The first step to writing engaging web copy is to pinpoint your target audience.
Who are they? What do they want? How much do they already know?
The answers to these questions will help you decide what you’re going to say. So, it’s a good idea to do your research before you start writing your web copy.
Defining your customer profile is a key part of the equation, which we have covered in a separate post. (If you missed it, you can read it here).
Once you know your audience, you have a clear starting point. You know what they want and need, and you have the solution for them – your product or service. This is where you are going to end up.
The bridge between these two – your target audiences’ needs and your product/service – is your web copy!
Your web copy begins with your audience and leads that audience to your product or service.
What you say on your website to bridge the gap between your audience and your product or service, depends entirely on how much your customer already knows.
Find out How Much Your Audience Already Knows
To find out how much your audience already know, ask yourself the following questions…
- Do they know that they have a certain problem or need?
- How close is it to the surface of their consciousness?
- Are they aware of different options for satisfying their problem or need?
- Do they realise the answer to their problem lies in your product or service?
The answers to these questions help you determine your audience’s stage of consumer awareness.
Copywriting legend Eugene Schwarz  defines audience awareness as “their present state of knowledge about your product and the satisfaction that your product performs.”
But why does your audience’s stage of awareness matter?
It matters because it completely changes what you will say to them.
Content that works wonders for one stage of awareness will fail completely when addressed to another. So, it’s important to target each page of your website for visitors in the correct stage of awareness.
If your web copy is aimed at the wrong stage of awareness, you’ll fail to engage your target audience. Chances are high that you’ll either bore them with things they already know or lose them to a lack of background knowledge.
To understand which stage of awareness your target audience is at and what that means for your web copy, let’s go down the awareness scale step-by-step.
In his book Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwarz  classes consumer awareness into five categories. These categories form a continuum and segment your audience into five groups.
Your goal – he states – should be to move prospects from one stage to the next until they are ready to buy.
The Five Stages of Consumer Awareness
Each of these stages is separated by a psychological wall. On one side of that wall is indifference; on the other, intense interestEugene Schwarz, Breakthrough Advertising
An unaware audience is not yet aware that they have a problem or a need.
That’s not to say that they are bad prospects for your product or service; they will just need more convincing than a more aware audience.
When writing for an unaware audience, it’s important to focus your copy around them and their needs. They do already have a need or a problem, but they aren’t aware of it yet. Your job is to help them become aware.
Your brand name or special price offer means nothing to a prospect who doesn’t know your product or want it yet. So, it’s best to avoid “direct” sales tactics with an unaware audience.
Rather, talk about them, and build rapport by sharing stories and educational content. Use this type of “indirect” content to crystallise the problem that you know they have into a specific need.
If you can get your prospect to identify with the problem or need, then you have successfully moved them one step along the awareness continuum. They are now in a stage of problem awareness.
Consumers who are problem aware already sense that they have a problem or a need, but don’t yet know that the answer lies in your product or service.
For a problem aware audience, start by naming the need and/or its solution in the headline. Then, agitate the need by poking at the pain points. You can do this using the copywriting framework PASO. This paves the way for you to present your product or service as the unique solution to their problem.
The key with this customer is to show you “feel their pain”. Not just that you know they have a problem, but that you know the frustration, desperation, or even fear and anger it causes. We call this the “point of maximum anxiety”. Once you identify it, you’ll find an avenue for making an emotional connectionMichael Masterton & John Forde, Great Leads
Solution aware consumers know of different solutions to solve their problems. But they don’t yet know about your specific product or service.
In this case, your job is to channel your prospects’ desire onto your particular product or service. To do that, name the desire and/or its solution and prove that the solution can be accomplished. Then, show that your product is the mechanism for that accomplishment.
Prospects at this stage of awareness need a bit more education before they are ready to buy.
To get them across the line, show them that you understand their need and how you can help them reach the outcome they’re after.
A product aware target audience knows about your product but doesn’t necessarily want it yet. They’re still tossing up options and figuring out what is right for them.
To nudge these prospects across the line, showcase your product/service and its many benefits in an appealing way.
You’ll typically do this on the products/services pages on your website, using specific web copy elements to reinforce your value proposition.
When a prospect is most aware, they know all the details about your product or service and want it.
At this point, prospects are ready to buy, but either haven’t gotten around to it yet or are waiting for the ideal time.
This audience group is the easiest to sell to, and you can use a direct sales approach.
These guys want to know “the deal”, so your copy should focus on presenting an irresistible offer and giving prospects a reason to act quickly.
Essentially, you can look at the stages of awareness as your sales funnel. You start at the top with a wide pool of unaware prospects and move them through the stages until they reach your offer at the bottom of the funnel.
Using the Stages of Awareness in Your Web Copy
If your prospect is aware of your product and realises it can satisfy his desire, your headline starts with your product. If he’s not aware of your product, but only the desire itself, your headline starts with the desire. If he’s not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned only with a general problem, your headline starts with that problem and crystalizes it into a specific needEugene Schwartz, Breakthrough Advertising
So, how do you use the five stages of consumer awareness when writing your website copy?
That depends on the type of website you are writing and how it ties into your marketing strategy.
For example, if your website is a landing page where you are sending qualified leads from social media, you will target a more aware audience than if you are writing a general website that relies on search engine traffic.
For websites with the typical page structure of Home, Products/Services, About, and Contact, you should target a different stage of awareness on each page.
In this case, your Home page is the top of your funnel and the page where you target the most general SEO keywords.
That means visitors coming to your home page from the search engine will be least familiar with your specific product/service, which is why you should write it for an unaware / problem aware audience.
Product & Services Pages
On the products/services pages, you will target more specific SEO keywords, so you can assume that traffic coming to these pages from the search engine are more aware.
The same holds true for visitors who initially landed on the home page and progressed through your site to your products/services pages.
This makes your products/services pages the next step in your website funnel, so write these pages for a solution aware / product aware audience.
Prospects will generally only visit your about page if they have had a look around your website and like what they have seen so far.
You’ll also want to optimise your about page for very specific SEO keywords, so you can assume that visitors coming in from the search engine have a high stage of awareness and didn’t just randomly stumble upon your page.
Based on the role your about page plays in your website, you should write it for a product aware / most aware audience.
Contact or Checkout Page
Your contact page or checkout page is usually the point of conversion in a website funnel, so this is where you target a most aware audience.
To find out what else you need to consider when writing your web copy, check out our Ultimate Guide to Writing Website Content.
When you write your web copy, it’s crucial to target the right stage of awareness on each page of your website. This helps you go into enough detail, without being repetitive or skipping important information.
If you fine tune each page in your website funnel, you’ll keep visitors moving through your site to the place you want them (conversion)!
Remember that your web copy is the bridge between your prospects’ needs and your product/service. What you need to say to bridge that gap depends entirely on how much your audience already knows – their stage of consumer awareness!
If you’re not leveraging the stages of awareness in your web copy, I highly recommend that now is the best time to start.
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 Michael Masterton & John Forde. 2011. Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message. American Writers & Artists, Inc.  Eugene Schwarz. 1966. Breakthrough Advertising. 2017 Reprint Edition by Titans Marketing LLC
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