The Importance of Making a Great First Impression
Your website is often the first point of contact for potential clients/customers and we all know how important it is to have a professional looking website with great functionality that is user friendly. However, the look and feel of your website is just the start of providing a great user experience. Potential customers are not looking at your website just to judge how aesthetically pleasing it is " they are primarily there to get information. Information about your company and your products/services that can be compared with offerings elsewhere online and offline in order to make an informed decision on which product would best suit their needs.
The Critical Consumer
Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and have a wide range of motivations for choosing a particular brand over competitors. Individual customers will each have their own motivation that will lead them to choose one brand over another. Some want the cheapest possible deal, some want the best value for money, some want the most expensive available and some will want to buy from a company whose ethical values match their own.
This is where website copy is an important factor. Website copy is used to tell the world about your business and the products/services you offer. You can publish a mission statement that clearly portrays your organizations purpose of existence to your key market. You can describe your company, outlining why you believe your services/products represent a better choice for your customers.
You can let people know how great your team members are with a Profile section about each of your key personnel. You can publish comprehensive descriptions of your products/services which clearly illustrate the benefits they will offer your clients. You can provide complete How To instructions on using your services/products " offering potential clients a transparent overview of how it all works.
Convincing Copy is King
All of this combines to make copy one of the most important considerations on your website. Its no use getting great developers to build you a professional and functional website if youre going to populate it with copy that is less than effective. Many business owners try to write their own copy for the website or get a member of staff to write it for them, after all " its just a matter of writing the text and then uploading to the website, isnt it? NO " this is seriously wrong. Website copy needs to be nothing short of excellent " skimping just wont do here. These are the words that your potential customers are reading to find out more about your company and its products " this is your opportunity to shine and you cant afford to do any less than shine.
This means that professionally written copy is essential for the success of your business. There are too many websites out there that just dont make the grade, copy wise. With a growing army of freelance writers available, its often easy to get the website copy written for the price of a trip to Starbucks. Okay, the word count is good and the keywords will have been dropped into the piece in the appropriate places, but the piece may not be fit for purpose.
I recently advised a website owner who needed some company biographies written to publish in directories and was given a link to the website in order to do this. As I read the words on the website I was dismayed to find that most of the text made very little sense. When I asked the owner about this, I was given a link to another website and told that the copywriter had been asked to do something similar. When I looked at the second website, it was obvious that all of the content had been copied directly and then strategic words in every sentence had been changed using a dictionary or thesaurus to find the substitutions. The person who had done this was clearly not a native English speaker and the result was sentences such as:
Know the magic of our success wagon, which is embarked by worlds renowned business empires across the globe.
The genuine must have smooth access and control on business information or data, and the deceitful must be curbed from getting a pass to the same, advocates Server Management team from *****
Software installation after thorough assessment of system compatibility and individuals requirement not only breathes life into hardware components, but also makes computing uninterrupted and pleasurable.
This is all on a B2B website and all of the content is similarly incomprehensible. The website that the text was copied from reads well, but this content has had words changed without the person doing the changing understanding the fine details of the meaning of the words, or that certain words can only used in the appropriate context.
Find the Right Freelancer
However good your intentions, your website content will only be as good as the person who writes it. Many website owners are turning to freelance platforms such as Elance and oDesk to find people to work on their websites. Nothing wrong with this " remote working is the way forward in this Digital Age. There are so many great developers, graphic designers and writers offering their services and most of these people provide their clients with a real value for money service.
Some people looking for freelancers are looking for the cheapest available contractor and there are plenty of contractors in developing nations who offer their services for a dollar an hour and this is where problems can arise. If youre looking for a coder or developer, as long as you can communicate effectively with each other so that the job can be done in accordance with your instructions, then thats great.
Finding the Finest
However, most of the really experienced tecchies will be charging quite a bit more than a dollar an hour. Its important when hiring freelancers not to go for the cheapest available option. Look at their feedback from previous clients to get an idea of how capable and reliable they are. Check to see if they have any long term clients " always an indication that this person is providing clients with a great service (you can hire and fire at will without consequence on these freelancing platforms).
When hiring a writer to provide copy for your website, choose the best that you can afford. Ask them to send you links to examples of their work " other websites they have written copy for. Dont just look at the website, read the words carefully to see if they are effective in describing the company, products or services. Be discerning in your choice and opt for somebody who takes their business seriously " not somebody whos just hoping to earn an extra few bucks by working online.
Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys
I was recently contacted by a potential client who was getting ready to launch his business (and website) the following week. When I looked at the website I was dismayed to find that the copy was pretty crappy. I responded to the client asking if hed paid for this copy (he boasted that hed paid only a few dollars for such a large amount of copy). I then had to enlighten him and let him know that the copy was more likely to damage his business than get it off to a flying start. He had to delay launch while this problem was sorted out (a complete website rewrite by a professional freelancer) and learned a very expensive lesson about getting what you pay for. You can avoid this by making sure that you have great copy on your website.
Enhance your Website with Convincing Copy
Skimping to save some money at this stage of your website production will only have an adverse effect on your business. Google punishes bad copy and if you want your website to appear high in the ratings, then great copy (that is understandable to your readers) really is essential " after all, this copy is performing a marketing function for you. Great copy is copy that convinces, copy that converts and your business deserves the best copy available if you want to stand head and shoulders above your competitors.
Jonny Ross from Jonny Ross Consultancy specialises in Social & Digital Marketing and Organic Search. Having worked in small business management for over 13 years, he has a proven track record in the retail e-commerce field and has created a very successful operation in the field of e-business, culminating in positive coverage by the press and the media. He now specialises in providing and enhancing social and digital services in the B2B and B2C sectors.