When we say “oh that’s a great site,” we tend to attribute it to the design, the colors, and the simple navigation. While those all matter greatly, increasingly I’ve found in our web firm that clients underemphasize copywriting in the design process. The appearance and UI/UX (user interface/user experience) will keep them around, but effective calls to action are what convert them into customers.
Here’s a few items I’ve found most helpful in writing good copy
What is the personality and culture of your firm? If you are a quirky and gregarious supply chain consultant, you can make a dry subject much more interesting by letting that personality come through. If your firm appeals cases before the supreme court, the severity and decorum of that institution should inform a more conservative approach to copywriting. What they read on your site should match what they hear when they pick up the phone or see when they walk into your offices.
Who you are must be balanced by who your audience is! You might be a young, entrepreneurial, informal company in a very mature, older industry like manufacturing in the rust belt. In every project, create a “profile” of the typical member of your target market: “40-65 year old male; purchasing manager with a blue-collar background; basic familiarity with the web, but not entirely comfortable; wants to find information quickly, with minimal fuss.” You can still reflect your culture in the design and copy of the site, but the goal should always be to provide your customers the information they need tailored to the way they prefer to discover it.
Less is more
One of the best exercises you can do is to write the copy without stopping or worrying about length and making it perfect. Then, step away from it for an hour or two, and come back with the goal of cutting it in half. After than, seek to cut it in half again! You will likely not succeed in the final cut, but this exercise will fore you to find the essence of what you are trying to communicate. Look to eliminate repetition, confusing industry-speak (unless it is appropriate to your audience), and less-persuasive points. There is always room to put other differentiators into a blog article, but only your best and most brief pitch should take up valuable real estate on your website!
DesignShack.net gave some wonderful praise to my copywriting at BlueRiotLabs.com by including it in “The Ten Commandments of Writing Copy That Wins Clients“ (see numbers 7 and 9). This article is well worth reading in its entirety, and links to some great examples of web copywriting.