One frustrating thing I run into these days is the attitude of “nobody reads anything anymore, so just make my web copy really short.”
That really doesn’t work. Countless “one-page” websites that have short little sections of copy have failed. Why do they fail? Because they believe people won’t read, so they give them nothing. A few blurbs, a picture, and a “Just buy it, already” vibe.
Listen, I know the common thought is “people want it in 160 characters or less”. That makes for a nice soundbite on the news, but it doesn’t really work for commerce on the web. It won’t sell your product, and it won’t get someone to contact you.
Here’s what people want – they want to scan (both on a desktop and on their phone). They want to get the whole story quick – that part is true. But, and this is what everyone forgets – to make a decision, most people need a little meat. They want it even if they don’t read it all.
When someone comes to your website, they will scan your web copy to get the gist of who you are and what you do. Headlines, subheadings, and the like. For example, say you’re a small-business accountant who services anytown…. you want that abundantly clear right away. So someone reads it, and great, that box is checked.
But that’s not going to close the deal. Most people will want to know a little about your services, and they want more than just bullet points. They want to know a bit about how you work, about your firm, etc. True, they may not read the entire thing, but (staying with the fictional accountant I mentioned) having some decent copy on bookkeeping, corporate taxes, small business services, a good “about” section, a FAQ, etc makes them feel like you are competent and credible.
THAT’S the stuff that makes people say “yes, this looks good – let me contact these folks”.
(Oh, and having an informative site with good copywriting helps with SEO. There’s no downside to it.)
The trick is to write web copy both ways. Have some short, punchy headlines and brief lead-in copy that is scan-able, and looks good on both the web and a phone. Then have more for those who want it. My site is like that – you can figure out in ten seconds what I do, who I do it for, and my basic costs. Then you can spend a half hour here if you wish, and learn all kinds of things, like about my writing style, how I’ve been fired over and over, and how I like stereo equipment, among other things (indeed, I just bought a new Marantz amp this morning – pics coming!)