I'll start by saying the title for this article is probably a little misleading. After all, who's to say what's right or wrong when it comes to your business? Aside from sticking two fingers up at your customers when you spot them in the street (clue: VERY wrong), if something's worked for you in the past, you should stick with it.
But there are certainly a few things to keep in mind when writing website content - from my own experience, at least. So, let's have a look at some of them:
Copy'writes' (or rather, 'rights'!)
Think 'You', Not 'I' - When writing your website content, it can be so tempting to talk about yourself. After all, who knows you better than you?! But the key to getting prospective clients to sit up and take notice of you (and your services), is not to talk about 'you' at all. Instead, focus on what your client needs and how your services can help. By adopting this technique, you're still discussing how you can assist them, but you're putting them - and their unique issues and challenges - centre stage.
Bearing that tip in mind (and using a stationery company as a simple example), here's a look at how the following sentence might be reworded to benefit the customer:
This: "We're a trusted supplier of pens and paper here in the UK - and our prices are low."
Can be swapped for this: "Is your stationery cupboard consistently low in stock? Never run out of office essentials again; pens, paper and everything in between can be delivered to your workplace as soon as tomorrow - if required. You can put your trust in us since we're suppliers to X, Y, and Z - and you'll save money, too, since our prices are kept low enough to meet any budget."
The first thing you'll notice about the second snippet of content is that it's longer - why use one sentence when you can let the customer know how you'll make their life easier in three?! More benefits = more chance of you becoming their new go-to stationer.
Just Start Writing - Here's a tip the news editor of a weekly newspaper I used to write for once told me - and it stuck! Knowing full well that the headline of an article or feature is often the hardest thing about the piece to write (it needs to hook the reader from the off, you see), she'd tell me to instead write the rest of the content.
"The headline will come to you while you're typing." she once said - and do you know what? She was right! Nine times out of 10, that's exactly what happened. So why spend the best part of half an hour poring over puns? Just get something down; the rest will come in time.
The very same goes for your website copy. If you don't know where to begin, just begin! It sounds simple, doesn't it - but get everything down on paper, or on your computer to save you faffing around later making long-winded edits, and you'll have a clearer idea where to go from there. I promise.
So, you sell pens and paper - and unless you consistently ace those 'flog me this fountain pen' questions in job interviews, like many things, it won't seem like the most inspiring of subject matters.
But don't let that put you off - you've followed this career path for a reason, and it's because you're good at it!
So, without being all 'me, me, me', or rather, 'we, we, we', think about how you can 'jazz up' your copy in other ways. Offices need pens - and they'll always find a way to get them. But maybe when they're idly browsing the net for a new supplier, your company will stand out - and for another reason than the price.
Get your thinking caps on as a team and consider creative ways you can set yourself apart. Develop a company mascot to use on your site (hello, Peter Pen!*) and run with it. Trust me on this; it'll work.
*you can have that one for free
Keywords for Keywords' Sake - No, just N-O! I get it; you want people to find your site - and organically, too. But well-written website copy will mean so much more than a site that's located easily but doesn't quite hit the mark when your customer lands on it - and more importantly, starts reading it.
Instead, think key'worths', not keywords. Does each and every word count? If not, go back and make sure it does.
You can still optimise your site for SEO - and do it well - without over-stuffing it with keywords for the heck of it.
Poor Grammar and Spelling - You'd like prospective customers to trust in you and your services - so if your site's filled with 'text speak' (or your social media page is left in the hands of a disinterested intern), is it really giving off the right impression?
Poor spelling, grammar and an all-round blasé approach to copywriting is just.not.on. (and I use those unnecessary full stops with every last jot of irony).
I won't name and shame (because I'm nice, me) but I've heard business owners say things like: "Apostrophes? Who cares?! The customer knows what we mean" and it makes my pedantic, grammar-obsessed self's heart sink.
The fact is, customers probably will know what you mean - but will they take you seriously?
Just the other day I saw a sign for a company offering 'delivary' for 'breacfasts'. Will I be going there?! No. Because I don't care how well they fry an egg; they didn't think it appropriate to proofread the full-colour banner they probably spent a pretty penny on. So, how much care will they put into that 'breacfast'?! Beep, beep; I'm going to McDonald's drive 'thru' instead.
Too Much Copy - This one ties into point one on my copywrongs list - and really, there's only two reasons people waffle on their site: they don't know when to stop, or they're desperate to increase their organic reach by way of, you guessed it, a few more keywords. But we're a nation of skim readers (hooray if you've made it to the end of this blog - a full-size Curly Wurly bar to you, my friend) and who's got time for reams and reams of text? Not me. It's why I'm signing off this blog now. Ta-ra.
Like this article? Do let me know if it helped you in any way. And keep an eye here on my site for more of the same. If you think you can benefit from my copywriting services in 2018 and beyond, do get in touch and let's schedule a chat or a coffee in the diary.
Until next time...