Practical Writing Tips to Boost Conversions

Posted by SiteTuners on 23 April 2014 | Comments

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WriteDon’t make your visitors think.

This should be your mantra when deciding what goes to your website; and in copywriting, you need to do 2 things so you don’t overload your users:

1. Follow the F pattern
2. Make your content scannable. 

Before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear: you need to test your copy, especially for landing pages. If you have skipped this step in the past, there are easy conversion lifts waiting to be had.

Follow the F Pattern

We’ve talked about the F pattern before - people read from top to bottom, from left to right. Make sure you organize your content that way, too: copy pertaining to the most important tasks go to the top-left, and then work their way down to the less important tasks.

You can use survey tools to find out what the most important tasks are, or if you don’t have surveys, you can use Google Analytics, Site Catalyst or other tools to help you with the order, but you need to follow the way users read, especially for navigation pages like landing pages or product categories.

Make Your Content Scannable

Generally speaking, nobody reads on the web. There are exceptions like blogs or news sites, but even for those types of content, the best practice is to write like nobody consumes all the content completely – on the web, people scan. You need to help them do that:

  • Use bullet points where it makes sense to 
  • Don’t spell out numbers - people anchor against “4” better than they do against “four”
  • Write with image and image captions in mind - people anchor a lot of attention to images
  • Use bold where necessary, but don’t overdo it

Keep Your Content Consistent

This is especially important for ads and funnels. You need to think about upstream consistency.

If you have a Google AdWords or a display campaign ad, there are few things you can do that will be more damaging than not keeping the landing page headline consistent with the ad copy. The same is true for multi-step processes - you need to inform your users about where they’ve been, and where they’re heading, and that means paying attention to your language and topic consistency.

Break Only the Rules You Need to

For instance, you’ve probably been told pretty early in life that you need 3 or more sentences to form a paragraph.

You can ditch that rule.

Keep your content scannable. Not only are long blocks of text harder to read, they are much, much tougher to scan. Ditto for spelling out "three" in the statement above - that works out great, except for web writing, where attention anchors matter more than everywhere else, and visitors are actively interacting rather than passively consuming.

That said, you should get your “it’s versus its” and “who versus whom” straight - your visitors won’t scan any faster when your copy has errors like these.

No Marketing Fluff

There’s probably no way to say it better than the way Steve Krug has put it:

If you’re not sure whether something is happy talk, there’s one sure-fire test: if you listen very closely while you’re reading it, you can actually hear a tiny voice in the back of your head saying “Blah blahblahblahblah …. “

Really, it comes down to this: marketing fluff contains no useful information. If you recognize it on sections of your site, get rid of it.

The last thing you want to do on the web is make visitors exert effort to understand what you’re trying to say. So, make it effortless by following the F pattern, making the content scannable, and getting rid of text that does not contain relevant or useful information (you can always provide hyperlinks to click on if they want details).

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