One of the biggest challenges for local businesses and their websites is the copy.
Often, a business owner will want to launch or re-launch their website. They'll think about the design possibilities, but will usually push aside thoughts on the copy.
And that's understandable. Most people don't enjoy writing. And for some reason many of us struggle with writing about ourselves and our businesses.
But if you're reading this you know that the copy on your website is important. Hopefully this little process will help make it easier and more effective.
1. Organize Products & Services
I went back and forth on the first step and I decided it had to start with the products and/or services you're selling. I think it makes the most sense to organize them in priority order.
Even if your services have fairly equal weight, you'll still need to put them in some order on your website. Just as you would in your store, in a catalog or if you were selling them in person.
You can prioritize them by profit, future expectations or whatever you want. Go through them. List them. Start considering the descriptions and the best way to sell them.
2. Document Sales Process
If you've been in business for awhile you've hopefully sold your products a few times. Hopefully in person.
The biggest secret when it comes to writing website copy is that your copy and website should mimic your in-person sales process. Think of your website as your online salesperson.
Whether online or offline, customers have the same questions. You have the same information. It's nearly the same.
Sit down and write or type out each step of your sales process. If you can't think of it then make a point to be conscious of it the next time you're talking with a customer.
This process forms the first draft of your online copy and it can really help the designer with the layout and structure of your website.
3. Outline on Homepage
There are many variations you can do for a local business website. But one that seems to keep coming to the top most often is a simple outline model.
The top starts with a heading of what you do or sell. Then a little overview or list of your products or services. Possibly testimonials. Also about information so the customer can get to know you a little bit. Then a link to purchase.
Some customers will only need the outline info. Just the basics and they will click the call-to-action to buy or contact.
Others will need more info and this is where they can click through to the full details about the product/service they're interested in. Many will also want to read more detail about you and the history of the company. Just as they would in person when they're making small talk to get to know you.
4. Individual Product Pages
Ecommerce product pages now have 20+ years of experience optimizing their content. Marketers have been honing and tweaking the product page for a long time. Many of these pages are the same.
So if you're wondering how to write your product or service detail pages, look at some of your favorite ecommerce sites. Amazon and Etsy are great ones to review.
They basically all have bullet lists to start. These lists usually mention a feature or detail of the product. Each of these also states why this is good for the buyer.
For example, if you're buying payroll services from a local accounting firm one of the points might be:
* Monthly Reporting, so you always know where your company stands financially
Below the bullets there might be even more information. More detail about how the product is made or how the process works during the service that is being provided.
Customers generally want a varying degree of detail. Some want very little. Others want a great deal. You generally want to provide a good amount of detail on your product detail pages. Customers know that they can click on the buy or contact button once they've become convinced.
5. About Page
Don't overlook the about page.
Also, don't rewrite your sales copy on the about page.
Customers go to the about page because they're looking for information that's a little more personal.
Your history. Your story. The reason you're in business. The "why" you're in business. The people that work for the company.
This is like the small talk you make when you're selling to a customer in person. It happens in just about every sales situation and people want it when they're shopping online.
The about pages on local business websites are often one of the top five most trafficked pages on those sites.
An FAQ page is for the questions you get more than just once in awhile from customers, but that don't really fit with the general sales process.
Return and refund policy might be one. People might ask about where you source your products.
Go through your sales process. Write the main copy. Then create a list of common questions you get as you work with customers. Add these questions and answers to the FAQ page.
7. Final Touches
Write out the copy first. Give yourself a pass on grammar and structure. Focus on getting the copy done. Once it's done, take a break and come back and then go through looking to fine tune things. Focus on fine tuning the structure first. How things are ordered. Once that is done then go through looking for spelling and grammar.
And one final point - set a reminder to review your website content every year. Your sales process often changes over time. Products and services also change. So does the about information. You want to make sure you have a process for auditing and updating your website content.