You recently wrote the latest version of your website and marketing materials. You carefully crafted your messages. You honed lines to meet Facebook character counts, and you expounded gracefully in long-form Instagram posts. You made best guesses at Google algorithms and kept SEO top of mind. You agonized over what was too little information and what was too much. You struggled to balance likability and appropriateness, personality and expertise, calls to action and requests for information.

Well, guess what. “Recently” probably wasn’t all that recent… and it might be time to do it all over again.

Five questions to ask about your website and marketing copy.

What’s the best way to know when you should update your copy? Read it. Frequently, and with a critical eye. If you answer yes to any of these questions, the time is right to write anew.

  1. Is your copy outdated or inaccurate?

    Do you still list former employees, shuttered locations, or discontinued products? Is your last blog entry more than a month old? Does your homepage look and feel nothing like your current marketing campaign?

    Fix these issues immediately. Letting them go uncorrected basically says, “We don’t pay attention to our own business, so imagine how we’ll treat yours.” Also, to make sure your customers can find you, keep current with the way people search for your services. Know the search terms they’re using, and incorporate them into your updated copy. Of course, you should look for other digital cues in your routine analysis of website and online ad performance. If site traffic is down or click-through rates have decreased, maybe it’s time to explore new key words or to do some A/B testing.

  2. Is your copy stale?

    Does it feel behind the times? Does it fail to address current industry trends or issues? Have you used the same paragraph on the same page since Angelfire and Tripod?

    Potential customers want to know you’re on top of the issues that affect them. So make sure you are, and make sure it’s obvious.

  3. Is your copy incomplete?

    Do you notice that services or products are missing? Do the words “under construction, please check back soon” appear anywhere? Do any links lead to blank pages?

    No one believes you’ll do great work on their behalf when you show incomplete work on your own behalf. Write those pages now, or at least eliminate the links that lead to blank pages.

  4. Is your copy stolen?

    Have you noticed that a competitor has “borrowed” some of your content? Or perhaps you “borrowed” some of theirs?

    Shame on them if they did, and double-shame on you if you did. Shrug off your victimization — or atone for your crime — and rewrite honestly. Make sure your new website copy is so great that others will want to steal it again, but is so uniquely about you that they can’t.

  5. Is your copy like everyone else’s?

    Regularly review your competitors’ websites. Do you see the same kind of content on your site and theirs? Could they say about themselves the same things you proudly say about yourself?

    You know you need to differentiate yourself, and the tone of your copy is the perfect avenue to express your company’s unique personality. Take advantage.

Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes

Another approach to reviewing your website and marketing copy is to put yourself in the position of a potential customer who knows nothing about your company. Ask yourself (and answer honestly)…

  • Does this copy make me think I’d enjoy working with this company? Do I feel like their people would be good/easy/helpful to work with? Do I get a sense of their personality? Do I want to learn more about them?

  • Does this copy adequately inform me? Did I find the information I needed? What was I hoping to learn that I couldn’t find?

  • Does this copy demonstrate expertise? Does the company understand my challenges? Am I comfortable with the level of experience represented here? Is it clear to me what differentiates this company from the others I’m checking out?

  • Does this copy give me confidence? Does it address my needs, or is it all about them? Am I sure this company can do what it claims? Am I excited about the possibility of working with them, or am I better off continuing my search?

  • Does this copy make me feel good about the company? Am I interested in learning more, or am I indifferent? Would I share my contact info with them?

Ultimately, you want your website and marketing materials to make potential customers think: “I like these people, and I want to learn more about them.” When it’s up-to-date and relevant, your marketing and website copy can attract, engage, and reel in your customers. When it’s not, it can disappoint, confuse, and send them off to greener pastures. Both realizations are powerful motivators that should inspire you to regularly review and update your copy.