How do you feel about grammar and spelling mistakes? Irate, indifferent, in no way bothered? I ask because as a copywriter it bothers me big time. But maybe I’m being picky and pedantic and I should just get a life.
Thing is, I always equate poor grammar and spelling with sloppiness. To my mind if someone can’t be arsed checking these things then can they really be that bothered about their marketing. Or their business. Or their clients and customers. It’s not like it’s hard or time-consuming to do. Word and Google Docs have their own spelling and grammar check options and there are also free online resources like Grammarly.
I think bad grammar and spelling mistakes in your marketing can harm your credibility. It detracts from the rest of the content and could make you seem like less of an expert or authority. I mean, if the content appears to have been written by a child it’s difficult to take someone seriously.
But whatever your own view on the subject, your website is the one place you really need to pay attention to this kind of stuff. Why? Because it can mess up your SEO.
Suppose you’re a public health strategist but there’s a teeny typo on your web page and suddenly you’re all about pubic health. That’s going to confuse the hell out of Google when it’s trying to match search intent to the right websites. So – surprise, surprise – you may not get a whole lot of visitors to your site. Unless, of course, they’re looking for help with their nether regions.
‘We have to be able to recognise what a page is about. And if we can’t recognise that because there’s so many errors on the page in the text, then that makes it harder. The other aspect is also that we try to find really high-quality content on the web and sometimes it can appear that a page is lower-quality content because it has a lot of grammatical and technical mistakes in the text.’
It will soon be Valentine’s Day and everyone’s going to be blogging about love. So, to hell with it, I’m going to get in on the act, too. And anyway, it’s a serious question – because if YOU don’t love your website who else will?
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a potential client who was thinking about revamping her website. So how do you feel about your current site, I asked. ‘Well, it’s OK,’ she said. ‘I mean it’s kind of fine…. It’s just that I don’t LOVE it.’ I thought that was sad. I mean, would you drive a car that was just OK? Would you buy a house that was ‘fine’?
And the thing about your website is it’s not just about you. It’s out there for all the world to see – which is obviously the point. If your website doesn’t bring you joy then, honestly, how can you expect it to excite your clients or customers?
‘I’ve changed – it’s not you, it’s me’
As your business grows, things change and maybe you’ve dropped one of your services or you’ve added different ones. Trouble is, you never got around to updating your website. So now your website doesn’t reflect your business and you don’t feel the same way about it anymore.
Thing is, you don’t have to go through a messy breakup to put this right. If it’s just one service you’ve dropped, you can probably get it sorted yourself – delete the service page and make a few amends to remove all mention of it on your Home page. Need to add services? If you haven’t already, maybe now’s the time to use a copywriter to create clear, focused content that perfectly sums up what you do.
‘I’ve been faking it…’
Oh dear, all this time and people didn’t know. That the person on your website isn’t actually you. I’m not suggesting you’re an imposter – but are you truly being yourself? I mean, I understand. You want to give the ‘right’ impression to sell your services or stuff. So maybe you’ve toned down your personality or diluted your message hoping to please everyone. Except you’re not feeling the love ‘cos you don’t love who you’re pretending to be.
It can be scary putting yourself out there as the real you. Honestly, when I wrote my own web content I worried that I’d put people off. Who was going to love a self-confessed sweary copywriter like me? Plenty, as it turns out, including ‘serious’ people like mediators, IFAs and accountants. Of course I’m not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey (decaffeinated, black, no sugar, thanks) but that’s perfectly fine. And it’s going to work out fine for you, too. Unleash your brand personality. Be yourself, be real, be genuine, be authentic. Though don’t tell people you’re authentic – cos that’s just an unoriginal cliché. Show your authenticity in the way you communicate your brand’s message, language and tone of voice.
‘Yes…. Yes… YES!’
You should love EVERYTHING about your website. The words, the design, the colours, the photos. If your website isn’t hitting the spot on all counts, no wonder you’ve lost interest. I’ve seen websites with great content and crappy stock photos that totally kill the moment. I’ve come across beautifully designed websites with hideously muddled content that makes me want to cry.
What about your website? Do you love every inch of it or is it a turn-off for you and your clients? Well for gawd’s sake then – give your website some love!
* Would you love me to make your web content more attractive? Get in touch
Don’t want to frighten off your customers? You’d better read this then…
#1 Shocking spelling mistakes
If you have spelling mistakes on your website, you’ll lose credibility. Misspellings and grammar glitches look sloppy – and nobody will want you if they think you’re sloppy. Seriously, analysis by global web services comparison site Website Planet found that websites with rubbish spelling and grammar had an 85% higher bounce rate than sites that got full marks for their written words. And according to one successful UK online entrepreneur, just ONE spelling mistake could slash your online sales in half.
There are online tools that can help but personally I’m not a fan. Many change spellings from UK to US variations and incorrectly suggest changes. So, really, it pays to hire a copywriter. Or, of course, you can proofread your content yourself – check, check and check it again. Then check it again for good measure.
#2 Scary CTAs
You’ve got to love a compelling Call to Action. It’s the perfect way to direct your customers to the next step – whether that’s downloading a freebie, signing up for a newsletter or simply reading more info to help their buying decision. But a CTA that’s ambiguous will fall on deaf ears. Nobody’s going to click for ‘More’ if they don’t know what’s coming. I think it’s OK to be playful with CTAs, though, so long as it’s clear from the accompanying text what you’re clicking to get.
#3 More scary CTAs
Want to know another howler when it comes to CTAs? Sticking them on your website willy-nilly. So, you’ve just landed on a Homepage and the first thing you see at the top is the CTA for ‘Download brochure’. I mean, hold on, wait a second… I don’t even know who you are and how you can help me yet! It’s like walking into a networking meeting and someone asking you to take their brochure before they’ve even introduced themselves. Say hello, be friendly – and then come at ’em with your CTA.
#4 The Home page horror show
Imagine you’re in a long corridor with doors on either side. There might be a kid cycling along the corridor or there might not. If you haven’t seen The Shining, forget about the kid! On each door there’s a sign inviting you in. What door do you choose? There are soooo many doors. Are you getting spooked by all the doors?
A busy Home page can freak customers out much the same way. They want to feel safe and settled on the page so they can take in the key messages about your business. Throw a load of hyperlinks and CTAs at them and you’ll throw them off course. With so many options, they won’t know what to click on next – and they’ll probably run screaming from your website with their head spinning like The Exorcist. To avoid a horror show, keep your Home page clear, calm and uncluttered.
#5About page – be afraid, be very afraid!
It’s been such a pleasant experience looking through your website and I’m really interested in your services. I’m now going to pop across to your About page to find out more about you. But what’s this? No photo? Well that makes me feel nervous for a start. And why are you talking in the third person? It’s all ‘He does this’ or ‘She founded that’. You sound like you’re hiding behind a mask – and unless it really IS Halloween, it ain’t funny.
Your website is for engaging with your customers – and you’re scaring them off with your disembodied bio. Don’t be the bogeyman of your business. Use your About page to emotionally connect with the people you want to convert from browsers to buyers.
* Want to work with a frightfully good copywriter? Get in touch on 07894 669750
What’s this? A copywriter suggesting that hiring a web copywriter could be a waste of your wonga? Yes, that’s exactly this. But first, let’s start by recapping on why you SHOULD hire a copywriter…
1 They take your jumbled thoughts and garbled words and craft a clear message. Kind of important when you need people to understand what your business does and how you’re going to make their life a whole lot better by doing what you do.
2 A copywriter turns ‘sloppy’ into ‘slick’ – eyebrow-raising typos, inappropriate apostrophes, grammatical cock-ups, laugh-out-loud clichés… not on my watch, matey!
3 They supercharge your SEO. Hiring an SEO-friendly copywriter like me is a good start to getting into Google’s good books. I can sort you out with longtail keywords and meta tags, and I’ve got lots of useful SEO tips that I share with clients, too.
4 They make you look good. I’m not a trumpet-blowing copywriter for nothing. I work with brilliant businesses that need bigging up to get them in the spotlight. I take lukewarm content and make it hot, hot, hot – and warm up your prospects while I’m at it!
So you see, hiring a copywriter is a darned good idea. Now here’s why you might want to NOT hire a copywriter and save your moolah.
The copywriter has done their job, your website is tickety-boo and everyone is happy. Ten months down the line, the copywriter can’t resist having another look at the site they helped to craft. But what’s this? Someone has changed the words and added new content.
How bizarre! It would seem the client has woken up one day and decided they’re now a copywriter. ‘It’s only words – how hard can it be?’ they surely said to themselves as they faffed and they tweaked and they mucked up the copywriter’s good work.
Now here’s the thing. If you’re not confident about your writing, why pay for a copywriter then twiddle about with the words yourself? Honestly, either do it all yourself and save yourself the money or leave everything to the copywriter.
A copywriter takes pride in their work so they won’t leave you until you’re 100% happy. I include two sets of revisions in my quotes and if a client still isn’t happy I’m well up for a conversation to see what further amendments are needed.
And sure, a client will often need to make changes to their website further down the line. So why not contact your lovely copywriter and ask them to do it?
I mean – do you want to save your money or save your website?
Do you want value-added web content? Goodie – let’s talk
Isn’t it lovely when you get a testimonial from a client? It gets me every time. I’m so happy I don’t know whether to do a little dance for joy, put the kettle on or break into a giant chocolate bar. Usually I do all three. But, wait, before you rush to put that testimonial on your website, take another look. Is it doing you justice? Is it impressive? Would YOU hire you if you read it?
‘Helen was brilliant. She really knows her stuff and was a joy to work with. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire her again. Highly recommended.’**
Are you rushing to hire me? Didn’t think so! And I don’t blame you.
Perhaps you saw the words ‘brilliant’ and ‘joy’ and felt hopeful that I might be what you’re looking for. But then you re-read the testimonial and thought ‘Eh? Hang on a minute… what does that actually mean? Jeez – what a load of old tosh.’
If you’re in the tosh trap, here’s how to get out of it…
Axe the adjectives
‘Helen is a brilliant copywriter and she writes amazing blogs.’
Are you put off by such gushing comments? I am! Do they come across as authentic? Does this sound like something you’ve asked your mum to write? OMG – did you write it yourself? Apart from the fact that it sounds suspect, a testimonial like this doesn’t help someone make a decision about hiring you because there’s zero detail.
Let’s try again…
‘I commissioned Helen to rewrite our web content. The attention to detail, patience and involvement from Helen was fantastic and her knowledge of our business by the end of the process was staggering.’
Here, ‘fantastic’ isn’t just an empty word. It qualifies how impressed the client was with the way I dealt with the project and how much I put into it. If you’ve previously worked with a copywriter who didn’t give you 100%, this is the sort of testimonial that might just catch your eye.
Remember your key words
Testimonials on a website are a great opportunity to pop a few more keywords in for SEO.
‘I’ve used Helen for three years now.’
‘I’ve used Helen for copywriting for three years now.’
Simple, eh? If your testimonial doesn’t come with a keyword, you can easily sneak one in (honestly, your client won’t mind).
And you can add in keywords to show not just what you do (in my case, copywriting) but the type of things your prospects might be searching for, too.
‘Helen sorted my Linked In profile.’
‘I commissioned Helen to rewrite our web content.’
‘Helen did the copywriting for my company brochure.’
‘Helen was great to work with.’
Really? Why? Did she turn around your project really quickly to meet a tight deadline? Did she have a clear process? Keep you updated? Send you Hobnobs? Tell me!
‘Helen takes time to understand exactly what you’re trying to encapsulate and to ensure that she understands everything about your business in order to bring out the best points.’
Now that gives you a bit more to go on, doesn’t it?
Make sure you have a mix of testimonials on your website. If they all cover the same ground, they lose impact and people will stop reading. Pick a range of testimonials that highlight different elements – your customer service, your attention to detail, your ability to follow a brief… all the things that your prospect would want evidence of.
Big up your USP
There are lots of copywriters out there (damn them!) and lots of us are doing the same thing (double damn!). But we’re all doing it in our own unique way. So use your testimonials to flag up your USP.
I love helping businesses to pimp up their personality with content that’s fresh, sassy and surprising – so I’m all over testimonials that get that across. Like these…
‘The newsletter is funny and bold – I love it.’
‘Helen breathes life into your words – as well as a bit of humour and fun.’
‘With Helen, it was like my words on a clear day – put together in a way that was conversational and different from our competitors.’
Be brave with your testimonials. I know that words like ‘humour’ and ‘funny’ could scare the bejesus out of some people (although not mediators and IFAs, it would seem) but what the heck? Use your testimonials to help you stand out and target the clients you really want to work with.
Business folk call it ROI. I call it a bloody good job well done. Either way, the Holy Grail of testimonials is when your client tells the world about the difference you’ve made to their business.
‘Helen’s web content immediately resulted in three new wedding bookings as well as increased hirings for our venue in general.’
‘The fact that I’ve had more quote requests via my website in the past few months than the previous seven years is testimonial in itself.’
Your clients won’t necessarily see immediate results so you might have to go back to them a few months down the line to get a testimonial. If they’re too busy to write one, remind them that a glowing testimonial for you is an endorsement of the success of their business too.
Follow this checklist
Testimonials may only be a small part of your web content, but don’t underestimate their impact. Don’t just chuck them on willy-nilly, go through this checklist first:-
remove adjectives (unless there’s qualifying content with it)
add in keywords – your job title, type of project etc
be specific about how you helped
highlight any ROI
promote your USP
check for spelling mistakes, typos and grammar
make it short and sweet (your testimonial shouldn’t compete with your main content)
watch out for repetition
vary every testimonial
And think quality, not quantity. Would your prospects rather read 50 testimonials that said the same old tosh? Or ten smoking hot testimonials that nailed your services every time.
* Want a copywriter to create your web content? Well, hello, I’m here
Did I ever tell you the story behind
Trumpet Media? No, well pop the kettle on to discover how I went from a copywriter
to a trumpet-blowing copywriter – with no musical instrument required.
It started when I was working with
clients on their web content. We’d be sitting having a coffee and a good old
natter about their business. They’d be telling me lots of useful stuff to add
to their website. They’d be happy, enthusiastic, their eyes shiny and bright.
And then I’d ask them for information for their About page. They sat back in
their chair. They squirmed. They mumbled something about their CV. They did NOT
want to talk about themselves AT ALL.
But this is the bit where you can really
connect with the audience, I’d tell them. The bit where you highlight your
experience, your talent, your expertise, your passion, your ‘why’. Yeah, they’d
say, but it’s just sooooo icky. And then they’d suggest I looked at their LinkedIn
profile (I did – it was dire).
What they meant by ‘icky’ was that it
was embarrassing. And awkward. That good girls (and it’s mostly women, I’ve
found) don’t boast.
Well I’m not having this, I thought.
These people should be blowing their own trumpet. And if they REALLY can’t big
themselves up, then I will. So I changed my business name to Trumpet Media and
got busy with the trumpet blowing.
Don’t write in the third person
Helen is an amazing copywriter.
Yes, she is. I mean – yes, I am.
This is a GREAT example of
trumpet-blowing, right. Er, wrong. The purpose of your website is to connect
with your audience. And writing in the third person immediately puts a distance
between you and your potential customers and clients. It sounds like an agent
talking on your behalf and that you’re too busy/can’t be arsed to communicate
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a large
organisation, you might want to talk about yourself differently (though I still
think you can loosen up a bit and drop the over-formality). But if you’re Kevin
the accountant, why put up a front? Be you, be real, be approachable. Be Kevin.
You’re gushing. Please stop!
Helen is a brilliant copywriter.
Yes, she is. I mean – yes, I am.
Some great trumpet-blowing going on
here, yes? Um, no. Helen/I may well be one of the best copywriters you’ve ever
come across – but it’s not for Helen/me to say so. Not like that, anyway.
Brilliant. Amazing. Fantastic. These are adjectives that mean nothing. Honestly, would you hire me if I told you I was an awesome copywriter? Doubtful. What about if my About page explained I had over 30 years experience as a writer? More likely. And how about if there was some evidence to back that up? Very possible.
Trumpet-blowing isn’t about telling
people you’re great – it’s about showing
it. For a psychotherapist, that may mean adding your qualifications. For a
florist, forget the diplomas and tell people what inspires you to create
There’s no formula for your About
page. The most important thing is to think about who you want to attract – and
what they’d want to know about you.
* Squirming over your About page? Me and my trumpet are ready to help you
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