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Dos And Don’ts Of Web Copywriting

5 Comments · Web Copy

Do give a compelling promise early in the body copy that the material viewers are about to read is worth their while.  For example:

Be sure to read every word of this because the secret ingredient for turning your small business enterprise into a mega-success story is hidden in this article.

In the next example, I challenge them to read every word, because if they don’t, they’ll miss that thing they are dying to know.

Your first step is to read this article in its entirety. Please don’t just skim through it–I don’t want you to miss a single word, because when I expose web copywriting for you, you simply cannot fail to create the sales and profits you want on the web.

Another technique I use is to reveal a little-known fact, anecdote, or case study at the beginning, followed by a statement like this:

If you think that’s interesting, wait ’till you read what I’ve discovered.
This statement implies that more interesting information is about to be revealed. 

In the next example, the promise of “solid proof” is compelling, and makes readers continue reading with anticipation.

The career of writing no longer has to be synonymous with “starving.” An annual income of $100,000 or more–even on a freelance or part-time basis–is now well within your reach. 

This is absolutely no hype–and I’ll give you solid proof in a moment.  And if you think that’s exciting, wait till I show you how you can do it in as little as 6 weeks.

This is how it works when you put it all together: in your introductory paragraphs, tell your readers what you are going to say with a compelling promise.  In the body copy, deliver on the promise, and, in a concluding paragraph, remind them of what you just revealed. 

This boosts your credibility for delivering on a promise and paves the way toward making your reader welcome your offer.

Do establish early in the copy who is writing the piece and why the audience should believe the writer. 

This is where your (or your client’s) credentials, qualifications, or experience become important. 

They don’t necessarily have to be monumental; that is, you don’t have to be the leading expert or authority in a particular field, but your credentials must make you (or your client) believable.

Do write in the first person.  Whenever possible, remove the words we or our from your web copy and replace them with I. 

By speaking in the first person, it is as though one person is talking to another. We and our sound more corporate, less intimate and friendly. 

You can’t use this technique all of the time, but do use it when it’s appropriate.
Do use a drop letter (also called a drop cap) when starting your body copy. 

A drop letter is an oversized (often bold and ornamental) first letter of the first sentence of your body copy. 

Generally, it drops down two or more lines into the opening text of your body copy. 

Tests conducted by Ted Nichols have proven that starting your body copy with a drop cap increases readership because it draws readers’ eyes to it, thereby leading them to start reading the body copy instead of clicking away.

Do use multiple pricing structures.  Always remember that people fall into different price categories.  That’s why Mercedes-Benz makes that cost $27,000, $69,000, $85,000, or more. 

Most people fail to recognize this when they design their offers. As a result, their offers are static.  They usually have just one price and one offer.

Different pricing programs are structured to catch as many people as possible at the buying level at which they are willing to buy. 

Remember:  The value of any merchandise is what someone is willing to pay for it.
People also gravitate to different income promises: 

If you run a headline that reads, “How to Use Website Metrics to Boost Your Conversion Rates to 10%, 20%–Even 30%,” you’re likely to get more responses than if your headline reads, “How to Use Website Metrics to Boost Your Conversion Rate to 30%.”  Why? 

Because a broader spectrum of the audience can relate to–and believe–the three levels of improvement (10, 20, and 30 percent). 

Some people would have trouble believing anyone could get a 30 percent conversion rate, but might readily believe that 10 or 20 percent is possible.

Remember that when you write web copy.  Say I write the following headline to promote a web copywriting course:  “Earn $300 Per Hour as a Web Copywriter.” 

Very few people would read any further.  The claim sounds unbelievable, (when though it’s true.)  Some people think it’s not possible for them to earn that much.

If, on the other hand, I write, “Can You Really Earn $85, $125–even $235 an Hour as a Web Copywriter?” and a subheadline that reads, “The Web Price Index Says You can”, that would make more people read on, wouldn’t it?

Do call attention to the flaws or shortcomings of your product or service, but only if you can turn those flaws and shortcomings into benefits. 

When you admit the drawbacks of your product or service, you immediately increase your credibility. 

People think you are really up front and honest about the not-so-great aspects of your product, not just touting tile good things about it. 

The key here is that you should not call attention to flaws or drawbacks unless you can turn that “confession” into a benefit. 

Avis said it this way:  “We’re Number 2.  We try harder,” and turned a drawback into a unique selling proposition. I’m sure you’ve often heard this said:  “We’re not cheap, but we’re the best.”

Do ask an opening question.  When you open the first paragraph of your web copy with a question, it increases your chances of getting your readers to read on.

A well-designed question will cause the prospect’s thoughts to focus on what you have to say. 

Your opening question must, of course, be relevant and important and must speak to the needs of your audience. 

When crafted skillfully, questions point to the result or benefit of your product or service.
Do craft text links that are engaging and highly clickable. 

We already know that web visitors often scan the page instead of reading it word for word. 

When they do, their eyes gravitate to formatting devices such as words in bold print or italics, underlined words, bullets, and the like.  Text links or hyperlinks are also formatting devices.

Text links are those colored, underlined words that, when clicked on, send readers to a predetermined location in the same document, or to another webpage or website. 

These are even more eye-catching than bold, underlined, or italicized words because they’re in another color.

It takes more than a vague “click here” to compel readers to click through to the target destination. 

In order for the text link to be highly clickable, it must either convey a benefit or employ an embedded command.

Click here to find your million-dollar domain name.

Notice that this example contains an embedded command, conveys a benefit, is written in the imperative voice (starts with an action verb, assumes the subject you, and ends with the object of the action). 

These kinds of text links are significantly more clickable.  “Give it a try, risk-free” as a clickable link is more effective than “Click here to order.”

Do use phrases that take the edge off the act of purchasing and make it look easy (painless) and that, ideally, convey it benefit:

Submit Your Online Reservation

Unlock the Cash Vault Now

Click Here to Get Your Name in the News

Become an Associate

Get [product] now

Attend the Boot Camp

This enhances the editorial approach to writing web copy.  If you can avoid using words like “buy now” or “order” inside your editorial web copy, do it.

How about sharing me your own experience based Dos and Don’ts of web copywriting?

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • paul

    this is more about web tactics than cpy per se, but copywriters are in on it. Some people write to tell you to fill out a long survey to get some reward such as an assessment. Then you click to get the assessment and you discover you have to do something more. The worst is give your credit card, the assessment will come by email within 24 hours, and then you can opt out to avoid any charge. Even if the company gets my first few dollars (if I forget to cancel), the bad taste the process leaves in my mouth basically blocks any chance of the company making any further money off me. Such short-sightedness! I hate surprise requirements and I hate opt-outs

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