5 Things You Need to Know About… Writing a Website

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It’s not unusual for a small business to try to write their own website – after all, you may have written your own sales letters before, either from scratch or using content from a brochure or print ad. And with so many DIY website options available, it might seem like it’s no big deal to just write your site yourself. But if your site isn’t written to convert visitors into paying customers, you may be wasting your time AND money.

Whether you’re taking a stab at writing your own business website or you’ve hired a pro, here are five rules that must be followed when writing your site.

  1. Answer (the right) questions – Ask yourself what someone is looking for when they come to your site
    •  If you’re a restaurant, they’re probably looking for a menu, hours, phone, location – do you deliver?
    •  If you’re a plumber, they probably want to know if you do repairs or installation – and whether you provide emergency service… now?
    When someone comes to your site you must quickly and clearly communicate that you can provide what they are searching for.
  2. Speak to your audience – No one knows your audience better than you do… so talk to them. Your website copy must speak to the visitor as if you know them.
    •  If your business is primarily done in the customer’s home, don’t waste time talking about how easy it is to get to your office or shop.
    •  If you’re an attorney specializing in business contracts, don’t focus your copy on litigation.
    •  If your audience is generally older, don’t fill your site with copy that tries to be overly hip (which never really works anyway).
  3. Talk benefits – It’s easy to fall into the trap of just writing about you – your history, your interests, even your family. You may think your site visitors want to know about you, but they really want to know what you can do for them.
    •  Don’t tell them you have better chemicals – tell them their lawn will be greener.
    •  Don’t talk about your pizza ovens – tell them how crispy and delicious their pizza will be.
    •  Don’t talk about your new larger van – tell them you can fix what’s wrong faster because you have 90% of all parts needed on every service call.
    There’s a famous quote about copywriting that says simply, “Don’t sell the razor, sell the shave.” The razor is you, the shave is what you can do for them. Focus on the benefit for the customer because that’s why they’ll choose you over your competition.
  4. Keep it short (think mobile) – You have about 4 seconds or less to convince a site visitor that you can satisfy their needs. If you don’t… they’ll click to another site (your competitor’s). Your copy needs to be brief, loaded with quick information, and broken up into bite-sized “chunks” that someone can read in an instant. With more people than ever before looking at your website on a phone or tablet, shorter copy is even more important – people don’t want to scroll through a ton of copy on a small screen… and they won’t. They’ll simply leave your site.
  5. Drive to the Call-to-Action – Even if you have the best website in the world – it looks great, the copy is compelling, the SEO gets you found — if you don’t clearly tell site visitors how to contact you, it’s all for nothing. The ultimate goal of a business website is to grow your business. You can’t turn visitors into customers if you don’t tell them how to reach you – whether it’s a phone number, a form or an email link (or all three). Even more than that, your call-to-action must be instantly visible. Don’t make people search for your phone number… because they won’t. They’ll simply call someone else. If you give them a form, keep it short. If you want emails, use an icon and make it clearly visible on every page.

Following these five copy rules won’t make you a Copywriter, but it will make your website much more effective.

Michael Shapiro

Michael Shapiro

Michael is hibu’s Manager of Copy & Design. He specializes in creating digital and print marketing that speaks to the customer and gets results. Before coming to hibu, he was Creative Director for Chase and Sr. Writer/Writer-Producer for HBO.

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