January 21, 2016 / By Julie
Content is king when it comes to marketing, whether you’re offering a product or service for sale online or promoting an offline venture – and it all starts with a website. According to eMarketer, 86.6 percent of American small and midsize businesses cite websites as their most important digital marketing tactic.
A business website is no longer a nicety. It is as essential to business success as maintaining a listing in the Yellow Pages once was. For many customers, a business website is the first point of contact they have with the company or brand, and that website will either build trust in that brand or send them in search of a competitor. And whether your business is based online or off, your customers are searching for your online, and basing their purchasing decisions on what they find – and your Web property is the cornerstone of your digital marketing efforts
In 2011, $1.1 trillion of all retail sales were “Web influenced,” according to Forrester Research. And those sales weren’t just for online purchases of consumer goods. Diners are turning to review sites like Yelp to get the scoop on that restaurant they’re tempted to try, while new businesses have an opportunity to compile or highlight positive reviews in a centralized location, building user confidence.
A well-written website can serve as an anchor in any digital marketing campaign. Your social posts can point back to blogs or pages on your website dealing with a relevant topic, while social advertising campaigns can direct new customers to a landing page that builds your brand. Well-written content should accomplish the following objectives:
Boost Search optimization
A well-written website is an effective, low-cost tool to boost a business’s search optimization rank. And a high organic ranking can spell success for any business, regardless of paid search advertising budgets. In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, 70 to 80 percent of users ignore paid ads, focusing just on the organic results.
If that figure isn’t enough to convince you that you need to boost your website’s organic ranking, consider that 75 percent of Web users never scroll past the first page of search results. Instead, they’ll enter in new search terms if they haven’t found what they’re looking for.
Your Web copy needs to walk the line between talking to Google and talking to your customers. SEO content that’s keyword-dense but sounds like it was written by a robot may help boost page rankings, but it will do little to convert paying customers. Each page on your website should focus on one or a small handful of relevant keywords and present information that’s both engaging and informative, since it will be the landing point for new customers who have found you online.
Build Brand And Executive Credibility
The Web is a nebulous entity that’s full of junk content. Credibility is essential to Web users, since it’s often difficult to tell who is behind the content on a site and whether or not that content can be trusted. A well-written website can boost the image of thought leadership for company executives, build attachment to a company or service through creative storytelling, and build trust in a brand.
Spelling counts. According to RealBusiness, 74 percent of Web users pay attention to the quality of the content on a website, noting that spelling and grammar matter, and 59 percent will avoid doing business with a company that has obvious spelling and grammar mistakes on its website.
Credibility is also about becoming a source for information, not simply promotion. It’s no secret that Web users hate “marketese,” that overly promotional copy style that’s full of fluff buzzwords and completely lacking in substance. But if you’re a new (or growing) business that’s looking to expand beyond your current client base, becoming a thought leader in your field can draw consistent traffic to your site, blog, and social profiles.
If you’re an offline, brick and mortar business, consider blogging about local happenings and events, sharing photos on social platforms, or offering a spin on relevant news. This way, readers find your online presence looking for the information that matters to them, and while there, they will come across your current promotions and get that final nudge to check out your business.
If you’re an online venture, this means engaging in conversations relevant to your product or service. If you run an eco-friendly business, blog or socially share important news and study findings. If you offer graphic design services, blog about new trends in designs and share articles about successful campaigns. The more customers begin to view your online presence as a source for “need to know” information, the more likely you are to become a go-to expert in your field, which will increase your sales.
Your digital copy is an opportunity to boost user engagement. Well-written copy will leave users clicking through to learn more about your product’s features and benefits, reading into your brand’s back story and learning more about the executives behind the brand. This copy is as essential to building brand loyalty, which drives repeat sales, as having a quality product.
Think that’s an exaggeration? Look no further than Toms, which markets itself as the one for one shoe company. This brand, along with many other conscientious brands, have used online marketing and advertising tools to build a brand story that goes far beyond the quality and practicality of the product they’re selling, and builds a feel-good story for consumers that makes wearing or using their products attractive.
Their brand is so successful, and their site so engaging, that they have launched a Toms Marketplace page, encouraging their customers to shop with other conscientious brands.
Writing For The Web Is Not Writing For Print
Forget everything you think you learned in your college writing classes. Writing for the Web is a highly specialized style of writing. If you aren’t ready to employ a professional copywriter, here are some tips to help you revise your Web copy:
Headlines should be fierce and eye-catching. According to Copyblogger, 80 percent of Web users will read headlines, but only 20 percent will read past that key phrase.
Text needs to be scannable. Of that 20 percent who do read through the rest of a website, they’re only reading 20 percent of the content on a page, according to Nielson Norman Group. Key points in your page should be highlighted. This can be achieved through some of the following:
- Bulleted lists catch attention and should highlight main points
- Hyperlinks to relevant sources, new pages, and studies or statistics draw attention
- Key points and figures can be highlighted using different fonts or colors
Each paragraph should focus on one concept. If you’re making a series of points, don’t list two in the same paragraph, because Web user behavior shows that they will skip over additional points as they’re scanning the page.
Employ inverted pyramid This is the writing style used by journalists whose writing style was developed so that a story could be hacked off at the end of any paragraph and still paint a complete picture (this format was meant to make it easier for page editors to insert content around the page’s advertisements). Start with your conclusion and list key facts right up front.
Keep it short. If you aren’t used to writing for the Web, Coco Chanel’s iconic fashion advice is particularly relevant. Draft your copy, then, using a critical eye, consider how you can cut your word count in half. Look for words that can replace descriptive phrases, and think about what details are particularly important.