The Simplest Website Messaging and Copywriting Tip You’ll Ever Read

by Marcus Sheridan

copywriting_tips

When it comes to effective content marketing, too often businesses forget just how much their website copy and messaging impact a reader’s ability to trust, relate to, and want to do business with a company. When it comes down to it, here is the deal:

Every word of your website is a component of your overall content marketing and business success…or failure.

But instead of going deeply into a massive 1000 word review of what “great website copy” looks like, I’m going to show you something today that we at The Sales Lion do with our clients and it makes for an incredibly eye-opening and powerful experience.

Step 1: Go to the Home Page of your website

Step 2: Count how many times you use a pronoun that relates to “you” and “your company.” (an example would be: we, us, our, I, etc.)

Step 3: Now count the number of times you use a pronoun referencing the reader or their company/issue/need. (an example would be: you, your, etc.)

Step 4: Compare these two sets of numbers (and if you’re like 99% of companies and organizations, you’ll quickly realize your copy and messaging is all wrong).

Step 5: Go and do this same activity on every page of your website.

It’s Always About Them…Always

You see, I told you it would be simple, and I wasn’t kidding.

Sadly, when it comes to website messaging, most companies almost exclusively make it about “them”– their products, their services, their greatness, etc. From my personal studies, I have found that most copy is 90% about the company and only 10% about the customer.

In other words, it ain’t about *them.*

Their problems.

Their current issues.

Their worries.

If you’re ready to take your content marketing efforts to the next level, do this activity mentioned above. I’m telling you, it will blow your mind and there is a very good chance the light-bulb will come on and you’ll realize some changes need to be made.

Your Turn

I’m hoping you’ll play along with me on this. In the comment section below, tell me how it went for you. Did most of your pronouns reference you, your company, and your stuff— or did they reference the customer, their problems, and their needs?

Something this simple can go a long ways folks. Give it a try, and then discuss…

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

James Riddett August 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

I’m delighted to report that our home page passed muster! It’s completely about the reader :-) Cheers Marcus.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:36 am

Nicely done James!!! Now maybe go out and help some of your friends that own businesses to do the same! :)

Marcus

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James Riddett August 20, 2014 at 10:49 am

Actually I do do that :-) Cheers dude, keep up the great work.

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Daryl August 19, 2014 at 9:54 am

What if your home page is your blog post?

I counted 53 mentions of “you” and “your” in my most recent blog post.

1 mention of we

1 mention of us

o mentions of I

Do I win a prize? :)

Reply

Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:36 am

Daryl, you win a free subscription to The Sales Lion blog in your inbox!!!!

Oh wait, I think you already have that ;-)

Well, it’s the best I got my man!

Marcus

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michael e.stern August 19, 2014 at 9:57 am

I’m about 50-50…a lot better than it was a few months ago. Thanks for keeping the push on Marcus.

M

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Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:34 am

That’s the key Michael—you’re improving, getting better, refining the message. Heck, I’m clearly doing the same.

Keep it up my friend!

Marcus

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dave rosenthal August 19, 2014 at 10:32 am

the count is in:

your/your: 14
I: 1

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Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:33 am

Dave, you stud. Well done!!!! :-)

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Simon MacTaggart August 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Spot on Marcus!

To paraphrase Jannice (Ginny) Redish in her classic bestseller; Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works (Chapter 2, Page 12.);

“Successful [businesses] focus on their audiences”

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Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:33 am

Appreciate that Simon, and I hadn’t heard of that book so thanks for the recommend!

Have a great week,

Marcus

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Kelly Hall August 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Great article. I have 17 about “us” and 15 about “you”. Looks like I have some work to do!

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Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

Not bad that Kelly, and at least you’ve taken the time to truly check. :)

Keep up the great work!!

Marcus

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Bonnie Chomica August 19, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Great description to write for the reader. This holds true for all your marketing material, not just your website. Write your brochure, event flyers, emails, letters, anything that goes in front of a prospect or customer, as if you are speaking to one person.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2014 at 8:31 am

Yep, that’s exactly the case Bonnie. The more I write about “online” stuff the more I realize I’m talking about “offline” just as much. :)

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Sarah Mitchell August 20, 2014 at 8:30 am

What a great exercise! I had 14 pronouns referencing the reader and not a single one referencing me. I’ve been working at this for a long time though.

Here’s the good thing about flipping your perspective; the more you do it, the easier it gets. Before long it’s second nature. I know. I did it myself.

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Wade Harman August 20, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Hey Marcus, I think you referenced to this a long time ago when I was just first starting out in blogging. That’s always the way I’ve tried to write. Putting “You” and “Your” in there instead of “I” and “Me”.

Good to see it’s still working.

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FunSnow August 21, 2014 at 3:35 am

Great tips for website copywriting, I do agree that it’s really difficult to use words that are simple but engaging viewers to stay on site, but with your help Marcus I think I can now understand how to do this.

Cheers :)

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Davina K. Brewer August 26, 2014 at 11:21 am

Yup I failed Marcus.. spectacularly! :-) It’s on the list, soon as I find a WP theme so easy even I can do it – and a magic window of time – my website gets that total revamp it’s been needing for eons. Less me, less me, less me. FWIW I do write the blog for the reader, the potential client, for them.

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Kevin Asp August 31, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Thanks Marcus! I can’t remember where I heard this but many of spend so much time saying We, we, we…. It sounds like we are We Weeing all over ourselves!

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