In developing websites our goal is not to win design awards but to build sites that meet our client’s goals, most often increasing sales. To maximize sales I know effective copy is essential, so I have tapped expert copywriter, Lisa Manyon of Write On Creative Marketing Services to teach us the ins and outs of web copy that sells.
Lisa, what are the elements of website copy that turn browsers into buyers?
Want to know the secret of increased website sales? Shhhh. Copy is the DNA of your marketing materials. (This brilliant revelation was shared by top female copywriter Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero) And, it’s true, strip your website of copy and what do you have? (In case you don’t already know, copy is the written part of advertising, marketing and promotional materials.) See, without words, it’s really hard to get your message out there! Copy counts and actually your sales count on your copy. Copy truly is what helps you make the sale.
Back to the question at hand, your copy must speak directly to your core audience. The most important part of copy is the headline and of course the body copy /offer must be compelling and move people through the sales process. Basically, your writing must be interesting; it must motivate your core audience. Plus, your copy must request action. It’s also important to remember that the PS is the second most read section of copy. While this is true primarily for sales letters, I’ve seen this technique used very successfully in general web copy.
How does web copy differ from other forms of copywriting?
All copywriting really serves the same purpose, to motivate readers to take action and ultimately invest in products or services. When writing web copy, you must consider online factors such as search engine optimization and electronic formatting. A couple of great resources are Web Word Wizardry> A Guide to Writing for the Web and Intranet by Rachel McAlpine and How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders – Boosting Your Business & Buzz on the Web by Catherine Seda.
What are some common copywriting mistakes people make on the web?
As I mentioned previously, electronic formatting is something you need to pay close attention to. One of my pet peeves is using underlining on a web page. Most people realize that if a section of text is underlined on a website or in an e-mail, it’s a hot link. So if you’re underlining for emphasis, this can confuse readers because they expect instant gratification (i.e. redirect to more info) when they click on an underlined section of text.
Another common mistake is simply not asking people to take action and using a passive voice. You must make the web experience as simple and engaging as possible. Don’t make people guess. Clearly tell them what’s in it for them and tell them how to get it.
Finally, and perhaps the most detrimental is not investing in professional copywriting services. Some savvy business owners choose to invest in training to learn the craft so they have the tools to create copy for their own business. This technique can work and at the very least, it arms the business owner with the information they need to effectively outsource their copywriting. Unfortunately, many business owners think they can simply write their own copy, without formal training and believe they will get the same results as seasoned professionals. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
Christopher Knight offers a great resource at www.ezinearticles.com. Be sure to check out The 7 Biggest Mistakes That Professionals Make When Writing For The Web with guest expert Dr. Pauline Wallin.
Can you identify some exceptional examples of web copy that sells?
Most of the web copy that speaks to me is written by well-known copywriting gurus. Bill Glazer is one of my favorite copywriters. In fact, I now have a rule when it comes to reading his copy. I insist that I have at least two cups of coffee in the morning before opening anything from Bill. I also hide my credit cards just to make sure I don’t make an impulse buy based on his copy. I know copy is really exceptional when I’m motivated to buy especially because, as an insider, I know the formulas that expert copywriters use. The writing style and the offer have to be really great for me to bite. Peter Bowerman and Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero have both written copy that prompted me to buy. Recently I happened upon Alice Seba’s web site and I really like her style, too.
P.S. Lisa Manyon specializes in POWERFULLY communicating business messages to get results. Her work has been featured by the National Association of Women Writers and her article Nine Ways to Network More Effectively is slated to appear in Bob Bly’s upcoming networking guide. Manyon acted as a team leader for Lorrie Morgan – Ferrero’s Red Hot Copywriting Bootcamp. Manyon’s eBook is now available and you can learn more here http://writeoncreative.com/blog/biz/ Be sure to sign up for Manyon’s Musings to receive savvy marketing insights delivered right to your in box www.writeoncreative.com/WOC-Ezine.html Write On ~ Creative Writing Services, LLC. ®