In today’s economic climate, professionally-written copy is more important than it has ever been. If websites are to be truly integral to the sales process, the copy on their pages must be strategically written to act as a kind of online sales assistant.
The advent of the internet in the late 20th century has refined our understanding of the role of the copywriter in marketing and sales. In many respects, the basic tenets of good copy will never change, because well, people are people.
So whatever technology comes along to disrupt things, there will always be some constants which relate to the way human beings behave. When we are talking about online copywriting, we do need to bear this in mind, despite that fact that it has its own particular skills that all those who indulge in it need to practise and learn.
The basics of good website copywriting
Website copy refers to any words on a website – wherever they are in the site (home page, about page, product page, services page, contact page, blog page, blog posts – to name the most common top-level pages on a typical site.
When we describe website copy in terms of form and function, we are referring to various elements of copy and where they appear on a web page (form) and the job that each must do to make the site function effectively (function).
As with marketing copy in other media, website copy must provide descriptions of goods and series for sale, providing answers which give brand information which answers visitors’ questions with clarity and brevity. In taking visitors on a compelling journey, the website copywriter’s role is a vital one.
What does the website copywriter do?
If the purpose of a website is to promote or sell, the copy on it must be effective in bringing visitors to that the sales ‘turning point’ – leading them along an engagement path to the goods or services being promoted. This is why good copy can and must be the turning point of a website, because the copy is what actually brings web visitors to stay on the page and engage. It must drive organic – as opposed to sponsored – traffic and create leads and sales.
Developing web copy is a highly specialised skill. As well as being aware of the importance of SEO elements on any page (H1,2,3,4,5 tags, meta descriptions, keyword density – and of course, the copy itself), the writer must structure the copy to achieve maximum traction with readers.
Main elements of good website copy
Generally speaking, there are 7 key elements of good of website copy:
Effective headlines hook readers into copy, capturing attention with something attractive or compelling. Often the main offer is mentioned or included in the headline.
Readers must be kept ‘on the hook’ with a good reason to read on. In this sense, copy must ‘cut to the chase’. There is no point keeping readers if this is not relevant for them. Keeping readers guessing is a no-no, because they will only become frustrated as they try to work out the point of the copy.
In promoting or selling, the copywriter must have developed features of the service or product and then identified the customer benefits of each. Now, the copy must lead with those benefits. If benefits are geared to buying needs, this will be highly effective in driving eventual calls to action.
The writer must back up what they are selling with evidence. This can take a variety of forms, from tables, images and factual data to case studies and testimonials. This will strengthen the proposal and help to nurture buying desire in readers.
Readers are reminded about where they are now and where they could be if they purchased the goods or services being promoted. They are also reminded about the negative consequences of taking no action.
This brings all the points together into a powerful, pithy paragraph or two, summarising main proposition and benefits – and then links immediately to a call to action.
- CTA (Call to Action)
Everything in the copy has been leading here. The desired call to action should already be in the reader’s mind, so that they just need a gentle nudge to take that action.
How much should you pay a website copywriter?
There’s a lot to consider here. Let’s be realistic. Much depends on the writer’s experience, skill level, adaptability, how soon you want your web copy – as well as your budget and the scope of the project.
It’s certainly not one size fits all in terms of rates. But if you went to a website copywriter’s hourly rate you might typically find a range of £50 to £100 an hour. This might seem like a lot, but once again, consider the value – because that is the main driver of all sales. If the copy you paid £2000 for ended up bringing you a 4 or 5 figure return, that value becomes clear and there can be little credible reason to quibble over the fee.
Website copywriters mostly use a day rate to determine their charges, looking at how many days or half days the work will take them. It is vital that you choose your writer carefully. The lowest fees are often not the best idea. OK, you might hit upon a bargain, but copywriters generally find their place in the market, and it is, in the vast majority of cases, commensurate with their experience and skill.
Do you still need clarification about any aspect of web copywriting? Call Best Words at any time during office hours: 07973 751039