May 20th, 2015 — Link Building, search engine optimisation
Links are a vital part of your search engine optimisation strategy, but it can be a frustrating practice.
How many times have you written a superb article for a website only to be told their policy is to give no-follow links.
You want to scream, right?
Before you tell them where to go, stop and think for a moment.
Ask yourself why you wrote the article in the first place?
You wrote it because you want to show yourself as an expert in your field and spread the word about what you do.
Granted, a follow link from such an auspicious website would have been very welcome, but a no-follow one could be just as valuable.
No. bear with me on this one.
OK, so you won’t get any link juice, but you will get something else.
The website in question agreed to publish because they were impressed with your writing and felt it was something their readers would enjoy. That means they think you’re a thought leader, which is how their readers will see you too.
Once they read your article the chances are they’ll check out your author’s bio at the end. They’ll want to know more about you and so will follow the link to your website.
Boom – you’ve got increased traffic.
Once on your site they’ll have a poke around to see what you do and what you can offer them.
See where this is going?
You may not get a dribble of page rank juice, but you will get new visitors to your website, opening up your business to a whole new market.
That’s pretty cool.
You see, links aren’t just about juice, they are also about building a reputation and that’s worth its weight in gold.
May 13th, 2015 — copywriting tips, website copywriter, website copywriting
You have a set of values within your company.
Every employee is supposed to uphold those to provide a united front of customer excellence.
You’ve probably got an “Our Values” page or section on your website that outlines them, but are they reflected in the rest of your website copy?
What does your website tell your customers?
For a moment let’s imagine I’m a potential customer.
After browsing the web I found your website. I’ve had a quick peak at your About Page and read all about the values you hold dear. Great, you sound like my kind of company. Then I nip back to the Home Page – ah, something’s not right.
Your values told me that your customers always come first, how you bend over backwards for them and offer an unrivalled level of customer service. The problem is that your Home Page completely ignores my needs and talks about your company’s growth, the awards you’ve won, your passion for your industry and how long you’ve been in business.
Hang on a minute, what happened to being the company that puts its customers first?
You haven’t told me what you do or how it will benefit me – so I’m not the centre of your world at all, you are.
It’s mixed messages like this that will scare off potential customers.
Customers always come first
Your website isn’t your online portfolio from which you can shout about how amazing you are. It should be an outlet through which you can show me, as a potential new customer, how you will make my life easier, better or more productive.
It is there to attract new customers. If it just talks about you and your achievements it won’t convert visitors into customers.
Sure, you can talk about you achievements and awards to back up your services, but confine it to the About section. Your Home Page must be about your customers.
Make sure your Home Page:
- Clearly shows what you can do
- How your products or services benefit your customers
- Tells them how to get in touch
It must be all about your customers because that’s what they want to hear. There is no room for your ego on your Home Page.
May 6th, 2015 — LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great platform for networking. It gives you access to all sorts of people, but you have to make the right impression if you want to get noticed.
How many times have you received this standard connection request?
“I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
Really? Why? Who are you? Do I know you?
It raises more questions than it answers.
Of course, you’ll only be sending invites to connect to people you actually know (won’t you?), so take a bit of time and write them a personalised message. After all, they may have met you at a networking event, but it’s fair to say they would have met a number of people there so they can’t be expected to remember everyone.
Make it personal
To make your request personal you’ll have to do it from your PC or laptop. I don’t believe the option is available through the LinkedIn app.
First of all make sure your LinkedIn profile shows a professional photo of you.
Then start your request with a greeting bearing the recipient’s name (spelt correctly).
Tell them how you know them. Perhaps you met at an event, have mutual acquaintances, or follow each other on Twitter.
Once you’ve done that tell them why you want to connect with them followed by a short description about what you do.
Finish it off with a bit of flattery about their work (not so much that it’s creepy or embarrassing) and sign off in a friendly way.
It does’t take long to do and it will make your request stand out from all the other standard ones they get.
So remember, if you want to make an impact and some valuable connections, put in the effort to make it personal.
April 29th, 2015 — Content writer, copywriter, copywriting, copywriting tips, landing pages
There appears to be a trend at the moment for landing pages that are “funny”.
I’ve used inverted commas there because they are funny only in the eyes of the writer.
The humour is being used to try and get you to sign up for something or buy a product. Is that really the best way to go about it?
In my view, no.
When someone lands on your web page it’s because they’ve been searching the internet for a solution to solve a problem they’re facing.
The reason why they clicked your link was because your META description persuaded them that the content of your page would give them the answer they were looking for.
The last thing they want to see is a lame pun trying to extract money or their contact details from them.
All they want is results.
Your product or service should be able to stand on its own two feet without the need for shameless gags.
So what will get your visitors buying?
Here are 4 things that will grab their attention.
1. Unite against the bad guy
Emotive language is a very powerful tool. Use it to show how your product or service will get rid of common niggles such as boring meetings, late paying clients, poorly performing websites etc.
2. Belong together
We like to be part of a gang; no one wants to be the outsider.
Showing you reader they are “one of the 500 smart people…” will make them feel special and part of an elite group; it gives them a sense of belonging.
3. Quick fix
If your product is “…the quickest way to…” they’ll want it. People want instant fixes, they don’t want to wait around. If you can convince them you’ll help them achieve their goals quickly, they’ll be all over you like a rash.
4. Story time
Stories are great sales tools. They are part of our heritage and as such, people are predisposed to listening to them. Weave a story around your products and services, highlighting the benefits they bring and you’ll draw your audience in.
Each of these methods will help push people towards a buying decision. The best way to find out which one(s) work for you is to test them. Once you hit the right recipe your landing pages will work like a dream.
April 22nd, 2015 — Content marketing, copywriter, copywriting tips, marketing, Storytelling
Stories are powerful.
They help you communicate emotions, concepts and the benefits in a depth that traditional sales writing can never achieve.
I could write for pages now desiccating why stories are so powerful, but I think the best way to show you their power is by showing you an example from one of the masters of storytelling.
John Lewis never fail to hit the spot. Every Christmas the marketing world is on their edge of its seat waiting for the retail giant’s latest advert. Their 2014 effort didn’t disappoint. I’m sure you were sat there with a tear in your eye as you watched the little boy and his penguin:
Why are stories so powerful?
Their power comes from the fact that we’ve grown up with them.
We are predisposed to listen to them, so they are a great way to get your personal brand out there.
If you’re not sure where to start, how about at the beginning?
Think about how you started in business. What’s your story?
This is mine:
After leaving school with a fist full of O and A levels, I didn’t have the belief in myself to go to University so I joined a high street bank on their Management Development Programme. I was there for 7 years before leaving to start a family.
Two children later I began to feel as though I needed more from life than just changing nappies and doing pre-school runs, but I still wanted to be a full time mum. Finally, after a lot of searching I found a home-based job for a charity that I could do during term time. For a couple of years it was great, but part of me still felt unfulfilled. The fact that I’d passed up university nagged me and, at the age of 31, I embarked on a 6 year BA(Hons) degree course in English Language and Literature with the Open University.
After a couple of years trying to study, work and care for my family I realised I couldn’t do it all so I gave up my job. I loved the study (although it was incredibly tough) and began to feel as though I was finally achieving something for myself. Then, one evening we went to a friend’s dinner party. I was sat next to a chap who turned to me and asked what I did. When I told him I was a full time mum and studying for a degree, he looked at me and said, “Oh, you don’t work?” and then turned to talk to the person the other side of him.
It was at that point that I vowed I would do something with my degree when I completed it. A couple of years later I graduated with First Class Honours. Still at a loss as to what I wanted to do, my husband suggested I start something up on my own. It wasn’t something I’d contemplated before, but when a local businessman asked me to do some writing for a web project he was working on, I realised that was what I wanted to do. I set up my first website, taught myself internet marketing and began Briar Copywriting.
That was 7 years ago and I haven’t looked back.
Stories in your marketing great a buzz. They go further than just showing benefits and adding a call to action; a story helps you make a real connection with your customers, generating awareness of your product or service in a context that they can relate to.
An article in The Guardian looks at the scientific side of story telling. Jennifer Aaker (a marketing professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business) got her students to give a 1-minute pitch. Only 1 in 10 used a story with the others sticking to a more traditional approach with facts and figures. Afterwards, they were asked to write down what they remembered from the pitches:
- 5% cited a statistic
- 63% remembered the story
“Research shows our brains are not hard-wired to understand logic or retain facts for very long. Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories,” Aaker says. “A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.”
How to use story telling
Here are 5 tips to help you incorporate story telling into your marketing:
- Understand your audience – Ask them why they bought from you? What made them look for a solution? How they found your brand? What was their experience of working with you like?
- What are their emotional drivers? – Find out what they really care about
- Be authentic – Use real life stories from employees, customers and people from your industry
- Credibility – Data (facts and figures) combined with stories is very powerful
- User-generated content – A great way to explore different perspectives. Run a competition, create a hashtag or interview someone
When you come to create your next marketing piece try story telling and see what difference it makes.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd