updated: March 1st, 2007 / Ross Johnson / 5 Comments

Writing Effective Marketing Copy on the Web

As web designer and developers, we have a deeper responsibility to aid companies in writing effective copy for their website. Especially in smaller business where they don’t have an internal marketing department/marketing company, managers and CEOs often take it upon themselves to write the copy.

We all need to realize that if we are building a site for a company, we become part of their marketing efforts. Many may think that any marketing is crappy sleezing methods of trying to get personal information – however most honest marketing methods are simply clear communication about your company.

Just looking at the average web design service website it is clear that we have a long way to go. How many companies brag about accessible coding, using web standards, or CSS? Many also brag that they preform SEO.

Why is this a problem you ask?

One of the basic rules of marketing is that people buy based on benefits. Some might still have trouble seeing the problems, maybe muttering “this ass just said having an accessible site is not a benefit!” And that is true, I am saying that having an accessible site is not a benefit… I welcome the flaming that is soon to come.

Let me explain, web site accessibility is a feature not a benefit. The confusion often comes because it is hard to differentiate the two until you have done it for awhile. Accessibility is the feature, a broader audience, freedom from litigation, and positive brand image are the benefits. XHTML/CSS Coding is the feature, low maintenance, less bandwidth, and quick downloads are the benefits.

The simple reason behind this is people don’t care what they are getting when they buy, they care about how buying something will effect them in a positive manor. Tell your average person that laptop X has 3 open DIMM slots for RAM and they won’t complain about it but they don’t particularly care. However tell that same person that it allows easier upgrading of the laptop for longer usage and better bang for the buck and they will be excited about that laptop.

Explaining the benefits of a product or service rather than the features is the first step in turn a website into a tool for generating revenue or qualified leads. You could have the highest amount of traffic in the world, if your site doesn’t communicate why the end user should want what you have very few people are going to buy.

Ok, benefits… got it. What else?

The next thing to consider is that people buy based on emotion backed up by logic (thanks Peter Brusso). You want to make an emotional connection between your potential customer and your service. For example, many business owners are concerned about the image of their company as they reflect themselves on it. So targeting the image and impression of their website, and backing it with logic such as “a properly designed and developed site will improve the perceived value of your company allowing you to charge more” makes a logical connection that a beautiful site can increase revenue.

Wrapping up…

I plan to write more about marketing as time goes on. If you take away one idea from this article, it is that you are partial responsibility for the marketing efforts for your clients the moment you agree to start doing design/coding/optimizing work for them.

5 thoughts Writing Effective Marketing Copy on the Web

  1. I agree with you 100% about XHTML,CSS, and accessibility being the features of what we do. For example, when talking to the executives at my job I tell them what I do or will do to make the sites better. In all reality the final question comes down to yeah yeah, ok now that were through all the technical jargon how does that increase our products on search engines and will it be great in terms of ROI.

  2. Exactly! And this is frequent with many industries. Just today I was in a meeting where there was discussion about what features should be discussed, rather than what benefits can we highlight.

    In a perfect world we could all put two and two together and simply know what ever feature lead to what benefit but those buying your product only know a fraction about it compared to you.

    ross
  3. I think your dead on. I know we even market copywriting as part of some of our packages, but tend to get so caught up in the design and coding that the copy becomes an afterthought. I even have freelance copywriters (that owe me favors) and I seldom get around to using them. More importance needs to be placed on proper marketing through rich content.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. It really is a complete package, and I think most design firms should offer copy writing like circle six does. I think there is this misconception that if you can make it sound good than you are all set, when in reality good copy writing vs good sounded copy makes a huge difference.

    Through my expansion into the marketing world, I hope to focus more on that subject and outsource copy writing where possible.

    ross
  5. I suck at writing anyways, so I’m not to sure how much I could help my clients 🙂

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