Developing content for a website is usually one of the trickiest parts for my clients. They know their business well and understand the business from the inside out. But with consumers limited attention spans and the multitude of options how do you capture them and keep them on your site?
First, I’d like to give a clear disclaimer- I’m not a professional copywriter, nor do I claim to be. But what I do have is a lot of experience in working with both bad and good content my customers have provided. I want to pass along some of these great tips to help you write better content for your website and avoid some of the common pitfalls many of us make.
Good content is important. In fact, it may be the most important thing your website has to offer. We’re not all copywriters, and conveying a refined overview of your business can be challenging. Luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you develop content for your website. Whether you are planning an entirely new website or looking for ways to update your existing content- these tips will help you get on track.
In the article you can look for:
- The Approach to Personalized Content
- Using Your Customer’s Perspective
- Things to Avoid Writing
The approach to personalized content.
One of the most important things to consider when writing content for your website is your audience. Who is reading it? Why are they reading it? How did they get there? You’ll want to answer all these questions and start there.
Like most businesses, you probably offer many different products or services, and it’s hard to wrap all those things into one big package and still keep it easily digestible. Often times this leads to content that is unfocused and never really drives home a message. Or, it can lead to too much content. It has been proven when you give someone too many choices, they will often choose nothing, and that’s the last thing you want.
One of the best and most proven strategies is to write content for your ideal customer. I think any business owner and quickly name their favorite and least favorite people to work with. Wouldn’t it be great to get MORE of the clients you love and less of the ones you don’t particularly like working with?
The key to achieving that is writing content for your ideal customer. If you can map out what qualities a good customer has and write content for that specific person when that person ends up on your website it will be like you are speaking directly to them, addressing their needs & concerns. You cannot be everything to everyone. And while you most likely will end up with some challenging clients, why not take every step to attract more of the clients that suit you best?
To properly identify your ideal customer you need to ask a few questions. It’s best if you think of one specific person, then answer these questions
- Who are they?
- Where are they from?
- Are they male or female?
- What is their age?
- Where do they work?
- What do they do in their free-time?
- What problem do you solve for them?
- Why do they use you?
The more you know about your ideal customer the more light it will shine on what makes them your ideal client. Once you have that figured out, try and write your content like you are speaking to that person directly. Chances are there are more people out there just like them looking for the product or service you provide.
Use your customer’s perspective.
Remember, people on your website are not as familiar with your business as you are. Things you may take for granted as common knowledge might be new to them. Avoid any industry jargon or specialized terms that they may not know.
Try to put yourself in their situation. Now that you have defined your ideal client- what are they looking for? What questions might they be asking themselves? What are they looking for immediately as they load your page? Thinking of your content from this perspective will help improve the engagement from your visitors.
Keep in mind, us human beings are by nature fairly self-centered. Unless you are writing an autobiography, try to keep from writing too many “I”, “me” or “we” sentences. Focus your content on your customer.
Let’s look at an example of two different approaches to the same headline.
First, we will look at a headline that is very “me” focused.
“Our special formula “SkinSation” improves skin tone and clarity”
While that’s not bad, it puts the subject of the sentence on the product and the business. Try taking the same concept and reworking it to make it all about your customer.
“Improve your skin tone and clarity with SkinSation”
Both headlines convey the same message, but it’s HOW they do it that makes the difference. People want to hear about themselves. They want to receive the benefit. When your message is “me” focused you are not allowing your message to be applied to them personally. The second example puts your client as the subject of the sentence and automatically presents a solution they may be looking for.
Things to avoid writing
Since we covered a few examples of how to write good content for your site, I’d like to talk about a few things you should shy away from.
Industry Jargon – While some terms might sound perfectly normal to you (you hear them every day), an outsider might not know what they mean. Avoid using buzz words, the ones that make sense in your industry, but still don’t really “mean” anything important – just used to make you seem smart/important. If they can’t comprehend your message you will have a hard time converting them to a customer.
Making Empty Promises – Guarantees are great, but they are worthless if they aren’t 100% backed by your company. Telling people they will have “guaranteed results” is often a way to set yourself up for failure, and today’s savvy customers can sniff out empty promises.
Too Much Information – While it’s important to make clear statements that get across your message, try to avoid making content overly complicated. Between short attention spans and many people viewing your website on small screens, too much information will get skimmed over and you risk not getting your point across. Think instead of how you can get your point across in as few words as possible and possibly link to a more in-depth article if the customer is interested in reading more.
“Borrowing” Other’s Work – Or, as it can be called- stealing! It’s always good to see what your competitors are saying about their own product, but never copy and paste content from someone else’s site. Try and think back to all the plagiarism rules you had to learn in college or high school and apply those to your website’s content.
Sounding Unprofessional – It’s always important, especially in small business, to come across as approachable and genuine, but be careful to not take it too far and come across as unprofessional. Have people proofread your work, make sure your grammar and spelling
is are correct.
Being Too Trendy – While staying current and up-to-date has value, when you use very trendy terms and phrases they quickly become outdated. Phases come and go and if you don’t update your content regularly you run the risk of being outdated when the phase has gone away.
No “Call to Action” – An effective ‘call to action’ is important (and too broad of a discussion for this topic), but make sure you direct your customers towards a decision. If you don’t give your customers a clear path to the next step you want them to take, they will likely never take it!