Writing for the web and creating user-friendly content for today’s online business means ditching the formal business writing of the past for a brand voice that really connects with your audience, reaches the heart of their greatest need, and provides a solution to their biggest struggle.

It means being conversational.

It means using empathy and story and emotion.

Writing for the web is not all touchy-feely, though, and still requires following a few guidelines to make bigger impact.

Here are ten action steps that you can implement in your own online business writing today to be more effective in writing for the web.

Use language that your audience understands.

Avoid jargon, technical phrases, and gobbledygook. Research how your audience communicates among themselves and use that style (word choice, formal vs. informal, and tone) in your own writing. Use familiar words.

Utilize headlines.

Change the font size or style of the most important information and set it apart by creating catchy one-liners or headlines on your website pages or email marketing campaigns.

Always lead with the most important information.

You have to write for a new generation of “skimmers”, or those who don’t take the time to read an entire page of website copy. They’ll skim the beginning of a paragraph to see what it’s about before deciding to read on. Hit them with the vital info right away.

Break up text into manageable chunks.

Just as you write for the “skimmers” by placing important info first, give your audience an easier time of skimming by providing plenty of paragraph breaks and easy-to-read sentences.

Use an active voice.

This is how people usually talk. For example, you would say, “The customer tried on two dresses and a top”, not “Two dresses and a top were tried on by the customer.” Write in an active voice.

Utilize bullet points and numbered lists.

Writing structure matters. Using bullet points and lists can help you keep your text easy to read and manageable for the reader (think: chunks and highlighting important information).

Speak using pronouns.

Talk about your audience as “you” and about yourself or your business as “I” or “we.” Make it personal.

Be extremely clear.

Avoid being too clever or witty—it could get ambiguous if you are trying to make an impression by being smart but it’s not received as confusing.

Ask for them to take action.

Ask your audience to take action: to buy, to sign up for a service, to subscribe to your email list, to read your next blog post, to connect with you on social media. Ask them to take action on something in your business.

Use white space.

Here is where design and writing meet. By using white space to your advantage (which is really similar to breaking up your copy in bite-size chunks and mixing in lists and bullet points as needed), you make your writing easy on the eyes. By reducing visual “noise”, you make it easier for your reader to consume and absorb your content.

What have you found to be effective tips & tricks for writing copy and content for your own online audience?

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