Web Copy Tips - Don't Write Tangled Copy
We've all been there. We've visited websites whose voice makes us cringe, confused, and angry. Use these tips and your web copy won't be tangled up in blue.
- Share Authentic Stories
- Don't Sell
- Write Copy Consistent with Images
- Use Familiar and Trusted Brands
- Use User Generated Content (UGC)
Share Authentic Stories
Don't make stuff up. Instead, write what you know, have experienced, and found interesting. People are human. We make mistakes, so share some stories about those mistakes - ulnerability and imperfection sound trustworthy and honest online. We love stories about how customers helped a company see truth, justice, and the American Way. Admitting others helped in the past encourages visitors to assist in the future. We promise to follow with a piece about what makes stories authentic soon.
Most visitors trust them (other visitors) more than you. As a website creator, you have a plan. You want visitors to buy something, subscribe, or share. Move out of the way and let visitors sell each other. Reviews are great examples User Generated Content where visitors sell each other. As a web designer and writer, your role is to share stories to gain trust and then get out of the way. Your function should progress from writer to curator. The only way 1% (or less) of your site's visitors will share content is AFTER you share authentic stories.
Write Consistent Copy
If you write conservative copy, don't use wild images—dissonance results when you say one thing and do another. At the very least, visitors are confused when your pictures speak a different language than your words. At the most, you lose trust and push those willing to share content away. For example, visiting REI.com, you expect to see images of people camping, read camping stories, and find reviews of camping gear. If REI.com featured car racing images, visitors would be confused unless there was a story about camping at the car race. A picture of tents on an infield as a car race works with a story. Your account describes how a tent is perfect for such events illustrates how to write copy consistent with images. No composition will stem visitor confusion if the image ONLY featured racing cars.
Use Familiar and Trusted Brands
Your copy and company don't exist in a vacuum. Brands create fast ways to communicate complex messages. If your website is new, visitors probably have more experience with trusted brands such as REI.com. In the paragraph above, we used REI.com to explain writing copy consistent with images. Our site may not be trusted (yet), but using familiar brands taps into common touchpoints.
Use User Generated Content
After your authentic stories create trust, you should ask visitors to contribute User Generated Content (UGC). Your website needs to be a conversation, and your job is to prompt and curate UGC. Cherish and reward the golden 1% of your traffic willing to share. Thank contributors publically and privately. Ask for their opinions and, with permission, share their feedback. Suppose you don't have any UGC curate content from other sites. About half the time, depending on the site, we ask if sharing is okay. Asking for permission is never a bad idea, but some websites are too big to care. Others may link back after you alert them to your share. Since Google values sites by their links, it is excellent to have a trusted website link to your shared content.
What authentic stories do you share with visitosrs? How do you ask for UGC?
e: martin (at) martinwescottsmith.com