I arrived home from an evening meeting and my husband (a.k.a my executive assistant) said, “A guy called for you and he wants you to call him back.”
I looked at the clock. It was 9:45 p.m.
“I’ll call him in the morning,” I said.
“No, he wants you to call him now.”
So, I called.
The gist of the conversation was that he was working on a website for a client that was going live on Monday (it was Tuesday night) and he’d just received the copy for the site.
“There’s nothing I can do with this. Can you help?”
My first thought was probably not, but I said,” Send it over. I’ll look at it first thing in the morning.”
What I was looking at, the next morning, was a word salad. Partial sentences. Text in different fonts. Some centre aligned. Some double spaced. Most of it wasn’t even readable. I couldn’t understand what it was supposed to say – no idea what company it was, what services they offered, what they could do to help prospective clients.
I was looking at a cut and paste of a bunch of old text. At the last minute someone had found some old brochures, sales sheets, and web copy, and decided it would do. After all the live date was just a few days away.
Somewhere in the creation of the new website, someone forgot about the words.
The words on a website draw readers in. Words make people stay on your website. Words tell people who you are and what you do.
I called him back.
I said, “First, the date to go live must be pushed back a minimum of one week and I need to speak to someone from the company to find out what they want to accomplish with this website.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Then I can’t help you.”
“You can’t do anything?”
“I could attempt to make some complete sentences.”
“Okay, that would be good.”
“But the text wouldn’t be effective marketing copy. It’ll just be a bunch of words that don’t engage, educate, or inform the reader.”
When it comes to websites, it seems like the lowly word is the last thing to be considered. After all, they are just words, and they can be thrown together at the last minute. Right? Obviously, not.
But words, in all marketing material, not just websites, must be chosen carefully. The text must engage, educate, and inform the reader. Otherwise, people will leave your website. And that’s not what you want. You want potential clients to stay on your website.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan a new website or update an existing site, and all marketing materials.
- Who is the target market? Your marketing copy needs to speak to the intended market, paying attention to vocabulary, sentence length, and layout on the page.
- The marketing copy on your site needs to be conversational, as if you were speaking to the prospect in person. Gobbledygook, corporate speak, industry jargon, and clichés will send your prospects to the next company on the Google results page. Why? Because the copy is vague and doesn’t say anything of interest to them.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) must be incorporated into the text to get your website onto the first page of the search results page. SEO is many small things done well – page speed, mobile friendliness, technical SEO, URL – among others. Key words and key phrases in your marketing content are also a big part of SEO.
- Google bases its website rankings on well-written, interesting, and informative marketing content. The better the text; the better the ranking.
The lowly word is, in fact, a very powerful part of your website, and other marketing materials. If you leave it to the last minute, your website will rank lower on the search engine results pages, so fewer people will find your website. People will spend less time on your website, because the marketing copy isn’t interesting. In both cases, you could be losing leads and sales.