You know your website is your most important online marketing tool. So you did your due diligence when building it. You worked hard to get a design that matches your brand. Moreover, you focused on creating content that would:
- Attract search traffic
- Speak to your ideal audience
- Turn website visitors into clients
But your website is not converting. You are not getting the leads you want or need to keep your business thriving.
Something on your website is broken. That something is most likely your content. Luckily, you can change your content any time you want. And those changes can lead to increased conversion rates.
What follows is a list of the top seven website content mistakes that will cost you clients. Read on and then take some time to review your own website copy in relation to these mistakes. If you spot any of the mistakes on your site, follow the tips below to correct them and increase leads.
Mistake #1: Putting Yourself First
The biggest mistake you can make when writing your website content is thinking that you are creating your website for your business. Because you aren’t. You are creating your site for your ideal audience.
“The inherent tension in marketing is that companies always want to talk about themselves and what their products or services can do. Everyone else, meanwhile, only wants to know what those products or services can do for them.”
—Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman, authors of Content Rules
As a business owner, your website is your online home for your marketing efforts. Your sole goal, then, should be to deliver content that your audience wants and needs to solve their problems.
The Fix: Create Content That Speaks to Your Ideal Audience
There are two specific steps to take when it comes to speaking to your ideal audience. The first is defining who your audience is. The second involves using the right words to speak to that audience.
Defining your audience comes down to identifying your ideal client, down to their name, picture, likes, dislikes and more. This is your buyer persona, also called an avatar.
The core elements of a persona or avatar include:
- Demographics (age, gender, marital status, ability, socioeconomic status)
- Experiences (education, employment, life)
- Daily tasks and needs
- Problems and perceived barriers
It is best not to make up this information. Interview a few of your top clients to gather information. Generalize what you learn and use that to craft your preferred buyer persona.
Once you know your persona, it is time to write your content. With your persona in mind, you are able to write in a way that better connects with your audience.
Additionally, one of the best copywriting tips you can follow is to use “you” and “your” statements more often than “we” and “our” statements. “We” and “our” is introspective and self-serving. This does nothing for your audience.
Flip the script!
By writing “you” statements, you are addressing your audience as though they are sitting right in front of you. You are actively engaging in a conversation with them. This builds rapport and lends itself well to keeping your website visitors engaged.
Example: Smart Move Home Team (smartmovehometeam.com)
This real estate agency website gets the mix of “you” and “our” just right. And it starts off on the right foot, focusing first on the audience, second on the agency.
Mistake #2: Focusing on Features
An effective copywriting technique is to turn the features of a business’s service into benefits. Both features and benefits have a place in copyright, of course. Your audience wants to know what it is you’re selling. But knowing isn’t enough. You have to show them. That’s where benefits come in.
- Features tell your audience the facts behind your service. They are descriptive and technical in nature. They offer no emotional connection to your audience.
- Benefits show the result your audience receives by using your service. They persuade your audience to choose your service over others. They speak to your audience’s concerns, fears, desires, wants, etc. They elicit an emotional response.
If your content has many feature-based statements and lacks clear benefits, it’s time to reassess how you describe your services.
The Fix: Bring it Back to Benefits
If you find your website copy is riddled with many features and few benefits, highlight the feature phrases and then ask, “Why does this matter?” Or, more simply, “Who cares,” or “So what?” These questions help you dive deeper into the results that your ideal client will receive by choosing to work with you.
Speak specifically to results, potential transformations and solutions. It is benefits like these that help convert a casual website visitor into a loyal client.
Example: Treehouse Woodworking (treehousewoodworkingmn.com)
This custom cabinet company calls out its benefits quite clearly on its Services page and touches upon those benefits smartly on its Home page. Highlight the benefits, and mention them throughout your site for greatest impact.
Mistake #3: Writing Clumsy Calls to Action (CTAs) (or even worse … forgetting them altogether!)
A call to action (CTA) is the most important piece of content on your website. It tells your visitors exactly what to do once they land on your site. If you fail to tell your visitors what you want them to do, they will most likely leave without taking action. And they take with them your marketing dollars and hopes for new clients.
So what makes a clumsy call to action? A CTA that is any of the following definitely fits the bill:
- Long or convoluted
- Too subtle
The clumsiest call to action to date? “Click here.” It tells your visitors nothing of why they are clicking or where they will go once they click. If you use “click here” or something similar, it’s time to reassess your CTAs.
The Fix: Encourage Action With Clear CTAs
A clear CTA is one that is straight the point. It uses active language to entice your visitors to take the next step. The following language has proven useful in CTAs across multiple industries. See if you can find a way to incorporate one or more into your site.
- Free Trial (e.g., Sign Up for My Free Trial; Start Your Free Trial Now)
- Schedule My Appointment
- Get Started Now
- Subscribe Now
- Learn More
- Show Me
Incorporate your CTA into each web page at least twice for greatest effect. Use it toward the top of your content and again toward the bottom of the page. Vary the language to see what works best.
Additionally, make sure your CTAs appear prominently on your site. Use buttons whenever possible and format links with an eye-catching color so they stand out against the rest of the copy.
Example: Daire Success Coaching (daire2succeed.com)
This business coach’s Home page offers multiple examples of effective CTAs that are clear, short and personalized. Plus, the button and link color stand out against the main brand colors, helping your eye easily find them as you scroll through the page.
Mistake #4: Hiding Your Phone Number
Your prospective clients want to reach you. And they want to find your contact information quickly. But today’s website visitors are impatient.
If you fail to include your phone number in the locations most website visitors look for that information, you will lose your visitors. They will move on to the next potential provider’s website. Don’t bury your number.
The Fix: Put Your Number in Your Design & Content
Your phone number belongs in many locations throughout your site. The first place you should put it? Current best practices say to include it in the top right-hand corner of your website design.
Next, incorporate your phone number (and the rest of your contact information) in your website’s footer. This way, you’ll grab the attention of impatient web visitors who quickly scroll to the bottom of the sites to find contact info.
Finally, add your phone number into the content of every page. Incorporate it into your clear CTA for your visitors’ next step.
For bonus value, ensure your phone number is click-to-call enabled. This will allow mobile visitors to simply touch the number to dial your office when they are on the go.
To format your phone number in this way, start the hyperlink text with “tel:” and follow that with your phone number. Do not include any spaces or other punctuation.
Don’t want a visitor’s first contact coming via phone? Include short contact forms on every page of your website and include a link to the Contact page (where all of your contact information lives) at the top and bottom of your website.
Example: Nowthen Plumbing (nowthenplumbing.com)
This professional plumbing website offers ample contact opportunities for customers, with links and phone numbers sprinkled throughout every page.
Mistake #5: Neglecting Mobile Visitors
There are more than 2 billion smartphone users in the world. And more than 50% of website visitors come from mobile devices. This means it is impractical and unwise to write in a way that ignores your mobile audience.
Copy that is unfriendly to mobile audiences is text-block heavy and does not use any formatting tricks to keep a visitor’s eyes scanning down the page. If you look at your site and see walls of copy, take the time to implement the formatting tips below.
The Fix: Format for Easier Consumption
Here are several quick fixes you can tackle to help your copy connect with mobile visitors:
- Use attention-grabbing headlines. Focus on benefits for even greater impact.
- Write short sentences (10-20 words). Shorter is even better!
- Write short paragraphs (2-3 sentences). And, yes, one-sentence paragraphs are okay.
- Use bulleted lists. Use parallel construction (e.g., same verb or sentence structure, same type of opening, same type of message) for the items within each list.
The bonus to revising your copy to incorporate these four fixes? You connect better with website visitors on all devices—not just on mobile. And when you start thinking about chunking your copy in this manner, when you start writing with a mobile-first mindset, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.
It is important to remember that writing for mobile does not mean cutting back on how much you write. It means writing well.
Example: The Law Offices of Daniel J. Brazil, P.A. (djbrazil-law.com)
This law firm Home page gets straight to the point. It offers short sentences, breaks copy up by audience, and highlights benefits and proof in easy-to-digest chunks.
Mistake #6: Failing to Edit
Editing is the most skipped step of the website content creation process. We all believe we are infallible; that goes for our copy, too. The truth is simple, however:
“Everyone needs an editor.”
—Tim Foote, American editor and author
When writing content for your website, follow a thorough process that starts with planning, moves to writing, and then allows for editing and proofreading before finally publishing your copy.
The Fix: Edit Your Copy Before You Publish It
If your website copy is already live, copy and paste the text into a Word document (or your word processing software) and take the time to read through it. This will help you separate the substance of the copy from the visual appeal of the design.
A good copyedit will ensure your content is:
While you edit, make sure your copy has what it needs to work well online. Look for opportunities to include:
- Headers (to further break up the copy for visitors to skim)
- Links (to connect each page on your site with other relevant pages on your site)
- Calls to action (to encourage your visitors to act on what they are reading)
If possible, reach out to a trusted colleague (or a professional editor, if you have the budget) for a more thorough, unbiased edit. This person will be better able to highlight holes in your copy, confusing items and much more.
Mistake #7: Forgetting to Proofread
If you are like most website owners, you have skipped proofreading altogether or you have cut corners to just be done with it already. Unfortunately, your attempts to bypass this important step can cause your earlier work to be all for naught.
Egregious or excessive typos will eliminate any credibility you have built with your website visitors. Once you have edited your draft for form and substance, you must proofread.
The Fix: Go Beyond Spell Check for a Full Proof
Follow this step-by-step proofreading checklist to capture any remaining typos that may linger in your copy after you have completed the editing process.
- Step 1: Walk away from your content. Give your brain some time to reset so you can come back with fresh eyes.
- Step 2: Run your word processor’s spell check. Make sure to enable grammar check, as well. Fix any typos.
- Step 3: Copy and paste your content into two free online apps: Grammarly and Hemingway. (These tools pick up the same errors for the most part, but sometimes one catches something the other doesn’t.) Fix any typos these programs identify.
- Step 4: Print out your draft. Read the content out loud. Note any errors as you read through.
- Step 5: Input your fixes into your electronic document. Run spell check one last time.
- Step 6: Copy and paste your content into your website’s CMS (content management system). Preview the page and read the copy out loud one more time to ensure no new typos resulted from the copy-and-paste process. Make final corrections.
- Step 7: Publish. Your copy is now properly edited and proofed. Publish and share!
When creating website content for your business, it is important to remember that your site is for your audience, not you. Deliver content that connects with your audience, engages with them on an emotional level and encourages them to act.
Speak to your past clients to see what it is about your services that made them choose you. Use what you learn to craft copy that connects with new prospects. Focus your site outwards to see internal improvements in sales.
“You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”