Your Website Copy is More Important Than You Think
Your website is your digital first impression. If you don’t grab your visitor and pull them in, they’ll click away to find someone else who does. But grabbing a visitor and pulling them into your site are two different things.
I see a lot of websites that excel at attracting attention. But many of them are terrible at keeping that attention.
They focus almost exclusively on images and design, and neglect their website copy.
Image and design don’t sell. They attract.
With some exceptions (beverages, cars, and pornography come to mind), you can’t sell products and services with images alone.
Think of a complicated financial product, or a software system. Images won’t help you sell them. Your buyers are going to have questions, and only good copy will give them the answers. Even when images do the selling, there’s usually a carefully crafted caption to help it along.
Fancy images can be good at getting attention. But they are lousy at keeping it. And the attention they do get isn’t usually very useful. You know what grabs the right attention? A well-written headline.
What keeps that attention? Good copy.
Advantages of spending time on your website copy:
#1. Attract the right attention
Not all attention is equal. Who do you want to spend time on the phone with: A qualified buyer looking for exactly what you’re selling, or someone who you know isn’t going to buy a damn thing?
The headlines you use can help qualify your traffic. If you focus your copy on converting your best prospects, you will be more likely to attract them. And as for the rest? Do you really care if they click away? They weren’t going to convert anyway.
Well-written copy can appeal to your most likely prospects.
Copy that plays it safe, or tries to appeal to everyone, usually converts no one.
#2. Keep attention
Getting their attention is only the first part. Keeping that attention takes more than pretty pictures.
To keep your visitors reading, you need copy that pulls them into your site. Each sentence needs to drive them into the next, until you’ve presented them with your entire sales message.
#3. Communicate your offer effectively
Your offer is important. But it won’t matter how good it is if no one reads it.
Your website copy needs to communicate your offer in a compelling way. Well-written copy can make sure your site visitors understand exactly what’s so great about your offer, and what to do to take you up on it.
I’ve seen offers buried in the middle of big blocks of text. And the site owners couldn’t understand why the site wasn’t converting.
“Our offer stinks.”
Or maybe no one could find it where it was buried. Good copywriting will make sure your readers get the important information.
#4. Trigger Action
What do you want your visitors to do? What’s the reason for your website? Strong copy is what will make people take the action you want them to take.
Here’s the thing:
Poor copy can kill your results. There was an experiment awhile back. The folks at GainTap changed one word in their CTA. It cut their leads by 81%!
Think those results are a fluke? Here’s a post from unbounce.com that talks about 12 other website tests that produced sometimes wildly different results by only changing a few minor things.
The results you get from your website are affected by many factors. Some of them are design. Some of them are copy-related.
I’m not advocating that you ignore your website design. Good design is important. But good copywriting is equally important.
Do you want people to call you, sign up for something, download something, or in some other way take some action? Good copy can make them more likely to do it. (And bad copy can make sure they won’t.)
How do you get good website copy?
There are two ways to get well-written website copy:
- Learn to do it yourself
- Hire someone to do it for you
#1. Learn to write good copy
Contrary to what some people may tell you, most anyone can learn to write serviceable copy. Certainly, some people have a natural talent for it.
But copywriting is (in my opinion) more science than art. There are rules to follow – and sometimes to break. And those rules can be taught. And unlike other types of writing, there is a very easy way to determine whether it’s good or bad:
Does it work?
Does the copy do the job you want it to do? If so, then it’s great! If not, then it’s not.
Opinion doesn’t come into copywriting.
Copywriting is a science, and it can be learned. But to do it well will take you time. How much time are you willing to spend learning? And what else could you do with that time?
#2. Hire someone who knows how to write good copy
If you decide it’s not worth it to you to learn to write copy yourself, you can always hire someone who knows what they’re doing to write it for you.
Anyone can have good copy – freelancers are everywhere. You don’t need a big agency. (In fact, unless you’re a major account, many of the big agencies end up outsourcing copywriting to freelancers anyway … )
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get effective website copy. And you don’t need to go through an agency or design firm that offers writing in-house either.
Odds are good there’s a freelancer in your area (or even writing posts like this) that can give you killer copy for a fraction of what a big agency will charge.
The reality is if you aren’t paying serious attention to the copy on your site, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table. People are clicking away that otherwise would convert.
Buyers are buying from your competitors because they were able to clearly communicate and you weren’t. It could be that people aren’t even finding your site in the first place because your headlines don’t contain the relevant keywords that your prospects are searching for.
But don’t feel bad.
You aren’t alone. There are a lot more websites out there with bad copy than good.
That’s an opportunity for you. It’s up to you to take advantage of it.
Spend some time on your website copy. It’s important.
I'm a freelance copywriter and blogger. I write on marketing (inbound, copywriting, direct mail) and career topics.Read Full Bio