Content is (still) King

fastbookA website is not a book, nor is it a glossy magazine or corporate business plan. A website is the electronic equivalent of fast food; instantaneous and easily digested.

It doesn’t matter how well the site is designed, how great it looks or even how effective your marketing is, unless the actual content meets the needs of the potential customer your chances of converting the visit into a sale can be over in a few seconds.

So without further ado, here are some tips on making your content more effective.

Make me feel welcome (but don’t welcome me)

Don’t waste the first few paragraphs welcoming me to the site or describing what you want to achieve. As a potential customer, if I can’t see what I want in a few seconds I’ll shop elsewhere. So make sure the focus of your page is the product or service you want to promote. Leave the detailed explanations on a separate page so those interested can investigate if they wish. But make sure the navigation links to the deeper page are clear and unambiguous.

Present your key information as soon as possible on the page.  If you are selling false noses, don’t spend your time telling the visitor about the history of nasal appendages, put the sales copy at the top of the page so it’s the first thing a visitor sees when they land on that page.

beansMarket your products

If all your potential customer sees is a generic description pulled directly off the supplier’s database then it’s not really going to make them feel as if you care about their needs. You can therefore go from this:

200g can of baked beans.

to this:

A 200g can of succulent baked beans swimming in a rich tomato sauce. The improved recipe has a spicy zing along with reduced salt and sugar content.

Of course this means that you may have to take some time writing descriptions but if you want to improve your conversion rate then you need to do some work and not rely on somebody else’s copy writing skills.

Eyetracking

Potential customers look at different places for information. Some read the page title first, some will note the header. Others pick up on captions, descriptions, lists and so on. Because there are so many places to look on a web page, make sure you provide the relevant information in as many places as possible

If you want them to call you on the phone then put the call to action in the header, in the copy, in the footer and an eye catching image in the side column.

The more pages the better

If you have lots to say then put it on a series of pages. Smaller pages load faster and visitors are more likely to wait a few seconds as each pages loads than they are to wait a minute for one page to load.

There are of course exceptions. If you intend to publish a report on global warming (for example) the document may be many pages long. Consider however that you could publish a summary and link to the full document for those who wish to delve deeper.

But do not make the page so short that I’ve got to load a new page after every paragraph. There have been some articles recommending a maximum of 250 words. If this were the case then you wouldn’t have got this far without having to link to a new page.

No bells and whistles please

Clear out the clutter

Clear out the clutter

Other things to consider when writing your page content is the use of multimedia – video clips, audio files, flash animation and so on. These are all useful tools but if they do not add value to the site then question the need to include them.

By all means link to multimedia resources but do not make the use of them mandatory.  Visitors will soon exit if they have to wait for a video clip of a poodle jumping through a hoop when all they want to do is get to the pages on grooming. And if you need to install an application to view something then make sure there is an alternative version of the page for those who don’t have or don’t want to download the application.

Check your spolling and gramma

Make sure that you run a spell checker over your pages. Get somebody else to read the copy, follow the links and explore the site. If there are any problems they are more likely to pick up the mistakes than you are.

Better still, use a complete stranger. They will be more critical and since they are unfamiliar with the website be better placed to comment on the navigation, page content and sales process.

Resources:

Tips on writing for the web from www.useit.com.

Writing Copy and Content for the Web forum on www.cre8asiteforums.com.

Masterful content advice from www.copyblogger.com.

Add your comment

  1. Ethan Marr said:

    I have someone attempting to change to a retail site, but I believe I need help telling him what I want.

    • Aerin said:

      Ethan, what help do you need? Have you got a plan of action yet?

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