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Successful Website Marketing By Breaking The Copywriting Rules

Oct 16, 2007
I've always been someone who colored outside the line. Probably you have too. Internet business owners tend to attract fellow rule breakers, mavericks and rebels.

So I'm fascinated by websites that seem to break all the rules of copy - and their owners are doing just fine, thank you very much. They are attracting targeted traffic. They have great conversion rates. Most important, they're financially successful.

They come from diverse fields. I'm familiar with rule-breaking websites from a life coach, a marketing consultant and even a copywriter.

The first rule of website copywriting is, "Never begin your opening with a welcome message."

After all, I tell my own clients, your readers know they're welcome. You bought a domain name and paid for hosting. You may be paying for services to attract more traffic. Of course your visitors are welcome!

The second rule is, "Focus on your target audience, not yourself."

And copywriters encourage their clients to include bullets, photos and calls to action.

These websites break the rules. They open with "Welcome!" No bullets. No sales pitch. No "you" statements. No friendly smiling photo on the home page. The copy is all about them. Not a benefit in site...er, sight.

And they're successful.

How do they get away with it?

(1) They know their markets.

Their clients have very specific needs when they're choosing a resource. Therefore, their website content immediately answers their clients' top-of-mind questions.

(2) They sound friendly and authentic.

Clients feel they're getting to know the person behind the website. And in some markets, clients hire a resource based on liking and identification. Some of my career clients told mem directly, "I hired you because I like the picture of your dog."

(3) They market offline and/or they've been around awhile. So they're not exactly new to their readers. They're re-connecting, not establishing a first-time relaetionship.

Ultimately, though, the killer difference (a phrase you'd never find on those sites) is simpler. They have mind-blowing testimonials. Real, identifiable people have said, "I hired these services. I got amazing, tangible results. X transformed my health, wealth, life and/or business. Here are my numbers."

So what can we learn from these rule-breaking websites?

(1) Begin collecting testimonials. It takes awhile to create results and attract the names and claims that will rock your visitors.

(2) Test 2 or 3 versions of your website. Try a simple "this is just me" version - but go head-to-head with a more benefit-oriented style. My own tests always surprise me.

(3) Discover what your unique audience wants to know first when they choose a service professional in your unique field.

(4) Recognize that you can come across as sincere and authentic in a website or sales letter - even if somebody else writes your copy.

(5) Never underestimate the power of the "plain brown wrapper" effect. Sometimes simplicity comes across as effective.

As usual, it's a judgment call, fine-tuned through testing. Then again, that's the story of all copy.
About the Author
Download 2 Free Reports: 10 Tips to Sell Your Ebook on The Internet and 7 Secrets of Websites That *Really* Attract Clients.
From Cathy Goodwin, content strategist and copywriter. Transform your website from Internet Presence to Internet Profit Center.
Copy-Cat Copywriting
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