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Is Bad Writing Losing Leads For Your Business?

December 3, 2012

One thing I have learned in the internet marketing business is that many clients try to save money by writing their web content themselves.  This is a good idea for the business owner or marketing director who has a background in writing and enjoys the process.  For everyone else this is a bad decision because it is more than likely killing your chances at capturing leads.
Typically I have found that most copy (the industry term for written content) sounds like a bad television commercial.  The reason for this is people write like they talk.  They will read their produced content, hear themselves saying it in their head, and believe it is at least good enough for the website.  What people tend to forget is most of the people coming to your site have never met you and it will not be your voice speaking to them in their head as they read, it will be theirs.  What you have written might sound very weird to them in their voice.  That is why you have to keep a somewhat neutral, but confident tone with your content.
Additionally there is SEO to think about with your content.  Search Engine Optimization relies heavily on the copy.  Part of the challenge of writing effective content is flawlessly writing in the appropriate keywords.  Even if your content reads very well, if it does not have the keywords that the search engine web crawlers are looking for, your website could be rendered useless to everyone, but those who are directly searching for your particular business.  Here is some advice to always remember, according to the Search Engine Journal, 75% of people who use a search engine do not go past the first page of results.  This puts an exclamation mark on why SEO integration with your copy is crucial.
Below is an example of badly written content.  Though I have made this up, I could have easily replaced the Mattress King with a dozen other business names you have heard of and it would be eerily similar to what they have on their website right now.

Welcome to Mattress King.  We have been in business for 22 years and are ready to serve your mattress needs.  We have a wide selection for you to choose from and our customer service is the best.  We’re open from 10am to 8 pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Please enjoy all that our site has to offer and come by and see us today and you will see why we have the best mattress selection in the area.

This is terrible copy and I am going to break down for you exactly why your web content should never look like this.
•    Welcome to Mattress King.  Mattress King is a bricks and mortar store.  The website is a completely separate entity with a different functionality.
•    We have been in business for 22 years and are ready to serve your mattress needs. The mattress doesn’t have needs, the customer does.  The 22 years of business is very important, but you still have to sell it.
•    The rest of the paragraph is simply a radio ad.  There is no indication of what tools the website has to offer to the potential customer.  There is also no true call-to-action.  If they want to find out the contact information, the guest will have to look through the navigation tab, find Contact Us, and hopefully find what they are looking for.

Here is how it should have been written.

Your nights of tossing and turning are about to come to an end.  Welcome to the Mattress King online service center.  Here you will discover the newest products we offer, tips on which mattress is right for you and an array of headboards and footboards to compliment your new Mattress King mattress.
Located just off South College road near the Hardees by UNCW, we have 22 years of experience helping people with back pain and restless and sleepless nights in the New Hanover, Pender & Brunswick county area.  It is our number one goal to listen to your needs and help you find the right mattress for the perfect night of sleep.
For your convenience, we have provided an easy to use contact form so you may ask a question of our mattress experts without having to leave the comfort of you home.  Based on your needs we can help you determine which mattress is right for you, have you come into the showroom so you can test the selections your mattress expert has chosen for you, and have it delivered to your bedroom and set-up by the next day.
For your added convenience we are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends.  You can contact us through our easy contact form or give us a call at 910-555-1212.  Thank you so much for visiting our website and we cannot wait to help you get the best night of sleep you have ever had.

There is no question that the latter content is more compelling.  It gives the guest a good idea of what advantages visiting the website has given them by clearly pointing them out.  The location is given by a road and two landmarks rather than an address, making it easier for people to quickly figure out where the store is.  The 22 years of experience becomes important now because it involved helping people with very common reasons for why many of us need a new mattress.  The locations of the surrounding areas is also factored in, which caters to the search engine optimization variable.
A call-to-action is presented with the contact form.  If you do not use a contact form on the front page of your website, I can guarantee you, you are losing leads.  After that, the process of selecting a mattress and having it in the guests bedroom sounds seamless and easy.  The times are written to sound like everything is being done to make it easier on the guest and the contact form and phone number are emphasized so capturing the lead is given a final push.  Finally the last line sums up what the guest is really there for.  They want to have a comfortable night’s sleep.  This again allows the store to connect with the guest, all without “saying” a word.
If you want to give your website a facelift, without spending thousands of dollars on graphics and design, ask a professional copywriter to rewrite your content.  It will add new life to your site and do more to help capture leads then you could have ever imagined.

C.S. Alexander is a professional copywriter with Impact Media Solutions in Wilmington, NC.  He is also an internationally published novelist and former newspaper editor.

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