The basics of web copy
The first thing to know is that Copy is different from content writing. Content is the valuable information that consumers need. It’s essential for Content Marketing. Copy is designed specifically to persuade consumers to take a desired action. The two work together, but require different skills.
The second thing is that Web Copy differs from regular Copy. The relationship a user has with the net is different to that of a reader of printed material. The interaction on the web requires “micro copy” on and around buttons and on other forms of navigation. Web copy has to respond to searches instigated by a user. It also needs to be search engine friendly and can involve writing meta descriptions for Search Engines. Lastly and importantly the style of communication is generally more personal. Third person copy or broadcasting to the world really does not cut it on the web.
With websites, it’s probably best to view copy as the structure or foundations for a site’s content. It’s the job of copy to grab a visitors attention, keep them on the site and turn that visit into a measurable action. Simply web copy can make or break a site… If you bore the crap out of people with safe, cliche ridden copy – don’t expect much love back.
So, are you saying I need to hire a web copywriter?
Here, I have to cop out and say … It depends!. In the Discovery phase of a managed web project much of a copywriter groundwork should be covered there. Copy writers, like designers work to establish clear objectives and seek to get in the shoes of the target audience. They want to know your audiences’ pains and dreams. This is not always as obvious as it seems… people who search for ways to lose weight or how to find greater financial independence already know the answer is eat less and invest well. What they really are looking for is inspiration that makes them feel better about themselves. That is the hook.
Certainly with the right designer and client combination, a bunch of checklists and a willingness to understand your audience – it is possible to come up with great web copy. There are also some fantastic consultancy services out there where you can give your homespun copy a professional once over. Not only that, you can test the effectiveness of your copy by serving variations to different visitors to see which performs best.
Still, the financial payback that good copy can bring to a business could make getting a professional copywriting a very sound investment indeed.
I’m not really familiar with web copy so where do I start?
In terms of resources you can’t go too far wrong if you take a look at the Copy Hackers and Copy Blogger sites. They got me interested and bold enough to feel I could write on the subject. But if you don’t have time for any of that, the one thing I believe everyone MUST have is a good Value Proposition. This, on a website, is typically the first thing a visitor sees. It’s the home page header and opening description. It needs to tell visitors what you stand for, what makes you unique and why they should care. Who knows, with a bit of patience you might come up with a classic like this:
“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock” – David Olgivy for Roll-Royce