That’s the average time a user spends on your home page before they decide whether to stick around or not.
I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right. 10 seconds doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time. They’re barely giving you a chance! But in our world of doom-scrolling consumers, you’ve got to finagle all 26 letters of the alphabet into a magnifying statement to keep their eyes on you. In other words, your copy is the lasso, and you’ve got to pull them in.
Whether you’re trying to make a sale or add one more email to your list, your website copy needs to be customer-focused, reflective of your brand identity, and benefit-driven.
If users are bouncing off of your home page like a kid bungee jumping at the Mall of America, it’s time to take a good look at your copy and see if you’re making these three common copy mistakes on your website:
#1: You’re not speaking in your brand voice
Today more than ever, honing in on your brand’s identity is a must. Specifically, your verbal identity.
There are countless businesses out there, just like yours, vying for the exact same thing as you: customers’ attention. And the competition is only getting hotter.
As more fresh faces enter the marketplace, you have to stand out like a shark in a school of fish. While your visual identity can definitely do that, your verbal identity (your brand voice) can up the ante.
Your brand voice is defined in the brand strategy process in tandem with the visual direction and aligns with your brand’s mission, vision, value proposition, and target audience.
Your brand voice is how you speak to your customers. What you say, and how you say it. Your voice and tone are unique to your brand and can help you connect even deeper with your target audience.
I talk a little bit more about voice and tone and why they matter for your brand in this article.
If you own a luxury wellness spa, for example, the voice you use might be more relaxed, yet sophisticated. Words like ‘serene,’ ‘premium,’ and ‘tranquil’ might pop up when describing your services. You’d probably target men and women aged 30–55 earning around a 6-figure income who are looking for a spa comparable to the Four Seasons.
Think about how you want your business to sound when your ideal customer lands on your website. How can your brand benefit them? Consider their age, geographic location, lifestyle, personality, and interests.
When you write in your brand voice, users on your site will feel more confident that they’re in the right place. They might feel more inclined to sign up for emails, reach out with an inquiry, schedule an appointment, or even make a purchase right away.
If your copy’s not written with your brand voice in mind, you risk sounding like your competitors and missing the chance to connect with potential customers.
How to find your brand voice
Think of three to five keywords that best describe your brand’s voice.
For the luxury wellness spa, for example, the brand voice might sound relaxed, sophisticated, and warm. They might write shorter, simpler sentences to avoid overwhelming users on their site.
Once you pinpoint your three to five words, practice writing a few sentences keeping your brand voice in mind. Read them out loud, and if your copy sounds like a match, then you’ve narrowed down your voice.
I typically go into a deeper strategy with clients to help them discover their brand voice, but if you're looking for something quick, this simple exercise should do the trick.
#2: You’re not speaking your customer’s language
When it comes to writing copy, the general rule of thumb is to write at a 5th-grade level. This goes for writing across web, email, social, white papers, press releases, and more.
Why? Well, remember a user only spends about 10 seconds or so on your home page before they decide to either bounce or hang out a while longer. If your message is too complicated to figure out, then you can kiss that user buh-bye.
You have to write under the assumption people don’t have the time to figure you out. You have to be clear, concise, clever, and direct. The simpler your copy is, the better.
Besides, people like to buy from people. Your copy helps you communicate with the person on the other side of the screen. Sure, the conversation might be a little one-sided, but if you write like you talk, your copy will be easier and more enjoyable to read and digest.
It also helps to know who exactly your copy is for. You probably wouldn’t write your copy the same way for a 16-year-old Gen-Zer as you would a 65-year-old Boomer. Their lifestyles, experiences, shopping habits, perspectives, and personalities are vastly different.
On top of writing simple, 5th-grade level copy, knowing the specifics of your target audience is key.
How to write for your ideal customer
One of the best ways to write for your ideal customer is to use their own words back at them. Testimonials, comments on social media, and organic posts on their feeds are great sources to look at.
You can pick up on your ideal customer’s lingo, and include their own words into your copy. Apply their perspectives to problems your product or service can solve for potential customers. Highlight what they love about your brand. Address their feelings or concerns, then tell them why your brand is the solution.
Once you identify who your ideal customers are, find out where they are online, study their way of speech, and use it as a starting point for your copy.
If you’re a brand new business and don’t have any customers yet, creating and referencing user personas are also a great way to capture your customer’s voice.
#3: You’re not speaking about the benefits
What does your product or service do? Forget about specs and features for a second. What do you do for your customers?
Do you help them regain their confidence? Boost their productivity? Provide a temporary escape from the ordinary day-to-day? Inspire them to live more mindfully?
If you’re solely focusing on the features of your product (for example, if you’re a Project Management software, and the only things you mention on your website are the tools available to users), you’re going to miss the mark with your audience.
Beyond your features, you need to communicate the value you bring. So, going back to the Project Management software example, some things of value you’d provide are less stress, more control over project deadlines, and better communication across teams.
Your value proposition needs to capture three things: what you do, how, and why customers should choose you. The ‘why’ needs to be conveyed throughout all your customer-facing copy because it’s exactly what your audience is already thinking: “Why should I trust this business with my money?”
Buyer psychology tells us that people are more likely to buy when they feel a certain emotion. So if your copy is solely focused on your features, and not the benefits your future customer base can experience, your chances of striking a chord with them are slim.
Keep your focus on your audience; their needs, likes and dislikes, and values. Paint a vivid, desirable future state your product or service can deliver.
How to highlight the benefits of your product/service
For every feature of your product or service, define one benefit attached to it. Try to come up with more than one benefit for each feature if possible.
Get specific. It’s one thing to say you help people reclaim their time and productivity, but it’s way more effective to tell your audience they can take every Friday off if they optimize their processes with your project management software.
Checklist: Avoid the 3 common copy mistakes
If you haven’t yet, take a quick look at your website. Now that you know the three common copy mistakes, are there any areas on your website you can fix right now?
Go through this checklist:
- Is your brand voice coming through clearly?
- Does your copy sound like a human wrote it?
- Are you highlighting the benefits for your customer?
Start with a few simple changes and see what results. Sometimes the smallest tweaks to your copy can create the biggest impact.
Looking for a done-for-you copy solution for your website?
I help businesses speak like their customer’s BFF with personality-packed copy across multiple digital touchpoints.
Hit that 'Work with me' button in the top right corner. Let’s see how we can work together to connect with your ideal customers and keep them coming back for more.