How to Write Web Copy that Sells and Engages Readers

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Web Copy

Many marketers make the same mistake when it comes to the copy on their Websites: They tell the reader all about them, their business, their product or service.

Of course, the reader wants information (that’s why they’re there in the first place), but the question readers really want answered, is what’s in it for me?

Marketers need to see their Website as a series of electronic, long copy ads or electronic brochures. You wouldn’t pay money to produce and run an ad, or print a brochure that didn’t try to convince prospects to buy from you, would you?

Since there’s no law against persuasive copy, why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to not only provide information, but selling propositions as well?

Feel Their Pain.

Creating copy that gets results is first and foremost about getting the target’s attention. You could be advertising the best thing since sliced bread, but if you don’t communicate the benefit quickly or don’t communicate it in a compelling way, no one will ever know about this amazing new product.

Case in point, as a headline, “the best thing since sliced bread” doesn’t tell me what the product is, and it certainly doesn’t tell me what’s in it for me, the end-user.

Yes, it communicates that something is new and depending on how you feel about sliced bread — most of us have no memory of bread before it was available pre-sliced — this is either a meaningful statement or it’s not.

Don’t Talk At Them, Touch Them.

And I don’t care where: In the head, the heart or the gut, but why spend the time and money to put a message out there without using the opportunity to show the end-user you feel their pain, you understand it, and you’re going to take it away?

A great copywriter is able to put themselves in the target’s shoes: Who needs this product? Why? What are they currently doing to fill the hole the lack of this product creates? These questions pertain to every marketing situation on the planet.

From business-to-business marketing (B2B) all the way to consumer advertising. Whether you’re talking to a mom in Walmart or to the corporate buyer for Office Max, they each feel a pain. And your messages to them need to address their individual needs.

Make It Meaningful.

While the copy on your site is, of course, about your company, your credo, your product or service, it needs to be packaged to meet the needs and wants of the reader. For instance, suppose your company has just invented instant oatmeal.

You might be thinking, let’s say, “Announcing Instant Oatmeal!” That should do it, right? Sure, that will do something, but you can do better. Why not make your words and your dollars work harder for you? Why not make the reader feel that you actually understand their plight?

Let’s look at the difference when we take the traditional statements used on Websites and make them actually speak to the end-user like a great print headline would:

“Announcing Instant Oatmeal”
or
“What would you do with 20 extra minutes in your morning?”

Sure, the introduction of instant oatmeal is great, but what does it mean for me, the person in charge of getting the family fed and off to school and work? The second line communicates the benefit of instant oatmeal.

The breakfast cook can now have a peaceful cup of coffee, read the paper, sleep 20 minutes later, or perhaps even sit and enjoy breakfast with their family.

“We Make Quality Products”
or
“We believe there’s more to being a mom than just cooking.”

Even if sub-quality products were your specialty, what marketer would say so? The reader expects to find a list of your products and there’s nothing wrong with delivering that list, but introduce that list with a statement that shows you understand what’s involved in being a parent and that your products address that.

“We’re experts in nutrition.”
or
“It’s good for you, and you, and you.”

The first line talks at the reader, telling them about you, the marketer. The second line talks to the reader and tells them that instant oatmeal has something for everyone. A far more inviting way to say the same thing.

Again, there’s no penalty for trying to sell on the Web, and the difference between a site that informs, and a site that informs and sells, is revenue and loyalty.

Image Credit: Paul Bence

Article by Karen

Karen has written 1 articles.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Serena December 30, 2011, 1:47 pm

    Interesting article, Karen! I do think it is important to keep the point of view of the customer in mind when writing website copy, but I also think most internet users are weary of websites that come off too “sales pitchy.” I agree with your assessment on article titles, but as marketers we need to be careful differentiating between appropriate persuasive speech and annoying persuasive speech! Thanks for the info!

  • sam @ goa carnival December 31, 2011, 4:55 am

    Yes this is very interesting question “”what is the important thing in book writing”” and in my opinion it should be way of language we should use that type of language in writing which is easy to understand for every one even a 12 year old child can understand easily after read that article.

  • Raj December 31, 2011, 5:31 am

    At many sites which sell products, I see a list of features that I can never complete reading fully. I just need one thing – What can the product do for me, and how it can help me? That one information is not present in a lot of marketing materials!

  • Sanat from Web Sigmas.com December 31, 2011, 8:17 am

    For me ,writing style is important in web copy formation. If readers feel that you are talking to them like troubleshooting help does – and obviously if that is something interest them – copy will automatically sell. No worry!

  • Jon December 31, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Excellent advice to not talk at the person. You should want to engage them. I see alot of writing that is simply a lecture. If you cannot get the readers attention and make it feel personal than it will be a problem.