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Top tips on web copywriting

Writing for websites is different to writing for paper-based media, so if you’re new to it all, these pointers might help.

The first thing to remember is: reading on screen is hard!

It’s a lot harder than reading on the page. Think about the way you surf the web – you probably skim-read, trying to get to the information you need as quickly as you can – it’s because it’s so much harder to read on screen that you’re doing that.

Remember that your readers are just the same as you. So it’s important to do what you can to help them find the information they want – and make it appealing and easy for them to carry on exploring.

Keep things simple

There are some things you can do from a technical perspective to make your web copy easy to read:

  • keep sentences short
  • keep paragraphs short
  • use bulleted lists where you can
  • use informative headings to break up the copy and allow people to jump to the information they want
  • better still, if a page is going on too long, break the information up into separate pages so people aren’t intimidated by loads of scrolling text.

(Try this: go to the BBC News website. Pick a story and read it through. Notice how easy to read and understand it is. Now print it out and read it again. Suddenly, the sentences seem short – almost too short. That’s the difference between reading on-screen and on the page.)

Write for your audience

Keep the reader in mind while you’re writing. Ask yourself “what do readers want/need to know?” not “what do we want to tell them?” and remember that while you’re writing.

Try to write as if you’re talking to one person not making a presentation to hundreds – this will help to keep you focussed on giving readers what they need – and keep your style friendly and personal.


Keeping people engaged with your website is one thing. Getting them there in the first place is quite another. That’s where keywords come in, read our post on how to choose the right keywords for if you need help on this.

Why bother to understand our customers?

Every one of your customers has individual characteristics that make them who they are. But those customers will often share certain characteristics. Understanding what those common characteristics are will make your marketing more effective. And whether you’re marketing on a shoestring or not, that can only be a good thing.

How can understanding your customer make your marketing more effective?

Because you can:

  • show that you understand their challenges and – more importantly – how you can help them to meet them
  • know they need what you’re offering – focusing your marketing on the prospects you know will be interested means a better conversion rate than if you focus on prospects that might be interested
  • choose the medium that suits them best – if you’re marketing to travelling sales people, local radio might be a good option; if you’re dealing with marketing professional, email might be a better bet.

In short, you’re making your customers more likely to buy from you.

So how do you understand who your customers are?

You draw up customer profiles for five of your best  customers. Think about:

Who they are

  • Name
    • Industry
    • Role
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Interests
    • Education
  • What is important to them
    • What are their needs?
    • What keeps them awake?
    • What stops their company growing?
    • What wastes their time?

So for one of our customers you might end up with:

Sally runs her own  accounting practice which has grown quickly over the 2 last years. She is in  her early 30s has a young family and is a West Brom supporter. She has little  time to promote the company and is concerned the website looks outdated but is  worried she wouldn´t find time for any clients she did win.

From this we can understand that Sally is a busy person with  drive and ambition. Marketing to customers like her will need to reflect that  drive but also get straight to the point. Because she´s got so little time we  need to demonstrate that as professionals she can trust us to get on with the  job while she gets on with hers. We also need to remind her that an out-of-date  website reflects badly on a business she´s worked hard to build up so investing  now would protect her business – and even offer the capacity to take it to the  next level.

10 tips for email marketing

1. Know your audience/reader Create an email they will want to open and act on.

2. Interesting or challenging subject line A clear and honest subject line that tells the reader exactly what your email contains.

3. Personalise Often personalised content can increase open rates rather than a one size fits all approach.

4. Interesting and useful content Give the benefits to the reader, make it worth their time reading your email.

5. Ask for action Don´t leave them hanging ask the reader to take the next step, read more, or sign up.

6. Provide a quick and easy way to unsubscribe It shows you respect their data and it´s a legal requirement.

7. Recognisable From address If you can use a named email rather than a generic one this can increase open rates.

8. Run campaigns in plain text and HTML Many email programs only use plain text for their email preview. Effective use can improve open rates.

9. Be consistent Choose a frequency of sending that works for you and your readers, then stick to it to build familiarity.

10. Run experiments Don´t be afraid to test out different subject lines or content to find out what works best.

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