It’s no secret that most travel and hotel websites in Vietnam are poorly written. If the copy isn’t full of mistakes, it’s often been ripped from a competitor’s website. Your website may be the first impression you give to a potential customer and you need to make it as engaging as possible. In this article, Josh Zukas walks you through seven steps to crafting heart-stopping, inspiration-inducing, mouthwatering copy.
1. Identify your audience and write for them.
The first step to creating attractive copy is identifying your audience. Before you can even think about making your copy innovative, you need to know who you’re writing for. If your audience is 18 to 24-year-old Australians then your style will be very different to if your audience is 35 to 50-year-old Europeans. This step shouldn’t be too challenging, as your product will (hopefully) match the target market and your copy should match the product. If your product is for young, thrill-seeking Australians then it will be fun-focused and adventurous, with an emphasis on once-in-a-lifetime experiences and making mates. That translates into the copy being short, jovial, and uplifting, with an open-minded attitude towards abbreviations and slang.
2. Highlight your USPs.
If you want to write innovatively, then write about what makes your product innovative. Focus on your USPs (Unique Selling Points) to emphasize what sets you apart from your competitors. Take one of the most competitive markets in Vietnam as an example: Halong Bay cruises. A cruise company website should focus on what makes the cruises different from the others. If you are writing copy for a Halong Bay cruise company website, it doesn’t matter how well you can describe the magnificence of Halong Bay because that’s not what you’re selling, at least not directly. Instead you are selling your cruise in Halong Bay and so you should focus on how your cruise offers a special experience or exceptional value. Whatever your USPs might be, make sure they take center stage in your copy.
Ha Long Bay. Photo credit: Bien Nguyen
3. Let your copy work with your photos.
Remember that it’s the photos on your website that will make the first big impact. Don’t use your copy to tell people how “amazing” or “beautiful” your product or location is. Instead, let the pictures inspire the reader and use your copy to convince. For more on “inspire and convince” and photography selection, see How To Select The Right Photos To Sell Your Tour. For example, imagine the highlight of your restaurant is the view over Hoan Kiem Lake. Be sure to use plenty of inspiring photos to show this off while using copy to convince the audience why the view is special. You might tell your audience that Hoan Kiem Lake is the spiritual and geographical heart of Hanoi; that this is the setting for various stories and legends about how Vietnam became a nation; that your view is incomparable and the best selfie spot in the city. What you decide to say depends on your audience and your USPs (see points 1 and 2), but don’t waste words conjuring an image that is best done with a photo.
Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo credit: Bien Nguyen
4. Be creative, but not complicated.
Complexity is the enemy of creativity when it comes to crafting copy. Think about Apple’s “Think Different” campaign or Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan. Sometimes just a few words can have the biggest impact when it comes to slogans, and the same can be said for sentences and paragraphs. Generally, I try not to use more than two clauses in any given sentence, while it’s good to keep paragraphs just two or three sentences long. Readers will disengage if they find your copy difficult to follow, and items of content with too much information puts people off. Also keep in mind that out of the top 10 countries to visit Vietnam in 2016, only two of them were countries with high numbers of native English speakers (Australia and USA). Many of your readers may not be too comfortable reading English, and will be put off by convoluted sentences or unusual words.
Apple’s “Think Different” campaign
5. Less is more.
Readers will disengage if your sentences are too long, but they might not even bother start reading if they see a huge chunk of text with hundreds or thousands of words. Remember that potential customers will also be checking out websites from the competition, and therefore your copy is competing for attention. Make sure that you’re only including information your target audience will want to know with enough smart sentences to keep people interested. As a rule, if your copy isn’t providing useful information about your product or effectively convincing the reader to make a purchase, it doesn’t belong on your website.
6. Don’t be afraid to be different.
Be different. Take risks. Have fun with your writing. Most travel and hotel websites in Vietnam read pretty much the same and you shouldn’t be scared to break the mold and try something different. Feel free to take inspiration from websites that have good copy, but avoid replicating their style.
7. Involve a native speaker. Always.
Last, but certainly not least, always involve a native speaker of English. Ideally, you want a native speaking professional copywriter generating all your content. But if the budget doesn’t allow for this then find an editor to check that your copy is without mistakes. This is especially true if you’re taking risks to produce engaging and innovative copy. You want your copy to stand out – but never for the wrong reasons. This point might seem obvious, but I’ve seen too many well-designed (and expensive) websites rendered unprofessional by incorrect English.
This content is also available in: Vietnamese