Peacock Carter are experts at web design and development, but it takes a huge variety of skills to design, build, and populate your website with content and imagery, and then to market it to your customers.
Our new ask the experts series takes to Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to bring you hints and tips from experts in their own fields, and today we’re looking at writing content for your website, or “copywriting”.
What do our copywriting experts recommend to those small business owners trying to write their own website content?
“Only write to one person”
“Only every, ever write to one person. Not “as many of you know”. Not “Hi, everyone” – write every word with a laser focus on your one reader and, while we’re on the subject, make sure use the word “you” far more than the word “we”. People are interested in one thing. Themselves. It’s up to you to tell them how you’re going to make their life easier.”
Katherine Wildman is founder of Hadyn Grey Copywriting Agency
“Your visitors want clarity, not poetry”
“If I had one piece of advice I could give to someone who was struggling to find the right words for their website, it would be this:
Your visitors want clarity, not poetry.
Most of the time, people get scared of writing because they have the wrong idea about what those words need to do.
You are not writing to make your reader fall in love with you.
Yes, your text should reflect your personality, and express what matters to you (and them). And yes, a good copywriter will be able to craft sentences that are neat, clever, fragrant, and enjoyable to read.
But that’s secondary to the main role of words on a site, which is to tell the reader who you are, what you do, what you can offer them, and HOW THEY CAN COMPLETE THE TASK OR ANSWER THE QUESTION THEY CAME FOR.
It’s like being a doctor. If you’re giving a diagnosis, the most important part of that exchange is to get that vital information across clearly, so they can act on it.
Of course, the way you speak, make eye contact, stand, and express yourself play an important role in how much they trust you, or are comfortable around you.
But if your method for getting that stuff across is to tell them a 40-minute story about how you’re cool under pressure, then you’ve failed the big test – which is to give them what they need, and get out of the way.
Plus, you’ve probably bored them to tears, and their parking has expired.
So, by all means think about how you talk, how you’re different, and what you offer. And when you’ve done that, make sure you offer REASONS AND EXAMPLES of why you’re special, rather than just say you are. Keep practicing, and drafting, until you’re happy. Even the best writers do that. It’s okay.
But the most useful work you can do is to find out who your users are, and what they want from your site. What questions they’re asking. What they need to know. And how to satisfy that need in as simple and useful a way as possible.
And if your site doesn’t answer those questions, or doesn’t help them get where they need to go, no amount of flowery adjectives or wild word-magic will win them back.”
John Hill is a freelance writer and audio journalist, and also a head of content at Pickle Jar Communications.
“Not every can write effectively”
“One point I always come back to – and which it took me years to truly realise – is that not everyone can write effectively. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re struggling to write your website content, but conversely, don’t think it’s a breeze and your copy will never be the root of any issues you’re having.
If you have budget for it, hire someone who does it day in, day out. Your copy is the first piece of brand engagement someone could have with you. Make that first impression count. If you don’t have budget, write regularly and analyse your results. The more you write, the more you’ll realise what does and doesn’t work. Learn from this and you’ll end up producing content that’s perfect for your audience (but this does take time – it’s a process that you’ll hone over months and years, not hours or days).
For B2B organisations in particular, tell your audience what problem your solution will solve. Put yourself in their shoes – what do they want to hear? 9 times out of 10, they don’t want to know the ins and outs of your technology (at least not at first). They want to know how it’s going to make their life easier, save them money, improve their processes, etc.”
Dan Smith is Head of Strategy at Quadrotech.
Approach your topic from the perspective of your customers
“Approach your topic from the perspective of your customers, not from your perspective. Think about the language they use, the things they ask for or search for and write to make things easy for them. Having a specific customer in mind (the sort you want more of!) when you’re writing web copy will help you focus your tone and content to your target audience.”
Jessica Rose is a copywriter and founder of Co Relate, a content creation agency.