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Aug 1, 2011
For online wholesalers and retailers, creating a profitable B2B or B2C website isn't as simple as following the Field of Dreams instruction book, which suggests, "If you build it, they will come." While there are customers looking for your product and prices, little profit will be made if they cannot find you, or worse yet, if they find you and they don't like what they see. Your ecommerce site has the potential to be viewed by millions, perhaps even billions of online users, and just as you would do prior to standing before a crowd, you must go over every detail of your website with a fine tooth comb. And while you may not have a degree in writing or experience as a copy editor, the written content on your website deserves such scrutiny, as it plays a major role in driving customers to your website and keeping them there until a purchase has been made.
There is absolutely nothing more important to your business than getting your message out there in a manner that is clear and concise. When it comes to web marketing, web content writing, Internet sales writing, or other promotional type messages, keeping your written content simple and accurate, and your copy clean, goes a long way towards how people perceive your business and what it is trying to sell. You want your content to make you money, while making you look good in the process.
Whether you brush up on your grammar 101, hire an in-house editor or seek out the help of a professional writing service, remember the content can make or break your online business. Though it may have initially seemed to be a trivial task, an afterthought to uploading product pictures and listing product specs and prices, writing content could have the greatest impact on your sales. Professional web copywriter Stephen Monday confirms this in a recently published article, writing, "I have seen clients get as much as a 600 percent increase in sales by having their content rewritten in a 'clear and concise' manner." Think of your online marketplace as the interview prior to your customer's final decision to purchase. You could lose a customer due to a typo or poor quality writing, just as some candidates lose a job opportunity for their disheveled appearance and lackluster responses.
Simply stated, it is important to build a strategy when writing your website content before launching your ecommerce site, not only to position yourself better on the web, but also to persuade your targeted audience that you are a well-put-together business. There are a few strategic steps to keep in mind when developing written web content, and they include:
1) Draft your web page hierarchy: While a clear hierarchy of web pages provides people and search engines with an idea of what is important on your site, a well thought out hierarchy is also crucial in helping you organize what content needs to be written. Web Design Ledger columnist Jake Rocheleau suggests, "This may be hand drawn on paper or even created in digital art software such as Photoshop. The purpose is to build a brief collection of root pages and sub-pages, each set with their own descriptions." As a result, you will better be able to figure out how much content needs to be written, what topics need to be covered (i.e., About Us, Return Policy, Product Descriptions), and also eliminate the chance that you will write duplicate copy on multiple pages.
2) Welcome constructive criticism: While the goal is to strive for perfection, any writer or businessman taking a stab at writing website content for the first time is only human. Mistakes are bound to happen, and while something may sound well-written after a few initial drafts, best practices call for at least a second pair of eyes. Chances are, a workflow that includes a proofreader (professionally trained or not) will help in eliminating awkward phrasing, as well as ensure that all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. For those going at the task alone, this is when a design or professional writing firm may be a good investment, as they usually enlist a few people on their writing team, providing multiple pairs of eyes.
3) Search Engine Optimization: A key component in optimizing a website involves editing its content. Search engines use algorithms to automatically index and rank content. They cannot make subtle inferences about your website. As such, you have to offer explicit directions to search engines as to what your website is about, so that it will be properly indexed. These "directions" typically come from keywords, which are strategically placed throughout a website's written content. However, beware of keyword stuffing, which search engines flag if you use a keyword too many times, to the point that it sounds unnatural. Search engines may register that you are trying to artificially inflate the ranking of your article, and will thus demote it in ranking. Use keywords in moderation, and in a way that will be appealing to the reader. Experts say that on a well-written website, every page is a potential landing page. Search engines are increasingly aware of the difference between keyword-oriented text and natural language text. Google and Bing are giving higher rankings to internal site pages that have actual written content and meaningfully written sentences that are created for people, rather than machines.
According to ecommerce retail consultant Kevin Gibbons, the best way to convert visitors on your site into paying customers is to make a connection, and since this cannot be done face to face, you must use your words to build the necessary rapport. "A company that creates a likeable corporate persona will find it easier to build and maintain customer loyalty," he notes. Gibbons offers several tactics for achieving this. First, the text should be engaging, friendly, and open, but not marked by marketing and press release language. "Well-written copy is created with a clear corporate personality in mind, and should mirror the feel of your page design," he writes. "Safe, boring, functional copy is unattractive. It doesn't create a personality that any normal human would want to read, and it doesn't drive sales."
While it is true that your customers are looking for product, and wouldn't be searching if they weren't interested in making a purchase, there are multiple factors keeping your shoppers from becoming buyers, including your website's written content. So what if your website delivers a product page? Any store owner can provide a product description. But how many websites provide a product page, or every page, with the necessary content to persuade the visitor to make a purchase? Engaging content that offers information to the visitor helps them make an informed decision, such as, "This is the place to buy."
Topic: Business Strategies
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