What Is Website Copywriting? Why Website Copywriting Matters
Website Copywriting: What Is It?
One of the easiest ways to lead your business to failure is to neglect the importance of website copywriting. It’s easy to assume that copy is just text and you just need “something” on the site, but let me explain why the first sentence of this post is not an exaggeration.
Website copywriting is not just text, it’s a conversation with your customer. Have you thought about what you’re communicating to your prospects? If you thought about hiring salespeople to reach your clients or customers, think of website copywriting as an automated way to talk to your prospects. With one distinct difference, the salesperson might notice the prospects slipping away. On the other hand, poor copy will just turn away your prospects and you won’t even know what happened.
Each day that your poorly written copy is decorating your website, it’s like pushing a horrible salesperson to contact your potential customers. Avoid doing this.
The truth is, your prospects have a very short attention span and so many people, companies and apps are fighting for that limited attention. This is why, first and foremost, you need to give your prospects a really good reason to stick around and continue listening to your messaging. You will not achieve this by talking only about your company and disregarding your prospects’ motivation.
If you can’t provide a good reason why your website and your offer is useful to the prospect, you will not hear from them again. And you’ve just missed your opportunity to help the prospect, convert them into a customer, and later on into a brand evangelist - someone who tells everyone and their mother about how amazing your business is.
Think about how many times this happens every single day.
Lost opportunities because you weren’t able to talk to the customer. Granted, it’s not easy to craft a compelling story that peaks your customers’ interest, but being nonchalant about your website copywriting process will only make it worse.
As an experienced copywriter and now a Chief Marketing Officer for 5 tech companies, where I frequently hire and train copywriters, I’m tempted to provide my own definition of what website copywriting is. So I will do just that.
Website copywriting is the process of crafting copy with the intent to establish a connection with the visitor and get them to take a desired action.
The reason why I use this definition is because it’s sufficiently broad to include various reasons why your website exists.
For example, some websites are intended to primarily be read by investors as opposed to customers, and some websites are more focused on building partnerships. The definition stays the same in both of these cases.
In the startup world today, the company website is usually going to have an overlap between talking to the customer, investor, and potential partners. So how do we do that? We’ll get to that later. Let’s first talk about how website copywriting is used and why it’s so important.
From Stores and Offices to Websites
When businesses first started getting involved with the internet thing, websites were mostly used by businesses to expand to new markets that otherwise wouldn’t be easily reachable. And for some companies, they just did it because it was the cool thing to do.
But things have changed. Nowadays, for most businesses a website is absolutely mandatory, without even speaking of purely online businesses which operate exclusively on the internet.
I’ve often heard people say that your website is your online business card and I couldn’t disagree more. While some professions may use websites in a simple, presentation-only way, for almost all businesses a website should be the core of their business.
Getting more eyeballs, driving more traffic, collecting prospects’ information, directly converting customers, offering useful information to potential customers (aha!!), and building a community.
The purpose of the website will depend on the needs of the business, but most businesses don’t just need a website, they need a really good website. Now more than ever.
The Power of Mental Images
So what makes a really good website? Many things, but two things are crucial when it comes to building a website: design and copywriting. I’ll let you guess which of the two I consider to be more important.
“But design is what makes the website beautiful and makes it stand out!”. True, and both design and copywriting are very important. However, while design makes your website look polished and could impress the customer, it doesn’t go nearly as far enough to get the visitor to take the desired action (buy something, contact you or give you their contact information so that you can continue to provide value).
You need perfectly crafted copy to get a significant percentage of visitors to take that desired action. Customers won’t even remember you if you only have good design.
Here’s why. When someone visits your website, they might see a polished, beautiful website that is appealing and instills trust. But this design is an already existing visual which doesn’t create a personal image in the visitor’s mind. Let me explain. Whenever you read anything that interests you, you create images in your imagination. These images will be different for each visitor. Each visitor will have their own, unique images they create in their mind.
Ever read a book and then subsequently watched the movie that was based on the book and you were like “that’s totally different than how I imagined it?” - the answer is yes. Because you created those images in your mind while you were reading. You have a personal attachment to your thoughts.
Words sparked your imagination to create scenarios and vivid images in your mind.
These images are much more powerful than pre-existing visuals, because it’s the visitor’s mind that came up with these images. They are personal, and they are the ownership of the reader.
What is more, when you engage in the process of website copywriting, you write with the intention to create outcome-based images in your visitor’s mind. What are their pains, fears, goals and aspirations? They have these images and thoughts locked in their mind and in many cases, the job of the copy is to help them either unlock these deeply held beliefs or overcome limiting beliefs. This process will help the visitor get that desired outcome.
Oftentimes, you must spark the visitor’s imagination to help them understand the benefits that you can bring to their life. Regardless of your field, you can be a law firm, a software company, a consultant or a store, or a startup looking for investors. You’ve got something to offer, something that benefits your audience. The job of website copywriting is to guide your visitor through the process of getting to your offer.
And I hope you’re providing lots of value in the meantime. The more value you provide, the more care and respect you show to your audience. Further establishing your credibility and instilling trust.
Website Copywriting Gone Wrong
Now that you understand what website copywriting is about on a surface level, let’s go through some frequent mistakes that businesses make when they write “website text”.
We’ll skip the 1) Not hiring a copywriter and 2) Trying to save money on their sales copy, because those two are pretty obvious. So let’s jump into:
3) Writing only about the company - I mentioned this one many times before because it’s extremely common. It’s almost as if business owners sometimes enjoy standing in awe of their website. They like to brag, talk about the company, not even addressing the visitor. You know how many times I see a website that doesn’t have a single “you” or “your” on the entire page? Too many times. Talk to your visitor, this website is about helping them, not just saying that you’ve been in business for 15 years (point which perhaps should be mentioned, but this is not your unique selling proposition).
4) Talking about “features” - I specialize in working with tech companies so this is a very common one. Of course, the team is proud of the features they’ve created, and of course the users will probably love them. But we’re not there yet! Visitors care about benefits, not features. Too much technical talk too early is a recipe for the tab in which your website is opened to be closed so frequently that you won’t be able to handle it. Talk about the outcomes, what’s in it for the visitor?
5) Talking to people - the “you” I mentioned should be for one person. You’re talking to one person, always. You’re not talking to people. This is a personal conversation between you and the visitor, that’s what it should feel like.
6) Not structuring the copy - Ever wondered why hiring good copywriters is “expensive” for some people? Because each line of copy needs to be perfectly crafted, with a purpose. Each line and each paragraph have a specific purpose. It’s a conversation, but you’re guiding the visitor through that conversation. The copy needs to be reverse engineered for the process you want the visitor to go through. What are objections or limiting beliefs the visitor will have? This needs to be done proactively, not just assumed without any copywriting and psychology knowledge.
7) Being funny - Okay.. well “trying to be funny”. Every now and then, you’ll come across a business where the owner likes to write the copy because they have a good sense of humor. Then they write the copy and it’s crickets. Because their homepage was not written for the visitor, it was written for that business owner to stand in awe, yet again. Yes, there are exceptions, bla bla, but unless you’re Ryan Reynolds and masses of people find you genuinely funny, stick to science and respect your visitors.
8) Not having data - Also known as “not doing research” or “winging the copy”. I’ve never written a piece of copy without knowing exactly who the visitor is, what problem I’m solving, how the customer talks, what the language patterns of the overwhelming majority of the qualified prospects are, and of course: what are their fears, irritations, goals and aspirations. If you don’t have this data and you’re just assuming that you know the customer, your marketing strategy will likely fail. Respect your audience, learn what makes them tick in-depth, not just “I used to be X and now I’m selling to X so I know what they want”. That’s just writing copy for yourself.
9) Complex copy - the copy should be extremely easy to read and understand. You’re not better off sounding smart, you need to be easily understood and the process of reading your copy must be effortless. Your visitor is busy and has a short attention span, they do not want to put in effort to try to understand you. And before you say “my prospects are intelligent and educated” I will tell you “it does not matter”. Regardless of how educated or intelligent your prospects are, no one likes to read complex text. This is often a problem when you’ve spent decades in academia and you’re forced to write in an academic way, but the people reading your papers are paid to do so. Don’t assume that if a professor thought your writing style was good, that’s the writing approach you should use. Don’t do it!
How often do these mistakes happen? Extremely often, the problem is that businesses may thrive in good times and assume that the good times will last forever. Then they try to fix things later when their competitors have already surpassed them. The purpose of the copy is to clearly state your Unique Selling Proposition and make your competition irrelevant. As soon as possible. That way you have enough time to prepare and test your new marketing efforts before it’s too late and you no longer have the time nor the budget to bring your company back to life.
Website Copywriting For Multiple Types of Visitors
At the start of this post, I mentioned that businesses often do have to write their website for more than one type of visitor. This is especially true for startups who are seeking investments and partnerships but also offer a B2B version of the product.
In that scenario we’re looking at 4 visitor types and the copy needs to appeal to every single type of visitor. So how can we do that?
Well, the obvious answer is that the business needs to have dedicated pages on the website for each type of visitor (“For Business”, “Partnerships”, “Investors” and of course multiple offer pages for the Customers who are the reason why the business should exist).
But this isn’t enough, if someone’s landing on your homepage, each type of visitor will have the same question “what’s in it for me?” and you need to be able to answer that question without diluting your message to each of these visitors.
That means the homepage needs to include messaging that will spark interests in all four buyer personas.
This part is more of an art than science since it involves crafting a message that appeals to multiple audiences with vastly different interests.
The way we approach this problem depends on the company and the customer prototypes we’ve built. However, there are some best practices which are commonly seen in companies with successful marketing efforts.
First things first, we need to carve out the real estate on the homepage to include a direct message and allow the visitor to get more information, aside from simply including links in the navigation bar.
This doesn’t work for all visitors however, it’s unlikely that including a “For Investors” section will prove to be a good idea. You’ll be at risk of turning customers away by showcasing a purely financial side of the business.
My recommendation is to showcase social proof in a way that establishes the feasibility of the business. This is a much more subtle approach which demonstrates to your customers that your product is in demand, but also lets investors know that your business might be a good investment opportunity.
Metrics such as the number of users, students, customers, along with TrustPilot review ratings and countries you serve are all a great indicator that your business might be worth investing in.
Furthermore, the way you write your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) can be a great indicator of business feasibility. The USP will still remain focused on the customer, as it should be, but it will contain useful information for the investors, such as the number of users (again) or the accessibility of the product depending on your location (if anyone anywhere can access the product, that’s ideal), or perhaps the implication that your solution solves a problem for a large underserved market.
For example, a company that sells portable office equipment, the USP could include: “as millions of professionals are going remote, we’re here to make it super simple to build your portable office”.
When it comes to B2B, this process is much more straightforward and one of the best practices is to include a direct CTA button in the hero section to lead interested prospects to the “For Business” page. It’s okay to have 2 buttons in the first section, as long as you separate the two buttons with different colors. This is where wireframes come in.
You have to let the designer know that the “For Business” button should have a transparent background, while the button for individuals stays highlighted with a white, orange, green or another color, depending on your color palette. Do not assume that the designer will proactively know to do this. The job of the designer is to bring an idea to life, but the more UX instructions you can provide to make the copy serve its purpose, the better.
All in all, it’s important to understand that every multi-purpose page creation needs to be crafted in a custom fashion, but there are certainly some best practices to take into consideration.
To Sum Up Website Copywriting
Website copywriting is extremely important for any business, but absolutely essential for online businesses. Website copy is an automated salesperson that talks to your customers and starts building rapport while allowing the prospects to let go of their limiting beliefs and understand the benefits of your offer.
It goes without saying that website copy cannot be written in isolation, but as a part of a much larger project: a sales funnel.
With that said, even the website copywriting process itself must consist of heavy amounts of research and data collection, analysis and actionable interpretation.
If you’re looking to become a copywriter and start writing website pages and similar projects, click here to download our free marketing career guide.
But if you’re a business owner looking to structure your marketing team the right way and craft top-notch messaging and strategy for your business, click here to book an initial consultation with us.
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