As we’ve looked at previously, writing well is a key player in drawing in more customers and leads via organic searches.
If you’re not getting the organic traffic that you expect, it’s likely time to start including better written content on your site. To do this, it’s essential to know what Google determines as good content. You'll need to know what to avoid, how to make it engaging and readable to your target audience with an insight to the importance of setting business goals in order for marketing success!
In this article we’re discussing great content. Content can mean a number of things in marketing but in this article I am focusing on discussing content articles, which are online articles that are informative and well written but as they are often commissioned by a business an organisation, they play a part in the sales process. They are not as obvious and glaring as advertorials, they are more closely related to editorial. Although not overtly “salesy” they can occasionally contain bias and will avoid mentioning competitors. We’ll also touch on static website copy (all the other text that sits on your website) and the part that plays in sales and conversions.
Before you consider creating exciting features or content for your website, brainstorm your business goals and what you want to happen when people visit your website. To get the results you desire set marketing goals from the outset in order to develop an effective marketing strategy that is easy to follow and execute. Identifying clear goals and your “why” will help you understand the motivation behind every marketing activity and help you simplify your decisions.
If your goal is to increase sales focus on your website you might consider your plan to focus on having a user friendly site with clear calls to action to increase conversion rate. Conversion rates indicate the amount of people who visit your site who then follow your call to action which could include making a purchase on your site, subscribing to your enewsletter or contacting your business. Find out more about calls to action here.
Other goals include becoming an authoritative resource in your industry or on your area of expertise, improving interaction with your customers and nurturing new leads to eventually convert them into new customers or sales. To achieve these goals you'll want to establish trust on your website with the content you provide and way you present your knowledge. You’ll particularly want to give your customers a reason to come back to your site.
‘On average, consumers visited at least three online stores before making their purchase.’ Minewhat and 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase.
And in the travel industry, 'buyers can visit up to thirty eight sites to plan their holiday.'
To capture those people who are ready to make a purchase upon first viewing of your site or to increase the chances of people coming back, it’s imperative that you foster a sense of trust and knowledge on your product or services. Having compelling content articles and static website copy will instil confidence and security in your potential buyer.
Kissmetrics tells us that ‘Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy.’ Give them a reason to come back!
If you're looking to establish your brand and its credibility, you'll also need to look at producing great content.
Keywords: the base of your content articles
Good content is optimised content (SEO stands for search engine optimised), which uses intentional keywords in your content. Keywords are the words or phrases people typically search for whilst using a search engine. For example, if you've set up a business selling BMX bikes in Sydney, ensure that you use these keywords and variations of in your content. Avoid overusing the terms, make it readable and enjoyable and importantly informative for your audience, as Google’s ranking system is hyper savvy and will know when you are “keyword stuffing”. Keyword stuffing is the practice of throwing in a bunch of keywords in your content at the expense of good writing.
You can research the top keywords on sites such as Google Adwords, Google Trends, Keyword Tool, Hubspot’s guide to keyword research to find the best key words to attract your audience to your site. To get a good idea of which key words will work, check out your high ranking competitors and the type of content and keywords that they use.
Tip: don’t forget to include locations in your keywords, particularly if you are a location based services. For example, one of my search terms is “Adelaide copywriter”, given that I am based in Adelaide.
Once you've figured out your key words, get a feel for what people like to read about and care about. Using our BMX shop example, you might want to write about competitions and races that are taking place in the local area, or you might want to write about exciting new and upcoming products that you'll be stocking. Never pad out or over use keywords as this will detract from the quality of your writing and as we’ve discussed here, Google search rankings favours well written material.
‘Sixty percent begin by using a search engine to find the products they want’.
Stay tuned for part two of how to perfect your content writing!
I’m about to start blogging. What should I do?
Firstly, set goals. Your blog goals can be centred around number of views, posts, comments as well as growth in writing quality and experience. In addition to your goals it pays to be very clear why you are writing. The “why” will keep you motivated even when it seems like no one is reading your great work. Check out Simon Sinek’s Start with Why to discover your “why” factor.
Secondly, create a list of content/post ideas that you can tackle further down the track. Much like you might plan out writing a book, list the topics that you wish to cover. Write some content before you “go live” so you avoid the awkwardness of luring in readers with your first post but leaving them hanging with nowhere to go.
Here are eight blogging tips to get you started.
I’m not a great writer but can I blog anyway?
Technically, yes you can – anyone can and there are a plenty of horrendous writers with famous blogs. But if you’re intending to create a text heavy blog (as opposed to images or a vlog) I would cock an eyebrow and ask why you aren’t interested in being a great writer first and foremost? Your SEO will be disadvantaged with poor writing and your audience will give up on you if they don’t understand your message or you’re not doing the topic any justice.
Read: grammar for blogging.
I’ve been blogging for a few months, what should I do now?
Refer back to your goals. Are you on track? Do any of your goals need to be revised or shifted?
Conduct a thorough self review of the following areas:
Which is more important – writing or promoting your writing?
It’s certainly a delicate balance between the actual writing and promoting yourself. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) this is the double edged sword of being a writer these days. If you are interested in pursuing professional writing as a career, I would recommend that this is part of your learning experience. In short: do both if you can! But not at the sacrifice of your writing.
The best thing you can do is keep blogging – consistently and frequently. It’s something that will build over time, not an overnight thing.
How can I promote my blog on Twitter?
Although Twitter may not be the most effective tool for brands, it still hosts a lot of readers and writers. To really reel in the reader, you have to craft really short (less than 140 characters) lead lines that make people want to click on your link. This can be tricky but fun. Take a look at Why your business writing is probably crap.
If you want to tweet an annotated screenshot, read this article from the New York Times.
Make sure you know where your readership are. If you’re writing about building muscle and weight lifting, your audience are likely to be in topic specific Facebook groups or online forums. If you’re trying to connect to a more corporate audience, then Linkedin is your way forward. Find your target demographic here.
And importantly, don't forget to set up an email list and campaign to help promote your blog posts.
No one is reading my blog posts. Is blogging really worth it?
It depends on your goals and desired outcomes but almost invariably the answer is yes! Keep writing! Keep blogging and experimenting with promotion until you find the thing that work for you. Blogging, like any writing or micro business is a long term investment, so consistency and dedication are the key attributes that you can apply.
Here are some useful articles on building an audience:
Do I need to include pictures on my blog?
Yes! It helps with SEO and attracts eyes when promoting via your social media platforms.
Blog Tyrant sums it up really well below:
‘At a minimum, you want to be part of a quality stock photo site that allows you to use photos on your site with an attribution license. I use Dreamstime for any stock photos but an even better option is to take your own photos, make your own images, or have a professional do it – that really sets you apart from the rest.
Visual content has been growing for years and it appears to be speeding up, not slowing down. We now have retina display tablets and our smartphones are getting bigger. Social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ are favoring images and videos over text – never mind sites like Pinterest which are totally based around photos!’
Remember that using your own content and royalty free stock images prevent any copyright issues. Don’t pull a Marie Claire and share an image with proper attribution or permission!
If you have a question not answered here, please feel free to pop it in the comments section below or leave a link to your blog so we can have a read!
If you want anyone to find you through an organic search on the web and want optimal reach, it’s not enough to have a great website; you need to employ SEO tactics even if you only start with the basics.
Incorporating effective SEO techniques is a precarious balance between pleasing the robots and pleasing the people. I’ve always thought our modern world would come to this!
Following on from my post How to top Google’s search results here are some additional tips to that you can easily implement over a weekend to vastly improve how people find your site.
'Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about partnering with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users,' Phil Frost, Main Street ROI.
According to Raven Tools, 78% of all SEO issues are related to images.
Include images where possible. An image or two per blog post and page is not only visually appealing but will help the bots that crawl your site and see how user friendly your site is.
Ensure all images are labelled/named clearly and relevant to your text and insert a suitable keyword or phrase into “alt text” section. Keep images at a reasonable size so it doesn’t hamper website loading time.
Google has even told us that it factors in site loading speed into how your site ranks.
‘You may have heard that here at Google, we’re obsessed with speed in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.’
Keep the image size between 100kb and 400kb and your site needs to load within one to two seconds or you have potentially lost most of your site visitors. Sorry to be the one to tell you that. Check your site load speed here.
As you can see from this image, I’ve got a bucket load of work to do to get mine up to scratch. Another item for my “to do” list.
Write terrific content
Make sure it is written well (as if you were a journalist or professional writer). That means that sentences should be cohesive and not "waffley". Standard writing best practices apply throughout your whole website, from blog posts to static web copy to behind the scenes in your meta data description. Maybe now you finally have a legitimate excuse to sign up for those writing classes you always wanted to take?
Spelling and grammar should be faultless. Believe it or not, Google now judges you based on your grammar and spelling (Hallelujah, the writers cry). This pleases me as we’re seeing a lot more credible and well written content on the web, rather than just anyone with a blog and some time on their hands.
Ensure your meta descriptions are up to date, well written and contain your keyword/s. Each web page values from having its own meta data descriptions written well, not forgetting they have to be interesting enough for someone to want to click through to your website, when they read the short blurb on Google. Put simply, these descriptions will need a sales flair that entices people to click, without sacrificing good writing and sentence structure.
SEO leaders, Moz, provide a clear definition of what meta descriptions are:
'Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of webpages. They commonly appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).'
Write compelling and keyword rich meta data descriptions. Make sure the meta data description reads really well and has a sales flair that entices people to click, without sacrificing good writing and sentence structure.
And of course, we’ve discussed that it’s imperative to keep your content fresh. You need to be posting new content super regularly (ideally, more than once a week) to appease the spiders.
Stay tuned as this post will be updated regularly with more helpful SEO information.
You may also like to have a look at online writing.
‘Everyone is not your customer,’ Seth Godin
You probably have a terrific product or service that you have refined and you’re ready to tell the world. But where is your money, time and marketing efforts better spent: telling the entire world in a diluted scattergun approach? Or specifically targeting and blitzing people that are almost guaranteed to buy your product/service? Or at the very least buying similar from your competitors, have a need for what you offer or will likely to want it.
Here’s how you can discover the people (and psychographics) that you need to be speaking to directly. Knowing who these people are will shape how you talk to them, what kind of language and tone you use, what platforms you use and what images they will want to see. Remembering that '2pm on a Tuesday could be a very different moment from 2pm on a Saturday for the same person.'
A demographic is a group of people that you are aiming your message towards. They are defined by their characteristics, purchasing habits and other factors.
Here are three types of demographic groups. Within each group you can further filter into more specific demographics.
Also known as your existing or primary group, these are the people who are already addressable and interested in what you have to offer and have knowledge of your product/service. Although smaller, this group are easier to influence. The one thing you will have to provide is a unique selling point or a reason why they should continue to choose you above their existing practitioners or suppliers.
Also known as your secondary group, these people are more likely to be potential clients/customers. They may have never tried your product or service or have little or no knowledge about your business but are open to taking that step or have been referred to you but are yet to “cross that line” and make contact with you. They may also have signed up to your enews or have enquired about you in the past without taking it further. Although a larger group they will require more energy and work to encourage them to move into the engaged group.
This is a wide group of people, also known as the wishful or bonus group, that have no interest in your topic and are not open to learning or hearing about it and are unlikely to (however, if they do open up at some point, they automatically swap into the new group, then may convert to the engaged group). Needless to say, the return on effort (and there might be a lot of effort involved) is not worth reaching out to this group.
Your target demographic will be the people that you want to communicate directly with who are most likely to buy your service or product. This is not about excluding anyone from your marketing prowess but is about honing in on the people most likely to buy from you so you save your time and resources and get a better result.
I’m going to help you simplify this process so that you will find a useful and helpful way to use this knowledge, rather than overwhelm you with possibilities. My intention is not to dumb this down for you but to find a way of melding common sense and technical marketing knowledge in a useable and workable concept. By all means, do some extensive research on demographics and how to identify and reach them. You can even go so far as to boil it down to a sample person (known as a customer avatar) based on all the median research that has been done. A lot of larger consumer companies do this, so they know who they are targeting and can personify their demographic in the hope of really speaking to them.
Remember: don’t fall into a seductive trap of thinking that your product or service is best marketed to everyone. It is simply not the case that your product or service will be wanted or accommodates everyone, so it’s better to maximise your time and effort and really hone in on the target demographic that will make your business thrive. Be aware that this might only be five people that purchase a hundred thousand dollars worth of product from you each year. Or it might be twenty thousand people that buy ten dollars worth of product from you each month. Download your free demographic template here.
How to identify who is in your existing and new groups:
Resources for finding data:
The internet is wonderful, of course, but there may be a lot of information you have to wade through. Ensure you put aside enough time to do so.
Here is a simplified example of demographics broken down into three groups.
BUSINESS NAME sells an organic cotton clothing range in a dedicated retail store in Byron Bay. They also sell their range online, via their website. Primary demographic: females aged from 20 to 45 years, who live in suburban areas and mostly come from Victoria and New South Wales. They prefer to buy their clothing in-store but will often research the product thoroughly online first. They go to yoga and meditation classes, prefer to shop and eat organic and most of the group are mothers and work for themselves in some capacity.
Curious? Check out Victoria Secret’s identified marketing demographics here.
This cohort includes the primary group’s partners, parents, friends or children that buy for this group and might also include wholesalers that act as a middle man for BUSINESS NAME’s product.
Maybe you have a dream that your business reaches the over 50s market. Perhaps there needs to be some alterations to your product or service to suit this demographics’ lifestyle (and you’ll know what that looks like because you’ve done your research!) Perhaps your product or service already suits this group but you need to alter your branding so it really speaks to them. In this example, you might consider creating an “Over 50s” range with more classic branding.
Tip: to successfully communicate with any of your demographics, find out what they want through customer segregation. You can’t do this by guessing or assuming what they want. You can do this by asking them, perhaps as an incentivised survey (try SurveyMonkey) or by doing your research and monitoring people’s behaviours, trends and attitudes towards other products and services.
Remember: people’s behaviours and wants change regularly, so you will need to reassess who your target demographics are at least once a year.
The better you understand your customer, the faster your business will grow.
This has been adapted from an excerpt of my marketing book Promote Your Spiritual Business.
Here’s a collection of things that I have personally used that make my professional life easier and more productive.
I can often be found muttering to myself ‘geesh, I love technology’, because really, how great is it? That we can do our best work and have so many useful tools and programs to help us achieve great results and outcomes.
Harpoon is my “one stop shop” business running app. It invoices my clients (and sends automatic reminders should their payment be late), it stores all my clients’ data, helps me to budget and forecast my income and most importantly for me, it tracks my time so I can accurately keep track of how long it takes me to write something and if I am charging my clients correctly.
LiveChat is a plugin for my website that runs an automatic chat bot for anyone who visits. You can outsource to consultants but I prefer to be the one chatting to potential clients/site visitors, even if that means I miss out on some opportunities. Fortunately, I can access chat via both my phone and laptop and I am alerted as soon as someone has questions. This week, I had the opportunity to encourage someone to buy my book, book into my ecourse and let a potential client know about the extra services that I offer (we’d originally discussed some product brochures but he was also interested in getting some media releases written).
This is a great tool for anyone in a customer or client facing business that wants to add another layer to their customer service.
Boomerang for Gmail
Boomerang is an add on to your Gmail platform that performs a few handy actions including scheduling your email to be sent at a specified time, triggered reminders in XX number of days if the person hasn’t replied and has a tracking option to not only show you when someone has opened your email but what links they have clicked on in the email.
This is a handy instrument for those people working with less than desirable clients who claim to have never seen an invoice (thankfully I am yet to have one of those, touch wood).
So, we all struggle with being distracted by the internet. Anyone who says they don’t is probably lying or in a place with really bad WiFi. Sometimes you just need that extra kick up the butt and Freedom is just that. It blocks out the internet or designated apps or social media sites for a predetermined amount of time so you can explicitly focus on your task at hand. As a writer, this is such a key factor in being super efficient.
IFTTT – which stands for If This, Then That – is one of the most incredible automation tools of the new world. It is a collection of applets (conditional statements) that bring together your existing apps and online services using a myriad of “recipes” to basically make your life easier and make the absolute most of almost everything that exists in this glorious world of tech. For example, I have set up recipes to guide my iPhone to repost every one of my Instagram pics as native posts on Twitter (this saves the hassle of those ugly links that Insta sharing creates). I also get a message an hour before it rains, when I need to put sunscreen on and more.
It can even get you out of bad dates, automatically unlock your front door when you arrive home.
As an avid reader and collector of information, Pocket has been an app that I have used consistently for years, both in a professional and personal context. There’s always so much content (articles, videos, listicles, slideshows) floating about that there is barely enough time to read it all and the chances of you stumbling across an interesting link during a busy work day or just as you are about to fall asleep is highly likely. For these occasions you can simply send a link to Pocket and review later when you have half an hour to wait at a doctor’s appointment or are doing some research for a client.
I know I have mentioned it before but CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer [sic] is really a worthwhile tool, particularly in my line of business.
Would love to hear about your favourites!
The subject line is the first thing that people will see when it hits their inbox. According to Chadwick Martin Bailey, 64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line. Crafting the perfect subject line is an art form, a rewarding one, which can entice people to open the email and read the content. Your mission: to write an appealing subject line that will make people want to keep reading. The subject line is really worth investing time and energy into getting right. This is going to be the device that encourages people to open your email and read it (and then, hopefully, click on the call to action).
Most importantly, the subject line needs to indicate or foreshadow what is in the email and what the readers can expect to get out of it. Be sure not to misrepresent your email’s content. Much like a headline the subject line will need to have a great hook in it. Give specific reasons why someone should open the email (as that one hundred per cent the aim of a great subject line). Which sounds more specific?
The answer is 2. Number one is too vague and number three is too "salesy". Remember: it’s much more effective if you tell your readership what the email contains, rather than give them the “sell”.
Just like headlines, you might want to employ one of the psychological techniques in your subject line (as long as you adhere to the other success principles):
Although there has been some preliminary research into how many words affect the open rate of an email, there seems to be no consistent number of words that prove best practice when it comes to wheedling opens. An older study from Adestra suggests that subject lines fewer than ten characters long had an open rate of 58%.
This is more of a personal opinion than professional opinion but I detest the sight of an emoji in a subject line, no matter the industry or brand. It cheapens the look and detracts from the offer or information. This may not always be the case for your target demographic, however, so it is best to do some thorough research and understanding of your target demographic groups (my book has more details about those groups) to know how to directly speak to them. If you’re communicating B2B I would strongly recommend not using emojis in your subject lines or email body copy. World Emoji Day on 17 July might be the only exception to this rule.
Most email platforms have something called A/B split testing. This is the ability to send your email to your mailing list with two or three minor changes, so you can ascertain which gets more of a response. It’s worth your time to try A/B split testing for subject lines. Don’t just guess what people will respond to – test the waters! These test results will be useful for the next time you send out an email campaign and you’ll be able to see whether your email list responds better to questions or giveaways or rewards or whatever you decide to test!
Craft the language to be personal (not at the expense of professionalism though). You may also like to include the recipient’s name in the subject line. Mailchimp discovered that including your company name in the subject line increased open rates. For example, Jones the Writer really wants you to learn about this today…
So how many people should be opening your emails? How do you know if your subject lines are doing well? Although it is industry dependent, Mailchimp purports that between 15% and 29% of your entire mailing list opening your emails are standard. Check out where your industry lies here.
Here are a few industries that most of my audience fall within. These figures are up to date as at 1 February 2017.
Technically it is both correct if you capitalise the first letter of every word (known as title case) but my grammatical preference is to only capitalise the first letter of the first word (known as sentence case). I find it is easier read and promotes a flow that the eyes can follow easily. As with any great writing, avoid excessive capitalisation and overuse of syntax (keep the exclamation marks away). Read more about grammar for blog posts here.
In a nutshell
Keep the subject line copy very clear, medium to short in length, professional and as a precursor to what the email contains. As with most copywriting, it’s better to aim for brevity and clarity over and above being to creatively “clever”. Although it may seem a little on the conservative side, it’s better to opt for something that works.
'64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line.'
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Facebook's algorithm has changed again recently and here's what you need to know in a nutshell.
Facebook’s latest algorithm changes mean that posts with more authenticity and that are more genuine will be favoured.
If you’re asking for likes, shares and comments, Facebook will basically say ‘pfft to you’. And if you spread too much "fake news" you’ll be penalised by the higher power that is Facebook. And the more people hide your posts, the more Facebook will realise what you’re sharing is basically… well… crap and will be reluctant to put you front and centre on the stage that is the Facebook newsfeed.
A handy article to read more here. And if you want to know how much a social media marketer is really worth, check out the breakdown on this page (scroll halfway down).
A call to action [CTA] is a concise phrase that you include in your copywriting and marketing material that not only encourage your readers to do something but it demands it! The term itself gives it away – it’s a strong directive that ensures action. The action that you want taken are practical steps that will ultimately lead to a sale, a booking or a purchase.
Examples of call to actions include:
An effective call to action offers urgency. Create urgency to play up to the natural instinct that humans have – the fear of time running out or missing out on something (also known as the scarcity principle). Tell your audience exactly what to do and when – words like today, now, straight away, before too late…
Pick one of your benefits (not a feature) to the consumer and use that as a call to action. For example, a benefit of good copywriting would be that it improves your SEO ranking. Therefore, I could use this benefit in my CTA like this:
Where do you include call to actions?
Include them on each page of your website, each blog post or content article, videos, social media posts, enewsletters and direct email campaigns and in person. Each of your webpages and marketing emails should have between one and three call to actions.
Place one within the first half of your webpage/email/marketing collateral but not directly at the top, as your readers will want to read some credible information first. It's also wise to place one at the end of your copy, to remind and instil your message.
Tips on writing a great call to action:
Don’t forget to include your call to action on your webinars, infographics and presentations or slide shows. You can also verbalise one if you are giving a talk but don’t give more than one. It will most likely be ‘go to my website for more details’.
Here are two clear call to action examples on big business's landing pages:
Do you think email marketing (that’s your email newsletters, EDM and email automated campaigns) is dead? Are you mistakenly believing that you need to invest all your time into your social media marketing?
You might be doing your business a disservice because according to MarketingSherpa, '72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media.' Those kind of stats are just too hard to not experiment with, let alone ignore. Not only does an enewsletter provide an effective way of communicating new and existing services or products you have but it will ensure clients/customers feel connected, attended to and will encourage click throughs to your website and social media channels. Here's six reasons why email marketing is important.
But almost everyone has an inbox overflowing with various enewsletters, so it’s important to fill yours with interesting and relevant content. Not sure what to include in your enews?
You may like to experiment with this formula
30 per cent teasers
50 per cent quality information
20 per cent direct promotion
Examples of what to include in an enews
Make sure you set up your template so that every enews includes:
Here's two more important factors to a good enewsletter:
Sporadically—every four to six months—make your enews purely about the readers, cut out the promotion and offer quality content and/or a free product or service or ask them a question to invite conversation.
Include a clear call to action. Make your readers do something. That could include going to your website, booking an appointment or providing you with feedback. Aim to have at least three calls to action per enews—even if they are the same. Read my enewsletters here.
Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey
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A copywriter is a professional writer that will write your marketing material (whether that be for your website, blog posts, brochures, social media marketing, enewsletters, media releases, adverts and a whole range of things). A copywriter is an expert in writing and will pen persuasive words in a way that is potent for your marketing plan.
Why hire a copywriter?
I’m going to be straight up here: almost everybody thinks they can write. This isn’t the truth. Let’s get real about this so you don’t do your business a disservice. An exceptional copywriter can position your business, services and products as memorable and leading the way, outshining your competitors and as something that people just MUST HAVE. With the art of the persuasive word, professionally written copy can increase sales.
The beauty of a copywriter is that they are able to step back from you and see the best in what you offer and know how to tell the world about it. Often, you can be too close to your own offerings to effectively describe what you do.
Copywriters are more than just writers. I come from a marketing background, so I know how to effectively promote something – whether it’s yoga classes, property or balsa wood – directly to your potential or existing customers, influence their decisions. I also have a genuine understanding of SEO, making you more easily discoverable online.
An awesome copywriter can make anything – and everything – sound thrilling.
Perhaps best of all, in my view, a copywriter will write with great grammar and spelling, giving you more credibility and readability. If the first contact new customers have with you is a poorly written website or Facebook page, how can they expect you to be professional when delivering your services? Go on – choose three websites at random and you will easily be able to tell which has been professionally written and which has been written in haste by the business owner.
Although this may not be the case for all copywriters (and is certainly not a requirement), I am also an award winning creative writer (having written many short stories, poems and a novel), so the art of storytelling is in my veins. And as customers become more and more saturated by content these days, they are craving authenticity and genuine storytelling. See also: how to keep your content crispy.
Most of what we are commissioned to write is written to sell. We believe in and live the “art of the sell” using only so much as our words.
When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it “creative”. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product,’ David Ogilvy.
This may vary mildly depending on what you want written but the most likely process will go like this:
Then you can relax as I squirrel away for a time and work on the copy to the deadline we’ve agreed upon. This is the “go time” for me and where I spend hours researching, taking notes, writing and rewriting, proofreading and editing and maybe, just maybe, watching Netflix (some of my best ideas have come from television shows!)
You’ll be emailed the work (usually in a Word document) to review. I offer a revision with all quotes but I rarely, if ever, have to do it but I want you to know that the option is there because there’s no point with you being unhappy with the copy.
Then you can do whatever you need to do with the writing – upload it to your website, email merger, letterhead, social media platforms. It's then time to enjoy the benefits of meticulously crafted copy.
Now be honest, that was a lot less painful than you thought, right? Certainly a lot less painful than agonising for weeks or months over writing your homepage or blog posts. There we have it – the mysteries of working with a copywriter solved! If you have any more questions, drop a comment below or send me an email.
‘Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling,’ William Bernbach.
BONUS: learn to write terrific headlines that will make people click
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Copywriting and business writing is markedly different to writing a poem or writing something sweet in your grandmother's birthday card. It has a specific focus and uses a particular set of skills to increase sales, draw in new customers or clients or set you apart from your competition by demonstrating that you really know what you're talking about.
We've already looked at why content writing (and blogging) is excruciatingly important for your marketing plan, so now we're going to discuss how you can write really well in all your professional marketing communications (such as your website, blog posts, enewsletters, social media posts etc, because you're doing these all regularly… right?)
Writing well to promote your business is crucial to its success. In a digital era of fast paced communications, you need to get your message "bang on" immediately or clients will drift elsewhere along the fast paced current of the online communications river. Below are some starter guidelines for both online and off line writing. Keep these in mind the next time you write something that the public will see.
Use persuasive words
Ideally, you want people to do be doing something, to take action. Even clicking on a link is taking action. Use words as your triggers and cues.
According to Copyblogger, the top five most persuasive words in the English language are:
Here's a really comprehensive list of influential words you can use.
Correct grammar and spelling enhances your credibility and affords trust in what you are saying, ensuring a smooth read that will not distract readers from absorbing your message. If you neglect to take care of your proofreading, potential and current clients may wonder where else you neglect attention to detail.
Let it breathe
Put your writing aside for at least twenty four hours – a week if you can afford the time. Putting distance between you and your writing only improves its quality. You may learn something new that is pertinent to the topic at hand in that time- especially since it will be the forefront of the mind. And you will easily identify errors and poor structure once you've had a chance to have some distance from it.
Write in the second person
Write as if you are directly speaking to one person/client, rather than a group of people or nobody. Direct what you're saying by using terms such as "you", "your" etc, which will not only personalise your message but give the reader the ability to "try on" what you are saying to them and they will be more readily willing to absorb your message – particularly if you are persuading them to invest in your product or service.
Use confidence in your language. Replace terms such as ‘you may' with ‘you will' or ‘why not try' with ‘invest now'. Refer to the list of persuasive words above if you get stuck.
If you're not completely (three hundred and twenty per cent) sold on your product or service and the results that it will deliver, how can you expect a potential customer to be?
Twitter is a charming tool for this as it forces you to convey a message in less than 140 characters. To enhance your brevity, imagine how you would turn any message you are writing into a tweet.
Be clear, get to the point immediately and ensure you cap off your communications with a short summary of what you have written.
Be clear with yourself throughout the process - from the start (or before) of writing until releasing it into the world. What is the exact purpose of what you are writing? Be excruciatingly clear with yourself. Is it to attract another ten clients? Is it to be recognised in your field of expertise? Is it to voice your opinion on a current issue? Write this purpose at the top of your page or on a sticky note where you can see it and keep referring back to it as you write. Clarity = better results.
If you incorporate all these tips into your business writing and copywriting, you'll soon see more success than you thought possible!
You can write the most epic blog content that could set off a bunch of life changing insights for your readership but without a tantalising headline, few people will bother to click through and read it.
Ensure you have a compelling heading for each blog post. Make sure it’s a bit of a tease and that people will want to click on it and read more. Include why someone absolutely must read this post; explain why it will change their life/business/mind etc. The headline must be about the reader and how it can benefit them. For example, How Garlic Will Make You Lose Weight.
‘With [blog post] titles, it's best to under promise and over deliver. So if you're choosing between uber-compelling and accurate, choose accuracy every time,’ Corey Eridon, Hubspot Marketing Blog.
Here are some things to add that will create punch in your headline:
A great headline should make a reader curious and want more. Here are some types of headlines that have proven themselves to work time and time again:
'Most people will share content based on the headline alone.'
How many words should your headline be?
There's been many different discoveries when it comes to the ultimate headline length for maximum readers. The platform you are sharing on does make a difference but to summarise, Outbrain has found that seven words is an ideal length.
Coschedule similarly suggests that 60-100 characters is ideal.
Do you want to know whether your headline hits the mark? This is my favourite tool when deciding between headlines to use. Try this headline analyser.
Here's how I decided on the headline for this post:
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You’re ready to write a non fiction book but you’re hesitant to start for any number of reasons; perhaps you are swimming in self doubt, overwhelmed or just not sure where to you start. You’ve identified a non fiction topic to write about and you may have even picked a title and can picture the cover in your mind’s eye. You just haven’t written a single word of the draft manuscript. That is okay! You’re actually probably way more ahead than you realise.
I wrote my book, Promote Your Spiritual Business, in less than sixteen months because I genuinely enjoyed the process and was very committed to getting it done. And even though I write for a living, I STILL understand the pain of starting some written work – at times, it can be ghastly!
But an idea is just an idea, it’s not a book! Until it’s written, it’s just thoughts. So you actually need to start. Every single successful project in the history of time was started at some point.
If you’re having trouble starting, pick one of the following action steps today:
Do some research
Set a timer for thirty minutes and do some serious, hard core internet research on your predetermined topic. Cut and paste as many relevant sections, paragraphs, links, stats and quotes as appeals to you and put in a Word document. You’ll come back to this document at the right time to expand on relevant sections or use the research to back up your opinions in the book.
Unearth what you already know
Open your Word document and type the heading ‘What I know about TOPIC (this is the topic you will be writing about)’. You can also apply the same action step to keywords that will be in your book. This is your chance to write down dot points of what you already know. I guarantee that you will shock yourself with how much you know about this topic. We often don’t even know how much we know… Donald Rumsfeld proclaims that we no longer know what we know and what we don’t.
Most adults have a finite capacity of storing and collecting information, so it’s not implausible that there is at the very, very least one book’s worth of information readily available in your brain. I’m confident there is enough information there to write as many books as you can be bothered!
‘…if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.’ Scientific American.
Set up an interview
Interview yourself! Write out a list of questions that you would ask someone else about the topic or that you want to know, then set about asking yourself. You may even like to prerecord yourself, or rope in a friend to ask you these questions. Just having a different voice can be a really effective process in unearthing your knowledge.
Get really quiet. You may already be familiar with a little thing taken the world by a peaceful storm, called mindfulness. If you’re a mindfulness junkie, there’s an opportunity to commence that right now. But if you’re unfamiliar with it, just get really quiet and really still. Distractions have no place here! It doesn’t even have to be long – five to fifteen minutes are ideal.
Empty the mind of all your thoughts and when it feels as empty as possible (this is no small feat, by the way) invite thoughts about your topic in. Keep a notepad handy nearby and jot down every single thing that comes to mind, even if it is “purple monkey dishwasher”. You will get something useful out of it – even if it is one keyword that will spur you to undertake step one, two or three.
Find your notes from a workshop you have attended in the last year or so on your chosen area (or closely linked) and gather up your notes. From these notes you will type them up (even if they have been previously typed) and highlight keywords or topics that you will expand on by doing step one or two.
Have you attended a workshop that is on a different topic? Grab your notes from that find the similarities between your topics. You may even find some beautiful metaphors or ways to cross pollinate knowledge here. Like I did with this.
Didn’t take any notes? Tsk tsk. But not all is lost! Your action step is to enrol in a couple of workshops, seminars, webinars, ecourses or similar on your topic and when you attend, take so many notes that you are left with a hand cramp at the end! Don’t aim for creativity when note taking, just get as much data down as you can. When you type them up later, you’ll be able to interpret in your own writing style, with your own take and research to make them meld seamlessly into your book. Pay particular attention to the extra resources, such as books, podcasts, links, key people that the lecturer, teacher or course provider recommends as this is where you will extend your knowledge and get those extra nuggets of information that make your book juicy with information.
There are no excuses left to not starting your non fiction book and being well on your way to a bestselling non fiction author! All you have to do is pick one of the action steps above and do it. You may like to pick an action step for each day and dedicate yourself to completing it. At the end of the week, you’ll be so energised and motivated by what you’ve achieved that it’s likely you’ll want to continue writing your non fiction book until it’s finished!
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Facebook is one of the most powerful marketing tools in the world – that is undeniable. Due to the immediacy of the platform, people can mistakenly lack thought and attention to the writing they put out there on their Facebook business page, forgetting that it represents the quality and credibility of their business and service.
An easy assumption to make is that you can write with reckless abandon on Facebook and that not every post counts. Just because the content isn’t static and is forever moving, does not mean that you do not apply the same copywriting techniques that you would for any other marketing activity.
Putting time and effort into writing every Facebook post will reward you over time.
Here are some tips on writing great Facebook statuses for your business:
So what words should you use? Well, aside from keeping your tone, language and style in alignment with your brand and business, here are some words to include and words to avoid.
Words that have a positive effect on your audience:
These are all great eye catching words that people automatically associate with relevant articles, posts and written content that will improve our lives as readers and will get people clicking through to your blog posts or website (which is what we want them to do for SEO and to get them to buy from you!). Using one of these words in your social media posts will help boost interaction. Give it a go today!
Words to avoid when running a social media competition:
Instead use winner, win, winning, lucky, events, free, bonus… you get the idea. People don’t want to know the process - they just want to know the end result for them, or at least the possible end result.
Did you know? Manners cost nothing but double everything! Including the word please in your call-to-action can increase your engagement by almost double, according to The Most Effective Calls to Action for Facebook Posts, by Ayaz Nanji, 18 June 2014.
Do you want me to review your Facebook post?
If you link your Facebook post where you’ve incorporated these copywriting techniques below in the comments section, I’ll head on over and review it for you and let you know what’s working and where you can improve!
You know when you type in a Google search term up pops literally hundreds of thousands of pages? How many pages do you actually scroll through to find what you are looking for? Most people only take notice of the first three links; maybe if you have the time, you’ll scroll through two or three pages. So if you want people to find your business, products or services through a standard Google search, you need to be as high up on that search list as possible.
The better you have optimised your website, the more likely it will show up higher (closer to the top of the list) in the search rankings and the more discoverable you are in the world wide web. That’s what SEO means: search engine optimisation.
How does Google decide who gets to go at the top? It has an algorithm that it uses to rank pages, which contains a plethora of factors to ascertain where your site should fall and how interested people will be in reading it.
This week, Mumbrella has summed up the three things are that are vital to get in those vied after top three spots. Those three things can be summed up as:
Here are some really basic and practical guidelines that you can start to implement straight away:
Use other social media platforms to send people to your website. The more people that look at your website; the more that search engines recognise that it’s a well trafficked site and thus rank you higher.
Search Engine Journal
So, you want to be a beefcake of the “soche” world. Even an amateur bodybuilder or lifter will tell you that your body adapts crazy quickly. So you have to switch up your routine if you ever want to progress – or avoid deterioration. Even as much as changing it up every month. The same theory can be applied to your social media strategy to give it a bit of muscle.
If you want your business to succeed – that means a lot of sales or high end sales to companies with deep pockets, then you already know you need to be marketing online. But it’s certainly not enough to just have a website and some social media marketing anymore. You need to incorporate content marketing and content writing in your marketing plan – namely content writing or articles.
Online, thе written wоrd drives a lаrgе сhunk оf аnу business's mаrkеting ѕtrаtеgу. Whеthеr you’re ѕеlling jаm frоm hоmе оr a multinаtiоnаl соmраnу ѕеlling branded ѕроrtѕwеаr, the right kind оf wеb соntеnt iѕ imреrаtivе to nоt juѕt driving nеw buѕinеѕѕ, but аlѕо to keep your current buѕinеѕѕ rоаring.
So what are content articles? They are professionally written articles that sit mainly in the digital space, on your website, blog, or ezines. The articles are not only well written but add credibility by incorporating thorough research, quotes, statistics and expert commentary about topics or trends that are relevant to the modern consumer, in particular your audience or current or potential customer base.
‘Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them,’ Doug Kessler.
Why content articles are vital for your marketing arsenal:
My 2017 prediction:
My prediction for content writing and marketing in 2017? Content will start to get more personalised and - thanks to the advances in data mining and programmatic advertising – will really speak to audiences in alignment with their preferences, lifestyle, hobbies and personality.
Brands will replace traditional advertising processes with high quality content to satisfy a content hungry audience.
And from Jason Demers via Soap Media:
'...in 2017, we’re going to see the rise of ‘dense’ content. Dense content isn’t necessarily long or short, but it packs as much valuable info into as small of a space as possible. Users are tired of fluff content and their attention spans are continuing to decline, which will lead to a preference for denser content, which provides value while eating up as little time as possible.' Read more SEO predictions from Soap Media here.
‘To be momentous, create content with purpose,’ Russell Sparkman.