When you begin to write copy for any product or service, there are a few things you have to take into consideration. The first is always your target audience: who you'll be writing to. Finding out about the needs and wants of the audience members, their communication styles, their lifestyles, and a multitude of other elements are "musts" before writing one word of copy.
But something most people neglect is giving due attention to the buying process as a whole and where your target audience is within that process. Understanding this can oftentimes, make or break the success of your copy.
When AEwebworks (an online, dating-site software developer) approached me about rewriting their website copy, it became immediately apparent that their copy could benefit from paying some due diligence to the buying processes of their customers.
My primary concerns with the copywriting on this site included the lack of synergy within the copy, the use of testimonials, the lack of focus on the target customer's buying process, and the inability for the copy to support the search engine goals of AEwebworks. In its present state, the copy contained few mentions of keyphrases.
You can view the old copy in PDF form at this link: http://www.copywritingcourse.com/AEWebWorks-Original.pdf
When I first read the copy, it felt as though I was being pitched to from all sides. The headline spoke to someone thinking of entering the online dating site industry. The body copy did not support that headline; rather it spoke to someone who had already made the decision to launch or improve a dating site.
The use of testimonials at the bottom of the home page posed a challenge for two reasons. The first was the sheer location. The design of the site was such that it appeared nothing fell "below the fold" (what was first seen when the home page loaded onto a browser). The second challenge was that many of the testimonials were from people asking questions or stating they were considering trying the dating software… not actual customers attesting to the benefits they'd personally experienced.
In addition, while the information included in the body copy was good, the information given on the home page needed to outline why AEwebworks was better than the competition. In its present state, it did not. That meant finding those aspects of buying dating software that were most important to the customer and highlighting them within the copy.
Lastly, I needed to focus the home page copy on only two or three keyphrases and increase keyword saturation for those phrases. This also meant creating a copy strategy that would allow me to use the keyphrases effectively without making the text sound stiff.
As always, I started the project by gaining a good understanding of who the target customers were, what they wanted, their fears, their likes, their dislikes, and anything else I could discover. After a good bit of research, and after reading the completed target audience analysis from AEwebworks, I felt I had a good understanding of those I would be writing to.
In order to combat the lack of synergy within the copy and the lack of focus on the target customer's buying process, I created a copywriting plan. From my research I found that installation, upgrade policies, and support were the three most common gripes buyers had about dating software. I decided to make overcoming those obstacles the focal point of the copy instead of the actual features and benefits.
That may sound like an odd choice, but that's where recognition of the buying process comes in. Considering that the majority of visitors to the site had already made the decision to launch a new site or had chosen to upgrade an existing site, they were already well versed in the features of dating-site software and their associated benefits. Yes… the benefits did need to be mentioned; however, other issues proved to be more pressing to this particular group of customers.
The use of testimonials on the home page was easily corrected by simply deleting the ones that did not directly apply to actual users of the software. I chose two for use within the copy and suggested that, as AEwebworks gets more testimonials, they create an entire page that visitors can read.
That left me with overcoming the inability of the current copy to support the search engine goals of the site. I suggested AEwebworks review their keyword choices to be sure they were targeting the ones most likely to bring in qualified customers. After a review, they provided me with a revised list to choose from.
I selected three keyphrases for each page in order to allow an adequate level of both keyword saturation and natural language. For the home page, the terms "dating software," "online dating software," and "dating script" were used.
After all the hoopla with Google, AEwebworks was in foul shape as far as search engine rankings were concerned. I had to pay particular attention to creating copy that impressed the search engines AND their site visitors in order to help them regain ground with their positioning and sales efforts.
The plan was in place. Now "all" I had to do was write the copy. In part two of this series, you'll get all the details on how I turned "OK" into "Wow!"
March 23, 2004
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.