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Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies®, 3rd Edition by Joel Elad, Shannon Belew

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Getting Ready to Write for the Web

There's little doubt that words can affect the people who read them. Words are catalysts that move people to action. With that in mind, what do you want your customers to do when they visit your Web site? If you said “Buy stuff,” think again. That's a given. You need to be more specific. Specifically, which action do you want customers to take when they're visiting your site? If you can answer that question, you can write words that sell.

Understanding who and why

To start writing for the Web, you have to determine these factors:

  • Your audience: Before you write a single word of copy, take a moment to understand whom you're writing for. Who are your potential customers? Why are they visiting your site? What are they searching for — information or products? Specifically, what problem are they trying to solve, and how can you help them solve it?
  • Your customers' motivation: In addition to knowing about your customers, you need to understand what motivates them to take action. Do they want to be entertained? Educated? Are their purchases based on emotional decisions? Or do they simply want enough facts to validate their buying decisions? To some degree, their motivation might be dictated by what type of product you're offering, the age of your target customer, or the standard offering within your industry. Even so, understanding motivation helps dictate your writing style and the words you use. It also guides the tone of your writing. Your tone can ...

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