Five Surprising Best Practices to Make Your Web Copy Sing
Too many home pages read like damp doormats. Instead of inviting web visitors into the site, they push them away by using a writing style that’s impersonal and indistinct.
Your website should attract your audience to you with a unique, powerful voice. The words shouldn’t just lie on the page—they should sing out with the personality and strengths that define your brand.
Why do so many websites, especially those of science-based or tech-based companies, fall flat?
The reasons might surprise you. Lack of writing skill isn’t always to blame as some of the most famous copywriters have had little formal education.
When a website projects a feeble voice, our spidey senses at Clarity Studio start tingling. They tell us the writer is probably missing one or both of two key requirements for success: (1) a genuine emotional connection with the target audience and (2) self-confidence.
If you’re revamping your website this summer, here are five practices to help you achieve both of those success factors. You may be surprised to discover just how simple and easy they are to implement.
Involve your customers
When you set out to design a product, you engage your customers in the design process, right? Depending on the stage of your business, you might conduct secondary market research, host focus groups, or give customers the chance to try a prototype.
So why not use the same customer-centric approach when it comes to designing your web content? As you draft or revise web pages, invite some of your most loyal fans (specifically, your raving fans) to respond to the changes.
Explain that you are trying to increase awareness about your solution so it can help more people like your raving fan. Get your customer excited about the prospect of contributing to your mission. And be sure to thank them heartily once they’ve provided their feedback.
Get to know your customers by what they read
Developing emotional intelligence requires a certain kind of imagination. To recognize what someone else is feeling, we must be able to envision ourselves in their situation, seeing the world through their mind.
Want to deepen your emotional connection with your audience without taking the time to hold a focus group or series of discovery calls? Here’s a shortcut: read what they’re reading.
The Internet offers a treasure trove of articles that can give you penetrating insight into what your audience is thinking and feeling. Some of the hottest resources to look for include:
- Blogs by credible consultants (check out their LinkedIn profile)
- Reports by reputable consulting firms on trends related to your audience’s industry
- Websites of professional and industry associations
- Digital issues of leading business publications that address a broad audience (e.g., Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Wall Street Journal)
- Digital issues of leading business publications that address a specific audience (e.g., CIO)
- LinkedIn discussions, including those that take place in groups, on topics of concern to your audience
- Websites of past and upcoming conferences
The more you immerse yourself in your audience’s world, the easier you’ll find to relate to them on more than a cognitive level. As you develop the capacity to relate to them emotionally, your writing style will naturally become more fluid, conversational, and engaging.
Role-play your audience interacting with your site
Notice we didn’t say “reading your site.” A website differs from a standard business document in that it’s meant to be interactive. It should provide multiple pathways for readers, nudging them deeper and deeper into the content, closer and closer to engaging with you directly.
To role-play your audience reacting to your site, give yourself no more than a minute or two to explore the whole site (no more than 30 seconds for the home page). In other words, mimic the hurried behavior of most web visitors, whose limited attention darts from heading to heading, stopping occasionally on a key word or image that grabs their eye.
Notice the parts of the copy that stand out to you. Are they the most important bits you want to arrest your audience’s attention?
Also notice the links you click. Does your browsing lead you deeper into the site, to second- and third-level pages? Does it guide you to a compelling call to action that encourages you to take some kind of action, such as downloading a free gift or reaching out to a sales rep?
Draft your web copy as speaking notes
Writing should feel as natural as speaking, but for many people the act of putting thoughts into print causes anxiety. Worried about the kind of impression they’re creating in their readers’ minds, they turn out sentences that come across as stiff and pallid.
There’s an easy cure for this rigor writis: craft your web copy as notes for a presentation. Doing this will force you to picture yourself speaking to, and interacting with, a real audience. As you form the words on the page, imagine your audience reacting to them. At what point do they lean in? When do they get restless or look up at you with glazed eyes?
To take this practice to the next level, practice giving your presentation. As you vocalize the words you’ve written, you may find opportunities to make the language simpler and more engaging.
Read your copy to your best friend, your spouse, or your mom
Find yourself a no-BS audience, someone who will instantly call you on any posturing. Choose a friend or family member who knows and loves the real you so they can point out places where the writing doesn’t sound like that person.
Does this exercise imply that the voice of your company is identical to your personal voice? Not exactly. Your personal voice should infuse your brand voice so that the company identity sounds human. So much web copy goes wrong because the writer believes they have to “fake it”--they have to sound more clever, more intelligent, or more blustery than they are in real life.
Since you are the only human you really know how to be, express yourself in your own voice, attuned to the brand requirements of your organization.
Five simple practices, each promising a big payoff. The more you engage with them, the easier you’ll find it to craft seamless web copy that resonates with your target audience and makes them want to hum along. You’ll soon find that producing singing web copy is as easy and enjoyable as singing in the shower!
Could you use some help creating a distinct, easy-to-replicate brand voice for your website? Message me to ask about Clarity Studio’s Brand Voice Assessment.This customized workshop is an interactive (dare we say “fun”?) way to align your team’s writing style with your brand values and identity.
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