The Fine Balance of Customer vs Client-Centric Copy
As a B2B web copywriter I often find myself in a battle of wills with company stakeholders. CEO’s and Marketing Managers frequently have their own ideas of how their corporate website should look/read and they have certain subject matter that they want to brag about, such as their new eco-friendly stance on oil production or their latest acquisition to impress investors. All of this material is useful, but not necessarily in your prime real-estate section of the homepage.
Let me explain…
You have about ten seconds to impress your website visitor, convince them they’re on the right site and persuade them to stay there and read your content in order to get the information they want and take the action you want them to take.
A good web copywriter will know up front (because they would have done their research) what the ideal website visitor requires from the site as well as exactly who they are (the target market). This enables them to ‘talk’ directly to the target audience in a way that they will understand and relate to. It also allows them to put the necessary information and links on the homepage where it will be easily read and assimilated (and followed).
Prime Real Estate
The area of prime real estate on a website is above the ‘crease’ of the screen and below the top navigation (and usually slightly to the left of the page). This is where you main eye-catching content should go. A headline always gets attention, so this should be crafted carefully and should let the readers know what the page is about. A subheading to follow up is a useful way of providing even more information to the reader without overloading them. Only communicate enough information to engage and hold the reader’s attention. Then a short introductory paragraph should deliver on the headline. A few links to primary areas of the site should follow, drawing the readers eye and showing them what action to take next.
If the goal of the site is to impress investors (which it often is) then this information is paramount. Quick links to annual reports and other investor related information should be visible and easy to access from the homepage. Other elements that score corporate brownie points such as eco-friendliness and community outreach projects can build trust in the brand and should be brandished about in the sidelines.
What is the Goal of the Site?
If the goal of the site is to provide information and resources for the everyone in the supply chain, or the end user market, then content strategy should be carefully developed in order to provide these readers with the information they need. As a B2B copywriter I always read any prior stats or analytics with careful attention, as this is a good indication of the most popular areas of the site. I also make it my business to interview every section of the target audience, so as to gauge correctly what they require from the site. Sometimes these results surprise even the CEO’s!
Sometimes the two goals above merge, and the corporate website has to cater to both industry users and stakeholders. This is more of a delicate balance, and careful planning and negotiating is usually necessary.
For a website to be successful and generate quality leads, it has to be customer-centric and not CEO-centric. No offense, but often CEO’s do not realise the importance of the elements that go into a highly converting website. Often, effective website optimisation is a learning curve for the management team (who are usually more concerned with the logistics of oil production or the fast-changing world of telecoms). And we can’t blame them – that is, after all, their business.
The problem comes in when management are not open to good web copywriting advice. Narrow mindedness or ego-centric views can damage the performance of a website and in turn, harm the reputation of the web expert, when the site underperforms.
A Communication Exercise
Often a good B2B copywriter needs to have flawless negotiating skills and a degree in diplomacy to get the job done right. Various stakeholders often have different ideas and sometimes all of them want to voice their opinions at once. I frequently find myself calmly separating the important material from the downright ridiculous and patiently explaining the intricacies of website optimisation to top management. More often than not a compromise is reached (as they see the light) but as long as the website fulfills the needs of its target audience, and creates high-quality leads for the sales team to follow up, I’ve done my job.