Copwriting for the Web: Structuring Web Copy
Act 1: The Beginning
Good web copy is all about flow. Once you’ve finished your final draft, sit back and read it aloud. Does it roll off the tongue? Did you hit any verbal roadblocks?
Here’s one thing that is all but guaranteed: if you, the copywriter, stutter along the way, your reader will encounter the same problem.
Such errors can prove more disruptive than an Icelandic volcano. If you keep tripping the audience up you risk disconnecting them from the copy altogether.
And as any good copywriter will tell you: that’s a ‘no-no’.
Act 2: The Middle
There are a number of fundamental devices – besides good writing – I use to instil a free-flowing feel in my web copy.
One such method is to harness the archetypal three-act structure many creative writers use.
There are a number of reasons I like to do this: –
Firstly: the beginning, middle and end modus operandi offers copywriters a paradigm that resonates well in the mind of the majority of readers.
People, whether they know it or not, respond well to the three-act structure. Tap into the emotional selling point of the product or service you are promoting and build a meta-narrative around it.
Tell a story. Work out the start point, the middle and the end. This will invigorate the reading process and help nestle the information better in the mind of the reader.
Secondly: a three act structure allows the river of web copy to flow more freely. On a personal note, while I always have an eye on the overall narrative, I also build this three-tier concept into my copy on a smaller, micro level. So each paragraph I write, for example, will have some semblance of a beginning, middle and end and where possible, I endeavourer to do the same for each individual sentence.
When the ink dries the constituent parts of your copy should come together to function as one homogonous whole. The end result, of course, is free-flowing copy.
Thirdly: story-telling is the most universal form of communication on the planet. People relate to stories, they want to be drawn in, lose themselves momentarily in what you have to tell them.
Act 3: The End
If a piece of web copy is to maximise the potential of a product or service then all of its individual parts must work in unison.
Remember, ducks always fly together.
A lack of structure will leave your web copy dancing more erratically than a Texan oil miner who just struck gold.
So next time you sit down to compose a piece of web copy, shuffle the need for structure to the forefront of your mind.
Hook the reader by introducing the main goals, the setup and inciting incident. Use the middle ground to flesh out the facts and figures then land a knock out blow with an ending the reader won’t forget.