Wax On, Wax Off: 8 Final Steps for Polished Website Copy

We’ve worked all the way through research and writing parts of the Website Copy That Converts checklist.

Now we edit and polish.

Today, we’ll talk about a few last steps to make sure your copy is as polished as that agate that’s been through grandma’s tumbler.

Hold on. What are those research and writing phases, Kelley? You wrote about them? Can you just, like, list all those other steps in a convenient list of links that I can peruse?

Sure! Thanks for asking.

Target Pain Points to Make the Sale
Keywords 101
Hey! Grab Attention with Headlines
Create Your Customer Avatar
Lead with Benefits
Wonderful USP: Unique Selling Proposition
Hey “You”—Focus on Customer Needs and Wants
A Clear and Easy Call to Action

Whew! I guess I’ve been busy.

(By the way, you can still grab that checklist by signing up for my email newsletter, you know? Better do it now. I’m working on something new for you.)

Here we go with fine-tuning and editing your website copy.

1) Length: 200-500 words work for most pages

SCIENCE* SAYS 200-500 words is the sweet spot for most pages. That being said, it’s more about quantity than quality, but watch out for going on too long. Cut and tighten where you can.

See a big block of text more than a few lines long? Break it up.

*A few websites that I checked seemed to agree on that.

2) Voice: Does it match your brand? Appeal one-on-one to the ideal client?

When you read back through your website copy, does it feel like you? Does it feel like your brand? Is it speaking directly to one ideal client, or trying a scattershot approach?

You can’t please anyone. Not with a chocolate cake, and not with website copy. If you’re selling chocolate cake, write to the people who really want your chocolate cake in their lives (like me). Don’t try to convince the people who really prefer lemon.

3) Scannable: Good use of headings? Does it need bullet points?

We’ve talked about this: people don’t read.

Your home page is like a resume. What do you want people to take from it if they only spend ten seconds to see if it’s interesting?

Make sure your copy and design work together to make things scannable.

4) Jargon: Edit out industry language your client may not understand.

Know your audience. Does your client know industry terms, and expect you to use them? Do they need a little education before they buy? Or can you just toss the jargon completely?

Using terms your client doesn’t understand is a big-league turnoff.

5) Appearance: Check on laptop, mobile, different browsers.

Your beautiful tagline might get cut off on some screens. When you know that, you can make a decision about whether it’s better to change the tagline, or to deal with it as it is.

Try a simulator to get an idea of how your site looks on different size monitors, tablets, and mobile devices.

6) Consistent message: Read for discrepancies.

This one can be a bit tricky, especially if it takes you weeks, months, or years (I see you out there) to update your website copy.

Is every page a part of the same story? Do you have a tagline or call to action that’s worded a little bit differently on another page? Is there a consistent message throughout?

7) Consistent formatting: Keep a special eye on headings.

Okay, this is a fiddly one, but make sure each page of your website looks like it belongs with the others. We won’t get too deep into design stuff, but keep those headings, fonts, etc., consistent.

8) Proofread: Make sure someone else proofreads your work. Always proofread last.

Yes, even if you are a professional proofreader, because proofreading yourself is extremely hard! Trust me. I am one.

Try not to fuss around with your copy AFTER the proofreading takes place, because that’s where mistakes happen most. That one last-minute tweak always gets me in trouble.

Did I tell you about that time my friend Abbi told me I had a typo in a proofreading offer in my newsletter? Murphy’s Law totally applies.

P.S.—On longform sales pages, add a P.S.

This one is mainly for fun, but… if you’re selling a high-ticket item, you’ll usually have a long sales page (more than 500 words for sure), and there’s usually a P.S. at the end.

People people read them.

WHEW. We have come to the end of the 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts checklist! Download it if you haven’t already.

Was that a bit much? You know, you can just hire someone to do all this stuff for you.

Like me. Hire me. I write and edit websites for cool people who do cool stuff.

Let’s chat. hello@kelleygardiner.com



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A Clear and Easy Call to Action

The world is full of yelling to try to get your attention.

Buy now!
Sign up today!
Call us!

What’s your call to action?

Call to action: Make it clear and easy to do. On every page.

Sure, you could wait for your customer to do what you want them to do. But wouldn’t it be a little faster and more effective to—you know—ask them?

What do you want your prospects to DO when they end up on your website?

Make sure you have a clear call to action on every page of your website.

What is a call to action, anyway?

You have to ask your prospect to take the next step.

It doesn’t have to be BUY NOW on every page. Far from it. But, every interaction should be a positive experience that could potentially lead to a sale down the road, right?

A call to action might be:

  • Call now
  • Sign up for my email newsletter
  • Donate
  • Leave a comment
  • Learn more
  • Book
  • Buy!

Customer Journey

You’ll need to figure out your customer journey before you can really dial in the call to action.

“Oh no Kelley, that sounds like marketing gibberish to me. Do I have to pay someone $5000 to figure out what my customers do?”

Nah, far from it. Unless you want to, or if you’re a huge corporation with super complex processes like T-Mobile. (If you are, what the heck are you doing here? I like the idea of a T-Mobile exec sitting in their office reading my blog before a meeting on the 17th floor.)

Anyway, you should have an idea of who your customer is, and what they do before the step where they give you money.

  • How long have they known about you?
  • Do they tend to do a lot of research before they buy?
  • Do they subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media?

What should my call to action be?

It depends, of course.

  1. What kind of service or product are you selling?
  2. What page are they on?

Let’s start with home pages, because they’re the ones that often get short shrift when it comes to a call of action.

What? For a B2B (business to business) service company with a higher ticket price, your call to action on the home page will often be “learn more,” with links to a more information, like a portfolio or pricing.

Why? Because your buyer is a mid-level professional who needs to research several options. They may need to justify or explain their choice to others. They need more information about your work before they proceed with contacting you.

What? For a small online retail business, you might put your product on the home page, and let the sales be your call to action.

Why? Because getting your customers to your sales page is the hard part, and that’s already done. They’re already interested. You can put beautiful photos of your product to entice even more, and a link to your online store. Your front page can even be your online store. Make it easy!

Furthermore… For a restaurant it might be “reserve your table.” For brick-and-mortar retail, you might want to tell your new internet friends to sign up for your email newsletter for 10% off their first purchase. And on and on.

What would you like leads to do after they land on your home page?

So it can be different on different pages?

It probably should be!

After all, if someone is on your sales page, you want them to buy something.

If you’ve gotten someone to your landing page for your email newsletter signup, you sure as heck want to convert that.

If someone is on your contact page, you want them to contact you, right? Or do you want them to go straight to booking an appointment? Or read your FAQ before sending you one more lousy email?

For me, I’ll put an email newsletter signup on this blog post, because that seems to me like the best time to ask you. You’re here, you got all the way to the end of the blog post, and you’re still not tired of me, so why not take that time to beg for your email address? KINDA KIDDING! (BTW, I send a helpful email once a month, so go ahead and sign up for it. There are always cute animal photos, and I don’t give your address to anyone else, so you really can’t lose.)

Design helps

Look.

I’m not an expert when it comes to design, okay? I mean… look around.

But from what I’ve read, design makes a huge difference when it comes to your call to action.

If you’re starting off DIY, with no budget for web design, I hear you. Your first step is making your call to action very clear.

Make it easy to find. And make it easy for me, as a reader, to understand what I’m supposed to do.

Watch out for clickable buttons that don’t look like buttons, and links that don’t look like links.

Ask a friend to look at your page and tell you what they’re supposed to do at the end. It’s super important to get feedback from someone who hasn’t been staring at your website for six weeks.

On a separate note, don’t get so wrapped up in beautiful design that the call to action gets totally lost.


Any questions about your call to action? Drop a line at hello@kelleygardiner.com, or let’s hash it out in the comments!


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Hey, “You”—Focus on Customer Needs and Wants

Which statement intrigues you more?

  1. I’m a copywriter, and I write great About pages.
  2. When your About page is crafted carefully, you’ll attract your ideal customer.

Probably the second one. I’m talking to you, and about what I can do for you.

Is your website engaged in a conversation, or giving a lecture?

Puppy getting tummy scritch with headline text

Focus on Customer Needs and Wants

You do or offer something wonderful. We have no doubt of that here.

But if your website copy goes on and on about what your business does and sells—well, friend, you start to sound a little self-centered. Let your customer know you’re thinking of them, too.

Focus on customer needs in your language and in your content.

Here’s how.

(Don’t forget your distinction between benefits vs. features, as we’ve discussed before.)

Use “You”

It’s best practice to use the second person in sales and web copy.

In case you forgot that day in grammar class (and who could blame you?), second person means addressing the reader as “you.”

First person: I am a wonderful copywriter, and all who fail to hire me gnash their teeth in despair!

Second person: You would be so smart to hire me as a copywriter!

Third person: People who doesn’t hire copywriters may incur high dentist bills from gnashing their teeth so much.

Of course, you can use “we” and “I” and “our” when it makes sense. Just keep an eye out to make sure your focus—and your pronouns—don’t stray from the customer too much.

Cute puppy with title overlay

Imperative Language Counts

Let’s look at a big example: Netflix.

We all know what Netflix is, right? They don’t have to explain much on their home page.

“See what’s next. Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime. Join free for a month.”

That’s not a ton of copy. It’s a tagline, a couple of counter-arguments against why you wouldn’t push the button, and the offer.

And it’s all imperative language, which… oh no. Watch out. I’m going to do another grammar thing.

“You” is in all of these sentences. The second person is implied.

Do you remember diagramming sentences? Maybe in Spanish class, if not in English?

Bear with me.

When you’re making a command, grammatically, there’s an invisible “you” acting as the subject of the sentence.

[You] see what’s next.

[You] watch anytime.

It’s language that speaks directly to the reader, and it can make a big impact in a few short lines.

Shine a Light on Your Best Customers

We’ve talked about focusing on the customer using language, so let’s think about focusing on them with your choice of content.

When you tell your brand story, do you talk about the successes for your clients? Do you explain how your service or product has helped your previous customers?

Leads and prospects relate more to your clients, who’ve ostensibly been in their shoes at some point. They needed what you had to offer, and had a positive result.

Boom. Just the kind of content you need.

Testimonials, reviews, and case studies provide “social proof” that you’re real and legitimate.

Don’t just tell. Listen.

Part of writing website copy is staying open to changing it. Listening to your customers, asking for feedback, and adjusting your products accordingly will go a long way toward success.

Networking isn’t just for leads
Networking isn’t just about handing out business cards and getting hot leads. It’s also about learning what kind of questions the public has about you and what you do. Networking events are also opportunities to try out new messaging, especially if you can get an opportunity to talk to big group for a few seconds. Try out your new elevator pitch to see how many smiles and head nods you can get.

Ask questions on social media
You need to post something anyway. Be strategic about what kinds of questions you ask, and you might get a seed to some content strategy.

Do A/B testing
You don’t have the time to A/B test your entire freaking website, so try with the high-impact items like your call to action or email newsletter signup copy. (I just started an A/B test on mine, as part of research on how to get more people to sign up for your newsletter. Oh, hello! If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletter!)

Do more A/B testing
Just one isn’t enough! Since you’re ideally just testing one variable in each test, it’ll take a lot of testing to get to your perfect copy.

Just when you have it all dialed in, your clients or the environment might change. Test, test again.


I’m listening! What do you think? hello@kelleygardiner.com


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Wonderful USP: Unique Selling Proposition

You down with USP? YEAH, YOU KNOW ME!

Now that I’ve shown my age (38, if anyone’s counting), let’s talk about what makes you the best person to serve your dream client.

White dog with text overlay

USP = Unique Selling Proposition

What makes you and your product unique? Why are you the best person to buy from?

What makes you special?

This is not a rhetorical question, and I don’t want you to shrug it off. There is something inherent about you, and your product or service, that serves your clients in a different way than your competition.

Yes, you.

What is it?

And is that clear in your website copy?

If someone takes five minutes to read your home and about page, they should come away knowing what sets you apart.

Try this: ask a buddy to take five minutes to read your home and about page, then just ask. “After reading that, what would you say sets me apart from my competitors?”

Definitions Across the Internet

Entrepreneur defines USP as: “The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.”

Kissmetrics rolls its eyes a bit about Entrepreneur’s definition and says: “A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about.”

Copyblogger has a 60-second video on the subject, but those who prefer to read: “In essence, a unique selling proposition (USP) is something that you offer customers or clients that your competitors do not offer. It’s also known as a ‘remarkable benefit.'”

Let’s talk about how to find your USP, and then how to communicate it through the language on your website. First, we’ll look at an easy example, then we’ll delve a little deeper with some help from coaches who work with business owners like you.

A USP in the Wild

Let’s use a blaring example. If you have a coffee shop, why should someone come to your place instead of the Starbucks one block over?

What does your business stand for? What are you known for? What are you about?

Let’s look at my local hang. My neighborhood coffee shop is 100% vegan, and their tagline is “Drink coffee. Take care.” They are known for being a vegan coffee shop in East Portland. You can buy records there, but that’s not why they exist.

Starbucks, on the other hand, is known for a consistent gourmet coffee experience. You can buy bananas there, but that’s not why they exist.

Both coffee shops have other offers, and other marketing messages, but they’re not trying to be the cheapest coffee in town. They’re not trying to sell the most breakfast sandwiches.

Of course, you don’t have to be a vegan coffee shop or Starbucks to be successful. There’s room for you to have your unique niche in the marketplace.

Finding Your USP

If you’ve been wondering what the heck your USP might be, you’re not alone! It’s not necessarily going to be 100% crystal clear right out of the gate. It might take some thinking and refining, and it might change as time goes on.

Lucky for you, this isn’t something you have to come up with right this moment. It might take a little musing and shaping. It might take a couple of passes, and a long walk on the beach. I tend to get my “aha” moments while zoning out to NPR in the car.

Danielle Ewalt is a business coach who specializes in working with parent entrepreneurs, and she knows a thing or two about crystallizing your abilities and communicating them succinctly.

As Danielle says, “Your USP isn’t one thing. There are many competitors that will share one, or maybe even two of our unique traits. It is the synergy created when three or four traits combine that make you (or your company) truly unique and stand out in the crowd.”

Deer stands out of the group at the zoo

Try this: make a short list right now of what makes your business product unique. Then list the top two or three things you do really well. What does the intersection look like?

USP and Impostor Syndrome

I have to be honest with you. When I started thinking through my own USP, I found some internal resistance pretty quickly. “What, me? I don’t know anything!” part of my brain wanted to tell me.

Brain, please. I’m good at what I do, and I’m constantly trying to learn more and improve myself. I’m funny when I want to be, and I have a knack for simplifying complex concepts. OKAY, BRAIN? Can I live?

Plenty of other women and non-binary entrepreneurs struggle with this as well. How do we position ourselves as the best, especially when we don’t feel like the best?

I asked the wonderful Selena Maestas from the Love YOU More Project to share her perspective as a coach who helps people see and be their best selves.


Says Selena:

Our minds are our biggest obstacles. When we believe what our inner critic tells us, we stay small. We question our knowledge, our success, and our worth.

It’s a vicious cycle that requires a LOT of work to overcome, especially if you don’t have the right tools.

First, it’s important that you think about your thoughts. You hear them and understand that those thoughts are NOT YOU, it is your survival brain trying to keep you “safe.” You write all of the thoughts down, without editing. Then, you go back to the top of your list and question your own thinking. Ask:

  • Is this true?
  • How does this make me feel?
  • Do I want to feel this way?
  • How would I rather feel?
  • What thought must I have to feel differently?

To be fair, this doesn’t fix the problem right away. There are other pieces necessary to override your survival mind; however, it is a good start to see your thoughts for what they are and to notice how those thoughts are affecting your results.


Thanks, Selena! I’m going to write down my negative thoughts for a few days. And by “write down,” I mean on my phone or in a notebook, not “tweet jokes about.”

USP in Your Website Copy

Okay, you say. I’ve figured out my unique selling proposition. But how do I express that in my website copy?

Well, I’m so glad you asked!

It’s a lot like what we talked about the features and benefits:

  • Figure out your USP
  • Keep it in mind when you’re writing your first draft
  • Go take a walk (have a cup of tea, etc.)
  • Tease it out on your second draft
  • Ask a friend if they can figure it out in 30 seconds
  • Walk away from it for two days
  • Edit it again, etc., etc.
  • *OR* hire a writer to do the above for you

Home: Is your USP communicated clearly? Why would that prospect want to learn more about you?
About: How does your story highlight your USP?
Services: Are the services you offer truly your best work? Or are you offering services you think you “should” for your industry? (If you offer those “should be” services, are they making you more money?)
Work/Portfolio: Amplify your skills and expertise by being super specific and showing examples.
Tagline: Your brand, including a tagline if you use one, should work toward communicating your special talent.
Elevator pitch: Can you tell me in ten seconds what sets you apart?

What’s Your USP?

As Danielle says, “It is so powerful when you find it—but it is a process. Sometimes people put so much pressure on themselves. But keep testing things out, listening to your customers and you will find the reasons they choose you!”

Have you found your USP? Feel free to brag on yourself in the comments.

Let’s talk about what you have to offer: hello@kelleygardiner.com


If you liked that blog post, you would looooove my email newsletter.

It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

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Features and Benefits: Lead with Benefits

What’s the difference between features and benefits, and why does that matter for your website copy?

Well, your business is awesome! You have an exciting product or service, and you want the world to know about it. When you focus your sales copy on the benefits of your goods, it’ll help keep your leads interested, and put them in the mindset to buy.

As the old adage says, “features tell, benefits sell.” Let’s sell.

Features

Features are cool things about your product or service.

Let’s say you sell cat shampoo. Features of your cat shampoo might be a seven different cat-friendly scents, organic ingredients, rinses clean, free shipping, or frustration-free packaging.

These are details about your product that your customer does want to know. They belong in your website somewhere.

But do they sell?

Sure, if your client is looking for something very specific and they already like you and your business. But most of the time, your goal is to hook the prospect to try to keep them interested and on your site. As we discussed before—people do not read. They’re not going to hang around more than a few seconds to figure out if they want what you’re selling.

Benefits

Now, let’st think about how those features benefit your customer.

Got cat scratch fever? Stop the struggle at bath time, thanks to our clean-rinsing formula.

The clean-rinsing formula is still there, but now you’re reminding people how that benefits them. It saves them from holding down an angry cat longer than they have to.

For example…

To make this a little more clear, I talked to a couple of women who own beauty businesses here in Portland, Oregon. They were kind enough to help me illustrate this a more specifically, using their beautiful examples.

Best Year Ever—Caity Hubert

Caity Hubert is running a program to help self-employed hair stylists make more money. (Love it!) It’s called Best Year Ever.

Features of the program:
  • Lifetime access to a membership site including video lessons and PDF workbooks
  • Access to a FB group exclusive to paid members of the group
  • Monthly livestream trainings that build upon the course content
  • Weekly “office hours” that provide coaching and mentorship
  • Budgeting, pricing, and expense trackers and calculators

That all sounds good. My soul is not stirred yet, but this is good to know.

Five benefits of the program:
  • Clarity in marketing and branding strategies
  • Increase confidence from the support and encouragement from other group participants
  • Knowledge to help build clientele quickly
  • Increase in retail sales, service sales, and tips
  • Higher and more consistent take-home pay

That’s the soul-stirring stuff! Would I like to make more money, and consistent money, as a self-employed person? Yes, please.

Caity didn’t point this one out, but one feature immediately leapt out to me when I checked out the website.

“You can wear your PJs, drink wine in ‘class,’ or learn on the go.”

Feature: Online class.

Benefit: Drink wine while taking said class.

See what I mean?

 

Sandra Kafka Beauty

Sandra Kafka is a makeup artist and hair stylist at Sandra Kafka Beauty.

Feature: Professional makeup application for headshots
Benefit: Look more polished

Feature: Professional wedding makeup application
Benefit: No stress day of wedding, looking & feeling your best for photos that last a lifetime

Feature: Licensed professional makeup artist
Benefit: Up-to-date licensing on sanitation & insurance means no chance of infections

Feature: Only professional grade makeup
Benefit: Makeup that lasts all day and through the night

Feature: Personal makeup shopping
Benefit: An expert to help pick the best products for you without the pressure to buy

I love that last one. I think I need her to hold my hand and take me to Ulta.

Baby bulldog with text overlay

That’s why we lead with benefits. Your clients do want to know the details of your offer, but you have to hook them first.

Thanks to the fantastic Caity and Sandra for taking the time!

Need help parsing features vs. benefits? Let’s work through that in a consultation.
Kelley Gardiner head shot


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It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

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Create Your Customer Avatar

Who’s your dream customer or client?

Hello! We’re back with even more from the Website Copy That Converts checklist. I’m holding your hand on a friendly journey through each point on the list, so you can learn more about writing (or hiring out the writing of) effective website copy. You can download your very own copy of this handy checklist today.

Cool?

Cool!

Check out the previous installments about pain points, keywords, and headlines.

Today we’re on installment #4, which is:

Target a specific audience; keep your customer avatar in mind.

Business owners, especially new ones right out of the gate (Hi! You’re doing great!) tend to get a bit itchy at the thought of focusing their marketing or services to a narrow niche. Certainly we don’t want to exclude any potential clients when prospects are already few and far between?

Stand strong for yourself and your brand, because narrowing your focus can open up possibilities.

Figure out who your prime customer is, and speak to her.

Just her.

happy dog with mouth open, text overlay

One super useful exercise to determine who that is, and how to address her, is using a customer avatar.

I gotta tell you, the whole customer avatar thing was HOT at the Digital Summit Portland marketing conference I went to last year. Maybe this year there’ll be a new hot topic, but it looks like customer avatars are here to stay. (BTW, are you going to Digital Summit Portland in June? Let me know so we can say hi!)

What’s a customer avatar?

Blue lady 8)
Still from “Avatar”

 

No, not that Avatar.

Digital Marketing Institute and Forbes have some smart things to say about it.

tl;dr?

A customer avatar (aka buyer persona) is a “semi-fictional” ideal client. Instead of thinking about a range of people who might buy your product or service, you’re drilling down to think of one.

One person.

What’s her name? How old is she? (Not 18-45, but maybe 32.) What does she do for fun in her spare time? What magazines or blogs does she read? Does she use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or does she claim she doesn’t have a smart phone?

Yes, it feels strange and reductive at first. After all, you serve a number of fabulous and unique people. But there’s a point to all this, so stay tuned.

Creating your customer avatar

A lot of very smart digital marketing folks have written a bunch of smart articles about creating your avatar, so I’ll let you have at it.

You might be thinking of one person in particular who you’ve worked with, mixed with your idea of the perfect client. This kind of thing is fun for me, since I’m—you know—a writer. I like to ponder human behavior and then make things up based on that. It’s my thing. If it’s not your thing, grab a friend/marketing professional/copywriter and talk it out over a cafe au lait.

It's a cat in a cup!

“Cafe au lait? What am I, Marie Antoinette? How about a nice mug of Folgers?”

That’s how specific you can get!

(See what I did there?)

Take ten minutes and brainstorm whatever comes to mind for your customer avatar worksheet, then come back to it the next day or the next week. Your subconscious will do plenty of work for you here if you let it. After all, you’re thinking about your customers throughout the day as you’re wooing and serving them.

If you have a fun customer avatar, I’d love to see it. Email hello@kelleygardiner.com, or leave a link in the comments.

If you have a boring one, just keep it to yourself, I guess. (KIDDING, YOU ARE WONDERFUL AND NEVER BORING)

Writing to your customer avatar

Now that you have your ideal customer in mind, you can talk directly to her.

By the way, I really mean directly to her. Using the second person, or “you,” is currently considered the effective way to go. After all, your customers aren’t interested in what you can do. They’re interested in what you can do for THEM.

Which is more compelling?

We have the best customer service in town.

You’ll enjoy the best customer service experience in town.

Thought so! Even better if you can describe this wonderful experience in detail.

Writing in the second person helps your prospect see themselves as your customer.

Reign in the specifics

Say your customer avatar likes lavender lattes and marionberry scones. Great! That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily mention those things in your website copy. Maybe you’ll talk about grabbing a cup of coffee, which your reader will know can certainly mean a lavender latte (or cup of tea) if they like.

Maybe you do want to mention lavender lattes. They’re totally in right now. If that fits your brand, go for it.

Focus

Keeping your ideal client in mind will help you keep your focus on sales and storytelling. It will also plain help you write and get words on the page.

We tend to procrastinate and get stilted when writing. It’s normal. But when you’re thinking of your client who is Really Into Star Wars and orders in pad kee mao at least once a week, there’s a good chance the words will start to flow a little more easily. You’ll put more of your personality into your work, which will attract the right clients for you. That friendly face, real or imagined, can guide you through the process, whether you’re writing your own copy, or thinking through your messaging while working with a professional writer.

Like me!

You can hire me to help you through this process, too! You will need to go through part of the thought process that goes behind strong writing and marketing, but you won’t have to do any of the heavy word lifting. That’s what I do every day, because I love it.

What do you love? <3

hello@kelleygardiner.com



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It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

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Hey! Grab Attention with Headlines

We’re here today as part of the 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts checklist series. Go ahead and grab the checklist now so you can follow along.

Yep, just click that link and follow the instructions.


Today we’re talking headlines!

Headlines: Should create curiosity and be easily understood at a glance

Easy, right? Let’s get to it.

Dog chasing a yellow ball

Why are headlines important?

I have to tell you something about writing website copy that you might not like, after all this work/money you’re putting into it…

People don’t read.

If this is a shock to you, think about the way you glean information from a website you’ve never been to before. You probably scan. You see what’s relevant to you, and if something catches your attention, you’ll read more deeply.

One study said that 28% of copy is read. (Lots of interesting stuff in this article, btw, if you’re in the mood for… you know… reading.)

So, people are scanning from top to bottom, in an “F” shape, checking anything that pops out if it’s relevant or intriguing.

Website Copy That Converts Checklist: Headlines

What the heck is a headline, anyway?

For our purposes, let’s think about any headings on your website. The big words that give your website structure. Some sites might have just one heading on each page, and some might have a bunch.

This page has a bunch, but most of your web pages won’t be 500+ words like this blog post is.

Headlines Should Create Curiosity

Via Giphy

You don’t have much time to convince someone to stay on your website (about 15 seconds, if you’re lucky), let alone to follow your call to action. Your headlines, design, and visuals need to do a lot of heavy lifting to convince busy and distracted people to stick around.

Good headlines will pique curiosity. Let’s look at a a few examples. Which one would catch your attention?

HeadlinesYawn. See you later, gonna go check Facebook.

Headline Optimization for Simplified ConversionAre you talking to me as a business owner? You must be talking to someone who enjoys throwing jargon around, and I’m only interested in getting clients and pretending I don’t spend as much time on Facebook.

Headlines Potential Clients Can’t IgnoreI may stick around to learn more about this, if Facebook is slow.

Hey! Grab Attention with HeadlinesKelley’s at it again, isn’t she? She usually has pictures of dogs, though.

Try to stay away from “clickbait” titles that may elicit an emotional reaction, but probably won’t attract your ideal customer.

You know clickbait when you see it: One Golden Retriever Licks Its Chops, and You’ll Never Guess What Happens Next

Headlines Should Be Easily Understood at a Glance

Yes, headlines should create interest, but don’t get too cute, friends.

Too cute, in an appropriate way

We’ve already established that people don’t read. Headlines must convey meaning in the few seconds you have to convince your prospect to stick around.

So, yes, your headlines had better be clear, especially on home pages and—holy crap, even more so—landing pages. (Sing it with me: Home pages are not landing pages!)

Headlines create organization

One of the hardest parts of writing is finding the best structure for your many wise thoughts and ideas.

Headlines and headers are the steel beams of your copy structure. Just like those topic sentences in five-paragraph essays you wrote in high school, your headlines announce what’s coming.

Be clear to everyone

Stay away from jargon, unless you’re absolutely sure that your audience knows what you’re talking about. If you’re not sure, ask a friend from outside your industry to read through your website. Sometimes you forget what a subject matter expert you really are.

And you are.

cat high five


Like this post? Read the first two in the series:

Target Pain Points to Make the Sale

Keywords 101



Do you need help with writing or rewriting website copy?  Email me! hello@kelleygardiner.com

Let’s get more clients in the door.



If you liked that blog post, you would looooove my email newsletter.

It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

Email newsletter signup button

Keywords 101

We’re back at it with our blog series based on the 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts checklist. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, might as well go for it now.

#2 on the list: Select a mix of short and long-tail keywords to weave into text.

Today, we’ll go very briefly over keywords.

Why? In short, optimizing your keywords will help your business show up in internet searches.

Shaggy teeny dog with text overlay

This subject can be a bit of a yawner, I know, for non-techie types. But if* you want to show up in these searches, you’ll need to put a little bit of work into the front end. We’ll try to make this intro quick, fun, and actionable.

*Wait… what do you mean, *IF* I want to show up in these searches?

Some people don’t care as much about SEO. Maybe you’d prefer not to get every rando on the internet emailing you to ask you for a quote. Instead of gathering leads via your website, you’re trying to convert warm leads once they get there.

For the rest of us… KEYWORDS!

Keyword 101

What the heck is a keyword?

Make a cup of coffee and sit down here for a moment. I’m here to tell you about a story about a penguin, a panda, and a hummingbird.

It is not nearly as cute as it sounds.

When someone makes a search on Google, Google takes a look at everything the company has indexed, all across the internet, and uses its algorithm to give the user back the most pertinent information. That’s why we use Google—because it works. Most of the time.

Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, and Fred (yes, Fred) are all code names for Google algorithms, which are being tweaked and changed all the time—maybe once or twice a month. Google doesn’t always announce changes.

Red panda
Surprise!

You know how this works. When someone searches for “cat photographer,” a number of websites pop up. In this case, “cat photographer” is a search term. If you want that search term to find your delightful internet home, you use “cat photographer” on your website as one of your keywords.

Long-tail and short-tail keywords

There are two kinds of keywords: long and short.

Long-tail keywords are… longer. They’re a string of words. They’re searched less often, but have higher conversion rates.

So, maybe 100 people search this term in a month, but many of those 100 people are doing specific searches that mean they’re ready to buy.

Think: best cat photographer in Portland, Oregon

Short-tail keywords are… short. There’s a ton of competition across the internet, and your conversion percentage will be much lower.

People are searching for these terms might be looking for something unrelated to what you do. But, hey, they’re easy to sprinkle throughout your site.

Think: photographer

Figure out the type of traffic you’re looking for, and plan your mix of short and long-tail keywords accordingly.

Keyword Research

I’m not even going to pretend like I’m the best person to talk to about this.

Check out a couple of beginners’ guides. Here’s one for WordPress.

And so many more you can google. The point? Start thinking about what keywords you want to rank for BEFORE you start writing.

You can pay people money to do this for you if you like.

Make a list

Still on board?

You have:

  • thought about what kinds of traffic you’d like
  • did some keyword research to find long and short keywords, and
  • put them all in a neat and tidy list

Maybe a spreadsheet. I do love a good spreadsheet.

Cat sitting on a computer lol

And yet…

Put away the list and start writing

I know, I’m sending you mixed messages. Yes, you’ll need to know what keywords you want to rank for before you start writing the bulk of your project. But. Don’t worry about putting those actual keywords in until your second or third draft.

Your copy needs to be written with your ideal client in mind. One perfect client who loves you dearly, pays on time, and sends you chocolates on your birthday. Write to her. Sell to her.

Make things clear. Or, make things weird on the first draft, a little better on the second, and clear on the third.

You’ll have the opportunity to put those keywords in later, when you’re fine-tuning the message.

Go back to that list of keywords

Once you’ve written everything, go back to your list and make sure all those keywords are included. Don’t force it. Keep it natural. If I were putting BEST PORTLAND OREGON COPYWRITER in every other paragraph, you’d be very aware of that instead of my message. The first goal is to be useful to your clients, prospects, and hot leads.


That’s it! Told you we’d keep it short(ish). If you’d like to do some extra reading on the subject, here’s some food for thought:

SEO Copywriting Ultimate Guide from Yoast.

Don’t load your copy with keywords, says Neil Patel. Sprinkle and wave, baby.

Most Massive SEO Copywriting Guide from CoSchedule. Maybe save this one for when you break your leg and can’t move for a few weeks. (Partially kidding.)

Need help wrapping your brain around all this? Let’s talk! I can write it for you, or coach you through finding a strategy.

hello@kelleygardiner.com



If you liked that blog post, you would looooove my email newsletter.

It goes out once a month or so, and it’s a short and sweet way to keep up with the latest in business communications.

Email newsletter signup button

 

 

 

 

 

 

Target Pain Points to Make the Sale

Hold on to your butts, because today we’re kicking off a special blog series.

Do you have your copy of 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts? You can get it for free. FREE! Just for signing up for my email newsletter. Go ahead.  Sign up now. My newsletters are fun, useful, and not too frequent. You’ll like them.

Now that you’ve grabbed that, this blog series will be doing a deep dive into each item on the checklist.

leaping white dog, with text overlay

 


We start with research. All the data you ferret out now will go directly into writing your killer web and sales copy.

Identify Customer Needs and Pains. Target Pain Points to Make a Sale.

We’ve reached the first stop on our website copy checklist train.

Needs are pretty simple. That’s stuff that your ideal customer needs to have. Or thinks they need.

Got it.

Pains are a little more complex. You can think of them as a problem that that your product can solve.

So, what does that look like applied?

For the sake of this blog post, let’s say you’re a cat photographer. You specialize in boudoir cat photography. JUST KIDDING. You’re a cat portrait photographer.

How do you find out what your clients want and need, and how do you communicate your ability to solve their problems?

How do you suss out their pain points, and then communicate how you’ll make all those pains fade away?

Instead of telling them what you do, tell them how you can enrich their lives.

Instead of being too to the point:

Cat and dog, with title "Photos of your cat"

You can sell by getting to the pain point:

Let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Step One: Research, baby.

You could guess what your client base’s problems are. That would be a lot less work, but it’s not going to be as effective.

Talk (and listen) to your clients.

Talk to them. Easy as pie, right? All you need is a little time.

What do you mean you don’t have any time? I know. It’ll be worth it.

Talking, and listening, should be at the core of your business communications.

That looks like sitting down for coffee and having a long conversation with a past client.  “Social listening” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Gritting your teeth and reading Yelp reviews.

Ask your Facebook fans questions, and pay attention to the answers.

Create a survey.

Surveys can be incredibly powerful… if you can get anyone to respond.

Make your survey short and easy to complete, and give your customers a reason to spend the time. A chance to win a $20 gift card is not worth 20 minutes of my time, people. Five minutes for a chance win a $100 gift card? Now we’re talking.

If you’ve never written a survey before, start simple. Nedra at Blue Deer Forest has some good advice. I’d also recommend giving a test survey to a few friends or a beta group in your network. Sometimes you don’t realize how your questions will be interpreted until the answers start coming back.

The wonderful thing about creating polls and surveys is that you can mirror the responses right back to your client base. We’ll talk about that a bit more below.

More research

Almost there! Just need to gather a little more intel.

Chat with your front line customer service staff.

If you have them, they’re a great resource for what your clients are wanting or not wanting.

Chat with other people in your network.

People who do exactly the same thing as you—your competition.

People in the same niche or industry—your network.

People who might hire other people with your skills—your potential clientele.

Go to a few networking events and get down on some shop talk.

Pay attention to complaints.

A handful of people are in a bad mood, like to complain about everything, and will not be happy until they get your product or service at 80% off.

However. Real talk, here.

If you hear the same complaint over and over, the common thread is you. Set aside your ego and figure out a solution.

(Often, if the common complaint is price, the solution is targeting your ideal client who will pay your prices. NOT lowering them. You’re worth it, you capable unicorn of professionalism.)

Ask the question at least three times.

What do my customers need?

  • They need photos of their cats. Why?
  • They want to have photos to remember how cute they are. Why?
  • Because animals are only in our lives for a short time, and they’re dearly loved. Why?
  • Because they love us unconditionally and add peace and joy to our lives.

See what happens when you dig a little deeper? Use that language in your copy. Instead of: “Obtain a professional photograph of your cat,” you might say, “Your cat adds peace and joy to your life. Capture your love today!


Whew! You’ve talked to your customers, completed a survey, and talked to your front line staff and other key players in your network. Now you have the information about what your customer wants, and why. Maybe you even know some of the reasons that keep them from buying.

You have so much info, friend. And information is power.

Now comes the next step: distilling that information into compelling copy that gets your customers to buy what you’re selling.

Stretching kitten

Step two: Rethink your products and positioning

Eep! This seems like a step back. I know. But if you learn in your market research that what you’re offering isn’t exactly what people want to buy… well, isn’t it good to learn that sooner than later?

Maybe you thought people wanted formal portraits, but they really want candids. Start playing up the candids! You can still do the posed pillow portraits for anyone who asks about it, after all. You’re just highlighting the candids now.

Don’t be afraid to tweak your packages and products from time to time. Times change. You change, your interests change, and the demographics around you change, too. Your strategy and product mix has to move with fashion, technology, and the economy.

Yes, okay, you knew that already. Or you did on some level. Now’s the time to make sure that carries over to your website copy.

Got it?

Good. Let’s move on.

Cat reflected in glass

Step Three: Start Writing or Rewriting

All that work and we haven’t even deleted one word yet. That’s okay. No one said this would be easy.

Hiring someone to do it for you is much easier. Did I mention that? Wink.

Start a list of words and phrases to use.

Pull out words and phrases—the ones your customers have already given you in conversation, on Facebook, and in surveys—to use in your marketing and website copy.

Maybe a cat photographer wants to use word and phrases like:

  • Those delectable toe beans
  • Memories
  • Forever
  • Better holiday card than your ex-boyfriend
  • Love
  • Instagram famous

Keep a file of those words, and don’t worry about them too much on your first draft. Sprinkle them in on the rewrite.

Surprised cat with "record scratch" text overlay

“HOLD UP, Kelley. You want me to do TWO DRAFTS? This is like high school all over again! And not the good part!”

I know. This is why I started a writing business. So I can have fun doing it, and you can take pictures of cats.

Yes, you have to do several drafts, or hire someone to do it for you.

Remind your customer of the pain point.

And, of course, we’re keeping in mind those “pain points.” The problems you’re trying to solve.

You’ve seen a million ads that play this up.

SCRUBBING THE SHOWER… AGAIN?

Why, yes, I am tired of scrubbing my tub, and I hardly ever even do it! If only some product could help me out with that…

Tell them how you’ll relieve this particular pain.

Be clear about how your services scratch that particular itch. Do you have happy clients who cried when they saw their cat photos? Say so!

Do you have testimonials? Bring ’em on, and don’t save them for the testimonial page. (We’ll talk about this one in a later post for sure.)

You hear people say, “Show, don’t tell,” and that’s partially true. Proposed solutions to a client’s pain point should be super clear after a quick glance at your page. But once you have them hooked, try telling a story.

What’s more compelling:

“Hire me, because I have 53 years of experience.”

“Over 53 years of cat photography, it’s hard to choose a favorite client, but one memorable kitty was Chester the polydactyl lynx.”

Solve the client’s problem.

If clients keep telling you, “My kittens are growing so fast,” you say, “Your kittens are growing up fast. Get your portraits taken now, and preserve those memories forever!” “Our photographers know how to capture those quick kitten pounces.”

If they tell you, “My iPhone camera is actually great, but the background is always messy,” you say, “Your cat will lounge in luxury as she enjoys fresh tuna and a whisker stylist in our exclusive locations.”

Fluffy kitty


Need help with this? Let’s talk! I can walk you through some simple steps, or refer you to someone who does more in-depth marketing.

Craft your message today. 

 


Like this post? Check out the next installment of the series.