February 26th, 2014 — blog, blogging, blogging for business
This is a question I’m asked a lot.
Should it be short and sweet, or should it be a lengthy, complicated in depth look at a particular topic?
On top of that, should it be conversational and friendly, or should it be strictly professional and formal?
There are no right or wrong answers.
Everyone loves different things.
Personally, I prefer short, chatty and informative posts that get across a point or concept quickly and easily.
A long blog post, no matter how well written, will never hold my attention because I always have a pile of stuff to get through so I don’t have the time to sit and wade through complex arguments and ideas.
Yet there are people out there who love long posts.
The best piece of advice I can give is to take a look at the audience you are writing for. What do they like? If your company deals with high brow financial, medical or complex issues, your writing will probably be more formal than if you were involved in design or marketing. But that doesn’t mean to say all your posts have to be long and ‘dry’ (in the nicest possible sense of the word). Throw in a few short, pithy posts now and then to liven things up and add interest.
That’s really all I have to say.
Over to you – what type of blog posts do you prefer? Leave a comment below and tell me what industry you write for and the main type of post you publish.
I’d be really interested in your input on this one.
Author: Sally Ormond, copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd.
February 24th, 2014 — marketing, website copywriter, website copywriting
Last month I wrote a blog about the rise of friendvertising using the video from Dove to illustrate how big brands are using the power of social media to get you to do their advertising for them by sharing their content.
Watch the video now and then I’m going to ask you something.
Moving, isn’t it?
It’s incredible how these women see one thing and yet the artist sees something completely different.
And that’s what got me thinking.
You’ve been working in your business for many years, you know it inside out, but are you seeing the same thing as your customers?
How do they perceive you?
Getting your message out loud and clear
The video shows how easy it is to be caught up in your own world and be blind to what it is other people are seeing.
Take a good look at your business. Not how it’s run (although that will have an effect on how you are perceived), but how it is marketed to the world.
Let’s start with your website.
Does it look OK?
How about your brochures, business cards, leaflets, newsletters and emails, do they look OK too?
I bet they tell your customers all about your business, your products and your services.
They tell them how long you’ve been in business, that you’re an expert in your field and that you’re passionate about what you do.
So what do you think that tells your customers?
That you’re innovative, have their interests at heart, will do everything you can to help them?
All that tells your customers is that you love your company.
The power of you
You is a short word, but one that packs a powerful punch.
Making sure your website copywriting (and all your marketing materials) is written in the second person will create an entirely different perception.
Instead of being told “We have many years experience in the development of software solutions”, which will send your potential customers to sleep, you will excite them by saying “We’ll create software systems that work the way you want them to, saving you time and money.”
Straight away they can see the benefit in what you do because, rather than telling them what you do, you are telling them what you can do for them.
You are showing them you are a company that cares about its customers. Suddenly, them emphasis is on them and not on you.
It’s a far more powerful message.
Everything you write must be about your customer.
Every message must highlight the benefits you will bring to their lives or their business.
Every word must show them that you care about them and that’s the whole reason you’re in business.
February 21st, 2014 — Google, Google algorithms, Link Building
Google is getting tough. Unnatural links are being penalised, but it’s not just the small businesses that are being hit, there’s been a few bigger scalps recently.
The one I want to draw your attention to is the UK banking chain, Halifax.
According to a recent article in CognitiveSEO, the UK’s largest provider of residential mortgages and savings accounts has felt Google’s wrath. Its link building strategy has been deemed as not being very Google friendly and is now facing a major online upheaval.
The article shows that the Halifax experienced a significant SEO drop at the beginning of February.
It would appear as though in December of last year, Halifax received a huge increase in new links – over 400,000, but only from 190 referring domains. Then, at the end of January, its number of lost links suddenly spiked. This was probably in reaction to Google’s penalty.
Unnatural links will cause Google to take a closer look at your website and if you have over 20% unnatural links you’ll be classed as high risk and will be flagged by the Google algorithm.
After a bit of digging, CognitiveSEO identified 3 dodgy link building strategies used by the banking giant.
- 1. Web directory links
- 2. Easily pattern-able links
- 3. Advertorials (paid posts)
You can read the full story here.
So as this case study has shown, no one is exempt from Google’s penalties and that’s why it’s essential you adopt good link building techniques.
February 19th, 2014 — Content marketing, Content writer
Before I answer that, I want you to think about content.
What is it?
Well, as far as I can tell there are 2 types:
- Sales content – website copy, brochure content, emails etc.
- Marketing content – blogs, articles, case studies etc.
Not really, but that doesn’t stop most people from deciding one is worth investing in and the other isn’t.
It’s a given that your website copy, brochure content, email marketing etc., should be professionally written because they are key to converting readers into customers.
Most companies see that as a worthwhile investment, but when it comes to content generation things seem to change.
You already know that to be an effective online marketer you need to produce content regularly.
What you may not know is that content must be what your customers want to read. So we’re not talking about press releases that talk about your latest achievements, plugs for your latest product or service thinly disguised as blog posts, or self-serving social media updates.
Peanuts don’t make prizes
The cheapest way to get a continuous supply of content for your business is to create it in-house.
That’s great if you happen to have some very talented writers on your payroll. But not every company has that resource.
There are companies out there that will generate loads of content for you for peanuts.
Only if you want generic, low quality articles that won’t enhance your reputation.
“But I only need it for the search engines.”
If that’s your attitude, you’ve missed the point of content marketing completely.
Today, marketing isn’t about “hey, this is what we sell, this is how to get in touch with us, so buy, buy, buy.”
Now your customers want more; they want to build a relationship with you, get to know you and feel as though they can trust you. They want to talk to you, engage with you and have a bit of banter.
That’s right – marketing is now a two way street.
The blogs and articles that you once thought unimportant (because they’re just for the search engines) are hugely important. They are what make or break your brand’s reputation.
If you publish low quality generic articles, people won’t become engaged with your brand so they won’t buy.
But if you publish high quality content that’s useful, they’ll lap it up.
You see, content is content whichever way you look at it. If you pay peanuts for it, it will fail.
Author: Sally Ormond – Briar Copywriting
February 17th, 2014 — internet marketing, marketing, website copywriter
I was intrigued by a post written by Michael Brenner that talked about the demise of the corporate website as we know it.
Customers no longer want the standard ‘About Us’, ‘Our Services’ or ‘Latest News’ – that no longer floats their boat. If that doesn’t convince you, here are some statistics that Michael cited to reinforce the message:
- Nearly 70% of Fortune 100 corporate websites experienced declines in traffic, with an average drop of 23% (Webtrends)
- 90% of website traffic comes from just 10% of the content and more than 50% of the traffic is from just 0.5% of the content (InboundWriter)
- 60-70% of B2B marketing content goes unused (Sirius Decision)
- 60% of the buyer journey is complete before prospects reach out to vendors (CEB)
So what’s causing this shift?
It would appear as though today’s consumers are looking for more from corporate websites. They’re not interested in the usual humdrum pages that lead you through what they sell, how long they’ve been in business or what they’ve done recently. Instead, they want stuff that’s useful; top tips, how to videos, human-interest stories.
Yes, shock horror, they want to interact with real people.
The human touch
None of this should be too shocking to you considering the explosion in social media.
Brand is key for every corporate (in fact any business) and rather than that being directly related to its colour palette and logo, their brand is their social interaction with their customers.
More and more companies are moving away from ‘traditional’ website marketing to social media engagement. Their products and services are being translated into stories that can be shared across numerous channels.
Rather than engagement through contact forms, they are interacting in real-time conversations with their customers through Twitter, Facebook and other social channels.
A case in point
Michael cites Coca-Cola as a prime example of this change in focus.
Back in 2012, Coca-Cola declared the death of its own corporate website, re-launching it under the tagline “The Coca-Cola Journey. Refreshing The World, One Story At A Time”, featuring content driven by their “Unbottled” blog.
The result was that their content became their main product.
Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C company, content and story telling must be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Relationships that last are built through education. By offering useful information you’re giving your readers value (whether they’ve bought from you or not), which in turn builds trust.
The way forward
How do you reap these rewards?
Doing a “coke” is a brave move and perhaps one you’re not ready for. But you can make a move in the right direction by adding content regularly to your website.
An active blog that offers great advice, human-interest stories and useful information will draw people to you. I’m not talking about posting once in a blue moon when you have a few minutes; to be a success it must be done regularly.
Think of your blog as a digital magazine – offer a mix of content that will appeal to your audience. You are its editor, so it’s up to you to make it work.
Author: Sally Ormond – Briar Copywriting