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Writing tip 2 – keep background in the background

In online publishing, you’re better off starting with the news or what’s on offer rather than boring your readers with background and detail.

This is true for most media, but it’s particularly true for websites because here you only have a matter of seconds to grab a reader’s attention.

People don’t read on the Internet, they skim. They want to know what’s in it for them. If they can’t find an answer quickly, they will move on. Get to the point and address the reader in a conversational way to build rapport.

Here is the introduction on the homepage of a British precision-engineering company. I have replaced its name with xxx:

“Founded in 1967, xxx has gained a reputation for giving the customer what they want: quality, delivery on time and at a competitive price. Highly innovative and automated, xxx maintains a strong position in the sub contract market. Customers vary from aerospace, marine and defence to the electronic and commercial sectors. Operating from a modern 9000sq ft premises …”

The year the company was founded is hardly its main selling point. That’s background and belongs in About Us. And why would a potential customer be won over by being told the company’s premises consist of 9000sq ft? That’s detail and, crucially, at no point does the introduction mention you, the reader.

As an online copywriter, I would have started the introduction this way:

“You need help with precision engineering? You’ve come to the right place. Innovative and automated, our company will give you what you want, on time and at a competitive price. That’s our reputation and it’s proven by our diverse portfolio of satisfied customers.”

I imagine a website visitor would be more inclined to read on after an introduction that’s customer-focused and gets to the point at once rather than one that’s impersonal and full of boring detail that could be saved for later.

I welcome your comments.

Rolf Soderlind

http://www.absolutwriting.com/ absolutwriting

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