How to Copy Audit Your Homepage Content (With Video)

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Do you ever feel like your homepage content isn’t quite hitting the mark? Maybe you feel like it doesn’t give off the impression you want for your business, or it doesn’t really speak to your dream clients or customers… but you have no idea why! Well, friend, it might be time for a copy audit.

Before you go and drop four figures on a website rewrite package with a pro copywriter, first take a look at your content to see whether a rewrite is even necessary. Unless you’ve recently made a major shift in your business or your brand messaging, the good news is a complete rewrite is rarely necessary. 

Instead, I’m going to show you how a simple copy audit can help you identify what messaging is driving connection and conversions for your online business… and what copy needs a bit more tweaking. 

What is a Copy Audit? 

The word “audit” sounds very corporate-y, and can trigger those scary feelings associated with getting your taxes audited. (It’s the stuff of nightmares, really.) But, an ‘audit’ is just a fancy shmancy, professional way of saying that you’re going over something. It’s that simple.

A copy audit is the process of going over your existing copy in a really detailed, “official” way to ensure your content is conveying the right message for your brand and business goals. 

When you look at the official definition of an audit, you’ll see that an audit is typically done by an independent body — and the same thing goes for your copy. For a copy audit to be really impactful and effective, it’s best if it’s not done by the same person who wrote your copy (in most cases, you). 

I highly recommend hiring a copywriter to do your copy audit for you — or, at the very least, assign it to someone who is not as deeply involved in your messaging strategy. It’s the best way to make sure you’re getting a really impartial, valuable audit of your content.

Example of a Copy Audit

At the top of this page, I’ve included a video where you can watch me do a live copy audit of Mailchimp’s homepage. Be sure to watch it if you want to see a real-life, practical example of the copy audit process, and to get actionable advice on how to identify copy that supports your goals (or doesn’t). 

Not a video person? No problem. Click the button below to read the full video transcript.

Hey friends and welcome back to my blog! If you’re new here, my name is Megan Taylor, and I’m a copywriter and messaging expert. I work mostly with female web-based online entrepreneurs who are trying to find the right words to authentically connect with their dream buyers to make selling to them feel a lot easier and not so icky and sleazy.

Today, I am going to be walking you through a live copy audit. If you’re not sure what a copy audit is, I recommend having a read of the blog post below to get a little bit more context before watching this video.

A little bit of a disclaimer: this is not identical to a copy audit that I would do for a client for a couple of reasons. The first being that MailChimp is not my client and I don’t know what kind of strategy went into the writing of this page. So I don’t know what their goal is for this page. I don’t know who their target audience is or any of those other really important strategic messaging or business elements. So all of this is kind of based on assumptions.

Second thing is that it’s a bit quicker than my typical copy audit. I didn’t want to give you guys a 30 minute video — who knows? This could be a 30 minute video by the time I’m finished with it. I didn’t want to give you something crazy long to sit through. Normally when I do this for a client, the video itself is anywhere from a half an hour to an hour depending on how much copy we are going through. So yeah, this is just a live, streamlined, super efficient, checklist version of a copy audit.

So why are we looking at MailChimp? The simple answer is I did a poll on my Instagram stories a couple of weeks ago and once I eventually sorted through all of the spam votes — that always went to option A, because why would a robot get creative and select another option? — it seems like MailChimp won. And I had a couple of DMS from people asking me to look at MailChimp’s page. So, here we go. Let’s dive in.

So the first thing that I do in a copy audit is figure out, what is the first impression that I’m getting from the page? And obviously the first impression from this page is, whoa, that is a lot of the yellow. That’s a lot of yellow, guys. But obviously that’s from a design perspective. So what about the copy?

So in terms of a first impression, I’m always looking at what we call the above the fold copy, anything that’s in the hero section of your homepage — the first little section that you see, which usually consists of a heading, some descriptive text, and then a call to action.

So, a very quick, skim read, first impressions of this above the fold copy. The first line is “Know what’s working and what’s not.” Okay, peaks my interest. Then I’m wondering, am I in the right place? Is this MailChimp the email platform? That’s what people know MailChimp for. And so when I’m reading “Know what’s working and what’s not”, I’m like, okay, MailChimp. How does that relate to email marketing? We’ll get into that a little bit more in a sec. I digress.

Second line: “We’ve got the data insights you need in real time so you can optimize all the time. That’s the advantage of MailChimp’s all in one marketing platform.” This is something that’s going to speak to me if I’m someone who cares about data and optimization, right? If I’m just someone who wants to keep in contact with my list and send out a generic newsletter and I don’t really care about the data, I’m getting the impression that this isn’t really geared towards me. I’m not the person they’re targeting with this. But, if I’m someone who cares about things like open rates, conversion rates, and other analytics that maybe other email providers don’t provide, then I’m convinced. It’s giving me that information.

It’s also showing me, okay, all in one marketing platform. I thought MailChimp was just an email guy, so suddenly my interest is peaked. And that is the main goal of your above the fold copy. It’s to encourage people to learn more and keep reading.

And finally, for first impressions, the call to action here is login, which was the biggest and probably weirdest thing about this landing page. If I’m a seasoned MailChimp user, if I’m someone who’s already using MailChimp to email my list… I don’t know about you guys, but I’m automatically looking for this button up here in the top right corner to login. I’m not going [to the hero section] to login. I’m going to automatically assume that [the copy in the above the fold section] is just a marketing message. This isn’t geared towards me, and so I’m going up here instead.

This is prime real estate when it comes to your conversion copywriting. If a new visitor is landing on this page, I don’t want to be directing them to a login button. I want to be directing them to find out more or sign up for free.

Let’s look a little bit more in depth at it’s above the fold copy. As I just mentioned, I have a bit of an issue with this first line. “Know what’s working and what’s not.” The headline on your homepage is super, super, super important. It’s basically your value proposition. You should be telling me immediately what value I’m getting from being here or what value I would get from using your services or your products. But, “Know what’s working and what’s not” is really vague, right? Wat the heck are you talking about, Mailchimp? Are you talking about my systems? Are you going to show me which of my tech tools are working, and what’s not? It suggests that they’re promoting something more than just email marketing.

If that is the goal of the page — to show the reader that MailChimp is more than just an email provider, that they are an all in one marketing platform — then the vagueness is probably intentional.

But, all the same, this is the most important piece of copy on your entire homepage and I think that they could do better here. It certainly does do a good job of making me want to read more, so I immediately come down to this second piece of copy.

This [descriptive] above the full copy isn’t exactly targeting my pain point or the pain point that I think MailChimp’s ideal customer has. So let’s say MailChimp was interviewing me. Let’s say that they did a little bit of customer research before writing this copy. And they want to find out, what problem does our target audience have with their marketing? And how can we show them that we fix that problem? That’s what your market research should be doing before you write some copy.

So it does kind of a good job, because if MailChimp interviewed me and said, “What’s your biggest marketing issue right now?” I might very well say, “Well, I don’t know what’s working and what’s not.”

But then if they asked me to follow up on that and said, “Okay, what would solve that problem for you?” What are the chances that I’m going to say, “I need some real time data insights so that I can optimize all the time.” Probably not language that’s coming out of their ideal clients’ mouths, right? So this descriptive copy here is MailChimp’s chance to really dive into why I need to know what’s working and what’s not and how MailChimp is going to solve that problem for me. And they’re just not quite hitting the nail on the head here.

This is what I would recommend as an example of copy to swap this out for: “Our all-in-one marketing platform will help you clearly see where your hard work is paying off — and what needs tweaking or trashing.”

Now that’s just a really vague suggestion. Before actually writing the copy, I would do a little bit of customer research to find out, is this language that their clients are actually using? And then I would obviously make sure that it’s in their brand voice, because they might not want to stay tweaking or trashing.

But what I’m getting at here is that if you asked me to follow up on, “Why do you want to know what’s working, what’s not?” I would probably say, “Well, I’m working really hard on my marketing and I really just want to know where that hard work is paying off and where I just need to completely scrap things or do some tweaking to make it work better.” Right? That is the solution. So if you could tell me that your all in one marketing platform is going to help me do that, that’s going to mean a lot more to me than telling me that I’m going to get data insights so I can optimize all the time. Makes sense?

All right, so let’s move away from the above the fold copy.

The next thing that I usually do is look to see, if I was a skin reader on this page — because let’s face it, when is the last time that you looked through an entire web page of copy? Unless you’re a copywriter, probably not very often, right? So if I skim read, what are the messages that are popping up?

“Make your marketing seamless.” “Build your audience with one click” “Email built to power your business.” Now usually a page only has about three key messages. They’ve snuck in another one here: “An award winning platform”. I’ve only scrolled to about half[way down the page]. There’s a lot more copy down here that we’ll get into, but those are the main messages that they’re telling me.

So what is the impression that I’m getting? I get the impression that it’s going to be easy to use. They’re using words like seamless, and one click.

I get the impression that it’s going to power my business, because it says exactly that: power my business. Because of that, it makes me think that it’s going to help me get leads and clients. Because “Build your audience” (implies) leads, while “Power your business” — at the end of the day, what powers your business? Money. Clients. Customers. So I get the impression that’s going to help me get those leads and clients.

And then I get the impression that it’s a platform that I can trust, because it’s award winning. So, because these are the headlines that they picked, that is the same impression that a skim reader is going to get.

When doing your copy audit, before you dig really deep into the copy, make sure you’re doing that as well. Ask yourself, if I was just skim reading and getting the general impression from this page, what is the impression that I’m getting? That is the impression that this page is getting off. So, let’s look at those sections piece by piece pretty quickly.

The first section says, “Make your marketing seamless. Our all in one platform, comes loaded with prebuilt templates, segments and automation.” I’m kind of failing to see how those things relate. Their video right here is really, really great. So if you have a chance to go to mailchimp.com and watch this video, I highly recommend it. The messaging that’s in this video is perfect, but it’s not exactly what’s reflected over here in their copy.

When you’re saying to me that my marketing is seamless.. if I said I want my marketing to be seamless, what I’m envisioning is consistency. It’s implying that the people who are interacting with my business and my marketing are getting a seamless experience, which means they’re getting a similar experience across the board. Whereas, “Our all in one platform, comes loaded with prebuilt templates, segments and automations” makes it seem like it’s going to be really easy for to create my marketing collateral.

So this section just needs a little bit of tweaking in order for it to really relate to what they’re trying to communicate here. And I actually just swiped some copy from the video. I recommend that they say, “Market your business smarter”. Because that’s exactly… that’s the key message in this video. Market your business smarter. And that makes sense. Because if I have prebuilt templates, it’s going to save me a heck of a lot of time. If I have segments that I can send out messages that are smarter and more targeted to what people need, and if things are automated, then hey — nothing’s smarter than automation, nothing’s smarter than robots. Right? So that one little tweak is going to make the messaging here so much clear.

That’s the magic of copy, right? Just changing four words around can give this whole section an entirely different meaning.

Next section: I’m going to keep this short because I love this section. I’ll tell you why. Audience building is hot right now. Their target audience is concerned about building their audience, so they’re hooking in that pain point with their headline. And then, all of a sudden I’m like, Oh, okay. I can build my audience with MailChimp, not just communicate with them. Awesome.

I feel like that’s the goal of this page. Having gone through it now, to me, the goal of MailChimp’s landing pages to communicate, “We’re more than just the email guys. We’re the marketing guys.” So if you’re telling me that I can build my audience with one click, that’s making that fairly clear to me.

This copy right here: “When you create a new landing page with MailChimp, we automatically generate a Facebook and Instagram ad for it.” Okay. Awesome. I get it. I kind of get what you do.

My favorite part about this section though is their call to action copy. You want, as much as possible, for your call to action copy to be related to the copy that’s in your heading. Right here [in their heading] they’re using the word build, and here [in their CTA copy] they’re using building. So if [the descriptive] text disappears, does this [section] make sense? Build your audience with one click. Start building literally with one click. If they click on the button, they get to start building. Perfect. Not much to say about that section.

“Email built to power your business”. That’s cool. It makes it clear to me that you care about my business and you care about my business’ success.

[In the descriptive text] they’re immediately talking about ROI. At the top of the page they were talking about data and optimization. Here they’re talking about ROI. This is really setting the tone for the whole page. What this is telling me is that they know their audience. They know that someone who has scrolled this far down on their page and not just clicked the sign up free button is serious about the investments that they make.

However, that said, this is still a freaking mouthful. Let me see if I can even read it. “And our industry leading tools, which work in tandem with the other channels our all in one marketing platform offers, are designed to help grow your business faster.”

So my first thought is, what exactly is the difference between your industry leading tools and your other channels? I do get it. When you take this whole section into context, I get what they’re saying. They’re saying that their email tools work alongside their other offers, like their landing pages and so on. But there’s gotta be an easier way to say this, right?

I would change this copy right here to say something more like, “Our industry leading email tools work seamlessly with the rest of our all in one marketing platform to help you grow your business faster.” Now we’re dropping fancy words like in tandem, but that’s the way people speak. When’s the last time you heard somebody say “in tandem”? I mean I guess it depends on who you’re hanging out with. I don’t remember the last time I said “in tandem”. I would say it works seamlessly with the rest of our blah, blah, blah.

Not as elegant, but this really emphasizes the fact that sometimes you don’t want to be clever with your copy. You don’t want to be fancy with your copy. You want to be clear. Clarity is the most important thing.

And finally, let’s look at this section right here : “An award winning platform”. Awesome. This is the introduction of social proof. This is the first bit of social proof that we have on this page and social proof is so important for building trust, so it’s really important that they put this here.

One issue that I have with it is this copy: “Our users named MailChimp one of TrustRadius’ top rated all in one marketing platforms in 2019”. Guys, I don’t know who TrustRadius is, do you? I don’t use TrustRadius. The important thing here is “our users”, which is probably why they put “our users” at the front [of this copy]. That’s really great. Bring it back to that social proof. Bring it back to the body of people who actually use your platform and your product. [TrustRadius] means nothing to me.

I would just tweak the sentence a little bit to say, “Our users named MailChimp one of the best all in one marketing platforms of 2019 (according to TrustRadius)”

The other issue that I have with this section is… okay, actually I have two. The copy says, “Using our tools, you can easily create an email design landing page, build a website and more.” That’s awesome. That is what I feel like this whole page is trying to tell me. But, why is it in the award winning platform section? Why isn’t this pulled out into another section a little bit earlier? This is a really, really, really important message. This is the whole gist of what you want to communicate with this page. So why is it hiding in your own award winning platform section? Let’s take it out and put it somewhere else.

And then this is my other issue: the call to action. “Ready to get started? Explore more features.” Think about this. If I’m somebody who’s ready to get started, do I want to explore more features? Heck no! I want to get started. So, that is your main call to action: “Get Started”.

That’s what you want people to do when they’re visiting this page, you want them to get started. You want them to get that free trial or paid trial or whatever. Why is it hiding away in the award winning platform section? And why is the button [directing visitors to] explore more features? Doesn’t make sense, right? This [whole section] kind of just needs to be scrapped or moved around a little bit.

I just want to quickly touch on the additional social proof that’s on this page. This is awesome, they’ve got a testimonial. Finally a face, right? These cartoon guys are hella creepy. This is a real person’s face. This is what you want to humanize your product. Humanize the page.

They picked a really good testimonial here. They’re talking about scaling, they’re talking about conversions and they’re talking about revenue — which at the end of the day, based on who it seems like they’re going after with this [page], this is something that’s important to that target reader. So they picked a really good testimonial as a highlight here.

That’s a good call to action. If I want to learn more about this person’s story or this company’s story, I can click to learn more.

This is their other social proof that they have on their page. And truthfully, maybe I’m totally naive, but I don’t know these brands, you guys. I know SWEAT. Maybe I’m just out of the loop. Maybe I’m a little, I don’t know. I’m old. Maybe young. Maybe I’m just living in my own personal bubble. But I feel like there were much bigger names and impressive companies that are using MailChimp that, as a potential user. I’m going to know.

I think that these [logos] were probably selected very strategically. But this isn’t a targeted landing page, so they don’t know whether I’m someone who lives in New York and likes to work out and reads books. Because it’s a general homepage, they should be covering their bases a little bit more than that. So they should be putting some bigger names. They should just in general be including a little bit more social proof in my opinion.

What I do really love about this section is this headline. “You will be in good company”. Even though this is social proof — so it’s about MailChimp and it’s from other companies — they’re still tying it back to you, the reader. That’s something you always want to do in your copy is to make sure that’s being tied back to your reader.

Okay. So I know that I’ve skipped over a couple of sections, but again, I wanted this to be quick and actionable for you guys. I just want to tell you that the last thing that I do in my copy audit is say, okay, now that I’ve read through the whole page and all of the content, what is my impression now?

So, there’s lots of use of the word “you”. This page has made me think overall that they’re genuinely interested in seeing my business succeed.

I know now that they’re more than just an email platform, they are an all in one marketing platform or an all in one solution.

I feel like they’re a trustworthy brand, and that’s coming from the “award winning platform” and social proof sections.

I know that this is a platform for people who are serious about their business and want to see a return. They’re talking about ROI up here. They’re talking about optimization and data insights. So again, if that is the strategy of MailChimp going into writing this copy, then that is great. But it could also be slightly isolating for smaller players. So I’m not saying that small businesses and solopreneurs don’t care about things like data and ROI, or that they shouldn’t care. In my own business, I do very much care about analytics and insights. But that’s not my main reason for using email.

I want to build my audience.  I want to scale. I want to do all this. I want to create an email, design a landing page, build a website and more. But that messaging is just not as strong and it kind of gets lost in this whole ROI messaging.

But, that said, MailChimp probably knows what they’re doing. They know who they’re targeting. If they have a landing page for people who are searching “email for small business”, it would have completely different messaging on it. That’s why AB testing and running ads to different landing pages is so important. I actually couldn’t find one. I did a few searches for email for small biz and MailChimp is not running any ads for those keywords, at least that I could see. So that’s telling me [small business owners is] not who they’re going after with this [copy]. That’s totally fine.

In terms of who it’s isolating, I think about this section: “Made for your business. eCommerce and retail, mobile and web apps, and startups.” This section says MailChimp is made for your business, but it’s very much targeted towards specific types of businesses, right? There’s no mention of service providers, for example.

Again, this is probably very intentional. If I was doing this for a client, I would know what their goals are. I would know who their target audience is. Ideally, I’m hoping MailChimp has, you know, a big marketing budget and probably a big marketing team and some amazing copywriters at their disposal, so they probably knew what that was going in. All the same, there are still some copy tweaks that they could make to make this just a little bit more readable, comprehensive and consistent.

So that is all for this live copy audit, you guys. Sorry if it ended up being a little bit long. If you have any questions at all, scroll down to the bottom of this page and leave a comment for me on the blog post and I will get back to it ASAP.

If you’re interested in working with a professional copywriter to do a copy audit for your website sales page, landing page, even email sequence. Let’s get in touch. Let’s chat. I do offer copy audit services, and it’s a great option for businesses who aren’t ready or don’t have the budget to outsource their copy or prefer to learn but still want a professional’s eyes on it.

Whether we work together or not, if you are doing a copy audit for your content, I always, always, always highly recommend having somebody do the copy audit who is not the same person who wrote your copy. Because if you were the person who wrote your copy, you are already going to have these preconceived ideas of what you’re trying to achieve with it. Whereas somebody with an outside perspective seeing this with fresh eyes — which let’s face it, the average person reading your copy is seeing it for the first time — so you want the person doing your copy audit to also be seeing it for the first time so they can give you those first impressions and so on.

I hope this was helpful for you guys. Have a wonderful day. And once again, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Four Steps to Doing a Copy Audit of Your Homepage

Here are the four steps that I recommend following when auditing your homepage copy (just like I did for MailChimp in the video above).

1. Jot down your first impressions

You have about 7 second to make a positive first impression when someone lands on your website. No pressure, right? Because of this, the first step in your copy audit should be to take a quick look at your homepage (I mean, a really quick look) and make note of your first impressions.

Your design is hugely important here (which is why I also highly recommend doing some form of design audit, too), but let’s tackle one thing at a time 😉. 

Keep in mind that the first piece of copy someone reads when landing on your homepage is your headline, usually followed by your call-to-action (aka your button copy), and then your descriptive text. Whether or not they even read that extra text will depend on how much text there is and how fast your visitor can read. 

So, ask yourself these questions about your above-the-fold copy (aka the content at the top of your page):

  • Is it easy to read? (Try reading it out loud)
  • Is it immediately clear what kind of business this is?
  • Is it short enough that I could read it in about 10 seconds or less?
  • Does my call to action clearly show them the next step I want them to take?
  • Is it written in my brand voice? (Aka does this sound like something I would actually say?)

2. Make sure you’ve included your key messages

Look, we are ALL guilty of being chronic scrollers. Seriously, when is the last time that you actually read every single word on a webpage or in a sales email? Especially if it’s not somebody you know personally or already have an established business relationship with, you’re probably skim-reading their content. The same goes for your homepage visitors.

The next step in your copy audit is to make note of the three most important messages you want to convey to a website visitor, and then make sure you have crystal clear copy on your homepage for each message. 

Ideally, you want a headline that speaks to each — because, let’s face it, skim readers are more likely to read a big, bold headline than any of that 14-pt body text on your page.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, your three key messages might be:

  1. “I’m a wedding photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico”
  2. “My speciality is storytelling photography, with a focus on candid shots”
  3. “I’m currently booking for Summer 2021”

In that case, you’ll want to make sure that someone who scrolls through your homepage can easily recall those three facts about your business. 

Get a friend to casually read through your content, and then ask them to tell you what they remember from what they read. If they mention those three key messages (even if it’s not word-for-word), awesome! If not, figure out how you can make the missing messages even clearer.

3. Take a closer look at each section of your homepage content

Remember that homepages are like the window displays of the online business world. If you were to pass a window display for a shop that had random books, empty Coke cans, and bottles of hand lotion scattered around the perfectly posed mannequins, you’d probably be a little confused what the heck they were even selling. 

Your homepage needs to be the same: polished, put-together, and on-brand. You don’t want anything on your homepage that’s going to confuse your visitors, look out of place, or seem like it was just thrown together without intention. 

Every single section on your homepage should have a clear goal. Maybe it’s to give them a little bit more context about what you do. Maybe it’s to encourage them to check out your shop. Or maybe it’s to get them to read a blog post that you’re super excited about.

Whatever content you decide to include on your homepage, make sure that it:

  • Has a purpose that directly supports your business goals
  • Is easy to read, prioritizing clarity over cleverness
  • Is all connected, so there’s no disconnect between your headline, description, and CTA
  • Is using your dream buyer’s words, not industry jargon or “creative” language (no matter how attached to it you may be)

4. Make note of your final impressions

At this point in your copy audit, you should have read through all the content on your homepage, which means you have your final impressions (dun dun dun). 

The most important thing to do at this stage? Figure out if any of your final impressions are significantly different from your first impressions. In other words, now that I’ve read everything on the page, do I have a different perception of your business — especially when it comes to who you are, what you do, who you serve, and why it matters?

If there IS a disconnect between your first + final impressions, you’ve got some work to do, friend. If I’m only getting the right impression about your business after reading all your copy, your homepage isn’t doing it’s job. 

Remember: If a visitor has the wrong first impression of your business, she’s already decided whether or not it’s the right fit for her. And if the answer is no, she’s not going to continue reading the rest of your copy. You’ve already lost that lead into the internet abyss. 

What to do after your copy audit

Feeling like your website copy needs a refresh? Check out my free Website Copy Roadmap for all my best tips on how to write website copy that connects and converts. It covers the essential steps you need to follow before you sit down to write, to ensure your copy is fully optimized and to keep writer’s block at bay.

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Meet the Host

Welcome! I’m Megan Taylor — copywriter for online entrepreneurs, bookworm, and founder of The Copy Template Shop. I believe that anyone can write strong copy, and I’m here to teach you how to write words that sell your online offers while prioritizing real connection, serving your audience, and simply being who you are.

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