I’ve been reviewing a lot of built environment websites lately for a project I’m working on, and I've been surprised by how many of them just don’t work.
Don't get me wrong, the majority of them look really good. They're stylish and modern and have great images, but they don’t actually tell you anything. Any useful information is buried deep down in long-winded, complex paragraphs. A few simple tweaks here and there can work wonders and change these sites from "what are they saying?" to "that's interesting!"
OK, when it comes to B2B websites, the subject matter might not always be exciting. But that doesn’t mean your copy needs to be boring. Quite the opposite, even more reason to write engaging copy that grabs and keeps the reader’s attention.
Make your website copy easy to read
People scan pages, so you don’t have long to generate interest and encourage them to read further. Break your content up as much as possible. Avoid:
Complex language, technical phrases, or corporate jargon
Short sentences are great. They help to break the copy up into bite-size pieces which are easier to read. So break the page up into sections with sub-headings that clearly explain what the section is about.
Start each paragraph or section with the main information and, where possible, used bullet points to highlight important points or product benefits and features.
Having shorter paragraphs and sections makes it easier for the reader to navigate the page and find the information they want.
Many B2B companies feel they need to impress their audience and show they're experts by using convoluted explanations or technical jargon. Wrong. Complex language or corporate jargon simply put people off.
You don’t need to dumb down what you’re saying, just say it in a clear way that everyone can understand. You want to make your audience feel comfortable and included, not confused about what you’re saying.
Have a conversation with your audience
The language you use to communicate with your audience is crucial. When writing copy for a website, you want people to read your content in full and remember what they’ve read. The best way to do this is to use a conversational tone that tells a story and helps people to relate to the topic.
Write as if you were speaking to someone face to face. If you wouldn’t say something in a conversation, then don’t write it.
Something that struck me when I was reviewing the B2B websites was the tone a lot of them use. Many talked in the third person, "the client," "users" or "they" which made the content sound very formal.
Using the first person “I” and “we” and second person “you” and “yours” helps you to connect better with your audience and write in a conversational tone.
Throw out the rule book
Forget how you were taught to write at school. As I said before, you want to write your copy as if you were having a conversation with the person. So it’s perfectly acceptable to forget formalities.
Abbreviate - Using “doesn’t” instead of “does not” or “won’t” instead of “will not” helps the copy sound natural and less robotic.
Conjunctions - Something I love about copywriting for a website is that you can start a sentence with words like “But” or “And.” Starting a sentence with a conjunction allows you to emphasise a point and is great for a conversational tone.
Punctuation - Obviously, you need to use some punctuation, but you don’t need to be as strict as you would with other forms of writing. Simple changes, such as using a hyphen - instead of a semi-colon ; can make the copy less formal and more conversational.
Choose your words carefully
Words are incredibly powerful. Using the right words can create an impact, but on the flip side, a poor choice of words, writing for the sake of it, or stating the obvious can have a negative effect on your content.
Leave out unnecessary adjectives.
You don’t give a person a "free gift" for signing up for your mailing list. You give them a gift. If they have to pay for it, it’s no longer a gift!
Similarly, a "brief summary." A summary is brief, so when you think about it, giving someone a brief summary doesn’t make sense.
Check, read, read again, proof
Throwing out the rulebook doesn’t mean you can be sloppy and not worry about typos and spelling mistakes. You still need to pay attention to detail.
This may be obvious, but it amazes me how many websites are full of clumsy mistakes or grammatically incorrect sentences. Yes, mistakes happen, but when a site is full of errors, it comes across as slapdash and doesn’t reflect well on your company.
So, once you've written your website copy, read it, read it again, ask someone else to read it, and then give it a final proofread before going live.
Make it about your audience not you
People don’t care about you. They come to your B2B website to find an answer to a question, or information or to solve a problem. Think about how you can help your audience and give them the information they need clearly and concisely.
Don’t hide your strengths or the benefits of your products and services in paragraph after paragraph of unnecessary text. Gone are the days when you need to cram every piece of information onto the page. Keep it simple and specific.
When you write in a conversational tone you’ll encourage the reader to want to find out more and continue reading. They’re also more likely to share your content, which helps to extend your reach and attract new customers.
These are just a few ways to write copy for your website. If you want your website to engage with your audience and attract potential customers, write clearly and make it personal. Alternatively, you could always employ a copywriter!
I understand how to write engaging copy for different target audiences. So if you need help with your content, get in touch, and let's have a chat.