Creating Killer Website Copy: The E2M Way

Website copywriting is an art form.

In a nutshell, copywriting is the clever rearranging of words to resonate with human beings – and encourage them to buy.

It’s a form of salesmanship devoid of body language and face-to-face pressure.

There is a lot more to writing website copy than what meets the eye.

Let’s look at Unbounce’s homepage:

unbounce homepage design for lading pages to increase conversion
Source

You might see the single headline and short paragraphs and think; “pffft, I could do that in five minutes!”

In truth, the process of getting the headline and paragraphs finalized on the website more than likely took A LOT of premeditation, creative thinking, and editing – not to mention lots of trial and error.

What are the Goals of Website Copywriting?

A copy must achieve several key goals on a website. These include:

  • Meaningfully appeal to target customers.
  • Concisely convey what value the website/business brings to the table.
  • Work cohesively with the visual elements of the page.
  • Motivate people to take an intended action.

Understanding these goals is what separates copywriters from bloggers.

Now, the specifics of these goals and how to get there will be different for every project. This is where copywriter-client communication comes into play.

In this post, we want to go over our layered business copywriting process and how a project would play out with E2M.

Step Zero: Showcasing the Copywriting Portfolio!

Obviously, you want to see previous work before you agree to anything!

Depending on your industry, we’ll pull up our copywriting samples from similar sites to give you a taste of what we can do.

Step One: Kicking Things Off

The first (official) step of an E2M website copywriting project is getting to know the players. In most cases, writing website copy involves several moving parts – including SEO, mockup design, project management, etc.

We use a plethora of project management tools to make sure we all stay on the same page. These include:

  • Basecamp (our go-to).
  • Trello
  • Teamwork
  • Asana

We’re pretty flexible with project management tools. If you’ve got a favorite, we’ll work with it!

Step Two: The Brief

The brief is the most important piece of the puzzle for our copywriters. It is a 15-point questionnaire that we’ll need you to fill out.

The questions in this brief are designed to gauge your:

  • Brand voice
  • Values
  • Target customers
  • Current challenges
  • Goals
  • Inspiration

Without this brief, our copywriters would essentially be taking shots in the dark – no one wins here.

The brief is our compass that flows through every single page we write for a website.

Our website copywriting projects are quoted for two revisions per page. The main purpose of the brief is to nail down everything we need to know about your goals with this project – to avoid excessive revisions and make sure we hit the mark.

Plain and simple – no brief, no copy.

Step Three: Getting to Know Each Other as People

All E2M copywriting projects start with a friendly conversation.

We like working with human beings, not lifeless businesses – I’m sure you feel the same way! We want to know who you are as a person before we start writing your website.

This conversation is all about understanding your backstory, the types of customers you work with, the goals of your business (and the website), and how we can make your experience with E2M as pleasant as possible.

We’ll also work to clear up any questions with the brief.

Essentially, the purpose of this conversation is to make sure we are 110% on the same page before we start creating your website copy.

Step Four: Understanding Your Customers

This is a big one.

To rehash a little bit, one of the main goals of website copy is to appeal to the target customers in a meaningful way.

We have a few questions on the brief that pertain to your customers, their demographics, challenges, etc. This is where we need to get SUPER specific on how we can use effective copywriting to demonstrate that you are the solution to their problem(s).

In other words, we need to put together detailed buyer personas.

For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency that serves small businesses.

A buyer persona might look like this:

Name: Owner/CEO Bill

Role: Creates the company’s strategy. Bill is responsible for the financial, strategic, and visionary drive of the company. He is focused on the big picture – like boosting market share, overseeing product development, and forming customer perception.

Challenges: Bill has a very small staff in a growing business. He cannot afford an in-house marketing team. Bill is not an expert in marketing and does not have the time to manage ALL marketing responsibilities.

The Solution: Your agency acts as an extension of Bill’s team and handles the nuts & bolts involved in developing and executing a customized marketing strategy. Outsourcing marketing tasks to you is significantly cheaper than hiring a marketing expert in-house. If Bill works with you, he has access to an entire team of marketing experts who understand his industry.

Given this persona, we can make a fair call that we are using website copywriting to speak to overwhelmed C-level executives in growing businesses. Our plan would be to position your agency as a reliable and savvy option to take the marketing reins and bring Bill’s company to the next level.

Step Five: When Fingers Hit the Keyboard – The Beginning

Ok! By this point, we should have everything in order to finally start the actual website copywriting!

This is where the copywriter will begin drafting the content – with your brief, example websites for inspiration, keywords, your brand guide, etc. in front of them.

Now, truth be told, there is always the potential for a disconnect between your expectations and what we provide – even with all the prior planning in the world.

A website copywriter never really knows what the client wants until the ball gets rolling. That’s why we don’t start by chucking the ball at full speed!

After years of writing website copy, we’ve learned that the toughest pages to write are the first few – the homepage, About Us page, and Services page. Once we have those down pact, the rest is typically smooth sailing – as we know exactly what you want.

To get to this spot, we’ll start by writing/submitting these pages piece-by-piece.

The first piece of website content you’ll get from us includes:

  • 10-15 headline variations.
  • The first couple of lines of text.

When we submit this (after our editing process), we’ll ask you to indicate which headlines you’re gravitating towards, what you think of the initial text, and whether we’re on the right track. Once we get the thumbs up, we’ll move on to the next chunk of text, and so on.

We’ll follow this formula for the first few pages until we have a crystal-clear understanding of what you are looking for. Then it’s off to the races with the rest of the site!

Step Six: The Proofreading Process

A good copywriter for website content knows that the proofreading process is just as rigorous as the writing process, if not more so!

At E2M, we don’t take proofreading lightly.

There are a handful of items on a checklist we aim to hit in the proofreading process:

  • Does the copy make the value proposition crystal clear?
  • Is the flow of the copy easy to read/scan?
  • Is it free of awkward sentences and grammatical errors?
  • Is it obvious who the target buyer is?

Once the copywriter drafts the content, there are several steps we take to make it shine!

1. Get Some Separation!

The first order of business is to step away from the content. Our copywriters are encouraged to walk around the block, do some jumping jacks, grab a snack, etc. to get a quick break from the copy before diving into the proofreading process.

2. Edit with Text-to-Voice

This is crucial.

There is a HUGE difference in how copy sounds in your head versus how it sounds aloud.

As the copywriter goes through the content they wrote, they use the text-to-voice feature in Word to get a feel for how the content actually sounds. This does wonder to smooth out the kinks, avoid awkward wording, and make sure everything is easy to read and understand.

3. On to the Next Set of Eyeballs!

We stand by the notion that the more eyes on a piece of website copy, the better. Once the copywriter completes the content, it is passed up to the copy editor for the next round of edits.

Your piece of website copy gets a thorough examination to ensure we are in line with the content brief, your branding, SEO, and goals for the website.

4. The Random Person Treatment

The ‘random person treatment’ tends to be an underappreciated part of the proofreading process – in any website copywriting project. The copywriter and editor put their hearts and souls into the content – it’s fair to say their opinion is a bit biased.

The random person treatment involves someone (who is not involved in the project) reading over the content with an unbiased opinion. Once the copy has gone through the copywriter and editor, it’s passed off to a fresh set of eyes to answer our checklist questions in an unbiased, brutally honest way.

Now, we can’t say this person is completely random – we don’t just pull someone off the street to read the copy! It’s normally one of our bloggers or designers who aren’t working on the project.

5. Submit for Your Review

Once our proofreading process is complete, we will send the copy to you for review via Word doc.

This is where you can add in your comments, questions, or concerns.

Step Seven: Revisions

We have a saying here at E2M – “Revisions are where you really get to know your client.”

As much as we’d love to say that ALL of our clients LOVE our first stab at EVERY website copywriting project, that’s not always realistic. While most of our clients are thrilled with our work, revisions are part of the process.

Try to be as detailed as you can here, especially early on. Ideally, the early revisions should help us eliminate further ones down the road.

We are always happy to get on a call with you and go through the copy line by line if you would like.

To reiterate, each page of the copy is quoted for two revisions.

Step Eight: Keeping You in the Loop

In the midst of a website copywriting project, the last thing you want is to wonder what the hell is going on!

When you work with us, you can rest assured this WILL NOT happen!

We make it a point for the status of our work to be 100% transparent.

For starters, we’ll create a shared Google spreadsheet outlining all the webpages we are contracted for. This is how it will work:

  1. Once we submit a piece to you, we will highlight the respective cell in yellow. This indicates we are in the revisions stage.
  2. Once you approve the content, we will highlight the cell in blue. This indicates the page has been completed and has been sent off for design.

This is especially important for larger website copywriting projects.

Here’s a snapshot of what it would look like:

website copywriting projects - manage using google spreadsheet

Regardless of what project management tools we’re using, we’ll make it clear which pages are in progress, need your approval, and are completed.

If you ever have questions about the status of a project, you can reach us anytime – we’re happily addicted to our smartphones!

Step Nine: Finalizing the Content

As we reach the end of the project, we will do a final sweep to make sure everything has been delivered, approved, all the SEO copywriting elements are in order, and each piece of content is 100% ready for design!

This is a step we will confirm with you and make sure we’ve cleared up any last questions you might have.

Hopefully, by this point, you are psyched with our copywriting skills and can’t wait to get your new website launched!

Step Ten: High Fives!

We did it!

Your beautiful website has gone live and the website copy presents your business in the best possible light!

At this point, we would love it if you took some time to give us some overarching feedback on this project.

  • What went well?
  • What could have been better?
  • Were there any major hurdles you weren’t anticipating?
  • Are there any other modes of communication you think would have worked better for this project?

At E2M, our operations are a constant working progress. Your feedback is how we improve our process and become a more versatile agency.

Wrapping Up

Are you in need of a website copywriting agency?

We would love to hear more about your business and how we can get the wheels turning to create killer copy that converts!

  • Kevin Svec is a chief content strategist at E2M. He spends his days researching and helping businesses produce compelling content that resonates with audiences of all interest levels. When he’s not rock climbing or hanging out at one of San Diego’s many beaches, Kevin is writing for Impulsive Wanderlust, a travel and leisure website he founded.
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