When you create your website copy, the reviewers of that copy will almost always read line-by-line, word-for-word, from page 1 of the copy through to the end (like they’re reading a book).
But website visitors rarely (read: almost never) do that. In fact, website visitors first scan the page they’re on — and about 85% of visitors will only scan.
Few (if any) website visitors will visit every page on your site. And it’s also true that few will click on each of your menu options in order. That means that virtually no one will read your website copy the way you (and your bosses) have — like you’re reading a book.
So if you include your key points of differentiation only on your home page — or maybe on your home page and on your “About Us” page — but nowhere else, it’s highly likely that a huge percentage of your visitors will never learn the answer to the key question, “why should I buy from you?”
That means a large percentage of the money you’ve spent driving traffic, leads, and potential customers to your site will also be wasted.
So how should website copy be crafted? And if 85% of visitors are only going to scan, how will they ever learn what you’re all about?
Before you develop your website copy, you should develop your overall positioning — your key messaging that will differentiate you from the competition. And it’s that key messaging that should be woven throughout your site. You should include it on most pages, and feature it in headlines and subheads and bullet points. Why?
1. The majority of visitors will scan first. Be sure the scanning reader gets your key messages.
Most visitors to your home page are scanning, rather than reading word-for-word. If you present visitors with engaging, intriguing, and/or benefit-laden headlines, subheads, bullet points, and photo captions (all of the elements that stand out to the scanning reader), you will catch their attention.
Visitors to interior pages may also start by scanning the page. So when you write your headlines and subheads, they should;
a. Tell the visitor what they will learn on the page
b. Give the visitor a reason to stay on the page to read further
c. Summarize your key points of differentiation, as well as the key points you want the visitor to learn on the page
So if I just read your headlines and subheads on a page, I should learn why you’re different, and what great information I can learn more about if I do read all or most of the content on your page.
2. You can’t predict the path of visitors.
If you have to rely on visitors reading a few key pages on your website to get your key points of differentiation, you could be in trouble. What if the majority of visitors never visit those key pages? If you bury your key points of differentiation only on your “About Us” page, how much business could you be missing? (Easy way to find out: Look at the number of unique visitors to your AboutUs as a percentage of total unique visitors to your site.)
What if only 20% of all your unique visitors ever go to AboutUs? That means 80% of your potential customers are not learning your key points of differentiation. And so you’re wasting 80% of your prospecting budget.
What if you include your key points of differentiation on your home page? How much time is the average visitor spending on your home page?
Does it really seem like they’re reading the content on your home page?
The solution is not to write your website copy like you’re writing a book. If you were writing a book, you would assume readers had read page 1 before they moved on to page 2. But websites don’t work that way.
Effective websites weave their key points of differentiation throughout the entire website. This helps to reinforce your positioning, and gives each visitor maximum exposure to the answer to “why should I buy yours?”
When advertisers run brand-building campaigns in major media (TV, magazine, newspaper, etc.), one of the keys to getting the points of differentiation across is repetition. It’s why many consumer brands create jingles — they want to create something memorable that can be used over and over in their major media campaign.
Repetition of your key points of differentiation is not overkill. Remember, you are likely one of the few who will ever read your web site page-by-page, word-for-word. You can’t assume your visitors will “get it” if your key messaging only appears on a few pages.