You need to grab online consumers' interest within a few seconds. Because readers are bombarded with information and advertising, they are selective about the content they consume. They want easy-to-navigate websites with clean designs and visual elements throughout. Consider these factors as you plan your site to make it a great destination for potential customers and clients.
Avoid these website mistakes
Let's start by covering what you shouldn't do with your website content because it can cause a disconnect with readers.
- No content at all or very sparse content throughout the site.
- Company-focused content. If you're too focused on yourself and what you see as the biggest reasons they should work with you, this can come across as too promotional and drive readers away.
- Not providing relevant answers to the questions of target customers.
- Using the wrong terminology to reflect the size of your business. If you are a 17-person team, using the term "we" is acceptable. But if you are a solopreneur working as a business coach or real estate agent, write from the personal "I". That means updating your contact form to say "contact me" or "I am here to help you." The wrong pronouns can create an unnecessary wall between you and your prospective customers.
- Writing lengthier content than needed. Keep things brief and strive to reach the point as concisely as possible. Too many words can overwhelm your readers or even make them feel as though you are talking down to them.
- Getting the design aspect of the site done professionally but overlooking the importance of having good copy to match.
- Assuming the content just needs to get done and having someone without writing experience or a digital marketing background create it.
- Content that is so generic it can't be differentiated from competitors' content.
Two pillars of great website content
When it comes to drafting your website content, keep two key things in mind: keep it conversational and leverage the power of storytelling.
Using a Conversational Tone
There's a push-pull with website content that plenty of site owners or new companies face: You want to come across as professional and on brand, but you don't want the content to feel too structured or filled with jargon. If you go too far, you miss the opportunity to connect with readers through conversational content.
How do you know if content is conversational or not? It should feel like a dialogue between you and your reader. Of course, you won't actually be talking with them, but you want to imagine a conversation between your words on the screen and their mind as they read those words.
A conversation is a back-and-forth, in which your target audience sees your content and responds to it. Focusing on conversational content throughout your website copy can help you open an ongoing dialogue with your followers. Using conversational dialogue on your website helps improve your brand awareness and encourages engagement—a major benefit.
The primary foundation of conversational content is the ability to interrupt the other person at any point in time and to weave actual stories from your target market into your existing content. This is why you see fewer people talking only about their perception of their business and more sites incorporating social proof (actual customer feedback), testimonials, and snippets from reviews on their websites. Social proof helps back up the initial claims you make about your product or service.
Here's an example of making the same point in website copy with monologue-style and conversational content:
Monologue: This company was founded on the principles of integrity and honesty, which drive us forward today as an insurance market leader.
Conversational: I started this company because I felt like I couldn't get honest answers from my insurance agent. I don't want you to face the same hassle. That's why I put integrity and honesty first.
Infusing the Art of Storytelling Into Your Website Copy
Storytelling is an art form as old as humans. Even though you might think of storytelling as a craft technique used by public speakers or fiction writers, every aspect of online marketing goes back to storytelling. People love good stories. You can have an excellent product, service, and team, but if you're not able to tell a good story about your company, you'll lose out on readership.
With storytelling in your website copy, you'll lean into the idea of beginning, middle, and end. As a company or person who helps solve the problems of others, your storytelling should connect with readers exactly where they are to serve them helpful and well-written material that answers their biggest questions.
The essence of great storytelling in marketing today builds on the StoryBrand concept from Donald Miller's book of the same name.
Storytelling is often used to explain the craft techniques for writing fiction, but the truth is writing website copy should be no different. One thing that happens with far too much website content is that the owners of the website immediately launch into how the product or service has the potential to change the customer's life.
This comes off as very pitch-like, meaning the customer instinctively puts up a wall of resistance and disbelief about the claims being made. It is far better to begin the foundation of your website content with a good story to firmly place the reader in a position of trust. Then as the reader sees you as the thought leader and expert in the field, they can begin to imagine what you can do for them.
There's no doubt that your service or product offers a solution to a problem, but that problem must be identified and resolved within a story. That removes the reader's resistance to you selling to them. A story can encourage the reader's desire to get to the end result that your product or service provides. Storytelling is nothing new, but it is often overlooked on the web.
Action Steps and Takeaways
- Determine the main reasons you need a website, especially the ones that speak best to your business goals.
- If you currently have a website, review it. Do you have conversational content on your website, or is your current content missing that element?
- Brainstorm: How can you infuse storytelling into your website?