We’ve all heard it said that you only have a few seconds to convince a potential customer to stay on your web page but did you know that people will happily trawl through pages and pages of web copy IF they are able to find the information they’re looking for?
In his book, ‘They Ask, You Answer’, Marcus Sheridan says that many of his customers were willing to read 105 pages of his swimming pool business website before buying a pool from his company.
(More about ‘They Ask, You Answer’ and some other top business books here)
105 pages! That may sound crazy, but consider your own online buying habits. Aren’t you willing to put in hours of research before making a purchase? I know I am.
So if people are increasingly willing to spend a decent amount of time researching potential purchases online, why aren’t they sticking around your site? Going by Marcus Sheridan’s stats, we can’t fall back on the old “customers these days have short attention span” argument.
If your bounce rate isn’t great and you aren’t getting the sales you need, don’t worry. There are a few common mistakes that business owners make when writing their own web content — and they’re all fixable.
If your website copy isn’t converting, it could be because…
You’ve made it all about you.
This is one of the most common problems I come across when analysing web copy for clients. They’ve made it all about them. This is understandable. When you’re writing about YOUR business, it’s seems obvious to talk about who you are and what you do.
You do have to talk about who you are and what you do but you should always bring it back to how it relates to your customer.
I’m a passionate writer and love working with words but my audience doesn’t care about that. They care about whether I can come up with the right words to help them sell. So that’s what I need to focus on.
Your audience doesn’t care that your company was founded back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, they care that your experience helps you deliver a better service.
Unless it relates directly to the service you’re providing, your readers don’t need to know that you spend your weekends jumping out of aeroplanes or baking cupcakes.
Make your copy all about your audience and you’ll have a better shot at keeping them interested.
Your site is vague or doesn’t make sense.
If finding the right information on your site is akin to an episode of The Crystal Maze, your readers are gone.
It’s important that your website pages flow logically and that the information on each page matches the page titles.
Try to imagine you know nothing at all about how your business works. What does your audience need to know? Things that seem obvious to you won’t be obvious to your audience. If you’re a coach, outline the details of how your sessions work. If you’re a therapist, ditto. If you’re selling a product, outline your buying and delivery process. People like to know what they can expect if they buy from you and they don’t necessarily want to have to contact you to find out the details.
Your audience doesn’t know what to do next.
It doesn’t matter how interesting your web content is, if you haven’t made it easy for your prospects to take the next step towards a purchase, they’ll simply give up. What a waste, right?
Don’t forget a strong Call to Action.
Make sure you’ve made it clear how you want people to contact you. Could you add a ‘purchase now’ facility to your site? Or include a calendar booking facility so people can schedule an appointment without having to call or email you first? (I’m thinking of adding this to my own site. Watch this space!)
If your business doesn’t lend itself to these options, make sure it’s obvious to readers how they should proceed if they’re interested in buying from you, whether you want them to email, call or visit your premises.
You haven’t given any reassurance.
People need to know that they’re going to be safe with you; that you’re worth the investment of their time and money. You need to eliminate the risk factor.
There are a few ways to fix this problem.
One of the most important things to include on your site is social proof. I go into this in more detail here, but the nutshell version is that you need to prove to people that you’re trustworthy and you know your stuff. Things like client testimonials and reviews reassure people that you didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to call yourself a consultant, or that the beautiful photos of your hotel aren’t all courtesy of Photoshop.
Another way to reassure people and gain trust is to offer some sort of guarantee or safety net.
Personally I know that handing your marketing content over to someone can be daunting so I offer the reassurance of a free discovery call to let clients get to know me and see if I’m going to be a good fit for them BEFORE they commit. Could you do something similar?
If you’re an online clothing retailer, offering free returns will encourage people to order a variety of outfits, knowing that sending them back if they don’t fit won’t cost them anything and it shows you’re confident in the quality of your products.
Can you think of any guarantees that you could offer customers to help them take the next step towards buying from you? Eliminating the risk factor is one of the best things you can do to convert a browser into a buyer.
You don’t talk about pricing.
This is a tricky one, especially for service-based businesses. In my own business, there are a few variables that affect the prices I charge for each project. However, neglecting to talk about price at all can really put people off — we don’t have bottomless budgets and it doesn’t matter how amazing a website looks and how convincing the copy, if you don’t know that you can afford the product (or suspect that it’s going to be out of your league), you’ll become frustrated and keep looking until you find a site that does talk about pricing.
If you offer set rates, fantastic, get them on there. If you’re like me and some of your prices vary from one project to the next, let people know roughly what to expect by giving them ‘prices start from £’ information and mention what some of the pricing variables are.
It all boils down to convenience and trust.
You’ve probably noticed a common theme here: convenience and trust.
These are two of the key barriers to making a sale online. If the process of buying from you is too hard or you don’t inspire trust in your readers, they will go elsewhere. If you bear those two facts in mind whenever you write any kind of marketing content for your business, you’ll be well on your way to writing copy that converts.
If you’d like to connect or book a discovery call, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org