Writing web copy is like DIY maintenance on your car

Does your web content need a tune up?

A lot of the time small business clients wind up writing website content themselves.

Sometimes it’s because they don’t have the budget to hire someone to do it for them; sometimes it’s because they honestly enjoy writing their own content.

That’s okay. Especially if they’re halfway decent writers.

And sometimes those pages are damn good. But just as often, I’ve found they leave out one (or more) crucial pieces of information. How can you tell which category your site fits into?

Let me explain.

 The 3 Questions You Need to Answer Before Writing Website Content

Have you ever wondered why it seems that writing your own content is harder than helping out someone else? I hear this all the time from fellow copywriters, small business owners, and my clients.

Here’s the issue: When it’s your own work, you tend to forget to zoom out. You’re so familiar with your company, yourself, and your products or services that you don’t take the time to really think through the 3 key questions you’d ask someone else right away.

What questions? Why these 3 questions, of course.

  1. Who is most likely to read this page?
  2. What is the key takeaway?
  3. What is the next (reasonable) action you’d like that person to take?

When you have the answers to these three questions written out for each page of your website (and yes, the answers may be very similar for most of your pages, but they shouldn’t be identical for all of them), it makes writing website content much easier.

1. Who is most likely to read this page?

Different pages of your website are likely targeted at different people with different needs.  When you’re writing website content you should take that into account and tailor your content to the person who is going to be reading it.

Simple enough, right?

Yet all too often I see websites where the writer forgot to think about who would be landing on each page.

Let me give you a quick example. Let’s say you run a pet food company. Your customers are pet owners. You make both cat food and dog food.

Your cat food page? It doesn’t need to talk to “pet owners” — it needs to talk to “cat owners.” 

Your dog food page? It doesn’t need to talk to “pet owners” either — it just needs to talk to “dog owners.” 

That’s kind of an obvious example, but most businesses have different types of customers and not all of those customers are likely to buy or use all of their products or services. Make sure the right pages are written to appeal to the right people.

2. What is the key takeaway?

While your goal is to write such amazing content that your customers eagerly read every word, chances are that’s not going to happen. Some (um, most) are likely to scan your pages instead.

So, if they only leave with one key piece of information, what do you want that info to be?  Make sure it’s easy to pick up on, even if a visitor only scans the page.

That might mean putting it in bold font, making it larger than the surrounding text, starting with it right off the bat, or creating an image that helps convey your primary point.

3. What is the next (reasonable) action you’d like that person to take?

This question is all about one simple fact that copywriters have tested and proven again and again: if you don’t tell people what you want them to do, they won’t do it.

So, what’s the call to action on your page?

It can be something as simple as watching a video or something more complex, like signing up for your email list. The key is to pay attention to the context of that page. So while it’s probably pretty easy to get someone to email you from your contact page, it’s going to be a lot harder to convince them to email you from a homepage or a blog post.

You can also think about how many pages they are likely to have visited before arriving on THAT page. So, chances are good that if someone clicks on your testimonials page, they came from somewhere else on your site and didn’t land there from a link or a search engine without context.

That means you can have a slightly bigger “ask” on that page than you might be able to get away with on your homepage.

Bringing It All Together: Writing Website Content That Sells

These three questions are my “secret sauce,” if you will. If the answer to these three questions is obvious on each page of your website, chances are good that your site will accomplish what you want it to… that is, it should help you convert visitors into buyers, browsers into donors, and lurkers into members of the community.

Want me to review your website and see if the answers to these questions are clear on every page? Contact me today!