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Using Your Words Carefully – Part 1

We’ve put together a list of tips and best practices to help you become a ‘web copy writing God’. Below you’ll see why it’s important to approach content strategy from a user perspective. Follow our tips to ensure your business goals and target customers needs are equally met.

When planning website content, the first questions to ask yourself are:

– What conversions do I value?
– What do I want customers to do?
– How do I want customers to feel?

But remember: Websites succeed when customers succeed. It’s not only about what designers, content strategists, or stakeholders want.

When customers visit a website, they’re initiating a conversation. Talk, listen, and respond to them.

For a successful user experience (UX), ask your customers:

– Who are they?
– Where are they coming from?
– How do they feel right now?
– How are they accessing the site?
– What do they need?

Then ask:

– How can I help them fulfill their needs?
– How will they feel navigating the site?
– What will make them feel more comfortable and safe?
– How will they feel when they accomplish their goal?

If you get to know your customers, you can anticipate their needs and better meet their expectations. You can plan content that:

– Meets them where they are
– Guides them through workflows easily, quickly, and transparently
– Communicates what you want to help them accomplish
– Instills confidence

There is plenty of data to identify which demographics most frequently visit your site, but customers identify themselves as more than their age, gender, ethnicity, and residence. They are real people with complex lives.

A key step in content planning is creating personas, specific examples of customers who use the site and their backstories. With personas in mind, you can tailor copy that personally and effectively speaks to your core customers. Personas are an especially useful tool if a website lacks substantial analytics data because you can make decisions that appeal to a defined target audience, if not a sample of actual users.

Ultimately, from a business standpoint, you value conversions, you want customers to complete certain tasks, and you want them to feel good about it. But to achieve that desired outcome, you have to put ego aside and communicate directly, specifically, and compassionately.

Now, imagine you’re having real face-time with your best friend. As a model BFF, your role is to ask her what’s on her mind, what’s missing in her life, and what you can do to help her. And you will go to extremes to show her that she’s the center of your attention.

Approach customers with the same intention. No, the delivery may not always be so casual depending on the service your website provides, but you should be communicating to users as if one-on-one. Standout copywriting speaks to individuals.

Like a friend offering wise advice, smart copy:

– Gets to the point quickly
– Uses active verbs
– Is concise, clear, and consistent
– Anticipates and answers questions
– Has a distinct voice
– Puts customers (or others) first

Getting real with your customers is just the first step. Next week, in the second installment of ‘Using Your Words Carefully’, I’ll be sharing practical applications of these six copywriting rules as well as design strategies to make your content shine. Stay tuned!  

Written by: Gina Angelotti, Interactive Designer