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What Exactly is “Tone of Voice”?

Tone of voice is one of those terms you hear bandied about by marketers and copywriters, but what does it really mean? How can a piece of writing have a voice? It doesn't make sense...or does it? For a moment I want you to think about your marketing writing, or copy. What does it do? You probably think "well, it sells." OK, to a certain extent that's true, but it does more than just sell. Take a look at your website. Now put yourself in the shoes of your website visitors. They don't know anything about you, so why should they buy from you? Because your website tells them to? No. They will only buy from you if they: Like your product Like the price Like you That last one is the most important one. They have to like and trust you before they'll buy from you. If they were stood in front of you, it would be easy. You'd greet them with a warm smile, ...

Don't you just love email marketing? No stamps, no paper and no ink costs - just instant sales messages that can reach thousands of people in an instant. The only problem is, because it's so easy, you have a tendency to jump in without thinking. Don't worry, I'm not just singling you out, most businesses do exactly the same. You see, email marketing has developed a bad name over the years. Your in box is probably a good illustration of why. How many spam emails do you have to delete every morning? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? There lies the problem - because email marketing is so easy, companies send them out blindly without thinking about the recipient. Who are you emailing? I'm going to pause there for a moment and consider the person who's in box your email lands. Why did you send it to them? Have they opted in to your ...

The Reasons Why Spam Emails Fail

This blog first appeared on our sister site, Freelance Copywriter's Blog, however we wanted to share it with you too.   You may think it rather odd that I’m writing about the failure rate of spam emails. Well, the reason for my madness is that you can learn a lot from the spammers about how not to do email marketing. When you send out emails to potential clients, do you think carefully about your subject lines, presentation and content before hitting send? I’m not going to go into detail about how to make your email marketing work, if you follow that link you’ll find a post that tells you all about that, instead I want to take an example of a spam email and highlight the areas the sender has got wrong. You see if you get the same areas wrong your emails could end up looking like spam and that’s something ...

The Hidden Value of Your About Us Page

You already know that the most effective website copywriting is completely focused on the reader. It should talk about them, tell them how you can help them and how their lives or business will be improved when they become a customer of yours. Although that is widely regarded as the best approach, it leaves many companies frustrated. When do they get to talk about themsleves? After all, it's their website so there should be a place for them to shout about how amazing they are. For many, the About Us page is seen to be the place to launch into the "We are market leaders...." spiel, shouting from the rooftops about their amazing credentials. Granted, to a certain point that is what the About Us page is for. After all, it may not be the page on your website that gets the most traffic, but it is one that many people will check ...

Don’t Outsource Your Social Media Activities

What is social media about? Customer interaction, showing your human side and getting your thoughts out there for all to see. Did you notice that I used the word "your" in that sentence? If you get someone else to deal with your social media how can the comments be your thoughts and how can you react quickly to your followers and fans? Social media = relationships At the risk of repeating myself, social media is about building relationships with people. It's not a direct sales channel. The only way you can build those relationships is by interacting with people. That means you need to be there, monitoring your social media channels so you can respond in an appropriate and timely manner. If you outsource, it's a but like going out on a date but sending someone else in your place because you'd rather stay in and watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey. You probably think it's going ...

What is the main advantage that high street retailers have over online marketers? Their customers can feel, touch and see their products and they can chat to someone about them there and then. In contrast, when you rely on your website your customers only have your written content to go by and no one to answer their questions for them instantly. That's why you must get the right content on your website. 4 main content types Think for a moment about how you like to get your information. Do you prefer reading, or is video more up your street? Everyone is different, which is why your website has to cater for all tastes. Product information Whether you sell services or products, this content is going to be the main source of information for your customers. It should not only focus on the features, but also the benefits your products or services offer your customers. This can be done through ...

What’s Your Writing Voice Like?

When you set out to write a fresh piece of marketing copy, what is in the forefront of your mind? Your audience? Your message? Your product knowledge? How about your voice? No, I haven't lost my marbles. How you write will have a big effect on how well your marketing message is received by your audience and therefore deserves as much thought as the actual content of your marketing piece. To make your message resonate you have to inject personality into what you write. If you don't your words come across as flat, empty and almost thrown together. For some, writing with personality comes easily, but for many it's a challenge. Not because of their inability to write, but mainly due to their conditioning throughout their academic life. All through your school and college years you're taught to write in a bland, academic way, forcing out every ...

Most business owners are obsessed by the amount of traffic they get to their website. You've no doubt heard them boasting at networking events about how many thousands of unique visitors they get month, figures at their finger tips because they check their analytics every week to boost their ego. They smile smugly as they discover they have oodles more traffic than you do. So what? Yes, they may get tons of people visit their site, but the more important metric to consider is how many of those convert into customers. What's your traffic doing? When you first launched your business online, your budget was probably fairly small. You commissioned an OK website and wrote the content yourself. With a bit of DIY SEO you started getting traffic. The problem is that traffic is still coming, but your sales are floundering - your visitors aren't converting into ...

How to Spot an Unnatural Link

Google is cracking down on dodgy links. Sites are being penalised left, right and centre so it's vital you know what constitutes an unnatural link to make sure you don't fall foul of Google's wrath. An unnatural link (in simple terms) is a link that only exists to manipulate the page rank or search engine results of your website and one that's been placed on a website without the owner's consent. Still confused? Here's an example of what would be classed as an unnatural link: Pretend for a moment you've just been to a health spa and had a wonderfully relaxing time. You want to tell others about your experience so you write a blog about it, linking to the health spa's website. There's no problem with that unless you wrote it because they offered you a free weekend or a set of treatments, ...

  This article is my own personal view about this particular question. In my mind, your marketing should always be about your customers. That means no grand statements about how great you are, how big your premises are or how you’re the ‘best in your field’ (unless you have some concrete evidence to back up such a claim). Everything you write must be about your customers, how you can benefit them and how their lives will be so much better if they buy from you. I’m better than you It’s very tempting to write something that tells your customers how crap your competition are in comparison to you. You could shout from the rooftops about how you’re cheaper (although they could lower their prices and blow that argument out of the water), that you give better customer service than they do etc., etc. But is that really the right way to be going? Is that the best way to ...

This post first appeared on my other blog, Freelance Copywriter's Blog, but I wanted to share it with you here too. Social media changes faster than a fast thing. It’s important to read up on the latest comings, goings and techniques if you want your social media strategy to continue to work well for you. A recent post on SocialMediaExaminer looks at some surprising social media research findings that will affect your social media strategy. Below is a summary of the findings (the link above takes you to the whole article). 1. Facebook – the social login favourite Research by eMarketer shows that the majority of people prefer to use their Facebook (51%) credentials when logging into websites. How does that affect you? Well, if your website requires the user to register before accessing information you could enhance your number of registrations by offering a Facebook login option. There is a concept known as password fatigue ...

Are you doing it Better Than the Big Boys?

What am I talking about? Customer service. I’ve often said that customer service is the one area a small business like yours can out-do the larger competition. According to a recent article in The Drum, two thirds of the public (68%) have had poor phone experiences with big brands and 36% said this would definitely make them consider changing company. The research, undertaken by Smith and Milton, focuses on the financial services where telephone remains a key customer service channel. Although 40% thought financial services brands don't listen to customer complaints, 39% thought they did. When you drill down into the results more closely they showed that less than a third of those aged between 18 and 24 believe brands pay attention to them (46% of 55+ year olds thought they did). The research shows there is definitely room for improvement within that sector, but I think their results should also be heeded across all ...

Before I begin I just want to say one thing - you're probably going about content marketing all wrong. You're probably putting out blogs and articles whenever you get a minute and assuming thousands of people are lapping up your words of wisdom. OK, you don't get comments, but they're busy people and don't have time to offer their opinion, or say "I agree", or "nice post" or anything else for that matter. You see, for your strategy to work you have to think about: Why you're producing the content you're publishing How effective it's being The type of content you're putting out Scratching your head yet? At the moment you're writing content for the sake of it. Your content strategy Most content produced by companies is text (yes, I'm guilty of it too) - blogs, articles, newsletters, emails etc. Yes, it's a good way to get information across, ...

How to Improve Your Blogging

How can you get better at blogging? Practice. You won't be a success over night because you have to build an audience, find your own blogging personality and spend time testing different approaches until you find the one that suits your audience. Sound hopeless? It's not. Here are 7 simple things you can do to help you build a strong, readable blog that people will find and fall in love with. 1. What do your readers want? If you don't know, find out. There's no point in writing loads of posts if your target audience isn't interested in them. I love cycling, but that doesn't mean my readers (who are generally looking for tips on marketing and copywriting) share my passion. If I started writing loads of posts about my pedal-powered exploits they'd soon get cheesed off and head elsewhere for the information they need. When ...

How to Win The Social Media Game – The Greggs Method

  Things go wrong. It doesn’t matter how thorough you are, how much attention you give something or how conscientious you are – sooner or later something will go wrong. The problem is that thanks to social media, when we make a cock up everyone gets to hear about it. Not only that, but everyone feels obliged to give you their opinion on the matter too – whether you ask for it or not. A bit like all those people who read your blogs and never leave a comment until they find a small typo or grammatical error. Then they let you have it with both barrels as if you’d committed a deadly sin rather than just typed ‘you’ instead of ‘your’. You can’t do anything about people like that when you’re putting stuff out on the internet, but you can do something about how you react. If you launch in, all guns blazing, you’ll intensify the ...

A call to action is essential if your marketing is to be successful. Without it there's a very good chance that your potential customer will wander off and go and buy elsewhere. Why? It's essential you tell your customer what you want them to do. You've just spent ages crafting fantastic content that outlines the benefits they'll receive by using your product or service, so don't let them disappear. Tell them to get in touch with you, to buy or to sign up for your newsletter. The most common call to actions are the simple "Buy now" or "Learn more" buttons, but are they the most effective? You see them everywhere so you probably think it is, but you'd be wrong. Even the tech giant Dell used "Learn more", that is until recently. The problem Dell had was that the people browsing their ...

Stop Trying to Sell Through Your Marketing

SELL! SELL! SELL! You know what? I hate it when companies try to sell me stuff. Whether it's over the phone, through the mail or via email, their constant "buy from us because we're really great" gets really boring. When will they learn that I'm not going to buy something just because they tell me I should. Am I alone in this, or does it rile you too? According to research carried out by Neilsen I'm not alone. Less than 50% of customers trust any form of advertising. That's not great news for business owners because it means all that pushing and over-promoting you've been doing isn't effective. Want to know why? It's because consumers want more; they want you to provide them with information, tips and advice and then, and only then, will they consider you as a potential supplier for what they're looking for because marketing ...

The Rise of The Selfie [Infographic]

The Selfie is fast becoming a popular form of marketing for companies. What began as a harmless bit of fun, taking a snap shot of yourself in an interesting (or not so interesting) place, has turned into something exploited by celebrities to grab a few extra headlines and now, something that's being adopted by businesses to boost their marketing strategies. I came across this infographic on Slideshare, created by Unmetric for The Shorty Awards, which gives a brief overview of the increased use of the selfie in business. "Year of the Selfie" [INFOGRAPHIC] from Unmetric

Are there any tricks to email marketing? In a word, no. Of course, great copy, design and images will all help your email get opened, read and actioned, but there are no 'tricks' to success. The only way to get results is to avoid dodgy practices. How to lose subscribers If you want to lose subscribers hand over fist there are a couple of practices I can recommend. 1. Sleight of subject line You want to make sure your emails get opened, so it's tempting to dabble in the dark arts. The dark art I'm alluding to here is using a subject line that will tempt your recipients to open your email. You may not think there's anything wrong with that and, assuming it relates to the content of your email, you'd be right. But the problems start when it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the email's ...

I've lost count of the number of times I've written about how to create copy that gets ranked. Time and time again I've shouted about natural copy and why the phrase 'keyword density' should never be uttered in public again. That's why I jumped for joy when I came across this infographic on ContentVerve.com. It neatly sums up how SEO copywriting should be in today's online environment. Take a look at the 13 tips is contains and give your online copy a visibility boost.

Writing Copy is a Lot Like Alpine Cycling

  Really? Trust me, after having spent the last 10 days cycling in the French Alps, I am well qualified to make that judgement. There’s nothing like cycling for hours on end up hill to clear your mind. One climb in particular, Col de Rosalend (a super category climb of 20km), reminded me of what I go through every time I take on a new copywriting project. Surrounded by stunning scenery, it doesn’t take long for your mind to be cleared of all those annoying things that have been bugging you for days. That is stage 1 of creating great copy. Stage 1 When you begin a project its important you forget who you are. The writing you create has to represent your client. There’s no room for your personality. It’s your job to forget who you are and how you would phrase things, and take on the persona of your client. That’s why its important to meet ...

Writing Blog Posts That Get Noticed

The best way to get your business noticed is to blog. Writing about your niche not only demonstrates your knowledge, positioning you as an expert in your field, it also gives added value to your customers. The only problem is that’s not the best-kept secret in the world, which means that everyone is doing it. Because everyone is doing it, it can be a real challenge to make your voice heard above everyone else’s. How do you make sure your blog posts stand out and don't just disappear into the background? Variety is the spice of blogging Can it really be that simple? Yes. If you churn out the same old same old week after week, your readers will get bored and wonder off to find something a bit more exciting. Although text-heavy blog posts (like this one) are great for getting information across, they don’t suit ...

Yes, being a copywriter I'm slightly biased on this one and, if pushed, would have to say it's the copy on your website, but that's not what this post is about. That's right, I'm not going to talk about copywriting. The one thing that makes a website successful is the one thing that's constantly over looked. Thousands of websites are missing the point completely - they're trying to be pretty. Yes, I agree that an attractive website is going to make people stop and look, but if you want them to find you and buy from you there's a bit more to it than that. Function vs looks Too many businesses want their website's to look beautiful. Design is at the top of their must-have list, but often at the expense of its functionality. One of the biggest and most successful websites on the internet is Amazon. Is ...

The best marketing strategy your business can have is a varied one. Just publishing high quality content, although important, isn't enough. Your customers are all very different (even though they face common issues which bring them to you) and like to receive information in different ways. That's why the content you produce should be in a visual, audio and textual format. For the purposes of this post I want to look at video as part of your marketing strategy and in particular, explainer videos. What is an explainer video? It's basically what it says: a video that explains the benefits of a product, service. Google, as you know, loves video, so getting a video on your website, YouTube channel and social media platforms is going to be a very smart move. Here are a couple of examples. The first is one I produced for my business and the second is one I scripted for a client.

Before you turn pale, I’m not talking about a whole redesign. Yes, it’s great to have the most modern looking site with all the latest bells and whistles, but there are far cheaper ways of helping your website continue to perform well. Think of it like a cyber spring clean. 1. Take a look at your code OK, you may not be a techie, but that doesn’t mean you should over look your site’s coding. If necessary, get someone to help you on this one because it’s well worth the effort. A website with clean, organised code is a site that will load quickly and make the life of the search engines easier because it will be a synch to crawl. 2. Tags and descriptions You must be familiar with these because your SEO strategy will demand the constant tweaking of your title tags and META descriptions. Just in case you’re not up to speed with these little ...

How do you Engage People Through Copywriting?

You see it mentioned all the time - your writing must engage your reader if it is to do it's job properly. Great, but that doesn't tell you how to write it to make it engaging. Simplifying things, there are two main types of content: that which asks the reader to take an action (i.e. "buy now") and that which encourages them to interact with you (i.e. social sharing, blog commenting etc.) Both require engaging copy, but the latter is the one that gets conversations started. And it's conversations that lead to strong relationships. OK, that's great, but how do you write in an engaging way? How to create engaging copy that works Before you can master engaging copy, you have to know who your audience is and what they want. The idea behind generating content that will kick start a conversation is to give information that your audience is interested in, needs to know and will ...

Write With Creativity and Dare to be Different

It’s often said that it’s impossible to have an original thought. What do you think? Everything we hear, see and read has an effect on what we do. I remember writing a sick note for one of my boys many years ago. At the time I was studying for my OU degree, looking at the 19th century novel. The note I wrote could have some straight from the pages of Jayne Eyre. Without realising it, the style and voice of Jayne Eyre had wheedled its way into my subconscious. You’ve probably experienced it yourself at some point. Perhaps you’ve found yourself writing like a favourite author or speaking like a favourite actor? That’s why it’s so difficult to come up with an idea that is completely original. So where does that leave your marketing strategy? What follows in an excerpt from a blog I wrote last year that helps illustrate this point and how you can ...

Encourage More People to Read Your Blog

If your blog doesn’t get traffic, it’s just a space on the internet with a load of thoughts scribbled all over it. The power of blogging comes from the people who find, read and share your stuff, so how do you attract them? Here are a few ideas to get you started. 1. What are they looking for? People read blogs because they are looking for something. It could be information, ideas or inspiration. But whatever it is, if you can provide it, they’ll find you. Although that sounds obvious, there are a number of bloggers out there who insist on writing stuff about the things they’re interested in rather than what their readers want. That’s not to say there’s no room for personal blogs that are about random things, but if you’re using your blog to promote your business you must write about what ...

Make Your Offer Irresistible

Offers are what bring your customers flocking, but only if they hit the spot. How do you make sure that happens? Simple – you must understand your audience. These 7 tips will help you discover who your audience is and how you can make them buy. 7 ways to create a must-have offer 1. Audience You can’t create a winning offer if you don’t know whom you’re selling to. For example, if you wanted to sell washing machines you’ll have more luck aiming at homeowners, newly weds and families than teenagers. Make sure you do your homework and work out who you are selling to, what challenges they face and what they really, really want. 2. Your offer’s value I’m not talking about the cost to you, but its perceived value in the eyes of your customer. They’ll only be tempted if they believe its value to ...

Creating Powerful Press Releases [Infographic]

How good are you at telling the world about your achievements? Press releases seem to be dying. Few companies use them to their full potential. Regardless of whether you want to use them on line or off, they can generate a huge amount of interest in your company and don't have to cost the earth to produce. Having said that, one of the main problems editors have with them is the vast number of poorly written releases. Common mistakes that create poor press releases The first thing to remember about press releases is that they are there to announce news. That seems to be the major stumbling block for many companies. Intent on selling, they create press releases that are really nothing more than a thinly veiled sales pitch. Editors aren’t daft, they will be able to spot that a mile off and the press release will end up in the bin. Another problem is that they are frequently ...