Web Copywriting 101 – Begin with the End in Mind

Web Copywriting 101 – Begin with the End in Mind
Kate Headen Waddell - Tue Sep 07, 2010 @ 05:55AM
Comments: 25

Web Copywriting Call to ActionOccasionally a web copywriting “rule” is so deeply ingrained in your subconscious that it becomes second nature, and you forget that not everyone else knows about it. I was reminded of one of these rules the other day when I was having a meeting with a new client.

They had written their own web copy on their first iteration of their website, and were looking for some professional polish to take their marketing efforts to the next level. This client was one of the few that had written pretty strong, benefits-oriented copy all on their own, but they had made one big mistake that was preventing them from getting the response that they wanted.

A Common, Yet Fatal, Mistake

Ironically, the mistake was that they knew exactly what response they wanted, but hadn’t crafted the design or the copy to elicit any response at all. When I asked them what they wanted a client to do after reading their website, they immediately answered “give us a call for more information.”

But there was nowhere on the page that invited to reader to call for more information. In fact, the “Contact Us” page had no phone number listed on it, and the company phone number was actually hiding in very small font in the web footer. No wonder the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook.

Don’t Leave the Reader Hanging

Your web reader is busy and impatient, but also open to suggestion. Every page design needs to work in harmony with the copy on every page to get the reader to do exactly what you want.  And that means that your creative brief needs to spell out exactly what your call to action is so that the designer and the copywriter can work together to make sure you’re getting the response you want.

If you want her to call for more information, you need to make sure that the phone number is called out as a separate element on every page and that you invite her to call with a eye-catching call-to-action – preferably both in the body of the copy and above the phone number in your eye-catching call-out box.

If you want him to download the latest white paper or sign up for a webinar, you need to do the same.

What are some ingenious tools you use to make calls-to-action more compelling?

Do you have any stories from the trenches about improving response rates with carefully crafted design and copy?

About the author: Kate is a strategic copywriter specializing in web copy, white papers, case studies, solution briefs and other B2B marketing tools. You can visit her website at www.smartb2bmarcom.com.

Comments: 25


1. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Tue Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:36AM

Kate - This is SUCH important advice. I have had many clients in the past who get so caught up in the messaging and the "voice" that they forget about making it easy for the prospect to take the next step. As is often said, you need to "ask for the sale" ... this applies even if it's not a sale, but an initial contact. Whatever you want, ask for it by making that next step obvious, clear, and easy.

2. John Bottom  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 08, 2010 @ 02:10AM

Very true, Kate. And I think a wider point should be made about content in general. How many hours are put into writing whitepapers, creating videos etc, compared to the thought put into what one should do after reading/watching?

Tactically speaking, I think a key technique in a writing a good call to action is to somehow indicate how little effort it takes. See our 2-minute video on... Read our quick guide to... Or even state the size of the pdf [224k] because it reassures them it's not a monster to download. Every click is a hurdle that we must encourage the reader to jump - it makes sense to make it look as small as possible.

Good post and sound advice, thanks


3. Michael Ortner  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 09, 2010 @ 04:47AM

Unfortunately, I don't think it is so deeply ingrained in most people. The lack of a strong offer on every page is one of the most common problems we see among business software companies. It is often the difference between conversion rates in the low single digits and ones in crossing into double digits.

4. Kate Headen Waddell  |  my website   |   Mon Sep 27, 2010 @ 03:05AM

Thanks for all the comments - John I couldn't agree more about letting folks know how easy it is to follow up with a time limit or file size. No one wants to click into a half hour sales pitch unawares.

5. Liz  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 29, 2010 @ 05:16AM

Kate, such good info. Keeping our readers in mind with things like making your copy easy to read, offering specifics, giving them a clear call to action, giving examples and using graphics and illustrations are all things a reader appreciates.

For many online copywriters these things don't come naturally, particularly the call to action, but as you see conversions rise, it gets easier ;-) Nice Post.

6. Moe   |   Wed Jun 13, 2012 @ 09:46AM

I think that there are a lot of companies that do the job right, but a majority do not. I have only been impressed with a few sites as I have been looking for membership management software. I think that a ton of site should come here and read this article. They would definitely come away with a few great tips!

7. Andrew Kelly   |   Sun Mar 31, 2013 @ 11:10AM

I make my call to action effective by using the words, YOU, FREE and GUARANTEED. Another technique that I use is eliciting desire or fear in the reader; fear of what would happen if they do not buy my product (their business would suffer) or desire to get the benefits offered by my products.

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15. Jully Dickson   |   Tue Oct 13, 2015 @ 01:14AM

Good post Kate! There should be clear understanding between the copywriter and the designer regarding what is the requirement of the client. Inviting users for calling and not highlighting the phone number is too bad impression for the website. Before start designing, one must understand what actually the requirement of the client so that he/she can deliver the accurate output. Well, if you need any help regarding IT solutions and services you may visit: http://www.geektek.com/services/

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I find this rather important that every page has to do a lot in order to get the reader to do exactly what you want.... this could mean a right call to action

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19. Emma Jayne  |  my website   |   Thu May 26, 2016 @ 03:36AM

Call to actions are a must these days... the idea that someone puts up something where that thers is nowhere on the page to invite the reader to call for more information is something that can be thought through at the start.


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