Copywriting is the act of writing copy (text) to market a product, service, or business. As a CMO I’ve learned a bit about how to write effective website copy for a business, blog, or church. It’s also one of the foremost areas I consult clients on. Effective website copy should:
- Get attention.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product or service, soliciting donations, or promoting an event. The goal is to persuade your reader to action.
1. Proofread. Again.
Nothing makes you look more second-rate than typos and bad grammar. Good spelling and grammar won’t sell anyone on anything. But it will prevent them from walking away.
This is a “first-impression” issue. It says that you’re organized and care about details.
Some situations allow you to get away with these mistakes. Churches and missionaries might have typos in a support letter or a mediocre website. Strangely, these may actually elicit donations since they aren’t “slick” or sales-like. They might even feel bad for you!
But if you go too long without improving the above 3 things?
- You’ll get attention for the wrong reasons.
- You’ll communicate second-rate quality.
- You’ll dissuade people.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. If you’re a business, this should be a given. Proofread. Again.
2. Be Shakespearean.
“To be or not to be.” – Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1
Six words. Famous. And not a single word over three letters long.
No one will ever complain your copy is too easy to read. Sure you could implement copious amounts of vocabulary to give your musings an air of profundity and transcendent eloquence.
But that’s annoying.
Keep your copy clear of unnecessary words. When you’ve finished a thought, stop. And break a few grammar rules if it contributes to the pacing and rhythm of conversation in words.
3. Break Up the Great Wall of Text.
Reading is hard work. Break up your text to make it easier to digest. Mobile browsing is more popular than browsing on computers. What’s blocky on a computer screen is a never-ending wall of text on a mobile device.
Break your copy into paragraphs of no more than 3 or 4 sentences. If you write well and use good words, that will be enough to communicate your point. Also, make sure to use:
- different formatting
See how that simple tactic breaks up the great wall of text? It keeps the copy digestible, especially if it’s long (like this post).
4. Ditch Insider Lingo.
Focus on the reader. Your website is the first gateway a user will pass through. One of the worst mistakes church sites make is using language that only their people understand. Then they wonder why it isn’t attracting more people.
If you’re going to use insider lingo, define the terms. Then move on and persuade. Once they meet you, they’ll discover the inside lingo.
5. Find Your Voice.
Are you going to be:
Whatever your voice, keep it consistent. All the copy on your site and materials should read like the same invisible person wrote it. (The same should be said of your design.) This can be done, even if you have a team of copywriters! It just requires you determine your voice ahead of time.
Don’t underestimate the power of effective copy! It’s why copywriters are some of the highest paid writers in the world. In 1904, copywriter Joseph E. Kennedy defined advertising as “salesmanship in print.” Advertising methods have changed but one thing hasn’t: effective copy.
Question: What challenges do you face writing website copy?
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