Is bad website copywriting preventing your online business from thriving?
Based on first impressions, web visitors decide to stay or abandon your site in a matter of seconds.
Brutal, but true.
Website copywriting plays a precarious life-or-death role in the success of your online business. Given these high stakes, how do you assure that your website copy is working for you rather than against you?
This post will guide your critical eye to evaluate and adjust the effectiveness of your website copywriting as we review:
- its importance,
- current best practices, and
- stellar examples to emulate.
Let’s start with a definition:
What is Website Copywriting?
Website copywriting is the use of persuasive language combined with tested copywriting techniques to purposefully attract, engage, and convert (sell to) web visitors.
Uniquely, website copywriting often has one chance to connect with online visitors. Other forms of copywriting, like email marketing, direct mail, and social media leverage campaigns that include multiple touch points with prospects.
On the web, consumers need instant assurance that a site has the information, goods, or services they’re looking for. They’ll click away if they:
- are confused,
- can’t find what they need, or
- get a bad vibe.
Whether you sell B2C or B2B, effective website copy is the lifeblood of online sales and needs to be managed appropriately.
Why Good Website Copywriting Matters
Your website copy bears the burden of introducing scores of prospects to your service or product-based businesses. With an estimated 5+ billion internet users and over a billion active websites on the net, competition is steep! But good website copy is a steady, tireless workhorse that attracts, retains, and converts site visitors 24/7.
With optimized copy, your prospects:
- clearly understand the product or service you offer
- discover how your product or service fits their needs, and
- are compelled to take action (join your email list or buy from you).
Often, sales happen without any human intervention, benefiting your bottom line! Conversely, web-based businesses languish when poor or misdirected copy doesn’t convert.
Clearly, online businesses that sustain superior targeted website copywriting have a greater opportunity to prevail and prosper.
15 Actionable Website Copywriting Tips
Here’s 15 can-do website copywriting tips and best practices to help you evaluate and boost your website’s conversion rates. Let’s get going!
1. Know Your Website’s Unique Value (Selling) Proposition
What differentiates your business from others?
Your unique value (or selling) proposition (UVP or USP) distinctly states why customers engage with you.
Setting the competition aside, the USP is all about your product or service, and focuses on:
- the specific value you offer
- the customers you serve
- the problem your offering solves, and
- how you’re different.
Think of your USP as the rudder to your copy. Your USP not only drives your site’s content; it gives prospects an exclusive glimpse of how you operate. They visualize and anticipate their relationship with you, even before they engage with you.
Cheeky wording on Copyhackers’ About page illustrates their creative website copywriting service – exactly what their potential clients seek:
Copyhackers cleverly convey their unique talent and value without literally stating, “We write expertly-tailored copy that connects with our clients’ ideal prospects.”
2. Know Your Website Page’s Purpose/Message
Can web visitors find what they’re looking for on your site?
Website visitors expect to find certain types of information on designated pages:
- Home – company introduction
- About – what the company does for its clients/customers
- Service / Product Page – the company’s offerings
- Testimonials – company successes, stated by clients or customers
- Contact – how to connect
- Blog – content marketing, educational information
Orient your browsers by focusing on one topic per page, and make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.
Restart Your Style promises “No Pretentious B.S.” and offers clear site navigation, mercifully removing obstacles for men who simply want to improve their style.
3. Know Where Your Copy Is Expected To Take the Reader
Does your copy appropriately guide each customer through their unique customer journey?
If your business serves multiple target audiences, design your site copy to guide prospective customers through their distinct buying journey. Defuse possible buyer frustrations by offering only valid options that pertain to them.
Similar to Restart Your Style, Thread is a website that caters to both men and women shoppers but initiates unique buyers’ journeys right from the get-go.
First-time visitors to the home page indicate which fashion segment they’re looking for (menswear vs. womenswear). They are then directed to a style profile questionnaire that includes gender-specific queries, like style preferences and clothing sizes.
4. Never Forget That Copywriting is About Persuasion
Is your persuasive copy irresistible to your ideal customer?
Selling on your website requires perpetual practice in the art of persuasion.
Keep a swipe file of great copy ideas to steal. Study and apply techniques like using power words and metaphors to refine your web copy to successfully convert.
Provocative persuasive techniques on Henneke’s Enchanting Marketing home page entice and convince visitors in her targeted audience to subscribe to her email list.
Her concise lead magnet copy expertly:
- explains offer benefits (easy-to-implement / win more business)
- addresses reader objections (snackable / ultra-short / tricks)
- engages emotions with juicy power words (enchanting / seductive / free)
- drives urgency (now / arrow), and
- builds trust (testimonial – more about that in #11).
Structurally, she makes her copy both easily scanned and appealing by using:
- a descriptive header, and
- short phrases.
Like a boss!
5. Headlines Matter More Than Anything Else
Are your headlines exerting their dominance?
Whether used in blog posts or other content, headlines and subheads may be the only copy that’s read (in actuality, scanned) on your site.
Headlines that challenge human weaknesses are potent influencers. They’re powerful devices that convert solely on their own merit.
Product description headlines carry even more weight. They’re often your website’s only shot at hooking a potential customer’s interest.
Tony Robbins‘ self-help programs are geared toward people who:
- feel like they’ve lost control
- don’t know how to regain control, and
- have a particular goal or dream.
Tony’s product headlines are magnetic ad copy that attracts those seeking help because they:
- get to the crux of their prospects’ challenges
- demonstrate how they’ll overcome them, and
- emphasize benefits or results of using their product
Artful advertising with a handful of words!
6. Simplicity and Clarity Lead to Trust
Are you burdening your web visitors with tough decisions?
Given too many choices or presented with complex processes, prospects will hesitate and bail.
Instead, guide and influence their decisions with mental shortcuts!
Study how buyers make decisions, particularly for the type of product you sell. Position and gamify choices to increase their engagement, and they’re more likely to act on their interests.
Most subscription-based services, like email marketing, offer a selection of tiered plans, based on relative features and benefits. Pretty boring stuff to slog through, right?
But ConvertKit’s slider and toggle features on their subscription page gamify the process. The simple interplay enables engaged buyers to make decisions effortlessly. Less ambivalence, more sales!
Choosing can be fun!
7. Always Lead With Your Big Idea
How does your brand resonate with prospects?
Effective copy for brand or product marketing starts with identifying the role that your offering plays with your audience. Once refined, this role (your “big idea”) is the core to writing your campaign objectives.
Blue Buffalo established their pet food brand knowing that many regard their pets as part of their family. And family comes first.
Their tagline, “Love them like family. Feed them like family.” isn’t just a motto they casually throw on their homepage to attract pet owners. In both website and advertising copy, Blue Buffalo emphasizes that their high-quality, nutritious formulas recognize and honor their customers’ intense devotion to their pets.
Now, that’s a big idea!
8. Website Copy Is a Right Brain-Left Brain Exercise
Does your web copy tug at the heartstrings of readers?
If not, reconsider your approach to…
Motivate with Emotion!
Of course, logic is involved in formulating your buyers’ perceived value of your product. (See our next tip!) But trigger the emotions that are tied to their challenges with compelling content, and you’ve hit gold.
Amy Porterfield knows that struggling web entrepreneurs who want to grow their email list are overwhelmed, frustrated, and don’t know where to start.
Copy for her List Builders course counters her customers’ uncertainty by using confidence-boosting words like “proven” and “guarantee” and reassuring statements about her course. Notice how her copy mirrors customer fears with matter-of-fact statements:
- see results
- confidently create
- attract your audience
- master tech
- create growth
- overcome overwhelm
9. Communicate Value Before You Talk Price
Do you succumb to lowering prices to stimulate sales?
Raise your products’ perceived value instead!
Prospective buyers weigh the likelihood of offerings satisfying their particular needs and wants. When they develop a high perceived value (greater benefit), they’re likely to buy and pay more.
Great persuasive copy expresses value from the buyer’s perspective. Emphasize the benefits of your product and you’ll make it easier for the buyer to make sense of the pricing.
Scott’s Cheap Flights subscription-based service notifies members of outrageous deals on flights. Their landing pages tout their service’s benefits:
- Leave the deal hunting to Scott (convenient, time-saving)
- save up to 90% (economical)
Plan pages further convince readers to “Join” before seeing a fee with power words like:
- best, and
Where do we sign up?
10. Anticipate Your Visitor’s Objections (Obstacles to Saying ‘Yes’)
Does your copy address potential customer questions?
Customer objections are signals that they need to confirm the value of your product, based on their:
- budget, and
- trust in your expertise.
In contrast to a static website, dynamic face-to-face salespeople respond to unique questions and overcome objections during the sales process. So, your website copywriting must anticipate the questions prospective customers will ask about your product, and offer copy that mitigates hesitation, and gives clarity to its value.
Better Help‘sFAQ page addresses a common hesitation people have about using online mental health services vs. traditional therapy. Even in a post-pandemic world, overcoming objections to the telehealth concept is their greatest obstacle.
Their copy effectively addresses this objection, and assures patients that they’ll receive what they most value: professional, private, accessible, and affordable care.
11. Never Underestimate the Power of Social Proof
Are you leveraging the good things others say about you?
Social proof is the legit response to mom’s advice not to brag on yourself: “Let others talk about your virtues!”
Customers (and people in general) value the opinions of
- industry experts
- experienced users
- friends, or
- “the masses”.
Critiques, evidence, and facts supporting your product claims can all be woven into your content strategy through
- statistics, and
- case studies.
Ahrefs’ home page flaunts significant social proof of their tool’s value, boasting popularity with both marketing heavyweights and the masses by exhibiting:
- Celebrity company endorsements from Facebook and Shopify, and
- the number of newly-established accounts, using FOMO tactics.
Need more proof? Ample statistics on their “Big Data” page will geek out any SEO techie.
12. Use Strong, Positive (and Specific) CTAs and Use Them Often
Are your CTAs overlooked by readers?
Evaluate how your CTA copy measures up to these best practices:
- use action words
- use five words or less
- write in first person
- demonstrate value
- create a sense of scarcity / urgency
- use legible text on bright colors
- keep primary CTAs “above the fold”
- provide limited choices
And…consider positioning your CTA buttons relative to “click trigger” copy like testimonials, benefits, or statistics that promote product value.
Self-Publishing School‘s home page is a study in CTA button copy best practices:
- use limited button text
- employ emotional, scarcity, and urgency triggers (This is me!, now, calendar bookings)
- express value (free, coaching, strategy)
- positioning near “click triggers” (testimonials, package benefits)
- limited choices (book a call, take an assessment, or view other website content)
Can you guess their objective?
13. Never End a Page Without Giving the Reader Direction
What is the specific action you want your web visitor to take?
Chances are, you want your reader to:
- join your email list
- learn more, or
- buy something.
So, get a laser-beam focus on the objective for each individual page on your site, with clear strategies to direct visitors accordingly. Avoid frustrating your web visitor with dead ends, confusing them, or forcing them to use the “back button”.
Not surprisingly, Smart Blogger maintains affiliate relationships with providers of tools that bloggers are likely to use. Problem is, contextual affiliate links in blog posts are often overlooked.
So, Smart Blogger makes it easy for readers to access affiliate products featured in their posts by using on-page and exit intent pop-ups, which aren’t easily missed.
14. Work in Tandem/Partnership WIth Marketing and Webmasters
Are your best web copywriting efforts misinterpreted?
Larger organizations count on marketing experts, web designers, and webmasters to collaborate and then execute strategies that meet their targeted objectives.
As a website copywriter, your knowledge of web copywriting and design best practices is essential.
An attentive freelance copywriter would proofread and correct the presentation gaffes on this web page:
- CTA copy appears unprofessional. Encourage more clicks with sentence case text.
- A poor responsive design doesn’t fully display the CTA textbox copy.
- Power section icons look like buttons, but aren’t functioning links.
15. Your Copy Should Never Rest-Test, Optimize, Revise, Repeat
Can you identify the elements of your website that successfully convert visitors?
If you offer lead magnets to grow your email list, or have other low-performing offers, periodically test and optimize them to assure their effectiveness.
Curious, I submitted my SEO business homepage URL for evaluation. Among some irrelevant suggestions was this gem:
- Change from: “Need more website traffic?”
- to: “Drive website traffic to your business“
Sure, my prospects need more website traffic. But, does the current copy confirm that my business offers it? Um. Not really. Their copy suggestion better communicates the value of hiring my service.
There’s some work to do. 😉
Website Copywriting: Managing the Moving Parts
Attracting customers to your website is hard.
Converting them is harder.
Ignore your website copywriting and you risk failure or lackluster sales.
Unintentionally, our description of website copywriting parallels the familiar expression:
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
~ Oscar Wilde (maybe Will Rogers)
A good first impression attracts customers. Yet, your business success hinges on good copy to convert customers! As a savvy website owner, attentively tweak your website’s copy based on:
- best practices illustrated here,
- your prospects’ needs, and
- what analytics reveal.
Schedule the time (or hire website copywriting services) to get it right!
You’ll reap the rewards!