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11 Website Copywriting Tips to Increase Conversions in 2022

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11 Website Copywriting Tips to Increase Conversions in 2022

A 2022 State of Content Marketing report by SEMrush revealed that 40% of brands surveyed say they outsource copywriting. If you fall in the 60% and want to improve your copywriting skills, we’re here to help.

Web copy can make the difference between a visitor and a lead. It plays an integral role for consumers at every stage of the buying cycle, from awareness to decision making and advocacy.

Below, you’ll find tips on how to write compelling copy.

Most marketers can identify poor web copy when they see it. Why? Because poor web copy doesn’t read smoothly, stir emotions, influence behaviors, or make explicit calls to action.

It feels purposeless — and that’s the exact opposite of what marketing is meant to accomplish.

Yet, web copywriting is a strategy that sometimes falls by the wayside, often overlooked for other website elements like SEO, design, and functionality.

1. Know your audience.

The number one tip for website copywriting is to know who will be reading it. If you don’t have a reader in mind, how will you know which words and tone will resonate with them best?

As a writer myself, I am constantly aware of the user and their needs. It’s my north star when writing posts. How did I get to know them? Through user personas and data.

User personas will tell you who is the average reader landing on my article, what their pain points and challenges are, along with their goals. Data will give you insight into what strategies have performed well with that audience and which ones to stay away from.

With both, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your audience, which will allow you to write copy that will engage and compel your user to take action.

2. Figure out the why.

You’ve been tasked with writing a particular piece of copy on the company website.

Once you understand your audience, one HubSpot marketer recommends asking yourself, “who cares?”

“If I can’t answer that, then I can’t expect anyone to read it,” said Curtis del Principe, SEO content writer at HubSpot. “Once I have an idea of who cares (and why), then I have an angle and a through line to guide my writing.”

website copywriting example oatly

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Too often, we write without diving into the purpose of the content. What will the reader gain from reading this? What do I want them to do after reading this? Why should they care about this content?

Answering these questions is key to writing valuable content.

3. Complexity kills readability.

SEMrush recently analyzed over 23,561 texts ranking in Google’s top 10 results. They found that the lowest-scoring texts had two things in common: They were too long or too complex.

In fact, 41% of low-scoring texts used words that were too complex.

Take this as your sign to skip the jargon and the fancy words – just get straight to the point. Here are a few examples:

  • Helpful vs. Beneficial
  • Use vs. Utilize
  • Happen vs. Occur
  • Test vs. Examine

When in doubt, keep it simple.

4. Be concise.

Nobel prize winner and writer William Faulkner said it best: Kill your darlings.

As writers, it’s so easy to get carried away with our words. In marketing, using excessive language can have the exact opposite effect.

AJ Beltis, senior marketing manager at HubSpot responsible for blog leads, calls himself a wordy writer. So, he focuses on brevity.

“The first time I write something, I get all of my thoughts down in writing. Then, I’ll look it over again, and ask myself, “how can I say this more concisely?” he says. “I find that I’m able to get my point across clearer and faster as a result.”

website copywriting example hubspot

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Madison Z. Vettorino echoes this by encouraging brands to keep their copy “bite-sized” without sacrificing accuracy and authenticity.

“Every word and sentence should connect to that core idea. If it doesn’t, it’s unnecessary and should be deleted,” she says. “When it comes to copywriting, the ability to keep it brief yet impactful is a superpower.”

5. Write how you speak.

This one seems obvious but can be the biggest hurdle for copywriters.

We often think that our readers use language that’s more advanced and elevated than our own. But the truth is, many readers want to be spoken to like a friend.

“It’s more relatable and conversational, and the reader gets a little taste of your personality,” says HubSpot staff writer Alana Chinn. “Plus, it’s a lot easier to write about complex topics if you think about how you’d explain them to a friend or family member in real life.”

website copywriting example unwrap

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6. Take breaks between drafts.

When you’ve been working on something for a while, it becomes hard to spot errors.

To combat this, take a lot of time between edits, says HubSpot staff writer Madhu Murali.

“This gives me a fresh perspective on the piece each time I read it and get a better idea of a reader’s POV,” he says.

When rereading, you’ll likely spot clunky sentences, awkward phrasing, and grammar mistakes more easily. This approach can turn good copy into great copy.

7. Break up the copy.

No matter how good your copy is, if it’s long and bulky, you’re likely to lose your reader’s attention.

Eye-tracking studies reveal that website visitors often skim articles instead of reading every sentence. As such, break up your paragraphs – especially if your traffic mostly comes from mobile devices.

This can be also done through subheaders, bullet points, and images, as shown in the example below.

website copywriting example goodee

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8. Avoid overuse of buzzwords.

I once landed on a website and read so many buzzwords that I had no idea what they were saying. I spent a few minutes re-reading sentences to make sense of them but got nowhere.

I got discouraged and exited the site.

When using buzzwords, the goal is usually to use words most likely to stand out to readers. Sometimes, people get carried away a bit and you end up with a convoluted sentence with no substance.

In this case, less is more. So, keep your copy straightforward and jargon-free – unless you have data to prove that it works for your audience.

9. Focus on benefits.

As straightforward as this seems, many companies fail to apply this principle to their web copy.

They focus on what their company does and what products they offer, instead of writing from the reader’s perspective. What can they gain from using your software? Start from there.

So, instead of saying “We do inbound marketing,” try something like “Increase your web traffic and leads with engaging content,” which immediately outlines the benefits.

10. Don’t overlook microcopy.

Microcopy refers to short text on a website, such as a call to action and the label on a form field.

the text that doesn’t seem to come up in conversation very often, but it’s little details like these that can make or break the user experience on your website.

website copywriting example: expedition subsahara

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Easier said than done, right? We know.

There are a few surefire ways to write an engaging CTA:

  • Use action verbs – Instead of generic phrases like “Click here” and “Learn more,” use terms like “discover,” “join,” instead of generic phrases like “click here.”
  • Appeal to their desires – If you know your audience seeks community, you can emphasize this with a CTA like “Join a community of 1,000+ marketers.”
  • Evoke urgency and scarcity – Terms like “limited,” “Act now,” and “while it lasts,” can drive action from consumers who don’t want to miss out.

11. Check out the competition.

It’s always helpful seeing what your competitors are doing, as it can inform your own strategy. Copywriting is no different.

Review your direct competitors’ websites and take note of their copy. What’s their tone? How do they present their products and services to consumers? What CTAs do they use (and on which pages) to drive traffic through to the bottom of the funnel?

I’m not suggesting that you should adopt their copywriting approach but it doesn’t hurt to know their take.

Now that you have all these tips, you can step your copywriting game up and increase those conversions.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. 

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Before Deciding Where Your Content Team Reports, Pay Attention to This

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Before Deciding Where Your Content Team Reports, Pay Attention to This

When a brand creates a new content marketing or content strategy team, they often ask, “What function or department should the content team report to?”

My answer? “Yes!”

Now, I’m not trying to be a smart aleck. (Well, I am a little bit, do you even know me?) But seriously, my yes comes from years of helping implement content teams in dozens of businesses. My affirmative response indicates the most important thing isn’t to whom content reports; it’s that content teams report to the business.

When it reports into a function, such as brand, marketing, sales enablement, demand gen, PR/comms, or even (yes, really in one case) finance, the business acknowledges content marketing is a real thing with real responsibilities, power, and capabilities to affect business outcomes.

“What outcomes?” you might ask.

Well, that depends on where content marketing reports.

Now you have the real conundrum.

You can’t figure out where content marketing and content strategy should report without knowing the expected business outcomes, and you can’t know the business outcomes until you know where they’re reporting.

The most important thing isn’t to whom #content reports; it’s that content teams report to the business, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It’s tricky.

Content’s pervasiveness creates the challenge

Content as a strategic function in business affects almost everything. That pervasiveness means nearly any function in the business could “own” content as a strategy.

For example, we recently worked with a company about a year into its enterprise-wide digital transformation strategy. They have a content team, and we were to help them assemble a governance and operational approach for their website content.

When we determined the right operational processes, we got into trouble. A content team leader asked, “What if someone proposed a new AI chatbot as part of this digital transformation for the website? Is it a content project with a technology component or a technology project with a content component?”

The question isn’t semantics. Instead, the answer determines the process for development, the team owning implementation, and the measurement by which it’s deemed successful.

Knowing where a #content project is assigned determines its development process, implementation owner, and success metric, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It’s not just a technology challenge, either. The company also wanted to create new brand content guidelines for the website. Is that a content team project informed by the brand team or a brand project in consultation with the content team?

Given content’s pervasiveness, you can argue it is part of any meaningful communications initiative the business takes on. But sales’ needs are different from marketing’s, and HR’s requirements are different from the demand-gen team’s. However, to achieve consistency in content and communication, it doesn’t make sense to let each function determine its content strategy.

To achieve the balance between an enterprise-wide content strategy and the unique needs of every function in the business, the leaders and practitioners must decide to whom content reports. Again, the agreement is important, not the where or what of the agreement.

3 key attributes to identify in the decision-making process

As you and the leadership ponder how to balance the enterprise content strategy and where it should sit, consider these three key attributes that play an essential role in success.

1. Develop a content operations backbone

I don’t care if you have two people and one blog and a website or a team of 50 who operate on 35 content platforms across multiple channels. A content operations infrastructure creates consistent success across your digital content experiences. Content operations is an enterprise-recognized set of integrated and shared systems (meaning technologies), standards, guidelines, playbooks, and processes to ensure reliable, consistent, scalable, and measurable content across the business.

Content operations acts as the backbone – the foundation – to ensure the content is created, managed, activated, and measured the same way across whatever audience and whichever channel the brand presents to.

2. Connect with the audience across platforms

You can no longer expect to create one optimal experience that makes up for a bunch of sub-optimal ones.No matter your size, it’s not good enough to have your blog subscribers separate from your marketing automation database and all that separated from your CRM system. This goes for all of your audiences – from new employees to external parties such as analysts, journalists, partners, vendors, etc.

In this approach, the goal is to engage, build, and develop relationships with audiences. Thus, connecting audience behavior with insights on how to communicate better is not a siloed functional need; it is an enterprise need.

3. Build an accountability framework

This attribute in one word? Standards (and a team to keep them.) In a truly fascinating way, one of the earliest activities in building a content strategy makes the biggest impact on larger businesses: Come to terms with what words around content strategy and marketing mean. What is a campaign? What is the difference between a campaign and an initiative? What is an e-book? What is an article vs. a blog post? How long should a white paper take to write? Most businesses assume these things or create meanings based on contextual needs.

At a recent client, one group expected the content team to produce white papers within a week of the request. Another group expected them to be delivered in six weeks at double the length that the other group thought.

An accountability framework – and its ongoing evolution – presents clear ownership and coordination of content standards (roles, responsibilities, processes, types) across the enterprise. This model should not detail the definitions and standards but identify how they will enforce them.

Start your content decisions by deciding together

Where should you begin?

Well, just like in the beginning, my answer is yes. Independent of where you start, the critical point happens in the deciding of the elements. To be clear, these are institutional decisions, not simply “what you think.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what you believe the definitions, roles, or processes should be if the other parts of the organization don’t know, believe, or care.

A great first step is to create that accountability framework and make people care about its existence. At first, it might create a language of content that everybody in your business understands. When someone says, “I’d like to do a campaign,” or, “I think we should write a white paper,” everyone understands what that means and what it takes to do it. Then, the benefits of an accountability framework will start to become clear.

It makes the case for a team assigned to lead this consistency easier. And that enables the team to connect those experiences and audiences in a way that makes sense for everyone.

In the end, you have found determining the where, how, and what of a content strategy implementation isn’t the most important. The act of deciding is.

It’s a strange combination. In isolation, the reason for deciding seems straightforward. So why wouldn’t anybody want a clear definition of what a campaign is or a single source of the truth when it comes to the tone of your content?

But stacked together, those decisions feel like they are bigger than the content team and really should involve the entire enterprise. (Spoiler alert: They do.)

If you want any desired consequence, you had better decide on all the things that would help create it.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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