Web Copy - What You Should Know First
Copyright 2005 Gary Glasscock
Just what is web copy?
Some people think that web copy is anything that is written on a web page. But that is "content" and it is decidedly different than web copy. Simply stated, web copy is the copy that is used to sell anything on a web page. So now you say, but that's "sales copy." And you would be partly correct, but traditional direct mail copy and web copy are two different animals.
You see, people are used to a certain way of expression on the web, and you must be able to tap into that to make your web copy effective. Traditional direct mail copywriting is filled with hyperbole and exaggerations, and people are used to seeing that in direct mail. However, on the 'Net, it's an entirely different ball game. People are used to a more relaxed style on the Internet and most won't tolerate anything else.
With that said, what should you do if you're writing copy for the web? Write in a friendly, engaging style. Use the soft-sell approach with web copy. Make your copy more informational. Maria Veloso recommends writing in an editorial style. And I agree. I've been using the Internet since 1993, when it first became available for use by the general public. I've read thousands of web sites. I've been exposed to the traditional direct mail copywriting on the Internet and I've read it all. I have to side with Maria on this because of my vast experience on the Web.
People are more relaxed on the Internet. And they are more open to writing that is more relaxed, has a personal feel, and doesn't scream of selling this or that. People don't want that type of message. So you have to write just like you are talking to the individual, but don't make it sound salesy. Use testimonials that have more of an editorial feel to them. And make sure that what you write engages the reader. Give them information that they didn't have before coming to your web site. That's what they were looking for to begin with. Information!
And that's what they want.
Since visitors to your web site can easily and quickly "click" away from your site, you have to give them the pertinent information up front. Take a lesson from journalists and use the "upside-down pyramid" style of writing. Do this so that your message is given quickly and concisely. When writing this way, your sales message gets read and the prospect can take action from there. Does this mean that all web copy should be short? No! Web copy still needs to be "as long as it needs to be to make the sale." But you just said to make your sales message up front. Yes I did. But people still need to rationalize their decision to perform the task you are asking them to do. That is done in the remaining part of your copy. This is where you inject emotion and get the prospect to picture what their life will be like after completing your designated task.
So you still need to use direct mail techniques, but you have to use them in a more information giving way. Never let your prospect suspect that you are really trying to sell him/her on your idea/product/service. Simply put, write like you would if you were writing a review of a book. But write it so that your prospect respects the information you have imparted and then clicks on your link to buy the book.