When you’re running a startup, it’s easy to get bogged down working on your product. Adding a killer feature, managing customer support — it all requires a lot of attention.
But if you don’t give your marketing site the love it needs, your startup will never gain traction with customers and grow to the next level. When it comes to designing your startup’s marketing site, no aspect has more of an impact than your copy — i.e. the message you use to connect with visitors and convert them into buyers.
Below, take a look at five simple yet powerful startup copywriting techniques to build early (and lasting) traction with customers.
1. Speak to one person.
A common misconception about writing copy for the web is that you should write as if you’re speaking to a large audience. After all, you are.
But your copy will have a much greater impact if it’s written as if you’re having a conversation with one person — just you and me. This helps build a deeper relationship between you and the reader because it’s more intimate and personal.
You must have a thorough understanding of who your target customer is. Speak to him in his language, and use the terminology and style he uses. Focus on the points that matter most to this particular target customer.
For example, identify the main point your customers describe to you most when you talk to them (you are regularly talking to your customers, right?). Describe that pain point using the words your customer might use to describe it. When your customer reads it this way, she’ll immediately relate and assume that you “feel her pain.” This implies you have a solution designed for her, which she can find out about if she reads on.
KISSmetrics’s headline does two things really well. First, it speaks to “you,” not “everyone.” And it identifies with its target customers and business owners who care about analytics and metrics.
2. Focus on benefits, not features.
Your product might have a long list of technical features and functionality, which can be tempting to list out in order.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Before a visitor will convert to a paying customer, he has to care. Your product must have such an impact that he’s willing to open his wallet and pull out his credit card then and there.
How do you get to that point? By focusing on the benefits. How will your customer benefit from using your product? How will her life change for the better if she decides to use your product?
Let’s look at an example. Flow is a popular to-do list app. The main feature is that it lists tasks and shares them with others — but that’s just a feature, not a benefit. The benefit of Flow is that it keeps your team organized and in sync.
3. Reduce friction.
Whenever you ask for money, or even just a visitor’s contact information, you’ll always meet some natural resistance. People are reluctant to part with their hard-earned dough or risk spam by sharing their email address.
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The way to overcome this obstacle is to reduce friction in your copy. Instead of labeling a call-to-action button with the word “Submit,” try using “Sign Up for Free.” Or if it’s a button to complete a purchase, such as a “Buy Now” button, try adding “30 day money-back guarantee” in small text below it.
These give your customer positive reinforcement that his risk is minimal and he’s making a smart decision by clicking.
4. Grab attention and keep it.
The minute a first-time visitor hits your startup’s homepage, it’s a make-or-break moment. She’s immediately wary her time might be wasted, so she’s got her cursor poised over the back button, waiting for an excuse to bounce off your site.
It’s up to your site, and particularly the top headline and sub-headline, to avoid this from happening. Your headline must grab her attention; your sub-headline must keep her attention. The top headline should speak directly to the pain point your target customer has. It should also be a bold statement, almost to the point that it’s not believable. It should catch her off guard and make her want to keep reading.
The sub-headline, or a short first paragraph, should keep attention by establishing relevancy. Here, you can add clarity and be up-front about what it is you’re offering, in a nutshell — just enough to confirm with your visitor that this is in fact something he’s interested in learning more about.
10,000ft, a team management app for business owners, has a powerful, short headline that speaks to what a business owner really cares about: the big picture in her company.
The next few lines clarify this further by mentioning benefits, such as knowing when team members are available and keeping track of project budgets.
5. Provoke curiosity.
All of the examples above share a common tactic: They provoke curiosity.
The goal of your top headline is to get your visitor to read the second headline. The goal of the second headline is to get him to read the first paragraph. From there, you want him to keep reading all the way to the end and engage your call-to-action.
In order to compel your visitor to stick around and progress through your page, he must continuously be curious to learn more.
Give him a taste, but don’t give away the whole cake. It’s okay to introduce a concept, of course, but remain thin on the details so he craves more information. Fill him in bit-by-bit as your page(s) unfold.
In the example on the website for 10,000ft, the top headline and first paragraph simply identify problems business owners can relate to. They don’t go into how the product solves those problems; for that, the reader must continue down the page.
Image: Flickr, Very Quiet