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  • web copy lengthThis is a guest post from Michela Ziady.

    Some smart people tell us that you have 15 seconds to give your online readers the info they’re looking for. Thirty words. Three clicks. Or, they’re gone. Just like that.

    Incidentally, that little titbit was exactly 30 words in length. 170 characters, including spaces. And it wouldn’t fit into a single Tweet. So, what’s the real message here?

    We need to hook our readers quickly. This means we need to communicate our bright idea faster than Usain Bolt runs 200m. And that ultimately means we need to keep our web content short and tight. Exciting to read. Nice to look at. Easy to finish.

    Find your two content creation objectives

    1. Each piece of content you create ties into to a short-term goal like encouraging your reader to download your newest whitepaper or sign up for the XYZ webinar.
    2. Each should tie into your strategic business objectives like building buzz, conversation, or increasing sales-qualified leads by 7%.

    Get your great ideas read – always

    Yes, we should all be creating remarkable content. Gulp. The fact is that when you actually crack innovative thinking and helpful insights, you could be killing them with long copy.

    Simply, potential leads are stifled before they even engage. It’s a shame because both you and your tribe lose out. Three steps to get your ideas across:

    1. Speak human – Personality is the key to your brand because humans attach to humans, to online personas that feel real. The best method to humanise your copy is to read it aloud. If you feel like a nonce saying ‘peruse’, ‘herewith’ or ‘prodigious’, don’t use it in your writing.
    2. Stay on-topic – Whether you’re reviewing a new industry product, commenting on a thought leader’s recent idea, offering a how-to or best practice article, you have a message. So knuckle down and say it – succinctly. If each sentence isn’t adding to your core message, scrap it.
    3. Use keywords naturally – If you follow point one and two, this should be an easy third step. So using keywords in your body copy, heads and subheads will become a nippy feat and, it’s the kindest way to incorporate SEO into your exciting (yes!) content for your readers. A good method is to treat each head or subhead like a value-adding phrase: “5 Tips for Better B2B Blogging”.

    Make language work for you

    Use personal pronouns to connect to your readers. Direct address is the best way to make your ideas immediate and relevant. After all, you’re telling your online community something that they should know.

    Use contractions like can’t instead of can not and we’re instead of we are. Unless you’re writing a business profile or CI the more conversational your language the more engaging your tone.

    Use short words because they’re quicker to read online, simpler to understand and – ultimately – they’ll drive your readers through your article. Plus, as we move towards more mobile writing, long words are walking the plank.

    Use a clear call to action that’s not spammy or confusing. A good idea to establish what CTA works best for your target audience in AB testing. This is facilitated by most inbound marketing software solutions like HubSpot.

    Follow figures to find your feet

    Stats shmats. To say this is the only way is rubbish. But it’s a nifty guideline for awesome-looking content. And, before you know it, you’ll follow the format on autopilot. Take a look:

    Heads: 7 words is standard, 9 is max, the fewer the better

    Sentences: 11 – 13 words, but mixing up sentence length is important

    Paragraphs: 1 idea and 2-3 sentences per paragraph

    Ditch dense online copy – for good

    Scan your content to get an overall feel. Yes, copy has a feel. Most online users will glance at your landing page, blog post or e-mailer and duck if it looks impenetrable.

    To improve readability:

    Learn short copywriting from the greats

    Well, maybe they aren’t the greats. But they’re good. Most importantly, they use short copy really effectively…

    Reap rewards of short content

    No matter your objectives – to establish yourself as a trusted advisor, gain blog subscribers or generate online leads – creating short, accessible copy is a must. No more negation here. Just the handy tips. Give them a whirl.

    Michela is a digital content marketer at Sydney-based inbound marketing firm g2m Solutions. Specialising in online copywriting, social media content creation and all things digital, she’s a stickler for tight web writing and passionate about words.

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