Copywriting,  Copywriting Audit

Copywriting Audit: Inn at Civano

Last week marked my very first copywriting audit in this series and it was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. So, naturally, I’m back this week with another one. This time around, I’m highlighting a local business – Inn at Civano.

Inn at Civano is a bed and breakfast located about 12 miles from my tiny town of Vail, Arizona. They’re on the outskirts of Tucson and offer quaint, charming facilities for visitors. I adore the facility and am excited to give my take on their website because I truly want more people to find and stay at this local business (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that!).

Here’s their homepage in its entirety.

Inn at Civano Homepage

At first glance, it has all of the “must includes.” There is a call to action, details about the business, name, address, phone number (NAP), and even testimonials. But there is room for improvement. Here are my thoughts.

Features vs. Benefits

The way to a copywriter’s heart is through benefits; not features.

Inn at Civano starts off well by talking about the “many benefits” but goes on to immediately list the features of their bed and breakfast. The amenities and resort-style community sound incredibly appealing – especially the TWO swimming pools (which for Tucson weather, is a huge plus). But, the way the copy is written puts the pressure on the person reading to envision what the experience would look like for them.

Instead, I’d suggest highlighting the fantastic features of this bed and breakfast by telling a story about the experience they’d be met with upon arrival. It’d start something like this:

“Picture this: You arrive in the stunning Sonoran desert and immediately feel the warm sun on your face. After driving past hundreds of saguaros found in the Saguaro National Park East, and through the quaint Civano neighborhood filled with boutique retail shops, you pull up to the Inn at Civano. You have arrived at your oasis in the desert.

Here, you’ll unwind with your favorite outdoor activity while you breathe in the creosote-scented desert air. Here is where you’ll find the vacation you’ve been longing for.

Inn at Civano makes it easy for you to soak up all the Sonoran desert has to offer. From our two refreshing swimming pools to our tennis courts and walking trails, we make it easy to embrace the warm weather found in Arizona. After your day in the desert, you’ll come “home” and unwind in one of our four rooms or guest suites complete with a private bathroom, cool A/C, a television, wireless Internet, and an outdoor patio.”

This welcoming introduction infuses the features in a way that highlight the true benefits of visiting the Sonoran desert – the warmth, beauty, and relaxation available on the outskirts of Tucson, AZ.

Keeping People On the Page…

The page starts off strong by guiding people to reserve a room and mentioning a HUGE advantage to staying on InnatCivano.com instead of venturing off to a mainstream hotel website – the rates you get here are better than you’ll find anywhere else. There are no extra fees, so by booking directly through Inn at Civano, you’re sure to get the best price. Attractive, right?

… But Then Taking People Off the Page

Right after the first call-to-action, people are then guided immediately off the page and over to Facebook. This is a common mistake I see small businesses make in copywriting – taking them away from your business and over to the noisy Facebook platform.

Although it might seem like a smart idea to get as many likes as possible on your page, you’re actually hurting your business quite a bit by making this ask up front. Facebook’s changing algorithm is making it harder and harder and harder for businesses of all sizes to get noticed. Fewer posts are showing up in the Newsfeed organically, which means fewer people are seeing them. And, as you know with advertising, if something is out of sight, it’s usually out of mind.

It’s fine to have a cue to like a business on Facebook, but that call-to-action should fall much further on the page – like in the footer section. Having it up front takes the visitor off the page and immediately puts her on a platform filled with distractions. Soon, your business is forgotten. That’s a big opportunity lost.

Headlines and a Note About SEO Copy

When I read the headline (just one) on this page, I immediately thought, “she’s writing for a robot.” Now, this is likely just where my mind goes and not that of the average reader because this is what I do for a living. I know that when I read, “Tucson AZ Bed and Breakfast” it’s a keyword getting stuffed into a headline in an attempt to rank higher. If she wasn’t writing for the search engines, she probably wouldn’t naturally include Tucson AZ in that format.

While looking at the rest of the copy, I can pull out several other keywords. “Tucson bed and breakfast” is in the first line. “Tucson vacation” is further down.

Using location in keywords like this worked well about seven years ago. Today, not so much. Google has caught on and has changed the algorithm to punish websites that get clunky with keywords.

Instead, using your NAP (name, address, phone number) can signal to Google where you’re located, which in turn lets them display your website for people searching for those clunky keywords, such as “Tucson AZ bed and breakfast.” This is great news for writers like myself because it frees us from trying to get uncomfortable text into compelling copy. The same can be done with a simple rewrite on this website.

Use of Space

Scroll further down and you’ll find a request to review Inn at Civano on Trip Advisor, next to a picture and a huge chunk of blank space. This is a huge opportunity lost.

I wouldn’t ask for a review on a homepage. It’s too aggressive. Most people who are visiting the homepage aren’t past visitors trying to re-read your copy and relive their trip. They’re new people who are curious about what they can expect if they decide to stay with you.

The blank space is another huge missed opportunity. It looks, and therefore also feels, awkward to the visitor. Something’s missing but no one’s quite sure what that “something” is. Which leads me to the next point…

Testimonials

What I like about the Trip Advisor inserted code is that there’s a nice review attached to it. It showcases that Inn at Civano has earned a 5-star rating and it tells a story about someone else’s experience at the Inn.

Just below the big blank space and Trip Advisor review is another testimonial that speaks to the charming neighborhood and accommodations.

Both testimonials are excellent additions to this homepage. With just a little reformatting, they’ll stand out more and add more value to the overall copy on the page.

Final Takeaways

I am a fan of the Inn at Civano, and the woman running it. I don’t think this homepage does the facility justice, which is unfortunate because travelers are missing out on a fantastic experience here. To change this, I’d:

  • Start with a story. Travelers want to envision their experience on vacation. Showcase that in a story while highlighting some of the exceptional features, and the property comes to life.
  • Sprinkle in testimonials. It’s hard to talk about yourself, just like it’s hard to brag about your own business. Inn at Civano can do this by letting someone else do it and sprinkling in testimonials.
  • Keep the visitor on the page. Remove the link to Facebook from the top of the page.
  • Use the space more strategically. The pictures are nice but they don’t tell a strong enough story. Use the space more strategically by filling voids with images that showcase the property and amenities better.

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