Website Copywriting 101: Grease-Slides and Bucket Brigades
Ever wonder why some sites succeed while others fall into obscurity, despite having almost identical content? It’s not random. There’s a strategy.
Websites and blogs that boast incredible engagement rates have one thing in common with each other: great copywriting.
And no, this has nothing to do with putting a trademark on your content. That’s copyrighting. That’s another topic for another day. No, web copywriting is the nuanced style of content that not only grabs a reader’s attention but keeps them scrolling down your page… hopefully to more of your pages, where they purchase more of your product or services.
But is there actually a big difference between web copywriting and your standard prose?
You better believe it. And I’m about to break it down for you.
There are two common terms for website writing that essentially mean the same thing: grease-slides and bucket brigades. While those two terms may conjure up images of the Keystone Cops, if you apply them to the writing context, they make a lot of sense.
The term bucket brigade comes from the old days of firefighting, when a bucket of water would be passed along a line, person to person, until it was tossed onto the fire. Whatever was happening around it, that bucket just kept going. The term grease-slide comes from, well… a slide covered in grease. It’s the same concept, once you start on the slide, you just keep going.
That’s what we want our readers doing once they read that first sentence of your content. We want them to start, get drawn in, and then keep going until they reach the end. And below I’ll share some bucket brigade tips and tricks to keep your readers moving half a league, half a league, half a league onward (tip of the hat to those of you who appreciate a good Tennyson reference).
Ask an opening question
People have an innate desire to answer questions, so by opening your content with a question, you’re almost guaranteeing that they’ll at least read as far as the answer. “So you want to ____?” “Would you believe that ______?” “Can you guess the number one reason why _______ didn’t appear in the last Star Wars movie?”
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes
Get inside their heads. What do you think they’re thinking as they read your post? What do they want and what do they want to be told? Empathize and express your understanding of their thoughts, questions, and situations. “I know how you feel.” “I was surprised too.” “We’ve all been there”.
Answer your question
You’ve asked a question, you’ve established that we’re all in this together, now provide that short and sweet answer followed by the most important element…
Rinse and Repeat
You know your own constraints as far as content length goes, so fill the space accordingly. Ask and answer another question, and use language to hold attention, such as “Look at this”, “Check this out”, “Here’s the kicker”, etc.
Get Down To The Nitty Gritty
You’ve grabbed them, you’ve pulled them along this far, and now they’re invested enough to take on the main course of your content. Present it simply, conversationally, and remember to leave enough “white space” for your thoughts to breathe (big blocks of text just scream “homework”).
Finish with a flourish
Challenge them to make a change or take an action based on the new information you’ve presented. And maybe leave them with a rhetorical question to keep them thinking once the scrolling has ended.
While these tips work primarily for sites with blogs, the concepts can work for a wide variety of pages. Just keep it simple, keep it engaging, and keep those users on the grease-slide.
Think you’ve got what it takes?
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If you have questions or would like to get started, please give us a call at (312) 834-7787 or visit our website to request a free quote and consultation.