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Copywriting for the Web: How to Increase Your Conversion Rate

If you’re going to be successful on the Web at getting sales or opt ins you have to have well written copy. You can buy in copywriting through ghost writers or you can improve your own effectiveness at copywriting, which is probably cheaper.

Here are some ways to improve the quality of the copy on your site:

Features and Benefits

I’ve seen countless articles where you’re told to write in terms of benefits, not features. Actually, you need both and here’s how to distinguish between them:

A feature is something your product or service is, has or does

A benefit is something your product or service does for others.

An example of a feature statement would be:

“This car has 4 doors”. (A feature is something your product is, has or does)

An example of a benefit statement based on that feature would be:

“That will enable you to put your heavy shopping on the rear seat without risking injury to your back”. (Something your 4-door car does for others).

There are two ways that I use to see whether a statement is a feature or a benefit. The first is to ask the question ‘so what?’ after the statement. So in the example above:

“This car has 4 doors”.  “So what..?”.

The second is to use the bridging statement: ‘and the benefit to you is…’

If you can answer the ‘so what’ question, or complete the bridging statement, your answer will be a benefit relating to that feature.

And remember: a feature can have many benefits.

You can also use features to provide proof of the benefits youre promising your product will deliver. To use the same example:

“You won’t risk injuring your back with this car”. (Benefit statement because it’s something your car is going to do for you). The sceptic may ask why, or look for proof.

Your answer is: “because it has 4 doors, so you can put your heavy shopping on the rear seat easily”. (Note that’s both a feature statement and a second benefit statement)

So don’t slavishly write only in terms of benefits.

Use benefits to make a feature of your product or service meaningful to your prospects, and use features to provide proof to your prospects that they’ll get the benefit you’ve promised them.

Bite-Sized pieces

The principle of breaking large and complex tasks down into small pieces to make them easier to accomplish applies equally to reading.

If you’re faced with a page of solid text to read, with no paragraphs, you feel daunted. It whacks you in the eyes and makes you feel tired before you even begin.

But if you see a page that’s broken down into short sentences and paragraphs, with lots of white space, it’s easier on the eyes and not nearly so intimidating.

So keep things as short and simple as possible. No more than 2 verbs in a sentence, and no more than 3 sentences to a paragraph.

Bullets are also a great way to get a lot of information across quickly, and they’re easy on the eye because they break the text into manageable chunks.

Write the same way as you speak

At school I was taught never to start a sentence with a conjunction: ‘and’, or ‘but’ for example. But most people do that when talking, so it’s OK to do the same in your web writing.

It’s a great way to put emphasis on something – just as you do when you’re talking.

One of the best ways I know how to make your writing sound like the way you talk is to read your article out loud to yourself. Every time you come to something that sounds unnatural think how you’d normally say it, and then re-write it.

Hop, Skip and Jump

Most people don’t read every word on the page, and they miss even more when they’re reading on the screen. People prefer to scan the page to try to pick up the relevant points, often just in order to decide whether to stay on the page or not.

So help them.

Use Bolding and Sub-Headings to draw people’s attention to the main points you want to get across.

I aim to make it possible for people to get the basic message just by reading the bold words and sub-headings.

I don’t always succeed, but by doing that I enable people to get the relevant information as quickly as possible, which may make the difference between them deciding to focus some attention on my page or not.

And that may make the difference between a sale and a bounce.

Spelling and grammar errors

Nothing turns me off more than blatant spelling errors. They distract me from the message and, if that’s a sales message, you just lost a sale!

And there’s no excuse for spelling errors. Not only do all PC based word processors have spell checkers, but most web-based writing applications do now as well.

Because the web is global you’ll always come across regional variations in spelling – UK English and US English, for example. Everyone accepts these, but make sure you’re consistent.

If you want to use UK English make sure you set the spell check for the entire document to UK English, and it’s worth checking because Microsoft will quite happily switch you back to US English at the drop of a hat, given half a chance!

Reading a well-laid-out, easy-on-the-eye, spelling-error-free article is a pleasure. And if I’m happy and relaxed I’m much more open to whatever the writer might be selling, whether it’s an opt in or a product.

But if I’m irritated, annoyed or put off because of bad spelling or visually daunting text I’ll more than likely just click away to something more appealing.

What techniques do you use to keep people on your page..? Leave a comment and let us know!

Cheers,

Martin Malden

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Martin K Augier 22 March, 2008, 7:15 am

    You need a strong opening as you only have seconds to make a first impression. To do this you need a very impressive title.

    Also there needs to be a call to action preferably with a ps or a pps or even a ppps.

    Somewhere in the letter the offer needs to one where the reader feels they cannpot lose whatever happens with perhaps a guaranteed money back offer and or a free gift.

  • AnneMarie Callan 22 March, 2008, 7:43 am

    Hi

    This is a very imformative article. I notice you don’t mention highlighting words with a different colour. Love to know your opinion on that.

    AnneMarie

  • WealthyDragon 22 March, 2008, 8:43 am

    Martin, hi,

    Thanks – and absolutely bang on with all your points! You just stole my next week’s post..! 😀

    Seriously – bang on and thanks for those,

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • WealthyDragon 22 March, 2008, 8:45 am

    AnneMarie, hi,

    Quite simply – I forgot to mention it!

    My mistake and thanks for pointing it out because it’s definitely another tool you can use to give your readers a road map through your message.

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • AnneMarie Callan 22 March, 2008, 4:30 pm

    Hi Martin

    But the spelling point you made is something I keep forgetting about because I type for both the UK and the USA market, I must make a note of that.

    Sometimes UK people tell me I have spelt jewelry wrong but it is right in USA. Perhaps over time, the dictionary will accept both … wishful thinking.

  • Richard Day 22 March, 2008, 8:41 pm

    Excellent article. I wish I had read this about a year ago. You have thoroughly covered the important elements of good web writing.
    One of my pet peeves is people who WRITE EVERYTHING IN CAPS…Does that mean that I, the reader, am not worthy of your time to press the shift key? A similar situation is where someone writes everything in lowercase. here is an example that i will show you here. this is just crap.
    Keep up the good work.

  • WealthyDragon 22 March, 2008, 10:07 pm

    Richard, hi,

    Thanks – glad you enjoyed the post.

    I actually see ALL CAPS as screaming at people – one of the quickest ways to get me to leave a page!

    Both of your points highlight the need (in my view) to show respect to your readers. Poor grammar, spelling errors, all caps and the rest indicate a lack of respect to your readers – not a good way to build trust and respect!

    Thanks again,

    Martin.

  • WealthyDragon 22 March, 2008, 10:13 pm

    AnneMarie, hi,

    Interesting that you type for two markets. I’ve tried to write consistently in UK English – not out of disrespect to US readers but because that’s how I learnt to spell.

    Also – this blog is going to get read by people globally – so writing for a specific market wouldn’t be possible.

    I admire your ability to tailor your writing that accurately, though!

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Michael Dunlop 24 April, 2008, 7:15 pm

    Interesting post, thanks for the tips!

  • WealthyDragon 24 April, 2008, 7:40 pm

    Thanks Michael,

    I’m pleased you found it useful,

    Cheers,

    Martin.