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Checking Your Message - Effective Web Copy

By Tom Neuman
Posted Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dale Carnegie said, "Talk in terms of the other man's interests."

Writing effective web copy begins with a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of your internet strategy. Are you trying to persuade the visitor to buy something? Are you trying to get them to sign up for your newsletter? Perhaps you want them to join your organization or simply learn more about your service so that they will call your 800 number. The common theme with all of these web strategies is that you are trying to get someone you have never met and can't see to take a step toward building a relationship with you or your organization.

Typical website copy uses a great deal of prime real estate telling the web audience how wonderful the organization is. Imagine going to a party and meeting someone who talks endlessly about himself. He talks about his job, his family, his interests. How long will you stand there and listen before politely excusing yourself? Now imagine the party guest who seems more interested in you- your family, your job, your interests. Wouldn't you react more favorably? It's very similar on the Internet.

It is very tempting to write web copy that is focused on your company. Your first thought is probably something like, "I have to tell them who I am. They don't know anything about me." In reality, they don't care! (At least not in the first few seconds). Most web users are on a mission to find as much information as quickly as possible about the product or service they need because they want to make a decision. If they find your page, they first thing they want to know - even before bothering with anything else - is how they will benefit from buying (subscribing, calling, joining). You need to answer that question clearly and concisely within seconds or you will lose that visitor (maybe forever). If you can't cut through the selfish copy, the clutter, the fancy graphics, and communicate the value you offer that nobody else offers, they will go somewhere else- and likely never come back.

Here are 3 additional ideas to help with effective web copy:
1. Create an effective Unique Selling Proposition (USP): A USP is the statement (2-3 sentences at most) that explains why you are different than everyone else. This is the unique factor that sets you apart from your competition. Make this the firstthing your visitor sees.
2. Write about what you offer. Focus on benefits (not features) and de-emphasize your organization. The website visitor needs to understand the value in a relationship with you.
3. Use your copy to help steer your visitor down an intended path. This can be accomplished by placing your "Point of action" near benefits-related text, making it easier for your visitors to take action at that moment.

About the Author
Tom Neuman is a Senior Partner with Medium Blue Internet Marketing ( For monthly tips on how to get the most out of your internet presence, sign up for the Medium Blue Internet Marketing newsletter at (


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