How To Write Good Copy For Your Website
Written by Daniel MaddoxJun 30, 17
Writing engaging copy that sells your products or services is a fine art. And anyone who thinks they can launch into it without years of experience is kidding themselves. Here at iSolutions Technology we want to help you understand what makes great copy and how to get started.
Are you having trouble writing engaging text, or copy, for your website that communicates what you want to do for your customers? Are you seeing a lack of results from all your effort in attempting to engage with your audience via website copy? Do you find writing copy for your business or website tedious or frustrating despite knowing how important it can be?
If any of these questions relate to you, then iSolutions is here to help!
We know how crucial it is to write copy for your website and how important it is for you to see the results you want. So we are going to break everything down for you to help get you to write some fantastic copy for your business.
First off, let's talk about copy itself. Copy is text that you present to your target audience that hopefully prompts the customer to engage and connect with you, or makes them think you’re fake and out of touch with their issues. We’re going to teach you how to avoid the latter and achieve the former with a step-by-step breakdown on how to plan and execute engaging, targeted, copy.
But yes, most people find writing copy to be infinitely boring and frustrating, primarily due to a lack of direction or framework to base it on. However we can see through real-world examples like Buzzfeed’s astronomical rise on the back of ‘clickbait’ headlines and engaging by-lines, that copy is often even more important to initial success than actual content. By breaking copywriting for the web down into 4 phases; brain dumping, constructing a framework, adding personality, and ruthlessly editing your work, we’ll be able to reduce the time and pain spent on writing copy, and maybe even help you create something amazing.
1. Do some planning
Define your target audience
To be effective in communicating with your customers, you need to know who they are. If you’re just starting a business with few current clients, try and identify from other companies in similar fields what kind of people engage with them. From this information or your businesses previous customer experience, you’ll be able to a create customer model, or a persona, to ‘talk to’ when writing your copy. If you need more help creating these customer models, stay tuned for our Personas blog, where we’ll be addressing this in more detail. Your primary objective with this exercise is to understand what struggles your audience face, and how your product or service can help them deal with them.
Where is this copy going?
Figuring out where the copy is going to be placed allows you to understand what you're going to be directing people to do. Simply write down the website or web page the text your writing is going on, so you always have that on your mind. Things like the amount of space you have to write, if you're writing about an image of a product, or if you're talking about some of your businesses personnel, will affect how you can direct an audience to a engage with a particular part of your site.
Figure out the actions you want people to take
Now that you’ve identified who you're talking to with your copy and where it’s placed, you need to figure out what you want your audience to do once they’ve read everything. For example, If you’re trying to make a sale, be forward, and at the end of your copy (after you’ve talked up your fantastic service). Instead of having a simple ‘purchase or ‘buy here’ button, consider asking them to ‘make a change’ or ‘start a new chapter in your life’ etc. Make it personal and make it obvious.
What’s the Voice of your business?
Something to think about side-by-side with figuring out who your customers are is to make sure you know how you or the company you work for wants to be perceived. For example, if you work for a business accounting company, they probably don’t want their web copy to sound like a Hipster beat-poet wrote it, nor would a youthful graphic design agency want to sound as stoic as a constipated Margaret Thatcher.
2. Drop your ideas
When starting writing copy, most people come at it with an entirely pre-formed idea in their head, don’t explore other options, and don’t think about the whole structure before putting pen to paper (or mouse to word document). This is a primary cause of a lot of that frustration you feel when writing copy: you get halfway and what you're writing fizzles out because you have no idea how to expand on it and have no other points to link to it.
Get all the ideas out
To get around this we going to drop all of our ideas onto the page, everything from general themes, catchy headlines, to questions to ask rhetorically to engage your audience as seen at the start of this article. Whatever you do don’t judge your ideas at all because that can lead to missing out on some gems that set you in a unique direction. The best format for this is just to dot-point out your stream of thoughts, don’t stick on one idea for too long.
3. Constructing a framework
Picking the best ideas
Now you're ready to start building the framework for your copy. To do this, you need to go through your list of ideas from earlier and judge the hell out of them. Only pick a handful of strong ideas, phrases, or headlines that seem like they will fit together in an appropriate narrative but make sure they’re the best compared to the context of this individual piece of copy.
Formula for solid copy
A solid copy structure is made up of a strong audience specific headline, a subtitle that engages the audience by identifying their problems, a body that expands on their issues and presents the solution you provide, supporting evidence and testimony, and finally a call to action to convert a reader into a customer. Make sure that each of these sections is broken up with headings, subheadings, and maybe some pull quotes. Don’t go overboard, but imagine your audience has the shortest attention span ever, you need to engage them at every step and allow them to find the info they want easily.
When expanding your ideas into these sections, make sure you’re not adding too much personality just yet, write in simple sentences or even dot points. This phase is about creating a structure for your creative side to build off in the next phase.
4. Add some flare
Find your voice
Once you’ve finished your second break and are refreshed, come back and get ready to expand on your structure. For this phase you’ll be focusing on applying your chosen voice on the points, you laid out in the framework phase. If you find multiple ways to say a particular thing, write them all down, as you’ll be coming back and editing everything in the final phase of this process.
Using your unique tone of voice, build on the idea of identifying the target markets problems and how you or your company specifically can solve this issue. Make sure you're not vague so your copy could be confused with that of someone else’s product, but make it pointed and specific as to really make the audience feel like you're talking to them.
If you haven’t already, this phase is a great time to work on providing evidence to back up your claims. Try and find some studies or facts related to your product you can use make your service look legitimate, remember that you might know and believe that it works, but your audience is going to need convincing.
If you want to make a more emotional connection with your evidence and have had customers use your product or service, make sure you get them to give you feedback and present the positive points from that feedback in customer testimonials. This helps the potential customer to make a human connection to the product and to know they're not going to get taken for a ride.
5. Be brutal and clean up
Sharpen your editing edge
If in phase one and two you were acting as a planner and idea machine, phase three a builder, and in phase four you were playing the part of an artist, then in phase five you’ll have to be a ruthless executioner of harsh edits. Despite putting a bunch of effort in (although hopefully less than if you hadn’t been following these steps) you’ve probably written a lot of unnecessary fluff and repeated your points a few times, and don’t worry, everyone does this. Getting too attached to your work can hamper the effectiveness of the final outcome, so like a sculptor carving a beautiful statue from marble, your body copy now needs to be cut down from an unwieldy block of stone into a useful final form.
Go back through your current work and identify everything non-essential to communicating your message and tone correctly. Any times you’ve repeated yourself, not followed the chosen tone of voice, or used a testimonial that maybe isn’t as relevant as you thought on hindsight, either highlight it for later review or delete it without mercy. With copy, every single word can either engage the reader or push them further into boredom, thus making every word count as potential promotional tool or burden to your brand, so choose wisely.
A call to action
After checking to see you got any spelling mistakes or major errors in your copy, if you have a call to action, make sure the copy all directs the user towards it. At the end of your copy, don’t leave them hanging with no idea of where to go, let them know where they can get more information, purchase your product, or contact your company for one on one communication.
Once you’ve written all this copy, made sure it directs to a specific cause, promotes your unique service, and you’ve filled it with 100 perfect examples of how impressive and effective your business is, you’re going to need somewhere to display it.
To this end, If you need a slick, custom website to communicate to your audience, or want more of your now perfectly constructed copy to reach a certain audience with cutting-edge SEO, you should give us a call on 94432221 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep an eye out for the next part in our series, Planning Your Attack.