October 20, 2014

How You Can Write Seductive Web Copy and Gain Customers Online

web copyBusiness owners can, and should, focus on getting their Web content right.  But many get the content wrong.  To make your Web copy  better, read How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide To Pick Up Customers by Henneke Duistermaat.

Duistermaat is  an experienced copywriter and marketer based in Great Britain.  She seeks to help companies “win customers with enchanting Web copy and engaging newsletters.”   She contacted me online and I was intrigued by a guide dedicated to Web copy, so I asked for a review copy.

Always Be Closing in Your Web Copy

The book is brief – 6 chapters in 57 pages. But that can be a positive aspect given the hyper-evolving nature of the Internet and the small business owner’s need to get information and move on. It’s designed to correct copy within a few week’s time (or six days, as suggested by Duistermaat.)

An admitted bias: I liked that this book is sourced from Great Britain.  Europe has steadily become a great source for Web design and development trends. The growing regulatory landscape has created new technological and aesthetic Web design challenges. Web magazines such as .Net Magazine have risen to the challenge, revealing how to “get down and boogie” when it comes to Web design innovation.

But regardless of origin, a good guide should provide implementable reminders on its topic.  Duistermaat works towards that end, reminding the reader that their copy should be accessible. She notes the importance of envisioning the ideal customer:

People don’t like to be addressed as a crowd. They prefer to read something that addresses them personally, directly. Describing and visualizing your one ideal reader makes your Web copy more vivid and more personal. It doesn’t mean that you target just that one person. It means that whoever closely matches your ideal reader feels that your content is written for him.

This quote’s point intrigued me because of how the last sentence phrases the reader as a “for him” when the reader can easily be a woman.  But that is the point of imagining and testing.

Duistermaat chooses clear examples so that the reader knows what to do. Most are not cause for deep introspection on every written word, but they do illustrate how simple changes can make words more capable of attaining a scanning eye.  Here’s an example of avoiding weak superlatives in copy:

You boost your credibility by being specific and by avoiding gobbledygook and superlatives. Imagine you’re a virtual assistant specializing in social media. A not-so-credible statement would be:

World-Class Virtual Assistant for All Your Social Media Needs.

Much better:

Save Time. Get a Virtual Assistant to Run Your Social Media Accounts.

Duistermaat understands that while good copy draws people, a website’s existence does not change the sales process overnight. Check out how this outlook is infused into the recommendation of site elements to establish customer trust:

When potential customers arrive on your website, you can’t expect them to warm up to you immediately. Do you believe in love at first sight? In the business world  it doesn’t exist….You need to work hard to gain the trust of potential buyers. An easy way is to provide case studies and testimonials, or to include logos of businesses you’ve worked with, or publications you’ve been published in.

Although site elements are discussed, tips are made mostly without a connection to HTML concerns. The last chapter touches on SEO (search engine optimization), but does not delve into ideas like adding copy in header elements or working copy into the page description tag.  That perspective can be a minus for readers who want to understand technical choices – the basic premise of SEO is connecting the website content to address readers within a structure that a search engine sees.

But the book’s material can complement the most complex of website programming ideas.  If a designer had a content carousel based in J-Query or Javascript, the suggestion to include logos could be used in the content for that carousel.   The book structure is flexible enough for unique ideas while remaining true to its advocacy of Web copy that speaks to the customer.

I think this book is worthwhile for freelance designers who already understand code and frequently work on page copy. Small business owners on the go who need to refine their marketing material will find some use as well.  Get this book if you fall in either category.

And if you are new to the Web – yes, there are still business owners who are coming from under a proverbial rock to discover their place on the Internet – you’ll feel a bit more comfortable in starting the road to a digital presence.

4 Comments ▼

Pierre DeBois - Associate Book Editor


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

4 Reactions

  1. Thanks, Pierre.

    I’ve seen this book pop-up on Amazon, when I’ve searched for books that can help me become a better writer.

    This one looks good. And, writing to one person…to “you,” is the key to good copywriting for the web-no doubt about it.

    The Franchise King®

  2. Never heard of this book, but I do like the title. I also like that it’s relatively short in chapters but seems to cover a lot of ground. Back when I was in web development (centuries’ ago!), it’s the kind of book I likely would have had in my library.

  3. It is true when they say that a person cannot learn enough about copywriting. After all, online sales are almost directly proportional to how well you have market a particular product. I hope that I can learn more from this book. I still need to polish my words and my headline construction.

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