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Point, Click, Read – The Power of Good Web Copy

May 3, 2009

Good writing is the fundamental element of your small business marketing strategy.  A thoughtful, well-crafted message that connects with your customers will do more than any other element.

This is particularly true for Web sites.  Although the Web is a visual-driven medium, with sites using flashy graphics, sounds, and other fancy features, success still comes down to what you say and how you say it.

However, Web site copy differs significantly from that for, say, brochures or display ads.  With only few seconds to capture and hold the reader’s attention, Web copy must be brief and to the point, but engaging enough for them want to see more.

Focus first on establishing credibility. The content on your site must be crisp and intelligent. What you say should grab a visitor’s attention, pique their interest and motivate them to action. But avoid sounding like a commercial. 

“Don’t make your Web site look like an ad” is rule number one of Web copywriting, says Maria Veloso, director of Web Copywriting University. We are all bombarded by ad images daily, says Veloso. The last thing we want to see on a site is another ad.

Yet many small business sites seem specifically designed to look like billboards. Avoid this trap. “People go online for information,” says Veloso. “That’s why they call it the information superhighway.” Your site should provide help, not hype, with the feel of editorial, not advertising. Web visitors consider themselves active participants in a shared online experience, so the writing should speak to them in this way. 

Even though you’re writing for an infinite number of potential readers, your copy should read like a conversation.

That’s why many successful Web sites use common, everyday words, not platitudes and overused clichés that show off the writer’s knowledge of the dictionary.  Using the second-person (“you”) in addressing readers also helps create a personal bond with your Web site visitors and helps convey your sincere interest in helping them address their business needs.  They more they feel like they know you, the more interested they’ll be in doing business with your company. 

For more advice on marketing your small business, contact SCORE Lancaster “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 50 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Call us at 717-397-3092 or find us online at www.scorelancaster.org.

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