Why does your business have a website?
Depending on the type of company you operate, you have a variety of initial answers: to showcase your work; to sell products; to share information about your company, and so on.
But the real purpose of any business website is even simpler: to convert visitors into customers or clients.
We’ve already written in-depth about the dos and don’ts of good web design. But design is only part of the conversion puzzle — a picture may be worth a thousand words, but pretty graphics alone won’t convince your site visitors that you’re the right company for the job.
The missing piece: expertly crafted website copy that speaks to your site visitors on a personal level and connects with them emotionally.
The written content on your website pages is what lets visitors know what your company is all about and why they should want to do business with you. They can tell the difference between strategic content that pinpoints their exact concerns and guides them to a solution, and text that’s only there to fill out a page.
Believe us, the first kind always outperforms the other.
So in this blog post, we’re showing you the exact copywriting process we follow with each of our web design clients to produce compelling, powerful content that converts.
Before we draft a single word of your website copy, we first spend some time chatting with you and getting to know your audience. Factors like age, geography, education, income, occupation, and more all play a role in how your site visitors think and behave. Understanding what drives them helps us craft copy that speaks directly to them, which is crucial for getting them to convert.
Once the writing begins, we’re careful to keep our language and vocabulary simple. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 43% of U.S. adults only have Basic or Below Basic reading skills — meaning they read at about a 4th-grade level.
Now, does that mean your website copy should read like a Dick and Jane book? Of course not. But it does mean that the easier a page is to understand, the more likely your visitors are to connect with and act on its content.
Tone is another aspect of writing page copy that we give extra care to. Tone affects how words are perceived in writing just as much as in speaking, if not even more so — too playful, and your company comes off as amateurish; too serious, and you seem like a stick in the mud.
The goal is to strike a balance between friendly and aloof; between helpful and domineering. You want to be approachable enough that visitors feel comfortable reaching out, yet authoritative enough that they see you as an expert in your field.
This means most of the web copy we produce for our clients falls a bit more on the casual side of the English language. However, businesses in industries that are traditionally more serious — like banking, insurance, legal firms, etc. — may need to retain some degree of formality for their customers and clients to still find them credible.
The two most important parts of your website copy are the headline and call to action, which act as bookends for the rest of the text on the page.
Headlines grab readers’ attention more than the rest of your content, thanks to their position at the top of your page or section and the fact that they’re usually in a much larger, bolder font than the remainder of the page text. In fact, headlines are so eye-catching that 80% of website visitors read them, even though only 20% read the rest of the page.
As such, headlines give you a unique opportunity to appeal to your audience, so every word needs to pack a punch. Words like you and your help draw focus to the customer’s needs (rather than we and our, which can come across as self-centered and boastful if used too frequently throughout your site). Power verbs like maximize, transform, crush, or reveal pique interest and encourage action.
That last part is especially important because ultimately, the goal of your website copy should be to make someone perform a certain action, like buying your products, engaging your services, or filling out your contact form to get the sales process started. That’s where calls to action (CTAs) come in.
With each CTA, it should be crystal clear what action you want your visitors to take. The button text should state the action explicitly — for example, “Request a quote” rather than “Contact us” — while the accompanying copy should reinforce why visitors should act and the benefits of doing so.
For example, take a look at the calls to action we designed for Helicopter Express:
Want to learn more tips for writing CTAs that convert? Check out our blog post, “Everything You Need to Know About Compelling Calls to Action.”
According to a 2015 web usability study, the lack of a clear brand message or the inability to tell what the company did was the biggest thing that caused respondents to leave a website. So when writing content for clients’ sites, we’re extra careful to clarify your brand’s message and value. During our strategy call, we discuss questions like:
Each of these questions helps us zero in on what really motivates your site visitors to take action so that we can nudge them further in that direction. Because if you really want to connect with your customer, your website copy needs to focus on them.
Unfortunately, this is where a lot of companies go wrong. They see their website as a place to tell customers what their business is all about — and in a way it is. But too often, the message that comes across is “We’re all about XYZ service,” not “We’re all about solving your problems.
Nobody likes to listen to someone who talks only about themselves. The same thing goes for reading website copy.
As with your headlines and calls to action, we often opt for 2nd-person pronouns like you and your throughout your site copy, rather than we and our. This helps visitors feel as though they’re being addressed directly, which makes them sit up and take notice a little more.
Next, we highlight the benefits your company provides. If you’re a podiatrist, for example, we don’t just say that you perform foot and ankle surgery; we say that you help them walk easier (see the website that we built for Georgia’s premier foot and ankle specialist here).
Essentially, your website copy should show visitors why they should care about what you do, and that only happens when you phrase things in a way they can easily apply to their own lives.
And while this should be clear throughout your website, it’s especially important to include this information in your hero message. Often, this is the very first section of your website a new visitor will see, so clearly presenting your brand message and value at the outset keeps visitors on your site longer, giving them more time to convert to paying customers or clients.
If you’re still under the impression that your visitors read all of your copy word for word, then we’ve got news for you: 43% of people admit to skimming.
We mentioned earlier that only 20% of readers make it past the headline, but even they have problems staying engaged with your content — on average, visitors only have time to read 28% of the content on a web page, yet choose to only read about 20%.
But that doesn’t mean that content creation is a waste of time. It simply means your content must be more skimmable for visitors to get the message.
Much of this can be accomplished through formatting. Headings, bullet points, and numbered sections (like in this blog post) help readers quickly scan your main points to get a basic idea of what the content is about.
Another important feature for skimmable site copy: shorter paragraphs. Gone are the days of 6-10 sentence paragraphs on a website. Nowadays, anything longer than 5-6 sentences should probably be shortened.
That’s because the longer the paragraph, the longer it takes your visitors to read. Long paragraphs with more than 3 sentences bog down your readers and make reading the article feel labor-intensive.
But short paragraphs of 1-3 sentences are skimmable because they allow readers’ eyes to move quickly and absorb information faster.
Writing website copy that appeals to your readers is important, but there’s another audience member we have to consider, too.
Yep, we’re talking about Google.
Since its 2013 algorithm update, Google has placed more and more emphasis on websites with plenty of content, especially when that content is written in a way that appeals to your human audience. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw keywords out the window.
For your site to rank highly on search engines, the copy still needs to incorporate relevant keywords. The trick is to include them enough that Google recognizes the page is about those keywords, but not so much that it reads unnaturally to your visitors.
Yoast recommends a keyword density somewhere between 0.5% and 2.5% (roughly 2-8 keywords per 300-word webpage, or 5-25 keywords per 1,000-word blog post). This what we strive for with each piece of copy we write for our clients, and you can be sure that any content you receive from us has already received just the right sprinkling of search terms.
Think back to the last time you noticed a spelling or grammar error on a website. How did that mistake make you feel about the company?
If you found that error to be a turn-off, you’re not alone. 74% of website visitors really do pay attention to spelling and grammar on company websites, and 59% say they “wouldn’t trust” those companies to provide quality service.
That’s because your customers are smart. They know that if your website shows low effort and poor attention to detail, those traits will probably pop up in other areas of your business, too. And that’s not attractive to the type of customers you’re looking to do business with.
So before we turn in a piece of website copy to our clients, we run it through several rounds of edits.
First, each of our copywriters drafts content using Grammarly, which points out spelling and grammar mistakes that other spell checkers miss.
At times, we may also use Hemingway, which takes the role of spellchecker one step further to help make writing clearer and more concise.
Next, our copy and creative directors edit the content line by line to ensure that everything is perfect. This goes beyond spelling and grammar and takes into account accuracy, syntax, the content’s target audience, and more. Our copywriters then rewrite, tweak, and adjust the piece based on the directors’ feedback.
Usually, site copy goes through multiple rounds of internal revisions before our clients ever see a draft. And once you’ve reviewed the copy, we may need to fine-tune a few things even further.
All this is to say that while our copywriting process is fairly streamlined, it’s rare that things come out perfectly on the first try. Effective, conversion-rich website copy has to check a lot of boxes, so we double-, triple-, and quadruple-check that it meets all of the above criteria before presenting it to you for approval.
By now you should have a clear understanding of the process we follow to produce website copy that speaks to your visitors on an emotional level and urges them to take action. Want to connect with and convert more of your site visitors into loyal customers? Reach out to us and tell us about your company!
Ready for a slick new website, increased traffic and more converting customers? Tell us a little about your business and we’ll reach out to get your project underway.