Does your Web copy go over your reader’s head?

Is your site’s Web copy “too advanced” for your  readers – and you’re losing easy conversions because of it? Here’s why I’m asking…

Once upon a time, I was chatting with a gentleman who felt that his site’s B2B conversion rates were too low. After I asked about his target audience (highly technical folks in the medical industry,) I asked if any other audiences surfed his site.

“Well yes,” he said. “We tend to get questions from administrative assistants. They’ll say that they’re gathering information and wanted to clarify a few points. They’re not our market. We ignore those people. We want to talk to their boss. Not them.”

In my head, red lights flashed and warning bells clanged. Because what this person was telling me was:

  • They get inquires about their product
  • Many people (the person didn’t have a percentage) didn’t understand something on the site and had questions.
  • In response, the company ignore the inquires because the person emailing “isn’t the right person to speak with.”

Doh!

It’s very common for companies (especially B2B) to create highly technical Web sites filled with spec sheets, graphs, charts and very little copy (or so much technical copy that it’s impossible to understand unless you’re in the industry.) As an example that hits a little close to home…how many SEO companies talk about things like “advanced keyword strategies” and “algorithms” when all the small business owner wants to know is: “How do I increase my Web hits?”

Or, another scenario is a company thinks that highly technical copy makes them sound “smarter” and more “cutting edge.” They figure that they’ll baffle the reader with B.S. and figure the person will say, “Wow, I have no idea what you’re talking about! You must be good!”

Really?

If this sounds like your company, think about this: Writing for your readers isn’t “dumbing down the copy.”  You’re actually making your content easier for your readers to read, understand and enjoy. And that can make your conversion rates skyrocket.

So, here are some things to think about when you’re planning your content:

  • If you know you have “technical” and “non-technical” people reading your content, develop content targeted for each market.  In the case of the earlier example, the admin assistants could read information targeted to what they wanted to know – and may even have a different call-to-action (“download our PDF outlining our capabilities.”). At the same time, the assistant’s supervisor could read the more “technical” content (with “contact us” being the main call-to-action.)
  • If you are in the medical profession (surgeon, dentist, psychiatrist) know that customer-focused content could covert at a much higher level than “typical” medical professional copy chock-full of technical information. Yes, information about specialties and schools is important – but so is the warm, fuzzy aspect of acknowledging where your prospect is emotionally and how you can help.  For instance, I rewrote the copy for a surgeon’s Web site, focusing more on the customer’s needs than the technical aspects of conditions like “hyperhidrosis” The new content converted so well that his site was paid for in less than a month. Not bad, eh? You can do that too.
  • “Speaking your customer’s language” is also something to consider from a keyword level. Technical folks will search for highly technical terms. Non-technical people will search under different terms. Both audiences are important – you  just need to use the “right” keyphrases on the “right” client pages.

What happened with the gentleman with the low-converting site content? He added landing pages targeted to his different target audiences and saw an immediate increase in phone calls. He stopped ignoring questions from admin assistants (and noticed that the number of questions went down after they launched the new, improved content.) He stopped talking over his readers’  head – and was seeing more sales because of it. Sounds like a win/win for all.

Want more information? Here’s a great article on targeted Web copy by Future Now.

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4 replies
  1. Amy C. Teeple
    Amy C. Teeple says:

    While I am all for ignoring spam inquiries, I cannot believe they ignored real inquiries because they were not from the “right people.” Know your audience means know how your audience operates! A lot of companies and bigwigs have their admins do the first level of research for a project – as the daughter of an administrative assistant (although she still prefers the term “secretary”), I have heard all about what these wonderful people do to make their boss’s job easier.

    I am so glad he listened to you. This is a good story for all of us – don’t only target your perfect client, but also anyone helping that client gather information and make the decision.

    Reply
  2. Pamela Jones
    Pamela Jones says:

    This is so befitting for a project I’m currently helping a web owner with. He has an email marketing service, and it was so technical that I couldn’t understand the subject. Chances are his viewers couldn’t either. So I explained this to him and we’re working together to make his site more user friendly. So far, so good. He said it’s getting better responses.

    Reply
    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Pamela – great news! Thanks!

      Can you ask your client to clarify what “better response” means? Sounds like it could be a great testimonial/case study for your business. :)

      Reply

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