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Make Your Web Copy About Them, Not You


I recently had the privilege of doing a website and digital marketing analysis for a Canadian firm that was wondering why their website wasn’t converting. My friend and colleague, copywriter Kris Smith (Yellow Balloon Publications and Wordwhisperer), had created a very successful drip campaign for them (with an open rate of 30%!), and yet their conversions were 0%. Right away I saw their web copy was all about them…their customer was nowhere to be seen. They extolled the virtues of their services, talked about having won awards, and went through the mechanics of their services without ever discussing what those services would be doing for their customers

Their website design was what I like to call “stock corporate” - very bland and not representative of their unique brand

Why is that bad?

  • Generic design waters down your brand. You want to stand out as much as you can and make your brand and your business as unique as possible.
  • The “stock corporate” look has been used too many times by scammers hoping to seem like they’re something they’re not. It doesn’t instill confidence in the business, especially if it’s a new business.

After being on the homepage for a few seconds a popup intruded and covered the whole page, which was pointless and annoying, and probably contributed to people leaving their site. Why on earth would I want to give my information and “get in touch” when I don’t even know what it is you do yet?

Why is that bad?

  • It’s one thing to have a popup come up when a person shows they’re about to leave your site (this is called exit-intent), it’s another to have a popup come up for no reason at all.
  • It reminds me of a pushy salesperson - you know the kind: they follow you around and want you to commit to something you’re not ready for.
  • Do this and I guarantee you’ll lose a large amount of your visitors!

Finally, they built their website on an online web builder platform instead of self-hosting. This is a HUGE mistake I’m starting to see more and more (I’m even seeing “designers” building websites for clients using these platforms! (Stay tuned for an article about why this is not only unwise but also unethical.).

Why is that bad?

  • Using platforms like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and (NOT .org, which is free and open source software used to develop websites) are fine if all you want is a personal site, or possibly a hobby site, or a temporary site to use while you’re seeing whether a business is for you or not.
  • If you’re serious about your business and want to build your brand and expand, you need to have a website that’s self-hosted so you’re in complete control and all of the content and custom code is your own.
  • Building YOUR business on someone else’s business is always risky. What if their business fails? You lose everything you’ve built. Do you really want to take a risk like that?

I took a look at their social media next, and found much the same thing: they focused on their company, not the people they were trying to serve. The result? Nobody cared. There was no engagement, no shares, no life at all. There were a few 5 star reviews, but a little research uncovered that they were, in fact, from their employees and not happy customers. (In case anyone is wondering: this is not legal. Don’t do it!)

Why is that bad?

  • Social media is a powerful way to connect with your customers. If you’re promoting yourself only, it sends a loud message you don’t care about them and their needs.
  • Social media is also a powerful way to show your customers who you are as a brand. You don’t want to be thought of as self-serving.
  • Building engagement means giving your customers what they want and need - if there’s no engagement, it’s a huge red flag that you’re not doing that.

They don’t seem to be taking advantage of re-targeting in their marketing - I didn’t see anything from them come up in my newsfeed on Facebook after visiting their website several times. It’s probably just as well until they fix the copy on it.

Not surprisingly their SEO wasn’t great, either. They ranked low even with a direct search for their business.

Finally, I looked at their online reputation and discovered a very negative review by a possible former employee. The company hadn’t responded. I also found all 5-star reviews, but again, most if not all were from present employees, so all of them were suspect.

Unfortunately, in this case, their marketing person was extremely defensive, so it’s unclear whether this company will make the changes they need to be successful online.