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Tailor your words to your audience

Good copy engages readers’ interest from the first sentence. Did that one work?

Those who want to create compelling copy must first understand what copy is and what it should do. Unlike your English teacher, visitors to your site aren’t looking for expositions or digressions or denouements. They want to get to the point now. Effective content tells readers what they stand to gain by sticking around. If they aren’t convinced, prepare for the click of the back button.

The best copy for any website will, of course, depend on the nature of the project itself. Its tone must custom-fit the brand and the target audience. This is where understanding user personas and user flows becomes essential. If you’re targeting software to a lay audience, don’t use fancy jargon they won’t understand. On the other hand, if you’re presenting information about a new drug to physicians, let the jargon fly.

The common thread is that readers want to feel you’re speaking directly to them. On today’s web, that means it’s generally better to sound casual and cordial rather than corporate and cold. Remember what your English teacher said about never using the second person or contractions? You aren’t in school anymore.

If you understand where your visitors are coming from, both literally and figuratively, you can better determine what will drive them to convert—whether that means filling out a survey or making a donation or buying anti-wrinkle cream. Determine what your clients’ doubts might be, then consider using statistics, case studies, and testimonials to lend credibility and weight to your message. Remember, visitors aren’t necessarily interested in you. They’re interested in what you can do for them.

Like everything else on your website, copy must be kept up to date. Don’t let it fall by the wayside. Markets, after all, change, as do businesses and their users and their users’ interests. Updating or straight-up replacing moldy old content doesn’t just keep users coming back—it boosts your SEO. You can’t get away with burying keywords at the bottom of your page anymore, so weigh your words well.

Speak to your users.
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