Make Sure Your Website Content is Customer-Focussed

Veg“How can I help you?”

Walk into a retail store and that’s often the first question on the sales assistant’s lips. It’s also the question your website content must answer.

Many businesses make the mistake of presenting their website as a glowing resume, detailing their history, size, mission and achievements. But they forget the most important person: the prospective customer!

Before you show off your company you need to inform customers what you can do for them. You need to identify their frustrations and show how your company provides a solution. You need to talk about the benefits of your products and services, not just the features.

That’s not to say you can’t talk up your accomplishments and qualifications. In fact you should to help build credibility. Just make sure you let the reader know what’s in it for them first.

Here are three great articles on customer-focussed website content:

It’s the Customer, Stupid

Quote: “Realize that the words you use and how you use them are telling your visitors where your focus is. Want them to stick around and eventually take the action you want? Talk about them, their needs, their wants, and how they can get those needs and wants satisfied. Use customer-focussed language.”

Is Your Website Self-Centred or User-Centred?

Quote: “Always remember who will be using your website. It’s not your company CEO, marketing department or programmers. The truth is that your website visitors have the power to bring fame and fortune, or ruin a reputation and sour investors.”

Websites reflect true face of an organization

Quote: “A website shows the true face of the organization as never before. A website is increasingly the place where customers get that vital first impression.”

If Content is King Then the Web Designer is Like the King’s Tailor

So says the enlightened and erudite web designer Paul Boag in a recent blog post. He suggests that the designer’s role is to make the content look good without taking any of the limelight for themselves.

I agree with Boag when he says so much web design is designers showing off their creativity with little regard for the content. This weakens the effectiveness of the website and inevitably damages the brand.

But it’s not all bad news. Boag puts forward a few strong suggestions on how copywriters and designers can work together to get a better result for the client.

The copy is an integral part of the design brief

… so designers should treat it as such. It should help guide them how to approach the design.

Writers need to visualise their copy

… to deliver the right amount and format of copy for the intended design. For example, it’s no good delivering a sales letter’s worth of copy for a postcard, or ignoring SEO and usability requirements for online copy.

If only more designers shared Boag’s views…

You can read the whole post here:
Content is King

Need some copywriting help?

Content may be king, but it can be bloody hard to produce! If you’re strugging to create content for your website, why not hire an experienced website copywriter to do the job for you?

How to Write a Better Google AdWords Ad

I’ve just discovered Google’s YouTube channel and they’ve got some fantastic instructional videos on how to get the most out of your AdWords account.

This one’s on improving your ad copy. The important points to note are:

  • Be specific
  • Use keywords in your ad copy – preferably in the headline
  • Include a call to action
  • Each ad should link to a targeted landing page
  • A few tweaks to your ads can make them perform much better

On another note, don’t you just love the writing and production of this video? Google’s marketing team really knows what it’s doing.

I think Google’s AdWords mini-site is one of the best examples of website copywriting on the Net. Definitely something to aspire to.

5 Reasons Why a Small Business Website is Not a Brochure

In his book Your Marketing Sucks! marketing consultant Mark Stevens states: “If your website is nothing more than an electronic brochure, you are squandering the power of the medium.”

B2B copywriter and consultant Dianna Huff agrees. In her blog post, Your B2B Small Business Website is Not a Brochure she gives five crucial points of difference between small business websites and brochures.

For example, a brochure is static, whereas a website is dynamic. To quote:

A Website allows you to incorporate all kinds of elements — text, images, video and sound — to help you better communicate your message AND make offers designed to generate leads, subscriptions to e-newsletters, requests for demos and attendance at webinars and in-person events.

PLUS a Website provides the kind of information usually found in a brochure — that is, information about your products or services and company.

I agree with everything Dianna writes. But my take on this is that a good brochure-style website is the logical place to start for most small businesses. And by “good” I mean one that promotes benefits, has attention-getting headlines and includes offers and calls to action.

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Why Every Web Page is a Home Page

What’s the difference between reading a novel and a website?

When someone reads a novel they start at page 1, then read page 2, and so on, until they get to the end. It’s a linear process.

But most people start reading a website on the page they arrived at from clicking a link on Google. They can then read the web pages in any order. It’s random access.

So you must consider every page on your website to be a “home page” whose job is to maintain the searcher’s attention and keep them clicking deeper into your site.

This concept was expressed brilliantly by Mitch Joel on his blog

To quote:

The premise is simple: every page of your Website must now be considered a homepage. The hours spent tinkering on your current homepage needs to shift into ensuring that every page is a brilliant representation for the keywords and external links that drove someone to your site.

Fewer and fewer consumers are coming in via the homepage. They could also care less about what your company does or the other products you sell. They were searching for something specific, and if it’s not there after they’ve clicked on a search result link, they’re you’re roadkill on the information super highway.

These days there’s really no excuse for not having Google Analytics on your site (it’s free) so you can see where your website is leaking customers.

Charles CuninghameWeb Copywriter

10 Usability Fixes to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Website

I learn something new about website copywriting every day.

Over at Smashing Magazine they’ve put together a list of 10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines.

The first tip is to put form labels above the field. It makes sense because we fill out forms from top to bottom.

Looks like I’ll have to email my website designer and get him to tweak my forms!

Other pearls of wisdom include:

  • Your website design is a credibility indicator. That’s right, people really do judge a book by its cover. Ditto the quality of your website content.
  • These days people DO scroll website pages. But you should still leave your most important information (i.e. your value proposition) above the fold on your home page.
  • Blue is the best colour for links. Looks like my designer will be getting  some more work!
  • White space on a web page improves comprehension by almost 20% and influences user satisfaction and experience. But remember, white space on a website is like silence on the radio: a little bit goes a long way!

I think this sentence is a great summation of how to approach website usability: “While giving your website a unique design is great, when it comes to usability, doing what everyone else is doing is best.”

Charles CuninghameWeb Copywriter

Website Conversion – The “Secret” Ingredient That Makes Your Web Marketing Dollar Go Further

So many business owners focus solely on increasing website traffic – getting more visitors to their site – to the detriment of improving website conversion – converting more browsers into buyers.

The bottom line is that you’re wasting your money on traffic if your site’s doing a poor job of conversion. It’s like putting a massive ad in the Sunday paper and having hundreds of people visit your store, but not having enough salespeople to serve them. They just leave with a low opinion of your operation.

Improving website conversion is a good investment because it maximises the return from the visitors you already have. If you can improve your conversion rate – the percentage of visitors who become customers – from 1% to 2% you double sales!

And unlike traffic generation – such as SEO or AdWords, which you have to keep throwing money at – improving your site’s conversion is often a one-off expenditure. And it’s not terribly difficult to do either!

The folks at Buckingham Design Associates have written a great article outlining 8 Vital Website Conversion Tips for Turning Clicks into Sales. Their recommendations include easily implemented tactics such as:

  • Dishing up key content on your home page
  • Using your “about us” page to build trust
  • Using a FAQ to defuse common buyer objections
  • Getting your website content written BEFORE you hire a designer, and
  • Offering free content.

You must read this article before you increase your SEO or PPC budget.

Charles CuninghameWeb Copywriter

Essential Copywriting Skill: Dramatising Benefits

In his e-book, 7 Secrets of Highly-Successful Copy, B2B copywriter Steve Slaunwhite, states: “Your real challenge, as a copywriter, is to bring the benefits derived from the features to life.”

This TV commercial for Shell petrol, purportedly written by advertising great David Ogilvy, is a great example of how it’s done.

In this case the feature is the additive Platformate. The benefit is increased mileage.

How to demonstrate that in an attention-getting way? Take 10 gas guzzlers into the Mohave Desert for a mileage test:

Learn how to translate features into benefits here

Charles CuninghameWeb Copywriter


The Easiest Way to Make Your Marketing Work Better

When you sit at your computer to write your next marketing piece you’re faced with a challenge. What exactly do you write to persuade people to buy your product or service?

Novices tend to simply list the features of their business and products or services e.g. We specialise in… We offer a range of…We’ve been in business since… We provide same day service… We’re expert at…

Features are important. But if you want to persuade more prospective clients to whip out their credit cards there’s something else you should be writing about: the benefits of doing business with you.

Benefits are the fuel that drives your marketing communications. The difference between success and failure of your website, brochure, proposals or direct mail piece often comes down to the benefits offered.

Features tell, benefits sell

Features are descriptive facts about your product or service. Benefits are what clients gain as a result of using a feature. Benefits are much, much more important than features because they contain a “what’s in it for me?” motivation.

Here’s a simple example: A new Volvo station wagon has Integrated Two-Stage Child Booster Cushions. That’s a feature. The benefit is that, in the event of a crash, children who have outgrown their toddler seats are protected from injury. To say it another way, the Booster Cushions are the feature, and superior crash protection for children is the benefit.

Turning features into benefits

Here’s a simple technique for turning features into benefits. Write down all the features of your product or service. Next, put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. Then for each feature ask “So what?” The answer to this question describes the benefits of each feature. And remember, a feature can have more than one benefit.

Don’t forget about emotional benefits, or the benefit of the benefit. Using the Volvo child seat example from above, the emotional benefit is that you have peace of mind that your family is protected when you’re driving your car.

These days, most people are time poor and cash strapped. So if you can demonstrate how your product or service can save them time and/or money you’ll get a very positive emotional response. Minimising hassles, relieving stress and making life easier are also excellent emotional hot buttons to push.

Take your notepad to a café and spend a morning writing a comprehensive benefits list. It’s time well spent. When you have a benefits list creating marketing materials is a lot easier because you’re not starting from scratch every time. You already have all the ammunition you need.

How to use benefits

The easiest and most effective way to improve your marketing materials is to clearly state benefits.

Why? Because so few of your competitors do. According to marketing guru Jay Levinson in Guerrilla Marketing Excellence, “All you’ve got to do is consistently put across any one of those benefits to the people who want them right now and you’ve virtually made the sale.”

Sprinkle benefits all the way through your marketing text e.g. every time you mention a feature, follow with the most desirable corresponding benefit. Use connectors such as:

  • “Which means…”
  • “This is important because…”
  • “Our clients love this because…”

Or simply include a benefits list on your brochure, website or print ad. Benefits also make attention-getting headlines. And if you can claim a desirable benefit that none of your competitors can, you should shout it from the treetops. That’s what’s known as a “unique competitive advantage” and it’s the holy grail of marketing.

This article first appeared on Flying Solo.