Three Mistakes Businesses Make When Writing Their Own Website Content
July 12th 2016 | By Sarah McInerney
There are two main elements of a website: the design, and the content.
Whilst business owners are usually happy to invest wisely in good quality design, it appears they are reluctant to invest on the same level when it comes to the content. Why indeed, when you can easily write it yourself? Everyone is a copy writer after all.
Please excuse the cynicism. It’s just it’s difficult to work out why it seems natural to devote a decent marketing budget to designing a search engine and user friendly website, but not so when it comes to crafting content that meets the same criteria.
If you are planning a new website, or in the midst of having one designed, and are at the point of thinking about your copy, here are a few questions to ask yourself before you make the decision as to who will be responsible for undertaking what you have to appreciate is a crucial task: writing the content.
Mistake 1: Failing to set a tone of voice
The importance of setting a tone of voice for your brand cannot be over-emphasised. Just as you know that it is essential to develop a visual brand identity that is instantly recognisable to your target audience, so you must craft a verbal brand identity, otherwise known as a ‘tone of voice’.
The way you communicate with your customers and potential customers through the written and spoken word will resound strongly in their minds. Think about how you feel when you read or hear something. Do you feel reassured? Confident in the expertise on offer? Happy that you will be looked after on a personal level? That your needs will be met? You get that from the way the content comes across.
Here’s a test: write a paragraph that demonstrates how your business is friendly and approachable, without actually using the words ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’.
How did you get on? Not so good? Bit lost? Whatever your values are, you need to find a way of communicating them without simply listing them word for word. You need to create a feeling rather than state the obvious. So for example if you’re looking to say friendly and approachable, you could include things like, ‘you can ask us anything – to us, there’s no such thing as a silly question’.
Perhaps you can see how copy writing and tone development is a craft: a skill that you should be investing in rather than attempting in-house.
Mistake 2: Inviting different departments to submit content for their respective pages
If your business is divided into departments or teams, you may be tempted to get them all to produce content that covers their respective areas of expertise. But this can have disastrous consequences.
Think about what we have just been saying about tone of voice. Consistency is vital. You wouldn’t have your website designed with each page sporting a completely different format. But this is guaranteed to be the case with your copy if you have a bunch of different people writing each of the pages.
Of course your departments will know their specialisms like the backs of their hands: there is no doubt about that. But they will all have their own ways of writing and communicating. Better therefore to get them all to have a chat with a copywriter, who will absorb what they all do and find a way to put it across whilst maintaining a single tone of voice and incorporating the company’s values.
Mistake 3: Speaking the wrong language
Every business has an audience, but not every audience is the same. In fact, they will vary greatly, and so will their preferences when it comes to communications and the written word.
Some audiences prefer a down to earth, simplified approach, whilst others are more interested in reading material at more of an intellectual level. Some read The Sun, others read The Telegraph. Some read Take a Break, others read Hello. That’s not to say one is better than the other by any means. Just that certain people prefer reading a certain type of material. So if you fail to tally your content with what your audience likes to hear, you’re going to fail to resonate with them.
If you’re still confident enough to go for it and write your own website content, good luck. Just remember, the content is just as important as the design. So if you’re not prepared to design your own website, maybe you should think twice about writing the copy… just saying :)
Having second thoughts? Give us a shout – it’s something we’d be delighted to help you with.