Why Your Copy Is Underperforming
@ofnoiseAaron Marco Arias
Writer, designer, marketer. Would die for the publishing industry.
Your website is your presentation letter and one of your greatest marketing and sales assets. If your website has unreadable fonts, or its interface is crowded and hard to navigate, users will probably bounce.
If your website is not optimized for mobiles, your mobile users (approximately more than 50% of your potential traffic) will bounce. And, if your copy fails to convey your company’s role, value, trustworthiness and expertise, your users will probably bounce.
If a poor UI is not your website’s weakness, the problem might lay in your website’s copy.
If you want to troubleshoot your content, start by watching out for these 5 flaws:
Too Much Jargon
Marketers in SaaS & B2B are the most prone to be guilty of this. Sometimes, a technical term is just the most precise way to express an idea. Sometimes, it’s 1000% necessary and trying not to use it will be a clumsy exercise you’ll come out of with an unintelligible mass of language that will fail to evoke anything close to a clear image in your customer’s mind. I am not anti-jargon. But jargon can be problematic, obscure your speech and leave users clueless and bored.
If you must use jargon,
- Don’t use more than one technical term per sentence
- Keep your sentences short and punchy
- Try not to create very complex grammar structures
- Know your audience enough to understand what doesn’t need explaining
- Know your audience enough not to fool yourself out of not explaining what needs explaining
Inducing Decision Paralysis
You might be putting too many options on the table with your UX, or you might be putting too many options on the table through your copy.
I once experienced something similar, when working on email copy with a colleague. We were preparing the automated message our leads would receive after they’ve signed up for a free e-book (e-book attached, of course).
A first draft invited the recipient to do the following:
- Download the attached e-book
- Check out our e-book about [X topic]
- Check out our whitepaper about [Y topic]
- Check out our [Z] section for more valuable resources
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Facebook
- Follow us on LinkedIn
- Contact us via e-mail
- Call us
This “Call-To-Action” overload would have triggered the exact opposite: Paralysis and disinterest. Structure your paragraphs with one or two CTAs per section.
You’ve got the wrong relationship with SEO
Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist (though it might be a joyful couple of minutes), but don’t let SEO eat you alive either.
Writing high-ranking content that’s a delight to read is a thought balancing act. Check for unnatural strings of text within your website, and try to turn them into context-friendly, readable sentences. You can have your pie and eat it. You can have your keywords and eat quality text.
I had to deal with the issue of unnatural keywords some time ago when I was writing copy for a page about one of Day Translations’ worldwide locations. We were targeting a very unnatural keyword, something like “[State] translation company [City]”.
It was a rather easy fix: I added punctuation. “Company” became the first word of a second sentence. Search engines tend to be functionally indifferent to periods and dashes. With just a small dose of casual wit, you can use that to your advantage.
Nobody is perfect. And, if you took content into your already very busy own hands, or left it to your web designer, this sort of error might have slipped through the cracks. And though they might be minuscule, some customers might find them disqualifying. Check for grammar.
A few paragraphs above, I mentioned my lukewarm acceptation of jargon as a part of life. If there’s a jargon term I enjoy, it’s Information Architecture. Be sensitive to your website’s Information Architecture, you guys. No, seriously, your content should have a logical progression. Especially in website design/redesign projects with a few individual freelancers tackling specific aspects in a disjointed manner, this structure is pretty standard.
This is no longer the case in most leading companies, with multidisciplinary User Experience teams working to create a holistic digital experience and, in some cases, taking a content-first approach to design.
But, basically, cutting through the chase: Make sure your content follows a logical structure. In most cases, you’ll want it to progress in a manner that leads the user to contact you or give you their email address so they can be contacted. Check what your competitors are doing in this regard. Copy it. Try to make it better.
- Don’t overspecialize your brand voice to create convoluted copy beyond your target audience’s usual semantic field. This could severely undermine a key platform in your digital customer acquisition strategy.
- Don’t overwhelm your user with too many CTAs.
- Chek you’re grammar
- Use your copy to lead your user through the journey to becoming a customer.
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