A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Web Site Copywriting Secrets: Rocket Your Sales with These Two Easy Tips


Web site copywriting secrets.
Web site copywriting secrets; how to get your
web site visitors to buy.
What’s the difference between web sites where visitors buy products consistently — and web sites where visitors don’t buy at all?

Many times, it’s not your product, price, or site design that make your visitors whip out their credit cards. Instead, your web site’s copywriting — the words used on your site — make all the difference.

Marketing gurus charge a lot of money to tell you how to write better web site copy. In fact, I recently paid copywriting guru Chris Haddad 5 figures to help me write sales copy for Inspiring Innovators and Be The Authority, my two upcoming membership sites.

Today, I’m grateful to be able to share with you two web site copywriting secrets I paid a ton of money to learn — and that will probably make your business a truckload of easy extra money. These work on any web site, by the way, not just on those lo-o-o-ng sales letter sites. After reading them, take a look at your web site. How can you update its copywriting to fit these guidelines?

Web Site Copywriting Secret #1: The Copywriting “Kiss of Death”

Over 90% of small business websites fail this simple test: Who does your home page talk about? If it’s about you, the company, you have failed.

The ironic thing is, as a consultant, if I were to come in to your business and implore you to change your home page from “Welcome to XYZ Blah Blah Company, the leader in the ZYX industry” to something like “XYZ Company helped Maria X of ABC Company deliver 57% more whatchabobs in 2008…learn how we can help you, too”, you might be quite resistant to that! (Another good reason why I don’t want to do big consulting gigs.)

There are two key points why Maria’s story is so much more effective than the stuff about you. One, it gets people interested. How, exactly, did you help Maria deliver 57% more whatchabobs? (If you put a picture of Maria — the real Maria — up, it’s even more effective.) Two, it draws people into your story as a company without hitting them over the head with how great you are.

No one cares how awesome you are, the bulleted list of services you provide, and where you are located. All of that information should be moved off of your front page and onto your About or Contact page. The main information on your home page should be how you helped a customer.

Specific is better. More people are interested in Maria’s story than in the fact that you helped 497 companies last year. Why is that? Whenever people read a story, they unconsciously put themselves in the other person’s shoes. People can’t really picture “497 companies”, but they can picture themselves as Maria, running around like a crazy person until you helped her.

Web Site Copywriting Secret #2: Envision Your Customer — Down to Their Eye and Hair Color!

When I talk to small business owners, I usually ask, “What is your target market?” I am surprised at how often they have some vague, grandiose answer. One friend I talked to recently said, “Women.” When prompted for more information, she said “Ages 18-65. Well, and maybe younger girls too. And moms. Moms who want their kids involved in the program. But maybe moms who don’t want to be in this program with their kids, too.”

She is certainly not the only one who has no idea what her target audience is! I would say at least 50% of new web hosting companies define their target market as “small businesses.” Recently, some of them got a little more savvy and said “Local small businesses.”

None of these answers are acceptable!

Learn from Trader Joe’s and the “unemployed college professor”
Recently, I was reading Made to Stick. Its authors mentioned that Trader Joe’s had done this exercise. (If you haven’t been to Trader Joe’s, it’s a grocery store that is rather kitschy and sells good food that’s inexpensive and healthy. in fact, I am eating some of their Baked Cheese Crunchies as I write this.)

The good folks at Trader Joe’s decided their market was an “unemployed college professor who drives a very, very used Volvo.” They gave the guy a name (let’s call him Don for this blog post), a location, an age, named what kind of car he drove, wrote out his career path, and filled in as many details as they possibly could about him. Then they passed this guy’s profile around to all their decision makers.

This made Trader Joe’s decisions easy. What kind of food should they stock? Well, what would Don eat? What would he want in his fridge and freezer?

Where should they open a new location? Well, where does Don live? Probably in suburbia…so let’s open a location there. Maybe near a college…so let’s open in those areas.

What should their marketing be like? What would Don read? (Trader Joe’s delivers a “newspaper” to all their loyal customers every couple of weeks, full of goofy stories about food instead of the typical full-color spread of specials.)

What should their promotions be? What would Don enjoy? (Currently running at my local Trader Joe’s is a weekly drawing that you can only enter if you bring your own reusable grocery bags.)

It’s Scary to Do This!
Most people are scared to do this because they are afraid it will exclude customers. On the contrary — I doubt you’d find too many people who exactly fit Don’s profile walking around your local Trader Joe’s at any given moment. But knowing an exact person that you are marketing to helps you quickly make decisions.

I really thought about this one for Inspiring Innovators. Finally, I decided my target market was me at age 21. I had started Simpli (my hosting company), but it wasn’t really going anywhere, and I doubted it would make it. I wanted to start a different web business, but I just didn’t know anyone who had created a successful online business.

I was struggling to figure out who I was and where I fit in this life. I didn’t have a whole lot of friends and I certainly didn’t have access to any millionaires. Yet I was pretty sure that this Web thing held the key to both a lot of money and a far better job than the one I had just left at Sun Microsystems.

Getting Into the Mind of Your Customer
I took several deep breaths and plunged back in time to that full-of-doubt younger me. I was angry that my boss at my previous job had no respect for me. I was making crap wages and was scared to give my consulting clients my bills. The driver who drove the train I took to work had a higher salary than me. I couldn’t seem to make ends meet.

It was the middle of a recession and there were no jobs. I had just interviewed for a job, aced the freakin’ interview, and then they declined to hire me because they said I would just leave to start my own business. But at that point, I would have happily given up my business for the $74,000/year salary they were paying.

I let all that sink in, and then I started writing. And it all came out…all the emotions went right down there on the page. So frustrated because I knew this web thing would work, but didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. No one I knew was successful. The successful people were hidden far away from me, and I didn’t even have enough money to take them out to dinner!

These case studies Inspiring Innovators was selling were awesome because there I could finally learn from the experts with money that I had available. I could scrounge up the few dollars a month to pay for the interviews and listen to these folks. I was convinced that one of them (or more than one) would hold the key to me getting out of debt and making my life better.

The Big Shift
As soon as I put myself in my own younger shoes and wrote from that perspective, something shifted. I was no longer writing a sales letter. I was writing a story. I knew it would resonate with so many of you, because I knew who my customer was. I was doing this all for that lost, frustrated 21-year-old, and it was an amazing gift for her.

This exercise isn’t easy. Sometimes your target audience won’t immediately be clear. It took me over an hour to get the courage to think that maybe my target for Inspiring Innovators was me at a younger age. I had a lot of doubts — shouldn’t it be someone else? But the younger me fit so perfectly that I couldn’t shake it, and I ended up writing the sales letter with a fervent passion.

Your target may be you. But it probably won’t be. Who do you know who could benefit from your business? Take them out to lunch and listen to their fears and frustrations. Then write the sales letter for them…just them. Even if they don’t buy, if you have the picture of them clear, someone else will. Better yet, they will feel like your web site copywriting was made just for them, and they will be more likely to be loyal customers.

Inspiring Innovators launches next week! Make sure you are subscribed to erica.biz, as I have some amazing free videos, a free Blog Success Manifesto, and even a free case study for you! Stay tuned…

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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