Let’s talk web copy today. I absolutely love giving entrepreneurs and brands web copy that helps them attract their ideal clients. Why? There’s a lot more strategy that goes into each word than you might think.
It’s fun to dig into their projects and businesses and really get to know the nuts and bolts of each one. Their values, their why, their customers—it’s all a piece of the puzzle, and I get to research and learn more about what makes each business tick. Then, I get to formulate the words in a way that’s meaningful and effective.
But, how do you know your web copy is good? And is it REALLY good? Or is it just sorta good?
I’ve built this list of do’s and don’ts for creating impactful web copy.
1. Do speak to your customer’s needs.
As an entrepreneur, you are in business to solve some kind of problem. Maybe it’s something insanely innovative, or perhaps you offer a very important service and do it extremely well. Not everyone has to start a revolution. That’s important to acknowledge.
However, the bottom line is: your headline should speak directly to your client’s needs and be super clear about what you do. If you’re an accountant, and your headline or logo has nothing to do with accounting services, then you may be losing qualified customers who don’t understand at a glance what you’re offering.
2. Do make your web copy about them.
Your client should be the hero of your story. In fact, there’s a whole philosophy around this that Donald Miller published in his book Building a Storybrand (aff link). If you haven’t read it yet, then I highly recommend it.
When your web copy is all about your customers, then they can immediately start picturing themselves working with you. Use words like “we,” “you,” and “our” when talking about the problems you solve (see item #1). Better yet, spend some time researching the language your clients use to talk about the kind of services you offer. They probably are not insiders in your industry and will get confused by jargon…so figure out what words they use, and then write copy with those words.
You can and should be present on your own site, and with personal brands, you can be in all or most of the images. However, instead of talking about yourself as your own ultimate #1 fan, position the copy so it’s about your clients.
3. Do practice snackworthiness
Just what exactly is snackworthy? I challenge you to think about your favorite snack. Why do you love it?
The best snacks are mouthwatering, they’re fun-sized, and they leave you wanting more. I want you to be the ultimate snack for your clients, and writing good web copy can get you there. After all, you want them to keep coming back to you again and again, just like you keep reaching for those chips and salsa.
So how can you become snackworthy?
- Be Brief. Use only the words you must. Your web copy is not the place to do long-form storytelling (although there are other places you can do so).
- Be Concise. Although brief and concise are related, each sentence should leave an impact. Use short, powerful sentences that are easy to read.
- Be Punchy. Your web copy is the perfect place to show off your personality while making statements that resonate with your audience.
Above all else, be clear. If you use uncommon (or made up) words, make sure you can show clients why that’s important. Clever is always good. Clear is better.
4. Do use lots of white space.
But, how can words have white space? Isn’t that a design term? Although white space is an artistic term, it also serves web copy well. By using appropriately sized text (read: plenty big), you can create white space.
However, when you use lots of short sentences, single-sentence paragraphs, and break it up with headlines, you can create white space within your document.
It’s important because it improves the scannability of your website, and therefore, its readability.
5. Do take a step back
So you’ve written your web copy in one sitting, and it ? is ? amazing?. You’re good to publish, right? Well, you could, but I wouldn’t even start to consider designing it on day 1.
Nothing is ever perfect the first time you write it. Nothing. Before you even send the copy off to someone else for a review, take a step back for a day or two and look at it with fresh eyes. You may have a ton of changes, and you may not.
However, this is an important second step for writing good web copy.
6. Do think about voice before you write.
Yes, do voice of customer research (see Do #2). Finding the Right Message by Jen Havice (aff link) is AWESOME if you need guidance here.
But customer voice is only part of the picture. Before you start writing your web copy, you also need to think about your own voice, your company values, and the words you love.
How do you want your words to make people feel? Are there words you love? Words you hate? These are all important considerations that I discuss with clients before sitting down to write web copy.
Although you don’t need a comprehensive brand voice guide, giving some thought to these questions will help you write much better copy.
7. Do practice positivity
Yes, you want to talk about your clients’ problems and how you solve them.
Yes, you want to agitate them enough that they see you understand their headaches, and to make them want to buy.
However, you want to also stay positive where you can, framing those negatives in a not-so-negative light.
Why? You want to keep building the excitement for working with you.
Every time you say one negative thing, you’ll have to make several positive statements…and remember, we’re trying to keep things brief here.
8. Do paint a picture.
You want your clients to understand what their life will look like after working with you. Moreover, you also want them to understand what the next steps are and what they look like.
You don’t need to spell out your framework or your process. But if you DO choose to, your prospects will already know more about the experience of working with you!
9. Do use social proof.
Personal recommendations are an incredible way to get more business. So when you can get referrals, take advantage of them.
However, when people find you through LinkedIn, web search, or some other way, how can they know you’re the real deal?
Ask for reviews from your clients on social media, especially Facebook and LinkedIn, and then publish those recommendations right on your page. Your prospective clients will read reviews use them to make decisions.
Better yet, your reviews can be a gold mine for your web copy.
By asking clients some open-ended questions to start the wheels turning when you request recommendations, you can get some really good language to use.
10. Do make IT easy.
“IT” in this case, is whatever step you want the client to take next. Do you want them to book a call? Download a pdf? Sign up for your email list? Buy a product?
Make it easy. As in, don’t make them take extra steps. The link should be right on your home page, and it should allow them to take immediate action.
A pop-up is best, but if a pop-up isn’t possible, then after they click the button, they should only go to one additional page. Max.
How does your website stack up?
I have a free copy audit course that consists of emailed lessons every 5 days.
Plus, then you’ll get all of my fancy-pants updates (usually just 2-3 every month).
Or, behind door #2 is a live review of your site, done in 30 minutes so that you can make notes and changes in real time!
Have questions? Let me know in the comments.