Web copy is written copy intended for online consumption-oftentimes having a purpose to promote or sell something. Not in every case, but typically with business and other monetized websites, the copy you see is intentionally trying to get you to do something.
The fact that scientific studies show how web readers display different reading behaviors than print readers (things like eye movements on a page, patience level, and other factors) alone is a big reason why you need to know some of the unique ways web copy should be treated.
One big difference between web copy and print copy has to do with formatting. For example, print copy has a tradition of long paragraphs, while web copy is best when it is broken up into short paragraphs.
In fact, some writers even create multiple one sentence paragraphs in their articles, and it works well when done right.
So, you need to approach your website copy differently if you want your business to succeed online.
Let’s now take a look at some other important web copy fundamentals that businesses new to online marketing should know before they create their own website.
Features & Benefits
You are going to want to provide descriptions of your product (or service) in order to help people understand what it is you are offering and how the product benefits them.
Product descriptions are great when they add value for the website shopper who isn’t sure about whether they are buying the product or not. A well crafted product description is written clearly, concisely and compellingly. Good research behind the description gives the reader an easy-to-digest rundown of each feature and advantage. The tone and style of the copy resonates with the right audience. And the description should include a call-to-action.
You will also want to include some benefits your product or service provides to the customer.
Some marketers and copywriters have a hard time distinguishing between a benefit and a feature, which can lead to inadequate product descriptions, as many times writers confuse features as benefits, thus leading to a less than fully developed description.
LET’S TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT BOTH TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCES.
- Define the Difference Between Product Features & Product Benefits
- Here is a simple illustration that helps define these two crucial selling points:
- Let’s say you are selling a ceiling fan. That’s the product.
One feature you could write about in your description is the decorative chain that turns the fan on and off.
And one benefit you could write about in your description is how the fan helps to keep summer air conditioning bills lower (a researched figure makes it even stronger.)
Does this help you see why the difference between features and benefits is an important aspect of presenting your products and services? Understanding this difference will help you convert more visitors into buyers, and make your site appealing to even more potential customers.
Remember, while features tend to focus more on the specifications of a certain product, benefits will give your customers an idea of what the product can do for them.
Here’s another example: The features of a digital camera might be: Zoom lens, Auto focus, High definition quality, auto steady and so on. Benefits, on the other hand, will describe this camera’s characteristics in a way your customers could relate to.
THE BENEFIT LIST FOR THIS CAMERA MIGHT INCLUDE:
- Take professional photographs immediately
- User friendly and easy to use
- Take crystal clear photos with autofocus and auto steady features
Clearly, describing your products or services through benefits has a great advantage. Unless your target audience is highly technical, most of your customers would judge products in terms of how they make them feel, rather than their exact specifications.
Listing the benefits of your products will tap directly into your customer’s wants and needs, and will clarify what your products actually do. Nevertheless, the features of a product must not be neglected. If you are situating yourself in a professional niche market, it is important for your customers to know what features your products possess.
Therefore, while focusing on the benefits of your products might prove to be profitable, sometimes it is best to try and combine them with features, so you wouldn’t miss out on any potential customers.
The Call to Action
Website content always has a certain purpose. We almost always want our visitors to take some kind of action. Whether it’s buying a product or service, clicking on a certain link or signing up for an email newsletter, guiding your website’s users towards a call to action is good business.
A call to action can be a button, a banner or a simple block of text on your website that provides the viewer with a message to take action like: “Write Now,” “Call Now” or “Click Here”.
The success of a call to action is measured by the number of clicks it receives. There are three major principles that will guarantee the effectiveness of your call to action:
Use Whitespace. The most important principle behind a successful call to action is it’s visibility. The last thing you want is for your call to action to be swallowed up by your content. Leaving white space around it will set the call to action apart from the rest of your content and therefore draw attention to it .
Always use active language. Nothing makes a clear call to action like a verb. Words such as “Register”, “Buy”, “Donate” or “Subscribe” will make it clear to your readers that clicking this button or link will lead to some sort of action, and will prompt them to do so.
Emphasize time or location. In addition to using clear active language, you should always include the immediacy of the action your visitor will perform. Using words like “Here”, “Now” or “Today” will create a sense of urgency and make it clear to your users their chance to perform the action is here and now.
When done properly, an effective call to action will engage your visitors and help your site achieve its goals. From clicking on your ads or buying your products to simply subscribing to your blog, the call to action will make your content live up to its purpose.
Headlines are the most important part of your website’ s content. After all, readers only
take a couple of seconds to decide what to read. If a headline doesn’t interest them, they will skip the content and possibly your website all together.
It all starts with the headline. Aside from engaging your visitors and drawing them in, writing a great headline will push you or your writer in the right direction regarding the content of your articles.
The challenge of writing great headlines might seem discouraging at first, but once you dive into this task it will become much easier. The best way to start is by drawing some inspiration from great headlines that are already on the internet.
By visiting your competitors and reviewing their headlines, you can draw ideas as to what kind of headlines you could use on your site. But this is not an excuse to just copy every headline you see. Pay attention to which headlines make you want to read more, and notice which elements of those headlines drew you in.
In order to get ideas about what makes good headlines, calls to action or even how to write the benefits of your products or services, it’s best to once again check out the competition. After all, if everybody else is doing it, something beneficial must be found by doing it.
Using the swipe file you created earlier, begin recording your competitors’ best headlines and call to actions. Then, analyze them to draw ideas. In this swipe file, you will need to record:
- Whether your competitors use features or benefits
- Call-to-action buttons or links
- Subheadings and headlines that made you want to read more
AS YOU CAN SEE, THERE’S MORE TO WEB WRITING THAN MEETS THE EYE.
Begin practicing the fundamentals of great website copy today–proper formatting, using features and benefits in product descriptions, including call to actions, and skillfully written headlines that draw in your visitors.
Start with these, then learn additional web copywriting secrets on the Website Planet blog.