Digital Marketing

Writing for the Web — A Primer for Small Businesses

Communication is one of the trickiest undertaking, yet is exactly what we are doing when we create a website. We want to communicate how the client can benefit from using our product or service.

Most small businesses tend to view the website as a nice frame, plus an area with body copy. This is a problematic approach as it infers that the content itself is not very important. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Content, as they say, is king.

The Problem

Writing is something that we can all do. At least, we think we can all do it. The technical aspect of creating a website is to the average person not possible however. For this reason, content is often left to be written by someone who knows the business very well, but is not trained in writing effective marketing communications copy.

What we end up with is usually a wall of text that does not do the business any better in communicating with their customers. As we are becoming increasingly less patient and less likely to read, website copy needs to get an even greater focus.

Going for a spacious feel

What we are going for when we write about web content is a very spacious feel. This means that the copy that we write is very much connected to design, typography and layout.

By combining short paragraphs with a clean and readable design, we can minimize the “wall of text” feel, intriguing the reader, making them continue and creating interest.

Simply put, a spacious feel on a page entices the visitor and makes them begin to read it in the first place.

Simple Voice and Tone

Gone are the days when writing as complicated as possible were something to strive for. Even in academia there is a movement towards simple sentences and making the text as simple to read as possible.

While the language-nerd inside of me might be somewhat disappointed by having to mostly leave the passive voice in the door in favor of the active, this is still very much a good thing.

We write to communicate, and we read to understand. Communication is not a one-way thing. Communication, in fact, is what the listener (here: reader) does. What good does our (so called) communication do if the reader doesn’t appreciate it? That’s right. No good at all!

Writing for the Reader

It is easy to get lost in details when describing your own services, products or company. Let’s face it, we are all pretty proud of what we have created, and rightly so.

However, our fallacy to focus more on our feats and efforts in contrast to the benefit to our prospective customer leads to inefficiency.

When you write for the web, you need put yourself in the mind of the reader. Leave the exaggerated use of “we” at the door and embrace storytelling and making the reader a part of your story. Make them want to join it.

The Success Recipe

We can boil the failures down to a few simple key takeaways. By remembering these items when you as a small business write for the web you can much increase the efficacy of your website.

  1. Design Your Content. Make sure it has a spacious and easy-to-read feel.
  2. Write Simply. Short paragraphs, active voice and simple paragraph construction and word choice means your texts are easier to comprehend.
  3. Into the Mind of the Reader. Communication is what the listener does. Make the reader a part of the story you are telling and focus on their problems and needs, rather than the specifications of your offering.