When Web Marketing – Think Small

I admit it. I’m a caveman of sorts.

I don’t use Facebook except with my Rotary club. I’ve never tweeted and probably never will. I only just learned what Snapchat is.

And, I prefer my desktop computer to mobile devices.

Like I said, I’m a caveman … because starting last year, more people in the U.S. are using tablets and smart phones than desktop computers to get on the Internet.

This worldwide trend is going to grow bigger according to the global media analytics company comScore.

So, if writing for the web is your niche … or even, you’re just writing for your own business website … this means it’s time to “think small.”

Or, at least smaller.

Time for me to crawl out of the cave …

This came to me recently when I volunteered to revamp my Rotary club’s website. (Volunteered? It was more like everyone else ran away.)

Now, I’m not a web designer by a long shot. But, I do know how to write effective copy. So I knew I didn’t want to struggle with HTML or desktop website design software. Instead, I used a well-known online site builder to design our website.

I had a lot of fun doing it. I built a site that showcased my tiny club and the numerous community service activities we do.

I tested it on a few members whose Internet savvy I trust before “going live.” Two out of three of them asked what the mobile site looked like.

Mobile site? What did I know about mobile sites?

Fortunately for me, in the upper left corner of the design site screen sat an image of a smart phone. I’ll admit, I’d seen it before but chose to ignore it. I clicked it and used it to transfer the desktop formatted content to content for mobile devices.

Simple. Easy. Quick. Except …

 … except I needed to change things around to look right on smart phones.

Mostly I had to pare down my copy. Make sure I got more meaning into fewer words. Choose which pictures gave the biggest punch. Ensure the “click here” buttons were well-placed.

In short, I had to think smaller.

I needed to change the way I looked at web copy. And, so will you.

But, one thing remains unchanged.

Smart phone, tablet, desktop computer … one consideration remains the same.

You’ll have to adapt your writing because of the changing habits of your web prospects. It’s tempting to think about shortcutting your writing. Making it fit smaller devices by making it smaller.

Mistake! Your writing has to be tighter … not smaller. You still must incorporate all the strategies of effective copywriting that masters like Nick Usborne use.

Tighter, not smaller. With one thing never to lose sight of. In Nick’s words …

“The best SEO copywriting is not about writing for the search engines; it’s about writing for your readers.”

When you write tight, you must never lose sight of your reader … of her needs, wants, hopes, and desires.

This is always your most important consideration in copywriting. But, when you limit your number of words, you must be sure those words have the greatest impact on your reader and her life.

The #1 “write tight strategy” …

Okay. This subtitle isn’t honest.

A good copywriter doesn’t write tight. You edit tight. You trim copy after the first draft. But, you can get a head start by planning.

When you get an assignment, it’s tempting to get to the writing as fast as possible. You’re a copywriter, after all. What you do is write.

But, if you take this “get to it quickly” approach, you’re making it difficult to write tight copy. Your copy will wander.

Copy that wanders takes longer to read. The key ideas won’t pop out on your reader’s smaller screen. It won’t convince her to act.

So, before you lay one finger to your keyboard, plan.

List all major benefits on paper. Figure out who your best prospect is. Come up with the one most compelling promise and benefit for that prospect. That’s the benefit you’ll lead with right in the first or second paragraph.

Then, write down a plan of attack … on paper. Don’t do it on the computer. My experience – and that of other copywriters I’ve worked with – is that using pen and paper involves your brain more actively than simply typing.

Once you’re ready to write, don’t hinder yourself …

Write big.

What do I mean by write big? Do I mean you should deliberately try to write long, involved copy? Certainly not!

But, even if you plan carefully, you’re going to write more than you need. Your copy will wander. It’ll contain extra words and ideas.

Tell yourself it’s okay to write big. When you write, just write. Do not try to edit yourself as you go along.

Then, when it’s time to edit, hack … delete … chop. Revise and rework until you get down to tight copy.

Test out your copy on smaller screens …

Once you’ve finished your copy and edited tight copy, test it on small, medium, and large screens.

The online site builder I used offers ad-supported free hosting. These free sites are perfect for testing how your copy reads on smaller screens.

Do a search for “online website builders.” You’ll come up with a number of choices. Choose one that offers free hosting. (It’ll probably be ad-supported.) Also, make sure they have an option for building a smart phone site.

Don’t worry about building a site with all the bells and whistles. Just get your copy on. Publish it. Then test it on a smart phone, a tablet, and finally on a computer … in that order.

Read the first few paragraphs. If your copy works on the smallest screen, you’re golden!

My take-away from this experience

What did I learn from this experience writing for the smaller screen?

I wrote better copy! Having to write for a smart phone forced me to pay more attention to everything I wrote.

It forced me to edit with a keener eye. And, the result was better copy for the … smart phone screen … tablet screen … and full-sized desktop.

Imagine my surprise – moving from being a caveman to discovering I could improve ALL my copy by working to fit a much smaller screen.

Web Copywriting 2.0

Web Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts

Learn how to become an in-demand online copywriter for companies big and small. Online copywriting expert Nick Usborne shows you how to write web copy that converts. Learn More »


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Published: August 24, 2015

2 Responses to “When Web Marketing – Think Small”

  1. Nick, I thank you for your article. But am not a web know-it-all wizard. Does your program incorporates web novice tutoring?

    wycliffAugust 24, 2015 at 10:44 am


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