10 things visitors can find annoying about your website’s copy
Anyone who has used the internet for a good degree of time will have experienced this little tale. You’ve got a question that needs answering or a challenge that needs to be addressed, so, you head to Google. You type in a clear, concise search term and are met immediately with a massive bunch of potential answers. One catches your eye, because the headline appears to suggest it has the answer. Upon landing on the website, it all goes a bit wrong. You read, and read, and read (assuming you’re that patient), but rather than discover the answer to your problem, find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated. Imagine if your potential customers were reacting in this way to your website. What a waste!
In this blog, we’ve decided to put together the top ten website copy mistakes made by businesses. They’re far too common, and today, we’d like to help you avoid falling into the same trap.
1. It’s boring
There isn’t a person on the planet who wants to read boring web copy. We all visit websites to either be entertained or informed. And, just as most of us will quickly change channels when a program starts to bore us, we’ll do the exact same thing with a website. Have a read through your website. Does it excite you? Do you feel inspired? Is it tempting you to do the very things that are being suggested?
It needs work! Treat your web copy like an awesome movie and make it utterly compelling.
2. There’s a lack of good quality imagery
Web copy is nothing without great accompanying imagery.
And no, that doesn’t mean opting for a few hastily-taken, low quality snaps; spend some time getting quality, original images whenever possible. You could have the best copy in the world, but if it isn’t supported by equally great photos and graphics, you’ll turn off a vast section of your potential audience.
3. You’re playing the ‘sales’ card
Websites are definitely another arm of the sales department, but that doesn’t give them carte blanche to operate like a door-to-door salesperson.
If you play the ‘sales’ card by treating every visitor as a customer who is nailed-on to make a purchase, you’ll alienate most of them.
People aren’t always ready want to be sold to – they want to be given answers and have their problems solved. Consider what stage of a buying cycle are your visitors on and craft your message accordingly. Don’t expect them to be willing to buy when they are at the top of the marketing funnel.
4. It’s difficult to read
Take another look at your website. Is it easy to read? Can you quickly read through the paragraphs and get the information you require? If not, move onto point 6!
5. You’re not getting to the point
This blog post is characterised by short, sharp paragraphs. There you go – the one we’ve just typed has just a single sentence contained within.
As does that one! And you’re still reading!
Traditional copywriters often fall into the trap of writing for web pages as they might an old product flier; big, chunky paragraphs and meandering sentences may have worked in the past, but when it comes to the web, you need to be far more succinct. There are all sorts of numbers and statistics that claim to define how long you have to make an impression with a website, but the simple fact remains that most people are time poor. They want answers, quickly.
So, avoid telling your story in too much detail – get to the point!
6. It’s structured poorly
For a web page to really sing, it needs a few things:
• a great headline;
• awesome, original imagery;
• clear calls-to-action;
• approachable, easy-to-use navigation;
• bullet points.
Bullet points are often mocked, but that’s a little unfair. As we’ve demonstrated above, they’re still the best way to break up what would otherwise be long sentences with far too many commas.
When detailing product features or the benefits of your service, stick with paragraphs interspersed with bullet points and numbered lists – it makes it far easier for people to find what matters to them.
7. You’re only talking about yourself
If you think visitors to your website are interested in hearing about your company’s detailed history, awards and countless years of experience, you’re sorely mistaken. This is often the hardest pill to swallow as a business owner, but when you accept that customers are interested in one thing (themselves), you start to tune your marketing efforts to best capture their attention.
Have another read of your website’s copy. Does it speak at length about the business? How long does it take to get to the benefits on offer for customers? Any longer than a few seconds, and you’ve got a problem. About Us pages are the perfect home for slightly more detailed company histories, but when it comes to the homepage and product landing pages, make sure you aim the copy squarely at those reading it.
8. There’s no call-to-action
What do you want people to do? If your website talks a great game but never asks them to complete the transaction or sign-up to your newsletter, the visit may as well not have taken place.Make sure you have a strong call-to-action within your web copy somewhere within the top third of the page.
This area is known as ‘above the fold’ – a term that has long been used in the newspaper industry (it refers to the visible part of the paper once it is folded over on the shelf). It has worked for centuries and continues to do so! Worse still, if your web copy doesn’t feature a call-to-action at all, it really is serving little to no purpose at all.
9. You’re using lots of acronyms and ‘business speak’
FYI no one wants to run flags up poles or touch base with you to find out what the ETA on your product delivery timeline would be. Acronyms have their place, as does business speak, but that place isn’t on your website.
Write as you would talk – i.e. in plain English. Resort to what you think are clever words, phrases and things you’ve heard in board meetings and you’ll do nothing more than annoy the people who visit your website. In fact, it might make you a laughing stock; think how often people poke fun at acronyms and business speak. Do you want your website to be the butt of those same jokes?
10. It doesn’t combine features and benefits
Just like ‘above the fold’, ‘features and benefits’ are two words that have been used for decades to help sales and marketing professionals sell their products effectively. Sure, your shiny new product is full of awesome functionality, but by simply listing it (bullet point style, of course), are you giving anyone a reason to buy?
Unfortunately, no, you’re not. Once again, they need to know what’s in it for them. For every feature there should be a benefit, so make it clear what ‘it’ is in your web copy and reaffirm those benefits regularly – it’s what will sell the the product when the potential customer is ready to make a decision.
If you’re experiencing poor website conversion rates, high bounces and a lacklustre average time on site, there’s a very good chance your web copy is to blame. Give it a thorough read and apply every learning above. It’ll take time, but you’ll end up with a website that screams “read me!”.