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It is a fact that not every business that uses social media monitors their accounts effectively. How can I be so sure about that? Because I've lost count of how many times I've put a comment on a Facebook page or sent a tweet and never heard anything back. Why ignore your customers (or potential customers)? It seems crazy to me that they're willing to invest in a social media presence, but do nothing with it. They don't seem to understand that Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all the others are a two way street. Yes, they are a great way to get a message out, but equally they are an invaluable tool to interact with customers. It doesn't take a lot to make a good impression and show yourself as a company that cares about its customers. Show yourself Getting set up on social media is easy, making people aware of your presence is not. Once you have all ...

Does Your Business Need a Website to Succeed?

You would have thought the simple answer to that was yes, but it would seem as though some business owners still need convincing. According to the Office of National Statistics, 21% of small firms still don't have websites, which is astonishing. They are mainly plumbers, florists, small retailers, decorators etc., who rely on word of mouth. That's all well and good, but what happens when business slows (as it does from time to time), how will they find new clients to make ends meet? If you're one of the 21% it may also be worth noting that research conducted by O2 showed that a quarter of the 2000 people they polled said they wouldn't use a small business if they didn't have a website. Although you may not see the need for a web presence it would appear as though your potential customers do. What is stopping from you having a website? The most popular ...

Why Do Your Facebook Updates Fall Flat?

When using your personal Facebook account your updates are always met with a tonne of likes and comments. So how come the stuff you're putting out on your business Facebook page is going unnoticed? No one is liking them, no one is commenting on them. Perhaps all your fans are out and their phones are switched off? Or perhaps you're not putting out stuff that interests them because if it doesn't appeal to them they're not going to take any notice of it. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make - do any sound familiar? 1. Wide of the mark If you're using questions in an attempt to get people to respond, what exactly are you asking? The best responses come from questions that are very specific and ask for an opinion on one particular issue. If your questions are too broad no one will bother answering. Also, if you ask something that's ...

What Are Your Thoughts About Facebook’s Hashtags?

You've been using hashtags for a while on Twitter, but Facebook has now got in on the act too. On Twitter they help you keep up with particular topics and what's trending, so are you getting the same value from them on Facebook? One things is certain and that's the fact that advertisers will have a field day with them. Advertising on Facebook is already highly targeted, but the introduction of the hashtag means retailers can find the hotspots of user activity around events and topics to help them target even more potential customers. As for Facebook users, well, they'll be able to find out what their friends think about trending topics by grouping comments together simply by adding the same hashtag alongside a keyword. Plus, they can search for hashtags using the Facebook search bar. This is what Facebook has to ...

Seem like an odd blog topic to you? Surely it's simple to find what you need on Google: you just type in your search term, click and hey presto. But have you noticed that the results aren't always what you were expecting? If you are wanting to do a national search for a supplier or product, you have experienced the frustration of only getting local search results. That is also a problem for online retailers, especially those that market to a national rather than local audience. So what can you do about it? Well, if you want wider results to make sure you get the best possible product or service, all you have to do is go to the Google home page, click 'settings' (at the bottom of your screen), go to 'location' and enter UK (or whichever country or region you ...

Content, content, content. You know you need it as part of your marketing strategy, but how on earth are you supposed to come up with a constant stream of ideas? That fear may put you off the whole idea of content marketing, but it shouldn't because it's not that hard to come up fresh content if you know where to look for ideas. If you just sit in front of your computer and wait for inspiration to strike, you could be there a while. Granted, you may come up with a few ideas that way, but it's unlikely to be sustainable. So where else can  you look? Sure, reading around your topic helps to get ideas from other blogs, magazine articles and news stories, but if you want to keep your ideas fresh you're going to have think a bit differently. Below are 5 sources of ideas you may not have though of. 1. Google Google ...

6 Tips for Effective Proofreading

Before I begin let me point out that nobody is perfect. If you are the type of person who revels in making others feel small because they made a mistake, I'd just like to point out all the blunders you've made in your life. As a copywriter, I am well and truly in the firing line when it comes to my blogs. Yes, I am human and yes, every now and then a typo will slip through. But is it the end of the world? No. Why do they slip through sometimes? Simply because I am a working copywriter who has stacks of client work to get through and doesn't always have time to go through blogs with a fine tooth comb. Is that an excuse for errors? No, but it's why they happen. But client work is a different matter entirely. That must always be error ...

Short and sweet one today. I love cycling. Not only is it a great form of exercise, it's sociable and a great way to clear your head. Us Brits are pretty good at it too - Wiggins, Cavendish, Froome, Hoy, Trott... But what does SEO have to do with cycling? Quite a lot. Last August I did a charity bike ride - cycling 300 miles in 24 hours from Newcastle to London - cycling day and night. Needless to say there was a lot of training to be done. As I steadily pushed up the distance, it got harder and harder. One particular weekend when I cycled from Suffolk to Banbury (a round trip of 250 miles) I reached the point that I wanted to stop. Give up. But I knew I couldn't. If I did: My training schedule would have gone out the ...

A sales email that doesn't sell? No, I haven't finally lost it. You really can write a sales email that doesn't openly sell. What do I mean? Well, if you get an email in your in box that obviously wants to sell you something (and you haven't asked for it), what do you do? I'm guessing your most likely answer is bin it. That's the problem. You see, email marketing is a fantastic tool, but if all you do in your communications is sell, people will get pretty hacked off with you. That means all your hard work will end up in their deleted folder and you'll be swamped in an opt out avalanche. Odd as it may seem, you can still run an email marketing campaign without your emails being 'in your face' sales orientated. Give your readers what they want Q: Why did your 'opt in-ers' sign up for your emails? A: Because they want ...

How to Make Your Blog Readers Love You

This blog originally featured on our sister blog, Freelance Copywriter's Blog. Blogging is a great tool for marketing your business. It gives you a platform from which to show your expertise and drive traffic to your website. But that only works if your writing engages with your audience. After all, if you want them to keep coming back for more, you have to create a connection with them. The way you write will have a big effect on your audience. 1. Conversation There are a lot of bloggers out there who struggle with the concept that writing in a conversational tone is the most effective way to communicate. People don’t want to be faced with something cold, corporate and formal – they get enough of that already. They want something that is easy to read. Writing conversationally is easy – just imagine you’re sitting with a friend and chatting about the subject you want ...

The Similarities Between Networking and PR

When you're in business you have to network. It pains me to write that statement because networking is one of my most hated activities. Walking into a room full of strangers is terrifying, trying to break into a conversation is excruciating, basically, it's not my favourite way to spend a few hours. The daft thing is that when I'm speaking to clients or the press to promote my business, I am actually using techniques that are important for networking, just in a different situation. The way you interact with people, whether through networking or PR, is the same. You are using the same skill set and yet (to me at least) one is far easier to cope with than the other. For both, image matters a lot. Not just how you look, but also in the way you interact with others. Listening and interacting Looking at networking for a moment, we've all come across ...

How Ecommerce Sites Can Sell More

Trust is one of the key elements of any sales process. High Street store owners enjoy the advantages of being able to display their wares for their customers to browse and face-to-face contact to persuade and allay fears. But what about the online retailer? They only have their ecommerce website, a few pictures and some persuasive copy. How can they compete? Of course, one of the major benefits the ecommerce retailer has is lower overheads, but they still have to gain the trust of a potential customer before they'll buy and that's not easy when they are a 'faceless' website. It's not all bad news though and here are a few tips to help you gain the trust of your customers if you are an online retailer. 1. Useful Potential customers will want as much information as possible about an item before committing to buy and not just its description and features. They also want ...

Are You Blogging Effectively?

You already know blogging boosts your credibility, exposure and drives traffic to your website, but you also know that doesn't mean it's easy. How many times have you written a post only for no one to comment on it or share it with others? It sometimes makes you wonder why you bother. But if you're not getting comments and shares, that's telling you that there's something not quite right with your posts. You see, everything you write must be aimed at your reader, which is why its important to think about what they want to know before you start writing. When you get a blinding flash of inspiration for your next blog masterpiece, ask yourself the following questions. 1. Does it target my audience? You have a niche. Its the area of expertise you write about, but are you providing the type of content your audience wants? Is it answering their questions and offering them the valuable ...

A little while ago, on my other blog (Freelance Copywriter's Blog), I wrote a post about how to create a strong About Us page. It contained 5 tips that I will reiterate soon, but first I want to think about the humble About Us page. For many of my copywriting clients it's the one page that's left until last. It's never really seen as important because it's not one of the main landing pages. But in my mind, the About page is important. The rest of your website must be written for your customers. That means every word is directed at them, showing them the benefits they will enjoy when they buy from you. There is no room to blow your own trumpet, but there is on the About page. Before you get carried away,  that doesn't mean you can fill it will stuff like "We've been in business for 27 years. We're passionate ...

How to Research For Keywords

I am the first to let out a blood-curdling scream whenever anyone mentions keyword density - it's a practice that should no longer be used. However, that doesn't mean to say keywords are defunct. You must still do your keyword research before setting up a website to aid with its design, navigation and copy. So where do you look for them? I have written about this topic a lot on this blog and on Freelance Copywriter's Blog. What follows is a round up describing: What a keyword is The value of a good keyword How to decide on your keywords How to use your keywords What is a keyword? The first thing to remember is that a keyword isn’t necessarily a word; it can also be a phrase. In a nutshell, it is a word or phrase people use to search for a product, service or piece of information. So if you sold designer leather dog collars, your keywords would be ...

How to Get People to Love Your Marketing

You do a lot of marketing. On top of your print stuff, you also do: Social media Blogging Videos Email/newsletters But how do you get your readers to love what you do? In a word - engagement. Every thing you do must make a connection with them in some way. To give you a helping hand, here are 5 ideas to make your marketing more engaging. 1. It's all about them One of the big mistakes people make is to fill their Facebook page, Twitter feeds, blogs and email communications with information that's all about them. You might think that's what they're there for - to promote your products and services and in a way you're right, but that doesn't mean it should all be about you. Engaging messages don't involve selling. Instead, they provide tips, advice and useful information that help you establish trust and give potential customers a reason to care about your brand. In a nut shell, ...

Are You Getting Twitter Wrong?

Twitter celebrates its 8th birthday this year and yet someone people are still getting it all wrong. With only 140 characters to play with, it should be the easiest thing in the world to use, but it would appear that it's not judging by some of the tweets I've seen. To give you a hand, I've put together 10 reasons why you're getting Twitter wrong and what you can do to put it right. 1. Batch tweets How often should you tweet? When should you tweet? A lot of people send out a batch of tweets all in one go so they can get on with other stuff. The problem with that approach is: You'll hack off your followers because you'll swamp their timeline You're only likely to reach a small number of followers Not everyone uses Twitter at the same time, so the key is to spread your tweets out over the day to reach as many ...

The Benefits of Being a Guest Blogger

Before I get started on the benefits of being a guest blogger, I just want to address something. Guest blogging has come under a lot of scrutiny recently. Some say it's a practice that you shouldn't get involved with, but provided you are writing great content that's not promotional and you're not paying for the privilege, it is something that could come with a lot of kudos. OK, now I've got that out the way, let's take a look at guest blogging. Why bother? Well, getting your writing on someone else's blog (especially someone well known within your industry) will help widen your Internet exposure and flag up your presence to a whole new audience. It takes a lot of work, but can also pay dividends. Exposure As already mentioned, writing for others will widen your reach as an expert in your field. The more people see your name (across several credible outlets) the more they are likely ...

Search engine optimisation is constantly changing as Google strives to create the best search experience possible, but that also means the strategies you use to build and maintain your rankings have to constantly change too. As a rule, internet marketers fall into one of two categories: Those who stick to the same old techniques because they've always done it that way (even though when they no longer work) Those who embrace new techniques and change with the times This post is aimed at those who continue in their set ways despite their falling rankings in the hope that it will come good in the end. So, if you're doing any of these, stop right now. 1. Keyword density How could you utter those words? Every piece of marketing content you create must be written naturally and for the reader - not the search engines. There is still copy out there that has been crammed with keywords. Why? You're just ...

What Happens Once You Get Twitter Followers?

Have you noticed that some people on Twitter just want to collect followers? It's not as if it means anything - you won't suddenly become rich beyond your wildest dreams just because you have loads of followers. In fact, if anything it singles you out as the person that followed all those 'how to get thousands of Twitter followers really quickly' posts. But if they're not genuine (i.e. people who have seen your tweets and are genuinely interested in what you have to say), what's the point? They're not going to engage with you, they're not going to send business your way and it could put other people off following you. Numbers aren't the be all and end all. It's far more impressive to have people follow you because they like what you have to say and want to interact with you. If someone follows me and they have loads of followers (especially ...

This post originally appeared on our sister blog, Freelance Copywriter's Blog, but we also wanted to share it with you here. You already know that search engine optimisation is one of the best and most effective long-term marketing strategies for any business that markets itself online. But you also know that one wrong move and Google will be down on you like a tonne of bricks, so if you decide to outsource your SEO work, how can you be sure you find an agency that actually knows what its doing? A lot of agencies will try to blind you with science and then take short cuts that, although may produce immediate results, could harm you in the long-term. Or you could end up with an agency that has no idea what it’s doing and simply won’t deliver the return you want. So how can you be sure you find a good ...

Make Your Marketing Go Viral

Can you? Is it that easy? Do you just tell your team, "Hey guys, we're going to create a viral video for our next project.Any ideas?" No - it's not that easy because you can't make something go viral, that's the job of your viewers. What is viral marketing? Something goes viral when it's shared - a lot. It's a way of using social media channels to their max. If you can create something that others feel compelled to share with their friends, who share it with their friends, who share it with their friends...well, you get the picture. And that's the reason you can't make something go viral. The qualities of viral marketing OK, so you can't make it go viral, but you can give your video (eBook, image etc.) the triggers that can make it go viral. There is only one reason why someone will share your video - because it makes an emotional connection with them. It ...

Title Tags Are Important, Fact

Google is constantly changing and as a result so are SEO (search engine optimisation) practices. However, at the time of writing, title tags are still one of the most important elements of SEO, which is why they should not be overlooked. A title tag is a simple line of code that packs a mighty punch because it: Highlights to Google and the other search engines the relevance of your website in relation to a keyword Makes you stand out from everyone else Attracts potential customers to your website In fact it is one of the single most important ranking factors. For those who are new to all this stuff, let’s take a step back. Where is your title tag? As I mentioned earlier, your title tag is a simple line of code. It sits near the top of your web page’s source code and looks something like this: <title>Copywriter | freelance copywriter | copywriting services<title> (That’s one ...

3 Tools to Make Twitter Work For You

Twitter is a great tool to widen your sphere of influence. Never before has it been so easy to gain access to people who would normally be inaccessible to you - celebrities, CEOs, thought leaders - they're all  there waiting to engage with you. So how do you get started and how do you find the right people to follow? To begin with, I would advise against using Twitter's auto-follow feature. It's important that your Twitter stream contains information and chats that are relevant to you. Just because someone follows you doesn't mean you have to follow them back. So when you get a new follower, take a look at their profile and tweets and make your own mind up about whether to follow back or not. It's better just to follow those you want to follow and that means going out there and looking for them. So how do you do that? Finding people to ...

Does this sound familiar? After a lot of soul searching you finally decided to get your business idea off the ground. It starts gradually, but little by little your customer base grows and your time moves from marketing to filling orders and customer service. The problem is, once that initial rush of customers have been and gone you find yourself twiddling your thumbs because you'd taken your foot off the marketing gas. Now you have to start marketing like crazy again, trying to keep up with all that content generation you have to do. This cycle continues until, one day, your partner comes home to find you gently rocking in the corner, talking gibberish. OK, a bit melodramatic, but you get the picture. That's when you realise there's only one way you can keep on top of your content and marketing and that's by hiring a copywriter to help you. After  a lot of ...

A recent copywriting project of mine prompted me to write this post. I was approached to produce the website copywriting for a client. Unbeknown to me, they were also working with a 'marketing expert' to try and get the business on track. After a long meeting and a lot of research, I created the web copy, focusing on  the benefits of his products and the needs of his customers. After reviewing it and signing it off, he apparently showed it to his 'expert' whose response was: "This isn't SEO copywriting, there is no optimisation..." Fuming? I was ready to scream. After explaining what SEO copywriting was and how it should be done (backed up with links to Matt Cutts words of wisdom on this subject), the client went very quiet, as did their 'expert'. I later discovered that he showed my explanation to a web designer friend who agreed with everything I had written ...

How to Consistently Increase Your Sales

This blog first appeared on out sister blog, Freelance Copywriter's Blog, but we also wanted to share it with you here. Every company wants to sell more. As a copywriter you would expect me to harp on about how the copy across all your marketing materials is essential if you want to engage and encourage your customers to buy. Of course that’s true, but this post is going to look more at your company as a whole and how its entire marketing ethos should work. Engaging with your customers is the key to selling to them. To be really successful this engagement needs to happen on all levels within your company and at all stages of customer contact. Let me explain. Your company united Although you probably have a sales department, boosting your company sales shouldn’t be down to them alone. Everyone within your business, regardless of department or job title, should always ...

Choosing The Right Person – Copywriting

First, second or third? Deciding which person is right for your copywriting will have a dramatic effect on how your content is perceived: First - personal Second - inclusive, conversational, directed at the reader Third - inward looking, self serving When it comes to website copywriting your choice of person will have a big impact on your reader. Copy written in house generally opts for the third person, but then it's all about your business and not about your customers. As far as I'm concerned, all website copy (in fact all copy full stop) should be written in the second person. Second person builds relationships You use the internet to find information. When you land on a website,  your hope is that it will answer all your questions. But if the first line is: "We've been in business umpteen years and are really good at what we do."     It's not going to fill you with a lot of confidence and you'll head ...

Before I get going, I just want to clear something up - writing copy is not just about collecting a few facts and then writing them in a string of coherent sentences that will hopefully convince your readers to buy something. Being a copywriter is much more than just that. No, I'm not going to launch into a diatribe about copywriting being a science that only the gifted few can understand. This article is about how a copywriter gets into the head of his or her client. Copywriting Craniotomy Don't panic, if you are slightly squeamish there’s no need to look away, there will be no blood. Getting into the heads of your clients sounds drastic, but it is the only way you can understand what they want. Finding out the nuts and bolts of the copy (benefits, features etc.) is easy, but pinpointing exactly the tone and approach your client wants is a different ...

Are Your Emails Damaging Your Reputation?

Your emails say a lot about you. But how much thought do you give to the words you use when communicating with other people in your company? Probably not a lot. After all, you're just writing to someone within your own company, so it doesn't matter, right? I mean. if you were writing a piece for some marketing material it would be a different kettle of fish. That seems to be the thought process for many people. Many of the emails I receive (be they enquiries, looking for work or unsolicited mail shots) show a surprising lack in regard for how the writer comes across. Granted the emails I get are from people looking for a copywriter, but at times the layout makes them difficult to read and many haven’t been read through before being sent. Getting back to internal communications, these are normally emails asking for information, spreading news, informing about meetings etc. Perhaps, by ...