For many business owners, writing their own website copy is a challenging task. If you choose not to outsource this work to a professional web writer, here are some helpful tips to make the writing process easier – and the end results more effective.
Start by writing a few concise sentences that tell the reader what your business does and who you do it for. These key messages should be on your Home page. Visitors to your website want to know instantly what you do and whether you can work with them.
Do away with the “Welcome to our website” line. While I’m a big fan of manners in all aspects of life, you don’t actually need to welcome people to your site. The header on your Home page should be an engaging phrase that tells visitors more about what you do. And it’s a good place to put a few key words for search engine optimisation.
Next, write down the three most frequently asked questions that people ask about your business. If you’re not sure, ask your receptionist or whoever answers your office phones and emails. Listen to what people ask you at networking events when you introduce yourself and your company. Pay attention to what people ask you at dinner parties when you tell them what you do. These questions are valuable insight, and often these things should be mentioned on your Home page. Visitors want to know instantly whether your website is the right place for them to find the information or solution they need. Make it easy for them. Don’t make visitors hunt for the information they need.
Don’t make the mistake of using too much “we” copy on your website, especially on the Home page. You can, however, get away with using more of it on the About us page if you have one.
About us (or whatever you choose to call this section of your site) is the place where you really demonstrate your credibility and, if necessary, your financial stability. Readers want to know whether you know what you’re talking about, and whether you’re going to be in business for much longer. So before you write, stop and ask: what do prospects really want to know about us to reassure them of these two questions?
Often the About us page starts with a sentence something like this: “Maple Marketing was founded in 2005 and is located in Auckland, New Zealand.” While the key points here (date established and geographic area) may be important to some prospects, the sentence itself doesn’t tell a compelling story. Instead, a sentence like this might grab your readers’ interest more: “Maple Marketing has been writing marketing plans for small and medium sized enterprises in New Zealand since 2005.”
Here, don’t just describe what you offer. Don’t just talk about the features – promote the benefits. Think about what problems you’re solving for people and describe them. This will help you connect with readers and convince them that you understand their needs. And wherever possible, try to avoid vague terms like “solutions” when describing what you sell.
If you’re in a service industry, focus on outcomes. People are more concerned with where they’ll end up after working with you, rather than the process you’re going to use to get them there. Initially, most people are attracted to the end results (e.g. how much weight they’ll lose, what their haircut will look like, how their home makeover will affect the value of their property, etc) rather than the steps used to get them there (e.g. how many meetings will be needed, what paperwork will have to be completed, etc). Yet all too often business owners try to sell the process, rather than the outcomes.
This is often the second page people visit, so try to put more information on this page than just your address details. Is there any key information you want to give to people to reassure them that getting in touch with you is the right thing to do? Do you offer a free initial consultation or visit that you can attract them with? Can you add a short section here about signing up to your newsletter? Don’t be afraid to add a concise paragraph of copy to your Contact page.
The most important thing to do if you are creating your own website content is to regularly step back and review your website from the point of view of your prospects or clients. Try to look at your business from an objective perspective and provide all the information that people want and need in order to do business with you.
For more on effective web writing, have a look at this article or get in touch and let us help. Even if you’ve already started the process yourself, we’re happy to review what you’ve done and offer that objective viewpoint it may need.