Creating compelling website copy
Websites are the public face of businesses and other organizations, big and small. They are so important that in many—likely most—cases they are more central to the success of an organization than any printed literature.
Along with design that provides eye appeal, and thoughtful user interface that supports both the organization and its customers, an essential component of every website is the words—how a website is written.
Anyone with the desire to become part of a website development team, write freelance for websites, or create their own website will want to consider signing up for an upcoming PDC class: Key Tools for Writing Successful Website Copy. It will be taught by Susan Munter, who is founder of Branding Band, a Boston-based marketing agency and returning presenter to the PDC.
“Key Tools” will take place in later this year. “Stay tuned”—check the PDC website—for the exact date.
Here, the PDC Post interviews Susan to preview what she will be discussing.
PDC: Susan, this is the first time we are offering your Key Tools for Writing Successful Website Copy course. Would you tell us about this course and what its key benefits will be for participants?
Susan: At the center of every social media, print, or digital marketing plan is a website. There is no one piece as critical to a company’s marketing plan. And while they seem simple to us as consumers, websites are challenging to build and maintain. The purpose of this class is to teach key tools for writing successful site copy, such as a brand funnel, creative brief, and personas. These three tools are commonly used in marketing and advertising departments to ensure marketing materials—websites included—are strategically on target.
We will use these tools to practice writing different kinds of site copy and get feedback from others. We will discuss what makes for a successful site and how to stay away from common pitfalls. Larger corporations have entire teams dedicated to their web presence which are highly networked and inter-dependent. We will review the writer’s role on a team, and what writers, in turn, can expect from others.
PDC: How is writing content for the web different from writing for a print publication? How is it the same?
Susan: It’s easy to lose sight of the physical experience of reading and how it impacts what we read—for example, sitting in front of a screen versus a posted flier; or looking at a cell phone versus a business card. The physical experience plays an important role in how we write. User Experience Designers, or UX Designers, and Information Architects, both of which a writer will work with, are trained in how to best present information on different screens. A user’s technology is just one of many factors UX and IA professionals take into account when building a website.
PDC: Is this course designed for English majors and web marketers, or can anyone take it and benefit?
Susan: English Majors do have an advantage because they have the grammar down! But the most important tool for success is having an ear for language—meaning you can hear how different people speak and are able to replicate that rhythm, that sound, in your writing. Your website team will turn to you to create the brand voice of the site, as well as be the “owner” of the end user/customer. You and the UX designer are expected to represent the user’s needs. There’s no college degree that gives you that skill. It’s a matter of talent and practice.
PDC: What kind of jobs exist for people skilled in developing content for the web?
Susan: Content development continues to be a very hot area for jobs, and the number of content-related roles has proliferated. For example, on a more strategic level, content management focuses on multi-user content creation and planning, and on scheduling content that is leveraged across several platforms using different content-management systems, or CMS. On the executional front, copy writers may be as specialized as writing just email, or just product-specific content.
PDC: What kind of job openings are available to people who have good web-content writing skills?
Susan: While there are specialized content-development jobs out there—producing product and blog copy for example—when you are first getting started there is an expectation that you can write across multiple digital platforms—websites, social-media channels, PPC (pay-per-click ads), email, etc. so you can support multiple projects and multiple teams.
PDC: What would be the next step a workshop participant would take if they want to continue to develop this skill?
Susan: I would recommend taking a class for writing and producing video. Video will only continue to grow as a communication tool. I would also suggest taking a graphic design class. Writers and designers work very closely together and it is helpful if you can speak each other’s language.
PDC: Tell our readers about yourself. What is your background? How did you get into this field? And why are you excited about it?
Susan: After working at three of Boston’s Top 10 advertising/marketing agencies (Digitas, Mullen, Hill Holiday), I started my own marketing agency, Branding Band. My team and I provide branding strategy, design, content creation, and marketing coaching. I have always loved helping organizations tell their story so they can better promote themselves. Websites are almost always part of the marketing equation, and can be a challenge! Hopefully I can help simplify the copywriting part of the process.
PDC: Thank you for sharing this information with our readers.
Susan Munter is an experienced brand strategist. She has advised companies across the globe, including American Express, Johnson & Johnson, Iron Mountain, and Genzyme. She heads the startup Band55, a marketing collaborative serving NextGen entrepreneurs—people over age 55 who are starting new ventures.