Seven Copywriting Tips for a Well-Staffed Business Website

Counter Staff

Have you ever stood in a store with something in your hand and then looked up to see if there was a clerk nearby you could ask for help?

Sure you have. We all have. Good help is hard to find.

Companies have been cutting costs by moving towards self-serve more than ever. Depending on where you live, you may have to bag your own groceries, pump your own gas, or bottle your own water.

Put yourself in the mind of the consumer. Consider what happens at that very moment you realize you need help. You were focused on buying two seconds ago, but then something happened—something very important.

Your brain skipped a beat.

“Find someone,” it said.

“Don’t buy. You have questions. Get answers.”

Your focus shifts. You aren’t thinking about buying anymore at all. You were almost ready to shell out your money, but now you’re in search mode. Now you’re seeking answers.

“Hello… Can anyone help me? Anyone at all?”

Now, think about your website. There are no clerks. No sales associate lingers nearby. The store aisles are empty and the cashiers are gone. There is no one who can help – not immediately, anyways.

The copy on your website is the single solution. Useful content mixed with meaningful messages is the only salesperson on staff. If your site content isn’t meeting, greeting, and convincing people, then it isn’t doing its job.

You need more than a website… you need a website that sells.

And to help you sell more, here are seven copywriting tips for a website that operates like a well-staffed store:

  1. Get a professional salesperson – Overexcited content full of exclamation marks and sunshine-bright enthusiasm very often has the opposite effect of calm, confident copy. It just doesn’t work well. Tone down the cheerleading and collect your wits.
  2. Eliminate the dress code – Calm and collected doesn’t mean bland and boring. It’s fine to show some personality, so get naked with your content. In fact, most consumers enjoy a good peep show (minus the pom-poms, that is).
  3. Tell staff to talk less– Readers quickly lose interest in long, verbose paragraphs and end up walking away. No one likes the guy who can’t shut up, after all. Trim your content. Use concise sentences that create impact – not unnecessary fluff.
  4. Inform consumers better – Tell consumers about your company. They want to know your story – the way they want to hear it. What makes you special? Why should they choose you? What can you offer more than the competition?
  5. Bring in the specialist – The quality of your content reflects on your business image. If it isn’t well written, it isn’t going to help you sell. Do-it-yourself copywriting is fine for people with the skills. But if that isn’t you, then hire a writer to help.
  6. Hire a clerk – Make sure people can contact you quickly and easily with a visible contact form. Ditch the coded (emails) supposed (to) cut spam, as well. That just forces consumers to take extra steps to contact you – steps they may not be interested in taking.
  7. Don’t goof off on the job – There’s a time and place for playing the class clown. Snagging a customer lead isn’t that time. Give straightforward information, offer a clear message and cut the clowning around.

About the Author: For more copywriting tips visit James’ blog at Men with Pens. It’s the best advice retailer on the ‘net. Like to shop for yourself? Grab the Men with Pens feed here.

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Reader Comments (32)

  1. says

    This is a GREAT post! It is so true. It seems like so many “sales” pages are so impersonal and I myself find that I get discouraged on sites where there is not sound copy to guide me and I am very internet savvy.

    I know to many of us that the Internet is second nature but what a lot of people seem to forget is new people come online every day who still need to be guided as they have no clue what to do.

    I actually had a lady on my Blog who still did not know how to copy and paste…as that blows me away I have to remember they are still out there so I started writing things with that in mind.

    Again thanks for the great post!!

  2. says

    Wow, you nailed this one. I don’t know how many times I have been in a store or online and couldn’t get any help. Helping readers and purchasers should be a priority to keep readers coming back for more.

  3. says

    Every single one of those tips is an ace, but there isn’t one better than the first. A confident website is obvious from the moment it fills the screen. White space and vacuum of exclamation points are enough to make me linger.

  4. says

    View your blog like an online store, not an online home.

    If you view your blog like an online home, it ends up being “you-centric”. If you view your blog as an online store, it ends up being “customer-centric.”

  5. says

    HI this is an amazing article right on target for business people who have websites. I wondered how your teachingsells closed so early it’s because you maintained all these seven and I would like to add one more which you did and most of them missout which is Over delivering.

  6. says

    I am in full agreement with the contact page being easy and simple.

    I find it down right irritating when a website makes it necessary to have a PhD in engineering just to figure out how to send off an e-mail.

    Dude, just give me your e-mail address and be done with it. Spare me the voodoo ritual.

  7. says

    Great stuff! Of course I like #2, content nudist that I am, but #1 is probably my fave.

    I’ll add another one: don’t hide the damned cash register. If you have something to sell, make it incredibly easy for people to buy.

  8. says

    I love the dress code tip. The copywriting twin of the pinstripe suit is a very short list of Approved Corporate Language for Marketing and Other Promotional Uses. Be real. Be relaxed. Write without fear. Don’t just get naked. Get naked and dance.

  9. says

    @ Jim – Only if there’s good music playing, though.

    @ Sonia – Oh good one! Damn, now I’m all jealous you thought of that and I didn’t!

    @ Bamboo – If I can’t reach someone quickly or have to open yet another browser page, I’m gone. I hear you.

    @ Karanam – Well, that’s true, yes. But considering how many sites lack the basics, even getting all those would be a huge boost for some business owners. Brian sure teaches people right.

    @ Bucktown – That’s very perceptive. I like that one. I’m going to steal it, in fact 😉

    @ Writer Dad – Confidence counts a great deal. I can’t agree more.

    @ Gaje – That’s just the thing. I think many people miss that *repeat* business counts a great deal. It’s a sign that you’ve done a great job and that it’s worth coming back for more.

    @ XMAN – I think it doesn’t matter if people are net-savvy or not. I’m real techy, and that makes it easy for me to leave. Those who aren’t techy are just as quick to walk away. Consumers are consumers, no matter who they are, and responding to them with a well-staffed store counts.

    @ Janelle – Thanks!

  10. says

    Fantastic. My one point, though, about the Contact Form? I’m not a programmer (at all!) and have been trying to figure out how to get one on my father’s website for ages. In fact, I spent over an hour today trying to find instructions that I could understand. Sometimes, it’s just not possible, and a block of text spelling out the email is the best you can do.

    (Of course, if Dad’s website were on WordPress, there would be widgets!)

  11. says

    MGC – your website must be “meeting, greeting, and convincing people.”

    I’d like to add another point:

    The doorman to your website should give out maps which details where this website wants you to go and what it wants you to do.

  12. says

    @ John – A doorman… My, my, you have a very classy store. 😉

    @ Sam/Uzukami – Thanks!

    @ Deb – If you’re on WordPress, there’s a contact form plugin that should solve all your worries. If that doesn’t work… why aren’t you emailing us, silly? We’ll help.

  13. says

    Well, I specifically said Dad’s not on WordPress–I wish he were!

    And, it’s not so much the HTML as what/where does the information go??

  14. says

    I’d suggest reading Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” as well. It’s pretty much a writer’s bible, and shows so many ways that prose can be made more effective. I recommend that very highly indeed.

  15. says

    I would always get rid of the dress code. Dress code scare people away from being on your staff. It actually would only make staff members crabby. I know it makes me crabby when I have to dress the same way every day.

  16. says

    Definitely some good points. I will say though that on point #5 “Bring in the specialist ” that it isn’t always a bad thing to take a first run yourself. That way you can build a foundation of content from your point of expertise (that hopefully matches to the consumers need as well).
    That will save some upfront costs. Then, the professional copywriters can always go in and do some “clean up” writing. :)

  17. says

    Out of all the articles I have read, this is probably one of the more Blah.. ones. I feel like I wasted my time reading it. I understand what you are trying to say, but I think you are writing just to write. Keep trying, because I think you have something. You can’t hit it out of the park everytime.

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