Maslen on Marketing, Web copywriting

Web copy case study

Last month I had an email from Nicky Parker, of Bang Consulting. She said, “…what I would really love is if you could sometimes show us some examples of your writing”.

So this month I want to discuss the continuing hot topic of what works best on the web. I’m going to illustrate my points with reference to the newly launched website for our client Jacada Incentives, who specialise in incentive travel to Latin America.

First, though, let’s remind ourselves of one of the original daft myths about web copywriting. (I’m better writing about it, because when I talk about it I start foaming at the mouth.) OK, here goes.

“Because it’s on the web it has to be short.”

And by the way, there’s never a definition of what constitutes short copy. But in general, it seems to mean less than one screen. I have, as it happens, written an ultra-short-copy website forConcerto Live, who create live events.

It works, I think. But they didn’t say it had to be short because it was a website, they said it had to be short because it was their website.

Anyway, back to the myth.

Web pages can be any length, just like brochures or sales letters. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Alex Malcolm, MD of Jacada Incentives, wants to achieve sales. And Alex knows, from testing, that longer copy tends to pull in more enquiries and orders.

Note this though: not all the pages are long. The home page, for example, is fairly economical with copy. But check out the amazing photos. THEY tell the story and do the selling.

And these are original photos. Of real customers. Having real fun. On real Jacada incentive trips.

When the site gets to the more detailed pages, about incentive trips to Chile, for example, the copy flows into longer pages. Why?

Because there’s more to say.

And I’m telling you this because?

Alex actually briefed me to write long copy. Other clients have too. I don’t mind writing short copy, though it’s infernally hard to write. I just like to hear a commercial justification first.

What works is what works in any form of direct marketing. Short simple sentences, for the most part. Everyday language that gives longer, technical words room to breathe. A personal, engaging tone of voice that seems to speak directly to the site visitor. And an awareness of emotion as well as reason.

When you’re approaching a new website, or revamping an existing one, think visually as well as verbally. Think multimedia as well as static text. And do think about search engines, but remember that a human being will be the one reading your copy and deciding whether to buy from you or not.

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