When starting and marketing a business, thoughts turn naturally to setting up a website.
Of course, we want to be present on the internet.
More than that, we want to stand out and for people to want to buy our services.
It’s wise to think carefully about what we want the website to help us achieve and then follow a plan of action to make sure of reaching our business goals.
This article is written to guide you in what to consider from a content and copywriting perspective when planning a new website.
Business goals and your website
Before planning your website, review your sales and marketing targets. How can your new website help you achieve them? How many leads do you want to generate each month? How many people do you want to visit your website? What do you want them to do next? This means deciding where you want your website to fit in your sales development plan.
Ask yourself ‘Why?’
Why would someone visit your website?
Why would they stay?
Why would they be interested in knowing about your services?
Why would it (your business) make a difference to them?
Why would your ideal client buy?
Why are they an ideal client?
Why would your content be useful?
When you can answer all these questions, you have a reason for your site, a purpose for it to exist and the ideas for using it to generate leads into your business.
First step – purpose and plan
You want money back for what you are spending so it’s important you know your purpose is being met. Your website should be cost-neutral as a minimum. Better still, intend it to be a means for converting visitors to buyers.
Before speaking to a copywriter and website developer about content and design, be clear about the purpose of your website.
What is the reason for your website to exist?
Are you providing information and advice for your target audience?
Are you looking for a sale?
Spend time thinking about your target client, perhaps a current client. What would they find useful?
What content will attract them to your website – and as a result, into your business?
Your next step is to decide what kind of information to post and how to structure it.
Then, write actionable messages to elicit a response.
Page by page – the content to write for your website
As a guide, start with 6 pages to keep it all manageable (a website can feel like a humongous task first time round):
- Case studies (and/or testimonials)
- Articles (blogs) and
- Contact Us.
On every page:
- Have a call to action
- Your phone number.
What to write on each page
Here’s a guide to the kinds of content to include on each page of your website.
Home is where you write your main messages.
The purpose of your home page is to give your target readers an overall understanding of what you offer. Assuming this is the first page they open when visiting your site, make sure they will fully understand your words. Better still, point them to other pages within your site where they can learn more about you. The longer they stay the better.
Encapsulate what you do, how you do it, who you do it for (types of clients and where they are based), why they need you and how they benefit. Write using simple language, plain English is best.
Here’s a quick test to guide you in making sure the first message your website visitors read is clear, concise, useful, relevant and of interest to them.
Test your words by asking someone (client, coach, business contact outside your industry) whether they ‘get it’. Is it easy to understand what you offer and why it helps? Choose someone who will give you an honest and objective answer. Ask them to read your home page and tell you what they understand about your business after reading it.
Consider their feedback and edit your content if you feel it’s relevant.
Summarise what you do, your skills and expertise, the team, qualifications, awards and the keywords clients use to find you online.
You may want to enhance this with your ‘why’ – why you set up in business, the difference you plan to make, company values.
List your services and how they are delivered.
Your service page or pages tells readers how they benefit from the services they receive.
Include answers to the questions your customers will have in mind relating to your services.
Describe the ways in which you resolve challenges customers are facing in their business environment.
Case studies and testimonials
Case studies are like gold on your website for two reasons. They are the story of the value you bring, told in your clients’ own glowing words.
Case studies are good for helping ideal clients choose you over competitors.
They work because since childhood the human brain is programmed to receive stories.
Second, they follow one of the 6 Laws of Persuasion (Cialdini): liking. Case studies (and success stories, testimonials, reviews and recommendations) allow people to get to know, like and trust us. Some of these stories unfold through:
- Examples of projects completed (your portfolio), and
- The people in your company and introduced on the ‘about’ and ‘who we are’ page.
Allow people to get to know you on your own website, in your own words and tone of voice. It is one of many important steps in building relationships with ideal prospects until they are ready to buy. The more content you continue to add, the more readers discover about you as your story unfolds – online, in print and video. Allow them to understand what other clients appreciate about you.
Use the testimonials people have given you on LinkedIn and other social media platforms and emails people have sent to you in previous businesses or roles. Ask former happy clients or colleagues to write you a testimonial. If you use a google account, ask for a google review. Even a screenshot of customer praise received by email will work here, with permission.
Articles and blogs
Begin with 3 or more articles and have a plan to publish at least one article per month.
Be realistic about the amount of time writing takes. Make a note of the time it takes you to write your first article, including the research. Unless you know you will write a monthly post with ease, omit the article or blog section for now and plan to add it later.
If you want to prioritise and have to make a choice, focus on the case study section first.
Use a content calendar and focus on your goals.
Are there certain topics which are helpful for your target audience, and which you can introduce through articles? You can then use these in your social media posts and email marketing as you build your email list. See my content ideas blog for writing topics.
Use articles to position you as the expert in your industry and to inform people who may need more details before they make a buying decision. Aim your articles at specific target clients, and their needs, and stay in their memory until they’re ready to buy.
Writing to attract your ideal target prospects
First and foremost, your website purpose exists to serve your potential and existing clients. This means you must write from the readers’ perspective.
Avoid being tempted to write what you want to write. Instead, focus on what the reader wants to know in relation to your service. This means writing audience-focused content describing how they benefit.
Explain how much better their life will be in receiving your service.
Brand – design to impress
You’ll need a distinctive brand which will work well online and in print. Logo, images, photographs, diagrams and layout make your website individual and easy on the eye. You are out to impress and to make it easy to do business with you. Put your phone number on every page. Have a brief and welcoming contact form.
Consider making a video because they convert well. Watching a video is easier than reading and therefore a good attention-grabbing marketing tactic.
We all go to a website to check out a company before we buy. Make sure your visitors feel impressed by and interested in what they see on your website. Then, they are likely to come back. Repeat visitors are warm prospects – and we all want more of those.
Before your site goes live – check
Check your content and ask yourself, “How valuable is this to my target audience?”
- Does my content align with my business goals and website purpose (return to step 1)?
- Is the tone of voice right for my target audience?
- Is it concise?
- Is it clear what the reader can do next – call to action?
Stay in control of your own website
It’s common sense but surprising how many people cannot access their own site to add and edit content. This is essential.
Understand who is hosting your site, how long your domain is registered for and get to who is managing the software used to build and maintain your site (hopefully you’ve chosen WordPress).
Take advice about keeping your site secure and excluding spam or bot visitors (who bring trouble).
Choose a web developer who welcomes your questions, however basic they may be. Your website will serve you best if you understand how it all works. You don’t need technical knowledge but an overall understanding is a distinct advantage and will help you in the long run. If you easily forget (because it’s not your favourite topic, it isn’t for most people) write everything down and keep your notes somewhere safe.
Your website is your dominion. It is the one domain on the web over which you have full control because you own it. Use it and take care with it. You decide how it is created and managed. It is the hub of your communications, a constant presence on the internet which links out to your social media and other forms of communications.
Social media sites belong to other people and play by others’ rules. If your page is taken down and you are using it as the main communication channel for your business, you’re at the mercy of the owner. Always have back-up marketing and communication channels so you don’t lose potential clients.
We live in a digital world and like it or not potential customers are searching for our services on the internet. It pays to get educated on the basic principles of digital marketing and to understand the opportunities your website can bring in adding to your profits.
Recommending WordPress for new business sites
If you’re starting out with a new site, choose a WordPress one. If you want to meet friendly WordPress developers and enthusiasts, come along to a Manchester WordPress User Group meeting and ask advice. To attend these meetings, every third Wednesday of the month, all you need bring is an interest in WordPress and an openness to share (give and receive) knowledge and expertise.
WordPress is designed so non-technical people can manage their own websites. You can upload content (words and images) and update your own plug-ins (components) if you want to. I am no website developer and have managed my own site since 2014. It’s my favourite content management system.
Keep adding content to your website
Adding content to your WordPress website is as easy as posting on LinkedIn.
Make sure your developer designs your pages in this way. Then, you can continue adding content on a regular basis – articles (blogs), case studies, testimonials, new services as you release them. Google likes new content as much as your readers do and it pays to keep everyone (humans and bots) happy.
Schedule regular updates and decide who will be responsible for copywriting them.
Do you have any burning questions about creating your new (or next) website? Please phone or send a message using my contact form.