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Is Your Web Copy Full of Holes?

Holes? Yes. Holes. If you've written your web copy without a single call to action, you've effectively filled it will holes. Just as a hole-ridden bucket will spill water everywhere, your call to action free website is haemorrhaging customers. It doesn't matter how much traffic you're getting to your website, sales copy without a call to action is like opening the door for them and sending them off in the direction of your competitors. Your call to action is your opportunity to build a relationship with a customer. It invites them to get in touch with you and talk to you about their problems, so you can show them how you'll improve their life. You may be of the opinion that your customers are bright enough to know that they need to get in touch if they want to learn more without being ...

The internet is a crowded place, so it's important your online profile is loud enough to stand out from all the others. As you know, content drives the internet, but it's only going to work for your marketing strategy if people are reading it. So how do you make sure you’re not talking to an empty room? Of course, there's SEO. That means your articles and blogs should include the keywords you are using to attract customers, but not so crammed with them they become meaningless drivel. Stuff’ your articles with keywords they will look and feel amateurish and no one will want to read them. If you're one of the dinosaurs who still hangs on to theban old days of keyword stuffing, here's what Google’s Matt Cutts has to say on the matter: “…We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people ...

  “Through our organisational changes we’ll strategically transition towards a more customer centric approach. Going forward, by leveraging KPIs this paradigm shift will cultivate a results orientated environment cultivating workable growth strategies.”   Well, that’s a few seconds of my life I’ll never get back. Marketing-speak, corporate jargon, or whatever else you care to call it should be banned. A staple of the corporate world, it seems to be their way of saying a lot without actually saying anything. The general census amongst the business world is that it: Sounds impressive Is a necessary part of doing business Is expected by their customers Wrong, wrong and wrong. Presenting your marketing in that style makes me (the reader) think that actually you have no idea what you’re talking about. Especially when I ask for clarification and your response is a barrage of alternative marketing terms that also mean nothing. The problem is that ...

In the ever-changing world of search engine optimisation the link remains a valuable commodity. As an internet marketer however, you’ll also know how frustrating the link building world can be. Day after day you spend hours crafting high quality content that really adds value to your audience (or pay someone else to do it for you). After a few days another site picks it up and they reference it in their article. Happy days. You sit back and wait for that wonderful follow link to take effect only to discover their policy is to add nofollow links. Pants. Now what do you do other than say “thank you” and sulk? Before you get too down hearted, it’s worth remembering that a nofollow link can be very valuable. No really, it can. Look at it this way, the website in question picked up your article because they thought it ...

Copywriting With Emotion Sells – Fact

  “Emotion!!!  “Are you serious?  “Our business is a serious one; we don’t want copy littered with emotional triggers for goodness sake.  “Our audience are professionals, well educated and intelligent. They want facts, facts, facts.” Are you sure about that? It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were educated or your socio-economic standing, emotion will play a big part in your decision-making. How do you write emotionally? You don’t. Eh? Your writing doesn’t have to be emotional, but your message must resonate with your reader to evoke an emotional response. No, that doesn't mean you want them to burst into tears, or jump for joy. It means your copy must empathise with them. Think about what you do and then think about how it affects your customer. I’m not just talking about in economic terms or business success (if you’re a B2B business), but in a wider context. For example, how will ...

Video Marketing – Being a Great Interviewee

Video marketing should already be part of your marketing strategy. Engaging with your audience in an authentic way is vital for the success of your marketing, which is why you have to be sure you’re coming across the right way in your videos. Whether you’re presenting a new product, talking about a service or being interviewed as a subject matter expert you have to be able to showcase your company’s personality. So how do you do that? Why? Every video must have a purpose. Your audience are watching you because they have a need that has to be fulfilled, so make sure you give them what they want. A video that just talks about how great your company is will fall flat. Why? Your audience don’t want to know about that, they just want to know how you’re going to make their life better. So tell them. Be yourself Yes, you’re an ...

Writing for the web isn’t difficult, but it is something you need to get to grips with if you want your content strategy to be effective. Below is a list of the most important things to think about when writing for the web. Important information first Forget story structures, your readers don’t have time to wade through a load of fluff before getting to the main course. Kick off with the most important information first by adopting the inverted pyramid method. The first paragraph or two should contain everything they need to know with a more in-depth explanation coming further down should they want to know more. Who’s your audience? If you don’t know who you're writing for you won’t know what to write. Think about whether they’ll be interested in what you have to say. Will it add value to them? Will they want to share it with others? Simple English Please, please resist ...

How to Run a Successful Corporate Blog

Corporate blogs can be a nightmare. Why? One of the main reasons is that it involves multiple contributors. You might think that’s a good thing because it shares the workload. True, but it also means it can be a headache to coordinate. One poor sole will be tasked with chasing up the contributors to make sure a regular stream of content is published. Mind you, that’s not the biggest problem. That comes down to continuity. Speaking with one voice Every company has a brand voice. The problem with multiple contributors is that you’ll get a vast array of writing styles that can create a cacophony of noise that will put readers off. Some people are naturally gifted writers whereas others are not. Some people will be able to write in engaging, simple language that everyone can understand. Others only write in complex terms that result in a meaningless article that leaves everyone scratching their ...

Ask any freelancer what’s the most frustrating thing about their business and they’ll probably say the inconsistent level of work. One minute they’re drowning under an influx of projects and the next there’s nothing but tumbleweed blowing through their office. I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. So what can be done about it? Can anything be done about it? Even if you're lucky enough to have a bank of retainer clients, sooner or later you’re going to hit a dry patch. Client churn is a natural part of business, so you can never rest on your laurels just because, at the moment, you have a healthy monthly income. Where do your clients come from? I’m sure you have a favourite way of attracting clients: Through website traffic By blogging and article marketing Through social media Face-to-face networking Those aren’t the only means of getting clients, but they’re certainly ...

As a company owner, you love to shout about the values you hold dear. You tell your website readers that you value your customers, go out of your way to provide the level of service they demand, your products and services are designed with your customers’ needs in mind… Pretty standard stuff. The problem is the rest of your website. Is it displaying those values? What is your website telling your customers? OK, a prospective client has just landed on your website. They navigate to your about page and read all about how you value your customers. Great. Then they head back to your home page to see whether you’ll be able to help them. Ah. Problem. Your home page content is telling them all about your company’s growth over the past few years. Apparently, your turnover is the fastest growing in your sector. In fact you’ve developed an award winning company ...

Failing to Proofread Could Cost You £8.8 Million

  Really? £8.8 million? I kid you not. A recent article in The Guardian reported how a simple proofreading blunder has cost Companies House £8.8 million. What did they do? Add an erroneous "s". In 2009, Companies House recorded information stating that Taylor & Sons Ltd (a 124 year old Welsh engineering firm employing more than 250 people) had been wound up. This resulted in orders being cancelled, contracts being lost and credit from suppliers being withdrawn. The error led to the company going into administration and being dissolved in 2014. Companies House should have recorded the information under Taylor & Son Ltd - a completely different company. Even though, 3 days after the error, Companies House corrected the information it was too late and the damage had been done because the information had spread across the internet like wildfire. Taylor & Sons Ltd obviously sued Companies House and were awarded ...

  Where did you start? If you want your digital marketing strategy to be effective you have to start at the right place. Where's that? Right at the beginning - how will you change your customers' lives for the better? What is that they really want? More money? More time? To be more successful? To be seen as a supporter for a cause? To be more stylish? You can't create a digital marketing strategy without knowing what your brand offers. The same goes for your brand's tone of voice. How can you know how to present your information without knowing what it is you're offering? The language you use is directly linked to your customers and how you will help them. A lot of companies will opt for flowery, descriptive language just because it sounds good, but what about substance? OK, let's say you've identified the benefits of your offering, you know who ...

How long should it be? That is a question people ask when planning out their copy. "I'm writing a sales letter, how long should it be?" "I want 3 pages of web copy, each 650 words long." "I'm writing an article for LinkedIn, how many words should I use?"         Do you really think authors plan their novels by deciding how many words it should be in advance? No. They use however many words they need to tell their story. The same goes for your copywriting. Stop planning your copy by the number of words it contains If you're writing an article, blog post, case study etc., (where there is no editorial word limit) use as many words as you need to get your message across. If you're hiring  a copywriter: You shouldn't be paying by the word (steer clear of anyone who charges that way) By imposing a word limit ...

What is the Ideal Length For Your Copy?

There is one question I am constantly asked: How long should my copy [insert "article", "blog", "newsletter" etc.] be? It's as if people expect a definitive answer that will result in a record number of shares, likes and traffic. The problem is it doesn't work that way. Your content should be as long as it needs to be. Mind you, having said that, for the world of social media the guys at Buffer and Sumall have come up with a spot of research to show some "ideal" figures that may help. Infographic from SmartInsights.

Managing Freelance Writing Help

The chances are you don't have the time or energy to produce all the content your company needs. Whether it's website copy or articles for your blog, writing and research take time so it can be more cost effective for you to hire in freelance help. Once you've done your research and found the writers you need you have to learn how to manage them. They will probably be working remotely, so your usual management style won't work. Plus, they are freelance and not permanent members of your team, which can lead to issues. If you want great work you have to manage your freelance writers effectively. Here are a few tips to help you out. 1.Phone To get the best work from someone you have to get to know them. You must also make sure they feel valued. The best way to do that is to ...

The Press Release Is Dead

Or is it? In the days before the internet, press releases were the main tool businesses had for getting their news out to where it mattered. It was the sole driving force behind brand awareness. They helped drive news (even if slightly skewed), get people and companies noticed and kept customers informed about what was going on. Then the internet came along. Now the marketing mill uses the power of blogs, social media and other real-time channels to get their news out. Newspaper circulation is dropping, TV audiences are diminishing and the reach of radio is contracting making the press release a less attractive form of communication. Then throw into the mix Google's assault on the humble release, in part caused by their over use by SEO firms causing the increase in low quality content and you've got a pretty strong case for their demise. So, ...

Complete Instagram Marketing Guide

Are you using Instagram as part of your marketing strategy? Do you want to, but are not sure where to start? Instagram is a social media platform that I've only dabbled in, but have been intrigued to see how other businesses are using it to promote their businesses. In my endless search for new ideas, I stumbled across this useful post on Social Media Examiner that provides links out to the most useful Instagram marketing information on the web. If you're interested and want to learn more, follow the link below. Your Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing    

Unless you’re living search engine optimisation night and day you probably can’t answer that question in any depth. The worrying thing is that a lot of “SEO experts” don’t seem to want (or be able to) answer it either. That makes is a tad difficult for you to sift out the good from the bad. Of course, one tip there would be to never respond to the small avalanche of SEO spam emails you get every day. So, what should your SEO be doing for you? Well, their job is to get your website visible, appearing in relevant search results. Note I used the word “relevant” – there’s no point in having top rankings for keywords that won’t bring in the customers. The things you’re looking for, from the top down, are: Improving your URL structure Your URL is the web address of your web page. For example, it ...

OK you’ve heard it all before. Content is vital to the success of your online marketing strategy. Is it though, or is it just one of those things marketers and copywriters tell you to drum up business? Yes, it is important because it gets you in the search results so this happens: Joe enters “wooden dog kennels” into Google The search results show an article you’ve written about what to look for when buying a dog kennel Joe is impressed with your knowledge and looks at your profile He likes what he sees and follows the link to your website He reads about your services and takes a look at your About page Joe is convinced yours is the company he wants to deal with and gets in touch You see, when potential customers are “Googling” they normally aren’t ready to buy because they are just in the research phase. That’s why content – whether it’s blogs, articles or the content ...

You, like most of the other business owners in your field, began content marketing with the best intentions. At the start you were full of enthusiasm, but over time it’s become a chore and frequently finds itself at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list. The problem isn’t that you don’t have anything to write about, it’s that you’re not seeing the results you want. You put this down to the fact that your customers don't want to read content, but it’s more to do with the fact that you’ve made at least one of the most common content marketing mistakes. Titles A common statistic that’s bandied about is that 8 out of 10 people read titles/headlines, but only 2 out of 10 actually read the full article. That would suggest all your time should be put into your headline. Whilst I agree that ...

What is it? Is it the headline? Perhaps the first paragraph? How about your offer? Or, maybe it's your call to action? No, hang on, what about the font and design that you use? What about the sign up form? If you listen to the copywriting great, David Ogilvy, he'll tell you that: "On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." OK, so the answer is your headline is the most important part of your landing page. Actually, no, that's not the answer. In simple terms there is no single element on a landing page that's more important. You need a strong headline to get people to read on. Your content needs to be strong if you want to keep them reading. Your call to action has to be compelling if you want them to sign up. Your sign up form has to ...

Repurpose Your Content to Keep Up With Demand

This one's short and sweet so won't take up a lot of your time. Having a break from work is great, but it normally has a knock on effect. At the end of last year you had good intentions of making sure your content schedule would be ready and raring to go at the beginning of January. The only problem is all the good intentions took a back seat and now you’re faced with an empty content calendar. Before you break out in a cold sweat, take a look through your archives. You’ll be surprised how much great quality stuff you’ve already got. All you have to do is find new ways of presenting the information. Old presentations can be turned into articles White papers can be serialised into blog posts Long articles can be broken down A collection of blogs can be turned into an eBook Old blog posts ...

Who are the scanners? They are people like you and me that read stuff on the web. Selling face-to-face is easy. Your potential customer is in front of you and you can use intonation, volume, pausing and the tone of your voice to catch their attention and get your point across. When you are trying to sell on the web you don't have those luxuries; all you have are words and how you write them. You see, when a guy (let’s call him Joe) lands on your website, he doesn’t settle down to read your copy word for word. Instead he skims and scans the text to try to pick out something that will grab his attention. That’s why the primary aim of your content is to interest the reader enough to pull them in and keep them hooked; in other words, and I’ve already said ...

I've spent many hours writing about the importance of clarity in your copy. Not only that, but I have had many conversations with clients explaining to them why I will be writing their content in simple language and steering clear of the technical jargon they are so fond of. The mistake most businesses make is that they write in a style they understand. The problem is a lot of the people who will be reading their marketing don't have the same level of understanding of their industry and, considering they are the ones who will be doing the buying, its essential what they read is written in simple language that clearly outlines what you (the business) can do for them. Here's a video from Matt Cutts of Google who backs me up.   Remember, write with minimal jargon and if you have to use it, make sure you explain the ...

The Ultimate Blogging Blog

No, I'm not going to lecture you on the importance of blogging because you already know why it's crucial to the success of your business. The problem is, although you understand why, you're so busy running your business and dealing with your customers you don't have time to generate the amount of content you need because it takes so long to write. You would think writing a blog is the easiest thing in the world to do, but even if you have a great idea for an article the chances are your mind will go blank as soon as you sit down and write. Not only that, you'll be so hung up on it being perfect you'll end up writing and re-writing until you reach the point that you get so frustrated you give up. The thing is, writing blogs isn't that hard. The more you do, the easier it becomes so it's important you ...

You did it! After a lot of time and money your corporate video is finally finished. The Board are thrilled with it, but now you have to make sure your brainchild works hard and brings in customers. Your initial thoughts are probably to get it loaded up to YouTube, get it on your website and optimise it for SEO (search engine optimisation) to grab a bit of traffic. That’s a start, but there’s so much more you could be doing to get a better return on your investment. Website Yes, you’ve put in on your website, but why only use it once? For arguments sake, let’s say it's a video demonstrating your new product. Don’t just hide it away on your product pages, put it on your home page too to highlight your latest offering. It goes without saying you have a blog (how else will you build your brand identity?), so write an article about it and ...

The Triple Threat of Copywriting

You’ve heard of triple threat in the entertainment world, right? If you haven’t it relates to a performer that excels in all three skills of acting, singing and dancing. So what is the triple threat in the sphere of copywriting? Basically, if you want to excel at copywriting your writing must: Engage Educate Persuade Engage A lot’s been written about creating copy that engages. It’s not one of the easiest things in the world to pull off, just ask any one of the millions of failed authors out there. If you want people to read your stuff you must engage with them. Just as a top flight author will adopt a style that draws you in, defining their characters in such a way as to make you care about what happens to them, it’s your job to write about the product or service you're trying to sell in a ...

Is that really a surprise? OK, granted the fact that it’s the UK that’s to hit this milestone first might be a surprise, but the fact that digital marketing and online media is commanding such a high percentage of annual spend isn’t. The research, carried out by GroupM (as reported in The Drum), shows that in 2015 £1 of every £2 spent on advertising in the UK will go to digital and online media. So what’s caused this surge? According to Adam Smith of GroupM, it’s down to the British embracing smartphone use: “The British are the most enthusiastic online shoppers in the world in terms of spend per head. And there has always been a high level of credit and debit card use [online]. On top of that Britons have rapidly embraced smartphone and tablet use, all of which has fuelled where ...

One Powerful Reason Why You Should Use Google+

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – you’re already battling to stay on top of your Twitter and Facebook feeds, how on earth are you supposed to maintain a Google+ account too? It’s one of those platforms that, on the face of it doesn't seem to have done much. Having said that it gives you the power to grow communities, keep track of people by placing them in circles and it is a great social media driver for your communications and information-rich content. There’s something else too; something that can really make a difference and raise your profile to stellar heights. Want to know what it is? Yeah, got your interest now, haven’t I? OK, I’ll tell you. Hangouts. That’s right. No other social media platform can do this. Using the hangout feature, you can give your business a human face. Its video conferencing that’s free (up to 10 participants), ...

You hear it all the time. If you want stand out from your competition you’ve got to have a unique selling point – a point of difference that no other company can offer. The problem is if you sell widgets, the chances are your widgets are very similar to those that your competitors sell. Sure, you might offer a few different gimmicks, but unless they are revolutionary there’s not a lot to distinguish your product from the one sold by the guys down the road. Before you hang your head in despair, all is not lost. All you have to do is look at things differently because there is something that makes you stand out from everyone else. Know what it is? It’s you. Your company runs in a unique way. Your values are very different from your competitors. So stop wasting time trying to compete on price, or trying to convince your customers that your ...