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4 Key Steps To Writing Powerful Website Content

4 Key Steps to Writing Powerful Website Content

With so many factors to consider, writing website content can be a confusing task.

Are you appealing to your audience? Are you using the correct SEO keywords? Is your website content interesting to read?

These questions are all very real and important because if you get it wrong, your website will fail as a sales and marketing tool.

That’s why you need to consider the fundamental principles of branding, copywriting, SEO (search engine optimisation), and CRO (conversion rate optimisation) before you write your website content.

To help you sort through the most critical factors and provide a few strategies to get you started, we’ve devised a website copywriting pyramid.

The pyramid of writing website content shows that the most important aspect of your website content is your message (foundation) followed by copywriting, then SEO, and CRO at the top
The pyramid of writing website content

Pyramids are built from the ground up. The bottom level is the foundation, which gives strength to everything above it.

It’s critical that you nail the bottom level of the pyramid, otherwise the effort you put into the tiers above will go to waste.

Step 1: Finding Your Website’s Key Message

To nail the key message of your website content, it’s important to understand the mindset of your site visitors (prospects).

When perusing the web, prospects are looking for specific information that’s directly relevant to them.

Depending on their stage of consumer awareness, they could be…

  • Looking to answer certain questions
  • Searching for solutions to a problem
  • Comparing relevant products / services
  • Ready to make an enquiry / purchase (hunting for an offer)

Regardless of what they’re looking for, site visitors will evaluate the relevance of your website by asking themselves “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM)?

If your content doesn’t make WIIFM immediately clear, your reader will leave and – more than likely – never come back[1].

But what can you tell your reader that will engage them and, ultimately, convince them that your product / service is the best option?

This all comes down to your key message.

When crafting the key message of your website content, there are a few aspects you need to consider…

  • Your value proposition
  • Your unique selling proposition
  • Your offer

Let’s explore each of these topics a little deeper…

Finding Your Value Proposition

Before we dive into crafting your value proposition, I’ll quickly define the concept of a value proposition to make sure we’re all on the same page.

A value proposition can be defined as the benefits of your product or service minus its costs[1]. Or, in other words, it’s the pros minus the cons perceived by an individual buyer.

Value proposition = Pros – Cons

A potential buyer will weigh up the pros and cons before making their buying decision. So make sure your value proposition clearly communicates the benefits of your product or service!

“Benefits are what a product does to improve the prospect’s life. Benefits appeal to consumers, top-level executives, entrepreneurs, first-time buyers, end users, and prospects. Being able to finish your vacuuming in half the time is a benefit.”

 – Mark Morgan Ford [4]

Benefit-focused copy creates a connection between your reader’s desires and your product or service.

When you focus on the benefits, you show your prospect what’s in it for them, which stirs their emotional desires for your product or service.

When writing your website content, it’s important to understand the difference between features and benefits. That way, you can intentionally focus your copy on either of the two, depending on what you want to achieve.

Generally, benefits relate to the consumer’s emotions, while features appeal to their logical reasoning.

So where in your copy should you focus on benefits and where on features?

A general rule of thumb is to use emotion to sell and logic to justify.

People tend to buy based on emotional triggers, which is why you should focus your core sales pitch on the benefits of your product or service. (Benefits appeal to emotions, emotions trigger desires, desires lead to actions).

Once someone is emotionally sold on your product or services based on the benefits, they will look for logical reasoning to justify their desire. That’s where you introduce the many features of your product or service to put their logical mind at ease.

But how do you decide which benefits to zero in on?

The best way to uncover your product or service’s benefits is to know it intimately!

Make sure you have used it and experienced its many benefits. This will make it easier for you to write about them in an authentic and credible way. Use yourself as a case study and ask yourself how the product or service made you feel. You can then inject some of these emotional cues into your writing by painting your reader a vivid mental picture of the experience.

To make sure you don’t forget to mention valuable benefits, draw up a list of all the features related to your product/service. Then brainstorm what the corresponding benefits could be.

After you have brainstormed all possible benefits of your product or service, decide which ones are the most compelling. These are the benefits you will base your value proposition on as you write your website content.

Once you have honed your value proposition, you need to make it clear what sets you apart from the competition. Why are you the best choice for your prospect?

This is where your unique selling proposition comes in.

Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Let’s face it – there are incredibly few businesses out there that are truly one-of-a-kind or offer a revolutionary product. Most businesses have a healthy dose of competition, so it’s important to pinpoint what makes your business unique.

Knowing what makes you different is just as important for you as it is for your prospects because it helps you write better website and marketing content.

Once you know your USP, you’ll be able to incorporate it into your brand identity. This will make prospects more likely to find you and get on board with your brand’s vision.

Your USP can be based on any number of things, for example, price, quality, speed, reliability, guarantees, and much more.

How do you find your USP?

Here are a few ideas of what you could base your USP on…

  • Do you offer something unique that your competition doesn’t offer or promote?
  • Perhaps you have a guarantee or risk reversal strategy that sets you apart?
  • Do you offer premium quality or results that are unique in your industry?
  • Is your team unique in its experience or qualifications?
  • Are your products or services packaged in a unique and desirable way?
  • Is there something that your industry takes for granted that you can emphasise?

Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you can start playing around with the wording to develop a “USP statement”. Your USP statement should be a short summary of your main point of difference.

To make sure your USP statement is compelling, you can validate it against the following criteria. Is it…

  • Unique? Something that your competitors can’t or don’t say
  • Extremely desirable? Something your audience wants that you offer
  • Succinct? Not overly wordy and expressed in simple terms
  • Memorable? Something that will stick in prospects’ minds
  • Specific? Says exactly what it needs to say

After you have nailed your USP, you can use it to help you write your website content. Typical places to incorporate your USP are in your homepage headline, sub-headlines, and bullet points.

Once you have your value proposition and USP sorted, it’s time to think about your offer.

Crafting Your Offer

When it comes to your message, your offer is the most important piece of the puzzle.

If nobody wants what you’re offering, even the best copywriting and optimisation tactics won’t get people to convert (buy, subscribe, enquire, etc.)

Here are the 4 steps to crafting an irresistible offer…

Step 1: Find out what your customers really want

Before you decide on your website’s conversion goals, it’s a good idea to find out what your customers actually want from you. There’s no point creating a lead magnet about a topic nobody cares about or bundling your products in a way that doesn’t make for your clients.

The easiest way to ensure that your offer will get an enthusiastic *thumbs up* is by finding out beforehand what prospects want from you. That way, you can give it to them, and they will thank you for it.

Step 2: Work out the lifetime value of your client

If you know the lifetime value of your clients (LCV), you will have a better idea of how much you can afford to spend on your offer.

For example, if you are a consultant and you know that the average LCV of your customers is $12,000 over six months, then you can probably afford to give them a $100 discount for their first consulting session.

Knowing the LCV gives you a budget to work with. Once you have a budget, you can work out what you can offer that will make someone feel like an idiot for saying no.

Step 3: Research possible offers

To make your offer as exciting as possible, try to come up with something unique.

Explore different offers and draw on different industries for inspiration. You might find something that is common practice in another industry that you can adapt to yours (for example, buy one get one free).

Perhaps you can offer a new payment system? Or crank up the guarantee?

Step 4: Inject psychological cues

Draw on principles of consumer psychology to make your offer even more compelling.

Research shows that scarcity and urgency are powerful motivators for human behaviour [5], so they make fantastic sales triggers.

Offers that incorporate urgency are often based around a time limit (e.g. 3-day sale), whereas scarcity implies that supply is limited (e.g. only 1 left in stock).

If you decide to use elements of scarcity and urgency in your offer, make sure to do so authentically. Don’t say stocks are limited if they aren’t and don’t keep extending your “flash sale”. This will trigger people’s BS-detector and hurt your credibility.

Step 5: Summarise your offer

To make your offer clear and compelling, it’s a good idea to summarise it for your prospects.

Mark Joyner[2] suggests using the following structure to summarise your offer: What, Benefit, Cost, Trust.

What

Summarise what you are offering. You’d be surprised at how many websites fail to make a clear offer, and lack of clarity is the ultimate conversion-killer.

Benefit

Make it clear to your prospect how your offer can benefit them. This is where you’ll want to draw on the most compelling benefits that you decided on when pinpointing your value proposition.

Cost

Every offer has a price, so make sure to mention yours!

This could be asking for their name and email address if your “offer” is a lead magnet or mentioning a monetary price for a physical product.

You could also talk about what it would cost your client to not take you up on your offer (e.g. less revenue or more time expenditure if you are offering marketing services).

Trust

Reinforce your trustworthiness by drawing on elements of proof. For example, you could include testimonials that reinforce your message (social proof) or offer some sort of risk reversal through a trial or guarantee.

All these things lessen your prospects’ sense of risk and make it more likely that they will take you up on your offer.

Summary

Your message is the foundation for your entire website copy, so it’s worth investing the time up front to develop your ideas into a sound message.

Bear in mind the different aspects of your message and what they each need to accomplish:

  • Your value proposition quickly lets your prospect know what you can do to help them (benefits). This answers their main question of “what’s in it for me”?
  • Your USP highlights why you are the best candidate for the job in a sea of competition.
  • Your offer should be compelling enough to nudge your prospect across the finish line to the point of conversion.

Once you have these basic building blocks in place, it’s time to weave them all together into compelling website copy.

Step 2: Copywriting & Website Content Structure

After you’ve figured out what to say (your message), it’s time to think about how you’re going to say it. That’s where copywriting principles are helpful, because they will help you write in a more appealing way.

Copywriting frameworks like PAS can be useful for structuring your message within each section of your website, but you also need to think about how to lay out your messages to fit the bigger picture of your site.

Here’s how to use the building blocks of website copy to structure your website content:

Use your headline to convey your value proposition

Your headline is the most important piece of copy on the page [3], and it only has about 3 seconds to grab your prospects’ attention. That’s why you’ll want to lead with your main value proposition.

If you can condense your USP down to a short message, you might want to include it in your headline too. This will immediately make you stand out from the competition but don’t force it at the cost of clarity.

Don’t burden your headline with trying to make it clever or catchy. This can be distracting and takes away from the clarity of you message.

Keep it simple, clear and powerful (aim for 12 words or less).

Use body copy to expand on your value proposition

After you’ve captured attention with your headline, it’s time to draw readers deeper into your message.

Use introductory body copy to expand on the value proposition and USP conveyed in your headline. This is where you can flesh out your message but make sure to stay on the topic introduced in your headline.

You don’t want your copy jumping all over the place. Instead, flesh out your main value proposition and USP and if you want to add more information, add clearly signposted sub-sections.

Work with clearly signposted modules

You won’t fit everything you want to say into a short introductory blurb, but you also don’t want to ramble on and on.

To make sure you’re staying on topic and that everything you’re saying is relevant, work with sections, modules and sub-headlines. That will help you organise your website content in a logical way.   

Write benefit-focussed copy

“You can’t bore someone into buying your product, only interest them”

To write engaging web copy, you must have an intimate understanding of your prospect on a personal and emotional level.

Only then you’ll know how to structure your website content and zero in on the right benefits and pain points.

Unless you have a profound understanding of your audience, you’ll struggle to write in a way that makes them feel connected and understood.

That’s why it’s important to spend some time getting to know your prospect. Find out their pain points. What makes them tick? What do they value? What do they worry about?

And by “find out”, I don’t mean assume.

Do your research and do it well, because if you have a better understanding of your prospect than your competitors do, you’ll have the clear winning edge when it comes to writing engaging copy.

Step 3: Search Engine Optimising Your Website Content

Once you’ve got your message sussed and your copy structured, you need to start thinking about search engine optimising (SEO) your website content.

With nearly 2 billion websites on the internet, it’s important that you have a solid strategy for getting visitors to your site. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to reach your ideal audience, even if they’re looking for you.

One of the most important strategies for getting website traffic is strategically weaving SEO keywords into your website’s content. That will help you rank well for those terms in the search engines.

To find out which words you should be targeting, you need to start by doing keyword research. This will give you a solid understanding of which terms and phrases your prospects are searching for in relation to your product or service.

If you then intentionally target these phrases in your website copy, you’re telling Google that your site is relevant for those search queries and your page will start ranking higher for those terms.

For more information on how to weave your keywords into your website content, see our full post on SEO Copywriting.

Step 4: Optimising Your Website’s Conversion Rate (CRO)

Once your website is getting a decent flow of traffic, you can start fine-tuning various aspects of your site to increase your conversion rate.

This is the process of conversion rate optimisation, or CRO.

You see, of all the visitors that come to your site – no matter if it’s 200 a day or 20 a month – 97% will leave without taking action (and never return) [1]. Meanwhile, if you’re lucky, around 3% of visitors take the action that your site is geared towards (convert).

Of the traffic that lands on your website, only about 3% converts to clients. 97% leave your site without converting and most never return.
A typical website has a 3% conversion rate. That means 97% of website visitors DON’T buy.

CRO is a collection of strategies that you can apply to your website to systematically improve your conversion rate.

If you can increase your conversion rate, you end up with more customers for the same amount of traffic. More customers = more revenue, which increases your marketing budget.

Once your conversion rate goes up, you can afford to send more traffic to your website (e.g. through Google AdWords or paid Social Media campaigns), because you know the return on investment will be worthwhile. This gives you a clear competitive advantage over your competition.

So how do you optimise your website’s conversion rate?

You need to start by fining out what’s holding you back. The best way to do this is through A/B or split testing.

Split testing involves testing different versions of your site to see which variables perform well. Based on this information, you can tweak and improve your layout and content and then repeat the split test with a new set of changes. Over time, you’ll be able to iteratively improve every aspect of your site.

Things you might test include:

  • Headlines
  • Sub-headlines
  • Bullet points
  • Buttons
  • Fonts
  • Colours
  • Graphics
  • Offers

The problem with split testing is that most small business websites don’t get enough traffic to make it work. Unless you’re getting upwards of 100 site visitors a day, split tests will take too long to show any meaningful trends.

If you get enough traffic to run your own tests, then that’s the best road to go down. You can use Google Optimise to configure your tests and improve your conversion rate.

But even if you don’t get enough traffic to run your own tests, you can still improve your website’s conversion rate with general CRO strategies.

After running thousands of split tests for clients in hundreds of niches, Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson [1] compiled a list of 9 proven CRO strategies to overcome conversion roadblocks.

Here are the 9 proven conversion strategies that you can apply to your website:

  1. Ensure your writing and messaging is clear
  2. Make your website user-friendly
  3. Clearly state your benefits and value proposition
  4. Have an irresistible offer
  5. Be trustworthy (use testimonials, elements of proof, etc.)
  6. Remove risk for prospects (have a strong guarantee)
  7. Consider the stages of consumer awareness
  8. Keep your navigation simple
  9. Help customers find what they’re looking for

If you started at the bottom of the pyramid and worked your way up when writing your website content, you’ll already have most of these bases covered.

The best way to diagnose your site’s weaknesses is to collect user feedback. You can do this by…

  • Conducting user tests to find out what people find intuitive/confusing about your website
  • Monitoring your web analytics to see which pages people are visiting and where they are dropping off
  • Enabling a live chat function on your site so visitors can ask you questions
  • Surveying your past and existing clients about their experience with your website

If you start by understanding of your site’s conversion roadblocks, you’ll be able to employ the best strategies to overcome them.

Most people do CRO the wrong way around. They behave like physicians prescribing remedies before they have diagnosed the patient. These “malpracticing physicians of marketing” prescribe testimonials, guarantees, and punchy headlines – and have no idea why the visitors aren’t taking action

Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson, Making Websites Win [1]

Wrapping up

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’s important to get the bottom tiers of the pyramid right first. If you have a confusing message or a poor offer, then even a well-optimised site won’t perform.

To make sure you get the basics right, start at the bottom of the pyramid and work your way up. Know that most people never make it to the point of systematically optimising their conversion rate (top tier of the pyramid) and that’s ok. Even if you only focus on the bottom three tiers but do these well, your website content will already be far better than 95% of websites out there.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you and we’re here to help!

References

[1] Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson. 2017. Making Websites Win: Apply the Customer-Centric Methodology that has Doubled the Sales of Many Leading Websites. Conversion Rate Experts, USA.

[2] Mark Joyner. 2006. The Irresistible Offer: How to Sell Your Product Or Service in 3 Seconds Or Less. Wiley India Pvt. Limited, 2006.

[3] David Ogilvy. 1980. Confessions of an advertising man. New York: Atheneum.

[4] Mark Morgan Ford. 2010. The Power of One – One Big Idea. American Writers and Artists Inc.

[5] Robert Cialdini. 2007. Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion. New York : Collins Business.

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