Three tricks to writing sticky web copy

Sticky plantIn the previous issue of Red Pony Express, I looked at four tips for developing a content-rich website. In this article I look more closely at the topic of writing ‘sticky’ web copy.

When someone visits your website, opens your newsletter or looks at your latest social media post, you want to engage their attention so that they’ll read on. ‘Sticky’ web copy keeps your audience reading and encourages further interaction: clicking a link, adding a product to a shopping cart, joining a mailing list.

So how do we make our web copy sticky?

1. Get to the point

Good web writing is always succinct. It also needs to provide a strong incentive to keep reading. Use headings to break up the text, grab attention and provide a clear indication of what follows.

But it’s not just the headings that need to be short and sharp. The body copy needs to get to the point quickly, or your reader will quickly find something else to do.

When starting a new page or post, try using the model of the elevator speech to stay focused on what your audience needs to know. Answer the basic question that your reader is likely to be asking: Who are you? What are you offering? How will this benefit me? Why should I choose you over your competitors?

2. Provide value

An excellent way to keep the reader’s attention is to provide information that is of value to them. Many people use the web to research extensively before they make the decision to buy. If you can provide the information they are looking for, as well as the products or services, you have a better chance of converting them from prospects to customers.

For example, if you sell house paint your website might offer detailed specifications about each product: what it is for (for example, indoors or outdoors), drying time, how to clean brushes, and anything else that might aid the buying decision (for instance, low fumes, prevents mildew).

You might also provide additional information targeting different audiences (such as home renovators and tradespeople) with helpful tips and advice such as how to choose colours, prepare surfaces and select the right brushes to use.

Like a physical shop where customers will ask for advice, your web copy can provide information to guide purchasing decisions. In doing so, you have the chance to establish your credibility as a subject matter expert, making it more likely that those same users will come to you when they are ready to buy.

3. Include logical paths and calls to action

Once you have engaged your reader, it is important that you provide logical next steps for them to follow. In the example above, if you created a blog post about how to prepare surfaces for painting, it might be a good idea to provide a link to your site for any products mentioned (such as sandpaper, filler and masking tape).

Similarly, be clear how readers can join your mailing list, submit an enquiry or add a product to the shopping cart.

A word of warning though: different mediums call for different approaches. For example, if the primary purpose of your blog post is to provide useful information, then pushing the sales pitch too hard will alienate readers. Alternatively, if someone is reading detailed information about a product on your website, then it makes sense to give them a clear and obvious way to add the product to their shopping cart and complete their purchase.

Want to know more? Visit our web writing page to learn how Red Pony can write sticky copy for your website, blog or social media channels.

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photo credit: DrWurm via photopin cc