The Power of Words: How to write website content that connects and converts
Before I started to write website content, I spent a lot of time writing other stuff.
Proposals mostly, for global engineering firms.
The objective? Win gigs to build big things like bridges, buildings and mines for mostly big companies, and a few small ones too.
Although I found myself suffocating in a dense corporate jungle, by the time I finished up with a redundancy (one of the happiest days of my life), I’d learned some hugely valuable skills. I’d also benefitted from insights that shaped the way I approach life and business now.
One pivotal insight was this: in verbal and written communication, technical people often eschew connection and relationship for weed-level technical detail.
Because they’re comfortable talking technical.
For them, technicalities are everything. They forget, or maybe don’t know, that while the technical is important, purchase decisions are based on the intangibles of emotions and relationships.
Understanding this distinction when it comes time to write your website content will mean you increase the chance of visitors becoming customers.
What’s feeling got to do with it (how I write website content)?
I know. It’s a stretch, right?
When I’m working with a client and make the suggestion to bring more feeling to their website content, there is frequently a pause. Then maybe a nervous kind of laugh. Sometimes I’ll even get a response like:
You mean to tell me my customers will make a decision based on something they can’t even touch or see?
Yes, I do mean it.
In fact, when making a purchase decision, it’s true the technical detail does get a show. However, technical details don’t get anywhere near the weight that emotions, feeling and connection do.
David H Maister wrote about this very thing in his book Managing the Professional Service Firm. He explained it in an article, which I regularly share, and which he sensibly titled, How Clients Choose.
In case you never get around to reading David’s book or this article, let me touch on what David explains to the very technical people who work in these (usually) very large consulting firms.
If you’re technical, your potential customer assumes you know what you’re doing. They accept you’re all over the details. This is why he states quite unequivocally, “The single most important talent in selling professional services is the ability to understand the purchasing process (not the sales process) from a client’s perspective. The better a professional can learn to think like a client, the easier it will be to do and say the correct things to get hired.”
Thank you, David. I love where your head’s at.
We can take this approach and apply it to any business and marketing. Even the way our customers connect to us through our website content.
Here’s what your customer is thinking when they read your website content: Can I work with this person/business? Do I want to work with them? Can I trust them enough to give them my money?
Here’s how technical people think (in my case, I was working with engineers). Let me tell you about the last great thing I did/built/sold or Here’s a list of the many great things I’ve done/bought/sold.
The disconnect is a big one. I call it the communications ‘black hole’. It’s like the area in the middle of nowhere the NBN won’t ever reach. Believe me, such places exist, including on websites, in business conversations, and in marketing collateral.
These people aren’t getting into the mind and heart of their customer. They’re not trying to understand what keeps them awake at night, or their biggest issue, or even what makes them happy.
It’s not that technical people don’t care; it just doesn’t enter their mind, or they can’t bring themselves to go there. Maybe it’s just too much feeling and it’s just plain uncomfortable. Or it could be missing synapses.
What they don’t realise is, this approach leaves people – their potential customers – feeling I can’t work with this person/business.
The outcome? It means opportunities, life value of a customer, and dollars are all passed by.
It also means that feeling and emotion and connection are best placed front and centre when writing website content.
David Maister tells us, it’s easy to learn how to do this. I don’t agree entirely. Many simple things are deceptively difficult, until we develop at least a conscious level of competence. Putting the time into the right words to write in your website content will help you reach that level.
Right website content is not gloss; it’s caring communication
Let me share another big eye opener I had from working in these firms. Technical peeps often also think marketing is ‘just the gloss’. For them, it’s the final polish on the real substance underneath (ah, that would be the technical details). When I worked with the hard-heads-with-no-heart in the corporate sphere, I was told many times:
The words don’t matter.
Nobody reads this anyway.
Or my personal favourite – Can’t we just add more pictures? And yes, visual content is super important, but we’re talking words here.
I can understand this position. Kind of. There are aspects of marketing certainly more sanguine than substance. Ever winced through a fragrance commercial? You’ll know what I’m talking about.
That said, we’ve also been living in a world where IQ (intellectual content) is valued over EQ (emotional quotient). In a paradigm where facts have held more influence than feeling, this hierarchy of values may have worked once. But, times, they are a-changing. And so are people’s (your customers’) expectations. It’s no longer enough to know what’s important to you and share this generously. In any relationship, in business or life, people tire quickly of such communication.
Success is found at the intersection of knowing what’s important to you, what’s important to your customers, and communicating in values and language that connects the two in a business relationship, otherwise known as a sale; sometimes even many sales.
Finding this beautiful nexus takes time, and I suggest, deep thought too. It is not a quickly rushed through exercise squeezed into your already busy business life. No, instead, it is consciously set aside time to prise out the gems that are buried deep. This process is like the website content version of slow cooking.
I love working with people who I know would prefer to skip this part of our work and just have me write website content. When we complete the task – and articulate the essence of who they are and the value their business offers – I see a visible shift in confidence and posture. It’s like they can breathe easier knowing, That’s how I wanted to say it all along, but didn’t know how.
Sometimes they respond from a place of deeper contemplation, like one client who said to me recently I now look at my customer like they’re a person, not a number. That’s gold.
Gloss? Definitely not. Caring communication. Most definitely. In every single word.
When you write website content, bring balance and awareness to your words
So, we’ve established it’s important to use words that make sense to your market. But how do you find those words.
Let’s work from the premise that everything is energy, including words on a website. Maybe that’s a stretch for some of the more technical amongst us, but there have been studies that point to the energetic power of words.
In his book Power v. Force, Dr David Hawkins, a healing psychiatrist presented the concept of words being calibrated to a certain frequency. He posits that words have a frequency that works like an attractor field that can be absorbed by the reader.
Even if you find this difficult to swallow or follow, there is a rational sense in communicating with care when you write website content. When you do this consciously, there is a coherence to your words and language. And people feel it. Yes, even through a website.
If you just write “whatever words”, you get whatever responses, and you attract whatever customers.
Avoiding whatever is important if you want to connect through your website. In fashion terms, avoiding whatever is like avoiding beige. Best done now the Seventies are over. You do this by knowing your customer, understanding their challenges, and presenting your value and solutions in language and words that resonate with them.
In future, the very best website content will integrate both factual and feeling in a balanced and coherent way to create conscious content. It does not mean leaving technical detail in the wake of heavily gilded marketing parlance. Nor does it mean we discard the importance of search engine performance with glossy words.
What it does mean to write website content of substance that sticks, we must consciously bringing together all elements of language, values, feeling and facts in an integrated and holistic way.
Delivering content, marketing and communication services, Macushla Collins is conscious content creator committed to assisting technical professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs to unlock their communication genius. Using the magic of the written word, Macushla works with people to dig up the gold that’s (often deeply) buried so they confidently tell and sell their unique story in a way that’s relevant to clients and customers and creates more sustainable, profitable business that sticks. Learn more at macushlacollins.com.