How to improve your online content

The magic of good copy and understanding your audience

At some stage in our online, news-feed centred lives we have landed on a website with a glaringly obvious spelling or grammar mistake. Maybe there is an apostrophe in the wrong place, a word out of sync or maybe the sentences read like they were mashed through google translate. Perhaps the content itself is flat or just plain dull? There’s a long list of reasons why content is labelled “bad copy” – so how do you make sure that yours is “good copy”, and why bother?

The impact bad copy may be having on your content

Research suggests that the average timespan for capturing a reader’s attention on a site or ecommerce marketplace is between 6-7 seconds. The average timespan for reading an email is just 8 seconds. That’s not a lot of time considering how much work goes into curating a blog or formulating your email. In the world of technology, we may think that the slickest sites or most user-friendly apps are the ones winning the battle against bounce-rates – however the main reason people leave a page is due to badly written or uninteresting copy. While your platform needs to be visually appealing, without clear and well-written content, your visitors are going to leave.

Charles Duncombe warns that the quality of written copy in the UK is losing millions in revenue each year, potentially cutting online sales by up to 50%.

“When you sell or communicate on the internet, 99% of the time it is done by the written word”

Badly written text is guaranteed to have a negative impact on the credibility and professionalism of your brand. Suddenly worried about your communication skills? Don’t be – the key to good copy (luckily) is simplicity.

How we read copy

First, it’s helpful to understand how people are currently reading copy that they find online. A study by UX Matters shows that on average, users read 66% of an article. That’s not a lot, and that number only decreases with the length of the article. 48% of visitors find their daily dose of content from social media, many using a method called “scanning” – meaning they take in every couple of words as opposed to reading each sentence in full.

An eye-tracking study from NNgroup also shows that people are no longer reading linearly. Readers bounce around the page taking in information from different sections in one go. This is why big blocks of wordy text are an automatic turn off for most readers. This is also why you will often start reading an article only to discover there is a more interesting post linked on the right of the page. It’s because your eyes are drinking in more than the words, the entire page is being scrutinised in a single glance.

But it’s not just the structure of your text that needs to be appealing. “Indecent, frightening, or humorous” content is proven to be the top performer in the attention-grabbing ranks. This probably isn’t surprising to most of us but presents a challenge for digital marketers and content creators. How do you catch people’s attention long enough to deliver your call to action?

How to write good copy and decrease bounce-rates

The key to successful marketing and sales copy is simplicity and readability. We are not going to stick around if your content is a grammatical mess or puts us to sleep. But you don’t need hire Dara O’Brian to write jokes for your website to make it more appealing.
Below are some tips for sprucing up your content:

  •  Get rid of chunks of blocky text
  •  Use sub-headings, bullet points, and nicely proportioned paragraphs – show your readers where to go
    Insert charts, pictures and quotes
  • Ask questions – get your reader invested in the text
  • Make your conclusion simple and actionable
  • Waffles are for eating, not for writing – get to the point – quickly
  • Use good SEO practises – use keywords and links to make your page crawlable
  • Hire a professional copywriter to re-jig your content

Still noticing a significant bounce-rate or not getting the conversion you should be? Spark Surf ‘n’ Chats can help you figure out where your site or content is underperforming. By following a potential customer through their purchasing journey, we can identify where your copy is falling, and how it can be improved.


Ignite your next marketing campaign with award-winning market research techniques from Spark. Call for an informal chat on +44 (0) 113 487 2742 or use our Contact Form to get in touch.

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