web textWeb copywriting is a discipline. There are some fundamental mechanics that you need to implement, but once you have them down, you have plenty of room to get creative.

A common mistake that small businesses and website owners make is, well — writing. You may feel tempted to open up a Word doc and let the stream of consciousness flow, but you should stop yourself from falling into this trap. Believe it or not, writing is only small piece of the success equation. What you need more than words on a page is a carefully planned strategy. Here’s how to get started:

1. Assemble the Building Blocks

The copywriting process should begin well before your website is up and running. Think of your online presence like a puzzle — every piece needs to fit together harmoniously to achieve a balanced and beautiful big picture. Your design, branding, logo, social media, blog, and copy should all function as perfect complements to one another. For that reason, you need to plan your copy alongside your design. Work with your design team to identify the structure of each page and where the copy should be placed.

A foundational part of this process will be your SEO and keyword research. Search engines are powerful for driving organic traffic, so it’s important that you identify the keywords that best represent your brand and are the most highly trafficked. Each page on your website should be assigned one target keyword. For instance, if you’re a Houston-based surgeon, it is a good idea (from an SEO perspective) to have a separate page for each surgery rather than condensing five surgery types into one page.

2. Research Your Market

One of the most important lessons to learn in writing great web copy is that you’re never actually writing about yourself or your company — from your landing pages to about us sections, it’s all about your customers and prospects. Keep this lesson in mind when you’re writing about your brand.

For this reason, it’s crucial that you identify your target audiences by creating buyer personas. These customer profiles are fictional representations of prospects you’d like to reach. What are their job titles? What are their pain points? Who do they report to, and what are their key qualifications? Imagine examples of real-life people —  with the understanding that they’re representative of the customer groups that you’re targeting.

This research process will help you create highly personalized and robust web copy — your goal should be to reach your prospects on both a rational and emotional level.

3. Get Your Story Down

Map out the mechanics of your language. This process starts with identifying the style and tone of your writing. Do you want to be professional, conversational, informal, formal, funny, excited, reporting, authoritative, or something else entirely? Keep in mind that the direction you pick should be heavily integrated with your brand identity. Pick one clear direction or select a hybrid style — what’s most important is that you develop a plan and stick to it. Stay consistent across all marketing mediums.

Equally important to this process is your narrative. What is your writing perspective? Decide whether the first, second, or third person is the best fit with your brand — and once you make the judgment call, stick with it. First person (I, me) is a highly personal and autobiographical voice. Second person (you, your) is a more instructive and conversational voice. Third person (he/she) is a more detached and neutral voice.

4. Establish Flow

You need to pay attention to your formatting just as much as your storytelling. Think of your web copy as serving as a guide function — if you’re not focused on clarity through visual cues, your website visitors may get lost. For that reason, it’s important that you break up content wherever possible by using images, bulleted lists, subheadings, etc. Make sure that every concept has a logical, next-step call-to-action that you want your audience to take after reading that page. It could be as simple as moving on to the next page on the same topic — or it may be to download an advanced piece of content, request a quote, or schedule a demo.

Create a logical flow of information to ensure that you’re not overwhelming your readers and you keep them moving down the path towards becoming a sales-qualified lead.

5. Build the Rapport

Keep in mind that customer communication is a bi-directional process. Make sure that your sales copy inspires opportunities for conversation. Avoid information overload and instead, leave just enough room for customers and prospects to connect with you for follow-up questions. Make sure that your company phone number, email addresses, and web forms are in an easy-to-access and visible place on your website so that your prospects can get in touch.

Final Thoughts: Run Tests

Your web copy is a living, breathing thing. Involve your team in the brainstorming process, and be open to collecting multiple perspectives. Run A/B tests on your actual customers to see which language is driving more powerful conversions and why. Be open to change because there’s always room for improvement as your company’s online presence continues to evolve and grow.