20 quick tips to un-average your agency’s web copy

These 20 quick tips to un-average your agency’s web copy from copywriters Treacle are exceptional and well worth considering if you are contemplating a rewrite in 2021.

Agency website copy tip No.1:

Front-load the benefits at the start of the sentence, then show your process for achieving it.

Like this:
“Drive more website conversions with our people-centred UX sprints, held at your workplace with your employees”.

Not this:
“Our people-centred UX sprints are held at your workplace with your employees, helping you drive more website conversions”.

Opening the sentence with a verb like ‘Drive’ makes the copy feel more dynamic and speaks directly to the potential client.

Verbs like ‘Get’ are great for rational outcomes, and ‘Feel’ is a great opener to introduce an emotional benefit.

Agency website copy tip No.2:

Clients choose with emotion and justify with logic, so paint a vivid picture of how they’ll feel after working with you.

Like this:
“Feel confident your campaign budget’s working hard because it’s been optimised at every step.”

Or even this:
“Strut into that Monday meeting knowing your campaign’s doing some serious numbers because it’s been optimised at every stage”

Not this:
“Our skilled team of experts ensure your campaign budget is optimised for best performance.”

Being clear and concise is great, but sometimes it’s worth a few extra words to bring that feeling to life.

Agency website copy tip No.3:

Don’t make clients think too hard. Too much cognitive load makes them leave.

Like this:
We’re a design agency working with sports and fitness brands.

Not this:
As a design agency, we connect the cultural dots between ambitious brands and better lifestyles.

Sure the second one sounds sexier, and there’s a place for this kind of statement on your site – but it leaves clients with more questions than answers. Nobody ever complained your copy was too clear. They do complain it’s too convoluted.

Agency website copy tip No.4:

Cut modal verbs that lack confidence, like ‘can, could, might, may, should’ etc.

Not this:
Our in-depth strategy workshops can help shape your brand, so you should call us today to book yours.

Like this:
Our in-depth strategy workshops help shape your brand, so call us today to book yours.

Or even this:
Shape your brand with our in-depth strategy sessions. Call today to book yours.

Agency website copy tip No.5:

If most sentences on your site start with ‘We, Our’ or ‘Agency, X’ then you’re probably speaking at clients – not to them

Not this:
We offer our clients a full range of digital services. Our expert team have 20 years of experience.

Like this:
Choose from a range of digital services, delivered with experience and expertise.

The first one sounds like a monologue, not a dialogue. Using ‘our clients’ feels distant and makes the client feel like just another account.

The second one talks directly to them, empowering them with an imperative verb (an instruction/invitation) to open the sentence.

The result is more empathy, less ego.

Agency website copy tip No.6:

Get your clients to write your case studies. There’s nothing more powerful than a story told by the person who came before you. It’s more reassuring and interesting.

Not this:
Brand X came to us with a challenge; to uplift sales through a range of digital marketing campaigns. We then created a range of solutions that best fitted their needs.

But this:
We challenged Agency X to increase our sales by at least 35%. They came back with a handful of campaign ideas – some amazing, some less so – and we chose the direction we felt had the most legs. It worked.

The first one sounds like a cookie-cutter case study you read everywhere. Swap out the brand and agency name and nobody would know (or care).

The second one takes more time, more work, more emails and calls – but it’s real. It compels potential clients to read, and more importantly – believe.

Agency website copy tip No.7:

Case studies: Don’t pretend the project went perfectly. People prefer a plucky fighter who stumbles sometimes.

Not this:
The project was delivered seamlessly from start to finish, coming in on time and to budget.

Like this:
The project ran smoothly, except for a couple of bumps early on as we struggled to find the right strategy. So we called a meeting, had a frank conversation, asked some deeper questions and found the right angle to hang the whole project on.

This is called the Pratfall Effect. Search it for more info. Basically, perfection is often seen as a flaw.

Agency website copy tip No.8:

If your results are right at the end of your case study, most readers will never get there.

Front-load them. Big, bold and unmissable. It’s the old inverted pyramid used in news and journalism – tell the whole story upfront, then flesh out the detail after.

Because everyone reads the headline, few make it to the end.

Agency website copy tip No.9:

Service pages. Often there’s too much emphasis on the HOW; the process and the deliverables. But there’s not enough WHY: the rational and emotional benefits clients get from this service.

Create a service value proposition to open the page. It’s much more compelling than just stating the service name, which clients know anyway because they just clicked the link.

Not this:
Search Engine Optimisation

Like this:
Get searched, seen and clicked more with smarter SEO

Or even this:
Outrank your competitors and land more leads with smarter SEO.

Agency website copy tip No.10:

Using a benefit pyramid to sharpen your agency’s messaging.

The bottom of the ladder is the what you do – your services and processes. These are often too technical and detailed to be of immediate interest to potential clients.

Then at the top there’s profit/sales/money. This is a given in all business, so it’s a bit of a hollow claim to lead your messaging with.

The magic’s in the middle.

Working upwards from each of your services or processes, ask; So what? to go a level higher into the benefits.

The red section is where you’ll identify the specific, real-life benefits of what you offer- both rational and emotional. This is where the benefits come to life. Where they match the conversation in your potential clients’ heads.

The orange section will give you 2 or 3 key benefits that are bigger and more aspirational. These are your big messages.

This pyramid helps you tie each of your services or processes to varying levels of benefits – from specific and emotional, through to key benefits and all the way to the top, if needed.

If you can bridge multiple layers with your messaging, then you’ll have messaging your clients actually care about.

Agency website copy tip No.11:

Cliches. When you look at enough agency websites you tend to see the trends in what everyone’s saying. Here’s our top ten right now. Any look familiar?

1. We connect brands and audiences/consumers
2. We simplify the complex
3. Small agency, big ideas
4. A tight-knit team of talented people
5. Empathy and expertise
6. From SMEs to global brands
7. We grow your business
8. We build long-term relationships
9. We’re passionate about…
10. We take the time to truly understand you

Agency website copy tip No.12:

Framing your agency/service around a problem.

Lots of agencies feel their copy should only ever be positive. But laying out the problem shows understanding, it joins the conversation in clients’ heads, and it builds their sense of frustration – ramping up the relief when they find your solution. Too heavy-handed and it’s scaremongering. Too subtle and it’s weak. The beauty’s in the balance.

Not this: Your website is your business’ weak point. Right now, hackers are trying to steal your identity and access your accounts. You’re money and work is not safe. You need our website security package otherwise you could lose everything. (Heavy-handed)

Or this: Internet security is important. Our website security package can help. (Too subtle)

But this: Hackers are always on the prowl for vulnerable websites without proper security. Our website security package gives you the confidence they can’t get in.

Agency website copy tip No.13:

Price anchoring.

Everything’s relative, so weave in some big, scary numbers before you reveal your pricing. If you’ve talked about a client spending £100k and being dissatisfied, your £40k price point and starts to sound pretty reasonable.

Agency website copy tip No.14:

Your website isn’t enough. Repositioning and refreshing your agency’s messaging are a great start. In fact, they’re vital.

But after that, you need consistent content to bring your new message to the market.

Too often we see agencies lean on their website as the whole answer, but clients need to see you everywhere – social, blogs, ads, referrals, emails, ebooks etc. And if these all have a different voice and vision, it can lack cohesion and confidence. And clients don’t love that.

Agency website copy tip No.15:

Super-specific agency content. Nobody really needs another article about the ‘Benefits of good design’, ‘Ten tips for digital marketing’ or another ‘How to thrive in the new normal’. The point of great content is that it starts to qualify your leads.

These titles are too broad, which means anyone might be reading them. Good for general awareness, bad for useful targeting. A really niche and nerdy article will have a smaller readership, but most likely the right one.

For example, we released a 10,000 word ebook, ‘Nail Your Agency’s Website Copy’. We get the odd copywriter downloading it, but 90% are our target audience. If we called it ‘Write Better Copy’ or something, we’d have the world and his wife grabbing it – which is no use to us.

Better to have 10 fans, than a 100 fairly interested followers.

Agency website copy tip No.16:

Contact pages. They rarely get a lot of love. But we track how people interact with ours using Hotjar. And you’d be surprised how many people go through the site and leave on the contact page.

It’s the page where clients want to turn this into a human relationship, a one-to-one, not a digitally distant appraisal of your offer.

So it’s good to add a touch of warmth, as well as clarity about what’ll happen next.

There are no rules. But a big form and the words Contact Us aren’t as persuasive as you might think.

Agency website copy tip No.17:

We see lots of agency websites that use nearly all their copy to sell the need for the services, not why their agency is the smart choice.

There are multiple pages of vague chat about what branding is, or why websites are important nowadays. But the majority of modern clients know this already. What they want to know is: Why you?

Often it feels like these agencies have to sell twice. Once to convince the client they need the service, then that they need the agency. And that’s hard work.

The reason is the agency doesn’t have an angle, a specialism, an ownable idea to frame everything around. There’s nothing distinctive or different. There’s little or no discernible positioning.

The deciding factor often becomes being ‘affordable’ or ‘letting the work speak for itself’. Neither of these are positions of power to scale from.

Sure, great copy can help convince clients. But it’s only as strong as the strategy behind it.

Agency website copy tip No.18:

Read your copy out loud. Would anybody ever say that in real life?

Most people’s main experience of writing was in school or university. That’s where you get taught to write to show how clever you are. It’s not how people really talk.

And that’s why lots of agency websites sound written, not spoken. There are too many long and stilted-sounding clauses (bits of sentences). There’s some pointlessly difficult words.

This all makes it harder to join the conversation in a potential client’s head.

Not this: Branding is a highly-beneficial and effective process that helps you increase recognition and perception, impacting your business growth over time.

Like this: Branding matters. It helps people recognise you so they’re more likely to buy.

Agency website copy tip No.19:

When it comes to writing your main website messaging, start with quantity and edit down by quality.

It’s rare to nail something this big in one or two attempts. Quite often we’ll draft over a hundred versions of a main value proposition and subhead. Then it’s a good idea to group them under creative routes, each with a different benefit, angle or tone.

After that you need some external eyes to tell you which are rubbish. Be prepared for most, if not all, to get cut. But each time you write some more, it snaps the more synapses and shows you other angles you’d never considered. After a round or two of this process you should get a handful of leaders.

So how do you know which is the winner? Intuition’s great, but it’s always best to test.

Agency website copy tip No.20:

Clients will be checking out various agency websites. And guaranteed they’ll see the same words everywhere: strategy, creative, results, deliver, engage, inspire, connect etc. So if you’re the agency that disrupts the pattern, you increase your chances of being remembered. And this increases your chances of getting hired.

But that doesn’t mean your site headline should be ‘Banana Trouser Mouse’ just to get attention. There’s a balance to strike because some of these words are useful mental shortcuts for people. But a whole page made of them has all the personality and memorability of a Slough roundabout.

The trick is in the way you weave them. In breaking expectation to earn the right kind of attention.

Expected: We use strategy and creativity to deliver exceptional results for our clients.

A huge thank you to Treacle for allowing us to share this great advice.



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