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Getting Some Action ... With Your Web Copy

By Celeste Lindell

Originally Posted

Your Web site's dressed up and lookin' fine -- yet it's not getting hit on the way you'd hoped. Sure, there are approaches, but nobody's picking up on what it has to offer. What's it going to take to get some action? Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes? It's great that your site is up and out there, but are you sure it's communicating effectively? We all know that writing for the Web is not like writing for other media. We also know that it's not a good idea to start doing tequila shots after two pitchers of margaritas, but that doesn't mean it never happens! Sometimes -- maybe when we've been out late on one too many school nights -- we end up putting some copy out on the Web that's really better suited to the brochure that spawned it. You end up with copy that's like a hot dress with an overly long skirt. Take your scissors and start cutting! Remember, the Web is short-attention-span theatre. Flash 'em a quick glimpse of the merchandise and save your life's story for later. Let's look at some of the other things you can do to make your Web site copy turn heads and seal deals. Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again? In a crowded bar or on a Web site, first impressions are crucial. If someone comes to your site and doesn't see what they're looking for, it's adios in mere seconds. You need to show off the goods, and headlines are the Wonderbra of the net. A good headline grabs attention, imparts valuable information, and leads the surfer to kick back and stay a while. Other good ways to showcase important information are bullet points, boldface type, and hyperlinks. Don't make Web readers wade through dense paragraphs to find pertinent facts. They won't do it. Use bullet points to pull out compelling data and bolding to draw attention to important words and phrases. Hyperlinks can be used in much the same way as bolded words and phrases, but with the added bonus of taking visitors off into a back room to share more details, if they click. Can I borrow your library card? I want to check you out. Another important eye-catcher is your site's navigation system (header, footer, and navigation bar). Most visitors will have some idea of what they're looking for when they stop by. If they don't see a well-marked link or button to what they had in mind, you'll lose them or frustrate them. Heaven knows the Web has few "standards" for site design, but get a feel for commonly used navigation terms, and try not to get so cute with yours that you make it difficult for people to figure out where to look for typical site sections. For example, "Contact us," "Staff," or, sometimes, "About us" links usually lead to names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for a company. If you label your contacts section differently, it might mean the difference between a visitor pursuing the information or leaving empty-handed. So, are you going to give me your phone number, or am I going to have to stalk you? A hot and eager customer runs across your Web site, likes what he sees, and is ready to take things to the next level. Alas, you and he will never be an item. Why? Because he couldn't find any contact information on your site! If your Web site does nothing else, it should be your on-line matchmaker, passing along your phone number, email address, and snail mail address to potential suitors who fancy what you have to offer. Even if you offer a contact form on your site, make sure there's a link to detailed contact information from your home page and anywhere else that seems appropriate. Heck, sprinkle email addresses through your site like phone numbers on cocktail napkins. The more opportunities visitors have to get in touch with you, the better. Do you mind if I end this sentence in a proposition? By and large, business Web sites exist to market something. It's perfectly all right for a professional site to clearly and compellingly present a company's products or services in a marketing-oriented way. Remember, effective marketing is less about spiels and slogans than about passing along information. Once you've outlined the advantages your company has to offer, don't hesitate to let your Web site be part of closing the deal. If your site has visitors wanting what you've got, how do you get them to move a little closer? Give your potential customers ways to act on their feelings. If you carry products, make them available for sale on line. If you have a customer all hot and bothered, you don't want to spoil the mood with an off-line ordering system. If your company offers services, incorporate a form on your site that lets visitors ask for more detailed information about the services that appeal to them. Then you can pick up the phone and schedule that first date. Do you come here often? If you keep showing up at the bar night after night in the same suit, spouting the same old pick-up lines, pretty soon nobody will be paying attention to you. The same goes for your Web site. If you never update your site, repeat visitors will quickly find your story tiresome and stop coming by. The goals of your site determine how much or how little you want to update. Obviously, staff and contact information listings must be kept current on any site. Ditto for any regular feature to which you've committed, such as a quote of the week, or article of the month. What else keeps 'em coming back for more? Well, assuming you're keeping up with your industry, find ways to let your customers know that. Make sure your site copy gives a nod to the latest trends and issues that affect you and your customers. This doesn't mean adorning the site with the logo of the buzzword-of-the-month club. It just means being aware of changes in your industry and the economy that might make some of the wording on your site sound dated. There must be something wrong with my eyes; I can't take them off you A well-written Web site draws in a visitor, gets him excited about your company and makes him want to see more. With a little tweaking, your site copy can make your company the belle of the ball and have customers hanging on your every word.
If you'd enjoy brushing up on your pickup lines once you've finished fine-tuning your Web site copy, visit Swinging Neal's Pick-up Lines or The Most Complete and Most Useless Collection of Pick Up Lines for hours of entertainment.

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