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How Copy Can Be Written For A Great User Journey,Skip the Fluff When You Write Good Stuff

This guide will answer just about any question you could possibly have about website copyriting. From semantic web to power phrases, this guide has it all.

The collective impact of the internet and world wide web have redefined the way we live.We evolve along with them.info.cern.ch was the first-ever website on the Internet, published on August 6, 1991.

In January 2018 there were at least1.3 billion active websites on the internet. A staggering increase in only twenty-seven years.These websites are accessible by over 40%of the world’s population4.021billion, the entire population of internet users.

What do these figures mean?

First, if attention were a commodity, your website has over one billion competitors.However, you have four times that number of people that could potentially visit your website and do business with you.It’s one thing to own a website. You need people to visit.

The keyword might be utility. Do they derive their desired fulfillment from using your website?

Your website is a sum of many parts, of which we could identify two broad divisions – technology and copy.

The decisions you make around each part can have huge implications.Your web developers can shield you from the madness of bits and pixels.The other type of developer (or yourself if you do not hire one), will handle your copy.

Photo by rawpixel.com

What Is Copy?

Copy, according to Wikipedia, refers to written material, in contrast to photographs or other elements of layout, in a large number of contexts, including magazines, advertising, and books. If that sounds a bit vague, try this: Text of a print, radio, or television advertising message that aims at catching and holding the interest of the prospective buyer, and at persuading him to make a purchase.

Some breakdown of that would help:

Text of …- copy is [thoughtfully] written text.

that aims at…- it has a purpose or goal.

...persuading them to…- it influences the reader to do something.

...all within a few short seconds.- it is time-conscious.

Copy refers to words used in a business context to lure customers to make a decision to buy or invest in a product or service.

Who Writes Copy?

A person who writes copy is called a copywriter.Copywriters are not just writers. They write to evoke action. That is why they are of immense value in marketing and advertising.

There are professional copywriting services that engage a pool of copywriters to handle client briefs.

It is an aspect of business where the direct effects cannot be fully quantified.

What Is a User Journey?

According to Wikipedia, a user journey is colloquially in the UK and parts of the US, the experiences a person has when utilizing/interacting with something (typically software).

It goes further: This idea is generally found in user experience circles around web design and how users interact with software experiences. It is often used as a shorthand for the overall user experience and set of actions that one can take in a software/virtual experience.

The Oxford Living Dictionaries offers this meaning: A person’s experience during one session of using a website or application, consisting of the series of actions performed to achieve a particular goal.

Synonyms for “user journey” include “buyer journey” and “customer journey” and we will use them interchangeably in this guide.

Why Do You Need to Craft a Wholesome User Journey?

Your customer’s first experience on your website determines if they ever come back.A user journey is at the core of User Experience (UX) design. It is very important.

A user journey should be as engaging and painless as possible.

A user journey is the process auser goes through to achieve a goal. Assumptions only matter if your perspective is the same as the user’s. UX expert Naomi Niles opined “What you prefer... doesn’t matter if it’s not getting you conversions.”

It is an essential tool to understand your users, and their behaviour when they visit your site.It also considers what could be done to improve their other visits, so they would keep coming back.Every part of your digital and brand interface should serve as a user’s journey.

In a significant way, your website copy is part of that. How?

Today, businesses focus on staying relevant using great content.The process of documenting the user journey is called user journey mapping or customer journey mapping.It reveals in detailed clarity, what your users do once they visit your website.The map is easy to create and can influence your organisation’s future website strategy.

Planning and anticipating user interaction with your copy is not optional knowing the constant changes in technology and how people interact with businesses online.Outdated expectations can hurt your profit and brand.

How do users navigate your website’s processes and how do they feel?

Key advantages of this include:

  1.Decision makers can focus solely on customers.

  2.Each step of the website experience can be optimised for potential leads.

The best marketing team could never make up for unhappy users.The essence of the user journey is a story.Stories are told with words.

Words are the ingredients of copy.The story begins in the awareness stage, where the user has a problem. His goal is to appropriately research to clarify, frame, and identify their problem.With the problem defined, they enter a consideration stage in which they understand all the available approaches and/or methods to solve the problem.

They then compile a long list of all available vendors and products in their chosen strategy. They weigh up the options and tick the more promising ones before making a final decision. This is the decision stage.Knowing your user journey better than your user keeps you prepared and guarantees results.

A website with a good visual design is not all there is to a great user journey. You have to analyse the user journey after laying it out.

The following steps detail how you can build a user journey tailored to maximise conversions.

  1. 1. Understand Your Users

Knowing your user is the principal rule of creating a user journey.Creating user personas gives a bird’s eye view of who your users are and what they want.

A persona will lend a face (and body) to your users to expose what they really are looking for.Because of the way personas are created, you will be tempted to deal with your users as mere data points.This will hurt you more than it would help you.A typical user persona will contain the name, age, occupation, marital status, location, goals, motivations, frustrations, and other such information.

The idea behind the user persona is to create as close to a real person as possible, who will visit your website.To create a persona requires data. Aggregate data can also be used.Demographics are a great place to start as they give the broadest view of your audience.

Data points like average age and income will be invaluable when it’s time to flesh out your buyer persona.You have different options for researching demographics, and the more methods you use, the more comprehensive your research will be.An excellent resource is Google Analytics (GA). It is intuitive and provides key data points such as average age and income.The more specific you are with demographic data, the more useful it is.

2. Next, you have to cover They are concerned with your audience’s preferences, needs, and wants.

  1. They are not less important than demographics. They give insight into why users behave as they do.

    Google Analytics serves as an excellent launch pad for psychographic research.Other means of obtaining psychographic information are social media, surveys, polls, and third-party research.

  1. 3. At this point, we move to the journey itself. Let’s review a general approach first.

Factors like marketing strategies and sales funnel design will affect how your website’s user journey plays out.

Clarity happens when the stages of the journey are distinctly defined in a user journey map.This map contains simple flowcharts that amplify every stage of the journey.

In chronological order, a user journey has these phases:

  • Awareness/exposure
  • Research
  • Choice evaluation
  • Purchase/conversion
  • Post-purchase

4. Consider what your customers are doing at each step.

  1. First, know where your users are going–their touch points.

    A user may go to your site and then a landing page. Your homepage and landing page are both touch points.Which touchpoints are your users visiting at each step? Tick them on your map.

    Then think about what they’re doing at each step.Think about their actions and lay them out on your map.Your job is to make the step as easy as possible. By breaking down the journey into separate actions, you can make it easier for users to take action.

What Makes a Great User Journey Driven by Copy?

The user journey (also sales funnel) is a framework that describes how a prospective customer converts from stranger to lead and to convert. We want a system in place to support this journey so that customers can:

  1. 1. find you
  2. 2. engage with your content
  3. 3. email, call or sign up to your newsletter, and
  4. 4. become a paying customer.
  1. 1. Exploration

Here, the user starts a search because he needs a solution to a problem. He is open to ideas. He may not yet be aware of your products, but is willing to know about it. The right content in the right place will make sure he finds you.

For example, if this person was looking into content marketing solutions, questions at this early stage in their user journey might include:

  • - What is content marketing?
  • - Does content marketing generate leads or just exposure?
  • - What is the difference between good and bad content?

Photo by Bruce Mars

  1. 2. Assessment

    During an assessment, the prospect will have narrowed down on his options. Your business and a couple of others are the options they are still considering.

    This stage will feature questions like:

    • i. What is good v. great content?
    • ii. What are the options for content creation?
    • iii. DIY v. outsource – what are the pros and cons?

    This is the stage at which you demonstrate your uniqueness. The piece of copy you used to achieve this shines through.

    You can use case studies and authority articles. They easily highlight a problem which you then analyse and offer the solutions.

    To showcase your expertise and industry experience, and answer questions on other issues, what approaches might one take?You can publish definitive material on topics that are related to your industry.Moz executive Rand Fishkin notes that on average, people will engage with their content at least six times before signing up to trial their software.

    This educates the user (providing help for them without their explicitly asking).You also are showing a deep awareness of the industry, enhancing your trust quotient and inviting engagement.High-quality, focused content keeps you thinking about your copy, and you start to identify what flies and what barely takes off.

  1. 3. Conversion

  1. Now that you have positioned your business as the solution to your user’s problems, now plant calls to action around the website.They won’t look jerky to the client as you have prepared them for this.

    Put them in as naturally as possible. Ask users (not tell them!) to subscribe to your newsletter, book a call, or to attend a webinar.

    Every webpage has a natural next step that improves the relationship with the user.A blog with tested copy will do more than inform your user.It will engage clear calls to action to generate leads and convert people into fans and subscribers.

    Engagement can also occur on a blog post via a “Comments” section.

    At the end of the blog post, give the user the ability to share the post on social media with an inviting call to subscribe to a newsletter. Again, simple, clear copy is the way to go.Always offer value before your request action.A well-worded newsletter call to action will describe, state the frequency and request minimal personal information (email).

    The call to action button is a simple 'Sign Up'.Including your privacy policy here can hinder users’ decisions to sign up.Keep the proposition simple, clear and compelling.

  1. 4. Support
  1. Issues will arise. You don’t want your users having a bad taste in their mouth.

    Stay in touch with helpful and useful content.

    Tell user you have something on a site they regard. You gain credibility by doing this.

Crafting Great Copy for a Great User Journey

What role does copy play in the customer journey?

You can win big with this because most sites pay little attention to it.You want to be different though. You want users to think highly of your business.

First things first: Avoid wordy copy. You end up trying to cram too much copy in a small area. A simple spacious design is more likely to appeal to your users.The clarity of copy is aided by its readability.

The user must be prodded to the portion of the site (like “Buy Now,” “Sign Up” or “Contact Us” pages) where he is expected to take action.

In reality, most users will have your site as one out of the numerous tabs they are constantly dividing their attention across. This online experience will span multiple browsing sessions, searches, comparisons, visits, and revisits.The point above is that the typical user’s journey is well set before he reaches your site. It also continues after he leaves. This search-to-sale cycle could easily be over a period of months.

With respect to copy, there are four key stages to optimise the user’s online journey:

  1. 1. Finding your site
  2. 2. Selecting your site
  3. 3. Visiting your site
  4. 4. Returning to your site

This is the dream of every business – be found and stay found. Put another way, be the user’s final choice or be his only choice.

#1 Finding Your Site

The user personas will likely start their user journey from Google’s first page of results for keywords you are relevant for.This results page has been called your real homepage.It is important to get your site to this first page, as most people will not go any further to find any site except there is an attachment to the site that others cannot offer.Your continuous duty will be to identify search terms people use to search for businesses like yours. The words they use, not anyone else’s preference.

Software tools like Ubersuggest, Google’s keyword suggestion tool or Keyword Everywhere are great options.They ensure you do not rely on guesswork and return relevant terms you have a good chance of owning. Choosing keywords can be a chore, but this guide has great insight.It is to your advantage to rank highly for less popular niche terms (like those including place names) than it is to appear on page two or lower for high-traffic generic terms that everyone has an eye on. This is not helped by the fact that research confirms close to 80% of searchers click on the first three natural results of any query.

Assess your resources and pick your targets accordingly. Spending too much and still not being on the first page can stretch you too thin. You will see little gains in traffic and you will need to spend more to sustain the position.Also, focus on one search engine, Google preferably (still accounts for highest search traffic).Something you might want to experiment with is PPC (Pay-per-Click) ads. Plan your budget properly and see what works for you.

#2 Selecting Your Site

Imagine yourself in the shoes of the user.

How would they navigate the web and your site?

To research a purchase in unfamiliar territory, you’ll likely check more than one result.This means that your user will likely weigh your site against other options; a great first impression is what you must aim for.

Your goal here is to ensure that your site sits among:

  1. i. irrelevant sites that users exit immediately.
  2. ii. relevant but inferior sites that are not going to hamper your traffic even when they rank above you.
  • iii. relevant but neutral sites that do not really impact your traffic.
  1. iv. directories, comparison sites or aggregators where your site ranks handsomely, say the first two pages.
  2. v. your own articlesthat publicise your offerings.

This is guaranteed where your focus is on niche terms.Keep a very close eye on the competition too. There surely must be some way you can set your business apart online. Do not hesitate to do so.Optimise the pages of your site to function as landing pages as they may also appear in search result pages. You need to make the most of this.Copy on such pages should be meaningful. The homepage should also be within one click of such pages.

#3 Visiting Your Site

The real win with traffic is when visitors find your site worthy of revisits.Factors like accessibility and usability impact heavily on user experience and thus, return visits must be of great concern when developing a website.

A quick round-up of copy fundamentals to consider in developing your website goes thus:

  • a. Let your homepage tellvisitors that they are in the right place. Keep copy as focused as possible.
  • b. People will seldom read every word on every page of your website. Be concise. Repeat key points as often as necessary.
  • c. Be as clear as you need to be. Ambiguity creates doubt. It encourages hesitation. Calls to action must stand out.

#4 Returning to Your Site

Guiding the user from search to conversion is what you should aim for with every element of your website.A big chunk of your website is copy. It should be engaging.The speed of arriving at “Checkout” on your site may be arrived at gradually.This means arming the user with information and confidence iteratively by employing a so-called hermeneutic loop.You do this to ensure they plan another visit to your domain.

What are aspects of a hermeneutic loop?

  • i. Key elements like HTML page titlesthat are also important to your SEO apparatus. Have you also considered how unique they are in bookmarks?
  • ii. Aim for your pages to have clear user segmentation. Your copy makes that obvious both to search engines and the user. There is only one homepage on your site, but the page that really matters to a user might be buried deeply somewhere. Make it easy for them to identify it and keep copy both emotionally and logically tight. Their only choice is to bookmark it.
  • iii. Juice up your copy with value-adding content. Research and industry analysis enhances your credibility.
  • iv. Features you update regularly like blogs should be added to your website. They keep your site fresh. Simply use the blog as a knowledge portal. Use the content to draw and keep key traffic on your site.

Note that if your copy is not easy to understand, users will exit.Structure your content and keep it easy. You’re not speaking to professors and rocket scientists alone. You might also have artisans come around. Let your words keep them warm.

Now That Your Copy Is Done…

This title actually reads like a lie, because it is.

Your copy is never really done.

Your user is dynamic. Your industry is dynamic. Technology is dynamic.

You remain on the cutting-edge by tweaking and re-tweaking your copy often. Know your customers and copy that works for them. Beware! Some of your experiments will fail! The only way you guarantee your long-term relevance though is by showing you care to design a better experience for your user.

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