13 golden rules to writing effective web copy – Part 2

by Steve Manning

Previously I looked at 7 essential rules to writing effective web copy.

I’ll now share my remaining 6 rules to help your web copy shine.

Rule #8: Benefits not features.
Anyone can list a bunch of product or service features, but what really stimulates people into action is benefits. How does your product or service make their life better? How does it save them time or money? If people can make the connection between your product or service and how it’ll improve their life, they’re more likely to be persuaded. So tell them what they want to hear. Make them feel like they simply can’t go on living without you!

Rule #9: Bold text.
If you want to emphasise certain words or sentences in your web copy, why not put them in bold? They’ll stand out from the normal text and be easier for people to digest when they’re scanning your site. It also helps to reinforce key messages. Go on, be bold!

Rule #10: Break up your sentences and paragraphs.
No one wants to read long, boring blocks of copy, so vary your sentence length. Don’t be afraid to use full stops more often. Like this. See. It’s not so bad. And make sure you break up your paragraphs so that they contain no more than 2 or 3 sentences. It makes things easier to read.

Rule #11: Spelling and grammar.
Please, please, please check your spelling and grammar before uploading content to your website. And don’t just rely on spell check – it has a nasty habit of missing things like ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ or ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ or ‘pair-shaped’ instead of ‘pear-shaped’. The best idea is to print your web pages and read them out loud, or get a trusted friend to read them for you.

Rule #12: Friendly and approachable.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Would you prefer to read friendly, upbeat copy or boring and unemotional copy? Of course, friendly wins every time! You want to connect with your audience and make them feel comfortable. So write how you would speak to a friend. Keep it casual and they’re more likely to have a smile on their face as they read about your business.

Rule #13: Address a basic need.
What problem does your product or service solve? Fear? Greed? Convenience? Does it save people time? Does it make a person or their loved ones feel safe? Does it make them feel smart? Whatever emotion you’re tapping into, use copy that links your product or service to their need. Show them how you can fix their problem or make them feel good and you’re way ahead of the game.

Now, because I like to exceed people’s expectations, here’s a BONUS rule because you’ve been so good and read the article…

Rule #14: Don’t make vague promises or statements.
Don’t dance around a fact. Be positive. If it’s true, say it. But if you feel like your statement or promise isn’t all that good, don’t try and sugar coat it. It’s probably best to leave it out. Always keep your web copy positive and strong and reassure them that they’re dealing with someone who knows what they’re talking about.

By following the above 7 rules, plus the 7 in my previous article, you’ll be well on the way to producing effective and compelling web copy.

And in today’s competitive marketplace, you simply can’t afford to have lacklustre copy on your website that’s driving potential customers away. Remember – one click and they’re gone!