We’ve all heard that having a stable online home (aka your website) is important, but with so much content out there about building a website and generating high-quality, consistent leads on auto-pilot, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you need to do to create a website that ends up being more than just a pretty face.
As a copywriter, I’ve written for countless websites that have different business models, offerings, brand voices, and more. While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy (as you should have a unique conversion strategy for your specific goals and niche), this blog post will walk you through 5 non-negotiable elements that your website words must contain. Think of these 5 things as making up the anatomy of your website copy!
This is not just another business task. Your website copy is a mandatory prerequisite if you want to take control of your sales process and generate consistent revenue (especially when you can’t market your business 24/7).
Why? Because there are so many things you can’t control–social media, algorithms. But you can control how you bring your readers on a journey to getting to know and trust you and how well they will receive your message through your words. Ready to do that? Let’s go!
1. Optimize your offers
I cannot stress this enough.
Most people start writing copy without doing any research on their offerings. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking: But I already know what my offerings are because I created them … I don’t need to spend any more time on them. And why would I need to do research on them?
I’m sure you know your stuff. Maybe you’ve even served dozens of people with your current offerings. But knowing how to communicate the true value of your offers is a totally different story.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when talking about their services or products is that they think they can just snap in a few benefits and features and call it a day. Well, that’s a myth (you can read more about common copywriting myths here).
With the growing online space and saturated market, you are not the only expert in your field. Many people offer similar packages with similar experiences and expertise. So how do you set your offerings apart?
As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” Before writing your website copy or a sales page, you need to identify the ultimate “destination” for your readers. How many offerings do you have? How do you do them differently? Do you offer two strategy calls, one before the brand design and one after the project is done? Why is that? How is that tied to the interest of your ideal customers? Why do you structure your offerings the way you do?
By giving more details, you add more depth to your copy that will help people visualize what it’s like to work with you or use your products. People don’t always remember what you say, especially when they’re looking at 4-5 websites at the same time in their search for something to meet their needs. So the way you talk about what they would experience with you can make a great and memorable impression.
2. Create a unique framework
I talk more about creating a unique framework in this blog post here, but essentially you want to build a set of three high-level steps that clearly and concisely describe how you take your clients from point A to point B (check out my 4 Cs method for this here).
I use my unique framework in so many areas: my website copy, sales calls, pricing guide, marketing content, etc. If you have a product-based business, this could be your creative process that moves from sourcing inspirations to execution.
The goal here is not just to talk about superficial benefits of your products, but to showcase your competency and unique approach to solving problems and needs. I also highly recommend giving your unique framework a name to make it sound legit and easy to remember. And don’t overthink it! Shannon Monson has her signature ICON method. Jenna Kutcher has the classic JK5. Caitlin Batcher created the SCALE method. What will your unique framework be?
3. Incorporate storytelling
You’ve probably heard this before. Almost every marketer and educator will tell you that storytelling is the most effective way to connect with your audience. Well, they are right.
BUT–do you know what is good storytelling and what isn’t? Many people treat their website copy like a mini prescription that explains a problem and how they’re going to fix it, and if you’re not careful, your copy will sound a lot like fear-based content. Overusing fears, shame and shortcomings in your copy could potentially result in two things: 1) People will stop trusting you and 2) People will start tuning you out.
Storytelling and copywriting is all about the reader. It’s about knowing what action you want your reader to take at the end. The story you use shouldn’t be the story you want to tell, but the story your reader needs to hear.
In one neuroimage study, researchers showed that human brains create a physiological reaction to the kinds of descriptive language used in stories. Our minds not only comprehend stories using our language processing regions. Stories also engage our sensory, visual, auditory and motor cortices. As the Copyhackers said, “We feel stories.” Words don’t just paint pictures, they create immersive experiences.
I watched the Pixar documentary on Netflix last year and it was such a treat! The amount of creativity and thoughtfulness that goes into each movie production is mind-blowing. And there’s a lot we can learn from them about how to use storytelling to get people hooked.
Step 1: Find a relatable experience that positions your target client as the hero of the story.
Step 2: What are the challenges? Remember, you’re not the hero of the story. You’re simply playing a role that helps the hero succeed. In order to do this, you need to know exactly who your target client is. How does this person see themselves? What kind of emotional fulfillment are they seeking? If your company was a physical store, how would your target customers feel when they walk in? Pay attention to these details and craft your copy in a way that magnifies these emotions.
4. Clarify your customer journey
Website flow really matters.
All of your website pages should work together towards a specific desired outcome. How well you understand your customer journey will determine how fast your visitors will turn into clients.
Psychology Today stated that “the best salesperson first establishes a mood of trust and rapport by statements and gestures that supports a customer’s observations, experience or behaviour.” This approach is sort of like mirroring, a way of suggesting, “I get you. You can trust me.” In other words, good copy empathizes with the customers it’s aimed at. Instead of launching into a canned sales pitch, copy should first try to understand the customer’s needs, mood and personality.
I like to use the following analogy: If when you got to your doctor’s office, they just gave you a prescription without first checking up on you or asking questions about your pains and situations, you’d be skeptical, right? You probably wouldn’t trust that doctor all that much.
Here’s some simple steps that you can take to clarify your customer journey:
- Break down any potential resistance.
- Establish trust and credibility by listening and showing interest.
- Highlight only the benefits that are of interest to the customer.
- Understand customers and their motivations for buying a certain product–this is key to writing copy that sells.
To reach your prospective customers on all three levels–intellectual, emotional and personal–you must understand what copywriter Mark Ford calls the buyer’s “CORE COMPLEX”. This encompasses the emotions, attitudes and aspirations that drive a customer. This can be thought of as the BDF formula.
Beliefs: What are they currently believing right now? (e.g. They think they don’t have what it takes.) What do they need to believe in order to move forward?
Desires: What do they want to achieve? What matters to them?
Feelings: How are they feeling right now? Lost? Confused? Embarrassed? Lonely? How do you want your website to make them feel?
Before you write your copy, it’s a good idea to review the reasons why people might want to work with you or buy your product. This will get you thinking about who you’re writing to and why you’re writing to them.
5. Consider your voice and tone
An established brand voice makes your brand memorable. It decibels your brand’s unique perspective and personality and allows you to connect with the right people. Your voice is what people say about your brand when you’re not in the room. How would they describe your personality? What would they say about your core values?
For example, J.Crew and Anthropologie do similar work, but have very different voices. J.Crew’s copy is clean, bold and full of fashion details. Meanwhile, Anthropologie focuses less on fashion, instead positioning themselves as a lifestyle brand that encourages romance, taste and travel.
Tone is how you choose to communicate with your audience, and includes choice of words and communication style. This can change slightly depending on what is most appropriate for the piece of content you’re writing or the message you want to present. For example, talking about a fun promotion is very different from recruiting new team members.
If you have a personal brand, the key is to find the balance between what you naturally sound like and what will connect with your target audience. Consider:
- What do you say and not say?
- How do you express gratitude and sadness?
- How do you start and leave a conversation?
- What does your ideal client read? What do they sound like?
Find common themes and write down key words that express your brand’s personality and core values.
There you have it! I know it seems like a lot, but writing is such a breeze when you take some time to do the prep work. Stay tuned for next week’s blog about how to get started writing your website copy.
If you’re ready to work with a pro so that you have the peace of mind knowing that your website copy is going to convert, click here to see if we’re a great fit!