The Whole Ball of Wax on What NOT To Do With Your Web Copy

A Big Ball of Wax
A Big Ball of Wax

In writing this article I started researching the meaning of A Whole Ball of Wax and I found this photo. I hope you’ll find it funny in a Monty-Python-sort-of-way. I can’t even be sure that’s wax.

So moving on to the reason for this article, one of the ways I feel I am extremely helpful to my internet marketing clients is ensuring every site we build has effective web copy. (That’s keyword rich copy.)

The information I’m giving you here isn’t just my advice. These points are agreed on by many/most internet marketers. (With the exception of the item on “hype”.)

Thanks to research done via blind tests, I know what works and doesn’t work online. Corporate marketers with large mailing lists have been able to send the same product or service out with different sales copy and see which people respond to best.

  1. Don’t use long sentences and paragraphs. I create text for my clients that draws visitors in and flows. Once they start reading they just keep going. There are no unusual words or long complicated sentences to distract them. The ideas might be complex, but I break everything down so they can be grasped easily. If I must use a specialized term, I explain it right away. In writing for the Web, short sentences and short paragraphs is one secret to making your copy highly readable and keeping readers reading effortlessly.
  2. Don’t use hype. Hype is everywhere. It’s probably what gives marketing a bad name, and why some people don’t want to be associated with marketing. Don’t use hype to sell your services. “10 Easy Strategies To Make More Money With Your Web Site” is better than “Make Millions Effortlessly On The Internet.”  On the Web what works best is a congenial, friendly, and direct voice. Hype does not fit with an expensive service. Instead, you want people to trust you and believe in your expertise.
  3. Don’t forget the testimonials. I write about testimonials all the time because so many people forget them. Aim to have around 5 testimonials on your site. If people are interested in what you’re offering, reading a few glowing testimonials can cement their confidence in you and your service. If you need ideas on how to get or write testimonials, you can look at some of the articles on our site.
  4. Don’t talk about the process up front. First, talk about results.  There’s a place to talk about the process, but it’s usually pretty far along in the presentation. You can include that information on your Web site. But first talk about results:  what solutions do you offer and what results do your clients get?
  5. Don’t have copy that is too short. Having only a paragraph or a few bullet points is the real evil here. Your Web site is your main marketing vehicle and your window on the world. If the copy is skimpy it looks like you have no energy, little commitment and little to offer.
  6. Don’t make your copy too long. This problem is less common. I prefer copy that is concise and a page or 1.5 pages long per section. I love to read, but I’m busy. I like clarity and focus.  I don’t want to wade around to find the important stuff:  I want you to do that for me. So I think it shows good organization and a commitment to good communication to hit the main points in well under 2 pages. Most people don’t want to keep scrolling down.
  7. Don’t forget to tell people what to expect when they call. It’s common knowledge that it’s a good idea to put your contact information on every page of your site. The next thing is to tell people what will happen when they call you. This can go on the Contact page or the How We Work page. Do you have questions for your clients? Do you first speak by phone or do you meet them in person? Giving people this information makes it much easier for them to call you.
  8. Don’t use a hard-to-read font, print white on black, or fill the entire width of the screen with your copy. You want people to read your copy because it will sell them on your service. The entire width of the screen is too hard to scan. The width you see here is about right. Often people, including Web designers, pick a width that is too wide and impedes reading.

Got a couple more important points on what NOT to do with your web copy coming up in future issues. Those are—Don’t talk about yourself first and Don’t use jargon or unusual words.


Karen Nierlich
Karen Nierlich

When not researching the origin of obscure sayings like a “Whole Ball of Wax,” Karen and her partner Tod lead the Internet Marketing Firm Full Orbit Web and Marketing. They work with independent businesses who want to grow their business 10, 50 even 100% using the power of the internet. Let me know if this photo is humorous, repulsive or something else to you? I’m formulating a future article on the selection of photos for blog posts.

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