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How to write for the people

Whenver an advice is giving about writing content, it is about 'writing for the people/humans'. Often, however, there is little help given in the right direction. So how do you write your site text for the people?

The basics

In fact, everything is quite simple. You need to consider your site visitors interests when writing content:

  • research your customers: find out their needs, motives and whatever drives them to buy your product
  • stick to the customers needs: what do they need that they started searching the product, what is behind the motives that prompt them to start the search
  • focus on the benefits to the people: write how your product can benefit them, how it can make their life better, why it is useful and which problems it helps to solve
  • use the language your customers use (generally, simple language with the words they [and you] use, too)
  • format your text for the Web to ensure your text is read
  • refer them to additional information, available on your site or elsewhere
  • offer clear reading (navigation, click) paths to guide them around your site
  • use call to action to remind them to read further or to sign up to a newsletter or download your software

In short, if you focus on the people, when writing site text, you'll be alright.

Let's go about the points in more detail.

Research your customers

As you need to relate to your visitors needs, you need to know what they want on your website. Basically, researching your customers means you need to ask them of what problems they have and want to solve with your product, what they need to solve the problems.

Other venues to know more about your customers would be

  • your industry forums and blogs
  • your customer reviews (testimonials) on your product on other websites, such as Amazon
  • customer support and sales representatives (managers)
  • your newsletter surveys
  • you can ask them to answer a couple of questions in your "Thank you" letter.

In general, use any way to find out as much as possible about the needs of your customers. Just don't make it an obtrusive inquiery in their private life or Internet experience. Think how you'd like to be approached with similar questions and how and when not.

Focus on customers needs

Hopefully, your product is useful. But it has to be needed by your target audience. That's why your product, as well as your site text, has to be focused around the needs on your customers.

When you know the needs, you can make it obvious to your visitors, why they need your product, how best they can use it and why they'll only be happy, if they buy from you.

The needs may be to do something quicker or more easily, to be able to do something at all, or to enjoy doing something. A product may solve a lot of problems - find those problems and offer solutions to them.

Your product should rather be used in a number of ways, or be very, very useful for your customers.

You can also learn about the values of your customers to address them, too, and to conjure benefits about them.

Focus on the benefits

The most important thing your customers will understand whether or not they will need to buy your product, is through the benefits they will get by using it. The benefits may be tangible or intangible, such as ease of use, enjoyment or respect of the peers.

When you focus on the benefits in your site text, your readers will understand that the product can, indeed, provide value to them and their lives and will stay on your site to read more.

If you focus on you, your company and the product (We provide.., Our product is blah blah), your customers will have trouble identifying how they can use your product and leave your website.

Alternatively, focusing on the benefits inspires your customers to learn more about your product, to try it out and, possibly, to buy it. Some prefer to mention features, but a feature is a rarely needed commodity. Two products may have the same features, but if one product is presented, as being useful to the customers, it will be in a winning position (discuss this at Cre8asite Forums or here).

Of course, you can tie the benefits to your features, as they are the baseline of your product, but it is the benefits that the people buy your product for.

Use your customers language

Using your customers language has a number of benefits:

  • your customers can understand you
  • they can relate your product to themselves
  • you will be found from the search engines by your customers

Generally, just writing as you write, imagining, as if you are writing for a single person, will allow to phrase your thoughts coherently and remember about the text formatting.

Of course, it'd help, if you researched the keywords, but only used them naturally, as you write.

Format your text

You not only to create something that your visitors will read, but you'd expect your text to be read to the end. Along with the focus on the benefits to the reader (he only thinks about themselves, really), you'll need to format the text for the Web:

  • use shorter sentences and paragraphs (2-4 sentences is enough)
  • use bullet lists, when enumerating something (it is easier to scan narrow columns from top to bottom, than entire line widths of text)
  • use subheadings to denote page topic aspects (makes page scanning much easier)

After writing an article/page/post, it is a good idea to re-read it from the eyes of a picky reader. Do you really want to read such a long paragraph, or you'd rather cut it in half? What about that enumeration in a single sentence, without bullet lists?

Refer them to more of you

One page is, mostly, not enough to convert a visitor to a customer. That's why you'll need to be sending readers to more sources of information, where they can learn about more benefits of your product, about your company and how they can use the product.

Here comes in the amount of quality content you have on your site. The more information, related to your product and industry you have, the more readers you'll be able to keep interested in your website.

If you don't have some information on your website, feel free to link to external resources. You can find them the same way you find topic ideas for your articles/blog posts - by reading other blogs/forums in your industry.

You'd rather get used to the fact that your visitors will either learn it from you, or from someone else. If they learn it from somewhere else, you'd rather provide value to them by linking to that useful resource.

Use clear click path

Online, people not only scan the text, they hunt the information they need just as wild beasts.

In short, people seek clues, related to what they need and how they understand what they need, on the pages they visit, be it a search engine result page, your website or product description. That's why using the words your readers use is important, too.

When people don't find the information they seek on a page, they find ways to continue their hunt. They start looking for clues for more information, such as 'read more', 'additional info' links or carefully crafted internal links on your website.

When people don't see any clues to continue stalking the prey (the product/information) they need on your website, they will return to the previous point, where sufficient scent was provided.

That's why it is important to provide all the possible ways for people to continue their search for what they need, be it 'read more' links, internal links or sidebar links for more information.

Using the words the customers know as internal link anchor text is the most powerful technique in this aspect, as it is a sure way to attract attention to the way to get more information.

Use call to action

After you have addressed your customers needs, use the words they know and provided them with all the necessary information they needed to know about your product, you'll need to motivate them to take action.

Call to action is a call to do something, such as "Use call to action in your site text".

You can hint the readers to read even more resources (another useful technique in providing scent for information), download the software, sign up to your blog or newsletter, contact you and what not.

Call to action is the final chord in your text writing process, so pay special attention to what you want your customers to do after reading your text.

Rounding up

As you intend to do business with the real people, you'd rather satisfy their needs and proove yourself useful to them to make them happy and be successful. That is why it is vitally important who you are providing value to and how best you can do it. Writing text for the people is one of the things you can do in this direction, along with selling a useful product and having a usable website.

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