Copywriting Tips

 

typewriter, coffee, glasses and piles of paper

I have learned so much over the years about how to write well. From inspirational school teachers, from fantastic business writing coaches during my corporate years, and, in more recent times, from specialist online copywriters.  Here is an amalgam of what I’ve learned from all three:

Clear Structure

Before you start, set out a clear structure for your piece. This will help you in all sorts of ways, keeping your thought processes clear and your writing on track. A good rule is to divide your topic into 3 sections. Then add an introduction and a conclusion.  Here’s the old schoolteacher’s guide to writing a great essay:

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
  • Tell them  (your content divided into 3 sections)
  • Tell them what you’ve told them
It still works!  Use headings and sub-headings to give your reader a clear pathway through your text. This is important for all writing but it’s really important for online writing. For smartphones especially!
It also helps your search engine optimisation, for keyword pickup obviously, but also because Google likes text that is clear and easy to read.

Simple Language 

Don’t use complicated words unless you really need to. It doesn’t make you sound clever as people often think. It just makes your text harder to read and switches people off. Find a simple way of saying what needs to be said, using short words whenever possible. So, no over-complicated words, jargon or industry-speak.  And never use an acronym without explaining what it stands for first.

Short sentences and paragraphs 

Long sentences are hard to wade through. Most long sentences can be broken up into 2 or 3 short ones.  Starting a sentence with a conjunctive, like ‘And’ or ‘But’ was a No No when I was at school, but it works really well in online copy, giving it a more conversational feel.  I do it all the time. (Sorry Miss Roberts.)

Long paragraphs – huge chunks of text without a break – are offputting on paper. Even worse on a screen. Break long paragraphs into smaller blocks of text. White space on a page or screen gives your readers a welcome breather.

Check, check, check!

Always check your spelling and grammar.  Few things damage your professional credibility more quickly than a spelling mistake on your website or in a social media post. Word’s ‘Spelling and Grammar Check’ is pretty good. There is also the online grammar tool ‘Grammarly.’ Try and get a friend or colleague to check it too. Online tools can sometimes misinterpret words.

It is also possible to check how easy your text is to read, using a little-known Word function, ‘Readability’.  Easy-to-read text makes a huge difference, for online readers especially.

Hidden in Word’s spelling and grammar function there is a ‘Readability’ option. Click on Options in ‘Spelling and Grammar Check’ and tick the Readability box. Every time you spellcheck a document some readability stats will appear after the spelling corrections – Reading Ease and Reading Grade.

Ideally, for the average reader, the Reading Ease level should be between 60 and 70, and the Reading Grade level less than 10. This grade level equates to US school grades.  It’s a slightly complicated system but worth getting your head around. Find out more about the Readability Test.

And finally……Calls to Action 

Web pages and social media posts should should always feature a Call to Action. Keep these short and simple. Call me, Contact me, Buy!

I hope this has given you some ideas for when you are writing your next web page/blog/social media post. Your confidence will build the more you write, so don’t be scared! Give it a go, (making use of the checks I’ve mentioned!)  Keep writing, keep learning, keep improving!

Do let me know if this article has helped you.  Next month I’ll be sharing some tips on writing persuasive copy.

Building a Sense of Trust

 

young boy leaping from rock into father's arms

How to Build a Sense of Trust through your website and online presence 

Consistency  

Being consistent in your communications is key to presenting a professional and trustworthy image. Check your website, your Google My Business page, your social media profiles, your newsletter. Do they all present the same clear message about what you offer?

About Page

Your About page is crucial.  Research shows that it is usually the second page people look at when visiting a small business website. Include your professional qualifications, membership of professional organisations and networking groups.  Inject some personality, so that you come across as a real person, not a faceless organisation. Share your passion for what you do, and why you do it. Be very clear about how you can help your website visitors. And how you love to help!

A professional headshot photo is essential so people can relate to you on a personal level. A short video is also great – the next best thing to actually meeting you!

Solid Contact Details

To show that you are a bona fide business three key elements are  required. A phone number, ideally a landline number, a postal address (use a mailing address if you don’t want to give out your home address) and an email address on your website domain e.g. marieallen@webclarity.co.uk. Not a gmail address!

Include social media links for the social channels which you use.  Many people prefer to get in touch through social.  They can also check out your profile and posts and get a feel for the way you work.

Testimonials

These are Online Golddust!  Testimonials are fantastic for building a sense of trust.  Use full names and their location if possible to give your testimonials maximum impact.

Blogging

A blog is a great way to build a trusting relationship with your website visitors. A regular blog provides a bank of content for the casual website visitor to skim through, so that they immediately get a feel for your expertise and experience.

Incorporate these ‘Trustworthiness Signals’ into your your website and online presence, so that you stand out from the competition for all those who are looking for a business they will feel truly comfortable working with.

Get in touch or book a Clarity call with me if you’d like some help making your website and online presence Totally Trustworthy.

A SImple Guide to Marketing Your Business Online

Online marketing is three things – your website, social media and email marketing.

Your Website

Purpose to provide information about your business.

  • Explain how you help people. Keep it clear and simple. Describe their problem, how you fix it and how great they will feel afterwards.  Focus on the benefits of what you offer.  Find out more 
  • Use your website to build trust so that your website visitors feel confident in buying from you.  Testimonials, clear contact details, a personable, authentic About page. Maybe a blog.  Find out more
  • Include Calls to Action – one on every page – to encourage potential clients to get in touch, or to take some action e.g. download a free checklist

Email Marketing/ Newsletters

Purpose to keep in touch with your most likely ‘prospects.’  A list of clients, ex-clients and potential clients.

“The money is in the list.”  Email marketing is the most effective form of marketing

  • Send regular emails to your list with content that will be of interest and value to them.  Over 90% of interested potential customers are not ready to buy when they first come across you. Regular emails keep you in touch with them so that, when they are ready to buy, you will be top of mind.

Social Media

Purpose to raise awareness of your business and encourage people to find out more about you.

Social media can create an engaged community who become your customers and cheerleaders, sharing your posts across their networks.

  • Choose 1 or 2 social media channels and do them well.  If you’re not sure which is best for your business:
    • Facebook and Instagram work well for Business to Consumer businesses.  Facebook is best for an older audience, Instagram for the under 30’s.
    • LinkedIn is designed for Business to Business connections
    • Twitter works well for both and is used by all age groups.
  • Post a variety of content on social media. Combine some promotional items with interesting and helpful ones.
  • Build your online social network by sharing relevant content from other people.

How Am I Doing?

It’s really important that you check the impact and results of your marketing efforts. There are lots of free tools available to help you measure your results:

  • Google Analytics – gives you a fantastic range of information about visits to your website.  Find out more
  • Email – Mailchimp, Aweber and other e-marketing systems give you useful information on open rates and clickthroughs.
  • Facebook and Instagram Insights and Twitter Analytics give you information on the numbers of people who have liked and shared your posts, how many new followers you’ve acquired and lots more.
Once a month, or once a quarter, step back and review. See what has worked well. So that you are constantly learning and improving. And getting even better results!
If you’d like some help setting up a marketing process for your business, I offer a range of Online Marketing services, including monthly packages to suit all budgets.  Get in touch for more information.

Three Ways to Give Your Business an Online Headstart!

 

1.  Happy customers lead to more customers!

Testimonials from satisfied clients are the most powerful way to persuade people to buy from you.  Check out your customer feedback and testimonials.

  • Are they displayed in a prominent place on your website?  Are you using them on social media too?
  • Have you gathered all the positive feedback you could?  If not, get in touch with recent happy clients and ask them for some!

Ninja tip #1 – Gather snippets from client reviews in a spreadsheet and put them out as occasional social media posts.  A scheduling tool like Hootsuite makes this even easier.

Ninja tip #2  –  Include your client’s location in their testimonial on your website for extra local search engine pickup.

More about the power of testimonials in this Can Your Website Be Trusted? blog post.

2.  Consistency is the key 

Are you sending out a consistent message across all media – print, website. blog, email, social media?  Check your social media profiles.  Do they match the info on your website’s About page?  Make sure that your messaging is clear and consistent across all your marketing channels.

3.Generate some customer action!

Don’t let interested prospective clients drift away from your website or social media posts. Encourage them to do something to deepen their relationship with you before they leave.

Every page of your website and every social media post should have a Call to Action – phone me, email me, connect with me, download my freebie, read this blog post, go to this webpage.

You might find the  “Think, Feel, Act” paradigm helpful:

Think – the words you write are what you want them to think.

Feel – the image you choose shows how you want them to feel.

Act  –  the suggested action to draw them into your online community, or your sales funnel.

Testimonials from happy customers, consistent messaging and Calls to Action. Three ways to help your business get a headstart on the competition.

Taking Your Business Online

 

BT and ITV have collaborated on a series of adverts designed to help viewers through the Coronavirus crisis.  They include tips on working from home with Clare Balding, and how to download podcasts with Rylan Clark-Neal.

The one I want to highlight is “Taking your business online.” This short video is fronted by Jake Humphrey, a presenter who sports fans will be very familiar with!  In it he explains very well the things business owners need to think about to get their business noticed online.  It is definitely worth a watch.

Watch Jake Humphrey’s 3-minute Taking Your Business Online video

Three things to pick up on:

Email – if you’re going to email your customers as suggested, either do this individually or, if you email them as a group, make sure you use the BCC (blind copy) feature so that they don’t all see each other’s email addresses. This would be a major breach of GDPR!  This is where an email marketing system (Mailchimp, Aweber etc.) comes into its own.

LinkedIn  – if you want to set up or improve your presence on LinkedIn it’s very important to get your Profile and its headline right. Make sure your headline includes the keywords you want to get picked up for in searches.

Bespoke content  – this is key to getting your message out online.  Jake talks about writing helpful content such as ‘How to’ guides and blogs. If the idea of writing your own content scares the life out of you, do get in touch!  Or check out my post “How to create blog posts that will attract new clients” to get started.

Is this the right time to revive your email list?

 

Many small businesses are seeing a big reduction in visits to their website as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic. But there is another way to reach potential customers, which has nothing to do with your website and the vagaries of Google! Your email list.

Email lists are proving soooo valuable to many businesses at this time. An obvious example is the exercise instructor who is now offering online classes instead of in-person sessions.  If they have an email list it is super-easy for them to contact lots of their clients, past clients and potential clients. So that they can quickly move their business to an online model.

Emails are also a great way to keep in touch with potential customers, even if money is tight and they’re not able to buy from you just now. Keeping alive that relationship with them through the hard times, will pay dividends in the long term. It builds trust. When they are in a position to buy what you offer, you will have the edge over other businesses who haven’t shown the same commitment.

But I don’t have an email list!

If you don’t have an email list, tools like Mailchimp make it easy to set one up.

And if you’ve got a list but haven’t sent an email for ages, don’t worry!  We’re living through strange times and the chances are people will be delighted to hear from you!

Here are some of my blog posts on the subject of email marketing to help get you started:

The Power of an Email Newsletter

How to create emails that get results

Why GDPR is good news

Or check out my email newsletter services.

The Power of an Email Newsletter

woman receives e-mail on mobile phone

Marketing research consistently shows that email is the most effective form of online marketing.

Email marketing is effective because you are talking to people who already have an interest in your business. They are your ‘Warm Leads’ in marketing-speak. And you are reminding them about your business, and how you can help them, on a regular and consistent basis.  So that, when they are ready to buy, you are top of mind. And ahead of your competitors!

90% of your potential clients are not ready to buy immediately

When potential clients first come across you, whether online or face to face, 90% of them are not ready to buy immediately.  But they are often happy to keep in touch and get to know more about your business over time. An e-newsletter gives you the opportunity to build relationships with your most likely purchasers.

The Money is in the List!

A list of past and prospective clients is an invaluable marketing asset.  Make full use of all those valuable contacts from networking meetings! If someone expresses an interest in your business, invite them to join your list.

You can make this more attractive by offering something of value in return for their email address. For example, a discount voucher, or a free e-book with useful tips and information.

An Email Marketing System will help you

An email marketing system like Mailchimp makes all this possible. And it helps you meet General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) requirements too.  Mailchimp, and other email marketing systems, will provide an Unsubscribe option on all emails, which is a GDPR requirement.  You also must have the consent of anyone you add to your list, and you must display a Privacy policy on your website, explaining how you use the data which you hold about your subscribers.  More about GDPR and email marketing

If you think that writing and emailing weekly or monthly newsletters is too much of an overhead, why not start with a bi-monthly or quarterly newsletter?  Or get some help. Check out my email newsletter packages.

If you’d like to get started with or improve your email marketing here are a couple of other articles you may find of interest.

How to create emails that get results

How to create a successful e-newsletter

Get in touch if you’d like some help with an e-newsletter.

We look at email newsletters in more depth at my 5 Steps workshop.

Keyword Research for Dummies

If you’ve ever looked into doing keyword research properly, you will know that the tools which are out there are expensive. And complicated.  But there is a tool which is free, and simple to use. In fact, you already know how to use it!  

Google Search Suggestions Can Help!

Whenever you do a search on Google, it will suggest different options for you to choose from. These options are based on Google’s own research into the most popular search terms used.  That’s pretty authoritative!

 If you’re not sure what keywords you should be using for your website and social media content, have a little play around with Google Suggest. You might be amazed at the ideas and the quality of the information you get from it.

 

Atomize Your Online Content!

atom image for atomize reference

What Is Atomizing?

“Atomizing” is the latest marketing idea to hit in the States.  The term “Atomizing” was coined by online marketing expert Todd Defren.  It means thinking about online content differently. Using your existing, high quality content in as many different ways, and reaching as many different audiences, as possible.  Forget the constant struggle to come up with new blog posts!  Focus on the really good stuff you’ve already got.  And promote and share it for all it’s worth!

How To Atomize

“Atomizing” takes things a few steps further!  It means breaking the content down into pieces and putting it back together in a meaningful way each time you post it. 

So it’s not about cutting and pasting the exact same words in lots of different places. It’s about using your content intelligently. Tailoring each piece of content to the platform, and to the audience who you think will see it there so that you get maximum value from it.

Some Atomizing Ideas

Jay Baer, another online marketing guru, has come up with 47 Tactics to Atomize Your Content Marketing!  A print article can be a series of tweets. A LinkedIn post can be a podcast.  

Check out my earlier post for 5 ways to use one piece of content to Get Full Value from it.  Newsletter article, social media posts, networking ’60 seconds’, LinkedIn post, video. 

Has this got you thinking about some different ways you could revive and reuse some of your existing content? 

How to Plan a Successful Christmas Marketing Campaign

christmas gift box with pine cones and cup of coffeeChristmas is a peak sales time for many businesses. Here are a few tips to help you maximise the effectiveness of your Christmas marketing.  Now is the time to start planning.

  1. Schedule – first of all put together a schedule of key dates and work back from those. Black Friday, Christmas Day, last day for Christmas orders……
  2. Be a helpful resource  – your customers will be bombarded with promotions and sales-y emails during the pre-Christmas period.  Be the voice of calm!  Write helpful, relevant social media posts and emails.  Whatever your audience will find useful and of interest. It’s worth putting some time and effort into creating quality, helpful content. People will remember you for it.  This will depend on your business but some examples would be:
    • Advice on planning a Christmas party
    • Shopping ideas for those ‘difficult to buy for’ people!
    • Ways to minimise stress during the festive period
  3. Make the most of the personal. One of the advantages of being a small business is that you can come across as more real and relevant to people’s lives than a big business.  Make the most of personal experiences, whether about your clients or about you, to promote your products or services. Do you have photos, videos or stories from previous Christmasses that you can use?

Use your experience and your imagination to come up with effective, relevant and attention-grabbing ideas!

And Finally…..  These Online Marketing Principles Work All Year Round!

The three key principles  –  Scheduling, Relevance and Personal Connection –  apply all year round, to all types of business. They’re not just for Christmas!  So, even if yours is a business that isn’t focussed on Christmas sales, you can apply these principles very effectively to any online marketing campaign.

Happy Christmas Marketing!