Checking Your Message - Effective Web Copy
Dale Carnegie said,
"Talk in terms of the other man's interests."
Writing effective web copy begins with a clear
understanding of the goals and objectives of your internet
strategy. Are you trying to persuade the visitor to buy
something? Are you trying to get them to sign up for your
newsletter? Perhaps you want them to join your organization
or simply learn more about your service so that they will
call your 800 number. The common theme with all of these web
strategies is that you are trying to get someone you have
never met and can't see to take a step toward building a
relationship with you or your organization. Typical website
copy uses a great deal of prime real estate telling the web
audience how wonderful the organization is. Imagine going to
a party and meeting someone who talks endlessly about
himself. He talks about his job, his family, his interests.
How long will you stand there and listen before politely
excusing yourself? Now imagine the party guest who seems
more interested in you- your family, your job, your
interests. Wouldn't you react more favorably? It's very
similar on the Internet.
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It is very tempting to write web copy that is focused on
your company. Your first thought is probably something
"I have to tell them who I am. They don't know
anything about me."
In reality, they don't care! (At least not in the first few
seconds). Most web users are on a mission to find as much
information as quickly as possible about the product or
service they need because they want to make a decision. If
they find your page, they first thing they want to know -
even before bothering with anything else - is how they will
benefit from buying (subscribing, calling, joining). You
need to answer that question clearly and concisely within
seconds or you will lose that visitor (maybe forever). If
you can't cut through the selfish copy, the clutter, the
fancy graphics, and communicate the value you offer that
nobody else offers, they will go somewhere else- and likely
never come back. Here are 3 additional ideas to help with
effective web copy:
1. Create an effective Unique Selling Proposition (USP):
A USP is the statement (2-3 sentences at most) that explains
why you are different than everyone else. This is the unique
factor that sets you apart from your competition. Make this
the first thing your visitor sees.
2. Write about what you offer.
Focus on benefits (not features) and de-emphasize your
organization. The website visitor needs to understand the
value in a relationship with you.
3. Use your copy to help steer your visitor down an
This can be accomplished by placing your "Point of
action" near benefits-related text, making it easier
for your visitors to take action at that moment.
Tom Neuman is a Senior Partner with Medium Blue Internet
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