way of guiding visitors, as these are what will jump out at them as they skim the page for the most relevant content. Again, you’ll need to decide where you want the balance to be between copy that clearly states what that section is about and copy that is a bit more clever, conceptual or emotive.
A reason to choose you
So you create awesome widgets. You carry out expert services. Unfortunately so do lots of other businesses. The truth is that unless you’re offering something entirely unique you’ll need to find some way to differentiate yourself.
One of the questions we ask website copy clients in their briefing session is, “Why would someone choose to work with you?” We usually have to spend quite a long time digging around this because frequently their first answer is one we’ve heard before from a different client.
Your website copy needs to be written both with an understanding of your brand and your offering, and also your target audience and what they’re looking for. So rather than just talking about the carpentry services you offer you might draw out the fact that you’re a local family business spanning three generations or that you have exceptional sustainability standards or that you specialise in working on large fit-outs in listed properties.
If you’re not sure what makes your brand special, ask your current customers and clients why they chose you and be sure to highlight this in your website copy. For example, we did some consultancy work with North Somerset-based web development company Worthers and discovered that one of the things their clients value most the way Worthers build relationships and really get behind what each client is trying to achieve in terms of their vision. As a result we made sure these ideas of vision, relationship and support run through all their website copy including their strapline: “Imagine what you could achieve with the right team”.
An idea of what they should do next
So you’ve drawn your visitors in with emotion, you’ve directed them to the information they need and given them a sense of why they should choose you. Now what?
One of the most important elements of your website copy will be the calls to action (CTAs). You should have at least one on every page and sometimes more. Whether you’re asking a visitor to email for a quote, sign up to a newsletter, fill out a contact form or share a blog post with their colleagues, if you don’t ask you almost certainly won’t get. People like to be directed; it makes decision-making easier.
How a CTA is phrased needs careful consideration too. For example on a retail site you could have a button that says ‘buy now’ or one that says ‘add to basket’. Both have different impacts on your visitor. The former has a sense of urgency that could encourage a keen buyer. But the latter suggests that you don’t need to make a decision just yet and might want to keep browsing for other items.
Whether you’re writing your own copy in-house or investing in a professional copywriter, make sure that before your website goes live you can say with certainty that it achieves all of these things. Because by giving your visitors what they want you’ll help them move closer to a buy decision which, in the end, is what you want.
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