Category Archives: Web Clarity

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.

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.

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!

Get Full Value from your Online Content!

The great thing about marketing your business online is that mostly it’s free. Or should I say, it seems like it’s free.

  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – your account is free
  • Adding blogs to your website – free
  • Email marketing with Mailchimp. For lists of up to 2000 subscribers it’s  free

So what’s the downside?

Two things:

1. Eating up your precious time!

  • Social media is highly addictive.You can easily waste many hours having fun on Facebook!
  • Writing high quality content for web pages and blogs is very time-consuming
  • Email marketing systems like Mailchimp are very powerful. But learning how to use them takes a while 

2. Coming up with new ideas for content is stressful and difficult

It’s easy for new business owners to dive straight in, full of enthusiasm. They start to use lots of different online marketing tools to get their message out there. But, after an initial spurt of activity they quickly run out of steam. Short of ideas, and exhausted trying to keep up with it all while running a business! 

Time to go Back to Basics

Have a Plan and Get Organised!

Plan Ahead

Work out the topics you want to cover in your blogs or emails in advance. Ideally for the next 6 months. Then there are no last-minute panics because it’s time for another blog post and you’ve no idea what to write about!

Get Organised

With the right system in place you can get lots more value from each piece of content you write.This is called Repurposing your content. Here are some ideas for repurposing a blog post:

  • Use it as the main article in a newsletter
  • Take “snippets’ from it and use them as social media posts
  • Use it as a networking “60 seconds”
  • Adapt it into a LinkedIn post
  • Turn it into a video! Check out video creation platform Lumen5 

Make sure you include links to your other blog posts and to pages on your website. That you are making full use of every piece of content you produce. And encouraging prospective clients to buy from you as they get to know, like and trust you.

I hope some of these ideas work for you. Let me know how you get on!

Have you got a “So What?” website?! 

So you’re happy with the look and feel of your website, but you’re disappointed with the amount of business you get from it.

Lots of websites look nice and contain interesting information, but they don’t really grab their visitors’ attention. Visitors leave the website thinking “I’ll remember that business. I’ll come back later.” But usually they don’t!

They get distracted by other things. When they do get round to making a purchase decision they will have forgotten all about you.

You need a Call to Action!

Most of the people who show an interest in your service or product are not ready to buy now. Over 90% of them are just looking around and checking things out. The secret is to keep in touch with these potential buyers so that when they are ready to buy, you are the first person they think of.

That means that your website needs to grab some contact details from them, so you can keep in touch. Every page of your website needs a Call to Action.

You offer them something of value for free in return for their email address. This is called a Lead Magnet. Your offer can be a free:

  • E-book 
  • Checklist
  • Hints and Tips sheet
  • Email training course 
  • Discount voucher

Once they are on your email list keep them interested with a regular feed of high quality information in an easy-to-read, accessible style. You can use video too. 

The Money is in the List!

It’s a marketing mantra that “The money is in the list!” These interested website visitors are your warm leads. Don’t lose them! Get them on your list with a compelling Call to Action and Lead Magnet.

Encourage interested website visitors to follow you on social media as well. Make sure your social media icons are in a prominent place on very webpage. Even better, plugins are available for WordPress websites to display your recent social media posts. 

Contact me for a free ‘Call to Action’ consultation.

How to create blog posts that will attract new clients

 

How can you make sure that your blog posts get picked up, read and acted on?

  1. Choose your topic with your audience in mind. Write about something that your target clients are interested in and give them lots of useful information. Show that you are an expert and that you are happy to share your knowledge. Demonstrating that you are genuinely interested in helping them.
  2. Give your blog a catchy headline. It needs to stand out so that people notice in in their search results and want to click on it. Get ideas from looking at the headlines in tabloid newspapers and glossy magazines. ‘How to’ blog posts and lists e.g. ‘3 ways to…’ are always popular. 
  3. Make it easy to read on their phone, ipad or laptop. Break up your text using headings, sub headings and bulleted lists (great for the search engines too) and short sentences and paragraphs. Leave lots of white space (or breathing space!) Keep your language simple and cut out any unnecessary words. Short and sweet does the job!
  4. Don’t forget your Call to Action. Make it easy for your readers to take the next step, whether that’s to call you, make a booking, sign up for an offer…. 

How to Get Your Blog Picked Up by the Search Engines

It’s all about your keywords and keyphrases. Firstly and most importantly use them in the blog title. Then put them in your headings and subheadings and in your content. But don’t overdo it. Keep it natural. 

 The search engines are looking for:

High quality content that matches the search terms entered and answers the question being asked

 Not sure how to start? Or you started a blog but now you’re stuck? Get in touch. I can help!

Why GDPR is Good News

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect next month on May 25th. They are designed to give individuals more control over their data and how it is used.

From a small business point of view this should be seen as good news. For two reasons:

  1. You will no longer receive annoying emails from people who met you briefly at a networking event and then added you to their email list without asking you first.
  2. If you use email as part of your marketing mix, GDPR gives you an incentive to review your list and make sure that you are using it in the best way.

Email Marketing and GDPR

If you send marketing emails to clients and prospective clients you need to be aware that under GDPR there are two main criteria among others (6 in total) under which it is acceptable to hold personal data for e-marketing purposes:

  1. Legitimate interest – holding the personal details of past and present clients should fall into this category. As long as your emails are related to the product or service they have bought from you.
  2. Consent – it is OK to hold the details of individuals or companies who have given you their explicit consent. You need to be able to prove this. If you are using an email marketing system, such as Mailchimp, this should be stored and accessible on your account. If you have added people to that list without their consent, or if you are not using an email marketing system, you should contact those subscribers and confirm they are happy to continue to be on your mailing list.

Two further important points:

Unsubscribe

Anyone on your mailing list must be able to unsubscribe easily.

Privacy Policy

You must have a Privacy policy displayed on your website explaining what data you hold and how you use it. If you gather data on your website you must also have a Cookies policy. This can be included in your Privacy policy.

If your mailing list has evolved over time and you’re not sure how some of the names on it came to be there, GDPR is the event you need to carry out a tidy up. Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with potential clients, and to stop emailing people who are no longer interested. See it as a way of giving your mailing list a Spring Clean!

If you are using a recognised email system, and all your subscribers have actively opted into it, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. GDPR is simply enforcing an ethical approach to email marketing which we should all welcome.

If you hold personal data for reasons other than email marketing a Data Audit is advisable. For example, if you employ staff there are other considerations regarding holding personal data which you need to check out with a HR specialist.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website has all the information about GDPR. If you have any worries or need further help and advice speak to a legal professional.