Translators' Websites Teardowns: Nimdzi's Services page

Things you should swipe...
... and 2 biases that make your copy less persuasive

Yes, I know Nimdzi are not freelance translators. Consulting and research companies sometimes have the same biases “just freelancers” do.

In this case, being an expert makes it hard to see the copy from the standpoint of a potential buyer.

Extra challenging in this case: 4 distinctive target groups: LSPs, enterprise clients, language technology companies, industry investors.

How does one speak directly to each one of them and present services in a way that makes buying from Nimdzi a no-brainer?..

This is the point at which, as Nate Kornell describes it, “bias prevents her from seeing that to you, it's not obvious at all”.

Which means that the services page contains only descriptions of services, but it most cases does not go far enough to explain the why.

This is frequently seen on websites of freelance translators and interpreters: diving up your services into kinds of services without separating them by specialization means resorting to “this is what I do” (aka features), instead of “this is what you get out working with me” (aka benefits), just because you are trying to talk to everyone.

In Nimdzi’s case an additional challenge is that the subscription (aka Nimdzi Partner Benefits) are added into the mix.

Along with speaking engagements and advisory roles.

At which point the page becomes as confusing as this Office 365 page (and an interesting analysis and comparison to competitors is available here).

The services page reminds me of the foreword to Cris Goward’s “You should test that!”, where he describes an example of how a senior executive believed that having a big red button for buying the unbelievable awesome product they were selling would be enough.

No descriptions of benefits.

No previews.

Just the button.

Spoiler: the button failed in the A/B test.

Nimdzi’s copy is kinda like that.

Just without the big red button, no separate intake forms, and no way to buy even productized services from the website.

TL;DR summary

  1. What to swipe: large font, clear visuals, distinctive colors

  2. What not to swipe: hero sections and headlines that act as placeholders instead of hooking readers to keep them scrolling

  3. What not to swipe: dumping info for 4 different target audiences on one services page to let visitors sort through the information on their own (because making customers think introduces friction)

  4. What to swipe instead: how to talk to 1 target group at a time (TCC website is so awesome, and now they even have dinosaurs on it!)

 

Bonus: what to add to make even the longest services page work at least a little bit harder

Hint: this is why there are copywriting formulas.

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.
 

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

 
Translators' Websites Teardowns: Matt Baird's website (and all the things you should swipe)

Definitely swipe from Matt

  1. Message matching
    ATA Directory additional info summarizes the most important points about Matt’s services and corresponds to the information on his website… so that once you’ve clicked through to his homepage, it will match your expectations

  2. 1 overarching theme: elevating your communications
    Not only delightful copy (“climb well beyond the words on the page and create copy that doesn’t read like a translation. Summiting that mountain may require a lot of perseverance, some creativity and a little adventure, but when taken to the top your readers will get a view just as breathtaking as the original”), but also the visuals work together to create a website that is memorable and does not contain any pictures of quills, computers, tablets or paper dictionaries.

Maybe not swipe

  1. Not having a clear path for a website visitor to follow
    (homepage CTA indecision: what is a website visitor supposed to do?)

  2. Burying the juiciest info on different pages below the fold:

    1. How what you do is different (About page under “Bolder value” and “Bolder philosophy”)

    2. What the benefits of working with you are (About page under “Bolder Philosophy”)

    3. Credibility-boosting testimonials (at the bottom of the Services page)

  3. Creating a dead-end on your page (what should happen after a visitor is done reading the PDF?)

 
 
Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.
 

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

 
Don't scare your readers (delight them instead): regional lindy workshop websites

In this post I'm taking a short break from translation industry to look at some real-life examples of how bland copy might be hurting conversions and to talk about two lindy workshop events (video about what's lindy hop and a shout-out to the local Mint Julep Jazz Band!).

To be fair, dance workshops are not the same as translation services and belong into different categories ("drug" and "painkiller" respectively).

What's more, some events are so well-established that they don't need fancy websites and good copy, like ILHC.

On the other hand, ILHC publishes so many YouTube videos that the website is basically there to offer info on how to buy passes (still, in this episode of The Track Nina Gilkenson says that some people feel like they are not "good enough" to go to ILHC  — so maybe copy could change that; the interview was recorded in 2015... and I still feel that way in 2018, so who knows?).

Not everybody is ILHC, so for regional events copy is a bit more important (assuming that most of the participants will not be able to go to all of them, which is not always the case).

Back to the real-life example: a website battle

I did not go to the School of Hard Knox event. I did go to the Cool Cat Corner V workshop. If you check out their websites for a closer look at the copy, it is clear why:

True, translation services and dance workshops are in different categories. But these two events are a great example of why you need to a) use the language of your customers, and b) not scare your potential buyers.

 

For your convenience: a shim sham link to a video by London Swing Dance Society.

A completely unsurprising summary of the website battle (all the things conversion copywriters tell us)

 

  1. Cultural and/or "insider" references work

  2. Finding ways to reduce risk (or perception thereof) is important

  3. Same goes for decreasing anxiety

 

Not sure how to apply this to your website copy?

Ekaterina Howard  Translator and copywriter, helping translators show their value and nail their copy
 

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

Translators! Does your website copy sound like everybody else's?

In 6 Elements of Outstanding Homepage Design (Inbound Marketing Blog), Brittney Ervin writes:

Ideally, your homepage needs to do three things:
- Introduce and give visitors a clear sense of your brand
- Provide visitors with clear paths to other pages on your site
- Be memorable (unique design, a catchy logo, or an overall appealing look)

6 Elements of Outstanding Homepage Design by Brittney Ervin

Is your website showing the right amount of personality or is it a blank space?  Photo by  Kelly Sikkema  on  Unsplash

Is your website showing the right amount of personality or is it a blank space?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

While the article goes on to discuss the layout, the colors, and the fonts, the bit that jumps out at me is this: “give visitors a clear sense of your brand.”

Yes, thinking about yourself as a “brand” might seem unsavory, but what if we refashion this as “give visitors a clear sense of who you are and what you stand for”?

Sounds better?

And yet, there are so many websites that use the same words to describe the same services, the same words to describe the same benefits, the same words to describe the same passions.

What if we didn’t hide behind the “everybody says that” excuses and tried to show our personality (and when I say “we,” I include myself)?

Some examples

Hillary Weiss is a “content crafter for profoundly rad brands with something real to say”.

Erica Lee Strauss does it her way:

Just like a stylist can help you curate gorgeous ensembles that reflect who you truly are so you can step out into the world as a totally-polished-but-still-authentic version of you, I’m an expert at helping entrepreneurs communicate who they are, what they do and the immense value they bring to the table – in the sexiest, sauciest package possible.

Laura Belgray does it her way:

“ Make it stop sucking ” and “ Copy that twerks all the way to the bank ” — goes straight into my “transcreation challenges I don’t even want to think about” swipe file.


Make it stop sucking” and “Copy that twerks all the way to the bank” — goes straight into my “transcreation challenges I don’t even want to think about” swipe file.

Or maybe you’ll like this copy more:

“But those are copywriters!”

Yes, those are people who work with words for a living. Actually, so are translators and interpreters. And your website is the last place where you want to be melting into the background.

There are people out there who do sound different. I emailed them just to say hi, because:

“ Email me right now. I dare you ”. If you mouse over the link, you’ll see that the subject line is “I double dare you.” Awwwwww...

Email me right now. I dare you”. If you mouse over the link, you’ll see that the subject line is “I double dare you.” Awwwwww...

But … what should I do?

First of all, do not despair. According to a study published by The Writer in 2016, even Fortune 10-0 companies have brand voice troubles:

The Writer consultancy released key findings today from a new study of Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. revealing that more than 80% of the businesses surveyed have no formal tone of voice (or what some call “verbal identity”), and 94% of these have no intention of creating one.

And yet, 80% of early adopters of tone of voice say it’s just as – or more – important than their brand’s visual identity.

New Study by The Writer Says “Tone of Voice” Overlooked and Underused by Most U.S. Companies, published on Business Wire

Start here

5 Easy Steps to Define and Use Your Brand Voice by Erica Heald on the Content Marketing Institute’s website. It is a simple table, and unless you plan to outsource your content, you don’t need to fill out the last two columns, unless you want to.

Distilled has a great comprehensive article on the same topic.

It is true that some people might not like references to glitter and fashion and little black dresses (like me), some people will be shocked that anyone would write like Ash Ambridge, who starts her emails with “Yo! It’s Ash!”. Too much? Perhaps. Memorable? Yes.

 

Regardless of what feels right to you, being a shy violet online is the worst strategy.

This is what Kira Hug says:

I challenged myself to no longer lurk on the sidelines as a wallflower and instead jump into the party.

I guess I finally realized, after 32 years, that no one will choose you.

You must choose yourself.

MUTE YOUR TV - NOT YOUR VOICE - Kira Hug

Either way, when you find your voice, you will most likely use it, instead of being indecisive or even apologetic about being online. And that’s a good thing.

As Jakub Linowski writes:

You can send your message with uncertainty trembling in your voice, or you can say it with confidence. If you’re ending your messaging with question marks, using terms such as “perhaps,” “maybe,” “interested?” and “want to?”, then most likely you have some opportunity to be a bit more authoritative. Who knows, maybe there is a bit more room for telling people what to do next in the world of conversion optimization.

Good User Interfaces for higher conversion rates and ease of use, Jakub Linowski


Do I need to start dropping f-bombs in my copy now? Really?

As you might have noticed, I like really big voices. You don’t have to like them.

In fact, not all sectors and businesses need a casual and jokey tone of voice. According to the research conducted by Nielsen Norman Group,

A playful tone for a serious industry has the potential of creating pleasant surprise and helping a company stand out from its competitors. However, in this situation, the friendliness and irreverence actually undermined users’ perceptions of trustworthiness and professionalism.

The Impact of Tone of Voice on Users’ Brand Perception (Nielsen Norman Group UX research), Nielsen Norman Group

On the other hand, being too formal and corporate speak-y will make your brand “intimidating.”

This Nielsen Norman Group article can help you calibrate your tone of voice according to your target audience: The Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice.

Over to you: would your copy pass the website blind test? Or did you decide that a professional translator's website should be serious and to the point?

 

Do you find the prospect of sounding human scary?

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.
 

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

Stop writing what all other translators write. Read these 6 guides to boldly go further where only conversion copywriters have gone before

You are ready to create a website for your translation business, show the world that you are serious about your profession, and start attracting new clients. But there are so many things you need to consider! And all of them seem equally important.

Branding, logo, domain name, forms, and social media accounts, not to mention the actual writing for your website — how do you know which task to tackle first, and how do you get this done in a reasonable amount of time, while still working on your projects and finding time for hobbies, friends, and family?
Branding and logos — while important — are shiny objects, and should not distract from the more important (and definitely less fun) things like actual words, website structure, and your goals.

Even if you already have a general idea of how you’ll work on your website, here’s a handy list of steps to make sure your website is not just sitting there in the World Wide Web, but actually bringing in customers. Just imagine: you could be getting queries from people excited to work with you instead of requests for free trial projects!

Step 1: Find Out What Your Customers Want

How often do you know what your customers want and why they wanted it in the first place? If you work with agencies, probably not very often.

And yet (assuming that you’re not targeting agencies, —a topic that is well covered from every angle), unless you know what your customers are thinking, you won’t be able to speak to them convincingly.

Here is how Peter Boyle explains why you need to find out what your customers are saying about your services (or those similar to yours) in The Crazy Egg Guide to Conversion Copywriting:

If your prospect sees a headline which perfectly mimics their own thoughts back to them they’re more likely to click.

If you can mirror more of the language your users use back to them, they’re more likely to take note of what you’re saying.

But that mimicry of language also helps build trust.

In a study by Northwestern University, mimicry of language was found to have a direct correlation between trust and lexical mimicry.

Using the right language to convey the right message at the right time is what this is all about.

Use the research you’ve completed to understand not just the issues your users face, but how they talk about solving those issues and you’ve got a recipe for maximum effect copy.

The Conversion Copywriting Guide by Crazy Egg

While we probably won’t benefit from Amazon review mining, reading other publicly available reviews can still help. If you dig deep enough, you’ll uncover motivations that go beyond “fast,” “on time,” or “at a reasonable price.”

Step 2: Determine Your Value Proposition

You know what your customers want, so now you can use words that will resonate with them to explain what you’re offering. Ideally you’ll be able to do so in the headline.

Unfortunate, but true:

To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.

How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?, Nielsen Norman Group

Ready to start? Read this article by Conversion XL: Useful Value Proposition Examples (and How to Create a Good One).

If you feel like what you’re offering is entirely the same as what others are offering, some inspiration:

If you don’t feel like clicking the links, here’s the short version: your customers probably don’t know what you (or everyone else) are doing to get the results. So you don’t need gimmicks to stand out. You just need to uncover that hidden remarkable benefit the Copyblogger article mentions.

Step 3: Unleash the Power of One

If you have a separate distinctive target audience you want to talk to, structure your website in a way that will allow you to address one audience at a time. But it’s not only a question of speaking to one reader. Michael Masterson explains how the Power of One works:

The Power of One is not only one big, central idea. It’s a fully engaging piece of copy with five necessary elements.
One good idea
One core emotion
One captivating story
One single, desirable benefit
One inevitable response.

The Power of One – One Big Idea by Michael Masterson

You might have been able to unearth that “single, desirable benefit” during Step 1.
If, after going through Step 1, you still have no idea what your ideal clients want (and you don’t have any clients you could reach out to, you know no one who works with that kind of client, and you do not know where to find them), a one-page online resume might work better for you.

Step 4: Learn about Website Design Best Practices (Sliders are EVIL)

Appearances matter, and your website should look like it represents a legitimate business (True story: the 2011 redesign of the ATA website made me think wasn’t a real professional association).

User experience is important, too. I look forward to being able to find information I need on the ATA website once it’s redesigned again. (Have you ever struggled with the ATA Certification Exam section? It makes me want to bash my head against the keyboard, and that’s on a good day.)

Design best practices:

Do not confuse, befuddle, or flabbergast your visitors into leaving your website:

Step 5: SEO

The point of SEO is to make sure people can find your website, which makes sense. It also helps you understand what your potential customers are looking for and which words they use.

So this step helps you refine your results from Step 1.

SEO in action: “Polish” and “Poland” in service descriptions on  Marta Stelmaszak’s website

SEO in action: “Polish” and “Poland” in service descriptions on Marta Stelmaszak’s website

Step 6: What Do You Want Your Website Visitors to Do?

How many clicks will it take to get your visitors to do it (and how many visitors might drop off at various funnel steps)?
And why would they want to do it?
Are they still there, or did they get lost along the way?
Do they realize they need to click that button? Or fill out that form?
How can you persuade them to do so?

This should actually be Step 0, but this way you already know what to look for in your website design and your copy, you have a value proposition that is relevant to what your customers want, and you have optimized your texts for search.

Now you can go back to the beginning and go through Steps 1–5 and make changes based on your goals for the website.

Welcome.

A two-step funnel on  ATA’s homepage  — because everyone knows what the specific benefits of joining ATA are.

A two-step funnel on ATA’s homepage — because everyone knows what the specific benefits of joining ATA are.

Some resources on getting the visitors to stay with you:

Bonus Content: Emails

Even if you feel like this is not something that could possibly be relevant for you, consider this:

For every $1 spent, email gives back a whopping $38 in ROI, and offers the broadest reach (CampaignMonitor).

Why is Content Marketing Today’s Marketing? 10 Stats That Prove It

You’re on  Speaking of Translation ’s mailing list, right?

You’re on Speaking of Translation’s mailing list, right?

If you also want to use email marketing and email automation to stay in touch with potential and past clients, some resources to make your emails bring in business:

Bonus for A-listers: THE BLOG (capitalized out of respect for the time-consuming monster that it is)

There are multiple quantifiable benefits to maintaining a high-quality blog, as this article shows.

For example:

Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%). (Source: Aberdeen)

38 Content Marketing Stats That Every Marketer Needs to Know

However, if done right, blogging takes up a lot of time. Before committing to a blog, make sure you will be able to get it done right:

Moravia is capitalizing on content marketing opportunities by offering  multiple blogs and a podcast

Moravia is capitalizing on content marketing opportunities by offering multiple blogs and a podcast

 

Don’t have time to figure out how to apply this information to your business

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.
 

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

 
5 good reasons to stop trying to create the “perfect” website and just launch already

So, you keep hearing that you absolutely need to have a website to succeed as a freelance translator. How else would new clients find you online? Fair point.

Is this the most important thing?

In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson give an absolutely amazing piece of advice to people starting their own venture: “start at the epicenter.”

For example, if you’re opening a hot dog stand, you could worry about the condiments, the cart, the name, the decoration. But the first thing you should worry about is the hot dog …
The way to find the epicenter is to ask yourself this question: “If I took this away, would what I’m selling still exist?” … So figure out your epicenter … Then focus all your energy on making it the best it can be. Everything else you do depends on that foundation.

Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Are you aware of the opportunity cost?


If you are just starting out, you will most likely decide to do all of the work yourself.
Which means that you will not be using this time to improve your skills, optimize your business processes, actively look for clients, or network.


To quote this Freakonomics post (“What's the Best Advice You Ever Got?”):

…if you spend all your time catching the little fish, you won’t have time — or develop the technique, or the patience — to ever catch the big ones

How hard can it be?

The hardest thing is not launching a website.

The hardest thing is to avoid analysis paralysis and stop being distracted by all the exciting technology and options out there.

Should you be on WordPress? Wix? Squarespace? Do you need a blog? A newsletter? A form? A portfolio? A pop-up form? What’s that content marketing stuff? Do I need to blog? How do I blog, exactly? Do I even have time to blog? Who do I blog to? What do I blog about? etc. etc. etc.

None of this stuff is your core business, and it will cost you mental energy and work opportunities.


How about forgetting about that best website ever,
and going for a “best website for right now”?

Tweet this


Rookie mistakes

A fancy website with minimal content, irrelevant information, inefficient SEO that will not convert the visitors.

Is this something you need to spend your time on?

Your best website for right now


Accept this: as your business changes, so will your website. And if you are just starting out, it might change really soon.

Tweet this


So, what is the minimum amount of work on the website you can get away with?

Enter the idea of a “minimum viable website,” based on Copyblogger’s articles on a minimum viable product.

As Pamela Wilson says in this post, going for a minimum viable product version will save you “years of frustration, months of waffling, and full days of stumbling around in a fog”.

Just start somewhere!

What kind of website do you need: one-page or multi-page?

 

Want to know what should be your next step?

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.
 

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.