Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.
Web Copy That Turns Clicks Into Closes
Effective Web copy should encourage visitors to interact with you.
June 1, 2005
The copy on most real estate Web sites makes for excellent bedtime reading, especially if you’re suffering from insomnia. The biggest mistake sales professionals make with their Web site content is using it to inform rather than engage their visitors. But with a little thought, structure, and effort, you can launch profitable new relationships with online prospects through your Web copy.
Attract, Engage, Interact
We live in a “scanner” society: People skim text rather than read every word. It’s important, therefore, that your site grab the visitors' attention on every page. The best way to do this is to:
- Use snappy headlines. Your site can have brilliant copy but it won't be seen or appreciated if your visitors aren’t attracted to it via a compelling headline. A great headline is one that emotionally appeals to your online target market. For example, first-time buyers will certainly be attracted to: “3 Steps to Beat Other Buyers to the Home of Your Dreams.”
- Engage with interesting text. The main job of the first paragraph is to continue building interest generated by the headline. Each paragraph after that should address in some way the payoff or promise implied in the headline. For example, for the headline mentioned above, the first paragraph can be: “In today’s competitive homebuying environment, often with multiple offers being made, your offer should not only be the first offer but also the offer that will be viewed as the most valuable by the sellers. Here are three steps that ensure that that happens.” The subsequent three paragraphs can list the three steps you promised to provide.
- Interact with prospects through a desirable offer. At some point in every page of your copy, you want to give visitors a reason to interact with you—a “call to interaction.” You can propose a scenario and have visitors generate questions that you can address via e-mail. For example: “Imagine you’ve just walked into an open house and discovered the home of your dreams. What are the questions you should be asking the listing agent so that you get the information you need to make the best offer and still gets you the terms that you want? Jot down your thoughts and send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll evaluate them for you and get right back to you.” This copy causes prospects to think about their own situation and positions you as a consultant. That’s very powerful and very engaging.
Don't Write, Just Outline
Who’s going to write all this deal-generating copy? If you want it done right, it's not likely to be you. Use a seasoned copywriter to produce prose that will captivate your specific target market. You can find copywriters through such resources as Elance and Guru.com.
But don’t expect your copywriter to come up with the content—that’s your job as the person with the real estate knowledge. To produce stellar copy, follow these five steps for working with a copywriter:
- Identify the main site sections for copy. Figure out all the pages of your Web site for which you need copy written. For example, site pages could include About Me/Our Team, Community Information, For Buyers, or For Sellers.
- Develop a list of key points. Identify three to five points that need to be expounded upon for each page of your Web site. For example, on the “For Buyers” page, you may want to address affordability, how long you expect to own your property, and overall costs.
- Have the copywriter interview you. Your copywriter should spend a few minutes over the phone asking you questions to flesh out each page’s key points. Make sure the person records the call so that you don't have to pause while he or she takes written notes. This approach frees you up to speak from a stream of consciousness.
- Let the writer write. Make sure your copywriter understands the “emotional profile,” or primary motivations, of the market your site is targeting. For example, the emotional profile of first-time buyers is fear and anticipation. For the affluent seller, it’s ego and pride. Your copywriter needs to know this so that he or she can match the tone and style of the copy to the motivations of your target market.
- Review and edit. Give the finished copy to a third party for review. Make sure the copy is written to engage the reader (using the second-person “you” and “your”).
These steps should be completed for each section and subsection of your site. That’ll take a dedicated effort and commitment of time. Keep in mind, however, that you won’t be doing anything outside of your expertise; a professional writer will be doing the heavy lifting of converting ideas into relationship-building, transaction-generating copy. You’ll then have something so powerful and unique that your site will stand head and shoulders above your competition—and that makes it worth the effort.