Writing content for a new or revamped website can be tough. Either you feel you have nothing to say, or there’s so much information you want to share that before you start your site can become cluttered and less appealing. Here’s some top tips for helping you get the right information out into the world…
1. Write your ideas out fully on paper first.
The theory is that typing takes extra brain power than writing, so your content will flow better if you doodle on paper first. As you’re going to be typing it up again later, you’ll also worry less about grammar, wording, spelling etc, meaning you’ll be more intent on getting the right messages down, than being perfect first time.
2. Keep in mind what your audience needs to know, not what you want to say
The urge for many business owners is to write their content in terms of how they want to explain their business. This results in copy that is very company-centric rather than customer-centric and can subliminally tell the potential customer that they don’t matter. Try noting down the top questions you get asked about your business and answer those in the simplest way possible.
3. Consider your target market
If you’re just starting out, you may not know what your target market is, which can make things more tricky. If you have a few customers or have been going a while, think about your top one or two customers and who they are / what they respond to. If they’re the sort of people that ask for a lot of information and have lots of questions then your website should also have room for plenty of information (more on how to structure that in a sec). If your top customers tend to ask no questions and just want to know what they’re getting for their money, then clear concise bullet points might work for you.
The goal of your homepage should always be to give people an overview of who you are and what you do. It shouldn’t be to tell everyone your history, details of every product or service or to cram as much information as you can into a potential client’s brain until they explode.
The best way to give an overview is to focus on 3 main things in the ‘viewing’ pane. **
** The viewing pane is what we call the top part of your homepage. It’s the ‘screenshot’ which people see first when viewing on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. It may be completely different for those coming to your site from a mobile if you have a mobile compatible website.
In the viewing pane you’ll usually have your logo, navigation and then a banner or animation which attracts people’s attention. There might be a little more information, but the banner or animation is where people will decide whether you’re worth more time.
The three main focuses we recommend are:
1. Offer something for free or at a low cost in exchange for their contact information.
This can be a sign up to exclusive offers, a free download, a free sample, a free consultation… whatever your potential customers will value and will cost you very little to fulfill.
2. Show off your most popular product or service.
If it’s your most popular offering for your current customers, chances are it’s what your potential customers will be interested in as well. Remember to include good quality images and really sell the benefits – not the features.
3. Give information about your highest value package
Many business owners might shy away from revealing details about their highest value product or service, but it’s a great way to let people know that not only do you help with the free stuff and the most popular, you’re also there for a customers more extravagant or involved requirements.
By laying out the range your company can offer with the three sections / banners above, you’re giving your potential customers a quick overview of *everything* you can offer. If you back this up with a great call to action that encourages questions from your readers – you’ll have some really valuable customer enquiries coming through much faster.
The most common pages you’ll probably need
If you’re starting from scratch, and you want your content finished quickly, I recommend just concentrating on the basics. You can get a little more inventive with the titles of these pages later on, but start with a selection from:
- Services *
- About us
- How to order / how it works
- Why you should use [enter company name]
- Contact us
- Find us
- Case studies
- FAQs / Frequently asked questions
* Each service should be given in summaries and in full. People generally either do one or the other and it can limit the enquiries you get. If you only give a summary or, worse, bullet points, then you’re often giving too little information and people who have questions might move on to the next company. If you only give long, lengthy information about your services then people who know what they’re looking for may not be interested in wading through it all.
If you’re limited on how many pages you’re allowed then firstly, perhaps find out how much it costs to add more pages. If it’s extortionate, ask more questions of your web company. Remember that Google likes new, relevant content and lots of it – so by restricting the number of pages you’re already restricting your marketing ability. Alternatively, at this stage you can combine some of the pages above – for instance Find us and Contact Us can be combined – just be aware that combining pages can make pages very lengthy and mean people click around your website less (important for SEO).
Reviewing your content
As a professional, of course you want to make sure your content is polished and ready for the outside world before posting it. Here’s a couple of tips for reviewing your content.
1. How often have you used the word you or your?
Professional content writers know that building rapport with potential customers is vital for winning business. The way to do that is to make the content less about [enter your company name here] and [enter your first name here]’s business, and more about the reader.
Do this by asking questions like “Do you need to find a new widget fast?” and lines like “We understand that you need a new widget because…” It can take a little extra time, but this technique is invaluable and will help cement your business in people’s minds.
2. Get someone else to read it
Don’t be scared. You can handle a little criticism. You’re a professional business person after all. Print out your copy, get a red pen and give your content to the most critical, intelligent person you know. Tell them nothing beforehand. You want them to read it with fresh eyes. Just ask them to be as critical as possible.
This is how we learn. In the meantime, prepare yourself for some potentially harsh comments. It’s not personal, it actually doesn’t matter what they say in the long run. It’s your job to take on board their comments and decide what needs to be changed and whether their comments are valid for your customers.
(If you like, you can also get your best friend to read it and ask them to specifically tell you which bits they like best!)
3. Add in as much credibility as possible.
The more credible your company is, the more people will buy / contact you.
Here are the kinds of things people look for:
1. Accreditations to professional bodies
2. Free downloads so they can test you out or a blog so they can assess your style / ability
3. Pictures so they can see your work
4. Address and telephone numbers so they know you’re not trying to hide
5. Testimonials and reviews
Remember that good website marketing isn’t just about having great content, it’s about driving traffic too. If you’ve spent a lot of money on marketing, or are thinking about spending money on marketing, but aren’t getting the results you want, why not sign up for a free holistic marketing session?