Your website will be successful if its content is easy to read, focused, valuable, persuasive and motivating.
How to make it easy to read
Eight out of 10 people will read the headline, but only two out of 10 will read the rest.
We’re all overwhelmed with the volume of information online and we’re impatient to find what we’re looking for fast. If your website doesn’t immediately tell me you’re what I’m looking for, I’m going to hit the back button in an instant. If there’s too much text, I’m not likely to read it, but if you present it effectively, I might start by skimming it. Here’s how to capture my attention:
- Make your content skimmable.
- Organize content so that the most important information gets my attention first.
- Use a visual hierarchy of headings, subheads, pull-quotes and bulleted lists to guide me.
- Use short paragraphs and mix long sentences with short sentences.
- Break up the text with white space, boxes, illustrations, charts and images.
- Format your content to make it crystal clear where I should go next after each element. (Have others test-drive it and get feedback.)
- Read How to Write Killer Headlines.
How to make it focused
“Is this where I’ll find the answer to my problem?”
[You’ve got 10 seconds.]
Here’s how you answer that question, clearly and immediately. Identify your unique value proposition: a statement that explains what benefit you provide for who and how you do it uniquely well. Every element of your content should point back to this statement.
- Your home page should quickly tell me if you have the answers I’m looking for.
- If I can’t quickly figure out what’s in it for me, I’ll click that back button.
- Identify your goal for each page and its intended audience.
- If you offer multiple products/services for multiple audiences, make sure your home page provides a clear pathway to the appropriate inside pages.
How to make it valuable
“How is this going to benefit me?”
People use the web to find information – make sure you’re providing it. Create copy that informs, educates and guides your audience. Don’t give me spin. I appreciate honesty and transparency. I want facts so I can make an educated decision.
- Write each headline first (one that tells visitor how they will benefit), then make your content fulfill its promise.
- Don’t tell me how wonderful your business or product is. Instead, show me by providing evidence.
- Use conversational English. Avoid industry jargon unless it’s for a technical audience
- Explain why your company is uniquely qualified to provide its products or services.
- Tell me stories of people who have benefitted from using your products or services.
- Turn features into benefits. Don’t try to sell me your product or service. Instead, sell the way it’s going to change my life. How will I be happier, healthier, wealthier, smarter or more secure after I use your product or service? Don’t tell me what it does, tell me what it will do for me.
- Include a compelling “About Us” page that tells me how you can benefit me.
Here are some ways you can offer added value
- Include Images or videos of people using your products/services or tutorials on how to use them.
- Customer testimonials and endorsements – Customers buy from companies they trust.
- Premium content, such as ebooks, white papers,
- Resource lists (articles, videos, books, etc.) that people will find useful.
How to make it persuasive
“Why should I care?”
You need to appeal not just to my head, but to my emotions as well. Make me relate to you on a personal level; make me trust you, make it meaningful to me.
- For every fact or feature you tout, answer my question “So what?”
- Make me care.
- Write stories that engage me.
- Write as though you’re speaking directly to me. Write in the second person using “you”, your and “we.” Write in a friendly, informal voice.
- Be specific, not vague.
- Not: “Hunger is a problem in our community.”
- But: “Two-hundred and fifty children in Bedford will go to bed hungry tonight.”
- People do business with people or companies they trust. You don’t look credible if your copy is poorly written and has spelling and grammar mistakes. Get it proofed; better yet, consider hiring a professional copyeditor.
- Keep your content updated and remove obsolete information.
How to make it motivating
“Ok, I’m interested. What now?” Give me a Call to Action.
You’ve gotten my attention, you’ve told me how you can solve my problem, you’ve made me care, now tell me what I need to do next. Now is the time for a clear “Call to Action (CTA)”. Tell me loud and clear and make it easy for me to do it.
- Use subjects and verbs
- Make your CTA look like a click-able button (round corners).
- Be specific: What exactly am I going to get, how much of it, for how long, etc.
- Add urgency with a time limit, if appropriate.
- If you have more than one call-to-action, display the primary one most prominently, and present only one or two less prominently.
- Include a Call to Action on almost every page, on your Contact page, and in your footer.
Try using Calls to Action like these:
- “Shop today! Sale ends on Monday,”
- “Let’s get started”
- “Find out more”
- “Sign up today!”
- “Click here for details”
- “Try the demo”
- “Watch a sneak peek”
- “Start saving today”
- “Contact us today for a free evaluation!”
- “Apply now”
- “Book today! 15% off your next visit.”
Some final suggestions:
Focus on quality content, not keywords. Writing effective content isn’t all about keywords anymore. NEW Google algorithms reward you for quality, trustworthy content over keywords.
Where can I find you? If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, don’t make me look for your contact info to find out where you’re located. Make sure your address is easy to find on your home page and in your footer.
How can I contact you? Make it easy for me. Include a Contact page but also include it in your footer. Keep contact forms simple – don’t use it for data mining or pre-qualifying,; you’ll only discourage me.
What does this cost? Include prices. People value transparency and don’t like feeling uncertain.
Monitor and measure: Monitor your analytics to find out if your content is attracting the right audience, which pages visitors are spending the most time, and on what pages they leave the quickest. Notice what paths they take as they navigate around your site. Make changes as necessary to make your website more effective.