Going back to basics – small website copy changes can deliver big results

Ink drop in water is like changing website copyEarlier this week, I was painting with my boys. As I dipped my paint brush into a fresh jar of water to wash it, my five-year-old commented that just one little drop of colour had turned the water orange. It got us talking about little things that can make a big difference (I won’t repeat the conversation about yellow snow!).

My mind went off on a tangent. People often ask me to look over their copy to give them my input and help them sharpen up the message. Sometimes just changing a couple of words can radically transform the impact the copy makes.

This led me neatly to thinking about my first goal for 2014 – revisiting my website copy to make some small changes that I hope will deliver big results. You may feel the time is right for you to do the same.

While your website copy may have worked well for you six months ago, perhaps your business has taken a new direction recently? Maybe you’re attracting enquiries but not from customers who appreciate your worth? Perhaps you started a blog a while back but your best laid plans have fallen by the wayside and you haven’t updated it in months?

In my experience, even small changes to your website copy can deliver big results in terms of increased web traffic, customer engagement and sales.

Why not have a look through your website today and ask the following questions?

Does your website copy speak to your ideal customer?

A friend recently asked me what I thought of his existing one-page microsite. I told him that in every paragraph I could see the word ‘we’ but not once could I find the word ‘you’. My first recommendation was that he revises the key message of his website to put his potential customers centre stage. Could the same advice apply to your site?

  • Would someone visiting your website for the first time understand what your business is about straight away?
  • Does your copy talk to that person and help them to self-select your products or services?

If you’re not sure who your ideal customer is, it’s worth spending some time on this.

  • Who are the people you most enjoy working with?
  • Who values what you do and doesn’t question your pricing?
  • Who makes you feel inspired and excited about your business, and feels the same way about your products and services?

When you write with your ideal customer in mind, you’ll find that your copy flows more easily.

Are your calls to action working?

One of the secrets to creating a money-making website is using effective calls to action. These are essentially buttons or links on your website that get a visitor to do something specific, whether that’s buying from you, signing up to your mailing list, downloading a free report or something else altogether.

There are some great blogs out there about this topic and I plan to cover it in more detail myself one day soon.

If your web pages don’t have clear calls to action, then this needs to change. Otherwise, you’re letting your customers drift aimlessly through your site and potentially leave, an opportunity lost.

Many websites feature ‘Buy now’ buttons but you might want to test whether you get more purchases when you change the wording to ‘Add to basket’ or ‘Add to bag’. Schuh recently altered its product page call to action from ‘Buy now’ to ‘Add to bag’ leading to a 17% increase in adds. The theory is that ‘Buy now’ immediately reminds the customer that they’re about to part with their hard-earned cash. ‘Add to bag’ sounds more positive – they’re about to gain something – and puts off the loss of money until later in the sales process.

Other effective calls to action might be:

  • Learn more
  • Read the full report
  • Share
  • Join
  • Try our free demo
  • Get started – it’s free
  • Get started – create an account
  • Save now
  • Read the case study
  • Create an event (it’s free)
Gravestone showing death of gambling

Make your calls to action as risk free as possible so customers don’t feel they have to gamble on your business

What all these calls to action have in common is the positive language that tells the customer at a glance what they have to gain. Words like learn, share, create and join all emphasise the benefits of clicking on that particular call to action. Letting people know a service is free is also a great way of minimising risk on the customer’s part.

To find out which call for action is best for a specific web page, it’s worth doing some A/B (split) testing. This means creating two identical versions of your web page and changing just one element – e.g. the call to action, the colour of the call to action button, the headline, etc. You could then send 50 customers on your mailing list a link to version A and 50 customers a link to version B. Which gets the most clicks? Which leads to the most sales?

Another useful tool is the in-page analytics offered by Google Analytics. What percentage of visitors to a web page click on specific calls to action? Does the percentage change if you adapt the wording or design?

Are you being consistent?

When I first hear from new clients, they often tell me that their blog just isn’t ‘working’. By this they mean that it’s not attracting the traffic they want or that it isn’t leading directly to sales.

Personally, I think it is unrealistic to expect one read of your blog to lead to instant conversions. Instead, I see a blog as a tool for building relationships with your customers and giving them the value of your knowledge and expertise.

The rule of seven is an old marketing adage that says a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you. Recently, I have seen respected business coaches saying this figure could be as high as 27 touchpoints with your brand!

Touch points

A customer may need to come in contact with your brand 7 to 27 times before they decide to buy

People buy from companies they trust and your website copy, particularly your blog with its fresh content and information, is a way of building that trust.

Therefore, one of the most important steps you can take is to create some consistency. Publish a new blog when you say you’re going to publish it. Send out your newsletter at the same time on the same day of the week. Just by being consistent and meeting your customers’ expectations, you are already taking huge strides in setting your business apart from its competitors.

Other questions you might want to consider

  • Are your headlines packing a punch? Do they grab attention and get people reading?
  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • Have you checked your spelling and grammar?
  • Is your copy easy to read?

Top tip: For really readable copy, it’s a good rule of thumb to aim for as few passive sentences as possible (this article doesn’t have any); a Flesch Reading Ease of 60% or higher (this article’s is 68.7%) and a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 9 or less (this article’s is 8). You can find all these ‘Readability Statistics’ under your spell and grammar check options in Word, if you’re using that.

For more hints and tips about making your website as user-friendly as possible, read my article about nine common website mistakes that could be losing you business.


‘Liquid smoke’ photo credit and license information: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaibara/4862673800/

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