Ivan Levison, an esteemed Bay Area copywriter, has three interesting ideas about how to write better homepage copy. I tend to save his email newsletters, because they’re always full of great ideas, expressed succinctly and with lovely East Coast wit. The ideas in this post come from a 10/5/15 newsletter, but I think they’re still relevant—and not just for homepage copy.
Mr. Levison calls out copy that doesn’t offer anything of value. (Bear in mind his background as a direct mail copywriter.)
His real-life example: “Welcome to XYZ Software’s on-line home. If this is your first visit, or if you are a return visitor, please tell us a little about yourself and how we can make your next visit more useful.”
His recommendation: Don’t immediately ask your visitors for information about themselves. This is a big turn-off, and visitors likely won’t return. As he put it, “If you want to capture contact information, offer something of real value for free!” He doesn’t make suggestions, but you might want to consider offering a quiz that helps prospects evaluate whether they are at the stage in their journey where your solution could help.
Empty or inane copy
Mr. Levison disapproves of vacuous copy.
His real-life example: “Welcome to ABC Software: ABC Software publishes award-winning consumer software products for health, diet, nutrition and recipes. Our mission, since 1987, is to educate consumers about healthy diets and provide information about optimum eating patterns. We are committed to improving public health.”
His recommendation: Lose the mission statement, which does not belong on your home page. Work to make your copy and your tone of voice “contemporary and lively.” I agree, but be careful not to go overboard. You don’t want to sound as though you’re trying too hard.
Mr. Levison makes note of copy that lacks logical connections.
His real-life example: “XYZ Software has been helping innovative companies provide world-class customer service via email and online transactions for more than twelve years. We know your time is valuable, and we know all too well how much time it takes to define and solve problems, before you take that first step up the learning curve.”
His recommendation: Avoid non-sequiturs, which the first and second sentence of the real life example perfectly illustrate. “Make sure your web copywriting is tight, sharp, and crisp.”
As always, I’m indebted to Mr. Levison for his quick and easy-to-digest copywriting lessons. Clearly, these three ideas apply not only to web homepage copy but also to marketing copywriting of any type. I recommend subscribing to his newsletter for a treasure trove of great marketing ideas.