Turn Browsers Into Buyers with Effective Web Copy
by Renae E. Gregoire

Ok, so you've got a website, and you're ready to tell the world
about it.  Before you do, review these tips and create copy that
turns browsers into buyers.

Talk to Your Customers

Use the word "you" throughout your web site. Liberally. I've
seen hundreds and hundreds of sites with copy that reads, "We
serve our clients by developing high technology products and we
make sure to meet the needs of our clients." Does that sound
like your web copy? Please change it! Immediately!  

Who are you writing to anyway? When your copy reads like that,
it sounds like you're telling a disinterested party what you do. 
It's boring, and it doesn't involve your reader at all. TALK to
your potential customers throughout your site. Tell them, "We
serve YOU by developing high technology products that meet YOUR
business objectives."  

You can, and should, use this principle everywhere, even in your
"Services" page. Tell your readers what you can, and will, do
for them. For example, "At XYZ Web Design, we'll take your idea,
and mold it and shape it to meet the needs of your customers.
Then we'll create a unique design and help brand your name, and
build a complete site that's a perfect fit for your company."  

Keep it Short and Sweet

Web browsers have short attention spans. Write in short, punchy
sentences, and save the flowery and wordy prose for your next
novel. Break your copy into short paragraphs too, maybe with
only 3 to 5 sentences each. It's hard enough looking at a book
filled with solid text - forget looking at a web page like that!

And if you're confronted with a choice between a $1 word and a
25-cent word, use the 25-cent word. After all, there's no sense
telling potential customers that, "In the event of an
unsatisfactory occurrence, we will be most obliged to remedy the
situation as speedily as is humanly possible," when what you
really mean is, "We'll take care of any problems that happen -

Read through your copy and cut every unnecessary word. It's easy
to get carried away with adjectives and adverbs, but they add fat
instead of muscle. Look at this sentence: "We'll do a very high
quality job at a really great affordable price." See anything
wrong with it? Start your editing by cutting each adjective or
adverb. Once you've got them all cut, your sentence reads like
this: "We'll do a quality job at an affordable price." Isn't
that sexier? I think so, too!

Benefits, Benefits, Benefits

Tell your potential customers about the benefits of your product
or service, NOT the features! Like the founder of Kodak said,
"We don't sell film, we sell memories." If you're selling a
ladies hat, don't tell customers about the wide rim and mesh
material. Tell them how the wide rim will reduce their chances
of skin cancer, and how the mesh will keep them cool on the
hottest day. Benefits sell - not features!

Here's how to find the benefits of your products or services.
First, list all the features on one side of a piece of paper. If
you're a web developer, for example, the features you offer could
be customized database design, Internet marketing services, and
e-Commerce capable sites. Those aren't benefits. Benefits are
what your customers will GET from those services.  

On the other side of the paper, list what those features will do
for your customer. For instance, what will a customized database
design do if your customer uses one? Tell them! Tell them how
they can collect registration data and analyze it to make
informed business decisions. Tell them how your Internet
marketing services will drive targeted customers to their site -
and increase their sales. And, tell them how an e-Commerce
capable site will increase sales by more than 50 percent because
many people with credit cards prefer to pay online.  

Other Things To Know

* Use bulleted lists to break up long copy. * It's easy to read,
and draws the eye down the page. * See?

Try to keep your most important copy on the first half of the
page. Many browsers won't scroll down, so if you have good stuff
that you want them to see at the bottom of the page, they may
miss it.

Write like you talk, and be conversational. If your web copy
sounds like a legal tome or prudish stiff, the only readers
you'll have are legal eagles...and prudish stiffs!

Don't count on your spell checker two catch you're miss steaks.
But don't let it rule your copy, either. My spell checker hates
the way I write so I ignore it... most of the time. Spell check
hates fragments. Like this. And this. But you know what?
That's how people talk. And that's one of the keys to creating
clear, conversational, and professional web copy that draws your
reader in and makes them feel like you're talking directly to
them - one on one. It builds confidence. And that, in my opinion,
is the best way to cinch a sale.

Renae Gregoire is a professional freelance commercial writer and
a Do-it-Yourself marketing pro. Do you need clear, concise and
conversational copy to make your web site or other marketing
materials shine? Enhance your image and increase your profits
today by visiting Renae at http://www.ineedcopy.com.