Wood you by something from a busyness whose web copy and gramar r this bad? No! At least, you shouldn’t.
Please forgive that horrid introductory sentence — it was intended to make a point. Bad grammar, typos, and malapropisms (misusing a word in place of a similar-sounding one) might be something you’d expect to find when scanning the online comments section of a local news story, but you should not see these things in the website copy of the businesses from which you buy products or services. The same is true of your own writing when you’re representing yourself or your business online.
What kind of first impression does poorly written copy make? Can bad copy result in lost potential shoppers?
I know that I’m wary when I work with a business that doesn’t pay attention to the detail of its copy. A company would need an extraordinary track record and positive fan reviews to overcome a poor writing style. More likely than not, I’ll look for different companies to work with instead.
“Copy” simply means copywriting, or marketing through the written word. Everything that you write for your website is considered “copy.” Often times, the first impression that a business will have on its visitors is through its website. Creating good web copy is critically important for converting your site visitors visitors into loyal shoppers.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a professional writer or have a formal degree to write effective web copy. Here are five tips to ensure that your writing will make a great first impression, whether its online, in print, or in email campaigns.
1. Be clear and concise
The best writing advice that I received came from my favorite college professor. He said, “If you can make your point in three words instead of five, use three words.” Many of us have a tendency to be verbose and use a lot of words to describe ourselves, our products, and our services. But a site visitor checking out your business just wants to know the basic information needed to decide whether they’re interested in what you have to offer. You want to convey any important information in a clear, concise way that is easy to read and understand. In other words, less is more.
2. Build a brand voice
If you want your brand to stand out in a crowded marketplace, be uniquely you. As we’ve mentioned before, crafting and unleashing your unique brand voice is one of the best ways to outshine your competition. By aligning your content, communications, and messaging, you’ll establish a personality for your brand that will resonate with potential shoppers.
3. Check your work
WordPress.com offers proofreading tools built into its text editor to help you catch misspelled words or improper grammar usage. Clicking on Proofread Writing will underline any possible misspellings in red, and potential grammar errors in green. Use this resource, or consider implementing other text editors like those found in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, which offer similar editing assistance.
4. Sleep on it
This tip is especially useful after you’ve spent a long time writing in-depth articles and posts: sleep on it. This means that once you think you’re done writing, you’re actually only finished with the first draft. You don’t literally have to go to sleep, but do something other than write for a while to clear your head. Coming back to your copy with fresh eyes will present new opportunities to gauge insights and clarity, which almost always results in edits that improve your work.
5. Make your meaning clear
As you interact with your readers, you’ll discover that the ideas in your head don’t always translate into something that your intended audience understands. How can you reduce the possibility of this happening after you’ve followed the first four tips listed above? Let other people review your copy before you publish it. Listen carefully to their feedback and make revisions as necessary. If a friend reads your blog post and has a difficult time understanding the message you are trying to convey, it’s likely that your readers will also miss your meaning.
If you’re writing a WordPress.com blog post, you can share the preview link with anyone who has a user account on your site (they’ll need to log in to see it). If they don’t have an account, you can request feedback or simply copy and paste the content that you want reviewed into an email.
Stop trying to convince yourself that copy doesn’t matter — it does! Follow the five steps above to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, grammatically correct, on-brand, and understandable — and worth all the time that you put into perfecting it!