Often, the first really meaningful interaction your customers have with you is through your website. They may have come across you on social media or heard of you through word of mouth, but your website is where they’ll dig in, find the information they need, and start to make a decision on whether they want to get in touch.
That’s why your website copy is so important.
And here at Radix, we’ve seen that reflected in recent years, with four years’ continuous growth in website copy as a proportion of our work.
Where once B2B marketers might have tried to carry out the writing in-house, they’re increasingly turning to professional copywriters like us when it’s time to renew the site. (Whether that’s because their old site wasn’t giving them the results they wanted, or they simply remember what a nightmare the job was last time out, we can’t say.)
For most, running a web copy project will be a fairly rare occurrence – so clients tend to ask us the same (completely understandable) questions:
“What do you need from me to write our web copy?”
There are quite a few bits of information which will make it easier for us to give you an accurate quote and – ultimately – to write your copy the way you want it. And we can get that knowledge from you in a number of different ways.
In the past, we’ve held immersive workshops in clients’ offices, or a series of calls with heads of departments to ensure we glean exactly what it is they need their website to do, what information each individual page needs to contain, and how the overall feel of the site needs to come across.
But generally, we’ll be looking for:
1. A proposed sitemap, if you have one
A sitemap makes it much easier for us to identify what your needs are and provide an accurate quote. (If you have a wireframe or preliminary design too, so much the better, as we can get a feel for how much copy you’ll need on each page).
2. A sense of your audience, and their buying process
It’s also great if we know exactly who your web visitors are, and where they tend to arrive from. For example, a curious visitor with little knowledge about the finer details of your industry is going to need different information than a seasoned industry expert. Also, how much do they already know about you? Will they be turning up fresh from Google (and how much is search ranking a priority), or are they following up to confirm you’re credible, after a different initial point of contact?
3. How your brand should sound
The tone and voice of the various areas of your website – and your overall brand – are very important.
Your voice needs to be consistent, as a representation of the personality of your brand. But we tailor the tone to your audience’s needs as they interact with the site. Even for the same visitor, the tone you use for a cheery greeting might be completely inappropriate for an error message.
(Though as our colleague Katy pointed out, even Microsoft can get that one wrong.)
So as we go along, it helps us to understand the context of each page – why somebody would read it, and how they’re likely to feel about that.
4. What each page needs to say
Perhaps the most obvious part – but, potentially, the most time-consuming. Because we need to know all the information you want on every page of your site – and which parts of that information are most important to your audience.
Of course, if you have an existing page of content to point us at, that’s somewhat easier. But even then, it’s helpful to have some guidance: what’s working for you, what’s not, and what’s new. You’re refreshing the site for a reason, after all.
5. Some idea of your SEO requirements
If you’d like the site to perform well on Google, it’ll be useful to have some kind of keyword strategy and/or research, so we can make sure each page aligns with what your audience are looking for, using the same language as they will. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.
“What if I don’t know about the voice and tone I want to adopt?”
Lots of brands already have extensive brand usage guidelines when they come to us – and some of them are even useful. But if you don’t, there’s no need to worry: as experienced copywriters, tone and voice are our marmite and toast.
Broadly, there are two approaches we can take. We can chat about your brand, your existing copy and what you do and don’t like, then approximate something for you. Or we can conduct a proper voice and tone workshop, and give you a short, usable document with some rules, suggestions, hints and examples.
(The former is OK if we’re the only ones writing for you; if you have writers in-house too, the guide is a good idea, because it can help you to stay consistent.)
“What’s the best stage to bring a copywriter into my web project?”
Most of our clients come to us with a plan for their site, normally devised between them and their web developer, and ask us to populate the pages. That makes it easy for us to give you an accurate quote and delivery schedule.
However, we’re open to other ways of working too. So, if you’d like our input on how many pages we think you should have and what should go on each one then we’re more than happy to put our experience to good use.
Likewise, some people like to create the copy first, and the design later. That’s fine by us.
“Do you write pages that are short/long/scrolling/really long/parallax/mobile/really, really long?”
The short answer is yes. Whatever kind of web page you want (so long as it contains words).
There’s been something of a cultural shift in web design over the last few years which has seen a rise in more mobile-friendly, scrolling websites. These tend to have smaller chunks of copy in panels scattered across the length of the page, whereas a traditional website will have tabs at the top of the page and longer sections of copy.
So alongside the traditional “250-words, title, copy and some bullet points” kind of web page, our price list also includes options to buy your web copy by the chunk. So we can build a quote for whatever kind of page you – and your web designer – can dream up.
“Do you do web design?”
Nope. We’re strictly words-only.
BUT we do often work in tandem with freelance designers and web developers, agencies, and in-house experts. We’re happy to collaborate in this way if you think it would add to the process, and may even be able to recommend someone if that would help.
“What’s your approach to SEO?”
Ah. We could (and possibly should) write a whole blog post about this. But in short…
We’re not search engine specialists, but we act on guidance SEO experts provide – like keyword recommendations and research. If one of your site’s objectives is to attract search engine traffic, it’s a good idea to work with an SEO consultant (as well as – not instead of – your copywriter, of course).
Most of the copy on your website is aimed at people. Some of the rest is primarily there to please search engine robots. And some parts (like your page title) is a mixture of the two.
Usually, we’ll work on the people-facing parts of your copy (on-page body text, meta description), incorporating keyword recommendations as appropriate, and leave the search engine-facing bits to the experts. Where the copy is dual-purpose (titles, headers, alt text), we tend to collaborate – generally, we’ll suggest something, then recommend you have your SEO team tweak it as appropriate.
We find it’s a good balance, because refinements to Google’s algorithm improved its ability to prioritise quality content, satisfying at the intent behind each search – there are fewer tricks and shortcuts. We use the keyword research to deduce your web visitor’s intent, then – without focusing too much on the technicalities – simply write the best page we can.
It seems to work well – and we’re regularly recommended for website projects by SEO agencies, so they must be happy too.
“Who else have you written web copy for?”
We’ve had the pleasure of writing web copy for dozens of B2B, technology and industrial brands – including some of the world’s largest organisations.
Sometimes, that work is confidential (we’re happy to namedrop, but only in private) – but to give you a flavour, a few sites we are allowed to tell you about include:
VoxGen – conversational software and services
Tectrade – cloud services and consultancy
TomTom – fleet tracking technology
The Daniel Group – customer feedback for industry
Penzance Dry Dock – industrial and marine operations
“How much will my new web copy cost?”
Once, copywriters could quote a flat, per-page price for web copy. But that was when pages were all fairly standard. These days, a page could be anything from a 30-word text panel and a couple of buttons to a 1000-word Homerian epic in parallax form.
That’s why our Senior Account Managers will work hard to define the exact scope of the copy you want, and build you an accurate quote in advance.
But that’s not to say we can’t give you a good, ballpark idea before your sitemap is finalised. All the components we use to build our quotes – various sizes of panels and pages – are included in our price list, so it’s easy enough to get a thumbnail picture if you know the rough dimensions of the site.
If you’d like a copy of the price list, do get in touch.
“How much time will I need?”
If history is any guide, significantly more than you’ve allowed so far. There’s something about web projects (the temptation to make last-minute additions to the site, maybe) which means they never seem to run to schedule.
But whatever’s delaying things, it won’t be the copy. We’ll give you a firm schedule alongside your quote, and we’ll stick to it.
Obviously, that schedule will depend on the scale of the site, and the amount of input we need from you and your stakeholders. But given a little advance notice, we’ve been known to take smaller sites from fact-find conversation to signed-off copy within a matter of days.
Got any more questions? Our Account Management team are here to talk you through the process. Please drop us a line…