Writing web pages takes a certain skill and approach. Here are three tips to help make it easier.
If you write web copy, then chances are your writing will be trying to sell something for somebody. Here are three tips that will help you write better and ultimately sell more.
1. Write For The Customer
First of all, take out references to the words “we” and “us” in your text. Try to rewrite phrases to include the words “you” and “your” making the customer the important person in the equation. For example, here’s an actual line from an estate agent’s web page:
‘The secret of our success we feel is the personal touch.’
Where is the customer in all of this? The copy uses both the words we and our, but hasn’t mentioned the benefits the customer (YOU) will receive at all. So what is ‘personal’ about that?
Another way to say the same thing, but with the customer’s needs firmly in mind, might be:
‘Get the property you want from the local agents with the personal touch!’
The information is the same, and still gets the ‘personal touch’ angle across, but with a much stronger link to what the customer will get from the business. (Remember to stress benefits: even on a home page, the customer still needs to know what’s in it for him.)
2. Make Your Text Move
You’ve heard it before, but it’s even more crucial on the web: try to use the active voice rather than the passive voice. Or, as Hemingway would say, use vigorous English.
Instead of saying: ‘We believe in sitting and listening to our customer’s needs’, which once again manages to use we and our in the same sentence, try something like this:
‘Relax in comfortable surroundings and chat with friendly, experienced staff.’
Notice the verbs ‘relax’ and ‘chat’. Not ‘We’d like you to relax’ or ‘why not pop by for a chat’.
Be direct. Use simple, short words that make your text jump off the page. Whenever possible try to write in a conversational manner, and test it by reading it out loud. If anything seems clumsy or wordy, chop it down until it rolls off the tongue.
Also try to write sentences with different lengths. Although they might be grammatically correct and well structured, after a while sentences that are all the same length begin to sound monotonous. A few short, choppy sentences followed by one longer one will do the trick.
For variety, you might like to start a sentence with a preposition. Or perhaps ask a question?
3. Watch Your Language
Imagine you’re chatting with someone you know in an e-mail. Try to speak directly to the customer as you would a neighbor or a close friend. Use colloquialisms if the product and company’s image allow it, and always try to personalize your text with contractions and more natural forms of speech. For example:
‘You won’t find a better offer anywhere!’
‘Don’t miss out on this amazing deal!’
Ask the customer questions and appeal to his or her emotions:
‘Are you ready for the deal of the decade?’
‘Could you use an extra $200 a week?’
By getting the reader involved, you make it more likely that he or she will read on. You also increase the likelihood that he or she will go on to purchase the product or take the action your client is hoping for.
These suggestions will help make your copy more exciting to read. Remember that your goal is usually going to be to sell something, whether that’s a business, a person or a product. The more interesting and readable your writing is, the easier it will be for you to achieve that goal. And when that happens, everybody’s happy.