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Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy [Paperback]

Nick Usborne
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 26 2001

A guide to creating copy that connects with customers­­and makes the sale

Advertising and promotion professionals have long known that, while bells and whistles may grab a customer's attention, words make the sale. Yet, nearly a decade into the Web revolution, E-commerce professionals are just now waking up to the fact that the usual high-tech, graphics-heavy approach to site design is bad for business.

Net Words explores the reasons why and makes a strong case for a revolutionary new approach to copywriting tailored to the unique demands of a powerful new medium. With the help of dozens of examples of successful and unsuccessful on-line writing, author Nick Usborne shows readers how to harness the power of the written word for the Web. Readers learn how to imbue a business with a distinctive on-line "voice" and use it to forge lasting bonds with customers, increase market share, and close sales.

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From the Back Cover

Bells and whistles may grab a customer's attention, but words make the sale

"The ancients rightly distrusted rhetoric that made 'the worse argument appear the better'­­an underhanded trick that business has often been guilty of. But rhetoric is also the craft of clear and persuasive communication, which online business needs desperately today. Nick Usborne's insight into this craft fills a surprising gap in the online marketing toolbox."­­Christopher Locke, author of Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst

Practices, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

"The best book I've seen on writing for the Web."­­Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Web Marketing Today

"Nick Usborne, shows us how to write powerful and compelling copy that fully leverages the communications power of the Net. Nick knows the Internet ­­and Nick knows copy."

­­John Audette Founder & Publisher, The Adventive Knowledge Exchange

In Net Words, emarketing guru Nick Usborne introduces you to a revolutionary copy-centered approach to online marketing. He explains what works and what doesn't and shows you how to create copy for websites, enewsletters, and email campaigns guaranteed to:

  • attract customers and hold their attention
  • differentiate your business from its competitors online
  • dramatically increase sales from your site
  • build customer loyalty
  • breathe new life into your customer services

Net Words offers corporate decision makers an inexpensive, proven, low-tech cure for their ecommerce blues. It is also a how-to guide for copywriters thinking about taking the leap into online marketing, as well as for Web professionals who want to increase their sites' usability and appeal.

About the Author

Nick Usborne has written hundreds of articles on the subject of marketing and online writing. Many of these can be found by searching the archives of and Business 2.0. Nick is also a highly respected consultant and much-requested speaker for conferences and corporate meetings and seminars. More details are available through his site at

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Without great copy, commerce would be dead on its feet. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Words are the answer Feb. 2 2003
Being the lead creative at a web consulting company in Japan I've noticed a lot of the problems the author mentioned about putting appropriate importance on good copywriting for the web. His advice has helped me a lot to keep my copy human, energetic, and infuse it with unique attitude. Avoid the corporate speak! Most importantly his advice about getting to know the user's voice in order to communicate in a convincing way. The same kind of book should be written for design! This is a great book for any designers, management and copywriters alike.
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This book is extremely vital to anyone that has a web-based business! Writing online for a website is very tricky, and if you don't do it right, then your business will not succeed. Nick has portrayed writing high-impact online copy in such an easy-to-understand way, that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to put his valuable advice to work - to your advantage."When it comes to communications, words are the simplest and MOST effective of tools," and he's right! He couldn't have said it better. Sites depend on easy-to-understand language, and the 'simplicity' of your site is ultimately what sets you apart from your competition. This is one of the most valuable lessons that I've learned as a web-based business owner, and the most helpful. My favorite chapters are all of them that he has written, as each gives such meaningful and clear advice, tips, ideas, and suggestions that WORK, and that WORK WELL. Nick also puts you into other people's shoes, so that you can think like a direct marketer, close the sale, think like a customer, and so much more. I could think of nothing better than to have such a 'comprehensive' personal approach to writing online. He has addressed the whos, whats, wheres, whens, whys, and hows of strong online copy, especially in the last two chapters. I keep this book next to my computer at ALL times, and refer to it at least three times a day, often reading it cover to cover at least once a week. The best thing is, is that I learn something new every single time I read it. It's been a lifesaver, plain and simple. I can't recommend this book enough, but if you're ever looking for that 'one perfect book', this is it. Thank you so much Nick for writing such a phenomenal book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The competitive weapon you've been looking for! Jan. 24 2002
You and all your competitors are spending big bucks, duking it out online for customers, trying to cut the burn rate or increase profitability. The conversion rate on your site is about average; 1%, 2%, maybe even 5% if you are lucky, really lucky.
The conventional wisdom is, of course, to increase your marketing budget; spend more money to drive customers to that same site where 1 or 2 out of 100 becomes a customer, signs up for your mailing list, or requests more information. Your marketing agency, your media reps, and the sales folks at those CRM and software companies will reassure you that more visibility and more technology will be just what you need. Before you spend another dollar, buck the conventional wisdom and snap up a copy of "Net Words" before it sells out.
Simply put, Net Words will help you develop a competitive advantage, the ONLY competitive that your competitors cannot immediately copy or match with a big enough budget. That advantage, oddly enough is a voice, the words you use to connect with your customers; the words you use to touch, comfort, reassure, and connect with your audience. Can it really be that simple? Absolutely!
Nick covers online copywriting like no one else. While others have written about one to one marketing and the vast potential the web offers for this ideal, Nick shows you how to get there. He provides simple examples that clearly illustrate every inch of the process. You will learn simple methods for increasing the conversion rate on your site, improving the response to email marketing campaigns, and truly building relationships with your audience.
Net Words is simple, honest, and maybe even obvious, too obvious. You remember the emperor who had no clothes, well; the online emperor has no c-l-o-s-e. Large and small companies alike, Net Words will help you change that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The True Key to a Successful Web Site Feb. 6 2002
Nick Usborne, in his straightforward style, uncovers the dirtiest secret in the internet: The success of your site depends primarily on the copy. Unique graphics might get you noticed and win a few design awards, but without good copy, you don't stand a chance. Nick gets this message across by pointing out specific examples of sites that "get it" by using copy to establish a unique voice. He also show a number of examples of "corporate-speak" copy that is guaranteed to lose readers. By highlighting the differences between good web copy versus traditional advertising copy, the book teaches you how to write what people want to read on the 'net. Nick's approach to writing copy emphasizes bright, descriptive, no-nonsense and humorous text while eliminating stilted, boring, and unintelligible language. And the sections on writing sales copy (in the right place) is golden. Bottom Line: If you write for the web, especially if you're a one-person show, you need to read this book.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not much of value Jan. 6 2003
This is more of a survey of copywriter's woes and the general state of online copywriting for Web sites and newsletters and for email. Not much meat and not much that can be of any real value to anyone short of those with very limited experience on the net.
If you're an experienced copywriter or someone who knows their way around, don't waste your money on this book.
I found it amusing how Usborne said that hyperlinks on the web page distract the visitor and should not be used while the author of Persuasive Online Copywriting by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, Lisa T. Davis is all for it.
In fact, there are no hard and fast rules and we copywriters are not at all sure which way works. My personal belief is that each site is different and that hyperlinks can and do work if you write your scan words just right. But neither book addresses this issue.
A novice would be, I think, better served by reading Bob Bly.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't leave home without this book!
This book is a definite MUST HAVE for any website designer, newbie to web design and anyone and everyone who has an online business. Read more
Published on June 22 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars this is bad books
there is not enough information about my assignment .
Published on April 27 2004 by sheikha Al-Mekini
4.0 out of 5 stars worth a read
This broadly covers online copywriting. Nick does his best by speaking to "you" much the same way as your copy should. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2003 by A. M Wall
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal Copy Sells Online
This book takes an idea that should be perfectly obvious to online copywriters, but is so often overlooked, and shows how and why personal copy sells better online than in your... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2003 by Robert L. Brewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt - the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT book you need!
As an owner of an Internet business, this book has become our BEST REFERENCE that we have ever come across. Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2002 by Andrya L. Feinberg
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad for Business
Usborne says the whole heavy graphics thing is bad for business. Has he seen a movie lately? Star Wars had more graphics than an B-2 Bomber! Special effects are everything. Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars good book
Working in PR you learn that words can be everything so it is important that you not only use the right ones but in the right way. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Does it job well, srictly for those wanting to crack the net
I liked it. It is not your totally over the top, deep book about copy and words. If thats what you want this isnt it. Read more
Published on July 31 2002 by Mrs. M. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was looking for.
This book is not action-oriented enough for me. There is too much philosophy. I was looking for a book with "power words", examples, and how-to's. Read more
Published on May 15 2002 by Steve Larmon
5.0 out of 5 stars Words make the sale on the Web
Net Words really makes you focus on the power of words. As Nick Usborne points out, on the Web, it is words that make the sale. Nothing could be more true. Read more
Published on May 1 2002 by Gerry McGovern
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