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Is Your Website User-Centric or Company-Focused?

March 10, 2010
By Karon Thackston © 2010, All Rights Reserved

Just for a moment, pretend you're a fly on the wall in my office. I'm on the phone with a prospective client and things are going well. We're talking about their target audience and they seem to have all the right answers. I am confident that these people "get it." Then the conversation takes a sharp left turn.

Client: "We want to build a website about our company."

Me: "We typically suggest building a website that's focused on the site visitor."

Client: "That's what we want to do. We want to tell them all about us."

Me: "If a client walked into your office, would you just start rambling on about your company? Or would you tailor your conversation to the person you were facing, finding out what they need and how you can help?"

Client: "Uh, well…"

Go look at your home page right now. How many instances of "we" and "us" and "our" do you see? And how many times is "you" or "your" used? You don't want to get caught we-ing all over yourself, now do you?

I have actually seen countless websites that completely ignore the site visitor. Not a single "you" or "your" on the entire page. Everything…every last sentence revolves around "us," "we" and "our." Can you just imagine what type of telephone or face-to-face conversation that would be? For some reason, placing information online instead of communicating verbally gives license to be completely self-centered.

The Transformation From We-Copy to You-Copy

"If the copy isn't supposed to be about us, what is it supposed to be about?" The copy should focus on how you can help your site visitors and what results they will see after using your products or services. Let me show you the difference.

Here's a snippet of copy from a business that provides services to protect daycare centers from parents who are bad payment risks. Here's the company-focused copy:

Our Best-Ever Parent-Check Software Is Now Available

Over the past 10 years, we have developed innovative software designed to check parents' histories and ensure they have no outstanding daycare payments or judgments. Now, our most advanced version is available. At Provider Watch, we guaranteed that version 2.0 has the most up-to-date database available. We keep a guarded watch over all our providers to prevent financial problems before they start. Contact us today for a free demonstration.


And the customer-focused copy:

Find Out If Parents Are Bad Payment Risks BEFORE You Accept Them as Customers

It's a sad fact. Providers often face the hassles and stress of parents who are bad daycare payment risks. In many cases, these parents are just making the rounds...hopping from provider to provider. They may have a long history of non-payment or even childcare collection proceedings. If you had only known that to begin with, you would never have accepted them as your customers.

Provider Watch delivers the vital information you need to make confident and accurate decisions based on past daycare payment history.


See the difference? The first is all about the company. The second is all about the daycare center, its needs, and how Provider Watch can help.

It's Not Just About the Copy

Everything about your website should focus on the site visitor. Yes, this includes copy that addresses and speaks to customers in their language and about their needs. It also includes the keyphrases you choose, the colors you use, the layout of the pages, the navigation, the flow of information, the checkout process (if it's an e-commerce site), etc.

With every decision you make about your copy, search optimization, design and usability, ask yourself this, "Does this focus on our site visitors? Specifically, how will this benefit our site visitors?" Because they are the ones with all the money, doesn't it make sense to create an environment that is engaging and comfortable for them?

Karon Thackston
MarketingWords


Jill's Comment: While this isn't typically an SEO issue, we do see this all the time with clients when they write their own copy. Unfortunately, we also see it with some "professional" copywriters' content. It's definitely a tough skill to grasp and it takes a different mindset to do it correctly. And yet it's one of the simplest things you can do with your website to increase its conversions in a big way.

I highly recommend Karon's Copywriting Course for anyone who wants to learn more about writing TRULY professional copy that converts.

 
 
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 Sue Nolff said:
I couldn't get over this statement, "You don't want to get caught we-ing all over yourself, now do you?" I giggled all the way through the rest of the article, not in a grade school way though. What a great way to make the concept stick. I will remember that phrase because it describes the concept of its purpose perfectly.

I've been trying to explain this concept to my boss for awhile now. Thanks for the clear example!
 Lauren Sorensen said:
Just yesterday I reviewed a client's website proposed re-writes and found the same errors. The first 7 or 8 sentences started with "us", "we", "our" or their company name.

Having already taken Karon's Copywriting Course (which I *highly* recommend!), I worked with them to modify the copy from more of a customer-centered perspective. I have no doubt, even without doing A/B testing on it, that this new text will convert at a much higher rate.

And I know technically it's not an SEO thing, but what's the use of getting all that traffic to the website if they are bored with the text and bounce right out. So, really, they go hand in hand.

Thanks for your wonderful newsletter, Jill, and thanks also to Karon for her guest article.
 Finn Skovgaard said:
Phew, it seems I got that part right on my overhauled site (if nothing else ... :-) ). The You-count exceeds the We-count about 2:1.
So in fact there are two classes of copywriters, the U-Us and the We-Wes (Oui-Ouis in French? ;-) ), the We-Wes needing a U-turn ...
 Splinter09 said:
For me anything that increases conversion is SEO related!
 Laurie Dunlop said:
Karen,

I'm submitting some suggested rewrites for a client that changes their web content from "we-centered" to customer-focused. I'd like to support my recommended changes with hard data that shows customer-focused websites outperform those that are not. I cannot seem to find any research other than a few individual case studies. Can you recommend any?

Sincerely,
Laurie