Web text that’s worth it: the six most underrated types of digital copy

Digital copy is underappreciated, underrated and – astonishingly – still the poor cousin of the web relaunch process.

The most successful projects we work on at Sticky Content manage to uphold the equal importance of design, technology and text. They plan their copy requirements early on, invest in a content strategy, information architecture and strong, scannable, usable web copy formats. Yet still a significant number of clients call us two weeks prior to relaunch and ask us to replace their lorem ipsum with something cobbled together from their old site and any old marketing collateral they happen to have lying around. To me (and I would say this) the web is a still largely a word-driven medium. Eye-tracking surveys have shown for yonks how users begin by screening out images, scanning instead for key messages and signposts in headers and links. 

Text is fast to fix, usually cheaper than design or technical work and can show immediate ROI. So why do so many site owners forget about text until the last minute? To demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of good web copy, I'm currently inviting five site owners to volunteer for text-only fixes. Clients who want to test the effectiveness of simply changing the text on their website. While we do optimise copy for organic search, this is not primarily an SEO exercise, so I'm looking for sites which have a clear call to action for customers, where copy changes can be measured through the resulting rise (or fall) in specific customer activities. 

If you think you might have a site (or an area of a website) that is ripe for a rewrite, please give me a call on 020 7963 7070. I hope to present the resulting case studies at Internet World in May. In the meantime, here's our top six most underrated forms of digital copy. The ones we think warrant far more attention than they often get.

  • Web forms. The tiny strings of instructional copy that sit around the transactional areas of your website. Pure gold dust. When carefully crafted these can seriously affect your online ROI. So why leave in the legacy copy keyed in by the programmer?
  • Top level navigation buttons. Q: Why are there so many buttons unhelpfully named 'Products' or 'Services'? A: Because the designer only left an eight character space. Beauty over 'meaningfulness'? Wouldn't happen in offline marcoms.
  • Snippets. Whether these are search snippets or what's visible in an email viewing pane, these words can make your click-through rates soar or plummet.
  • Anchor text. Even if you set aside the effect of well-written links on SEO and accessibility, anchor text is still key to usability. It enables users to orientate themselves quickly and encourages the swift pursuit of key calls to action.
  • Landing pages. You spend all that money driving me here and then there's no call to action? No attempt to match messages with the traffic drivers? No clear forward path?
  • Adwords. What is it about SEO that an appearance on the first results page is deemed successful? Not if your copy is so dull, or woolly that no one wants to click on it.

Agree/disagree? Share your thoughts on Twitter @StickyContent

For further information on Sticky, please contact: Rajet Gamhiouen, Head of Marketing, +44 (0)207 963 7281

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