Copywriting for web sites is a very different ball game to writing copy for offline media.
This is not only because you need consider how best to optimize your copy to maximize search engine traffic, but also because the psychology of buying online and the process each potential customer will go through is different in the digital world.
In offline, traditional copywriting, you have no constraints as far as the use of words. When you are engaged in copywriting for web sites, however, you have to take into consideration the balance between your sales goals and generating traffic from the major search engines.
Not all the copy on your site needs to be optimized for web search - for instance, you can have a bevy of optimized information pages which generate traffic, which then funnel into sales pages where the focus is entirely on generating the sale.
However, you can maximize your traffic and ultimately your overall results by carefully optimizing your copywriting to achieve the largest amount of incoming traffic possible.
It is possible to get all your copy working both to get targeted web site traffic and also to play a role in the sales process, be that closing the deal or the all-important pre-selling stage.
Pre-selling is a concept in writing web content which refers to the process of warming up a potential customer before making an explicit sales pitch.
In comparison to real-life sales, your pre-selling copy would be the equivalent of friendly chat about sports and family with a potential prospect. The ultimate goal of pre-selling copy is different from that of sales copy.
Whereas sales copy is designed to "get the sale," or close, pre-selling copy is much lower-pressure. It should be written in the tone of good-natured advice from a friend. The goal is to build up a relationship of trust with the site visitor and to offer value.
Offering value is essential on the Internet because it sparks a relationship of reciprocity. In other words, when your site provides genuine, free value to a visitor who has found you through a search engine while looking for information, they will be much more likely to consider a product or service you have to offer.
If you instead try to hit every visitor with a phoney, high-pressure sales pitch right off the bat, more visitors will be immediately turned off. On the Internet, they don't have to spare your feelings as a salesperson - they will just click back to the search engine and check out your competitors.
One mistake people often make in writing copy for their web sites is to force keywords into important places, at the detriment of the flow of the writing. Remember that if your copy brings in traffic but fails to contribute to the sales process, you still lose - all copy must contribute to the sales funnel in some way, regardless of whether or not it is optimized to get targeted web site traffic from the search engines.
As far as writing sales copy for a web site goes, many of the elements of offline selling still hold true, although several don't apply so well online. As competition is often fierce online, it's important that you are clear on the primary benefits of your product or service and the unique ways in which you stand out from competitors.
Note the difference between benefits and features - features tell someone what your product does, benefits tell people how the product will change their lives. It's an important distinction.
But you also have to remain aware that in copywriting for web sites there is the essential step of pre-selling search engine traffic by delivering value, then gently guiding that traffic towards the sales pitch and the close. make sure you know what function the copy in each part of your funnel should serve.
One key to writing web content that works is not trying to push a sale before the visitor has time to get comfortable with your site and accept that you are a knowledgeable expert in your field.
Author: Tom McSherry
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