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The changing face of web copy

In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the need for relevant, intelligent and sharable web copy. So much so that 88% of UK marketers are now using content marketing to drive business. But what difference is all this focus on content actually making to website visitors and to the companies themselves?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the main trends and identify areas that copywriters and business owners will need to focus on to keep their web copy up-to-date and effective.

Variety of content

Whilst the main copy on your website is absolutely crucial to the behaviour and loyalty of your visitors, a greater range of content is increasingly required to attract new customers and build your brand. From blogs and social content to whitepapers and ebooks, mixing up the type of written material you provide can prove central to success.

Types of content might include:

  • Main web copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Regular blog posts
  • Social media content
  • Thought leadership articles
  • Videos
  • Online TV
  • Audio content
  • Podcasts
  • Interactive content, e.g. games
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Guides and information sheets

By ensuring that your website and social platforms include a range of high quality content, you can go a long way towards building larger communities and maintaining interest in your brand.

Long vs. short

With all the extra content flying around the internet and with increased ease of access through mobile devices, online copywriting is seeing two distinct yet co-existing trends.

Long-form content

First is the necessity for longer-form content such as whitepapers and thought leadership articles. These are high-value pieces for two reasons: a) the more words an article contains, the easier the search engines will find it to understand and rank and b) the deeper and more researched an article is, the more authoritative it seems and the more its power to build credibility.

Short burst content

The second trend is just the opposite. Since readers have so much content to digest, they are becoming quicker and more selective about what they choose to read, and are less tolerant of poor quality writing. This phenomena has been termed ‘content shock’ and means that we are starting to see shorter bursts of targeted content, sometimes only two or three sentences in length, playing a greater role in website copywriting.

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Great website copy is not about making sales. It’s not about looking better than the competition and it’s not even about providing useful information. What it is about is building relationships. And in practical terms, the most sure-fire way to do this is by telling a story.
Stories are the bedrock of our civilisation and there are few things more powerful. With the ability to pull people in, appeal to their emotions, make them feel intrigued, inspired and intimately involved, content that tells a story is consistently more likeable, more memorable, more loyalty-inspiring and more shareable than almost any other type of content. And its certainly proving its worth in today’s web copy.

To find out more on how to tell your story, visit our earlier blog post here.

Content marketing strategy

Despite the increase of content marketing, only 42% of content marketers in the UK have a documented content strategy and less than half say that they are effective at content marketing. Yet content marketing, linked to social media marketing, is big business and when planned and executed well, can bring in very effective and tangible results.

Companies are also more frequently outsourcing their entire content strategy or building in-house content departments and positions with names like Content Marketing Manager or Director of Content.

The lesson to learn from these changes is that having a structure and personnel in place to ensure consistency, regular updating of content and response to audience engagement is something that even the smallest of companies should consider, and that developing a forward-looking content strategy which is both manageable and measurable is essential to online copy success across the board.

Things that remain the same

Whilst the world of web copy and online content is moving quickly, it’s also helpful to remind ourselves that many things haven’t changed at all. All writing has an audience and a purpose. All people need to belong, to be understood, to be loved. Great writing, whatever the subject, should always be tailored directly to the target audience and speak to the heart.

The standard rules of online writing also still apply, so don’t forget to ensure that your web copy is:

  • Targeted
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Compelling
  • Engaging
  • Not just trying to sell
  • On-brand
  • Natural
  • Skimmable
  • Clearly structured
  • Findable
  • Shareable

Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in website copywriting and content strategy will help you to ensure a variety of on-brand, intelligent and compelling content to put you ahead of your competitors. Not only will you be able to attract new followers and build a loyal community of brand advocates, but your content will also establish you as an expert at the forefront of your industry and have your visitors returning to your website again and again.