by Karon Thackston
April 20, 2004

When you begin to write copy for any product or service, you have to take a few things into consideration.

The first is always your target audience: who you’ll be writing to.
Finding out about the needs and wants of the audience members, their
communication styles, their lifestyles and a multitude of other
elements are musts before writing even one word of copy.

But something that most people neglect to do is to give due
attention to the buying process as a whole and where your target
audience is within the process. Understanding this can often make or
break the success of your copy.

When AEwebworks (an online dating-site software developer)
approached me about rewriting its Web site copy, it became immediately
apparent that the copy could benefit from paying some due diligence to
the buying processes of its customers.

The Problems

My primary concerns with the copywriting on this site included the
lack of synergy within the copy, the use of testimonials, the lack of
focus on the target customer’s buying process and the inability for the
copy to support the search engine goals of AEwebworks. In its present
state, the copy contained few mentions of keyphrases. You can view the old copy in PDF form.

When I first read the copy, it felt as though I was being pitched to
from all sides. The headline spoke to someone thinking of entering the
online-dating-site industry. The body copy did not support that
headline; rather, it spoke to someone who had already made the decision
to launch or improve a dating site.

The use of testimonials at the bottom of the home page posed a challenge for two reasons.

The first was sheer location. The design of the site was such that
it appeared nothing fell “below the fold” (what was first
seen when the home page loaded onto a browser).

The second challenge was that many of the testimonials were from
people asking questions or stating they were considering trying the
dating software—not actual customers attesting to the benefits
they’d personally experienced.

In addition, while the information included in the body copy was
good, the information given on the home page needed to outline why
AEwebworks was better than the competition. In its present state, it
did not. That meant finding those aspects of buying dating software
that were most important to the customer and highlighting them within
the copy.

Furthermore, I needed to focus the homepage copy on only two or
three keyphrases and increase keyword saturation for those phrases.
This also meant creating a copy strategy that would allow me to use the
keyphrases effectively, without making the text sound stiff.

The Solution

As always, I started the project by gaining a good understanding of
who the target customers were and what they wanted—their fears,
their likes, their dislikes, and anything else I could discover. After
a good bit of research, and after reading the completed target audience
analysis from AEwebworks, I felt I had a good understanding of those I
would be writing to.

To combat the lack of synergy within the copy and the lack of focus
on the target customer’s buying process, I created a copywriting plan.
From my research I found that installation, upgrade policies and
support were the three most-common gripes buyers had about dating
software. I decided to make overcoming those obstacles the focal point
of the copy instead of the actual features and benefits.

That may sound like an odd choice, but that’s where recognition of
the buying process comes in. Considering that the majority of visitors
to the site had already made the decision to launch a new site or had
chosen to upgrade an existing site, they were already well versed in
the features of dating-site software and their associated benefits.
Yes… the benefits did need to be mentioned; however, other
issues proved to be more pressing to this particular group of

The use of testimonials on the home page was easily corrected by
simply deleting the ones that did not directly apply to actual users of
the software. I chose two for use within the copy and suggested that as
AEwebworks gets more testimonials it create an entire page that
visitors can read.

That left me with overcoming the inability of the current copy to
support the search engine goals of the site. I suggested AEwebworks
review its keyword choices to be sure they were targeting the ones most
likely to bring in qualified customers. After a review, the company
provided me with a revised list to choose from.

I selected three keyphrases for each page to allow an adequate level
of both keyword saturation and natural language. For the home page, the
terms “dating software,” “online dating
software,” and “dating script” were used.

After all the hoopla with Google, AEwebworks was in foul shape as
far as search engine rankings were concerned. I had to pay particular
attention to creating copy that impressed the search engines and their site visitors in order to help AEwebworks regain ground with its positioning and sales efforts.

The plan was in place. Now all I had to do was write the copy!

In part two of this series, you’ll get all the details on how I turned “OK” into “Wow!”