GUEST POST from Elissa Bertot
You’ve heard it before: “Your website is your #1 salesperson.”
It sounds great, right? A 24/7 sales machine that lands clients while you sleep. Sign me up!
But let’s be honest: is your website actually doing its job? Is it truly attracting—and converting—the clients you want? If not, your web copy might be to blame. Here’s how to fix it.
Know who you’re talking to
I know, I know: this isn’t anything new. You’ve surely heard you need to identify your ideal client before you can write for them. But it’s true: If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you won’t know how to talk to them on your website.
The words you use, the benefits you talk about, your brand positioning will either attract or repel people. If you don’t know exactly who you’re trying to attract, you won’t know how to attract them, which means you risk repelling them. Needless to say, that isn’t great for business.
When you think about your ideal client, ask yourself these three questions:
- Who would benefit the most from what you offer?
- What kinds of people do you most want to work with?
- Who of the above would actually be able to pay for what you offer?
Get really, really specific. A good test to see if you’re getting targeted enough is to ask yourself, “What does my ideal client’s typical weekend look like?” If you can’t answer that question, you need to go deeper.
Show a clear, tangible benefit
When writing their web copy, many entrepreneurs—especially those with service-based businesses—tend to get vague: “I help women find clarity and vitality so they can get more out of life.”
The problem is these kinds of general, aspirational platitudes aren’t likely to get people to hire you. Before someone gives you their money, they want to know what, exactly, they’ll get.
A better way to frame what you do is to answer the question, “What results do you get for your clients?”
That’s your sales pitch: a tangible solution to a real (and often painful) problem. Your dream clients aren’t looking for “clarity and vitality,” they’re looking for a way to stop feeling so overwhelmed and stressed out, or a way to stop feeling ashamed of their body, or a way to improve their marriage. They’re looking for concrete changes that have tangible results.
[Tweet “When writing web copy, focus less on what you do and more on what they’ll get.”]
Focus on your audience
Tough love alert! As much as we obsess about how we present ourselves on our websites, the fact is, it isn’t about us—it’s about our readers.
The goal of your website is to keep your target audience on the page by showing them they’re in the right place. If they have to read three paragraphs to figure that out, they’re not likely to stick around.
Because remember, your audience is busy and selfish (and I mean that in the most loving way possible). They simply don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to read your life story before knowing whether you can help them.
The only way to keep them engaged is to make it easy for them to see why they belong on your website: Who they are, how you solve their problem, and what benefit you bring them. For every sentence you write, ask yourself:
- What is the goal of this sentence?
- Does this help my audience understand whether I can help them?
- Why should they care?
[Tweet “If what you’re writing doesn’t do anything to engage your audience, cut it.”]
Use your audience’s language
Most advice you read about writing web copy says, “Write the way you talk.” It’s good advice, but I’d like to offer something even more powerful: Write the way your audience talks. Literally.
Write down the words and phrases your clients use to describe their problem. Note how they talk about the benefits they want. Note the words they use to describe their pain point and how they feel about it. Then use those words in your web copy.
- No jargon. Avoid using phrases and terms that might be confusing or difficult to understand. It doesn’t make you look smart—it makes your audience click away.
- No vague generalities. Enough already with vague promises like, “Live the life you want.” What does that actually mean for your clients? Has anyone ever come to you saying, “I just want to live the life I want”? If not, don’t put it on your website.
- No cutesy or clever names. You don’t want your website to be boring, so you name your design package “Brand Beautification.” Instead of an “About” page, you have a “Discover” page. Instead of offering “Copywriting” services, you offer “Power Pages.” The problem with all that cleverness? No one knows what the hell you do and they aren’t going to stick around to find out. Make it easy for your audience to find what they’re looking for by using the words they use to describe what you do.
- No corporate speak. Even if you’re B2B, overly formal web copy is a turnoff. Remember, buying is an emotional decision, not a rational one. People buy things they want—and wants are emotional. So use words that appeal to their emotions. For example:
Develop → create
Difficult → hard, tough, frustrating
Learn → find out, discover
Refrain from → stop
- No clichés. Good copy is unexpected. If your reader can guess the next word in the sentence, they’ll disengage. Keep it original and relatable.
Make your site scannable
Unless you’re completely new to the internet, you probably know this already: Writing for the web is different than writing a document. Attention spans are shorter. Eyes are tired from reading screens. Our lizard brains can’t keep still.
If you want to keep your audience’s attention on your website:
- Use headers. Clear headers (using your audience’s words, please!) help the reader quickly find what they’re looking for, without having to read paragraphs of text.
- Short sentences and paragraphs. Use simple sentence structures and keep your paragraphs to 3-4 sentences max.
- Use white space. The benefit of short paragraphs is a lot of white space, which helps lead your readers’ eyes down the page.
- Highlight key points. Use visual cues like headings, quote boxes, italics, bold and bullets to pull out important or compelling words and sentences.
Really, the golden rule is: Make it easy on your audience. This isn’t the next Great American Novel. It isn’t a thesis statement. It isn’t your autobiography. It’s your website—and if it isn’t working for you, it’s working against you.
Elissa Bertot is a communications strategist who helps purpose-driven solopreneurs create brands and messages that attract their ideal clients and sell what they do. Through her consulting and copywriting business, Favor the Bold Communications, she empowers her clients to be unapologetic about who they are and the value they bring so they can make a statement that can’t be ignored. When she’s not writing and strategizing, Elissa’s usually traveling, eating and drinking wine, and running or hiking so she can eat and drink even more. To learn more about how to attract your ideal clients and get more sales with your website, get Web Copy that Works, a free five-day e-course, straight to your inbox.
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