Writing website content is one of the unavoidable realities of being an entrepreneur and running a website.
First you’ll procrastinate one your first attempt. Then you’ll finally sit down in front of your computer, psych yourself up to start only to think ‘I’m not a writer.’
But you know you have to get it done so slug through word after word to the end.
The dreaded proofread comes nest and it only takes you a sentence it before you realize it’s dry & overly “salesy” sounding almost as if someone is yelling ‘look at me, look at me!’ At this point you know you need a little less dryness and a little more persuasion.
You know you need to change your approach to writing web content so your audience gets the most out of your website. The secret is to look at things from a new perspective. Start looking at writing your content as less about trying to make a sale and more about welcoming someone into your home. Because that’s exactly what your website is like, your online home.
Think about all the time you’ve welcomed someone into your home. Were you overly pushy or obnoxious? My guess is no you were, well, yourself. In fact, you probably go out of your way to make sure your guest feels at home, treat them with respect and are gracious at every moment. It’s about making them feel comfortable and at every action you take is working to make sure that happens.
Greet Them With a Smile
A smile sets the stage for the visit and makes a great first impression. In the case of your website this is the headline. The first contact with your website visitors see should be an inviting, benefit driven statement that makes them feel comfortable.
You know what they say about first impressions, you only get one. Your headline should be the most welcoming piece of content you have on your web pages or post. It should evoke an emotional response that turns the viewer on to read more.
Sure, there more that goes into a headline like SEO keyword considerations & making the viewer curious enough to keep reading. However, the first step should be focusing on the emotion you want your prospect to feel.
When you first open the door to your home to someone you’ll usually greet them with a ‘hello’ and a smile. Your headline(s) should work in the same way. An overall welcome to the page with an underlying thanks for stopping by. A great first step is by choosing emotional words to inject into your headline(s).
Once you’ve graciously welcomed your audience the next step is to build on the good feelings you’ve evoked. If your headline is like holding a door for someone then body copy should show them the respect they deserve.
At this point in the process you should know the purpose of the piece of content you’re writing. You’ve injected the proper emotions into the headline you’ll now want to build on it without insulting your user.
The Animal Kingdom (Psychology)
There is a theory floating around that you should treat your website visitors like animals hunting their prey.
An animal knows what they are looking for in their prey. In the case of a website visitor the prey is the question they want answered or the problem they are trying to solve. The animal will then stalk their prey which is the research stage for the prospect.
Once the animal finds and captures their victim they can eat. This, for your prospect, is the answer to their question or solution to their problem. While this, yet simplistic, theory can work the one thing you have to remember is humans are at the top of the food chain and a bit more complicated.
One of the most important rules of writing persuasive website copy is to understand on the other side of that screen is a living, breathing human being. When you’re writing the beginning of your copy start thinking about with this in mind.
It may seem foreign at the beginning staring at a screen thinking you’re writing to an actual person and not just typing words into nowhere. But, the truth is, regardless of what type of writing you’re doing you’re writing to someone that has emotions and feels in the same way you do.
This crucial psychological point can be used to position you as not only an expert in your field but as someone who thinks more about your customers feeling than “making the sale.”
In the case of entertaining this is the stage where you offer your guest a comfortable seat and maybe even a drink. You’re building on the the comfort aspect of your headline and showing your prospect you want them to enjoy their experience while on your website.
Did you know that there is only 1440 minutes in a 24 hour period?
Your website users, just like you, only have so much time on their hands. Understand this point alone and you’ll be ahead of most businesses online.
Adding to the time constraints we all have research has shown that in our smartphone addicted world our attention spans is only about 8 seconds. It’s safe to say your audience wants you to get to the point and quickly.
To combat these time issues here are 3 actions you can take in your writing:
1. Write for Scanners
- Use headlines, subheads, bullet & numbered lists to improve the scannability of your content.
2. Put the Most Important Information First:
- Make sure your reader know what your content is about & why it matters within the first sentence.
3. Don’t Be a Magician:
- When everything is stripped down to its essence the user only asks two questions: Is it what I’m looking for? & What’s in it for me? Make sure you’re answering these questions and it’s easy for them to find.
Keep it Simple
At the beginning of everyone’s writing journey there’s some sort of psychological need to write using fancy big words we’d never say in a conversation.
We want to be seen as the intellectual writer we are. This is the time to fight this innate need and work to sound like everyone else. In other words, write like your having a conversation.
It’s okay to use short sentences and paragraphs. This is where bullet points can be useful. Use simple words we all use in everyday life. Stay away from industry jargon because you are speaking to someone who is not in your industry.
The point is to be blatantly obvious in your writing. Again, it’s like you’re in the middle of a conversation. Your audience has asked you a question and your content is you just answering it.
Writing web content is all about getting out of your head and writing for another human being. If you treat your website like your house remembering you’re inviting your prospect in it should be much easier to write something valuable.
Writing doesn’t have to be a scary or hard task as long as you put in a little upfront work and some thoughtful thinking.