Getting readers to say “hell yeah” when they land on your web page

As a product marketer, when you write content for your website, don’t you want your readers to say “hell, yeah” instead of closing their tabs and moving on? Don’t you want them to feel like you read their mind, sign up and try your product?

How do you write copy that truly moves your readers to take action?

Often, people will tell you that you need to get into the shoes of the person who landed on your site. They’ll tell you you need to ’empathize’ with them. They’ll say you’ll need to talk about the problem statement so that your readers just ‘get it’.

But for someone who is getting started with copywriting, ‘getting into the shoes’ or ’empathizing with visitors’ barely means anything. These concepts are alien to folks who are just getting started.

As copywriters, we often end up opening Google Docs, writing sentences, looking at them over and over again. And after a couple of days of self-loathing, we finally push the work we’re often not happy about, on our sites. We’ve all done this before  -  I’m guilty of it too.

But what comes out of this process is forgettable copy. You know what it leads to  –  poor signups, poor conversions, and whatnot.

In this post, I want to talk about how I got over this habit and learned to write better copy. I want to unpack how you can actually go about empathizing with your users so that empathizing becomes more than just a jargon everyone throws around at you. This is certainly not rocket science  -  I’ve done this only by naturally studying what the best web pages I’ve seen have done in the past with words.

Imagine I’m building a product that any home baker across the world can use. I can write this headline and description introducing it on the homepage of Goodcookie, my product:

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Making your team discover the joy and value in writing things down

Last week, my engineers and I met to discuss the specifics (or so we thought) about a feature we were going to be working on. Even after an hour of healthy debate and discussion, I felt that everyone in the room wasn’t on the same page.

  • the backend engineers thought they knew – down to the details – how they needed to structure what they’re going to build
  • the frontend engineers assumed a certain structure for how the backend engineers would build their pieces, on top of which they’d be working on
  • the new hires in the team were probably struggling to put pieces together based on our discussion

If we had actually gone ahead and built what we wanted to build without getting to the details in writing, it’d have been nothing short of a disaster.

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Convincing your team that words matter

I think copy is an intricate part of product design. Getting everything else right, and product copy wrong would still be a disaster. But in most organizations, product copy falls through the cracks. It’s the last thing anyone worries about, and it isn’t seen as something that influences user experience. When not well thought-out, unclear copy doesn’t just make your product look unprofessional, but also frustrates and annoys users.

The hardest thing to do is convincing designers and engineers – the entire product team that words matter. The best way to go about it is to show, and not tell. When we got on calls talking to Freshdesk users, we realized many of them were confused by something we thought was very simple to understand.

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You cannot scale without documentation

If you’re building a business that grows like crazy, documentation should be a culture trait you should promote and look for in the people you hire. I realized this when we worked on a major revamp of Freshdesk’s product interface in 2017.

The team worked hard for close to a year on this project, and we thought we had a great launch in 2017, but soon discovered hundreds of features that we missed out. Our very own customer support team had to tell us about features that were part of the older interface, and we scrambled to build them later. A lot of times, we learned about product behaviour only after our customers told us about how much they missed them in the newer interface.

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