Your 2012 Web Copy To-Do List

By Alexis Rodrigo | Copywriting

Jan 04

2012 Web Copy Improvements

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but I love the energy buzzing around us when we enter a new year. It motivates us to improve our businesses and the rest of our lives. It forces us to commit to doing better, pruning bad habits, and moving closer to our ideals. It fuels us enough to get over the holiday slump.

In this post, I propose 8 simple tasks you can do to improve the copy on your business website. They're easy copywriting tweaks you can make to get better results from your site.

8 Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Website

1. Write a clear and concise tagline that describes what your business is all about.

Your website needs to communicate effectively within the first 3 seconds a visitor lands on it. If all you have is your business name and logo, they're not likely to be enough for your visitor to decide if they've reached the right place. A tagline can reassure visitors if they are, indeed, your target customers.

Don't have a tagline yet? Start with your elevator speech. If you've crafted a good elevator speech, you can use a condensed version of it as your tagline. This post gives a useful formula for writing your elevator speech.

2. If your home page still says, “Welcome,” replace it with a benefit-oriented headline.

Valuable home page space is wasted by saying “Welcome!” In fact, one famous copywriter once told us, “If your home page says, ‘Welcome,' I am going to crawl through this telephone line and wring your neck!”

A better way to use that real estate is to write a headline that makes your visitors a big promise. Ask yourself, “What's the biggest, boldest promise I can make to my prospects.” Use the answer as your headline, and you'll grab your visitors' attention and get them interested enough to read the rest of the content on your site.

3. Talk about the positive results you bring to your customers.

Most of us spend way too much time — and use way too many words — talking about ourselves: what we do, how great we are, how we got good, etc. All our visitors are interested in is what we can do for them. So talk about that instead.

And prove it. Cite specific results you've achieved for your clients/customers. Paint a picture of the better life your customers can achieve by using your product, service or program. This post on features vs benefits may be helpful.

4. Break up long blocks of text into short paragraphs.

The Internet has changed the way we human beings read. Because the computer screen (or smart phone monitor or tablet screen) is harder on our eyes, we cannot comfortably read long blocks of text. We've also become a lot more impatient, wanting to access huge chunks of data in shorter amounts of time.

If you want your site visitors to hang around and read what you have to offer, make it easy for them. Deliver content in small, digestible, scannable chunks. Speaking of scannable, it's also a good idea to…

5. Use sub-headings and bullets to make text easy to skim and scan.

Sub-headings, bullets, and numbered lists make it super easy for your website visitors to quickly skim and absorb the content you offer. They're good signs of when you're discussing distinct topics, or condensing your most important points. Forget about writing long essays.

6. Write in a conversational tone.

This is advice that's easily misunderstood. Do I mean you should write as you talk, with all the slang, colloquialisms and even swearing you normally use?

That depends on who your target reader is. If you're writing for a B2C website, you'll want to use the exact language your target customers use too. Swear if they swear and are completely comfortable with it.

However, if you're a B2B company, you'll want your website to reflect the type of language you and your sales representatives would use when speaking to prospects. Most of the time, this wouldn't necessarily formal, but more like business meeting-casual.

7. Instead of trying to be witty, strive to be clear.

It's tempting to come up with witty headlines, sub-headings, and article titles. Resist that temptation. Use it sparingly and, even then, make sure that precious wit is completely understandable to your target market. Wit can earn you advertising or marketing awards; but they won't help you make sales.

Strive, instead, to be clear. Use the language your prospects use and are comfortable with. Write in short sentences. Yes, even if you're a genius. You're not writing a PhD dissertation, you know.

8. Have a specific call to action on each page.

What do you want your reader to do after consuming your web page? Subscribe to your newsletter? Sign up for a free demo? Call for more information? Whatever it is, go ahead and say it. Don't assume your readers know, or will be able to figure it out. Don't make them think.

What Tweaks Will You Make?

Which of these improvements can you do immediately? Which ones will take a little more time and effort, and possibly even the assistance of another person?

Let me know in the comments below, so I can give you additional tips or resources.

Lexi Rodrigo

Image by stockerre


About the Author

Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

  • Good timing on these tips! I am particularly working on a tag line. I have yet to include one. I do have tabs that are visible without scrolling that are a clear indicator of my topics. My blog is a little broad in range and new so I suppose that is my hold up.

    • Alexis says:

      @Angela – having a tight focus is extremely important. You’ll be surprised how much more freedom that will give you.

  • It’s my first time commenting in your blog but I’ve been visiting every once in a while. It’s part of my New Year’s Resolution to make it a habit to visit your blog.

    With that said, I’m really having some difficulties writing my tag line. I am torn between “Helping Small Business Online,” which is too broad, I think. I basically help client in their social media, online marketing, and SEO needs.

    • Alexis says:

      @Nica, Virtual Assistant – Dig deeper into the benefits your clients enjoy as a result of working with you. It really takes time to get to the bottom of things. If you’re stumped, why not ask a few of your best clients? They’ll give you good insights.

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