How Does My Website Content Drive Sales?
How Does My Website Content Drive Sales?
There are nearly 2 billion websites online. Ok, so not all of them are active. But that’s a LOT of noise, people! If you want your website ‘heard’, you’ve got to do something differently. Your web copy can, and should, drive sales. If you’re not a pro website copywriter, skilled at SEO writing, how do you achieve this?
The truth is that writing exceptional website copy isn’t easy. There is a complex list of tick boxes you need to get right. If your goal is driving sales, then this is particularly daunting.
Yet, the reality is that pretty much anyone thinks they can have a go. And they are right in one way: no one knows your business, and has your burning passion for it, as much as you do.
Chances are, if you spend a few hours with Word open in front of you, you can have a reasonable crack at getting some words on a page. However, web copy is not simply words on a page, as a website content writer well knows.
Writing web copy: the least honoured skill
We’re not lamenting the fact that website content writers are the unsung heroes of the web. We like being behind the screen. What’s more, our clients see for themselves what exceptional website copy can do.
However, whilst the average Joe Bloggs doesn’t realise the skill involved in writing exceptional website copy, they miss a trick for their business. Because, nice and simply, website content written which is skilfully written will drive sales.
How does website copy drive sales?
To unpick this, let’s look at why website content is so important to your business success.
Realistically you need an online presence.
Take a look at the graph below. It shows internet usage in the UK by age. Frankly, anyone under the age of 54 is in danger of whacking their head on the top line.
90% of ALL adults in the UK were recent internet users. 99% of those aged 16-34 are internet users. Given these are your current and future customers; you simply have to be where they are.
Even if your business is a million miles from using a computer for your business function, (we’re looking at you Mr Tree Surgeon and Mrs Deep Sea Divers R Us), you have to have an online presence to drive sales. When your potential customer is looking for you, they look online.
Next, an online presence gives you a 24/7 presence. In the digital age, that’s vital. Your audience needs to be able to reach out to you, in some way, on their terms. If that’s at 6am in the morning with a strong espresso and lark song, so be it.
Finally, the modern consumer is a savvy beast. They don’t just want a product or a service, whatever, wherever. They care. They are interested. They want that product or service from a brand that they trust, like and respect.
Building that brand reputation is infinitely easier if you use a website as a launch pad.
Understanding these reasons helps you to write web copy that gets you visible and indeed drives sales.
Website content writing – it’s a learned skill
Now, if you were pretty ok at English at school, and have written your fair share of essays, you can have a crack.
The problem starts when you realise that website content is quite different from your A+ essay from school. Developing the web writing skill takes practice and development, just like any other.
It’s also not as simple as thinking that if you can write a blog post, you can write web content. Again – different beast. Much of blog writing takes care of the brand-boosting, education providing, relationship building side of things. Web copy is where you actually get to sell. That requires different skills.
How to write web copy that sells
Web copy should, in most instances, be short, sharp and punchy. You need to get the message across in as few words as possible. You also need to tick the SEO boxes. That means you can tie yourself up in knots very quickly indeed.
So let’s break this down in to the different elements that you need to understand to write awesome website copy:
1. Know thy audience: We’re constantly telling our readers this, precisely because of how important it is. You aren’t writing for yourself (even though you’re selling). You are writing for them.
If your audience doesn’t think you’re writing for them, they will up and go. Remarkably quickly. In fact, you’ve got just 10-20 seconds of a user being on your website before they make a decision whether they are going to stay.
So website copy needs to deliver – fast.
The way to keep them there is to know what their exact issue is that you can solve. Then you get that message across first. That’s the hook. Show them that you are capable of solving their problem. The rest of your copy can be about reeling them in.
This is only possible if you actually know who your audience is and what they need. Therefore, the better you know them, the better your website content writing should be.
2. Make it memorable
In the Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes Report by Ofcom, it is revealed that us Brits spend the equivalent of one whole day online per week. Gulp.
The fact is that to make a mark on that time, you need to be memorable.
This is why huge corporations are happy to spend thousands of pounds on one measly page of website content. They know it is vital to their success.
We’re not suggesting you bankrupt yourself to do the same. We are suggesting you learn from what they do and emulate what you can.
The number one thing they focus on is how unique each page is. They will customise a page in every tiny element. The upshot is that your experience of that page is then unforgettable. It’s even succeeded on channelling you exactly where they want you to go without you realising.
To get this level of quality you have to invest time and skill. It’s a no-brainer.
3. Don’t patronise
Journalism, that age old profession, likes to think itself a superior being to the rest of us. That comes across in their writing. You feel really a little bit stupid and frankly quite small. But it’s ok because the big authoritative teacher is telling you how you should think, feel and act.
Nope, that doesn’t work with website content. Your audience are free-thinkers. What’s more, they are free to take their business elsewhere to someone who doesn’t patronise them.
We’re not just talking about the words you use either. We’re also talking about the ones you don’t. If you ever got the feeling you knew exactly how much of a mug a website creator thinks you are, you know what we’re talking about.
Always assume your readers are intelligent and capable of making their own decisions. Present the facts, inject some personality, but let them make the decision independently. Your website content should inspire rather than patronise.
4. Spend the most time on the fewest words
The fewer words you have at your disposal, the more they have to count.
A website reader is a skimmer. In those first 10-20 seconds they are likely able to take in a few banners and maybe one line of a paragraph. Bang. Time’s up.
Therefore, those words of content that are just a sentence or two, standing out like beacons, need to be the pinnacle of exceptionalism. They have to convey the message that you solve their problem, inspire trust, and make them want to read more.
That’s a seriously tall order.
Headlines need your time and energy, big style. This is the bit you need to test out, speak aloud, ask your mates, come back to, re-jig and then try again. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your website content is. If you don’t get that right then no one is going to read it.
5. Don’t forget SEO
No matter how, we’ve got to shoehorn this naughty one in somewhere. Just don’t shoehorn it in to your website copy.
You can’t avoid the fact that you need to use expert SEO strategies in your website content if you want the search engines to pick it up – which you do, because that’s where your readers come from.
However, you must use SEO practices skilfully and carefully in website content, perhaps more than any other kind content. A blog reader may roll their eyes and click goodbye if you clearly wedge in a keyword which doesn’t fit. A reader of your main website content will trot off never to return.
The simplest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to only use SEO naturally. Don’t force the issue. If you’re not able to use it naturally, then you’re trying to use the wrong keywords for your message. Be relevant and the SEO will be easy, natural and organic.
6. Think funnels
We’re not going to go all marketing speak on you. But do think about how you want to funnel your reader down to your call-to-action. That starts at your headline, but carefully nudges them down towards your goal.
This is because for website content that drives sales, it’s not just about getting people to your site. You have to get them through it. There are multiple points between arriving and buying when you can lose them.
Website content is the driving force that will keep them going. Therefore it all needs to be top-notch, gently coaxing them to where you want them to go.
So this is the point when we remind you to focus on making a sale, whilst still bearing in mind all of the above. That’s a tricky balancing act to achieve, but it is do-able with some hard work, skilled writing, and some sharp editing.
It’s not as easy as it looks
The true mark of exceptional copy is that it looks effortless. Yet in it you will find SEO practices which act as fantastic sign-posts. You’ll find headlines that compel and answer questions. You’ll find words which lull you towards the overall goal without you ever feeling compelled. It looks effortless, but in reality it is far from it.
The good news is that once you’ve got the hang of writing website content, you can apply the same skills to elevating all other writing tasks you do, both on and offline.
Social media posts benefit from the art of great headline writing. Brochures use the skill of informative engaging writing. Press releases require relevancy. Product descriptions require judicious use of SEO. Adverts need solution-based approaches.
Think of your website content writing as the parent content. All other content you create needs to spring from this.
Sometimes it’s just easier to get the pros on board. Order website content in our content shop: end the worry and save time.
Chris Brown is owner of The Content Ninja. Chris has many years’ experience creating website content for SMEs and larger businesses. Chris has witnessed how businesses can grow their customer base through exceptional content.
Image source Flickr