Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Web Copy - You Have One Shot

Let’s talk about something that is close to your humble author’s heart - if only because I am doing it right now and will continue to do it until this article is complete.  The thing I am doing right now is … writing, a complex and ancient form of communication that new communication technologies can’t do without. 

Especially the web.  Check out the fanciest, most advanced web site or internet application and you will find writing.  (If not, the site will probably be useless.)  

As with most new forms of communication, web copy evolved from previous forms of writing.  Early web sites featured content copied from brochures, flyers and other printed pieces. 

It worked.  The novelty of the new medium, the lack of search engines and the inability to interact with the content meant that surfers were quite happy to sit and read web copy, just as they would a printed piece. 

As always, things have changed.  Multi-tasking operating systems, Web 2.0 and increasing user sophistication has created a way of consuming information that is unique to the web.  The short version is that web users are able to tailor the information they receive.  

For example, if you were interested in becoming an internet marketing guru, you may have begun by entering that term in a search engine.  The results might have brought you to this informative blog and directly to an entry about internet marketing – no table of contents, no extraneous information, just what you need

Another way of looking at it is, instead of having to sort through information that is “pushed” to you, you now “pull” the information you need. 

The ability to pull information means that your customers are now very selective about the information they consume on the web.  If the message before them does not appeal directly to a need or want, they click it into the history folder. 

To determine if a web page has the information they seek, surfers scan it looking for clues.  No clues and off they go.

Enter web copy.  Web copy must provide the clues that assure surfers they have found the stuff they need, and it must do so quickly.  Many surfers give a page mere seconds to prove it has what it takes.  If not, there will be no second chance.

What does this all mean for your web copy? Simple, your web copy must appeal directly to the needs/wants of your potential customers and it must do so quickly.  Because you only have one shot to prove to them that yours is their best option.

By Stephen Da Cambra

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