Does your small biz web copy reflect your personality? It should. Here's why - and 5 tips to make sure it does.
So many small business websites are completely devoid of personality. Which is such a shame - not to mention a wasted opportunity - because people want to work with, and buy from, people they like.
Which is why it's so important to let your visitors get to know you - who you are, what makes you different, and why you do what you do - on the pages of your site. But that is certainly easier said than done; it's hard to convey personality through writing - but it IS possible. And it doesn't have to come at the expense of professionalism (a common misconception).
Here's how to help your customers get to know you - and want to work with you! - through your web copy, in five easy steps:
1. Speak your own language. Although you don't want to go so far as being offensive (a definite don't!), it's important not to 'clean up' your language to the point that it is devoid of personality. If you'd say 'don't get my wrong', or 'lickety-split', or 'easy-peasy' in real life, don't be afraid to write those words in your copy. A quick way to tell if your writing sounds like you is to read it out loud - can you hear yourself saying those words? If not, back to the drawing board.
2. Use bold and italics and (my favourite) brackets to add emphasis and personality. I use brackets as a way to add my own little commentary or elements of internal dialogue. Some might say I overuse them but I disagree. Use brackets!
3. Make it easy for your visitors to keep reading. In order for people to connect with you, it is essential that they keep reading. This means making it as easy as possible for them, and eliminate any potential points of frustration. Functionally speaking, make sure your site works well and is easy to navigate. And when it comes to copy, help them get through your content - and leave them wanting more! - by following the golden rules of web readability (which I giveaway in a handy-dandy printable to everyone who subscribes to my emails! Get it here.) Even if they're perfectly written, super long paragraphs filled with super long sentences are going to turn off your reader.
4. For heaven's sake, include a photo - many if possible! This makes a lot of people uncomfortable but it's such an essential thing. You don't have to be on the homepage, especially if you're not a service-based business, but your mug should absolutely, 100%, be smiling back at me from you About page.
5. Lastly, make it easy for your clients to actually meet you in person. Include your contact info, or - even better - links to your contact page throughout your site. And on your Contact page, include a phone number and an email address THAT HAS A PERSON'S NAME IN IT. That's right, a name: firstname.lastname@example.org is a way better choice - more personal and inviting - than email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org (don't email these, they don't exist!). Also, stand-alone contact forms are becoming very popular. It's ok to have one, but I don't believe they should ever be the only option for getting in touch. Many people don't like and/or trust them. Your best bet is to give people options, and the more personal, the better.
Janet Nielsen is a communicator with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.