Copywriting to turn website visitors into customers

A couple of weeks ago on the Startup Britain blog we announced the launch of the 123 Reg free online business training.

It’s packed with 60 modules, designed by our experts to teach you all aspects of how to grow your business online. From branding to website plan and build; to driving visitors and using the web to engage your current customers; we cover everything you need to know.

Each module includes a bite sized video and some questions; and you can track your progress as your skills grow.

To whet your appetite, last week we showed you how good design can turn visitors into customers. To follow up, here is some exclusive advice about how effective copy can do the same thing.

1. Stop talking features. Start talking benefits.

When adding copy to a website, 99% of people focus on the features of their products or services.

Newsflash: Customers don’t care about features. Stop writing about them.

Customers care about benefits. The difference your product will make to their lives.

The next time you’ve finished writing copy for your website, ask yourself the question: So what?

The bit that comes after the ‘so what’ is the benefit.

2. Avoid Exemplary terminology and Onomastics

My favourite web-copy topic! You know what I’m talking about, right?

It’s jargon. Cut it out.

Working day to day we use jargon as shorthand, speeding up conversations between colleagues and suppliers.

Turn that on the customer and you’ll get a facepalm.

Your website copy should be simple. Easy to understand. The less effort to read, the more enjoyable it becomes.

So edit your web copy to remove jargon.

3. Be brief

People don’t read websites the same way they do books, magazines or newspapers.

Attention spans are short. Your copy has to compete with distractions like Facebook; Youtube; pictures of cats.

So write with brevity. Consider how you can give the same information in fewer words.

Use the active voice.

Don’t put more than 25 words in sentence. No more than 3 sentences in a paragraph.

4. Stop interrupting your customer

Website often surface unnecessary information to visitors. Perhaps requesting a newsletter sign up. Or news about an event.

Removing these extras is high priority – especially on the payment page when asking for card details.

Be led by Amazon – in their order process you can’t escape. No links. No interruptions.

So review your user journey. Include necessary information on the page. But make sure it’s essentials-only.

5. Overcome buying objections

Have you ever raised buyer objections in a shop? Reasons why you don’t want to go ahead?

Salespeople overcome these with ease. They’ve heard them all before and have already thought of a response.

The best known is price led: “I can’t afford it right now”.

That’s an easy one to deal with.

“Not a problem, we have payment plans – you can spread them out. So you can afford it right now”.

Online you can’t hear your buyer’s objections, so you have to think about them in advance.

The website is the salesperson. So responses to objections need to be highly visible in the service description or FAQ.

For example, a visitor might be wondering if they will get it on time. So make sure shipping is transparent.

They might be wondering if they can get it cheaper elsewhere. So make sure your value is crystal clear.

6. Provide reassurance with reviews

Surveys show that most of us turn to independent online reviews to check out new suppliers. It’s reassuring to see people happy to recommend a brand.

So it’s vital for small businesses to foster reviews. A good place to start is Trustpilot.

Merchants can’t sit around waiting for these to happen. Don’t think the thousands you see for some brands are there by chance. You need to ask customers to leave them.

Grab them when they’re feeling warmest about your brand – when they’ve just purchased. Many will give positive ones.

Respond to those that don’t with thanks – they’re a useful pointer to improve what you do.

7. Publish testimonials

Customer feedback has long been a vital element of effective web copy. It’s key to make them believable. They need to include aspects that allow visitors to check they’re legit.

It’s a good idea to include a date, photo, the customer location and if possible their website address.

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If you can, gain and publish testimonials from social media. Visitors can then confirm that they’re genuine by going to the person directly.

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8. Add more social proofing

Here’s the idea.

If you think that other people like you have faced the same dilemma and have decided to go ahead, it makes you more likely to do so too.

This is the concept of social proofing.

So consider how your copy can give the impression that buying is good decision.

Here’s a good example of social proofing on groovehq.com:

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Let visitors know how many others they will be joining if they become a customer.

9. Use copy to draw attention to your contact details

Your copy won’t answer every question. For those you haven’t thought of, you need to be easy to contact. Finding your contact details is often the primary reason for a local person to visit your website.

Of course you need a contact page. But also include your phone number in a static position on every page. The top right hand corner is a good idea.

I don’t expect you run a 24/7 operation, so make sure you can be contacted out of hours too. Include a contact form and email address for nighttime traffic.

Your business may be discovered via your social media channels. So include contact details there to, or link to a place they can be easily found on your site.

10. Check that people ‘get’ your copy

You may believe your copy flawless, but visitors won’t. So try user-testing to check people understand your meaning.

You don’t need a lab. Just ask friends.

Ask them to complete a task on your site. Watch them whilst they’re doing it. Get them to tell you what they find easy or hard.

You can’t see the wood for the trees. Watching others on your site really opens the eyes, and helps you focus on the snagging points.

That’s all for now

In this post I’ve shown you how you can use effective copy to convert more browsers to buyers.

We walk you through this and many other topics in the 123 Reg free online business training.

From site design to SEO, from email marketing to social media, our videos take you through all you need to know to grow your business online.

If you want to learn for free then sign up at 123 Reg.

Of course you’ll never have the perfect website copy so it’s important to keep on trying.

123 Reg