February 21, 2024
Write this, not that: 5 easy website copy tricks to have visitors begging to work with you
bulldog rests head on desk; blog post on website copy

Why is writing your website copy so darn hard? 

You know how to write. You know your business. And you know your client. But somehow, pulling it together into website copy that actually turns visitors into clients seems to be a dark art. 

Luckily there are a few tricks and tips that can help you easily turn rambling prose into tight, effective website copy. The sort that grabs your reader by the eyeballs and has them ready to hand over their cash quicker than a Labrador can get muddy.

Let’s dive in…

Website Copy Tip #1: Power up your headlines

The headline on any page, blog, social post, or email subject line, has one job to do: get your reader to read further. If the headline fails, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your copy, post, or email, is — it will linger, unloved and unread.

Examples: 

Instead of this:

Teach your dog a recall with food

Write this:

How to have your dog come back to you, even when distracted

Why does this work? The first headline is generic and gives all the info before the copy has been read. The new one hints at a solution to overcome a common problem.

Instead of this:

How to teach your puppy to sit

Write this:

5 ways to get your puppy sitting so fast they almost dent the floor!

Why does this work? The first option is boring — there are thousands of articles like this. The new one is enticing. Who doesn’t want to have a puppy respond that fast!

Instead of this:

Enroll now: Six-week basic manners course

Write this:

Social Graces for Public Places: Teach your dog to be a model citizen in our 6-week intensive course

Why does this work? The first headline is generic and doesn’t give any information about the benefits of the offer. The new one has attention-grabbing phrasing and hints at the outcome that can be achieved.

If creating great headlines seems akin to creating gold from lead, try using a headline formula to get you started. Here’s a comprehensive list of effective formulas, with explanations, from marketing guru, Neil Patel.

Website Copy Tip #2: Look for the deeper benefit

You may be familiar with the concept sell benefits, not features,” but that can be harder than it sounds. What are the benefits of your offer? Usually, the obvious benefits aren’t the ones your client is really wanting — their needs go deeper, to a more emotional level. 

And anyway, almost every trainer is offering the same surface-level benefits, so how do you set yourself apart? 

By speaking to the deeper desires of your prospective client.

A neat little copy writing trick to uncover those “secret” desires is to ask yourself “so what…?” for the biggest benefit your offer delivers. Keep going until you can’t go any further. Like this:

Example:

Let’s say you’re selling a ten-week manners package. At the end they’ll have a dog that can sit, recall, stay for a minute or two, ignore normal distractions, and walk on a loose leash reasonably calmly. So, the benefits would seem to be that the owner has a decent level of control over their dog.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what every other dog trainer sells. 

Let’s take our manners package benefit/outcome and apply the So what? trick…

Obvious benefit: you have control over your dog…

…So what?

Your dog will do as asked, when asked…

…So what?

A dog that will do as asked can be taken to public places without causing difficulty, embarrassment or stress…

…So what?

This means you no longer have to leave your dog at home alone or turn down social invitations — your dog can accompany you in many situations…

…So what?

Your dog can be included in family excursions, and you can be justifiably proud of them because they behave so well.

So, the hidden benefit is that the client can be proud to have their dog with them out and about.

Using the so what? technique you can tap into the deeper feelings of your prospective clients and stand out against the trainers offering just the surface-level benefits.

Website Copy Tip #3: Use active voice whenever possible

This isn’t a painful grammar lesson — it’s a trick to help your website copy stay dynamic and engaging, so your reader romps through it instead of getting mired in clunky phrases.

Active vs. passive: what’s the difference?

Active: the SUBJECT is doing the action: 

  • The dog chases the ball.  
  • Peter paid the check.
  • You have not paid the invoice; we have suspended this account.

Using the active voice wherever possible leads to shorter sentences and clearer prose. Both are needed to keep your copy tight and easily understood. 

Passive: the OBJECT comes first and often the subject is missing altogether:

  • The ball is being chased by the dog.
  • The check was paid.
  • The invoice has not been paid; this account has been suspended.

Using the passive voice will often slow your reader down as they struggle to unpack the unwieldy sentence construction. Definitely not what you want if your goal is to move web visitors towards taking action!

Passive voice isn’t wrong, and it has its uses. It’s great at softening statements where you need to make a point without being blunt, accusing, or plain rude. (See the last example above.)

Still confused? Check out this short video explaining the difference between active and passive voice.

Website Copy Tip #4: Use “you” not “I”

Have you ever read a blog or website that just screams “all about ME!!!!”? Did you find it off-putting; maybe you were even faintly disgruntled? That’s because it was written from the point of view of the writer, not the reader — you. 

Writing from our own point of view is natural and easy. Of course your website is about you; who else would it be about? Well… I hate to break it to you, but it should be about your web visitor. And that can be a tricky point of view to create if you’re not used to doing it.

First, here’s a little tip from top copywriter, Gill Andrews, to find out if your current copy is, shall we say, ego-centric: 

In your browser or writing software, use the Find function to search for “I”. (Don’t forget to add a space after the letter or you’ll find every ‘i’ on the page!) If you use the plural pronoun “we”, search for that instead. Count how many instances you find.

Next, repeat the process but look for “you” and “your”. Count how many times they’re on the page.

If your “I“s equal, or outnumber, your “you”s there’s a problem.

Go back and edit your sentences to make them about your reader instead. Obviously you can’t remove every “I” – sometimes it’s absolutely the correct choice. But often a sneaky reshuffle of the sentence will allow you to change the viewpoint.

Examples:

Instead of Dog owners… Write You…

Instead of I teach… Write You/your dog will learn…

Instead of I’ll show you how… Write You’ll discover…

Instead of I provide… Write You’ll get…

You’ll be surprised at just how these tiny changes can make your copy more inviting and relatable — keeping your reader nodding along and muttering “that sounds like just what I need…” all the way to the “get in touch now” button.

Website Copy Tip #5: Avoid clichés like the plague — unless you’re being ironic!

Whether you call them clichés, buzzwords, proverbs, truisms, or boiler plate phrases, they’ll send your reader into a stupor. 

Why? Because they’ve seen, heard, and spoken the same tired expressions so many times their brains now skim over them without even noticing they’re there — meaning big chunks of your message will be missed.

Instead, paint clear, concrete pictures that your reader can visualize and relate to fully. 

Examples:

Instead of this:

Are you looking for a well-behaved dog?

Write this:

Do you fantasize that one day you’ll be able to take your dog to family gatherings without them harassing Aunt Flo, stealing the sausage rolls, or making you wish you could sink into a huge hole really fast?

Instead of this:

We go the extra mile to ensure your success.

Write this:

We know training your dog can be challenging. That’s why you have our full support on your journey. You can email, text, or voice message whenever you have a question. You’re guaranteed a response within 1 hour of your message between 8:30am and 7:30pm, Monday to Saturday.

Want to know more about banishing boring banalities from your writing? Here’s an entertaining look at how to swap ‘’obvious” for “sincerity.”   

Bonus tip: Use copywriting formulas

(Ok, so this isn’t really a quick tip as such — but the benefits to using formulas are so great that I couldn’t bear to leave the topic out!)

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your copy is to ramble. Meandering is for relaxed walks in the woods, not for guiding your reader on their path to the “contact me” or “enroll now” button! 

And make no mistake — your reader is on a journey. Whether you’re sending a sales email for a new class, or leading them through your website, your goal is to move them from where they are now to where you’d like them to be.

To do this, your copy needs structure. And one of the easiest ways to apply structure is to follow a formula.

There are literally dozens of copywriting formulas out there — at least one for just about every copywriting task you can imagine! 

Whether you need to write copy for general web pages, specific sales pages, social media posts, opt-in pages or email sequences, there’s a formula that’s been devised to help you do it.

Because there are so many, I can’t even begin to give you useful information in just one blog post. Instead, here’s a fantastic Ultimate Guide to Copywriting Formulas from Copyhackers. You’re welcome

Now you have the basics of writing great website copy under your belt you can tweak your current copy to make it sing to your clients. Then sit back and relax, secure in the knowledge your fine tuning will have your website working to convert those captivated visitors into new clients. 

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