If you’re a talented writer, the transition from print copy to web copy might seem like a seamless one. After all, how much difference can a screen make? The truth is, all the difference in the world.
When most writers write their copy, they envision their target market and picture an ideal customer reading it. In other words, they treat their website visitors just like those who read printed text. But these two demographics are worlds apart.
For starters, web copy is not read – it is scanned. Website visitors don’t treat webpages like book lovers who spend their Sunday morning curled up with their favourite novel or magazine. Instead, they look for words they want or need. If they can’t find those words after a few quick glances, it’s off to the next webpage.
Understanding this crucial difference can help you devise the web copy strategy you’ve always envisioned, but haven’t been able to execute yet. If you’re still in search of that persuasive web content, these 8 simple ways to write persuasive web content should help.
Put the most important information first
Remember, web copy isn’t a mysterious novella. You’re not telling a love story or writing a murder mystery. Your goal is to inform your audience of the idea, service or product you’re trying to sell to them, and do it in a way that persuades them to buy it or look into it. So start by putting your most important content at the very top. This is the very first step in the art of web persuasion.
Don’t be too clever
Creativity and cleverness have their time and place, but generally don’t belong in effective web copy. That’s because your reader doesn’t have time to “get” what you’re trying to say. If you’re trying to sell ballpoint pens and go off on a tangent about the universe, nobody will care. Your page should be as clear, obvious and self-evident as possible. Save the universe for your philosophy or physics website.
If you’re writing copy for website scanners, you need to organize your content effectively. That’s why headlines are so useful. They grab your audience’s attention, allowing passersby to quickly see if that particular section is of use to them. Your headlines have to be clear and to the point. Most importantly, they must communicate what your product, service or idea is about.
Use captions, quotes and images
A combination of captions, quotes and images can be an effective way to convey your ideas clearly without spending too much time or effort. If there’s a simple-to-understand image that conveys your ideas, consider using it and including a short caption. This is especially helpful if you’re explaining step-by-step instructions.
Use familiar words
It’ll be hard to glue your audience to your web copy without familiar words. Gerry McGovern calls these “carewords.” If a website visitor wants to buy shoes, they’re looking for something stylish. If a visitor wants to fly to Hawaii, they are looking for a cheap flight. Terms like “stylish” or “cheap flight” resonate very well in these particular cases. The same holds true for virtually every product or idea you’re trying to sell. Words and phrases like sale, cheap, limited time and cost-effective are some other popular carewords.
Assume your visitors are lazy
Lazy people don’t like to do much work. They certainly don’t like to read when they’re trying to book a cheap flight somewhat hot or shopping for a new bathing suit. That’s why your copy should include short paragraphs and sentences. In fact, use bullet points to replace paragraphs wherever you can. Your web copy should also avoid jargon and needless repetition. Simply tell your visitors what you can do for them in clear, concise language.
Make your website easy to follow
There’s no telling just how a visitor might stumble on your site or on which page they might end up. If your visitor isn’t starting on Chapter 1, don’t expect your copy to begin there, either. Your entire website needs to be optimized for easy reading and navigation. Each page should be easy to scan, and each section of the website should be even easier to navigate. Tabs, buttons and links should be used to tidy up your presentation and help visitors navigate where to go next.
Build an attractive website
In today’s age, there’s no reason not to have a visually appealing website. There are a lot of tools out there that can help you build a beautiful website using click-and-drag features. If you really want your web copy to stand out, make sure it lays atop a tastefully crafted website that uses sharp fonts, bold text, caps and italics. Make sure it has a clean display with matching colours. All of these features come together to make persuasive web copy.
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