That’s the amount of time it takes for a visitor to decide whether or not they want to stay on a website. If you don’t make a connection quickly, you’ll lose them. There are a million and one distractions in this digital age that can quickly pull them away.
If your web copy doesn’t attract attention, communicate benefits and compel action, then your client’s potential profits slip away. Your client can have the best product or service of its type in the world – but that means nothing if your web copy creates a negative impression.
So, how can a copywriter convince a visitor to stay on a website?
You’ve probably heard of the ‘three Rs’ – the basic skills taught in primary school? They are of course, reading, writing and arithmetic.
Well, website copywriting has its own version of the ‘three Rs’. The basic skills you need to write website copy that compels and converts are building Relationships, having Readability and conducting Research.
Let’s face it – the vast majority of businesses have competition that is essentially doing the same thing. Everyone says they provide value and good service. So, what factor is really going to make a difference? The answer is relationships.
People don’t want to be ‘advertised at’. Website copy needs to be written like your client is having a conversation with their ideal customer face-to-face. This is the best way for your client to get an edge on the competition and to get a sustainable long-term advantage – by building relationships based on loyalty and trust.
The way to do this is to:
1. Solve a problem that a prospect is experiencing
2. Provide high quality information to the prospect
3. Connect with the prospect by demonstrating you understand their values and beliefs
Have you ever been to a website and been immediately put off by the inaccessibility of the layout? Almost everyone has had that experience and it is highly unlikely you would ever visit that site again.
Online readers usually don’t read every word. They skim (for the topic) or scan (for key words) to find what they’re looking for faster. To encourage skimming and scanning, there are a variety of formatting techniques that draw the reader’s eye down the page:
1. Use of colour – sufficient contrast between text and background
2. Font sizes – use three different sizes for the heading, sub-heading, body
3. Emphasis – bold, italics and underlining are useful tools, but make sure you’re drawing attention without having text competing for attention
4. Whitespace – this is the parts of the page that don’t have any text or graphics. Having the right amount of whitespace creates a positive first impression and increases comprehension – a better user experience
5. Paragraph size – should be a maximum of 4 lines
6. Bulleted and numbered lists – helps to break up the body, which makes the content easier to read
Because you’ll almost never have expertise about the industry you’re writing about, you need to learn before you can write – otherwise you won’t be able to provide the high-quality content that both consumers and Google prefer.
The way to learn is to conduct research by asking your client a series of open-ended questions:
WHO – Who’s your ideal customer?
WHAT – What’s the message that you want to send to your ideal customer?
WHY – Why’s your major competition successful?
WHERE – Where do you think you can improve your business?
HOW – How do you ensure your customers receive value and benefits?
Once you have answers to these questions, you’re in a position to write valid, relevant, and most importantly, authentic copy. Copy that sells.