Why is there so much boring blah blah on your website?
I’m not trying to mock you. I’m genuinely curious.
How do I know?
I bookmark business websites I come across among my new subscribers, LinkedIn connections, Twitter contacts, etc. to watch the latest trends in copy and design (and the newest ways to ruin a website).
I have two folders. One called “Website examples: Bad” and another, “Website examples: Good”.
So yeah, there’s too much boring blah on your website.
But on the other side…
But on the other side, I know that you’re an articulate human being who knows their offer and audience and is capable of constructing coherent sentences that sound like normal conversation.
How do I know that?
Every time I send my clients (who usually have too much blah blah on their websites) a questionnaire before I start a website review and ask them questions about what they do, whom it helps and how they’re different from their competitor, they’re able to produce great answers. Not ready-to-be-put-on-website great, but meaty sentences packed with important info phrased clearly in plain words.
So, I’d like to ask again: Why is there so much blah blah on your website when you clearly can do better?
“Back off, Gill. Writing web copy is hard!”
No, it isn’t. Writing great website copy may be hard. But writing blah-blah-free copy that tells people in plain words what you do isn’t.
Let me show you how.
Write for these 3 people and listen what they say
When you read web copy, you probably don’t think much about it. You rather feel or react upon it.
You know what happens when I read web copy? I hear voices in my head.
I have a whole committee up there that helps me critique existing copy or come up with new sentences. Today, I’d like you to meet its 3 most important members.
Because if you want your copy to suck less, you need a committee like that, too.
Meet the Team
Can’t stand unclear and vague copy, especially if it’s written in words no human being would be able to utter spontaneously, without reading them from a piece of paper.
Also known as: What the hell does this mean?
Favorite face expression: 🤔 #thinkinghard
Hates exaggerations and unfounded claims. Won’t believe anything you say unless you give him details or bring third-party witnesses.
Also known as: You don’t say!
Favorite face expression: 🤨 #eyebrow
Why Should I Care, Jr.*
Doesn’t care about anybody else but himself. Won’t listen to you unless you tell him what’s in it for him.
Also known as: So bloody what?
Favorite face expression: 🙄 #eyeroll
* – currently filling in for Why Should I Care, Sr. who’s recovering from a burn out while helping Gill with her copy critique last week.
How to make your web copy suck less (very specific advice)
They say you should write your copy with one person in mind – a persona from your target audience.
I say, you should write for 4 people: that one persona from your target audience + 3 employees of yours.
Huh, Prove it and Why should I care.
And while you want your persona to engage with your copy, if at least one of those guys is talking, you have a problem.
Example 1: Live and lead from the best of who you are.
Huh? => Unclear copy
Example 2: You’ll meet the members of our community over a cup of coffee.
Why should I care? => Useless sentence
Example 3: We can help you achieve success
Prove it! => Useless sentence
In 95% of the cases, you can shut these guys up with these 2 things:
✔️ Plain words
1) Live and lead from the best of who you are
+ plain words + specificity =
Business coaching for executives and leaders with high potential.
2) You’ll meet the members of our community over a cup of coffee.
+ specificity =
You’ll meet our school principal and teachers over a cup of coffee.
3) We can help you achieve success
+ specificity =
Over the last 5 years, we helped 75 entrepreneurs take their businesses from an idea to a high-converting website.
Learn how to use this approach to evaluate your copy quickly
I gave a whole talk about this at CopyCon 2020. Listen to it if you want to learn:
- How your prospects evaluate your copy
- Why checklists aren’t very helpful for copy evaluation
- How Paco Rabanne can help you spot bad copy
- How to use Huh / Prove it / Why should I care approach to evaluate your copy fast (+ examples and a real life story)
Care for a dare?
Ok, jokes aside. You seriously need to remove vague blah blah from your website!
To help you find motivation, I’d like to suggest a dare.
Open your homepage and read through it attentively listening for Huh, Prove it and Why should I care screaming.
Did those other guys remain quiet the whole time? Congratulations! Leave a comment with your website’s URL asking me one specific question about your website, and I’ll be happy to answer.
Note: Stuff like “What do you think about my website?” or “How do you like my website?” doesn’t qualify as one specific question.
Have you found at least one phrase that pissed off your new employees? Share my latest blog post on social.
But it’s a win-win, actually, as you found something you can improve in your copy.