Decent web content generally does three things:
- It accurately lays out the buyer’s challenge(s)
- It talks about solutions that matter
- It communicates your value as the solution/product provider (ideally, without sounding too pompous)
Seems pretty straightforward.
Then why does most web content still, pardon the french, suck so bad?
Stop writing websites like you write a blog
Because too many writers and their bosses treat web content as just words on a page. So, instead of a symphony of carefully crafted messaging that inspires action, writers produce jarring dubstep fit to torture militants at black sites.
Steer away from content that violates Geneva conventions with a solid process that includes:
Lay out the problem
Great website content feels like mind-reading. If your content makes visitors think, “Yes! That’s what I want a solution to”, you’re a step closer to more conversions. Here’s how you get to that level.
Know your audience
Websites that write without an audience in mind might as well put a banner that says “Who cares what you want?” right at the top.
The reason why so many sites have content that targets everyone and no one is that audience research is hard, and writing generic fluff is easy.
If you want prospects to care about what you have to say, don’t skip the grind. Know who you’re writing for and step into their world by:
- Knowing that your prospect isn’t you. You’re not writing for yourself. You’re writing for a specific audience that thinks differently, has different goals, and needs solutions that matter to them.
- Building a persona. When you build a fictional persona, you create a meaningful description of a key audience segment. Different audience segments can have different personas. E.g., if you’re targeting revenue teams, you can build separate personas for sales executives and sales leaders. Here’s a neat guide to marketing personas that you can use to get started.
- Digging deeper. Personas are great. But can you do more? Yep! Pester your sales team and look at past sales data to learn about your audience’s challenges. Go through your lead capture forms and run surveys to see what your prospects are saying. Stalk personas on social media and explore what they’re interested in.
- Keeping an eye on competition. Look at what they’ve put on their website and blogs. Who are they targeting? What’s the messaging? Why that messaging? What are they doing terribly? What are they doing well? Take notes.
Examine pain points
Knowing your audience also means you understand what problems they want solved. If you can show this through content, you become easier to trust.
Look at how CB Insights does it. CB Insights is a market intelligence company that targets strategic decision-makers. Their content addresses their audience’s challenges using references readers can relate to.
To zero in on what challenges you want to highlight, do this:
- Talk to sales. Dig into your customers’ and prospects’ most significant pain points. Find out what their top goals and KPIs are. Understand why leads are lost and what expectations prospects have from your business.
- Talk to readers. Don’t be afraid to survey existing clients to find out what they need. Better yet, schedule interviews with existing customers to see what problems they came to you with and how effective your solutions have been.
- Talk to keyword tools. Think about what people may type to find what you’re selling. Brainstorm some keywords, and use keyword research tools to find related terms. Find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for and what keywords are already sending you traffic.
It’s not going to be easy. But it’s going to be worth it.
Knowing what afflicts your prospects isn’t enough to get them to buy from you. You need to talk solutions. Here’s how you do it right.
Talk about solutions that matter
Many websites write paragraphs about superficial solutions that…don’t really matter to an audience. This happens when writers only look at the first layer of the outcome instead of the actual end goal.
To peel back the layers and find out what problem you’re really trying to solve, try a ‘five whys’ root cause analysis. Below is an example of how this could work.
Problem: there aren’t enough leads for the sales team.
- Why? Because the website isn’t capturing many leads.
- Why? Because there isn’t a lot of traffic, to begin with.
- Why? Because there isn’t enough content on the site.
- Why? Because there isn’t a dedicated content team.
- Why? It’s difficult to justify the cost of hiring full-time writers.
Possible solution: outsource content writing to an agency.
Ensure that the solution you’ve identified is logically coherent and leads to a desirable outcome. Look at how Salesforce does it.
The content focuses on raising efficiency and lowering costs. This is convincing because a business leader’s goal isn’t to have automation within sales processes somehow—it’s to improve productivity and get more ROI.
Keep the spotlight on your audience
Too many websites fall in love with themselves and force prospects to witness a saga of nauseating self-adulation – and then are shocked when their conversion rates plummet.
Good website content isn’t about patting yourself on the back. It’s about telling a visitor you have the solution they desperately need. This means writing content that’s centered around helping prospects achieve their goals.
A good practice to ensure you’re writing for your audience is using the word “You” more often than you use “We.” Here’s how we do it on our inbound marketing service page.
The content directly addresses the audience and talks about what they can achieve with inbound marketing. Even when we’re pitching ourselves, the focus remains on our audience’s goals.
Write for readers in a hurry
If someone lands on your website and you throw mini-essays at them, they will leave.
Website content isn’t blog content. It needs to be crisp, scannable, and packed with value. If someone lands on your website and you throw mini-essays at them, they will leave.
Look at what Typeform has done with its landing page. The page has about a hundred words, and that’s enough to tell you what you need to know about the product.
If you must add a lot of content to your web pages, break it into small paragraphs or bullet points. Limit one idea to one paragraph, and run everything through a Flesch readability test to ensure you’re not giving someone a headache.
Don’t try to sound smart
Writers that don’t have relevant expertise try to hide behind complex sentences and jargon to sound smart. They’re fooling no one.
Inside references and fancy terminologies work when used simply, organically, and in a context that readers can easily understand.
For this to happen, you need to know what you’re talking about, or you’ll end up with hollow nonsense like ‘assertively strategize scalable growth strategies.’ Ugh.
To know what you’re talking about, speak with subject matter experts. Read what they’re reading, follow the thought leaders they follow, and learn enough about an area until you can explain it to a five-year-old.
Dooly, which offers SaaS products for revenue teams, talks to sales leaders simply but effectively through its website content. No jargon. No fluff.
Even when you think you know it all, double-check the usage of terms and references to avoid confusing readers or sounding like a fake.
You’ve laid out the problem. You’ve shared the solution. Now, it’s time to convince prospects that you’re the provider they need. Here’s how you show them value.
Many websites have figured out the secret sauce to being forgettable: rephrasing what competitors say and writing uninspired content. “If it’s working for them, it’ll work for us too!”
What they’re really doing is becoming indistinguishable to someone who’s read the same messaging on ten other websites.
Writing website content that stands out demands a deep analysis of your value proposition. Do you offer lower prices or better quality? Do you serve a niche market? Is your approach unique and gets better results?
Identify what you do best and how you do it differently, and say it on your website. ConvertKit does this well. On the surface, their product isn’t too different from Mailchimp or Sendinblue – until you look at who it targets.
While other email marketing SaaS companies target businesses, ConvertKit targets creators who want to grow their fanbase. This key differentiator has helped them bring in an incredible $10 million in revenue.
Also Read: Writing To Influence: The Art of Persuasion in Content Marketing
Say what you can back up
Contrary to what businesses believe, audiences can spot a bluff a mile away. If you make claims on your website that you can’t back up, you’ll lose credibility and business faster than you can say, “We’re the best.”
For example, it becomes tough for audiences to trust SEO agencies that guarantee top rankings or 10x traffic in an impossible time frame without so much as a case study of having done it before.
When writing website content, make reasonable and realistic claims that prospects can digest and that you can back up with solid proof.
Skip the obvious
Websites will add fluff to their pages because they have nothing substantial to say or they’re looking for opportunities to stuff keywords.
One of the ways they do this is through content that explains what the reader already knows. Imagine explaining what influencer marketing is to someone on the service page for an influencer marketing agency. It’s a waste of time and webpage real estate.
When writing website content, know why the reader is on your site in the first place. HubSpot doesn’t explain “why CRM is important for business” on its product pages. Their audience already knows why they’re there.
Instead, HubSpot highlights its prospect’s pain points and presents the CRM as the best-fit solution.
Writing good website content is hard
The hard part isn’t the writing but the effort to research your audience and know your strengths. But if you want website content that stands out and drives conversions, you must pull out all the stops.