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How to write captivating website copy

25 Aug 21

How to write captivating website copy

Does your website copy play second fiddle to your website design? You‘re not alone. While time is invested in the design, copy is often considered an afterthought. The reality is that the words on your website have an equally important role to play in engaging your audience and encouraging your readers to take an action.

It takes seven seconds to make or break whether a visitor will stay on your website. The design of your website plays a big part in creating that first impression, but your words take centre stage too.

The medium is the message

There is no one size fits all approach to every copywriting project. That‘s why you need to consider how each platform is used and craft your content accordingly. ‘The medium is the message‘ and plays a significant part in how a message is perceived.

For instance we experience a website in a much more fragmented way, with different sections and clickable options, than we would a printed article, which is much more linear in process.

Website copywriting is not necessarily harder than writing for print, it‘s just needs a different approach that constantly captivates and engages the audience.

Write how you speak

What‘s the best way to engage with your audience? We‘d always suggest using a conversational style of writing. It’s approachable and friendly and will resonate more directly with your reader than corporate-speak. If you had to choose between the two, what would you prefer?

A conversational tone will put your audience at ease and encourage them to stay on your website and explore. The best advice is to write how you speak. If you‘re unsure whether your copy has the correct tone, perhaps it‘s too formal, read it out loud. If it sounds a bit clunky, make a few tweaks to adjust the tone.

Get personal

Your website copy gives you a great opportunity to express your brand personality through what is known as your tone of voice. Are you fun and friendly, relaxed and informal, or professional and polished?

The tone you chose will all depend on the nature of your business and your audience. And it should be used consistently across your whole marketing – giving potential customers a clear message of who you are.

Make it scannable

We read websites in a completely different way from how we read books. We jump about, move from page to page and scroll and click. For this reason, the format of web copy needs to be in clear, readable chunks that the reader can scan.

Getting this right will help avoid people bouncing off your website, because when you’ve spent the hard work getting them there, you won’t want to lose them.

Here’s a few tips on how to make content scannable:

  • Use headings and subheadings in larger, bolder fonts
  • Write in short, concise sentences and paragraphs
  • Add bulleted lists (see what we did)
  • Use pull-out quotes
  • Add visuals to illustrate your point
  • Create clear calls to action that are easy to identify

Get to the point

Be aware of how visitors will use your website in terms of time, devices and comparisons. They may be having a quick browse with a few minutes to spare, scrolling on a mobile phone, or comparing you with your competition. There are lots of different scenarios! So, you have to make an impression fast and get to the point.

Keeping your content succinct will win you favour. Think clear headings, snappy sentences, with no more than five in a paragraph. If you go beyond the five-sentence rule, you might need to cut some of the waffle and edit.

There‘s no room for budding novelists when it comes to website copywriting!

Think like your audience

What are you looking for when you visit a website? Information, to solve a problem, or to search for a product? Your visitors will be doing the same. Make sure you address your visitors’ needs rather than purely providing them with details about your company and services.

While delivering the know, like and trust factor is commendable and something we’d recommend, your visitors will want to know ‘what‘s in it for me‘. Sometimes referred to as WIIFM!

How can you make their life easier, happier, or more productive? Don’t assume that people will already know the benefits of what you offer. Spell it out.

Don’t overdress to impress

Remember, you want to build your fan base rather than alienate the reader with complex language that they’ll be stumbling over. Be approachable, avoid airs and graces and don’t go overboard with complex language.

So, aim to keep the user journey as seamless as possible with clear language that’s down to earth. You can use the Flesch-Kincaid reading score to get an idea of the reading ease of your text – aim for a low score, opposed to a high score that indicates complex language.

Use keywords wisely

Although we’re talking about ways to use copywriting to keep visitors on your website, we also need to mention how to get them there in the first place. How will your visitors find you online? What terms will they be searching for?

If you‘re planning to use keywords in your website copy, make sure you implement them wisely. Add them into the natural flow of your writing without the keywords disrupting the reading ease.

Give clear instructions

Yep, it’s a success to get people onto your website, but what do you want them to do? Is your objective to get them to sign up to your email, download a document, connect with you on social, or buy a product?

Part of the website copywriting task is to give clear signals of what you want your visitor to do. Giving clear instructions throughout your website content will help your reader move onto the next step. These signals are commonly known as calls to actions or CTAs.

CTA buttons are often highlighted within the design on a website, with accompanying text to engage the visitor. For instance, if it’s informal, a CTA to encourage a visitor to contact you by phone might read:

“Fancy a chat?” followed by a ‘Get in touch‘ button.

Here are a few standard examples of CTA buttons:

  • Sign up
  • Subscribe
  • Download
  • Connect
  • Buy now
  • Read more
  • Donate
  • Get in touch

And a few creative examples:

  • Get the FREE E-book
  • Try our free trial
  • Let’s start a new project today
  • Hop on board
  • Give a gift

Visual impact

We end where we started – talking about design. To maximise the success of your website copywriting, it needs to work in unison with the website design. The design elements help create visual marks and breaks, while imagery adds meaning to the words.

With both elements working together, the website is likely to have greater success in terms of keeping people on your site and converting them to customers.

Do you need help with getting your website copy up to scratch? Let‘s get talking.

Camilla Sharman

Written by
Camilla Sharman

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