With so much focus on content marketing, social media and mobile, it’s easy to overlook the fundamentals of the company website. And with so much emphasis being placed on images, video and mobile friendly design, it’s easy to overlook the critical role that basic content has in converting visitors into prospects and prospects into customers.
The headline, body copy and call-to-action are and probably always will be your core content components – the building blocks of every page on a business website.
Once you have a solid foundation in place, you can add social links and feeds, recent blog posts, videos, registration forms and other bells and whistles. But if any of these three core content components are missing or poorly executed, you’ll have cracks in the foundation that prevent your website from working as well as it should.
Core Content Component 1: The Value-Focused Headline
Just like a blog post, social media post, email, newsletter or feature article, headlines on your website will determine whether or not visitors keep reading or click through to a new page that puts them one step closer to doing business with you.
The headline shouldn’t be written for Google. The terms that people use to search for products are rarely the terms that motivate and inspire people to use business with you.
The headline also shouldn’t be written for the board of directors. Corporate slogans and mission statements have their place, but that place is rarely within a headline.
The headline should convey the value and results of using your product and make the visitor want to see more.
Some companies may be able to weave keywords and slogans into a headline and that’s great. But the first priority is to speak directly to the real people who you want to buy your product.
Bring this approach to every page of your website, not just the home page. Most businesses just use navigation page titles for inner pages instead of developing strong headlines that convey why it’s worth the visitor’s time to read that page’s content.
For example, an “About” page can be used to tell a compelling story that personalizes a business. This is the only page on your website where it’s okay to talk about yourself.
But the word “About” at the top of the page does nothing to make the story appealing. That’s like writing an autobiography and putting the word “autobiography” on the cover instead of a meaningful title.
The most important part of every page of your website is the headline. It doesn’t have to be funny or clever. It just has to keep people engaged.
Core Content Component 2: Customer-Focused Copy
Headlines and design grab people’s attention. Powerful copy keeps their attention.
This is where too many businesses lose their way. See if this sounds familiar:
We are a full-service XYZ company, offering industry-leading expertise and proven XYZ strategies to help our clients achieve measurable results.
Well, thank goodness this is a full-service company and not one of those half-service outfits. I hate those.
Seriously, lose the stale marketing clichés. I don’t want to hear about your expertise and customer service unless you prove why they’re so great. If you can’t, you’re just making the same empty, unsubstantiated claims as your competition.
Lose the awkwardly placed keywords. A visitor to your website doesn’t have to be a genius to notice an obvious play for the top spot in search rankings. And it usually sounds awful.
Instead, touch on customer pain points and show how your product relieves that pain. Clearly and concisely explain how the customer’s life will be better when that pain has been relieved. Any mention of your company or your product should only be made in the context of how it will improve the life of the customer.
Core Content Component 3: A Clear, Direct Call-to-Action
“Contact” is not a call-to-action (or a headline for that matter). A call-to-action is one simple sentence that tells a website visitor to do something specific and explains how they’ll benefit by acting.
“For access to every game, anywhere in the country, sign up for NFL Sunday Ticket by filling out this form.”
The call-to-action doesn’t have to be identical on every page – and probably shouldn’t be – but every page needs one.
For example, most “Contact” pages only include contact information and maybe a form, but no call-to-action. If someone gets to your “Contact” page, they’re ready to engage! Include a call-to-action that makes the next step crystal clear.
Calls-to-action can also be used to guide people through your website by explaining what you want visitors to do next. Will people always follow your calls-to-action and do what you want? Of course not, but it can’t hurt to give them a little push in a certain direction.
Sometimes it pays to completely strip down your website. Get rid of the plugins, widgets, sliders, photos and other “stuff” so you can focus only on the words.
A value-focused headline, customer-focused body copy and a direct call-to-action will help you hone in on the needs of your audience, set goals for each individual page and the website as a whole, and develop a content strategy to achieve those goals.
Make sure you nail these three core content components and build from that foundation.
I’m a copywriter, marketing consultant, lifelong New Jersey resident, husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful girls. I love playing with my daughters, a day at the boardwalk, sarcasm, craft beer and grilling. I despise beating around the bush, synchronized swimming, Toddlers & Tiaras and onions. Most people don’t know I used to be a radio DJ and once wrote, produced and voiced a commercial for the TV show 24. Two places I want to visit before I die are Ireland and Norway, the homes of my ancestors. One place I never want to revisit is my first apartment because my creepy landlord, Monty, freaked me out. That just about covers it.