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Writing For The Web – Web Copy That Converts Visitors Into Customers

Writing For The Web – Web Copy That Converts Visitors Into Customers

The Internet is a vast resource for your business. In the first quarter of 2007 alone, American’s spent $33.6 billion on retail e-commerce sales. (1) The worldwide reach has expanded your opportunities for connecting with prospects anywhere in the world. But how do you convert visitors into customers? What is it about your website that prompts action – whether it’s an inquiry or a purchase?

Interactive graphics? Animation? If you thought flash makes cash, think again. While exciting visuals can appeal to visitors, they rarely make an effective sales pitch. People come to your website seeking information. They are entering your virtual storefront, ready for you to wait on them. Don’t make them work to discover what you’re selling and then see if it’s what they’re looking for. You need to greet them and provide the knowledge they are seeking. And this is accomplished when you take the time to craft the words for your website, also known as writing for the web.

Writing web copy isn’t quite the same as preparing your brochure or advertising message. While there needs to be consistency to reinforce your brand, the very nature of the Internet as an information source rather than a sales tool should make you rethink the way you approach your web copy. Use your own surfing experiences as an example. You type in keywords on a search engine and then visit the sites that best match your interest. Once you get there, you look for the information you need, right? Do you want to take the time to wait for images to download or to sit and watch a video? Probably not. You want to find the product information right away, with a minimal amount of clicks. The more clicking they are doing, the less time your prospects are spending on your company. Don’t let them waste valuable time navigating your site. Give them what they came for – information. Here are some basic rules for writing web copy that will convert visitors to customers.

1. Make it easy for them to learn about you. Your home page should be simple and direct. Feature the key points that distinguish your business. Share your core values. Briefly explain what you sell. The home page is the foyer, so don’t block the doorway with so much clutter that your message gets lost.

2. Impress your audience, not yourself. Be aware of the needs and interests of your audience and write to them. You won’t succeed by selling what you want, but what the market wants. Make the distinction. Learn about their frustrations so you can solve those problems. Find out what they need from your company to be satisfied and then be sure to let them know you can meet – or better yet, exceed – those expectations!

3. Write to your audience. If you are selling computers, make sure your web copy is geared toward those who are interested and knowledgeable in this area. Don’t make the mistake of overshooting your targeted audience.

4. Optimize. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process that refines your web copy to improve your chances for a high page ranking from search engines like Google and Yahoo. Each search engine has its own criteria based on an algorithm, but you can definitely help yourself by your choice of words. Keyword content, for example, is the practice of using your keywords frequently (but appropriately!) on your website. When writing your web copy, keep a list handy of the keywords that you expect visitors to use in order to find your site. Then pepper them throughout the copy in the relevant places.

5. Include a call to action. When mapping out your site, note the desired action for each page. What do you want the visitor to do? Try a free demo? Sign up for a newsletter? Contact you for an estimate or more information? Once you determine the action, invite the reader to take the necessary next step. “Click here for a free sample.” “Complete this form to receive our monthly list of free tips.” Don’t assume the visitor knows what to do. Extend the invitation!

While the Internet continues to grow and evolve, you can capitalize on the unlimited power of this business tool. There is no mystery to writing for the Web. This new media merely provides the connection to more customers. As with any sales tool, you just need to know how to make the right pitch. Find the right words and your customers will find you!

In the meantime writers, keep your rear in the chair, your fingers on the keys, and your writing reaching for the stars.

(1) U.S. Census Bureau News, Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales Report, August 16, 2007