When you start thinking about designing your website, copy and content can be overwhelming. What is the difference between copy and content? How do you embrace a marketing perspective and speak to your ideal customer?
How do you structure your website? What do you put on each page? Where do website visitors expect to find information? How do you structure your website so that you can continuously update the content in a way that website visitors know how to find it?
Copy vs. Content
It is important to note there is a difference between copy and content!
Copy comes in textual form (i.e. website copy, ad copy, etc.). Its purpose is to inform and encourage action. Copy details what, when, how much, and where. It is written in third person (he, she, it). Most business owners can readily supply the details.
Content comes in many forms – textual, visual, or audio (i.e. video, webinar, visual aids, etc.). Its purpose is to create an emotional connection. Content provides value, is personal and engaging, and builds a relationship. It focuses on the why & how. It is written in first person (I, we). Content is what makes you dig deep and is based on your knowledge, experience, and personality.
5 Key Branding & Marketing Questions
The following 5 key questions pertain to the overall website, not a specific page. It is important to start with these 5 key branding and marketing questions to develop your overall strategy and design for the website. Before you can start crafting copy and content, you need to know your brand, customers, value proposition, call-to-actions, and how you will make customers believe.
What is your brand?
Your brand identifies your business’ unique products and services. Your logo is the foundation of your brand, but your brand also encompasses the fonts, colors, tone-of-voice, word choice, key messages, call to actions, value proposition, personality, and the overall physical appearance of your brand. It is important that overall look and feel of your website aligns with your brand.
Who is your customer?
To speak to your customer and create an emotional connection, you need to know who your customer is. You can reflect on who is your typical customer – who are they, what are their needs, why did they choose your product or service. It is helpful to look at the data and information you already have.
Create a list of your customers and incorporate any data you have (I.e. purchase products/services, timeframe, feedback, etc.). If you wondering, how do I know this information? Look at your accounting records, Google analytics, client lists, etc. Once you define your typical customer, you can reflect on why they choose you. This why is often very helpful in categorizing customers into groups based on their needs, similarities, & motivations for working with you.
What is your why? What is your value proposition?
As Simon Sinek believed, your ‘why’ is a great way to inspire others to action. Your ‘why’ communicates your purpose and the reason why you do what you do. People choose people. You need to give them a reason to believe and appeal to your audience with your value proposition.
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model is one great way to do this. The model focuses on:
- What products and services do you sell?
- How do you set your products or services apart from the competition?
- What is your purpose? Why do you do what you do?
What do you want the website visitors to do & how to do you communicate this?
Also, you need to consider what you want the website visitor to do. What are the next steps to get started? Make sure you make this clear to the website visitor by incorporating calls-to-actions. A call-to-action is a piece of content that encourages action from the website visitor (i.e. buy now, contract us). For every website, Kreative Solutions has primary and secondary calls-to-action.
The primary call to action defines what you ultimately want the customer to do (i.e buy or request a consultation). Some prospects may need a little more nurturing along their customer journey. Even though you may want a customer to buy a product, not all visitors will be ready to purchase.
To help nudge these visitors closer to purchase, this is where your secondary call-to-action comes in (i.e. subscribe or follow us). Both allow you to engage the website visitor and prevent them from leaving your website without any action.
How will you demonstrate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness?
When you are thinking about what to put on your website, keep Google’s E-A-T in mind to create quality content. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. You want your website to demonstrate your expertise, position you as an authority in the industry, and build trust.
- How can you demonstrate that you are an expert – maybe case studies, work samples, portfolios, blogs, eBooks, or other helpful resources?
- How can you show the authoritativeness of the creator behind your content – perhaps by displaying credentials, awards, certifications, accreditations or client lists?
- How can you show website visitors that they can trust your company – maybe testimonials, reviews, FAQs, memberships, or associations?
5 Core Pages for Every Website
Regardless of your business or industry, there are a few basic pages that apply to every website! Yes, you can always take it a step further and get more detailed (I.e. a page for each service).
Think of your home page as the landing page for your website. If a visitor only views your home page, what do you want them to know about your business? This revolves around what you do, who you serve, why customers choose you, why customers should trust you, and how to get started.
What problems do you solve? What needs do you fulfill?
Describe the benefits of your products or services. Consider the needs you fulfill and problems you solve. A brand positioning statement is one great way to accomplish this.
What are your core products and/or service lines?
Evaluate and highlight your top 3-4 user actions. For online stores, this is often their 3 core product lines. For service providers, these may be your three key services lines. For membership organization, it might be your members most frequent actions (i.e. directory, events, & news).
Who do you serve? Why do your customers choose you?
Appeal to your target customer and specify how you serve each market & solve their problems. There are various ways to do this depending on your company – highlight the industries you serve, highlight commercial versus residential services, or describe the service area coverage. This brings us back to your value proposition – what makes you unique? What sets you apart from the competition?
Why should the website visitor trust you?
Your home page is a great place to highlight your trustworthiness through testimonials, reviews, work samples, client success stories, accreditations, or certifications.
How can a prospect get started? What are the next steps?
Reflect on the call to actions you brainstormed earlier- request a consultation, buy, donate, request a quote, etc. Make sure it’s clear to the website visitors what the next steps are.
The about page is your chance to tell your story – your purpose for the organization, your company’s culture and/or values, the leadership team and/or employees, applicable news and awards, etc.
What is the purpose of the business? Why was it started?
To showcase the purpose of your business, you might tell an emotional story highlighting your why. For a larger organization, you might highlight your mission, vision, or values. Value statements can help your customers relate and differentiate you from the competition.
How has your company evolved? Are there any milestones you would like to share?
Some companies choose to highlight their history and evolution. If you do, keep it simple & integrate as many visuals as possible. You might consider an interactive timeline or simply highlighting key milestones. This section is often most beneficial if you want to have various stakeholders and investors.
Who is the team or leadership?
For larger organizations, you can highlight your leaders or your board of directors. For startups, you can showcase your team members and what they bring to the startup. You may choose to simply list a photo, name, and title of the executives or leaders. Alternatively, you can take it a step further and add a biography and/or contact information.
Are there any affiliations, associations, or partners that you would like to include?
Showcasing the logos of various affiliations and associations can help build trust, demonstrate your authority in the field, and enhance your credibility. Alternatively, you could list your partners.
What products or services do you offer?
List your products or services. You may choose to categorize your products/services or list the individual services. It is important to avoid jargon. Remember it may be clear to you what your service is, but make sure you define what it is in a sentence or two to help your website visitor understand. Try to incorporate images to help to customer visualize.
What are the benefits of your products/services?
Reflect on the needs you fulfill and problems you solve to appeal to your target customer. Don’t just list what you do, but also how you help the customer.
Make it is easy for website visitors to get in touch. Consider how you can integrate online communication channels into your daily operations.
What information do you need from the prospect & how can they easily get in touch?
Make it easy for website visitors to send a message via a contact form. Make sure you only ask for the bare minimum of information – don’t ask for too much! Usually, contact name, email, phone, & message is sufficient to reply to the customer and follow-up on their request. If you have various individuals who will be monitoring the contact form, you might consider adding a dropdown for that purpose, so that you can filter correspondence & the message gets to the appropriate contact (I.e. PR, sales, etc.).
What is your publicly available contact information?
Customers will want to know your location, contact details (i.e. phone or email), and hours of operation. List as much as you feel comfortable. For local search engine optimization, correct & consistent name, address, & phone number (NAP) is so important.
Promote trust with your website visitors by letting them know their privacy is important to you.
What information do you collect?
To promote transparency, detail the information you collect about website visitors.
How do you use & store that information?
Detail how you use, store, and share this information. Do you use this information to respond to the website visitor or to complete their request? Do you share this information or sell it? How is this information stored – where and for how long?
Cookies are text files placed on your computer to collect standard internet log information and visitor behavior information. Detail how your website collects this data and what it is used for.
How do you secure the data?
Detail how you prevent unauthorized access, maintain accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information.
How can customers access or correct their information?
List how the customer can access or correct this information or who they can contact with questions. Make sure to include a contact name & email at a minimum.
Learning About Your Business
Kreative Solutions understands this struggle first hand! We have redesigned this very website 3+ times and have probably invested anywhere from 10-15 hours on our about page. It is really hard to write about yourself and your business. For every website design or redesign, Kreative Solutions asks the business owner for their knowledge. You know your business the best. You live it. You hear what your customers say & why they choose you.
For the majority of projects, Kreative Solutions asks the majority of our clients to complete a creative brief as your way of sharing your business knowledge. The Creative Brief gathers high-level business knowledge about your business without digging into copyrighting and content creation yourself. The Creative Brief allows Kreative Solutions to learn about your business without the worry of word choice, presentation, flow, layout, design, etc.
So, what is this creative brief all about? The questions dig into your overall marketing strategy – the 4P’s of marketing (product, price, place, & promotion), your customers, unique selling proposition, brand identity and personality, and preferences. Some business owners answer these questions in under an hour while others invest hours upon hours. The majority of clients appreciate this hands-off approach where they deliver the business knowledge and leave the writing and presentation to Kreative Solutions.
Some clients want to be more involved in the process and prefer a greater amount of detail. In this scenario, we will outline your website structure together then Kreative Solutions will structure a Word document page by page and list key questions for each page.
Then, it’s your turn to answer these questions and provide the applicable copy and images. It is just a starting point. Kreative Solutions will then review your answers and polish and proof as needed. Then, Kreative Solutions begins to design – the layout, the overall design, etc.
The questions that are asked about each page… aren’t just made up! They serve a purpose and align with what website visitors expect to find on a given page.