This book has already gotten rave reviews, but I'll add in my two-cents worth. It's been years since I've had a formal course in marketing, and even then, I wouldn't have learned about persuasive writing for the web. So this book was great for me, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is developing a personal or business website.
The whole book is a series of two- to three-page articles that can be read systematically. The authors are witty and passionate about teaching you how to write copy that converts visitors toward an action.
What's the single most important factor in getting your prospects to convert? Be relevant. "Relevance is a measure of how closely search results match the search request." If you follow the techniques the authors describe, your words won't waste the readers' time and will have impact.
The chapter, "Writing in Review" is a super-condensed Strunk and White's for the corporate writer. It covers all the basics. The authors conclude, "Stellar writing begs to be read. There is an urgency to the writing that keeps the reader going, even when that reader might be pressed for time."
Who isn't pressed for time? People on the internet are in a hurry. They need to find out a piece of information quickly. If your site is too flashy, slow to download, or your words don't make any sense, you'll lose their interest. They can go someplace else. This is what you DON'T want to happen.
The authors include great examples of site makeovers, showing you what works and what doesn't. For me, it was a great introduction to Nick Usborne, and I've gone on to read his book, NET WORDS. They also pointed me toward Ogilvy, another master of advertising.
I especially enjoyed the chapter on using poetic techniques to improve copy. "You won't snag or woo your customers with drabness; you'll woo them with skillful wordsmithing that penetrates their souls..." What follows includes techniques such as frosting, franking, seussing, and frameline magnetism; also, how to develop pace, rhythm, and poetic meter.
It's a short read, but full of insight. For anyone who ever wondered how business communication could be seen as a satisfying creative outlet, look no further than this book. (As you sing and dance your way merrily to the bank.)
--Reviewed by Heather Lynn Ivester