Over the course of the next five weeks, Digital Marketing expert Mary Thibault will be writing a “How To” series on topics related to writing website copy and overall brand messaging. Today, we’ll kick off part one of this series with a few simple steps to transform your website copy.
1. Identify your audience.
Who’s your audience? Three words and one answer that packs a whole lot of punch. Identifying your target audience is key to effective copy and everyone’s needs are different. Think about it; the type of content a high school student gravitates towards is going to look much different than what the CEO of a Fortune 500 company reads. Chances are, you’ve spent time thinking about your client base, you know who you’re trying to target, but you need to narrow it down. Not sure how? Think about key differentiators like gender, age, ethnicity, income, occupation and interests. Create a personality profile for your ideal or existing customer.
2. Clients come first … and second.
So you have your audience nailed down, now it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to say to clients. How are you going to tell them what you can do, why you’re qualified and why you’re interested in solving their financial problems. This is when putting your clients first is key. Through effective copy, you’re able to enforce that they’re your number one priority. Simple adjustments such as writing in second person (you, your, yours), is a way to show your audience that you’re speaking to them and not at them. It personalizes your reader’s experience which in the end makes your message more effective. If you’re having trouble thinking through what to write, visualize yourself in-person sitting across from a client. What would you say to them? This is a way to prevent talking at or to your client, both of which tend to focus on you not them.
3. The shorter, the better.
I’m a sucker for clear, concise copy. While there’s a time and a place for lengthy content and flowery language, it’s not on your financial planning website. Think you’re an exception? Think again. It was reported in 2015 that the human’s average attention span lasts 8.25 seconds, that’s .75 seconds less than a goldfish. Decide on one key message and refine your mission statement or tagline to make it as succinct as possible. Ask yourself, if someone visited your website for a few seconds, would they understand what you do, where you’re located and who you are? If you know your copy is too long, try reducing wordy phrases to single words. Replace phrases that signal a transition with simple verbs. You can also use bullet points to break up long paragraphs.
4. Images are powerful.
Humans are visual creatures. In fact, some sources suggest that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. A goal of well-written copy is to make your readers feel engaged, and images will help significantly. Whether it’s including photo captions or creating a graphic that illustrates your copy, use them liberally. Other unique images to include could range from infographics, drawings, charts, or tables. Always select photos that add value to the copy and try to steer clear of overused stock photography.
5. Create a Clear Call To Action.
The end goal after having people read your copy is to elicit a response and get your readers to take action. A contact page on your navigation panel and a call-to-action (CTA) button on the upper fold of your homepage creates a sense of urgency around your message. Keep the CTA short, 3-5 words max. Decide on your CTA by finishing the sentence “I want to ______” The options are endless but should define when you want your readers to take action. If for example you’re spending money on paid advertising, you’d want them to “sign up today” vs. “schedule a meeting.” An effective CTA is the final step that you want people to walk away with when it comes to your website copy.
Coming up next week we’ll dive into specific areas of copy and will focus on how to identify and craft a mission statement that works. Stay tuned! In the meantime, for more information, or if you’d like help writing your own website copy, check out our three copywriting packages here.
With experience counseling large, national consumer brands and emerging start ups, Mary’s focus is to help clients share unique, compelling stories with the world. She has spent the last three years building Public Relations, Marketing and brand identities for companies in the financial services industry. You can reach her via email firstname.lastname@example.org.