Learn the basics and transform your website copy
When I tell people I’m a copywriter, I usually get a look of confusion.
Most people don’t know what one is. They think it’s something completely unrelated to writing.
Once I explain what a copywriter is though, I tend to get a barrage of questions:
- How can I improve my copy?
- What should I put on my home page?
- How can I get customers to open my newsletters?
So rather than keep repeating myself, I thought I’d put together this handy Beginner's Guide to Website Copywriting which covers all those questions and more.
What is copywriting?
Firstly, copywriting is nothing to do with copyright or trademarks.
Copywriting is the process of writing text (also known as "copy") for websites, adverts, leaflets, blog posts, marketing emails – and anything else that requires you to write words.
A copywriter is a person who writes the copy. Copywriters are skilled at writing in an engaging and persuasive way to connect you with your customers and influence their behaviour.
Copywriters offer a fresh pair of eyes and are able to see things in your business that you may not. They’ll put themselves into your customer’s shoes and find out what makes them tick. Copywriters also do lots of research: they find out everything they can about your industry and business, what your customers are searching for in Google and what your competitors are up to.
Copywriting is different to editorial writing (articles in magazines) as the copy is written with a specific purpose in mind: to elicit a response and get your customers to take action.
Why is it important to have a good website copy?
A website is one of the most important marketing tools you can have. It’s the “face” of your business and it’ll often be the first place potential customers head to when they hear about your brand. Creating a good impression is essential. A website also gives you credibility and increases your visibility, getting you in front of more customers.
Good website copy can set you apart from your competition, increase your leads and position you as the ‘go-to’ brand in your industry.
You have around 3 seconds to capture the prospect’s interest and if you don’t do that, they’ll leave your website and go to a competitor’s instead.
The purpose of your website copy is to grab their attention, pique their interest and then engage them enough so they gain trust in your brand and consider buying from you. Your copy needs to resonate with your audience and convince them to stick around.
What makes website copy good?
- Understanding your audience and Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA) is essential. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, it’ll come across in the copy.
- Using keywords and phrases that match your audience. What language do they use? What are they typing into Google to find your business or service? These keywords need to be weaved into your copy.
- Getting your Tone Of Voice (TOV) right. You need to sound like you. Be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. By setting the right tone at the beginning makes the copywriting process a whole lot easier.
- Use language that people understand. Don’t use jargon or big words, it confuses people. If your product or service is technical, break it down into layman’s terms.
What common mistakes do people make with their website copy?
- Not knowing their USP (Unique Selling Proposition): how are you different from your competition? This needs to be communicated in your copy.
- Not understanding their customer’s pain points. What problems do your customer’s have and how can you provide the solution? Being unclear on your ICA and their needs, will make your copy messy (and your life difficult!)
- Writing fluffy copy which has no real purpose (and often doesn’t make any sense). Stick to the facts. Don’t use technical lingo and explain what you mean in a way that people can understand.
My top tips for your Home page
- Keep it clean and easy to use.
- Craft a clear and simple headline which grabs your prospects’ attention. Succinctly tell them what your website has to offer (remember, you only have 3 seconds to do this).
- Have a sub-headline which sums up what you do and who you do it for.
- A brief description of the products/ services you provide – what is your customer's main pain point and how can you solve it?
- Consistent Call-To-Actions (CTA’s) – Direct them through the web page and tell them what to do next.
- Engaging images or videos – many people are visual and seeing an image/ video captures their interest.
- Highlight the key features and benefits of your product or service. Why should they buy from you? Why are you different? Is there a unique ingredient in your product or do you use a specific process that sets you apart from the competition?
- Social proof – testimonials are invaluable and help to sell your business.
- Opt-in bar – Encourage customers/ prospects to sign up for your mailing list. Don’t just write “sign up for our newsletter” as this is not very enticing. Give them something they want - “Get 10% off your first order” or “Get your free website checklist”. People love free content.
- Highlight any awards or win’s you’ve had. List brands you’ve worked with and talk about your amazing achievements.
My top tips for your About page
- Make it about your audience/ customer, not about you. What can you do for them?
- Tell your story. It’s not a case of copying your CV and dumping it onto your About page. Why do you do what you do? How did your brand come to be? Give people a peek behind the curtains.
- Talk about why you’re different: use facts not hype. This is an opportunity to gain their trust and position yourself as an expert.
- Why are you better than your competition – how can you solve their problems and make their lives easier?
- What are your brand values - what visions and beliefs do you have?
- Who’s in the team? Add in their bios and photos. This makes your business appear real. Remember, people buy from people. Talk about why they’re an important part of team. If it’s just you, don’t be afraid to tell people this or perhaps you outsource parts of your business and work with a team of freelancers.
- Social proof – testimonials are essential.
- Awards and recognition – what amazing things have you done which you can shout about?
- CTA’s – once they’re read your About page, where should they go next?
- Contact information – how can people get hold of you? Can they connect with you on social media?
- Links and resources: do you have any great content you can share with your potential customers? E.g. top-selling products, a guide or cheat sheet which they might find useful?
- Don’t use jargon or be too technical. Use layman’s terms.
- Be human. Be humble. Cut out the babble.
- Be authentic and actually sound like you.
- Conversational tone always sounds best - be approachable, friendly and open.
What makes a good headline?
- Be clear about what the web page/ blog/ content needs to do and make sure your headline sums this up.
- Tap into your customer’s pain points – how can you solve their problem?
- What’s In It For Them? Why should they take time out of their busy day to read your content? Your headline needs to resonate with them and pique their interest.
- Questions, How to’s, Top tips, X Ways to X always work well.
What needs to go on a Contact page?
- Include your phone number and email address - make it easy for people to find you.
- If using a contact form, use it as an opportunity to capture data about your visitors. Include any questions that may help with future marketing and lead generation e.g. ask how they heard about you.
- Add a checkbox for them to opt-in to receive communication from you. This is mandatory now if your business is in the EU as you need to comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
How to improve your own copywriting
- Hire a copywriter. Learn from them and how they create your content.
- Research copywriting techniques – there’s lots of great information out there.
- Sign up for my blog as I’m always sharing handy tips.
- Keep an ear out for the Crafting your Content course I'm launching soon. Again, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be the first to hear about it.
- Do an Ideal Customer Avatar course so you can really get to grips with who your customer is. I highly recommend Kate Litt’s ICA Mastermind
My top tips to improve your website copy today
- Get clear about who you are, what you do and who you do it for?
- Hone down your ICA: what are their pain points and how can you solve their problem?
- Tailor your copy in a way that engages, resonates and connects with your audience.
- You cannot be all things to all people. Be very specific about your ICA and tailor your copy to them. Make it as though you’re only speaking to that one person.
I hope you found this post useful.
If you did, please share it with any friends or colleagues who may need help with their website copy
If you'd like a hand with your website copy or to create some awesome content, please get in touch.