When it comes to getting results from your website, one of the most important elements of your website (arguably even more important than the site’s visual look) is your message.
(This is part 1 of a 3 part series on how to write a website with effective copy)
Whether visitors surf on by your site or stick around and take action largely depends on how well your message fits with what they’re looking for. Giving thoughtful analysis to what your message should be is well worth the time.
“But I Can’t Write!”
If a website project starts to take too long, chances are it’s the writing. In fact, it’s become predictable. I’ve found that if a business doesn’t already have a clear understanding or articulation of its value proposition, service/product offerings and “story” about who they are then we’re going to have a challenge getting copy for the website.
It’s sad to see so many small businesses without the basic elements of their marketing message worked out. Having a clear marketing message that permeates every cell of your business makes everything else you do so much easier.
There are many technical and design parts to a website that the typical business owner can’t do without hiring a web designer. Creating a compelling message isn’t one of them.
I often hear something along the lines of “But I can’t write!” The truth is that you don’t need to be a skilled copywriter to create a great message for your website. The hurdle is usually one of belief than capability. If I were to start asking you about your business, you’d probably start talking about it quite effectively. If I were to overhear you talking to a prospective customer, chances are you’d start talking about it quite effectively. Coming up with a great marketing message for your website is really doing what you’re probably already doing, talking to your Customer.
Even if you end up needing to use a copywriter, going through the suggestions here gives them the critical building blocks they’ll need to craft your message.
When I see a business that doesn’t have their marketing message clearly worked out, it usually means they just haven’t organized the words, phrases, stories and examples they’re already using to explain their business.
Let’s take a look at how to organize those talks into a great marketing message.
Crawl Inside Your Customer’s Mind
A sure sign that a website has totally missed the mark with its messaging is to see the words: “Welcome To Our Website”. I understand wanting to be welcoming, but the real welcome is to greet them with something meaningful; remember, you only have a few seconds to make that first impression.
The secret sauce to developing an effective marketing website is psychology…really understanding what’s going on in the mind of your target customer and using that knowledge to craft your message. A great website understands their customer and “meets them where they’re at”.
Crawl inside the mind of your ideal Customer. Why are they coming to your site now? What emotional state are they in? What specifically are they looking for?
“Get The Address Right”
When I was taking my NLP training, part of what we studied was hypnosis (a skill that comes in handy when doing marketing writing!). An important lesson I learned from Chris Dunkley, my NLP Trainer, was to “get the address right”. He used the analogy of putting an address on a letter to be delivered. If you want your message to get to the right place, you need to get the address right. In a marketing sense, that means you need to zero in on the words, the issue, the problem, the “thing” that your prospective customers are looking for and use that in your communications to them.
If you analyze it enough, you may well find that there is a handful of different reasons or “use cases” people would come to your website. An advanced strategy (and the subject of a future blog) is to create separate landing pages that directly speak to each of these cases.
Once you have clarity on who that person is and can step inside their shoes and see the world as they see it, answer these questions:
- What information are they specifically looking for?
- What fears might they have?
- What questions do they have?
- What objections might they have?
- What do they need to experience on your website to be convinced that you have something to offer?
These insights form your core knowledgebase you’ll use in deciding what pages you need, what your headlines will be, what other elements you’ll need (testimonials, pictures, etc.) and what your Calls to Action should be.
(We’ll pick up the next steps in Part 2 where we look at crafting headlines and making your copy easy to read. In Part 3, we’ll take a look at how to craft a Call to Action that gets results). In the meantime, please post your comments and questions below…