Why Your Website Content Loses 7 Percent of Customers

Today is Day Five in our Writing Website Content series. We started with whether you should specialize in website content writing, the right questions to ask your buyers, why writers should give a great tour of a website and why catchy website headlines matter.

Now let’s examine why you’re going to lose 7% of your client’s customers – and maybe even more.

Most types of writing follow standard formats and structures. Writing website content is no different. The roadmap of format guides both writers and readers through the content. Without format, a reader (and a writer) just wanders about with no goal in mind.

But website content does have a goal in mind – a very specific one.

In just a handful of words, website content has to convey credibility, brand, image, information, emotion and a message. At the same time, the content has to attract search engine crawlers looking for specific keywords or phrases.

The sum of all those elements results in an action on the reader’s part. That action is all that matters.
It’s called conversion, and conversion feeds the Internet world.

Nuts n’ Bolts Website Structure

The general structure of website content follows the rules of most types of writing. There’s a catchy headline, an opening introductory paragraph, the body, and a conclusion.

The difference is that website content is limited. Its restrictions involve the space above the fold – the space that a visitor sees when first landing on the website. Any content below the fold – the content a reader has to scroll down or click lower to see – is secondary and negligible.

In short, it doesn’t matter.

Why Below the Fold Doesn’t Matter

Someone more versed in the accurate, latest statistics knows more about this, but it’s said that with each click a website visitor has to make, the website loses 7% of its potential to convert.

Let’s stress that: Each click loses 7% of customers.

Even if that statistic is incorrect, the theory is true – the more clicks a visitor must make, the less conversion that happens on the site. In short, people are lazy as hell. The less action on their part, the better.

If all the reader has to do is glance at the page and get exactly what he or she wants right there, the chance of conversion is high.

But let’s be realistic. The writer that can convert within 250 words is blessed by the muse indeed.
People today are savvy and resistant to sales pitches. It takes more to impress them. They’re nonplussed by all the promises, the great hype and the marketing techniques. Been there, done that.
Who cares?

Generally, it takes a writer more than 250 words to achieve conversion – one click to another page, a little more content to read, or perhaps more pertinent information.

Remember: Each click loses customers and the conversion rate lowers.

The solution? Keep people moving. Be a great tour guide, write concisely and help people take decisions quickly. Don’t try to keep them on one page – your goal is to lead them to the action they need to take, as easily, simply and quickly as possible.

We’ll be back on Monday with more in our Website Content Writing series – stay tuned!

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Excellent ideas. I’d add to that, make it virtually idjut-proof to find where key marketing information is on your site – ie, have direct links to

    Contact Me
    About Me
    Subscribe
    Your Best Benefits
    How To Pitch Me
    etc.etc.etc.

    Ideas,

    Barbara

    Barbara Ling’s last blog post..RANT – What the eBay Affiliate Program is Missing Part 2 – Parallel Universe Shipping!

  2. I read somewhere that to increase conversion, condition people to click links on your site by linking often within your content, so that they become used to taking actions on your site. What do you think?

    Dave Navarro’s last blog post..Why Failure Costs Nothing And Success Can Steal Everything

  3. “Be a great tour guide, write concisely and help people take decisions quickly.”

    I think that’s the key.

    I know that’s the right way to write for this medium, but I’m haunted sometimes as to whether or not I’m actually doing it.

    Anyway, this has been a very good, thought-provoking, informative series, James.

    Good work.

    Jesse Hines’s last blog post..I’m Moving To WordPress But Blogger Is Still Cool, Too

  4. Brett Legree says:

    @Dave,

    (Not being an expert, but learning from you guys) I’d say that sounds like a great idea. I first noticed it here at MwP actually, how they link back to their older (and still great) content – and it seems to work well.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..viking fridays – axe and sword.

  5. @ Dave – If you’re interested, here’s my response to that . . .

    I think I’ve heard that once before, too. However, think of it like this – imagine you’re trying to convey your message knowing your reader doesn’t have the time to read your message.

    You’re primary goal is to get them to buy. To get them to buy, you need to convey a beneficial message to them asap. However, if you keep interrupting them and getting them to click away from what you really want them to read, they’re going to get confused or their thought process will start thinking in a different direction (like getting more information rather than being sold through persuasive content).

    Keep that thought process focused.

    Am I making sense, sorry, still early. Basically my point is try. Not. To. Interrupt. Them.

    I prefer it all to flow and end with an action and not several actions in between.

    Just my take, in case you care.

    @ James – you couldn’t be more correct. Above the fold is everything!

    John Hoff – eVentureBiz’s last blog post..Tell Me About You

  6. This whole series has been fantastic, guys!

    When it comes to conversion, I find that writing the most important point first (and skipping the fluff) helps draw users in. I think Jakob Nielsen calls this “inverted pyramid” style.

    Rebecca Smith’s last blog post..What are your favorite books?

  7. Dave,

    I’ve never heard that concept. If we’re talking read-through-my-blog, that sounds fine (except if it works they may not finish your article… it’s a risk you take).

    If we’re talking about conversion on a “regular” website, eew. I can not imagine that “conditioning” people to click is a good idea for conversion. If you can dig a link up for that, I’d like to read it.

    James,

    I love this post. At first I wasn’t really digging this series too much (oh, dear), but every article has been better than the last. You made your point here beautifully.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Why is Go Daddy so Gosh Darn Ugly?

  8. Love this series. It’s so HANDY, like the Men with Pens knew JUST what I needed.

    ::sigh:: They love me, they really love me . . .

    Tei – Rogue Ink’s last blog post..Writers Know More Than Wile E. Coyote

  9. Legendary copywriter, Joe Sugarman, had a great quote about this that’s always stayed with me, something like, “the fundamental purpose of each sentence is to get the reader to read the next sentence.”

    While this was said largely in the context of marketing-based copywriting, fact is, even if you’re not selling a product, you’re still selling an idea and, possibly, an action.

    So, when I write for the web, I still follow this approach and regularly salt each paragraph with teases that tempt the reader onto the next. Does it always work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but it’s really fun when it does!

    Jonathan Fields’s last blog post..How NOT to approach online JV partners and bloggers

  10. @ Jonathan – Hmm… I think that this may be the case for long copy used in sales letters, etc. You want to keep people reading to hook them.

    But in the case of website content, I have to disagree – and we’re talking a webSITE, not a blog. See, you don’t want to keep people reading. You WANT them to call, contact, email, buy, opt in. It’s not a question of possible action, as you mentioned. It’s as close as you can get to guaranteed action.

    And you don’t have long copy to do this with. You have, on average, 250 words.

    What do you do?

    (Good to see you here, btw!)

    @ Tei – Yes, we love you. Even though you’re a pain in the arse ;)

    @ Kelly – You most likely wouldn’t dig this article unless you were writing website content for a living LOL… However, I’m glad you’re reading and commenting. Your experience from a different angle has brought up some excellent value.

    @ John – Ayup. You’ve got the right of it.

    @ Jesse – The only way you’ll know if you’re achieving it is by continual monitoring of results and tweaking to see the effects. Difficult at best if you sell your content to someone else.

    @ Dave – My personal thought is that if I know a site forces me to click, then I stop visiting that site. (ALL THOSE WHO USE PARTIAL FEEDS – ARE YOU LISTENING?) I can see the potential argument in favor, though – since you have limited space to convince people, you keep them clicking to the next point that ravages one of their resistant arguments.

    Buuuut if it were me? No, I wouldn’t go the click route.

    @ Barbara – That comes into navigation and layout of a site (not the actual writing of the content), but you’re right. That info has to be RIGHT THERE, and CLEARLY VISIBLE. Good point.

  11. These are great tips but once the page is up you will need to test it. This is where http://www.pagealizer.com/ comes in. Pagealizer shows how long people stay on your page with bounce rate distribution charts, how far visitors scrolled down your page (did you manage to grab their attention in the first paragraph? how much of your copy did they read?) and where people clicked (which call to action really triggered an action). Based on our algorithms you even get suggestions how to improve your page.
    Check us out :)

  12. @ Pagealizer – That would’ve been cool to test… But you lost me at the “insert this code into your website”. Maybe that’s a standard thing, but that ain’t gonna happen here.

    Good try, though!

  13. Graham Strong says:

    @James – regarding “the click route”…

    Okay, this is getting more into “advanced” web content writing, but I think that it is worth mentioning that there is a very good reason in some cases to use multiple links. For example, let’s say you are selling a fairly technical product to a broad range of possible visitors. Some people will already know what a Whirring Widget is, and just want to know how yours is better. Other people have heard that they need a Whirring Widget, but don’t know a whole lot about it.

    Your 250 words then on the first-level page would describe the benefits of your Whirring Widget, but you highlight a link to the extra information that some of your visitors need to have before they make a decision.

    So yes, the main goal is to drive the visitor to some action (contact the company, buy the online product, download the report…) as fast as possible. However, you also have to design the content realizing that some visitors will take longer to reach that action than others — and provide them the information they need to make that decision.

    In other words, you want to prompt your website visitors to take action as quickly as possible BUT if they do not have enough information to decide to take that action, you do want them to keep reading until they decide to take that action.

    As John Huff pointed out, links inside a passage can be distracting (although they are great for SEO). I like to add these links at the end of the page, which is getting back to your tour guide analogy (now if you step this way, you’ll see…), or highlighted in a side bar. Keep the visitor focused on one thing at a time, then lead them to the next step. And always keep your desired goal (contact us, etc.) as an option.

    And for anyone not convinced that almost nobody reads every page in your website, install Google Analytics and see what your visitors are reading!

    ~Graham

    Graham Strong’s last blog post..What’s Your Favourite “Gadget”?

  14. Ooh, Graham, I want a Whirring Widget.

    That kind of linking (IMO) is different from the “conditioning” links. That’s the “let’s not bore you with details if you’re already to Yes” kind of links, which is good.

    G.A. is a big downer if you’re all proud of your earth-shattering prose. :(

    And a good kick in the pants, too.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Why is Go Daddy so Gosh Darn Ugly?

  15. @James – all modern web analytic tools use javascript to track site usage… some things just cannot be tracked analyzing web logs :)
    BTW i noticed this site uses google analytics.. isn’t that javascript code which was added to a website ;)

  16. @ Pagealizer – Yuppers, but Google is a trusted well known source and not someone new out of the blue. Granted, I shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone new, but I don’t know enough about coding to say whether the coding is something okay to install or not – I’d have to ask someone neutral in the know.

    Doesn’t at all mean it’s not a good product – but that’s what turned me off.

  17. @James – No problem and no offense taken. You are more than welcome to try our service in the future :)
    regarding google take a look at http://www.news.com/Google-balances-privacy,-reach/2100-1032_3-5787483.html

  18. Keep people moving, by clicks? Then you’ll lose them all, or? Or did you mean make them move further down the page?

  19. I mean keep them progressing from the start of the website to the goal – conversion – along the path they are meant to take in the least amount of clicks possible. Make sense?

  20. Great series, which I have bookmarked for continued use. However the links to the earlier parts of the series are broken/wrongly set up.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Welcome to Day Six in the series on Writing Website Content. Last week covered specializing in website content writing, the right questions to ask buyers, how writers are like website tour guides, why great headlines are important and how to lose 7% of your client’s customers. [...]

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