Review, Test to Build Online Response: Better copy, clear offers and easy ordering

DM News

Review, Test to Build Online Response: Better copy, clear offers, easy ordering and effective links keep sales humming
by Debra A. Jason, The How-To Writer (August 25, 1997)


As the popularity of the Web increases, a growing number of marketers are dissatisfied with the results they are getting from their sites.

Often, many of these marketers are not doing all they can to aggressively market their site, online and off.

But assuming that you are marketing forcefully, what can you do if your Web site is not meeting projections? Here are some pointers.

First, take a good, hard look at your copy. In their push to get online, many companies rushed their efforts, simply putting their brochures on the Web. As a result, the sites often lack a personalized feeling, similar to what you achieve with a direct mail letter.

Look at your copy again. Or better yet, ask others to read it and ask for their opinions. Did the site entice them with benefits, give them incentive to read on, or pique their interest? If not, ask them what was lacking.

Upon downloading your home page prospects should find an answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” Double check to see if your site accomplishes this goal right off the bat. If not, rewrite your headline. Make it enticing, use the word “you.”

How long is each paragraph? While long copy is not automatically bad, run-on sentences make it confusing to follow. And very lengthy paragraphs on one page are unappealing. If copy looks too cumbersome there’s little incentive to read further.

Incorporate bullet points (each can link to more information), and try to keep paragraphs to no more than five or six lines.

Is your content consistent with your goals? A recently reviewed site aimed to sell program memberships. Yet, when the site was originally constructed this was unclear to visiting prospects. After analyzing their traffic, the company discovered that most prospects left after viewing the home page because the site wasn’t easy to navigate. It’s goal was unclear.

It was critical to let prospects know that there was definitely something to purchase here, something that was extremely beneficial to them, and a special offer for responding promptly.

So as the site was revised, it became clearer where prospects should go for specific information.

Now, when navigating this site, prospects know precisely where they should “click” to get the information they want, be it details about a program benefit or how to order.

If you sell online, is ordering easy? Many companies put a surprising number of steps in their application/ordering procedures, steps that actually take you away from the form itself.

If you send people in another direction to execute a step, they may never come back to apply or order. Don’t ask them to leave. Ask for the order.

Are you linking effectively? Look at each page and take advantage of places where you can create links within your site to related products or service offers. Sites often miss opportunities to link text to other informative — or lucrative — pages throughout their site.

When creating reciprocal links between you and other sites, keep in mind that you don’t want your prospect to leave your site too soon. Links to other companies’ sites should be further down the hierarchy of your site. First and foremost, give your prospects reasons to link to other pages within your site, see what you have to offer and discover how they can benefit from coming back to your site in the future.

Since various components can affect your results, if your site is not performing to your expectations, review it as you would a direct mail package. Look at its components and test various aspects to see what makes the most difference.

The beauty of marketing your company online is the ability to keep your site new and fresh on an ongoing basis. If something isn’t working, reevaluate and revamp. You may find that not only does traffic increase, but so do your results.

Debra A. Jason is principal of The Write Direction, which started in Boulder, CO in 1989. Now based on Kauai, HI, Ms. Jason specializes in writing Web & direct marketing communications. The company’s Web site address is

©Copyright 1997 Debra Jason dba The Write Direction. All rights reserved. PO Box 608, Hanalei, HI 96714.