There are a lot of tips out there about the best ways to write good copy for your website. But there's only one tip that I think should be focused on to make it great copy:
Keep it simple.
Clear and concise writing is the best way to make your reader keep reading.
'Why?' you ask.
Well mostly because your reader doesn't have time to read your content, they're busy. They're working, they've got kids to look after and dinner to cook.
Our short attention spans don't help either. There's so much content out there fighting for our attention, that if yours isn't simple and quick to read, no one's going to bother.
People want quick, easily understandable content they can read on their lunch break or on the train home. There's no point in filling your blog posts with industry jargon that the majority of your customers won't understand. They don't want to have to work too hard to get through your copy. They're tired, they just want to go home, sit on the couch with a glass of wine and watch The Bakeoff.
'Okay, fine,' I hear you say, 'but how can I make my content simple without losing its impact?'
It's easier than you think, I promise. Here's 3 tips on how to make your copy clearer and simpler.
1. Be Conversational
It's been said many times before, but it's worth repeating: People buy from people. No one likes feeling as if they're dealing with a robot. Think about those automated phone calls that make you press 2 for one menu, then 3 for the next menu, and it goes on and on. It's frustrating and all you want to do is get through to an actual person. Don't be that automated phone call, be the actual person.
Speak to your customer in their language. As I said before, only a percentage of your customers will understand your industry jargon so don't alienate the ones that don't by making your writing too hard for them to understand. They won't get your point if they're too busy trying to understand your words.
People don't just buy from people, though. They buy from people they like. So be likeable, and that really just means being genuine. Business is all about creating a human to human connection and building trust between you and your customers. So write like you would speak to them. Even something as simple as writing 'don't' instead of 'do not' can help to make your reader feel more comfortable and more like they're dealing with a person.
If you're ever in doubt about the conversational style of your writing, read it out loud. Your ear can easily pick up what doesn't sound right.
2. Tell A Story
Information is easier to process if it has a structure. No one likes being presented with a vague idea and no explanation. So give your content a narrative structure so it's easier for your reader to deal with. Our brains like this kind of structure because it gives us some sort of order. It helps us to understand the world around us. So it makes sense that a story format would help your customer understand the message in your content.
It also helps in creating an emotional connection with your reader, which is key to building that relationship and trust that you need. Emotion is what gets remembered so make your readers feel something when they read your content.
You want your readers to get excited about your business and there are elements of storytelling that can be used in your business writing to create this excitement. Character, conflict and climax.
- Your character could be the reader. Using 'you' language to make them relate to what's going on.
- Your conflict is their pain point, the problem that your character (i.e. reader) is going through.
- Your climax is how to fix the problem, either with some tips and tricks or with your product/service.
This all works towards creating an alignment between your reader and your business and making them feel an emotional connection with you.
3. Don't Be Afraid of White Space
When I'm reading a book at night before I go to bed, a lot of the time I'll quickly look ahead to see how long the next chapter is, or how long before a page break that I can easily stop on. If it's close enough I'll keep reading, telling myself that's where I'll stop and go to sleep.
Of course, it often happens that I'll get to the end of that chapter and I won't want to stop reading, so I'll check when the next chapter ends, and so on until it's about 2am and I've just accepted that I'm not getting any sleep that night.
A similar thing happens when people read your content. They skim. They want to see how easy it will be to read before they start. Like I said earlier, people are busy. They won't even start reading anything if it looks like it'll take too long.
This is where white space is your best friend. Content isn't just about the words you use, but also the way you lay them out on the page. You want to make it look as easy to read as possible. Big blocks of text are going to look intimidating and will put a reader off straight away. Use short paragraphs to break up the text so it doesn't look as daunting.
Visuals are also a great way to break up text. Images are processed by the brain quicker than text (60,000 times faster, it's been suggested) and catch the reader's eye as they skim the page before they start reading.
Some other things that catch a readers eye when they skim through your text:
bold words to highlight a point
headings and sub-headings
Using the space on the page to your advantage will make it easier for the reader to get through your content, and therefore to understand your message.
Writing simple copy is something that takes practice, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Just keep your reader in mind. Speak their language and create a connection with them that will have them excited about using your product.
Clear, concise copy = great copy. It's that simple.