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Website Copy that increases Conversions and Inquiries

Tuesday, February 09, 2010 -

Different audiences find different things meaningful, and improving conversions on your website depends upon your understanding that there is no uniform way that people think and act, especially on the web. In this piece we’ll explore useful principles for connecting with audiences through copy as well as practical steps to better understand and act on your audience’s habits and practices.

Your Website copy should reflect your target market and their needs.

While there are many ways to create conversion-friendly web experiences with copy, a few principles are clear.

Content clarity – keep it simple!

Clarity of content about your product or service is the most important factor in determining whether a customer buys from you or not. Ask yourself the question: “Why should I buy from this site?” Say it loud and say it clear. Above the fold and keep it simple.

What sets you apart?

What differentiates you from your competitors? Free shipping, discounts, warranty, price protection, privacy, customer service, etc.? If you’ve got it, exhibit it! Researching your competitors is the key to determining these traits.

Write naturally

Write just as you would talk to a friend. State your key message clearly and concisely. Then, after the copy (content) is written, add in some relevant keywords. No one likes to read rigid copy. Make it interesting.

Keyword density – add keywords to your text

Your website is full of hot spots that search engine spiders check regularly. Use important keywords in headlines, subheadings and the body copy of your web pages; but use it sparingly. Keyword “loading” can actually have a negative effect on your ranking. The ideal keyword density should range from 4% to 6% of the total content. In other words, pick out your main keywords and make sure they are repeated 4-6 times on a page of 200+ words.

Update content regularly

Update your content regularly. This will make the search engine spiders come to index your site more regularly. If the search engines find your content unique and relevant, you stand a greater chance of having your site ranked higher. Make sure to link the keywords within your content to the other pages so as to guide both the spiders and readers.

Article writing

People generally come online for two reasons: to check their email or to look up for information about a given topic. They search for an answer to a question or seek a solution to a problem. You can then provide answers to their query through a series of short articles. Look for article ideas in the questions that you regularly hear your customers asking or about things you regularly see people doing wrong. Share tips on how to use the products you sell or talk about industry trends. A great way of coming up with article ideas is to use Google Alerts.

Appeal to your audience or risk losing them!

A broad and seemingly self-evident statement to be sure. But copy often plays second fiddle to other site elements, and I think this is a big mistake. From headlines to captions to your FAQs, the words on your site must be easily understood and play into the mind and habits of your audience. How do you do this? One strategy I recommend is avoiding words and phrases that do nothing to move your target audience to conversion. When you are writing verbiage for your site, try to think about each word and phrase that you use as products themselves; if your verbiage isn’t explicitly doing something meaningful for your audience they will soon stop “buying what you are selling” (reading your copy), and ultimately leave your site. Therefore, it helps for your copy to be as intentional and helpful as possible to your audience, as opposed to vague and neutral. Here’s an example.

Let’s say a manager at an auto parts store is looking for some cheap computer monitors, so they are researching local office technology companies. Which one of these statements on the office technology company homepage do you think is more enticing and motivating to the manager?

ACME Computers, Inc. provides customer-centric technology solutions that can help you expand your business at minimal investment to your company


ACME Computers, Inc. wants to help you find the best computer hardware at the lowest price to meet your specific needs

Bets are on the second statement for this particular customer. However, you might be inclined to vote for the first statement if the company was a national technology company and the potential customer worked at an investment firm. The key is to remember that your audience is first and foremost a human being before being a customer or prospect, and they have their own likes, dislikes, hobbies, and jobs that make them who they are. You need to respect this, even on something as simple as a company description.

Creating successful site copy isn’t just learning how to say something; many times it’s learning what to say. You might not be selling written content as your product, but having interesting writing on your site can be great for business, as long as it is meaningful for your audience. Blog posts, articles, case studies, white papers, and anything else written that you feature on a site needs to be something that someone from your target audience would find interesting, humorous, or engaging, and it never should turn them off to what you are selling or promoting.

One interesting example is, the website for a popular high-end guitar store in Las Vegas. The site has a “Rants” section where the owner of the store Ed Roman writes long-winded and pointed diatribes on why large corporate guitar companies and their cheap guitars stink. This seems like a unadvisable or unprofessional strategy, but I actually think that it’s a brilliant move on his part. Ed knows that his wealthy older audience is primarily interested in custom-made high quality guitars and that they are more than willing to second his complaints. By fueling the fires of hatred towards large corporate guitar companies, Ed is building strong rapport with those who feel the same way he is and alienating no one that would actually buy anything from him.

Practical Steps

Get a Insight into your target market.

How does my audience browse the web? What types of color schemes, pictures, and copy do they prefer? What motivates them to convert? These questions would be answered differently depending on who you are talking to, and you need to know these answers before you start writing copy and deciding what your website should say. You could pay a consultant a ton of money to answer these questions for you, or you could start taking a these two steps to find out yourself:

1. Read what your audience Reads

Before you start a writing copy or go to a website meeting brief, take a few days and read (or watch) as many things as you can that were created for (not about) your audience. Whether its blog posts, magazine articles, or even YouTube videos, this firsthand perspective will be a great crash-course in discerning your audience’s tastes and learning their vocabulary. An exercise like this very well will give you a good insight into how your target audience thinks, what appeals to them and why this material is exciting and motivating for your audience. You have to respect the logic behind the choices that your target audience makes or you will lose them completely.

2. Learn from and improve on others who have already successfully learned your audience’s language

Let’s say we are building a site for an audience of brides and female newlyweds. I personally appreciate minimalist design elements and I like seeing one large in-depth piece of text per page. However, one look at successful wedding sites like and tells me that I have to rethink what I view as interesting and aesthetically pleasing when I’m working on this project. Just browsing through these sites tells me a lot about what some successful strategies might be (soft colors, lots of different text elements happening at once), and even though I’m not personally attracted to how the sites look or operate, I know that millions of brides-to-be and newlywed women love this stuff. I don’t need (or want) to copy anything that or has done, but I need to be aware of the commonalities between the sites and the web habits/culture that they are drawing from and building on themselves.

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