Clear messaging on your website is foundational to improving conversions and user experience. Yet for many B2B companies, clarity is hard to achieve. Teams must avoid industry (not to mention internal) jargon, determine which features to prioritize, and fight to maintain a singular focus despite multiple stakeholders offering mixed opinions and ideas. But many teams don’t even know where to begin.
Fortunately, you don’t have to attend a weekend workshop or even hire a copywriter to improve the messaging on your website. Here are three simple copywriting tactics you can borrow to produce a powerful and clear business message.
1. Let Customers Write Your Copy
As marketing consultant Mark Ritson once quipped, “The first rule of marketing is you are not the customer.” The language you use to speak about your product, business, or services seldom matches the language used by your customers. There’s a communication gap — and communication gaps cost you sales. It’s the responsibility of the business to bridge that communication gap by learning to talk, write, and think like their customers.
How do you do that? By picking up the phone. On a recorded call, ask your best customers about their experience using your product. How did they learn about you? Why did they choose your product over the shiny one offered by your competitor? What was happening in their life or business when they chose to work with you?
Often, the stories and language your customers use will make stronger marketing copy than anything you could write on your own. Their way of communicating isn’t influenced by engineer-speak or being too close to the product. Once you capture how real customers talk about your product and business, all you have to do is tweak their words so that they fit the context of your website.
A few months ago I worked with a recruiting firm to rewrite their website copy. In one of their case studies, a past client disclosed the reason he’d chosen to work with a recruiter in the first place: The client had lost a candidate to another offer. This line perfectly captured the deep-seated emotion behind making a hire. I loved this framing of the problem so much that I borrowed the idea to write the above-the-fold copy on my client's homepage: “Stop missing out on top candidates.”
If you don’t have direct access to customers, you can gather similar language by mining online reviews for your business or products. Look up your product on websites that offer reviews like G2, ProductHunt, and Capterra. Mine through the kind (and harsh) words until you strike gold — the language that captures the deeper problems you solve while revealing some of the emotions behind the purchase.
As a rule, the best copy comes directly from the minds of your best customers.
2. Write in Second Person — and Focus on the Reader
Many business owners are familiar with the StoryBrand framework. One of its core tenets is that the customer — as opposed to your business — is the hero of the story that takes place in your marketing.
What does this mean in practice? When a customer arrives on your website, your messaging should be in full service to their mission. They are on your website for a reason, after all, and your copy should help them fulfill that mission with the least amount of friction. This starts with customer-centric messaging.
The simplest way to use customer-centric messaging is to write in the second person using an understood “you.” This places readers at the center of the action you want them to take on your website. Here are a few examples:
- “[You] Take control of your financial future with a trusted wealth advisor.”
- “[You] Ship orders faster with next-day delivery.”
Compare these statements with what you typically find on B2B websites. Most websites I’ve seen center around the company, rather than the customer, using jargon-packed lines like, “XYZ Corporation is a global leader in growth principles, applying proven strategy to....” I think you get the picture.
By putting customers — and their goals — at the center of the action, you make it easier for them to buy from you. You’ve empowered them to quickly solve their problem, resulting in a better user experience for the customer and a faster sale for the business. Customer-centric copy is better for everyone.
3. Guide Customers to a Single Action
When a customer lands on your website, picks up your marketing brochure, or reads your case study, they must clearly understand the next step they should take. This seems obvious but is often completely ignored in practice. The mistake typically occurs in one of two ways: The business either doesn’t include a clear call to action at all on their website or they provide so many calls to action that customers are smacked with a case of decision fatigue.
The fastest way to win over a new customer is to have a single, clear call to action. Think of it like this: You want to design your website in such a way that the easiest thing a customer can do is buy from you. By making the intended action clear, you reduce the friction between a customer learning about you and making their first purchase.
The call to action itself is commonly written on the button you want the customer to click. Try to avoid phrases like, “Learn more” or “Read more.” To the customer, this sounds like taking the scenic route when they’d rather take a direct one. Instead, use a phrase that shortens the distance between a customer and their goal. “Start my 15-day free trial” or “Download the free guide” are more direct and helpful. The customer can get what they want, without any fuss.
Once you determine the single most important action customers should take, you can work backwards from that point to rework the rest of your website copy. Instead of listing random features about your product or facts about your company, you can include only points that nudge site visitors to take the intended action. Think of your website copy as a single narrative that builds up to one punchline: your call to action.
If there are several stakeholders all trying to add their two cents to the website copy, this focused approach to writing adds clarity and direction to help you avoid unnecessary words, features, and sections. It eliminates the clutter to give the customer only enough information to decide they want to move forward.
If it doesn’t help the customer accomplish their goal, cut it. Plain and simple.