No one likes to read. Ever heard that?
Your head is nodding so I’m going to assume that’s a yes. Heck, you’ve probably even said it yourself – I know I have (and I’m a copywriter).
But here’s the interesting thing about reading: while few profess to like it, we all do it. All the time. (Case in point, you. Right now).
So why the apparent disconnect?
Simple. People may not like to read, but they love to consume information. And reading a series of well-chosen words – whether they’re in a Tweet, a white paper, a blog post, or a website – is one way to make that happen.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that when it comes to sharing information about your company through your website (whether products, services, staff, or accolades), words matter. A lot. So make them count.
• Heed Your Headlines: Start by writing your headlines first. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. These attention grabbers will determine the amount of reading time your visitors will invest. Your headline acts as a promise to your readers – make sure it clearly communicates a benefit in exchange for their valuable time.
• Write Like A Journalist: Reporters tend to write the most important information in the first couple of sentences. Write your copy the same way. In other words, give visitors exactly what they need to quickly confirm they’re at the right place.
• Do More With Less: Today, mobile devices account for a greater
percentage of Internet usage than desktop computers. Now more than ever you must keep your site copy in context. Don’t use five words when it takes three. On a mobile screen those two extra words take up valuable inches.
• Keep It Simple: Leave lofty language to poets and politicians. Use plain and simple language; substitute easy words and terms (where applicable) for complex ones.
• Keep It Personal: Use personal language when referring to your company (us, we, our); avoid impersonal language (it, they, them). Think of your company as a collection of people (warm, caring, human) instead of a corporate entity (cold, detached).
• Highlight Key Points: Many site visitors won’t spend the time to read an entire page; instead they’ll scan your content. Highlight key points by enlarging certain sentences, or by using bullet points.
• Manage Your Messages: Determine the main ideas you need to get across and distill them down. Assuming the standard screen can show about 100 words (depending on design), focus on these key questions:
What is my message?
Why should someone read it?
Which keywords meet their goals (if they’re scanning)?
• Invite Action: Assuming your visitor has found what they’re seeking, tell them what’s next. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Are there additional actions you’d like your visitor to take? Is it time to pick up the phone or fill out a form? Once you have their attention, you need to lead them down the desired path.
Remember, people visit your website for one reason: to gain information. The easier you can make it for them to do so, the better off you’ll be since 1) No one likes to read 2) But everyone does 3) Therefore, words matter 4) So make them count 5) And you will prosper.
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