Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the message we most want our customers to hear gets lost in a sea of superlatives. The marketer within us takes over and - before we know it - the core focus of the Web page, brochure or flyer becomes blurred. Let me assure you of one thing... if your prospects can't determine - with crystal clarity - what you do and how you can benefit them, all your copywriting efforts will be in vain.

Provider Watch suffered from a bit of this problem. When I read their original home page copy (which can be seen here: http://www.copywritingcourse.com/providerwatch-original.pdf), I was confused about what they offered. While all the information seemed to be within the copy, I didn't get it. That's what happens all too often when we write our own copy: *we* understand what we mean, but that clarity isn't passed on to our readers.

The owner of Provider Watch knew she had a great product. She also knew it should be very popular with daycare providers. She'd been working with daycare businesses for years and had a great understanding of what they struggled with as well as what would help them overcome their obstacles. What the owner didn't understand was why her copy wasn't triggering the reaction she was hoping for.

The Problems

There was no major problem with the Provider Watch home page. Instead, there were several little problems; the sum of which was costing Provider Watch conversions.

The copy certainly did strike an emotional chord by relating to the site visitors on their level. What happened, however, was a delay in moving from an emotional tug at the heart to delivery of the message. As the visitors read on, they felt connected to *what* was being said, but they weren't clear about *why* it was being said. Your message has to stay in constant forward motion. If you bog down in the emotional without also offering solid information, the reader will soon begin to wonder why s/he is at your site. I didn't want to lose the emotional tone, but I did want to keep it highly focused on the primary problem Provider Watch could solve.

Another thing that struck me when I read the home page copy of this site was the "No Regrets" system. There were a few things I was unclear about. At some points there was mention of signing up for a complimentary membership. At other points, a mention of how little it cost per month was made.

There was also mention of a credit reporting system, but I was confused as to whether the daycare provider reported *to* the system or received reports *from* the system. I saw information about collection help along with statements that Provider Watch was not a collection agency.

Search engine optimization also came into play with this site. The original home page focused on very broad keyphrases mainly because there were so few choices. As a unique service, there weren't many applicable keyphrases to choose from. However, after doing some additional research, Provider Watch came up with a list of viable alternatives to such broad phrases as "daycare provider." The new phrases were incorporated into the home page and other pages of the site to help drive more targeted traffic to the site.

The Solutions

The solutions for this home page were quite simple. Outline what Provider Watch did, then clearly provide that information to the site visitors while keeping the emotional attraction. I wanted the site visitors to know immediately what was being offered and precisely how it would benefit them.

Because Provider Watch has such terrific knowledge about their target audience, I was able to accurately outline who I was talking with through the copy. Most of their daycare providers were small, independent, work-from-home operations that didn't have any financial wiggle room. Every time a parent bounced a check or left without giving the required notice, it hurt the provider badly. I wanted the feeling that Provider Watch knew this, understood it and was offering help to come through.

In addition, I needed to find a way to offer proof that this was a viable service that filled a very real need. Because the service was unusual, educating the site visitor would be as important as selling to them.

I also wanted to incorporate the new keyphrases into the text without them being obvious. They needed to be a natural part of the copy. As I looked at the three we'd chosen for inclusion on the home page, I began to formulate a plan for where they would fit.

Sometimes I'm able to split the copy into different sections: one for each keyphrase. Other times I sprinkle the keyphrases throughout the text without separating each one into its own area of the text. That's what I opted to do with Provider Watch.

In Part 2 of this series, I'll walk you through the rewrite of the home page copy and show you what a tremendous impact it had on their traffic and conversions.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ieas forum.


February 18, 2006





Karon Thackston is owner of Marketing Words, Inc. a full-service copywriting company specializing in search engine copywriting. She is also publisher of the long-standing free ezine, Business Essentials. Karon is author and publisher of the popular Step-by-Step Copywriting Course, an e-course designed to teach sound and highly-effective copywriting techniques - including search engine copywriting techniques. With over 20 years of copywriting experience, Karon has contributed to the search engine and sales success of companies large and small including Gortons Seafood, Third Sphere Hosting and more.





Search Engine Guide > Karon Thackston > Copywriting Makeover: The Value of Being Crystal Clear: Part 1 of 2