9 Quick And Effective Copywriting Tips For Your Website

Unless you’re journalist and your visitors expect to see a lot of copy, todays minimalist websites require a more effective use of screen real-estate. These quick and easy tips for adapting your writing style will help you maximise on space:

1. Structure

You should be telling a story that begins with your reader and their requirements, ends with a call to action and in between, provides your Customer Value Proposition.

2. Layout

Headings, sub-headings, bullet points and infographics, should form a skeleton for the page.  Not only does this help your reader, who will likely scan on their first read and get the key messages quickly, it is also one of the basic requirements for Search Engine Optimisation.

3. Tone

Be conversational. Avoid a more formal style, as this can be dry and potentially hard to read. Try to avoid jargon, technical terms or acronyms. Using you, we and us will improve engagement and make the visitor feel that they are being addressed directly.

4. Be concise

Short, simple sentences, in  2 or 3 line paragraphs will make your copy easy to read and lighten the page.

5. Research

You want your content to be engaging, so keep it relevant and useful. Stay in tune with current events. If you know your audience, you’ll understand your market and its key drivers.

6. Customer Value Proposition

Demonstrate your understanding of what your reader’s challenges are and that you can provide a solution. Highlight areas where you are ahead of your competitors.

7. Use links sparingly

Providing helpful and relevant links can add value to your content but ensure the link text clearly indicates that you are linking to another source and open it in a new window. Using too many will distract the visitor from your website.

8. Be accurate

Don’t just rely on spelling and grammar checks, get your copy proof-read before it gets published. Recheck any facts or statistics.

9. Test and learn

Continually update and test your copy to see which delivers better results and engages with your audience best.

Getting Started With Database Marketing

Over the last few decades, the most significant change to running a small business, has been the way we interact with customers. To the majority, marketing used to be almost exclusively about advertising, through broadcast or printed media channels. Other than retail, selling was done door-to-door or over the phone.

In the modern era, there are more communication channels than we really know what to do with. Display advertising and broadcast media still play a hugely significant part in the process but in todays world, there’s a lot more focus on two-way communication. That means listening to the customers and responding to their feedback.

Customer data has gone beyond being a strategic asset, a differentiator or just something that gives you a competitive edge. It is now essential to survive!

Often referred to these days as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), database marketing is really just about knowing who your customers are, on a larger scale than your average corner shop. This helps you develop a deeper relationship with customers rather than one-off transactions, so they want to come back, rather than look elsewhere. And on a basic level, it’s really rather easy.

The Basics

It all starts with gathering information about you customers and prospects. This may simply be a name and postal or email address, or a detailed history and preferences for their purchases. It may be that you’ve purchased a list of prospective customers from third-party.

Once you have the customers or prospects and a channel to communicate with them, you can begin to do so in ways that are relevant to both you and them. There are many channels to choose from, including email, social media, phone, post or even in person.

Then you will begin to understand exactly who your customers are, so you can deliver the right message, using the most appropriate method, offering the most suitable product or service, to each one.

The Database

The first thing to establish is that a spreadsheet is not a database. If you already have your customer details in a spreadsheet such as MS Excel or Google Sheets, get them into a database as soon possible, to save a massive headache later on. But before you start, let’s establish what data you’re going to want to store. Take heed though, data processing legislation, which varies from country to country, generally frowns on organisations collecting and storing customer information that is not relevant to the relationship between them, so it’s best to avoid collecting anything that you’ll never need.

Customers

First up is the customers themselves. Are they individual consumers or businesses. You’ll need a record for each person that needs to be addressed, so if it’s businesses, you may need to record more than one person for each organisation.

Contact details

This should include the details for every communication channel you may want to use. Even if you do not intend to communicate by post, it still better to collect an address, as this can used for segmenting and profiling, which we’ll cover later. Email addresses are almost essential these days but you may also want to consider collecting, telephone/mobile numbers, Twitter handles and other social media identities.

Preferences

You can be as detailed as you need here but it can get messy. What’s most important is that you can adapt your approach from these preferences, so knowing that a person drinks tea in the afternoon is not nearly as useful as knowing that they prefer to receive offers by email, unless you’re running a beverage delivery service.

Transaction history

If you want to get really sophisticated, this should also include your communication history but at the very least, you should know what your customers have bought and when.

Change log

People change names, they change address, they change preferences. The same goes for businesses. You will need to make changes to your records and it is important to keep a record of what, when, where and how these changes have been made. This can save all sorts of problems, particularly if you start to use third party data for your customer acquisition.

Maintenance

Even though you may not possess a crystal ball or the gift of telepathy, it is still your responsibility to make sure your customer records are kept up-to-date. There are a number of companies offering services to help with this, from changes to the postcode, to identifying people who’ve died or changed address.

Archive inactive records, so that you can refer back to them if a customer returns. You may also want to refer to their transaction history when profiling your other customers. The delete button should be a last resort, only to be used when a customer record is so irrelevant that it is not worth the few bytes of storage that it occupies.

Above all else, maintaining your customer record is also an opportunity to reach out. If a customer has been inactive for some time, there’s no harm in anything has changed, just be sensitive in your approach.

The Marketing

Now you have your database set up, you can begin to take reap the benefits.

Choose your channel

The channels you use for your initial campaigns should be chosen wisely. Although your priority must be to attract new customers, you want to gain as much feedback as possible, so that you can adapt your approach for the next campaign. Some channels lend themselves better to encouraging feedback, such as telemarketing but this is an expensive root and not always popular. Other channels, such as display advertising, can generate no feedback what-so-ever. You will almost certainly have to use more than one channel but don’t try to spread yourself to thin. Stick to the ones you know best first, then you can experiment with other channels as you grow.

Fine tune your message

There are many ways your customers can respond to your marketing message, both negatively and positively. Whatever channel you have chosen, be sure to capture any and all feedback, it will help you to adapt your approach in future.

In an extreme, example, if you would sent an email with nothing but a picture of your product and a big Buy Now button, some recipients may indeed click on the button and buy your product. But it’s likely they would respond differently if you explained what the product was and how much it cost. he only way you will know which generates the most sales is to test both.

Measure your success

You should start with a sample of customers and keep track of their responses; emails opened, links clicked, etc. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the skills or the resources to properly analyse all the data at this stage, when you reach the point when you do have that capability, you’ll appreciate all that historic information.

Conclusion

It’s a well-known fact that companies that make use of database marketing benefit from more repeat sales from a more loyal customer base, who demonstrate greater levels of satisfaction. This results in more efficient marketing campaign and ultimately a higher return on investment.

Database marketing can be as simple or as advanced as your needs and your budget dictates. There are many solutions available and many providers understand the specific needs of small businesses. If you’ve just started out but are expecting to grow substantially, look for a scalable solution, preferably one that allows a free trial. There’s nothing better than a personal recommendation, so ask around. You’ll be surprised at how some people can be about their favourite CRM system.

8 Point Brief For Creating A Marketing Campaign

Before embarking on any kind of marketing campaign, it is essential to have a basic idea of who we are targeting, whether it be from analysis of existing customers or market research. With that in mind, the next step is to create a full-blown campaign plan, that not only delivers these customers but also allows us to adapt and repeat the process for future campaigns. For many businesses, a fully integrated marketing campaign can amount to a significant investment, in terms of both cost and resources. Much of this investment will be committed to long before any resultant revenue is generated. For that reason alone, it is essential that campaign planning starts with a suitable framework. This simple 8 point plan and will put you in a better position to provide a clear brief to your team or any outside agencies.

Why are you doing this?

Never begin any task, especially one as costly and time-consuming as a marketing campaign, without first understanding what you’re hoping to achieve.

1. State your objective

There are many reasons for launching a marketing campaign. Your aim may be to raise brand awareness but in this modern age of Digital Marketing, every campaign should be geared to illicit some kind of response. You must decide if you wish that response to: –

  • gather prospect names;
  • produce qualified leads;
  • generate sales; or
  • distribute free trials.

It is not bad practice to have a variety of response mechanisms but you must be clear on your preference, so that this translates through to the execution of the campaign. From here, you can start to plan what you will use for your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). As part of your overall plan, you will need to assign targets to these KPIs, which will ultimately determine your Critical Success Factors (CSFs). Very few campaigns meet all their targets first time round, so your main objective should be to ensure you understand why your results weren’t as predicted. Your ability to improve future campaigns rests entirely on your ability to predict the effect any changes may have.

2. Be clear about what you are offering

In order to achieve your objective, you have to offer something in return. If you are just collecting a name and address from new prospective customers, this will probably just be information but you still need to be clear about your offering. You may be promoting your brand or just one specific aspect, such as an individual product or service. You probably want to develop an ongoing relationship over many years? It may seem obvious to you but the ability to clearly explain what it is and what it does can be much harder. One useful exercise is to write a full description of your offering, using as many words as you needs. Once you are happy that anyone seeing this for the first time will understand what is on offer, rewrite it, reducing the word-count by 25%. Continue reducing it until you get to as few as you can. There’s no perfect length and don’t worry, you’re not trying to write an advert. If you have to resort to using jargon or technical information, be sure that these are widely understood by your target audience. Your aim

3. Know your prospects

You will have a very clear idea of why you need your product or service, as will the majority of your existing customers but what about you prospects? Why would they want to buy from you? You may already know something about these people, if you know why you’re targeting them, but do you understand them. Focus on your offering and if it’s relevant, ask yourself, do I know: –

  •  their hopes and fears;
  • what are their likes or dislikes;
  • what they need;
  • whether they are male or female, young or old, rich or poor?

This is not an exhaustive list, merely a prompt. Until you understand who you are talking to, you will not know what tone to adopt, let alone what to say.

4. Are you fulfilling your prospect needs?

There are nine basic human motivations, your product or service needs to fulfil at least one of these:

  1. Make money;
  2. Save money;
  3. Save time/effort;
  4. Help their families;
  5. Feel secure;
  6. Impress others;
  7. Gain pleasure;
  8. Improve themselves; or
  9. Belong to a group.

It may be that different types of customer will be motivated by different things but in all likelihood, there’ll be a few that cover the vast majority of your customers. Knowing which of these motivates them most will make it easier to create your message.

5. Be clear on the positioning

Every aspect of your campaign, from the text and images it delivers, to the platform it is delivered on, forms part of your overall message. You must decide what your message will tell the prospect about your product or service. For an integrated campaign to be effective, this message must remain consistent throughout. Most importantly, your message should never be contradictory, even if you are aiming at different audiences across different media or platforms.

Does your message sell?

6. Understand the benefits you are offering

Interrogate your product or service thoroughly to establish a list of product features and then identify how it differs from the alternatives. This will give you the features for your specification sheets but more importantly, highlight any advantages you offer. These will only really be effective in comparisons with alternative suppliers. Your prospect really needs to know how it will benefit them. What it does rather than what it is. A notebook with a longer battery life, allows you to work longer, which is a significant benefit.

7. Unique selling proposition

Many campaigns succeed without a real understanding of what exactly the USP is. It should be made clear though, the USP is the single most important aspect of the entire message. Your message should portray any difference as a compelling advantage. For example: For a low-end notebook PC, price is a feature, if it’s lower than the competitors’ it becomes an advantage. The battery life is also a feature and if it has a longer battery life than similar models, this is an advantage.

8. The killer feature

Ideally your offering will have t one unique benefit or maybe an appealing combination of benefits that makes it stand out from the crowd. This will be the basis for your headline and call to action, so it needs to be something that can be portrayed quite simply and it needs to be something that our target prospects will be motivated by.

If our prospects are students then the low price will be the killer feature but if they are wealthy professionals then it’s more likely to be the longer battery life. Having completed points 3-5, you’ll be much better placed to decide.

Conclusion

Obviously, there are many factors to be considered when creating a marketing campaign, such as timing, budgets, etc. but this eight point precursor will help you minimise the upfront risk, before you embark on a fully fledged campaign plan. In most businesses, marketing is a substantial drain on the balance sheet. Done right, it also contributes significantly to the revenue.

Get the most out of Google+

There’s been a fair bit of speculation about the demise of Google+ but you won’t hear anything negative from those already committed to it. Though is likely that there will be many changes to come, in its current guise, Google+ lends itself perfectly to smartphones and tablets. The ability to quickly select which circles to share with is just one of the stand-out features. If you’re not already on-board, with the Google brand behind it and an ever-increasing number of ways to leverage this platform, now is probably the perfect time to jump on.

Kwikturn Media posted this useful article by Ana Perez-Olave, which explains How to Take Advantage of the Features in Google+ and includes this eye-opening infographics.

Google business infographic

These are impressive numbers but how many of those users have fully adopted the platform, nobody can tell. However, you can’t ignore the fact that this is Google, the largest search engine by far. Getting your Google+ strategy right, will pay dividends on the SERPs, if nothing else. This post on HubSpot: A Few Quick SEO Wins Your Google+ Page Needs by Maggie Hibma, should help get you off the ground.

Once you’re onboard with Google+, you should start to extend your reach using the Google Authorship Program. Once you have validate yourself as an author content that you’ve written can easily be attributed. You may have heard of Google Authorship mark-up but you are unlikely to know how to get started with the program. Having created content in a number of places it can be hard to find all that you’ve contributed to. Google pulls all of that disparate information together into a helpful contributor page, so that you appear in Google’s SERP, as an author for your brand, closer to the top of the rankings. Richard O’flynn has put together this Beginners Guide to Google Authorship to help you on your way.

I for one, believe there’s a certain amount of inevitability to the success of Google+, even though there will undoubtedly be many revisions along the way.