It was over ten years ago when I fell into the role of copywriter. With an English and Science degree, a few successful businesses under my belt and published novels, it seemed to be a natural progression.
I began writing blogs and web copy according to the client’s wishes but as time has passed and technology has advanced, along with my expertise and experience, now I write the way I know works and my clients trust me do so.
I couldn’t imagine churning out those keyword stuffed articles for a dollar each as I did back in the noughties. I’d cringe if my name was associated with the website that had 10% keyword density for the phrase Best Cleaners London. It’s amazing to think these websites used to find their place at the top of the search engines and like remembering where I was when Michael Jackson passed away, I remember when this all changed, I celebrated.
Suddenly valuable content was valuable, the skill of writing a sentence that engaged, retained and prompted action was championed. I could write award winning content and I could combine it with my love of journalism, copywriting and business.
Today there is still a place for the occasional keywords, although stuffing the content can damage a ranking, most of all, professionals agree that valuable, shareable content is key.
This is how I do it:
There are a few general rules I use when writing a website such as BrandStreet.com, creating an article or posting a blog. The copywriting tricks are universal but without a copywriting background, smaller businesses often miss out.
Attract the Scanners
Visitors to a website don’t read a page the way they would in a magazine. We are a generation of scanners as there’s always something better waiting to demand our attention. You have 4 seconds to appeal to your visitor and you need to make every second count.
This is how most will scan a web page:
- Top Left
- Bottom Right
The bottom left is often ignored. Try it, do you know what appears on the bottom left of your favourite haunts? The top left will be viewed if it holds essential tools such as a basket or a menu.
Keep it Simple
A good web designer knows how to lay out a page so it appeals to each visitor, so it offers the ultimate usability and leads a customer to act. A copywriter will do the same just with words not images and positioning.
A scanner will usually read the first few words and last few words of a paragraph, glancing over the sandwiched content without truly absorbing the meaning. This is why the “Welcome to” introduction is a waste of space and copy as much more could be conveyed in that millisecond of text speak.
Regardless of a business, most visitors have similar questions they need answers to when landing on your website. By answering these questions you can secure a customer, sale or click to contact.
- Do you have what I want?
- Are you cheaper/ better value for money than your competitor?
- Will it be easy/ quick to use you?
- How will you make my life better?
- Will I feel buyer’s guilt for spending with you?
- What return on my investment will you give me?
Everyone wants a return on their investment. I constantly tell my clients that they should expect this no matter what service they seek. For example, when a client invests in my copywriting or marketing they should expect a good return in the form of conversions, consumer loyalty, reputation enhancement, exposure, and much more.
Your customer expects returns, no matter what you sell. If you sell clothes, they expect the return of looking attractive and the attention that creates. If you sell food they expect the return of enjoying a meal while being satiated. If you sell services such as accountancy they expect to save money and stress which in turn saves them time. We all expect a return for our hard earned cash.
Take a Tip from Hollywood
All copy and design ultimately leads to a call to action and it’s this that measures the value of the content you place in the public domain. In Hollywood, when a movie is created there is a sixteen minute rule most directors follow.
Sixteen minutes is the amount of time an average adult will invest in a storyline before expecting a twist, a change in plot or a surprising event. Many directors and script writers understand this and so ensure a scene change or a plot twist when it nears that sixteen minutes. It’s essential for retaining a viewer’s interest. Copywriting is no different.
You need to retain interest while prompting a visitor to act. You have the option of leading your visitors on a journey through your website, pre-empting their moves and answering unspoken questions as they travel until they reach the desired destination. This is incredibly useful if you sell products and want to increase the average basket value.
In the case of services, you may require the visitor to contact you, to fill out a form, subscribe to a newsletter or book your services online. This is a much shorter journey and needs skill for it to be executed within a limited time.
A fully interactive exciting experience is a must but remember to have a clearly defined route mapped out. Where do you want the user to go? To your shop, to your contact page or to your blog?
Of course the deeper you lead a visitor into your site, the more effort you need to put in to retain that interest. Avoid having links that simply take them “back” instead show them how to easily take the next step. This will also lower your bounce rates while your visitor will feel as they are getting to know the real you with every word. By the time they hit that buy button, they should feel like your best friend, and best friends never lead each other up the garden path do they? I’ve expanded on this in my post on why content should always be valuable.
Images: “Part of typing machine with typed copywriting word/Shutterstock.com“
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