Ever been to a Christmas market? Like those things on Rick Steve’s Europe? Mulled wine. Gifts. Toys. Gingerbread. The whole gambit.
Once, I went to one in Charlotte. Turning the corner, this woman appeared. Then she shouted, “Bacon Jam!” I said, “no, thank you!”
But she was persistent. I politely declined again. Finally, as she started to get into the science of why I’d like bacon jam, I politely stopped her.
“I’m a vegetarian (since I was 13, as a matter of fact).” She seemed stunned. “Um, bye!” I said and hurried off.
As a small business owner, you’re hustling a lot. She was busting her tail to make a sale. But she wasn’t calling out to the right person.
It’s the Same with Websites
As a copywriter, I work a lot with digital content, including websites. And I run into the same thing. I call it Bacon Jam Syndrome. Or, copy for websites that isn’t working. Meaning it’s too vague for a potential lead to figure out what you do or doesn’t attract the right customer. It leads to confusion or calls out to the wrong people. Meaning low conversions.
Let’s change that. Here are some quick tips for fixing your site that you can apply today.
Find Your People
I wasn’t this lady’s “people.” Her audience was bacon eaters, and I was a vegetarian. Her attempts to market at me were in vain because I was not going to convert.
That’s the energy she could’ve leveraged at other leads. You don’t want to put energy into trying to convince a vegetarian they’ll like bacon. That’s not worth your time. Because that’s not your audience.
Her people were bacon eaters. And that’s who she should focus on with her copy vs., well, everyone. Because if you write to everyone, it’s like giving your number to everyone at the club. And how successful is that?
Vagueness is the death of good copy.
It makes a website too confusing, or it means your spending a lot of time attracting people who aren’t interested in your product in the first place.
To avoid this, get specific. Who is your product or service for? Who do you help? Is it moms who want to monetize their blog? Are you a UX Writer for StartUps? Take a moment to think about this, tailor your content so it calls out to them specifically.
Get a Website
And no, social media isn’t a website. Why? Your website gets found in searches. It’s a vital part of SEO, or how you show up in Google.
Also, it just looks more professional. Think about it. Would you trust a company that didn’t have a website? I wouldn’t. And you don’t need the world’s fanciest website. A simple (but clean) WordPress or Wix site is fine.
If you’re a freelance writer just getting started, I’d recommend JournoPortfolio. They register and set up your domain. And you can easily upload your work or paste URLs to anything online.
If you’re a business owner, check out WordPress or Wix. My website is my second most significant source of traffic. Get one ASAP. It’s a crucial marketing tool and vital for your search engine ranking.
Tailor Your Website’s Content
Again, review who your target audience is. Tailor everything on your site to that person. It needs to call out, “This is where you need to be, because I can solve your problem/fill a desire.”
Here are some example of what’s not tailoring your website copy:
- Hello/Welcome-this tells me nothing. That big font could be used more wisely.
- “We get you results.” Once, a repair guy broke my mom’s A/C and caused massive water damage. He got her results, just not the ones she wanted. Everyone achieves a result.
- “Big intimidating process that sounds hard.” A lot of businesses focus too early on the how of something. People want you to solve their problems. A small business owner is already running herself ragged, hoping to survive a pandemic. Don’t try to convince her she’ll love SEO. Tell her how you can get her noticed in internet searches.
People online scan and scroll. Especially on mobile, where browsing sessions are short. If they can’t quickly figure out what you’re about or how you serve them, they’ll leave.
Here’s How to Tailor Your Content:
Think of one person you want to serve. Get detailed about their life and their problems or desires. Write your website as if it’s meant for them specifically. Good copy isn’t vague. Compelling copy that brings you results is specific and highly targeted.
When someone tells me, “I feel like you were talking to me specifically,” that lets me know I’ve gotten it right. Remember, you’re not trying to write to everyone. Don’t waste energy trying to tailor your content to someone who’d never buy or use your services. Write copy that speaks directly to the person’s problems, hopes, or desires.
Create a Bold Tagline
People online don’t read word for word. They scan and scroll. You should leverage big, bold text to your advantage (that means not just writing “hello”). It should leave a potential customer wanting to learn more about your company and services.
Like, if I was the Bacon Jam Lady, I might write: “Bringing Home the Bacon Just Got Easier- Sign Up for Our Subscription Service Today.” Go ahead, Bacon Jam Lady, I’m not using that.
Take a look around at websites or ads that grab your attention. What got you to click? How can you apply that to your site?
Choose Clear Over Clever
On the flipside of vagueness, the other most common issue I see is overly clever copy. Copy that is so over-the-top creative, it’s lost all meaning. You don’t need to be super whimsical and creative to write excellent copy. I spend a lot of my time simplifying web content for clients.
Often, I see people trying to be overly clever in their content. And it creates confusing, vague copy, rendering any marketing efforts ineffective. Because, as mentioned earlier, if people can’t quickly figure you out, they’ll leave.
It’s okay if your budgeting app shows someone all their spending in one place. Or your content offer is “tips to alleviate headaches when buying your first home.” Choose clear and direct copy. Always.
Mind Your Language
Words matter. If they didn’t, I’d be out of a job. Avoid choosing words that belittle or insult someone who identifies with a particular group. The increasingly global market is a diverse place, so make sure you choose messaging that is inclusive and respectful of different people. People who aren’t like you.
Because the last thing you want to do is alienate a prospect or lead. If you’re unsure about a word offending someone or are looking for alternatives, check out Sprout Social’s Inclusive Language Guidelines.
There are very few times where I would ever say jargon is okay. 99.99% of the time, it’s a no from me. It’s great if you’re a lawyer talking to other lawyers. Or a professor presenting to other physicists at a research conference. That’s about it.
If you’re a lawyer hoping to reach clients going through a divorce, don’t stuff your home page with scary, overwhelming jargon. Divorce is already scary. You need to put a potential client at ease. That you’re going to help them through one of the most stressful times of their life.
Your language needs to be so clear that you can explain what you do to your Great Aunt Pearl. Because, as Courtney Kirschbaum says, a confused mind always says no.
Choose Clear Button Copy
Again, don’t go overboard with cleverness. Clever should never replace clarity. “Contact Me,” or “Subscribe” are all clear actions for a user to take.
Make sure your button copy helps the user navigate the site and take action. Make your website easy to navigate with straightforward, easy to see buttons and button copy.
And there you have it. Simple, easy ways to fix your website’s copy. From an actual copywriter. Now, over to you. What parts of your website give you trouble? What actions can you take today to improve your website’s copy?