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Writing Benefit-Driven Web Copy – 4 Steps to More Sales

features offeredFeatures OfferedYou've identified the benefits you offer your customers, but how do you turn a list of benefits into engaging web copy which converts visitors into customers?

Recently I wrote an article explaining how to identify the benefits you offer your customers (http://www.divinewrite.com/benefits.htm). That article challenged business owners and marketing managers to think in terms of benefits rather than features when writing their web copy.

What the article didn’t discuss was how to actually write the web copy once they had identified their benefits. That’s what this article is about. (It even gives you a couple of templates you can use to make your job a whole lot easier!)

As a website copywriter, many of the projects I undertake are completely new websites. The client has some general ideas about what they’d like to convey, but they need someone who can fine-tune their message, and create web copy (and a web structure) which engages their readers. As a result, over the years I’ve developed a process for doing this effectively. There are four main steps:

1. Identify benefits

2. Identify how you deliver these benefits

3. Prioritize your benefits

4. Write the content

Although this article touches on step 1, it’s mostly about steps 2, 3, and 4.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY YOUR BENEFITS

Branding aside, most websites are about selling. Customers don’t want to know what you can do; they want to know what you can do for THEM. That means the first question you should ask is, “What benefits do I offer my customers?” This is usually the first step toward identifying the key message to be conveyed.

That’s not to say that your website shouldn’t describe your products and services. You just need to make sure it describes them in terms of benefits to your customer.

But benefits identification is outside the scope of this article. If you’d like to find out more about how to engage your customer with benefits, go to http://www.divinewrite.com/benefits.htm.

over deliverOver DeliverSTEP 2 – IDENTIFY HOW YOU DELIVER THESE BENEFITS

Of course, you can’t just claim to deliver benefits and stop at that. You need to support that claim. On your website, you’re going to need to convince your audience that you actually do deliver these benefits. Anyone can say they deliver benefits, but few can say it persuasively.

From step 1 you’ll have a list of benefits. Now you need to think about how you deliver each benefit in that list. This is where you start talking about features – price, product highlights, distribution channel, competitor weaknesses, external factors, USPs, etc. It’s helpful if you draw up a table with one column for benefits and one for the features which deliver those benefits. (Click http://www.divinewrite.com/downloads/benefitsfeatures.doc to download an example Benefits-Features table – 20KB.)

You will probably find this process much easier than identifying benefits. In fact, you’ve probably got most of this information written down already… somewhere. If not, chances are you uncovered a good portion of it when you were brainstorming for benefits.

TIP: If you’re having trouble identifying supporting features, before filling out the table, try listing everything you can think of which relates to what you do, and how you do it. Don’t worry about the order. Just brain-dump onto a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a Word document, anywhere… Don’t leave anything out, even if it seems unimportant. (You’d be surprised how important even the most insignificant details can become once you start assigning them to benefits.) If you start getting lost, think back to the question you’re trying to answer: How do you deliver your list of benefits to your customer? Once you’ve done your brain-dump, read through it, and decide which specific benefit each feature delivers

Benefits offeredBenefits OfferedSTEP 3 – PRIORITISE YOUR BENEFITS

Now that you’ve identified all the things you COULD say, it’s time to figure out what you SHOULD say and where you should say it. This is where your benefits-features table comes into play. Read through your list of benefits and prioritize them according to how compelling they will be to your reader.

The reason for this? Priority determines prominence. The most compelling benefits will need to be prominent on your site.

TIP: Be aware that your list may include some benefits which everyone in your business category could claim. In other words, they’re not just specific to your company, but apply to the type of service you offer. For example, if you sell a Content Management System (CMS) for website creation, you may list “Greater control for marketing managers” and “Less expense updating content” as benefits. Every CMS vendor could claim these benefits, so you’ll need to question their importance. Will they differentiate you from your competitors? Generic benefits can be useful if none of your competitors are using them, or if you feel you need to educate your market a bit before launching into company-specific benefits.

STEP 4 – WRITE YOUR CONTENT

So now you know what you’d like to say, it’s time to decide how to say it. This is about three things:

1. Subject – What is the subject of your site; features or benefits?

2. Structure – How do you structure your site such that your customers will read your most compelling benefits?

3. Words – What words should you use to best engage your audience (and the search engines)?

The remainder of this article is dedicated to Subject and Structure. For further discussion of Words, see http://www.divinewrite.com/webwriting.htm and http://www.divinewrite.com/seocopy.htm).

Subject

What is the subject of your site; features or benefits? The answer to this question lies in audience identification. If your audience knows a bit about the type of product or service you’re selling, lead with features (e.g. processor speed, turnaround time, uptime, expertise, educational qualifications, wide product range, etc.). But make sure you talk about their benefits, and make sure the features offering the most important benefits are the most prominent.

services offeredServices OfferedHere’s a simplified example…

“Cool Widgets offers:

* Standard Operating Environment – Significantly reducing the complexity of your IT infrastructure

* System upgrades which are less expensive to license – Providing excellent TCO reductions”

In cases where you’re selling to an audience who knows very little about your product or service, lead with benefits (e.g. if you’re selling something technical to a non-technical audience).

Here’s the same simplified example, reversed for a novice audience…

“Cool Widgets offers:

* Reduced complexity of IT infrastructure – We can implement a Standard Operating Environment for your organization

* Reduced TCO – We can upgrade your IT to systems which are less expensive to license”

Structure

How do you structure your site in such a way that your customers will be sure to read your most compelling benefits? The answer is, keep it short ‘n sweet. And make it scan-able. This doesn’t mean you have to cut features or benefits. You just have to structure your site to accommodate your message.

While every site is different, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to introduce your main features and benefits on your home page. Summarize them – preferably using bullet points, but at the very least, clearly highlight them so that your audience can scan-read (e.g. bold, underline, colour, link).

special featuresSpecial FeaturesThen link from each summarized feature or benefit to a detailed description. Try to keep each page to approximately 200-400 words. You may need several pages to detail all your features and benefits. (Click http://www.divinewrite.com/downloads/pagestructure.doc to download a page structure template – 29KB.)

TIP: In cases where you need to introduce features and benefits which are generic to your field (rather than specific to your offering), your home page is generally the best place to do it. From there, you can lead to a second page summarizing the specific features and benefits of your offering.

Conclusion

Web copy is about far more than just clever words. It’s essential that you identify the benefits you offer your customer, and that you can convince your customer you actually deliver those benefits.

I hope that the guidance and tools provided in this article will help you on your way to engaging web copy which converts to sales.

Happy writing!

For a free quotation or more information, please do not hesitate to contact us

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What are Web Standards?

web standardsWeb StandardWeb standards are technologies, established by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and other standards bodies, that are used to create and understand web-based content. In order for the Web to reach its full potential, the most fundamental Web technologies must be compatible with one another and allow any hardware and software used to access the Web to work together. Therefore, to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential, protocols and guidelines have been developed that ensure long-term growth for the Web.

How does your business benefit from adopting web standards

Lower development costs:

This is due to simpler development and maintenance using more semantic and structured HTML. The one site will work with all major browsers.

Lower hosting costs:

Less HTML results in smaller file sizes and quicker downloads. Smaller file sizes mean lower bandwidth which will lower hosting costs.

Increase in usability:

Your customers will find your site renders and downloads faster due to the smaller file size. This will make them respond and showi more interest in what you have to offer in your business.

website development Website DevelopmentIncrease in accessibility:

Semantic HTML, where structure is separated from Website Development presentation, makes it easier for screen readers and alternative browsing devices to decipher the content.

Increase in search ability:

Semantic HTML, where structure is separated from presentation, makes the content represent a larger part of the total file content. Combined with semantic markup this will improve search engine rankings. As your site search ability increases, so will your potential clients.

Better brand control:

When presentation is separated by content, you have much better control over the branding of your sites. Your sites that channel content to conventional browsers, on PDA and mobile phones can be controlled by just changing the style sheet(s).

For a free quotation, please contact us,

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I have a working website, why do I need a re-design?

redesign your websiteRedesign Your WebsiteMy site is working fine, the links all seem to work, my content is added regularly and we are adding new features regularly. Why does my company need to have our website re-designed?

The most important reason companies are having there websites re-designed is to stay ahead of the trend that has taken over the internet over the past few years... and that is responsive websites. If you have not yet heard of a responsive website, then it is time to look at your website on a mobile phone or tablet... you will soon see if it displays differently on these devices, if it does not display differently, then its time to re-design your website, and make it mobile friendly, as 60% of searches are now done on mobile and tablets, and clients are navigating away from sites that are not mobile friendly.

It is important to realize that websites should be updated regularly, have new features added, and always have working links. However, as the site grows it soon outgrows its foundation. Leading to an unorganized use of content, poor usability, and eventually chaos. A re-design is a perfect opportunity to take inventory, and put things back on track. It will also allow for a better user experience. A re-design is also essential if your website has been designed with software such as dreamweaver, or any program that does not allow editing via a content management system (C.M.S.).

Responsive website

As we have touched on earlier, the most important reason for re-designing your website is because your site is outdated, and not competing with your competitors on mobile and tablet devices. Users do not take the time to scroll or read content that has to be "zoomed" to be readable. If your website is mobile and tablet friendly, you have a 95% chance that the user will stay and browse your website. Google have revealed that 60% of searches are now being done on mobile devices, is your website competing in this field yet?

New Foundation

With any re-design it is a great time to do a little rethinking. Looking at your current site, a question needs to be asked. What is it that people want when coming to my site? By understanding what it is that people are looking for from your site, you will be able to better position that information within the architecture of the entire website.

Judging by the Cover

The old adage "Never judge a book by its cover" doesn't apply to your website. Users who visit your site make quick and often harsh judgment calls within seconds of viewing your homepage. By making outstanding first impression with a crisp, clean, professional look, the user gets a sense of trust from the company behind the website.

Follow the Leader

Your site could have the exact information a specific user is looking for. However, if it takes too long for them to locate it, chances are they will go somewhere else to find the information. By making your site as user friendly as possible you will be able to guide the user to specific areas of content. Bringing content that is hidden under multiple clicks to the forefront makes it easy for a user to locate. As well as, leads the user to other areas of your site that they might not have known about.

New Experience

New features can dramatically improve the user experience. Online calendars that allow a user to register for events are a perfect example of how a simple feature increases the value of a site. No longer does the user have to call or mail in an RSVP card. As such, the company doesn't need a person to answer the phone for every registration.

Cheapest Employee

Your website could be your cheapest employee. It has already been mentioned that your site could make your day-to-day tasks a thing of the past. By adding features to your site that help educate your user base, enhance marketing efforts, as well as, develop a sense of who your users are, you are in reality making your site work harder for you. The simple fact is that you have a website, why not make it work harder and do more for you and your company? An offshoot of adding features like this is that your users have more interaction with your website and your company.

Your Future Customers

The whole goal of a re-design is to create a better experience for your users. There are many approaches to attain such a goal. Maybe it is a new look, a revised navigation scheme, or a complete overhaul. Whatever the outcome, your site should reflect the company behind the site and insure a sense of trust with you future customers.

My site is working fine, the links all seem to work, my content is added regularly and we are adding new features regularly. Why does my company need to have our website re-designed?

The most important reason companies are having there websites re-designed is to stay ahead of the trend that has taken over the internet over the past few years... and that is responsive websites. If you have not yet heard of a responsive website, then it is time to look at your website on a mobile phone or tablet... you will soon see if it displays differently on these devices, if it does not display differently, then its time to re-design your website, and make it mobile friendly, as 60% of searches are now done on mobile and tablets, and clients are navigating away from sites that are not mobile friendly.

It is important to realize that websites should be updated regularly, have new features added, and always have working links. However, as the site grows it soon outgrows its foundation. Leading to an unorganized use of content, poor usability, and eventually chaos. A re-design is a perfect opportunity to take inventory, and put things back on track. It will also allow for a better user experience. A re-design is also essential if your website has been designed with software such as dreamweaver, or any program that does not allow editing via a content management system (C.M.S.).

responsive web designResponsive Web DesignResponsive website

As we have touched on earlier, the most important reason for re-designing your website is because your site is outdated, and not competing with your competitors on mobile and tablet devices. Users do not take the time to scroll or read content that has to be "zoomed" to be readable. If your website is mobile and tablet friendly, you have a 95% chance that the user will stay and browse your website. Google have revealed that 60% of searches are now being done on mobile devices, is your website competing in this field yet?

New Foundation

With any re-design it is a great time to do a little rethinking. Looking at your current site, a question needs to be asked. What is it that people want when coming to my site? By understanding what it is that people are looking for from your site, you will be able to better position that information within the architecture of the entire website.

Judging by the Cover

The old adage "Never judge a book by its cover" doesn't apply to your website. Users who visit your site make quick and often harsh judgment calls within seconds of viewing your homepage. By making outstanding first impression with a crisp, clean, professional look, the user gets a sense of trust from the company behind the website.

Follow the Leader

Your site could have the exact information a specific user is looking for. However, if it takes too long for them to locate it, chances are they will go som

ewhere else to find the information. By making your site as user friendly as possible you will be able to guide the user to specific areas of content. Bringing content that is hidden under multiple clicks to the forefront makes it easy for a user to locate. As well as, leads the user to other areas of your site that they might not have known about.

Attracting CustomersNew Experience

New features can dramatically improve the user experience. Online calendars that allow a user to register for events are a perfect example of how a simple feature increases the value of a site. No longer does the user have to call or mail in an RSVP card. As such, the company doesn't need a person to answer the phone for every registration.

attracting customersAttracting CustomersCheapest Employee

Your website could be your

cheapest employee. It has already been mentioned that your site could make your day-to-day tasks a thing of the past. By adding features to your site that help educate your user base, enhance marketing efforts, as well as, develop a sense of who your users are, you are in reality making your site work harder for you. The simple fact is that you have a website, why not make it work harder and do more for you and your company? An offshoot of adding features like this is that your users have more interaction with your website and your company.

Your Future Customers

The whole goal of a re-design is to create a better experience for your users. There are many approaches to attain such a goal. Maybe it is a new look, a revised navigation scheme, or a complete overhaul. Whatever the outcome, your site should reflect the company behind the site and insure a sense of trust with you future customers.

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Web design: Keep it clean

less is moreLess is MoreWhen designing your website, remember one thing: Less is more. Some people make the mistake of filling up every pixel on their web page with a different image or graphic or piece of text. Not only does this usually look bad, but it greatly diminishes the chance that the visitor will be able to find a focal point. People don’t like being confused when they visit a web site. They like simple.

column structureColumn StructureInformation overload

Try to not use more than three columns in your layout. Some websites can get away with one column, others need two or three. A good web designer will be able to develop a strategy for successfully laying out their website content in only a few columns.

Colors that complement

Try to avoid using more than 5 colors on your website. Develop a color scheme and stick to it. A great site that has heaps of working color schemes is at http://www.colorschemer.com. They also have a program called ColorSchemer that makes choosing colors a cinch. No, we don’t work for these guys - we just love their website and software! One of their recent blog posts was about our company’s obvious favorite color - blue!

Content is king

Make sure that the content on your pages is informative and to the point. Many web surfers have short attention spans and will lose interest if your web page content isn’t concise and clear. On the other hand, if you have a lot of informative, valuable information, post as much of it as you can. The web needs a lot of good content to make up for all of the bad website content out there.

too many imagesToo Many ImagesUse images wisely

The same can be said for website images - don’t abuse them. Not only do too many images look tacky and unprofessional, but they can significantly slow down the loading of your website. As mentioned a moment ago, web surfers have short attention spans. If your website takes longer than 5-10 seconds to load, you risk losing visitors. Make sure that your images have been optimized in Adobe Photoshop or other image editing software. Optimized images will load much more quickly than images that are saved without any optimization.

Web pages that suck

Web design talent is not something everyone has been gifted with. Someone went so far as to prove this fact by creating a website called Web Pages That Suck.com. On this site you will find many examples of, forgive us for saying, terrible websites. Those who created these sites obviously did not read their Web Design 101 book. We actually found this site helpful, when many of us at Chromatic Sites first began our website design careers. You can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes. Try your best not to end up on that website.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free quotation, or more information

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What Are My Chances To Get The First Place In Search Engine Listings?

rich man with moneyRich Man You must have heard the stories how people became rich and famous with their websites. How could they achieve this? Their websites took a first position in search engine listings, targeting popular keywords. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! To be honest, chances for a regular small business website to get to the top of the search engine listings are close to zero, and each day they become smaller and smaller, as a number of new and old websites grow.

Let's examine the situation from the beginning. Search engines just need your content to deliver it to searchers. If a searcher is happy with the search result from the particular search engine, he will come back, and use this search engine again. Do not think that search engines serve to send customers to your website. They DO NOT CARE about your website or your business. All they need is content.

When the search engines first appeared on the Internet, they needed help to determine what your site is about, and how relevant your website is to search queries. People used "Keyword" meta-tags in those days. Keywords gave too many opportunities to cheat with search engines results, so searchers were not happy with their search queries results. Same thing was with the search engines. Manipulation with a website position in the search engines listings became known as Search Engine Optimization. That was the time when you could actually wake up a rich man, after the search engine came to your website, included it into its database and started sending you thousands of customers.

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