Introducing compelling content

Andy Kinsey shares 5 directives for writing compelling content.

As part of my role at AK Designs I am responsible for all the copy on the “home sites” as well as the copy on many client websites. In this role with clients I often face issues (and from some staff who think the same way) … On of the biggest issues that occurs on a regular basis is simply that the website owners or the company investors seem to turn around with ideas of what the copy should be, and I have always found (so far) that all they want to do is convince the end user.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes this fits the site and the audience you are trying to get to understand something, but most the time it isn’t.

The battle generally means I turn around and compromise, I mention AB testing of the copy to see what will produce the best results. They agree to the testing and 95% of the tests end to come back in my favour. So to help everyone get to grips with this idea I’ve created 5 directives of writing compelling copy.

5 Directives to Write Compelling Copy

Know Your Audience

Think of each page or email newsletter as being read by a single person, a person from your target audience. Give him or her a name, an age, a relationship status & maybe a background story. Now write you copy for this person alone, you are not wanting to convince her of anything but rather to feel compelled to visit again, tell a friend or even better to follow your call to action… if your audience feel preached too or spoken down too then they will switch off… where as if you can engage on a one-2-one basis then you will get some real business.

Use a present tense and Positive subject line

Imagine reading “10 websites were developed” … sounds boring and doesn’t attract your attention really, you don’t feel compelled to click and read it… now think about the line “We developed 10 New websites” notice it draws your attention it was us (we) the company and they are “new” so this implies a sense of importance, improvement and excitement. Other good words include “exciting”, “exclusive” and “introducing”.

Avoid sitting on the fence – it gets you no where

If your wanting to sell something, wanting to compel them to take an a particular action, be definitive. you are the “expert” otherwise they wouldn’t be visiting your site! So don’t use words such as “should”, “could”, “maybe” or “possibly” they have negative implications on most audiences, they make them question you and your product or site.

Be Concise

Don’t ramble on endlessly, get to your point quickly and clearly. Cut the rubbish and the jargon, no one wants to hear it or see it … it confuses the average person which is why there are so many sites claiming to be jargon busters or having jargon busters built in… save you and your customer sometime.


Connecting with your audience will never be easy, it will never be 100% successful even if you’ve got everything right on your site. What you need to think is that your customers will have something else on their mind, maybe someone is in hospital, maybe someone just knocked on the door or maybe they are hungry… a tiny little thing can distract and you will loose a sale (or however you call to action is built). So connect, make the user think positive thoughts, so even if they are distracted they will feel compelled to return.
I know these tips will help many of the website owners I know, and I know it will help your site be a success.

Image provided by The Trial

About the Author

Headshot of Andy Kinsey

Andy is director & chief designer @ AK Designs. Addicted to SEO, Designing, Twitter, His Googie (G1) and all things tech in general. AK Designs (andy kinsey designs) has worked with clients of all sizes from small local charities to larger national fiscal companies and a number of large multi-national organisations. Andy’s motto in life is simple, ”To under-promise and Over-Deliver” something continued into the AK Designs mission. The AK Designs website is also the home of Andy’s SEO articles.

  • Thanks, Andy! As a new blogger I need all the tips I can get. And, you’ve provided some wonderful tips. I’m glad I found your blog.

  • Great article! I think the point about being concise is really important.

    There is nothing more off putting than a site that has 3 A4 sides worth of text scrolling down the home page. People won’t read it. All of that really useful information you are sharing is completely lost because nobody wants to read an essay.

    Keeping the text concise helps relay the content in a manageable, easy to understand way, that engages the reader and makes them want to read on…

  • Leon

    Hmmm…at the risk of sounding pedantic, “We developed” isn’t present tense. It’s less passive than the other phrase, if that’s what you were getting at.

    I agree with the personal (and less stilted) “we” but “new” is both redundant (who develops old websites?) and doesn’t convey much as no–one would say the opposite. As a buyer, I want to know what makes you different, not read a set of generic adjectives that everyone else uses.

    Erm, proofing and editing your own copy is also a pretty fundamental rule as well.

    • @leon i take it you noticed the spelling error int he first paragraph then ;) that doesn’t exist on my site haha
      Anyway ok present and passive test i admit … however the word “new” being redundant i disagree with. people do develop / redevelop old websites… so therefore if you don’t say new you maybe renewing an old idea! and who wants old! As you say its more about the personal with an adjective rather than a bunch of them!

  • Ha he’s now considered famous?

  • Firstly, thanks paul for republishing this post. My new style of writing seems to be hitting and surpassing the wants and needs of most readers… and drawing more traffic…
    my new style of writing is about making someone feel compelled to read on, even if they do nothing else but read the article and remember it …its job done. and thats what i hope everyone gets out of this article … its not about a message in the content, it can be as boring as hell but as long as you are compelling in what your write and get the job done your fine.

    so in reply to the above:
    @randall – thanks for your support whether you means my blog or the boagworld blog/community welcome along for the ride and visit back soon.
    @kirsty – my above statement explains it all really length makes no issue if you are compelling enough, however to compel is to be concise and to be concise it should be shorter… a single word can make the difference between a sale and no sale!
    @sarah – whos famous? paul we know :P

  • So many copy errors on a post about good copy. Common! Proof your own content!

    • pffft, i don’t proof my content for good reason… I don’t want too… I will however have other people read it for me from now on… i wish people would get off my back about this… look nobody is perfect and nobody ever will be

      I am dyslexic and I have pride in what i can and can’t do… im not the best speller but it makes no ends… the message remains the same! its the message that counts not the spelling… and ever thought other people can’t spell too… so typos in search will lead to visitors … so shush ya mush

      … sorry if you don’t like my tone here but honestly… eeeee