Though communication is the very reason why websites exist, you might be surprised how often web copy goes awry in delivering a clear message to its intended audience.
The reasons are many and varied, but most often, it’s difficult to step back and evaluate our own ideas on the page. After all, we know what we meant to say! But your prospective clients don’t have that vantage point, and so it is your words alone that will determine if a connection is made and a new client converted.
To make your evaluation process a little easier, I’ve compiled a list of four questions that test for communication-impaired web copy. How does your website measure up?
1. Does your website sound self-centered?
“We’re so great at this, so great at that. Want to see all the awards we’ve won? No? Well we’re going to tell you about them anyway.” This might seem over-the-top, but too many business websites do just this. Of course these businesses haven’t stopped caring about prospective customers—it’s human nature to want to showcase strengths, and people are attracted to praise-worthy qualities—but displaying your trophies just doesn’t work on a website.
The key to influencing your market and attracting clients is all in how your website copy speaks to your customers. Instead of flexing your accolades, illustrate your company’s goals, values, and, most important, products and services. Your web copy should work to build relationships with your prospective customers and deliver a transparent business message.
2. Do prospects understand what services / products you offer?
How many times have you stumbled across a website that describes its services / products and you have no clue what they’re talking about? While many businesses have the intention of trying to stand out from the competition, all they end up doing is stringing together a bunch of fancy words that have no meaning. It’s nearly impossible to express your uniqueness when you say that your “creative services are unique.” (What does that even mean?)
The key is not about saying you’re different from the competition, but rather, it’s about showing your prospective clients that you offer something different from the competition. This is expressed in a clear, results-driven brand message. When you become clear on your brand message, your target audience becomes clear on what you sell.
3. Do you even know what products / services you offer and to whom?
You may think you know what products / services you offer, but how clear are you? Businesses evolve. Services and packages change. And so does the market. Often, what happens is that companies add information to their website over a period of time. The result is a smorgasbord of information that can easily confuse prospects.
If you aren’t specific about the product / services you offer and how they benefit your target market, it is extremely difficult for you to convert prospects into clients. Similarly, if you don’t follow shifting markets, how can you expect to sell products to a customer you no longer know?
4. Are you speaking “Greek” to your prospects?
Your business is unique, and this uniqueness sets it apart from the competition. But, there’s a difference between expressing that uniqueness in industry terms and illustrating it in layman terms. You understand the industry jargon, but do your prospective clients? Probably not, which is why you need to understand who your target market is and how your brand message and language can be written to connect with them. Remember, it’s important to speak to your prospects and not at them. Many times, prospective clients are not others in your industry, and they need verbiage they can understand: benefits.