For the last couple months, the Kuno team has worked feverishly to launch a number of websites for clients. (We’re talking counting on both hands here.) As a brand journalist, my role in website launches is a hefty one. The brand journalist is there in the beginning conducting interviews, and the brand journalist is there at the end quality checking every line. But the real meat of our contribution is the web copy itself.
I’d like to tell you writing web copy is easy, but of all I do in this job, crafting web copy is arguably the most intensive undertaking. The vast majority of businesses struggle to grasp all it takes for web copy to effectively grab attention, nurture interest and influence decision. It takes research, strategic thought and—to every writer’s dismay—a whole lot of intensive editing.
To give you a better idea of what’s needed for compelling and refined web copy, let’s examine four of the most common (and most harmful) mistakes we see when we begin work on a website launch project.
Often, web copy is muddled, at best. It does not clearly describe what the company does or who its audience is.
At Kuno, once we’re familiar with the core details of a new assignment, we kick our buyer insight process into overdrive. Our buyer insight process is an intensive round of interviews with internal stakeholders, new and long-time customers and former sales opportunities that help us better understand what attracts leads to your business. At the end of the process, we give clients a buyer insight report that highlights key buyer sentiments and helps us shape our buyer personas and map our content for the website and beyond.
It’s a lengthy process that takes anywhere from 1-2 months, but without it, we cannot properly strategize content (or design or overall marketing strategy, for that matter) that speaks to buyers. Clearly identifying and communicating who your buyers are and what their pain points are is the essential first step in crafting copy that triggers conversion.
This is a common trap for businesses, especially those with high-tech product offerings. (Ironically, it was one of the first things I was taught not to do in my college advertising copywriting classes.) Let me say that you absolutely should have content that focuses on product features. Leads want to know everything the product has to offer. But they don’t want to know it until they’re already considering your product for purchase.
A simple and effective way to sprinkle in information about your product features throughout your web copy is to highlight the benefits those features produce. For example, if you’re selling a learning management system (LMS) that allows users to make announcements or ask and answer questions (feature), you would say it allows users to leverage team-sourced knowledge by opening communication and encouraging collaboration (benefit). By writing this way, you’re touching specifically on buyers’ pain points.
If you’re accustomed to writing blogs or eBooks, suddenly switching to web copy can be challenging. Web copy needs to be clear and concise while retaining the same informative appeal and storytelling punch as a blog or eBook. How do you achieve this? You need to cut unnecessary words, confusing punctuation and redundant points. In other words, you need to edit—and edit a lot.
What I find particularly helpful in writing web copy is to start by writing everything down: personas, product or service benefits, company history and vision, etc. Then, I piece all I’ve compiled into a long narrative and whittle it down from there. Next, I show it to an internal content strategist. Once she’s helped me shorten and tighten it, I take it to the web designer who, since the buyer insight process was completed, has begun creating mocks. He’ll tell me what I have is without a doubt too long to work with the design he’s envisioned. (Designers are really good for this, by the way.) Together, we’ll rework my copy and his design until we’re both satisfied.
Website trends change every few years, and, as trends change, you’ll see many businesses embarking on website re-design and re-launches. But these will often focus exclusively on the look of the website, not its contents. Not only will transferring old content into a new design inhibit a designer’s ability to give you that fresh look you’re striving for, new leads will likely struggle to find you.
SEO is not a static thing. If the last time you created web copy was pre-Hummingbird, Penguin or (yikes!) Panda, your website isn’t playing nicely with Google. And Google sure won’t be the one that suffers because of it. Today’s best practices dictate you need to write your web copy for how people are searching. So while you want to use keywords and keyword phrases throughout your copy, your optimization efforts should be invisible to the human eye.
I could write for hours about why your web copy isn’t working. (I could write for days about why your website isn’t working in general.) What I’ve discussed here are four of the most common mistakes we’ve run into with the websites we’ve launched these last couple months. If you’d like to discuss more about what may be going wrong with the copy on your website, get in touch with Kuno Creative today.
Photo Credit: LOLFUNNYMEME