If you read my blog on Sales, Not Excuses, you’d have come across David Ogilvy. While he wasn’t the first man to sell products via print ads in the 1950s, he was the first man to usher in a new era of advertising.
And like any good dad, Ogilvy had boatloads of wisdom to share — always ready to offer some golden nugget of advice like it was manna from the marketing gods themselves.
Back in 1963, the father of advertising said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” That was 60 years ago.
While times and technology have changed, the principles of great creative haven’t. People still need to be persuaded. People still want to feel like they’re buying into something even if they’ve switched from flicking through the newspaper to thumbing through a website.
Beautiful design can’t cover up ugly content.
Six clients I’ve worked with this year informed me they didn’t write the copy on their new website. To my chagrin, I soon discovered that the written content was left to the person building the website. Therein lies the problem.
Web designers are total pros when it comes to building slick websites. But they aren’t pros when it comes to sales content. You know … the specific type that brings leads into your inbox and sells your wares. Not convinced? Ask yourself this:
Would you bother to read a web page if the headline doesn’t interest you?
Make your first impression count or it may be the last time you see the reader.
Time is tight. Most statistical research on website design states that websites have two seconds, maybe three, to hook a reader’s attention. That slim headline section has its work seriously cut out. If not, those people will be looking for the Back button.
Copy that’s written with thought is read with interest.
In March this year, I wrapped up a copywriting job for a new client. Albeit, being an expert technical writer himself, he confessed to being a not-so-hot direct response copywriter. So he asked me to check out his website. I was delighted to help.
Below is the original website headline written by the web designer.
Doesn’t set the world on fire, right?
Time to give it a more human touch.
I rejigged the entire section to make it sound like a couple of buddies catching up over a coffee. After a few strong Colombian brews, this is where we got to:
It went from a blunt statement to a razor-sharp proposition in a matter of words.
The headline looks simple enough. But to get to this stage meant going back to basics — back to the brief. Like a CSI detective solving a case, I examine the facts; dive into research; ask questions; claw through research, and get to the heart of the problem.
Once I identify the key problem, a solution is fleshed out, and then it’s time to write.
Hour after hour, words are chopped and changed, tossed and turned. Every sentence and phrase is thrown together. We want to see what gels so it sounds natural.
Then, like the colours on Rubik’s Cube coming together, those same words begin to fall into place. Persuasive sentences being to emerge. And from the scribbled mess on my notepad, a powerful headline emerges.
Make your website worth it.
Few people read any content if the headline doesn’t interest them first. That’s why the first job of any ad web copy is to hook your reader — to call out to them and tap into their desire.
And when it’s executed well—by a pro copywriter—it can make all the difference between people scanning and leaving your website to people stopping to read and enquire about your services. So isn’t it time you invested in your website copy?