George Lois, the great art director, was once asked how he could tell if an ad was bad.
"Easy," he said. "I pick up the ad, take a look at it, and if I vomit, I know it's bad."
I can relate to what George was talking about. So many Web site homepages out there are so awful that they often make me want to drop my cookie -- and not the one in my cookie folder!
Here are a few representative samples of weak copywriting, followed by some comments that may prove helpful. (I'm using fictitious company names, but the words are pulled right off the Web):
"Welcome to XYZ Software's on-line home. If this is your first visit, or if you are a return visitor, please tell us a little about yourself and how we can make your next visit more useful."
COMMENT: Immediately after welcoming the visitor to the Web site, the visitor is grilled for personal information so that their next visit will be "more useful." What XYZ Software needs to understand is that there won't be a next visit. They're asking the prospect to give something for nothing which just won't happen.
THE MORAL: If you want to capture contact information, offer something of real value for free!
"Welcome to ABC Software: ABC Software publishes award-winning consumer software products for health, diet, nutrition and recipes. Our mission, since 1987, is to educate consumers about healthy diets and provide information about optimum eating patterns. We are committed to improving public health."
COMMENT: ABC Software may provide you with a healthy diet, but their copy is larded with clichés. "Our mission, since 1987 . . ." Puh-leeeeze. Let's drop those pompous Mission Statements unless you're the United Nations. A Mission Statement can hang out in an annual report, or at the back of a capabilities brochure if you insist, but it doesn't belong on your home page. Lose it!
THE MORAL: Avoid vacuous copy. Keep the rhetoric, the tone, the "voice" contemporary and lively!
"XYZ Software has been helping innovative companies provide world-class customer service via email and online transactions for more than twelve years. We know your time is valuable, and we know all too well how much time it takes to define and solve problems, before you take that first step up the learning curve."
COMMENT: The first sentence explains that XYZ has a lot of experience. The second talks about time being valuable. There is no logical connection between the two sentences.
What you've got here is a complete non sequitur. Am I sounding a bit like your high school English teacher? Hey, this stuff matters! Your readers may not be aware of problems with the logical flow of your copy, but your Web pages will sound weak and flabby. If this kind of thing permeates your entire site, you'll be dying a death from thousand cuts and not even know it.
THE MORAL: Make sure your Web copywriting is tight, sharp, and
And that, of course, is where I come in . . .
Greetings!, give me a call (415-461-0672) and let's talk about how I can write your next homepage, webinar invitation, email, landing page, sales letter, you name it.
Remember, when your prospect lands on your Web site or receives your email, for that moment, your copywriter is the most important person in your company. Not the CEO. Not the Marketing VP. The fact is, when your prospect starts reading, the entire success of your marketing efforts is in your copywriter's hands . . . so choose wisely!
Let's go to work!
"The Direct Response Letter." My colleague and friend Bob Bly puts out a very useful free, monthly e-zine called "The Direct Response Letter." I think you'd enjoy it. And when you subscribe, you'll get a free copy of "Online Marketing That Works" plus three other bonus reports. (You'll get over 150 pages of valuable information!)