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Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy Paperback – January 26, 2002

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Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy + The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (January 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071380396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071380393
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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

More About the Author

Nick Usborne has been writing for a living for over thirty years, the last ten of which he has devoted to writing for the Web. He is the author of the book Net Words, 2001, which he wrote to help writers and copywriters better understand the different approach required when writing content and sales pages online.

More recently he has been focusing his attention on helped not just professional writers, but anyone who enjoys writing. His most recent work focuses on helping anyone with a web browser to become an online writer.

More information is available through his site at

Customer Reviews

The book is very compact and well written.
Carsten Cumbrowski
Along the way, the author provides many examples to illustrate solid points.
S. Davidson
You need to read this book if you're a web professional.
Jeffrey Eisenberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Sym Wong A. Ton on September 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a book that teaches you how to write web copy, this isn't it. After going through many of the author's articles on the web, I was expecting more from this book.

The author starts out promoting copywriters and how important writing good copy is. He constantly keeps repeating this point in several chapters. After reading the first few chapters you might tell yourself: "Hey, I do not need convincing that my website needs good copy! Get on already with telling me how I can go about writing good copy!" However, this never occurs. The author does give some examples of good vs. bad copy, but never gets to the point of telling you what route to take to better your own copy. There is no concise guidance in this book.

"Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy" consists of pieces of information put together to form chapters without following a clear line. The focus lies too heavily on explaining the problems copywriters encounter while trying to do their job, rather than on teaching the reader how to write online copy. For example, the author writes about how copywriters do not have enough freedom to properly do their job, how they are not held in high regard by content managers, and how they need support and respect of the development team and managers to succeed. This book doesn't teach you how to write good online copy like its title pretends it will, but rather tells you what you can do to make the life of copywriters in your company easier so that they can produce their best work and consequently improve your website and marketing strategy.

So if you have a website and need convincing that writing good online text is important, and if you have the money to hire a professional copywriter, then buy this book. Otherwise, save your money and read the articles on the author's website; they are much more informative and educational.
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54 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Eric Graham on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
For non-copywriters, Nick Usborne provides a great foundation for understanding the fundamental differences between writing offline copy and writing for the web.

As an experienced online copywriter, I didn't learn anything new or groundbreaking. However for those transitioning from offline copywriting to the online environment, or for those who are simply looking for a set of guidelines to help evaluate the abilities and understanding of copywriters that they are considering hiring for an online project, Net Words is effective and easy to read.

Nick does provide a great overview of how the history and evolution of the net as a communication medium has influenced the most effective ways to write online copy.

The book also addresses the need for developing a consistent, customer focused voice across all channels of online communications, from your web copy to your emails. This is a critical point to understand, as most of the copy I find online, is far too distant and company focused (what Nick calls "Corporate Speak".)

If the only thing you take away from this book is the need to write copy in a more customer focused manner, you will have received your moneys worth.

All-in-all, even though it was not as in-depth as I would have liked, I found the book well worth the time I invested in reading it.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Steve Pickering on February 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Adam F. Jewell on January 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
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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