Common web copy traps that catch out small businesses

Common web copy traps that catch out small businesses

The start of the year is an excellent time run a critical eye over the way your business is viewed by customers and potential customers.  And what better place to start than with your web site?  We’ve pulled together details of some common web copy pitfalls that can trip up small businesses:

 

TMI

Too much information can cause site visitors to head for the exit.  There are various stats available about how long people spend on a page (less than 30 seconds) and how much of your carefully crafted text they actually read (around 20 percent)  But there are also stats to tell us the minimum number of words required to make a page effective for SEO (300 seems to be the consensus).

So, it’s vital to make the most of the words on your site.  But that’s hard when it’s your own business.  The temptation is to throw everything down and work on the basis that people can just ignore what they don’t need.  But unfortunately, an overloaded page often means nothing gets read!

Bear in mind that people scan websites rather than properly read them.  So regular, engaging sub headings and bullet points are your friends, whilst long paragraphs of unbroken text – not so much!  And don’t be afraid of white space.  It gives the reader a better chance of absorbing your key messages if they’re not bombarded from every direction with text and images.   Look no further than the Google home page for a live example!

Personality bypass

We all want to appear professional.  But this sometimes translates to an overly corporate approach when it comes to web copy.  Customers and potential customers want to know that you’re good at what you do and that they’re in safe hands with you.  But they also want to know who they’re dealing with.  And the best way to convey that is by giving your website some personality.

The most visited page after the home page is often ‘About Us’ or its equivalent.  That’s because people buy people.  And we’re all a little bit nosey!  So, let’s see some headshots.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a sole trader or have a team.  And then use those valuable page words to flesh out the people behind the business a little. You don’t have to bare your soul – just something to give a feel for who they’d be working with.

Wearing your own shoes

As a business owner and expert in your field, you’re probably super excited that the widget you sell has double the number of bells and whistles than your competitor’s widget.  And rightly so.  So you put that on your website.  But your customers and potential customers are not widget experts and the number of bells and whistles is meaningless to them.  Unless you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and sell the benefits instead of the features.

So – instead of just ‘our wonderful widget has 5 bells and 10 whistles’

How about  ‘our wonderful widget has 5 bells and 10 whistles which means your customers are twice as likely to notice you than users of a conventional widget’?

Jar-gone

You’re an expert in your field.  But your customers and potential customers aren’t.  Which is good news as otherwise they wouldn’t need you! But it does mean that they will be unfamiliar with your industry terms and acronyms.  It’s very easy to make terms ‘clickable’ if you don’t want to keep explaining in full and this gives customers the option to look at the explanation or not. And helps prevent against annoying and alienating them.

I’m going to throw in general nonsense business-speak here too.  Top of my list currently is ‘reach out’.  Unless of course you are one of the Four Tops.  Also words that, through no fault of their own, have become meaningless through overuse.  Let’s give them a rest for a while.  I’m talking to you holistic and bespoke.

Not writing it right

Consistently poor spelling and grammar reflect badly.  A study revealed that 59 per cent of Britons would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material.

So whilst your ability to apostrophise correctly has no bearing on your prowess at fitting a new boiler or delivering whatever service your company provides, if your web site is littered with mistakes then customers may well go elsewhere.

Top offenders – the confusion between your (belonging to you) and you’re (you are).  Although the increasing use of defiantly when the writer means definitely is also a bug bear!

Hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought about your site.  Or perhaps you’d like us to cast an eye over your copy?  We’d love to hear from you and you can get in touch here