When it comes to website content you need to cultivate a selling mindset.
Think of your website as a 24/7 salesperson. If your site’s sales pitch (i.e. the content) is weak, you’ll struggle to convert visitors into customers.
In his e-book Secrets of Online Marketing for Offline Businesses, online marketing consultant Will Swayne wrote:
“Weak content is like a poor salesman who never listens to customers or seeks to understand what they want. Who likes to buy from a salesman like that?”
The art & science of copywriting
Although the web is relatively new, copywriting – or the art and science of selling using the printed word – has been around for well over a hundred years.
Dozens of excellent books have been written on the subject, and I don’t have room for a course on copywriting here. But for now, here are three fundamental principles that will help improve your website’s sales pitch:
1. Benefits trump features
When you sit at your computer to write your website content you’re faced with a challenge. What exactly do you write about to persuade people to buy your product or service?
Novices tend to simply list the features of their business and products or services: 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 attract more customers there’s something else you should be writing about: the benefits of doing business with you. The difference between success and failure of your website often comes down to the benefits offered.
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.
2. Attention-grabbing headlines
Many websites make the mistake of starting their pages with a label instead of a headline. A headline should be more than just a “heading”, such as the name of your company or product or service. The worst mistake is starting your home page with the words “Welcome to our website”.
In print advertising a headline is the “ad for the ad”, because its job is to persuade readers to read the rest of the advertisement. The same principle applies online. In fact, the headline is the most important element of any web page. People will make the decision to read or ignore your web pages primarily because of the headlines.
The “four U’s” are good criteria to judge your headline against. The more U’s you can include in your headline the better:
- Urgent – give the reader a reason to act now instead of later
- Useful – appeal to the reader’s self interest by offering a benefit
- Unique – say something different to all your competitors
- Ultra-specific – talk specifics, not vague generalities
3. Include clear calls to action
The main objective of your website content is to get readers to take action: click here, read this article, sign up for our newsletter, view our product range, download this report, ring us for a quote, and so on.
The web is a highly action-orientated marketing channel. If nobody clicks your links you get no enquiries, no sales and no business. So the content on your site must guide your visitors to the actions you want them to take. People want and need clear instructions, so make sure you give them.
Your content must tell readers exactly what they should do if they’re interested in your product or service. Tell them to call the toll-free number, complete the enquiry form, download your catalogue, request a free consultation or sign up for your free offer.
As master copywriter Bob Bly stated: “If you don’t specify what the next step is… few people will take it.”
Things to do
- List the benefits of your products or service and make sure you include them in your website content as often as is appropriate.
- Review and edit all the headlines on your website for the four U’s.
- Include a clear call to action on every page of your website.
This post is part 4 of the series Your Website Sucks!