Ep 195 | Copy and Your Website with Kara Duncan

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The words on your website make a huge impact on if people keep diving deeper into your organization or if they move on. They help visitors determine if you are the right people to solve the problem they have. This along with a great design can increase conversions.

Kara Duncan is sharing some of her best tips when it comes to copy and your website!

What you'll learn:

→ how to get started with reviewing your language.
→ common mistakes people make.
→ feeling a bit of writers block? Kara has a tip for you!
→ starting with the most visited pages first.
→ becoming the copywriter – even if we don't feel like one.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[7:07] Start with data. How are people using your website currently? Use data and heat mapping to see where pepole are engaging most and where you're losing them. Have someone review your website and ask the questions, “what do you offer?”, “how will it make your life better?” and “how do I get it?”
[9:12] Common mistakes people make. Not making impact with their headlines and taking people too quickly to the end action instead of warming them up.
[12:48] Organize your information before you write. Copy is assembled not written. Go through old contact forms. Make a list of the comments and questions people are always saying. Take a look at the reviews your organization has. This will help you with the right language to use.
[15:07] You don't have to do it all at once. It can be overwhelming to do it all at once. Instead start with the most visited pages on your website. If you're doing it all at once save the homepage for last. You'll pull nuggets from the other pages to feature on your homepage.
[18:26] Channel your inner copywriter with AI tools. They can help you generate ideas and remove the writers block. They won't write your entire page for you, but can help you with an outline for you to expand upon.


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Donald Miller | Storybrand
Mike Michalowicz | Get Different: Marketing That Can't be Ignored 
Kara Duncan | Fast & Slow Marketing Guide

Kara Duncan

Kara Duncan

Founder, The Kara Report

The Kara Report was created after seeing wedding pros and other creatives burn themselves out on Instagram. Kara Duncan, the writer behind The Kara Report, brings actionable advice when it comes to marketing your business in a sustainable way. The goal? By balancing fast and slow marketing methods, you can stop stressing over where your next lead is coming from (and actually enjoy serving your clients instead). Today, she offers done-for-you marketing services for small business owners who just want to take marketing off their plate. Learn more: https://thekarareport.com/

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, hey, it is March. And we are talking all things a website this month. And so I'm excited to have Kara Duncan here today to talk to us a little bit about copy, and how that translates on our website. How do we need to think about the copy on our website? How do we need to show up? And how can we use it to our advantage so that our website is working for us, as she says, I think this is going to be awesome, because a lot of times we think about the design of our website. And yes, that's important, we're going to talk about that a little bit too. But without the right words, without people feeling like they are being spoken to that they are part of the solution going to be harder for them to convert on their own.

So Kara is the creator of the care report. And after seeing wedding pros and other creatives burn themselves out on Instagram, she created that report, Kara brings actionable advice when it comes to marketing your business in a sustainable way, the goal by balancing fast and slow marketing methods, you can stop stressing over where your next lead is coming from, and actually enjoy serving your clients instead. Today, she offers done for you marketing services for small business owners who just want to take marketing off their plate. And this is where copy comes into play.

It's 100% true that when we have the right calls to action to the right language, the right layout of our website, it's going to convert better. And that's going to be more donations for us more volunteers or participants in our programs, more all the things so I hope you take a listen to this episode, and put some of these elements into action. Okay, you with me? I'm excited.

Before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our quiz. Should you DIY your website. Now if you're listening to this episode, or just anything this month, and you're thinking that maybe your website needs a bit of an overhaul before you start reaching out to potential developers, designers before you start really even thinking about budget time? And is this even possible? Take this free quiz is that https://thefirstclick.net/quiz. And I want you to do this because it's going to tell you where you're at. And if you should be doing yourself if you should be hiring somebody or if you're somewhere in the middle, it's going to give you resources and tools to help you figure that out. So you can have a less frustrating, less costly experience. So again, that's at https://thefirstclick.net/quiz. Let's get into the episode.

[Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey there, please join me in welcoming Kara Duncan to the podcast. Kara, thank you so much for being here.

[Kara Duncan] Thank you so much for having me.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So we are talking all things website copy today. So before we kind of jump into that, why is copy and wire website something that you love to geek out on and are super passionate about?

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, I think like, I just believe that your website should be working for you. Kind of like 24 hours a day. It's like truly a home base for your customers. I know you talk so much about marketing on your podcast. And it's like, truly like your marketing is so much more effective when I believe anyway, when all roads lead back to your website. So specifically, like with website copy, I like to say it does three things for you. One, it helps you rank on Google two, it will help you kind of like weed out like repel the wrong people warm up the right people. And then three, ideally, it will guide your viewer to the next step. And ideally, it's doing all of that while you're sleeping or working on other important things. Right, just like constantly. Yeah, one of the best tools that you don't, you know, unlike an employee that you pay to works for you.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] We could not be in more alignment with any of those things that you I mean, like that's we're spot on. I love that everything you said Totally agree. And so copy is the words that show up on your website. And I firmly believe that the copy is more important than the design. Why do you think people get that twisted in their head? Like they want something that looks beautiful, but that's not what gets people to convert? Right?

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, I could not agree more. Like I'm always like, so hesitant to say that copy is more important than design because obviously I don't think that people will read like oh, like paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff. But I just think I have seen time and time again. People buy a beautiful website template and they kind of like play around with it and then their website I always say like gets nothing but compliments. Like people don't know gotta buy from you. They don't really know what you do. But like everyone keeps saying it's so pretty, and I think it's good. For the most part design is, like more fun. It's more exciting. Like, honestly, we could have that conversation about marketing, like how people love to, like tinker around on Instagram versus like, other sustainable things, right? It's like it is. And again, I might be biased here, but I'm just like, you can buy a beautiful aesthetic website template. But without the copy, like, it just kind of falls flat, although it can look pretty. And it's easier to get kind of like, somewhat good at design. And I don't want to disrespect designers. But I think like, there's so much power in design. Oh, yeah. Versus like mucking around with your copy? And like, yeah.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] way to say it would be like, you, if you just have a beautifully designed website, you're leaving money on the table, versus like, there's people that make millions of dollars off ugly websites, because they have the copy, correct. They know who they're talking to. And they make it easy for people to make a purchase. Right? So it's almost like, it's not to say design doesn't matter. But if you don't have the right copy, then you definitely are not going to be hitting the mark with your visitors.

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, for sure. And like, that's the thing about design, too. It's like one of the main purposes that design has is like helping your viewer read what you've written, right? And it's like, for so many people, words are an afterthought, but it's like, design can't sell your services for you. It can ask people to like donate to your nonprofit or sign up to volunteer or whatever, it can't get people to sign up for your email list. Like all of that it needs to be the words.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, no, I agree. So if we're taking a look at our website, and we're like, Okay, I'm not getting the right conversions, or I'm not seeing kind of the This website's not working for me when I'm sleeping, and I need a little bit more action. Where would you start with kind of reviewing the language? That's, that's there?

[Kara Duncan] Yeah. So the first thing I, I'm like you, I feel like I always like to dive into the data first. So the first thing I would do is like head to Google Analytics, see where people are dropping off. If you are a more visual person, I always recommend something like hot jar. So you can kind of watch your users navigate your website in real time, and then see where the design or the copy is kind of throwing them off and go from there. I also kind of talked about or wanted to mention, I know this is like a common thing. But like, with a Donner Donald Miller in the story brand, when he talks about the grunt test, and it's like, every single word, every single website page, basically, you want to them to answer what do you offer? How will it make your life better? And how do I get it? And instead of doing it, I always recommend asking somebody outside of your industry, if they can quickly answer those questions. Because truly, like I see, one of the things I see when I'm doing like a copy audit for someone is very close to it. They don't see the gaps that are like very obvious to someone who has no idea what they do.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think that's true, because we are so into our business, we know. Okay, I know where the next step is, I know where the next step is, like, I know, I have it all mapped out like I've seen how this goes. But you can't really, it's hard to poke holes in your own thing. So I think that's great advice to have, like, we do this with our clients, when we launch a website, have somebody find this thing. And if they can't find it, then we need to go tweak and we can refine it. It's the same like you don't edit your own copy. Right? Because you you read it the way that you envision it in your own head. Yeah, I know. Like what is one? Like if we were going to say okay, like here is a critical place to start, like, where do you see people making the biggest mistakes with copy on their website?

[Kara Duncan] I would say if you're going to start somewhere headlines, revamping your headlines, and obviously calls to action, another, I guess, actually, let's talk about calls to action. So one of the biggest mistakes I see is people are driving them straight to like the sale, whether the sale point means contact page or donate page or whatever. It's straight there, straight there. And like instead, when I'm working on a website, copy project, I'll be like, okay, exactly what journey do I want the person to take? And even though maybe like, in a perfect world, somebody's going to read my homepage, and then instantly go to where I want them to go. The reality is, if I take them to like the about us page and then a little bit, you know, schedule a call or something like that or learn more about them. donating, or volunteering, or whatever it's like then by the time they reach the page I want, which maybe, let's say as the Contact page, they're much warmer. Right? So it's like, in a way, like taking them on a longer journey, even though it's kind of like counterintuitive. Everyone's like, the less steps people take, the better. It's like, really, if your copy is good, you're warming people up so much more along the way. And then the people that are hitting your contact form are like, ready?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Mm hmm. Well, I think what we're talking about is, is understanding how to get the right message to the right people at the right time. So we can't assume that everybody who lands on our homepage is ready to make a donation, but the people that are ready to make a donation are going to click that donate button and just go through that process. Right. So you have to think about it from a multi multi journey approach.

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, and that's such a good point. Because I always say, like, with a social media post, or something like that, it's always like, one call to action, one call to action. And on your website, you really can have different people in different places. And it's okay to kind of show them different paths that they can take.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So can you share, because I think we assume a call to action is a call to purchase. So could you share some other examples of what look, some calls to action might be on a website?

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, absolutely. So it could be like asking them to sign up for your email list. So you can nurture them further. It could be having them read, you know, your blog posts, where I always feel like blogs are one of the like, most underrated features on your website, because they can, like people that are interested in your organization, or business or whatever it is, they will binge it if they're interested, right. So that could be a call to action, head over to our blog. I always like to and I feel like I'm bringing up social media a lot, but it's just so all interconnected. I always try and get people to come find me on Instagram, and then I can, you know, warm them up further. They're like, yeah, and then Yeah, anything like, learn more about our team? How to work with us, etc, instead of just straight to contact, or donate now?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. Okay. So one of the big mistakes that I see with copy on websites is that we talk too much about ourselves and don't talk about what we do from the perspective of the person who's visiting. So if I'm looking at my website, and I want to refresh my copy, like do you have when you're working through this with clients, like how do you get them into that framework of like, let's talk about the pain point that you solve. Let's talk about how you solve it. Let's talk about how you engage a visitor as opposed to like, being it's almost like being the person who shows up at the networking event that's like, Hey, my name is Gil. And I do this and you should donate to me right now. Right? Like, that's how our websites often show up to people.

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, for sure. So I am like crazy. When I write copy, I have like everything on the table. But basically, what I always tell people is one of my favorite quotes is by like famous copywriter, Eugene Schwartz, who says copy isn't written, it's assembled. And so it's like, the first thing I do is like, go through like old contact forms, like What have people reached out saying, and like, because those are questions your website is not answering. Or Or, like, even if it's not a question, it's like these people needed to hear XYZ to get them over the edge. And like that is invaluable. If your organization has reviews or anything like that, like I love digging into that, because obviously, sometimes we think like, oh, we saw their problem by XYZ. And they're like, No, this was my was like, more importantly, this is how I felt when it was solved. So I always like to, like, start with those two building blocks. Before I even do anything. Like, what are people actually saying when they reach out? What do people actually want? How do they feel after working with you?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, because I think we overcomplicated we want to come up with all this like fancy marketing jargon. And like, we need to, like say all these cool things, and like, whatever. But it's really just as simple as using the words that are being spoken to you. So if you don't have testimonials, or you don't have contact forms that could be, you know, literally just having one on one conversations with the people that are your ideal.

[Kara Duncan] Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. I know. Sometimes I'll be like writing a website. And by the end of it, it's like, I wonder how much of it I actually wrote. Do you know what I mean? Oh, I took bits and pieces, your bits and pieces here like and it's like you said, another great place is just conversations with people.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So okay, so homepage is like one thing I feel like. I like what you said about like, if people like what you're saying and they engage with you, they're gonna dive deeper into content. So like, if we're in the middle of a refresh, if we're going to kind of think more clearly about the copy, like do we have to change the whole website at once? Or is it okay to kind of just go Go through and like prioritize kind of, like I said, based off of what we know are the most visited pages on our website.

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, in general, I would start with just the most visited pages, I don't think every time you need to burn it all down and start, start again, for sure. I would say like I typically it depending on your timeline for the project, so like, if you're updating a page, kind of every like, three or four months, when you have time, maybe don't do this. But if you're like, gonna steadily work on the project, I like to save the homepage for last, because it really is like home pages are the hardest, right? And sometimes when you write it first, but then you might switch direction or, you know, edit something, or, you know, use all of your I want to say like nuggets, like sometimes you read a piece of copy, and you're like, Oh, this is the best and you put it on your homepage. But it's like, all the pages have to be good. So it's like when you use everything on your homepage, even though the homepage has to be good, I find it easiest to write last.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, your homepage is almost like the outline for your whole website. Yeah, that leads people to a deeper dive. So I think that makes sense. Because if you don't, it's like we talked a lot of podcasts, a lot of our guests have talked about this too, but reverse engineering, right, like going from the end and taking it forward. And if we know that the website is going to be the starting point for the donor journey, right at the top of the funnel, we want to pull people through, we should reverse engineer the way that we write the copy, as well.

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, for sure. And like, just to comment on that a lot of one missed opportunity that I frequently see on contact pages is like there's just a form, and then once they submit the form, there's nothing to do next, where I'm like, there should always be something to do immediately. After, because after they're like, obviously not gonna hear from you immediately, right, and they're gonna be looking for something to do. And I don't know if this is a much of an issue in the nonprofit space. But I know like, with businesses I work for it's like, you know, if your wedding photographer or something like that, you don't want them to then just go on to the next one and talk to default. Yeah. When they hit submit on a contact form, it's such a, like, crucial time to like, get them to warm up even more, whether that's like immediately scheduling a call or be like, in the meantime, these blog posts might be helpful or learn more about our team here. Well, you know, we get back to in two days or whatever.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, we definitely want immediate gratification. Yeah, totally. I mean, and I think submitting a contact form is a huge sign of intent. And so yeah, to your point, like, that's, if I'm taking the steps in the action to do that. I want something now. So I love that. That's, like, that's a great tip. Um, so like, how do we because you know, like, now there's copywriters everywhere. And it feels like it's a science and we kind of get in our own heads. So kind of how can we I liked your tip about like, go through the old content, but mindset wise, like how can we kind of say to ourselves, like, I can do this, like I know enough about my organization? Like, you know, there is a time and place to hire a copywriter but how can we get out of our own way and, and get started with writing about our organization for our website?

[Kara Duncan] Oh, that's a good question. Okay, I have a random thought on this that might be but like honestly, this is one of the things that I'm starting to use AI writing tools for. Yeah, you're gonna necessarily like steal the headline at provides or, you know, I don't think it's quite at the point where it will write your website for you. But when I'm staring at a blank page, like you just need to generate ideas that honestly really helps me get out of my funk is like I use Jasper personally but I know there's like a million out there and it right now. Seems like all everyone's talking about so mindset wise. I mean, it's always just so hard to get started. That's why it's kind of nice to start one page at a time or even one headline at a time like most people are just skimming your headlines like I always remind myself of that two people are not reading every single word right? So if you're just you know, if you just make one headline on your website better every single day or week or whatever you have time for like that makes such a big difference. So yeah, I would start there but then sometimes when you just need to get ideas in a page like I think that's what AI is really good for right now.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I agree with that. We are not copy paste people my listener friends we do not need an AI. It will not sound like you will not sound authentic, but I love that tip of like using it to not start from a blank page because I agree with you like that. I am always so much better when Have something to kind of edit and work off of versus like a curtain, that blinking cursor, there's something about it that's just like I don't even know if that's a thing. But like, you just now you're staring at it and you're like, like, all of a sudden, you have lost everything that you know about the work that you do and who you serve. So how much does who you serve play into also, like, how we talk and the way that we write? Because I think that's the other thing we hear from a lot of nonprofits is we need to be very formal, or we need to be very professional, or we need to do like we're supposed to show up in a certain way. But that's not always the case, because it really is dependent on who we're talking to. So how much should we be taking into consideration like our ideal donor or our community when we're writing copy for our website?

[Kara Duncan] Oh, gosh, yeah, I feel like it's everything. Do you know what I mean? Like they, yeah, it's an honestly. Yeah, that's, that's one of the things too, like, I just finished reading get different by Mike McCalla wits. And I probably better get flack. But one of the things he said is sometimes like, if you're in an industry that is like, so standard, one way, you can stand out even more by being in other races. To your point, it's like, all of your competitors are super formal and super professional and stuff, it can really honestly work in your favor to kind of go the other direction. And yeah, honestly, that's why I like to start with reviews and Contact Form things, because I want to know how, like the real people they're serving. I think it's everything.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and you mentioned something at the beginning about how like, your website is also meant to help self select people that aren't for you. And so, um, that's a great point too. And like, understanding kind of like your style of copy might upset people or might not, I shouldn't say upset, that's very dramatic. To want to. Like, it might not be the right style or feel or process, but that's okay. Because you want the people that are the right ones for you.

[Kara Duncan] Absolutely. And like I always find like a one of the things you can kind of like, price anchor in your copy a little bit, right, like so, for example. I mean, he's another work with a lot of wedding people. And it's like, okay, so if you're a wedding planner, you can be like, you know, whether you're spending 50,000 or 500,000, on your website, you're already immediately repelling the DI wires, right? Because they're like, 50,000. Yeah, that is like a very simple piece of copy that is not necessarily going to, like offend them, but they're gonna be like, Oh, this is not for me. Right?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] But like, how if they go all the way to contact call, and then you get on the phone with them, and now you've wasted an hour with them on the call doing a consult, and then you find out that you're way out of their budget, you've wasted your time and their time, for what purpose. So I think that's

[Kara Duncan] the only time and I feel like Sorry, that sounds like something I feel passionate about too. Because it's like, so many times, we're like, Oh, I feel bad, like thing, you know, like this, let's cancel this call, like, this isn't going to be a good fit or whatever. But it's like, it's not just your time, like, it's also their time. And like for me like this is like, I appreciate the psychology behind like hiding pricing or whatever. But it's like, I also value. So it's kind of like one of those things right?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] In other place where we are in complete alignment. I love that. And I think in the nonprofit space where we see that is that self selection of the donation amount on the donation page, people are scared to say like to have pre selected a certain dollar amount, well, what if that's too high, and people don't want to give. And I think that's also the power of the copy that is next to that decision making process, right? Like, we can use that language all the way through to that end point, to continue to show them why this is important and why this is what they need. They need to be doing.

[Kara Duncan] And you're right, because there's such a range of nonprofits. There's nonprofits that are like donate just $1 today. Like something like if you're not that that's a great way to self select.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Okay, well, I think you've given people some good tips are trying not to overwhelm organizations with too many things to do. So if you are going to tell listeners kind of one of your best tips hidden secrets favorite things about copy that they should take away? What would that be?

[Kara Duncan] Oh, gosh, let me just said

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I know I put you on the spot I didn't know

[Kara Duncan] Um, I guess I would just say, like, we talked about this a little in the episode, but it's like truly nothing is about you, even your about page. Right? So it's like that is like one thing, like, your about page is all about how you can help them or, you know, that kind of thing like truly nothing in your website is about you. And that's honestly a good thing because that means when people don't identify with you, you don't have to take that personally either. Right, like, yeah, good thing. So yeah,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. I think that's fantastic. I think, to me, that is the hardest part about writing copy. Because we just are so it's just so much easier to talk about, here's what I do. Here's what I do. Here's what I do. And here's why you should care that flip is is really difficult. So a good reminder to keep in the back of our heads. Well, Kara, I thank you for spending this time with us today and sharing these tips. If people want to find out more about you how they can learn from you all of your resources. How do they do that?

[Kara Duncan] Yeah, you can head to head to my website. It's where I have everything. The Kara report.com

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yep. And that's care with a K. Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah, that's out. Yeah. And we'll link that up in the show notes. So it's easy for you all to find. Well, Kara, thank you so much for being a guest today. Awesome. Thank

[Kara Duncan] you so much for having me. I love your podcast and I really appreciate it.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Thank you again to Kara for joining me on this episode and sharing her copywriting tips. I know that I am in the process of updating a few pages of my own website and excited to kind of have some of these refreshers as I work through those processes.

For now, if you want to grab the resources she mentioned or check out the show notes, you can do that at https://thefirstclick.net/195 . And always you can find us on YouTube at Digital Marketing therapy at https://thefirstclick.net/youtube and make sure you subscribe wherever you stream these episodes so that we can show up in front of more nonprofits that need the support as well. Thank you so much for listening week after week and we will see you in the next one.


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