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3 Key Principles for Writing Helpful Web Pages

by | Oct 15, 2014 | B2B Copywriting, Online Mktg. and Copywriting, Website Copywriting | 0 comments

New clients have been asking me to write a lot of website content for them recently. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how to make your web pages more helpful.

Why did I use the word “helpful,” rather than “effective?”

It has to do with how people – especially business people – normally use the Web.

Think about it. When we go online, we’re usually looking for something, right? We’re searching. We’re task-oriented. We’re in a hurry. We want to find what we’re looking for and move on. That’s especially true for prospects in a B2B environment.

Remember, browsing the Web isn’t like browsing a mail-order catalog or a trade journal. Online, our prospects don’t want to flip through every page until they find something that interests them.

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Plus, every website is different. Information flow and navigation can vary widely from site to site. Visitors have to “learn their way around” every new website they encounter.

So our web pages need to do a good job of helping users find what they’re looking for. Fast.

How? Applying the following 3 Key Principles is a good way to start.

1. Start from your prospect’s problem… NOT your solution.

When prospects come to your website, they’re looking for a solution to a problem. And you want to show them your solution is the right one for them.

The thing is, those prospects might not yet have a strong understanding of the nature of their problem, let alone their options for solving it. You need to talk with them first about their problem– help them gain a better understanding of it – and then direct them to the right solution.

In short, you need to make your website pages visitor-centric.

How do you do that?

One way is to create sets of problem-specific pages. You could have a set of “Industry” pages that discuss the typical problems you solve for customers in each of the markets you serve. Or you might create a set of “Solutions” pages – or more accurately, “Solutions for” pages – that address specific problems in more detail. Use these pages to help prospects identify their problem and to explain what they need to do to solve that problem. Then funnel them from problem to solution with links to your most appropriate product or service pages.

Make your product and service pages visitor-centric, as well. At the top of these pages, start by talking about the problem (or problems) your offering solves. Reassure your visitors they’ve come to the right place. After that, you can show them why your product or service is the right solution for their problem.

2. Take prospects where they want to go… NOT where you want them to go.

Unless you’re writing a landing page for a lead-gen offer, you want to help your prospects find what they are looking for, not push them toward a specific action.

Companies who sell commoditized products know how to do this. Their prospects, typically, are quite familiar with the problems their products solve. So all they have to do is arrange their websites like catalogs. They group their products in menus and on pages by category – i.e., by problem. Which makes the right solution rather easy to find.

But even if your solution is unique and the problems it solves are not so readily understood, you can do something similar – using hyperlinks.

While discussing your prospects’ problems – on your industry pages, your solutions pages, even your home page – any time you touch on a particular solution, offer a link (an in-page link, not a button) to the appropriate product or service page. Even if you’re still near the top of the page.

Don’t worry that they haven’t read everything yet. Prospects won’t click on links they’re not ready for. But they may scroll back to links they’ve noticed, once they’ve read enough. Give each visitor plenty of opportunities to say, “Yes! That sounds just what I’m looking for. That’s where I need to go!” Help them find the right path for them as quickly as possible.

Make your web pages like department store floorwalkers. They should always be asking, “Can I help you find something?”

3. NEVER leave your prospect hanging… at the end of any page.

You’d be surprised how many web pages finish in a dead end, leaving readers with nowhere to go.

Never let a page end without giving your prospects something to do. Suggest their next steps. Give them a call to action.

And never force them down just one path. Always give them multiple paths off the end of the page.

It’s fine to make one of those paths your hard offer. A “hard” offer is one which initiates contact with another human being – like talking to a salesperson or making an appointment for an online demo. Your hard offer is normally accompanied by a link to your contact page. On your product and service pages, you’ll probably want to lead with your hard offer.

Just remember that most visitors won’t be ready for that “human contact” step yet.

The majority of prospects who reach the bottom of a given web page will want more information before they’re ready to speak with a sales rep. They’re still early in their purchasing process. For these prospects, you want to provide multiple “soft” offers that will help them find the additional information they need.

Soft offers, in the case of web pages, can simply be links to other pages that provide related information. They can also be links to case studies, YouTube videos, or even landing pages where visitors can request downloads of white papers or demo software. Point your prospects to any relevant sources that can help them understand their problem and decide on your solution.

Again, even at the very end, your web page should always be asking, “Can I help you find something?” Or in this case, “Can I help you find anything else?”

Take-Away Points

To be truly effective, the pages of your website have to be helpful to your prospects. They need to be visitor-centric. To make sure they are, remember these 3 Key Principles:

1. Start from your prospect’s problem… NOT your solution.

(Make your web pages visitor-centric.)

2. Take prospect’s where they want to go… NOT where you want them to go.

(Offer plenty of links to relevant pages.)

3. NEVER leave your prospect hanging… at the end of any page.

(Provide multiple paths off the end of every page.)

And remember, your web pages should be like department store floorwalkers. They should always be asking, “Can I help you find something?

Next Steps…

Need new website content that helps your prospects find the solution they’re looking for? Call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or drop me an email at info@copyengineer.com.

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