31 January 2014
With Valentine’s Day looming, we’re feeling all romantic here at Mediaworks HQ. And, while I won’t be whispering sweet nothings in your ear, I will be taking a look at some of the web copy I’ve fallen in love with this year.
Creative copy is crucial to the success of any website. Boring, irrelevant content will do little to engage your visitors and could even drive them away from your site. As well as incorporating key SEO factors, your content should actively promote your company’s products and services, without overwhelming your reader.
Likewise, copy plays a crucial role in enhancing the user experience. Effective content should make it easy for visitors to navigate through the site and find exactly what they want, while also encouraging them to make an enquiry or purchase. In addition, the writing style should remain informative and easy to process.
In this post, I will be picking out some of the brands that have nailed their copy, treating it not just as a necessary space-filler, but as a key component contributing to the success of their site.
First up on my rundown, and my personal favourite, is Firebox. Stocking a variety of unique gifts and lifestyle products, the copy on their site perfectly matches the brand’s ethos. Their content is youthful, full of life and enjoyable to read, and it really conveys a passion for what they do.
Now, being a copywriter, I love a pun or two, so this website certainly doesn’t disappoint. You can’t help but chuckle at a chicken-shaped handbag that is described as being “not for the henpecked” and “sure to ruffle a few feathers”. It is humour like this that entices users to continue browsing through the products, setting Firebox apart from the rest.
Even the interlinking of pages has been well thought out. In order to appeal to their audience of in-tune social media users, the brand have adopted the Twitter hashtag in their links. For example, from the chicken-shaped handbag page, users can click the “#Gifts For Her” or “#Bags, Purses and Wallets” tags to explore other similar items. Not only does this help the user find a product that suits, it can also encourage additional sales through increased traffic around the site.
The ordering of the copy is also important, though this can often be overlooked. The typical Firebox product page features a product overview towards the top, before a general description of the item and more factual item specifics. This caters to a range of different buyers, from the impulse customers who just want to know the basics to those looking for in-depth details. As a result, the overall user experience is enhanced.
UK department store John Lewis is next on my list. When the brand’s marketing experts aren’t commissioning insanely popular TV advertisements, they are obviously spending a lot of time on their content.
The on-site copy has a rather mellow, sophisticated tone that is not unlike some interior and lifestyle magazines. While this could seem alienating to the everyday Joe Bloggs, the copy remains grounded and not overly luxurious, to avoid losing potential customers.
The brand has ditched obtrusive “Buy me now!” phrasings in favour of more discreet – yet still effective – calls to action. For example, to promote their Click and Collect service, the brand opts for a simple “Click & Collect available from John Lewis & selected Waitrose shops”. Rather than forcing the services upon users, the brand are subtly persuasive, presenting it as an option rather than a necessity.
In fact, the John Lewis content seems to be all about letting the products do the talking. On page copy is kept to a minimum and is free from any unnecessary waffle that would more than likely go unread. Carefully selected soft adjectives, like “refined” and “sophisticated”, are used to emphasise the quality of their goods, without seeming overly promotional.
The brand have clearly crafted the content on the site with the target audience in mind. The result? High-quality copy that is perfectly suited to the nature of the business.
Up next is the UK’s largest pet shop, Pets at Home. What makes this content stand out for me is the seemingly effortless combination of descriptive detailing with informative pet healthcare advice.
For example, accompanying the description of dog toys is the advice “You should check your dog’s toys regularly for signs of wear and damage; removing worn and damaged toys immediately.” These snippets within the copy position the brand as an expert.
While taking a factual and advisory route like this could result in flat, unengaging content, Pets at Home avoids this by adopting a chatty and informal tone that keeps the copy incredibly readable.
As these companies have shown, the most effective content is well-written and focused on the brand, purpose and user. Your content should not simply be a bland description that states the obvious. Rather – and this is where I go all poetical on you – it should convey your passion for the products or services you are promoting and stir the same emotion in your customers. Experiment with alternative styles and different approaches until you find a tone that meets this criteria.
A mistake that many people make is to simply copy product details over from a manufacturer’s site. Not only is this plagiarism and detrimental to your Google rankings, it will do little to add to your customer’s knowledge of both the product and your business, so should be avoided.
Writing effective copy may seem like a huge hurdle to jump, but once you’ve got it right, it can do great things for the success of your website.
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