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
February 14th, 2014 — Becoming a guest blogger, blogging, blogging for business
As the owner of two blogs (this one and Briar Copywriting Blog), I usually get at least one email a day pitching guest blog ideas.
Some are genuine and from writers that produce great content, but others are an obvious attempt to buy their way onto my blogs. Yes, they actually offer to make a ‘contribution’ for the kudos they’ll get for appearing on a high-ranking blog.
Guest blogging is a practice that’s been exploited over the years by people who saw it as a quick way to get links back to their sites. The result is an awful lot of dreary, sub standard copy that’s no use to man nor beast.
If you do it, stop now.
If you don’t believe me, this is what Google’s very own Matt Cutts has to say about guest blogging:
“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.
“Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.”
Guest blogging and SEO
It is important to make the distinction between high quality guest blogging and the practice being used for search engine optimisation.
If you write fantastic articles for multi-author blogs (that are high quality sites) you have nothing to worry about. Google’s wrath is reserved for low quality posts, spammy sites and those who offer to pay for the privilege of being published on blog sites.
To help clarify that for you, here’s Matt’s latest video on the subject.
If you are also inundated with guest blog requests, tread carefully. As a rule, only accept those from people you know (personally or through business) and trust.
February 12th, 2014 — copywriter, copywriting, copywriting tips
It’s not the first time I’ve addressed the subject of how to write clear copy and it won’t be the last.
Because of all the terrible content I see.
One point a lot of marketers miss is that good copy is simple.
Working as a copywriter, it amazes me how often clients expect their copy to be a literary masterpiece that makes them look super intelligent.
Communication is all about clarity. Your message must be simple and so should the language you use to convey it. And don’t even get me started on the pedants who love nothing more than to scream and shout at the slightest divergence from what they class as correct English usage.
At the risk of causing an uprising I would like to point out how, over the years, English has evolved. It’s changing all the time (whether you like it or not) and if you want your copy to resonate with your readers you’re going to have to get with it.
That doesn’t mean you can ride roughshod over basic grammar rules, but if a slight deviation helps you get your meaning across…
Anyway, back to the point. Simple language will always win when it comes to copy. So here are a few basics to bear in mind.
1. Stop using big words
Once upon a time, usually during your teenage years when you were desperate for people to start treating you like an adult, you would use ‘big’ words to make yourself look intelligent.
The problem is if you use that approach in your copy you’ll lose readers like there’s no tomorrow.
Always use the simplest form of language to get your ideas across.
2. Keep things brief
Have you noticed how journalists always use short sentences? They make the story easy to follow, but having said that it’s always good to mix in a few longer ones too – variety will keep your reader interested for longer.
The same can be said for paragraphs. Make sure they’re no longer than 2 or 3 sentences.
Huge blocks of text will scare your readers off (remember those tedious novels you had to read in English Literature and their page after page of continuous text?), whereas short paragraphs look far more inviting and readable.
3. Front heavy
Your readers like to get the information they need quickly, so by placing it at the start of your sentences (headlines, sub heads etc.) they will get the important information even if they skim the rest.
4. Cut to strengthen
When writing your content you will add extra words that aren’t needed – for example “get to the point as fast as possible” is more powerful when written as “get to the point”.
A lot of the extra words will be modifiers such as fairly, totally, very etc. Again, they don’t add value to your copy so cut them.
The same goes for sentences that use “if/then” and “in order to”:
- If you want glossy hair, then our latest smoothing shampoo if ideal for you
- Want glossy hair? Try our smoothing shampoo
Once you’ve written your first draft, read through and cut any words that don’t add value.
5. Metaphors and similes
Both of these help add the important emotional connection to your writing. They help your readers see, hear, taste and feel what you’re talking about.
When used effectively they will multiply the impact of your words, lodging them in their brain, making your message very difficult to forget.
How about you?
Do you have any other writing tips you’d like to share?
What favourite tricks do you use to get people to take notice of your copy?
Leave a comment below.
Author: Sally Ormond
February 10th, 2014 — Advertising, advertising copywriting, marketing, Sales Letters
Let me give you a clue.
“The number of ideas to use in an ad should be odd – and three’s too many”
Timo Everi, Hasan & Partners Helsinki
I couldn’t put it better myself.
The key to any form of marketing is clarity (of course it also has to be persuasive, but for the purpose of this post, clarity wins through).
If you want your reader to be 100% clear about what you’re telling them you can’t bombard them with umpteen messages at once.
A classic example of this is a sales letter.
Years ago, a client wanted a sales letter. We agreed terms and I got to work. After a while he had a brain wave; by getting me to include 2 products within one letter, he would only have to pay me once to sell twice as much.
Trying to squeeze two ideas into one letter merely dilutes its effectiveness. To have any sort of effect you must concentrate on one idea and exploit it to the max.
Maintaining the focus of the reader is essential. If you present them with one idea, they can follow your reasoning and benefits. But if you start telling them one thing and then add “…we also offer…” they’re suddenly all at sea.
Powerful copy focuses on just one idea:
- It shows the reader how they will benefit from that one idea
- They’ll understand how their life will be enriched by that one idea
- They’ll be left with no other choice than to buy into your idea
What at first might seem a financially driven ‘smart’ move will only end up with disappointing results.
Regardless of what piece of marketing you’re creating:
- Stick to one idea
- Focus your message on your reader
- Show how they will benefit
- Tell them how to buy
Author: Sally Ormond
February 7th, 2014 — Google +
OK, I’ll admit it. Despite being ‘active’ on Google+ for a while, I still haven’t got to grips with it yet.
How about you?
Are you making the most of it?
My lack of Google+ knowledge got me searching for some answers. I wanted to know how to link my Google+ account with my other social media accounts. After all, it’s relatively easy to link the others up, especially with flexible tools such as IFTTT. There had to be a similar solution for Google+.
My search took me to SocialMediaExaminer and their post about 3 Google+ tools that take your marketing to a new level.
For sharing your posts, it looks at Chrome Do Share and Friends+Me. As I don’t use Chrome I thought I’d check out Friends+Me. It is fairly easy to set up giving you different scheduling options, the option to selectively publish posts and it allows the integration of tracking links. The free option allows you to link 2 social media accounts and there are various paid options to link more.
That’s all well and good, but how do you know whether your Google+ posts are being effective? Well, that’s where their third tool comes into play.
Steady Demand provides analytics for Google+. It shows you what’s working on your page, graded using 3 criteria: post length, mentions and hashtags.The pro version of the tool analyses the activity on your Google+ business page.
All in all, these 3 tools will give you the edge when it comes to using Google+ as part of your marketing strategy.
Thanks SocialMediaExaminer, another informative post.
Author: Sally Ormond