Author: Allyson

Now Let’s All Be Professional Here …

Now Let’s All Be Professional Here …

Frustrated Person Venting

Here’s a cautionary tale – well, two cautionary tales – about over-estimating your abilities, and trying to save a buck.

Now this can apply to your business, your copy needs, or even a website overhaul.

Or anything else, really …

I recently rebranded and changed my web hosting, within months of each other.

Yeah, I was just asking for trouble.

First the change of website host …

I’d had good service with my previous host, but I didn’t like their attitude – they were less than friendly, and liked to go ahead and do their own thing, at my expense.

But still, good service, and fast website loading – but my server was in the U.S.

I did some Googling and found what I thought was a good deal on web hosting. The server was in Australia, and the price was in Aussie dollars.

They came highly recommended, with great customer testimonials.

And unlimited everything – that should have been my first red flag. Even though I use very little of the servers resources with my websites.

After signing up with them for three years, I found out the server is really in Canada, somewhere …

Second red flag – they were deliberately misleading.

But still, they were a big help with my website migration, and everything went smoothly.

I was back online, with all my website files now in Canada, somewhere …

Then came my recent rebranding …

Sure, it’s a big deal but I have a degree in computer science, and I love to tinker with website design, I just don’t have the time.

But this was my website, so I made the time, rolled up my metaphorical sleeves, and I did it myself.

Or tried to …

Now here’s where I’ll mention two old adages that most people are familiar with, and you’ll have a fair idea where this story is headed.

You get what you pay for, and …

The best laid plans …

I was fast becoming a double adage cliché …

Turns out I’m either too picky, or not as good at website design as I imagined myself to be …

I’m a professional copywriter, not a professional website designer.

Something I was reminded of daily as my rebranding efforts dragged on, and my website continued to be offline …

I’d said two weeks – plenty of time to get it all working, and just how I wanted it, right?

Try six weeks …

And some sage advice from a website designer.

Someone who doesn’t just tinker in her spare time, like me, but a real professional who does it for a living.

She wisely advised me to stick to my own profession.

So I wrote her some great web copy, she saved my website, and we’re both happy campers.

And there folks, is the first lesson …

Stick with what you’re good at. And if you have a side interest you love but rarely have time to practice, you’re not as good as you think you are.

If you spend your time doing what you do best, you can afford to pay another professional to do what they do best.

Which leads me to the second cautionary tale …

My new website wasn’t such a hit with my new web hosts.

Despite still using minimal resources I was getting complaints that I was using too many resources.

I wasn’t, but I tweaked, and I appeased …

And the complaints kept coming …

Now I was staring at a field of red flags, with new ones popping up all the time.

*Sigh*, you get what you pay for. Lesson number two …

To save my sanity, and the rest of my hair, I sheepishly moved my website to a server in Australia, and a new, very sympathetic, web host.

They cost a little more – only a little more – but it’s oh so worth every cent.

They’re fabulous, and I’ll never leave.

That’s the true value of good service …

No more website stress. I don’t have time for that, I have a business to run.

And so do you …

When it comes to your business, don’t cut corners, don’t be cheap, and don’t try to do it yourself when it’s not your specialty …

It just isn’t worth it.

I dare say you have a few horror stories of your own, and you’ve already learnt this lesson.

If only I’d practiced what I preach …

Lesson learned.

Keep The Faith

 

Is Your Home Page Worth Writing Home About?

Is Your Home Page Worth Writing Home About?

Home Page Icon

If first impressions count – and we know they do – then your home page has to do a lot of work.

Your website may have thousands of pages, or just a few, but many people won’t see them if your home page is confusing and uninviting.

Just as books are judged by their covers, so websites are judged by their home pages.

What your visitors see when they land on your home page is the difference between whether they stay, or whether they click away in a hurry.

You know yourself how fast you want to get away from those home pages that are in-your-face, cluttered, hard to navigate, badly written, just plain ridiculous, or all of the above – I’ve seen too many of those.

It May Be Your Only Chance …

Your home page is usually your one chance to let your reader know they’re in the right place.

It’s the place to answer your task-oriented visitors’ questions. And then to guide them to what they’re looking for.

It needs to be compelling, and grab their attention quickly.

And it needs to answer their main question: What’s in it for me? Your visitors are looking for solutions to their problems.

It should also have the information and the navigation to help your reader find what they’re looking for on your site.

Nothing is more frustrating to the visitor than knowing you have what they want, but being unable to find it.

Keep It Real …

Write clearly, and in the language of your target audience.

And keep it conversational and friendly. People deal with other people, not a cold, sterile corporation, so keep it real.

And never assume that people know who you are and what you do, or even anything about your industry.

They could be first-time visitors.

Clearly explain what you do and how you can help.

Anticipate any questions people might have, and answer them.

Use An Attention-Grabbing Headline

The headline – the first thing they see – must convey a benefit to the reader, preferably using the keywords they used to find your site.

This is where you’ll need to do some research into who visits your site, and what keywords they’re typing into the search engine.

Try to imagine how the visitor is thinking, and what they might need to make their life easier.

That’ll give you some insight into their problems, and help you provide a solution for them.

Then tailor your headline – and your copy – to address that.

That alone will tell people how your product or service is better than anything your competition offers …

Because it focuses on the customer, and lets them you know you understand their problems.

Check Out Your Competition

By all means check out your competitors’ websites – and aim to do a much better job on yours, with better service.

If you can quickly tell your visitors you have the answer to their problems, and where to find it on your site, why would they go anywhere else?

By making everything easy for your visitors you’ll differentiate your company and its services, and position it way ahead of your competitors.

Your Website’s Front Door

Think of your home page as an introduction to your company. You’re not trying to sell anything yet, you just want to tell people what you do, and who you do it for.

They’ll be able to make an informed decision as to whether they’re in the right place.

Remember, your home page is not just an advertisement for your company, it’s the front door to your website – make it inviting so people will want to come in and stay.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

It’s Not About You …

It’s Not About You …

About Us

Every website has an About page where you can learn more about the people and the company.

Perhaps yours has some background information, and a history of your company. Nothing special, after all, no one really reads that stuff, do they?

Well, it turns out that, yes, they do.

You’d be surprised at how many potential customers check out your About page after they’ve scanned your website and determined they might like to do business with you.

You may have even done this yourself on someone else’s website.

But Here’s Something You Should Know …

Your About page shouldn’t be about you so much as it should be about what you can do for your customers, and how you can solve their problems.

It’s not a resume, or an autobiography.

But it could be a deal-breaker.

No one wants to read an in-depth life story about how amazing you think you are, how you’ve struggled to make it in business, or what you did on your last vacation.

They want to know what makes you different from everyone else out there, and how they’ll benefit from doing business with you.

Notice the focus on the visitor, not you.

And since your About page is important space, what the visitor reads there could make all the difference.

They could find just what they’re looking for to help them make a decision, something they may not find on your home page, or on your products and services page.

So What Do We Put In, And What Do We Leave Out?

Of course you can tell your story. But make it short and interesting. Not a history lesson.

Mention only those points that are relevant to your customers’ needs.

Go easy on the bragging rights. It’s fine to mention a few of the big wins, but you want to come across as human, not a massive, uncaring corporation.

People like to know they’re dealing with other people, just like them.

Use a friendly, conversational tone – you don’t want to use a third person reference. It comes off as cold and arrogant, and so blah blah blah …

Write in the first person perspective, and be sure to mention your primary goal – to help your customer. That is why you’re in business, isn’t it?

Try To Sound Authentic

Tell them why you do what you do.

And if you’ve made mistakes along the way – and who hasn’t? –  then mention those. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s all part of being human.

Just use discretion here – they don’t want to know everything.

This is how you’ll connect with your readers, they’ll be able to relate to you better.

People don’t want perfection. And they’ll never believe you’ve achieved it, so be truthful.

Add Attractive – But Relevant – Pictures

A big block of text is sure to make the most avid reader’s eye glaze over, so add some visual interest.

And lots of white space.

And Let Others Do The Praising

The About page is also a good place to include some trust-building testimonials. Let your happy customers speak for you. And using images of those happy customers adds even more appeal .

Once you’ve convinced your readers that you can solve their problems, make sure you include one call-to-action. Whatever it is you want them to do next – click a link, sign up for something, read your blog – just make it the one thing that will move them along.

And only one. Don’t confuse people by giving them too many choices. You might find the choice they make is to check out your competition.

If you do it right, your About page could be your visitors’ first step into your sales funnel.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

 

 

Landing Pages – How To Do it Right

Landing Pages – How To Do it Right

 

Excellence or Mediocrity?

Some claim that landing pages and sales letters are the same thing.

Now, most landing pages are sales letters, but not all sales letters are landing pages.

Therefore, not the same thing.

And the two terms aren’t interchangeable.

Not all landing pages are created equal – I could also say the same of sales letters but one thing at a time …

A landing page is a stand-alone page that isn’t a permanent part of your website, and it doesn’t link to your website, it only links to the order device for your product or service.

It is written for a specific purpose, to cater to traffic sent from a specific source.

It’s the sales page where your traffic lands after they’ve clicked through from an online ad, an email, a social media post, or even an organic keyword search.

They’ve clicked through because they want more information, and they want to buy what you’re offering.

You’re already halfway to making the sale so make it easy for your visitors.

Use these tips to increase your conversion rates:

  • Know what you want to achieve.
  • The source of your traffic can give you an insight into your visitor’s intentions. A single landing page can’t address a broad range of intentions. Use as many different landing pages as you need to target specific visitors.
  • The better you know your target audience the more relevant you can make your landing pages. You know what drove them to your page, so you already have some information about them.
  • If you have a campaign targeting 10 different keywords, you may need to have 10 different variations of your landing page – do what works for you.
  • Always test different versions of the landing page to find what works best. Use different versions based on how much the visitor knows about your business, your product or service.
  • Make sure the visitor arrives with one intention, and they can satisfy that intention on your landing page.
  • Use the same words and phrases. The same look and feel as the traffic source that sent them there. It’s about continuity. Your landing page must be an extension of your ad. This has a significant impact on conversion.
  • Whatever the call to action was in your ad/email, it needs to be repeated on the landing page so they know they’re in the right place. If the landing page looks different they’ll get confused, frustrated and click away.
  • The headline must be connected to the headline you used in the ad – again, continuity.
  • Keep it clean and focused. No links to other pages. Just the link to the buy now, or sign up device.
  • Offer immediate gratification – people want things instantly. Remove all obstacles – make it easy to them to get what they came for.
  • The more complex the item, the longer the landing page. You need to include all the information people will need, plus address any questions they may have.
  • Overwhelm the reader with your promise.
  • Don’t waste people’s time. They’re there because they showed an interest, keep them interested and engaged.

What about those landing page templates you’ve seen others use?

Sure, they’re fine if you want to look like every other business out there.

Most of them can’t be customised your way to ensure best practice and high conversion.

If you don’t care about your brand and your reputation then I say go ahead and use an instant landing page. There are plenty to choose from, and they all look similar …

But, if you’re reading this, I know you want more. And I know you have high standards, too high to use generic products that brand you as a me-too business.

A good copywriter can write landing pages that you can re-use. Your own customised master landing page …

To keep your brand looking professional and polished.

Not a cheap, one-size-fits-all template …

Your business is better than that …

Here are some design features you’ll get when you have your landing pages written by a professional:

  • Always single column pages. No sidebars. No other ads. You want your visitors to start at the top of the page and read to the bottom, with no distractions.
  • Just like any sales page, your headline needs to get their attention and keep them reading to the next line, and the next … In eye-tracking tests, the further people look down a web page, the more their eyes drift to the left side of the page. So write your key phrases and benefits at the beginning of heads and subheads, even links. Most people don’t read the entire subhead, they look for the benefit – put it first.
  • Use the same colours and fonts as your branding.
  • Use images to hold interest. Have a ‘hero shot’ of the product, or a representation of the main benefit of your service. On the left side so people can see what they’re buying. Even if it’s only a download, people want to see what it looks like. People like to see something visual. Many e-books are shown as a hard cover book but it doesn’t seem to matter to people. It just adds to the appeal of the product, and the urge to buy.
  • Make the cover appealing and easy to read – obviously the same as the cover on the product they’ll be getting.
  • Nest your opening copy around the hero shot against the left margin. Because the text is written from left to right, the image draws the eye to the left and keeps people reading. Placing the image on the right draws attention to the wrong side of the page.
  • The image attracts the eye so it’s a great place to add information to get the reader excited about buying. Remember, some people will scan the page for key text before reading the entire page. Always cater to the scanners. Be sure to communicate the main promise, features and benefits in the scannable text. People need to be able to find the information they want with a quick glance/scan.
  • Everything that matters should be at the beginning of all your scannable text – headline, subheads, captions, and links.
  • Add a caption to the image. Say what matters most, don’t just restate what’s on the image. State or repeat key sales points, urgency, benefits, your guarantee, or main features if it’s B2B.
  • Never put a link under your image. You want people to read from top to bottom and then take the desired action. Links in other places will distract them and they’ll click away to another page.
  • If your page is short and focused put your call-to-action at the bottom of the page. However, if it’s longer you can sprinkle Buy Now buttons throughout, for people who don’t need to read the entire page to make a buying decision. Don’t use giant, brightly coloured buttons throughout your text – people will feel like they’re being rushed. Use a Buy Now link. You want to build trust and confidence, and reduce the level of perceived risk.

By using best practice and customising your landing pages for maximum functionality and conversion, you’ll attract new, high-quality leads and customers.

Remember, you’ve worked hard to build your good reputation. Always protect your brand. Don’t take shortcuts, and don’t do anything sneaky or underhanded.

And, as always, make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

Freelance Copywriter? Your Website Deserves the Best

Freelance Copywriter? Your Website Deserves the Best

 

Winner Medal

After checking out your competition’s website you’re horrified to see that it looks so much better than yours.

And they seem to be doing more business.

You’re as good as they are – better, you secretly think. Wait, no, you are better, people tell you all the time how good you are.

You need to step up your game and make your website, and your marketing, work harder for you.

You need to entice people to try your product or service so you can show them you’re better than the competition.

There’s no one on staff who’s up to the task so you decide to hire a professional freelance copywriter. Someone who’s familiar with your business and can generate leads with compelling content on your website.

But what should you look for in a good copywriter? How will you know if you’re choosing the right person? What questions do you ask them before you make your decision?

By now I hope you know that when it comes to writers, you get what you pay for.

So, no content mills for you. Your reputation and your integrity are at stake. You’ve seen those websites with poorly-written, boring content so crammed with keywords that it doesn’t even make sense.

No one wants to read that. And no one takes that business seriously. How can they? If the website’s a joke then surely the product or service they’re offering must be questionable too, right?

In my experience, if a business skimps on website content and other marketing materials, then it’s cutting corners in other places too.

And I’m not the only one who knows that.

If you need someone to write captivating copy for your website – and trust me, you do – here are some things to think about when you hire a professional copywriter.

Have an Idea of What You Want to Accomplish

What kind of content do you need?

A complete website overhaul?

An email campaign to bring in more leads?

Regular blog posts?

Lead generating content like white papers or case studies?

Landing pages, or sales letters?

Perhaps a bit, or a lot, of everything?

Have a general idea of what you want to do and hire a copywriter who specialises in it. Not someone who is trying to be all things to all people.

No one can do an excellent job on everything. There isn’t enough time to learn and master it all.

Industry Specialist or Copy Specialist?

If you need different types of copy you’ll be better off hiring a copywriter who is an expert in your industry. Usually someone who previously worked in the business and understands it.

They’ll know how to relate to your target market and write the best copy for you.

If you only want a particular type of copy, say, white papers or case studies, then you may want to use a copywriter who has substantial experience writing them.

No one writes a better case study or white paper than a dedicated copywriter who specialises in that type of copy.

Are They Reliable and Easy to Work With?

Finding a copywriter with knowledge and ability is only half the battle.

Many freelancers are flaky and fickle. They have no respect for deadlines or other people’s time, and some get downright hostile when you suggest edits to their work.

Stay away from these prima-donna and fly-by-night types. They’ll make your life a misery.

You deserve better.

Find a copywriter who will respect your time, and your opinion. Someone who submits good clean copy on time, and will listen to your concerns, and revise and edit accordingly.

After all, it is ultimately your copy.

Is This a One-Off Job or a Regular Thing?

Your website is going to need a lot of copy, and it’s going to need that copy maintained and updated regularly.

One way to make your job easier is to find a good copywriter, and when you do, hang on to her. Make her your go-to copywriter.

Not only does it save time and hassle looking for new writers – and finding only the flaky, unreliable ones – but you’ll also benefit from her unique perspective.  A fresh pair of eyes and an unbiased opinion.

Most good copywriters are also marketing experts. They can advise you on what works, and they’ll be there to help you with your marketing. They’re committed to your success.

And the more they work with you, the more they’ll know your business and the better your website copy will be.

Never Settle for Mediocre

Your business, and your website aren’t mediocre (I hope), so don’t settle for mediocre, me-too copy. There’s enough of that already.

Attention to detail and exceptional quality on your website will show you care. And if you care about your website, then you care about your customers.

Wouldn’t you rather buy from someone who cares?

Show your customers how much you care about their user experience.

They’ll see for themselves how superior your business, and by extension, your product or service is.

When it comes to websites, first impressions are everything.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

 

 

In Praise Of The Company Blog

In Praise Of The Company Blog

 

Blog Posts

With content being a major player in the online world, should your company website have a blog?

Some companies can get away with not having one, but they still update their content regularly with new articles and other educational content.

Kind of like a blog, but they call it content marketing.

A blog used to refer to an online personal journal, or an ongoing discussion, usually posted for the general public to read.

Now the line has blurred somewhat between blogs and informational articles, like this one.

So, should you or shouldn’t you?

As long as the content is relevant, and updated consistently, I think it’s a good move.

I stress the importance of updating your blog regularly because nothing says we don’t care like the sound of crickets on an abandoned blog.

But a well-maintained company blog is an effective way to educate your website visitors on your products and services, and to help them choose which one is right for them. It shows you’re interested in your customers, and it keeps them on your site longer – long enough to turn them into customers, if you’re doing it right.

It could well be the difference between your product or service, and your competitors’.

Even if your competition is much bigger than you.

And Google loves websites that repeatedly add fresh, interesting content. As long as it isn’t keyword-stuffed rubbish that no one wants to read.

Let’s hope we’ve gotten past all that, and legitimate company websites have realised the value of adding content for their readers, not for the search engines.

Of course, search engine optimisation is still important, but it comes more naturally now.

You take care of your website visitors, the search engines will take care of your website.

The only downside to a company blog is the constant need for ideas for that fresh, interesting content.

That’s where you need a web copywriter to manage your content strategy.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who could take all that worry off your hands, and just get on with it?

A web copywriter who knows your business, and your branding?

A web copywriter who will keep your voice consistent, but still timely, original, and creative?

Here are some tips for maintaining your blog, from a web copywriter who can do all that, and more:

  • A good blog should appeal to new visitors, and to your existing customers.
  • Keep it simple, but give value to your readers. Go for maximum readability.
  • Answer frequently asked questions, or address other issues that come up often. Ask your readers what they’d like to know.
  • Make each post as long as it needs to be, and no longer. Say what you want to say, but don’t waffle on.
  • Find a schedule that works for you, and stick with it. Post regularly, and consistently, preferably around the same time, on the same days.
  • Keep it interesting by adding pictures, audio, video. Get creative, but remember your written content is still the cornerstone of your blog.
  • Repurpose older, but still valuable, content from other areas of your website.
  • Add some personality. No one wants to read something that sounds like a robot. Be a real person, writing for real people. Give your company a human face.
  • Don’t try to sell anything. Your company blog is not the place for that.
  • Make sure your content is relevant, don’t go off on a tangent or get off topic. Focus.
  • Decide if you want to have comments at the end of every post. I recommend you do, so your readers can engage with you. But be aware you’ll get some haters, spam, and negative comments. You’ll need to manage the comments, but don’t remove any genuine criticism.
  • Have someone respond to questions and comments, good and bad. It shows you’re there for your readers, and you care what they think.
  • Use criticism and negative feedback to improve your products and services. You’re in business to give people what they want.
  • Track your progress with something like Google Analytics. Make sure you know what worked, and what didn’t. This is your best content strategy.
  • Link to your preferred social platforms, and promote your content. If it’s good, your readers will share it on social media. And market it for you.
  • Promote your content through all your usual marketing channels. The more readers you have, the more feedback you’ll get, and the more successful your company blog will be.
  • Welcome qualified guest bloggers to add more authority and credibility. You can tap into their networks and grow your audience.

When done properly, a blog is a valuable asset to your website. It builds and nurtures relationships with your existing customers, introduces your brand to new customers, and generates leads.

It makes your company credible, likeable, and available to everyone.

And that’s just good business.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

Happy New Content Marketing 2017

Happy New Content Marketing 2017

 

Happy Content Marketing 2017

Ah, the start of a new year. If you’ve read anything online in the past week then you’re already overwhelmed by clichés, so I’ll refrain from adding to that.

But I love the beginning of a new year. It reeks of promise and potential, and no matter how bad last year was, hope springs eternal in 2017.

For me, 2016 was a good one. I had a few unexpected setbacks (you’d think I’d know to expect them by now but surprise! surprise!), still, I bounced back and finished strong in December.

I plan to continue making progress this year, and I can’t wait to try some new marketing methods.

I’m always looking to improve myself, and the work I do for my clients.

Everything is a work in progress.

As a web copywriter or, to sound more impressive, a digital marketing communications writer, I have an ongoing interest in marketing.

And not just online marketing, because, often, what works offline can also work well online, with a bit of tweaking.

So, I continually study new marketing trends and the psychology behind them – to understand something well, you need to know how and why it works.

And then you can have a go at improving it.

Did I mention I love my work?

To that end, here are some of the big content marketing predictions for 2017:

Documented Content Strategy

Content marketing is getting serious, and if you don’t have a measurable and documented content marketing strategy in place, how do know what’s working and what isn’t?

It’s good to have a clear overview of the company’s goals, and to experiment with different tactics.

If it didn’t work, why? And how can we improve it?

If it did work, why? And how can we improve it?

Smaller companies are better at this than the larger organisations, perhaps because of the smaller amount of content – and everything being on a smaller scale.

From the initial engagement process through to the sales process – document it all, and adapt as the market changes.

Better Quality Content

Serious marketers don’t use cheap content mill writers. If your business is still doing that it’s time to step up and engage the services of a professional copywriter who knows how your business works.

A good web copywriter will already know what’s working. They’ll be in alignment with your marketing efforts, and able to offer good advice. They’re in it for the love of the profession, not just for the money. Your marketing goals are their marketing goals.

Some web copywriters dream about marketing tactics. Sad but true. Take advantage of it.

There’ll be more personalised content that’s audience and niche specific. Using segmentation strategies to filter out certain groups within your readers, and targeting them with bespoke content can make your brand stand out from the crowd.

And while video is big right now – more on that later – most online content is still story-based text. Everyone loves and remembers a good story – and the message behind it.

Don’t forget to keep it all mobile-friendly, almost half of your readers will be using a mobile device. If your content doesn’t look good, and readable, on a mobile screen then you’re wasting time and money with your content strategy.

Interactive and Personalised Content

Today’s digital distractions have produced a reduced attention span (congratulations if you’re still reading this). You need to grab people’s attention with interactive content. Get your audience involved while they’re consuming your marketing efforts.

Video was a runaway success in 2016, and it’s also an excellent way to repurpose written content. This works in reverse too. Expand on the information in your videos and write in-depth (but engaging) articles.

Livestream video like Facebook Live and Snapchat’s vertical videos for mobile will continue to be popular as a way to bond with your audience.

We’ll see more infographics, and interactive content such as surveys and quizzes, contests and assessments, with personalised results.

Make your readers feel special, and prove you’re interested in them. There are plenty of other websites they can go to.

E-newsletter and Email Marketing

As far as I’m concerned this type of marketing never went out of style, even though some have previously predicted the demise of email in favour of social media. But a company has no control over communication with followers on social media, and it’s notoriously hard to measure results.

The best way to build a list is still by using email, and the best emails to send appear to be e-newsletters.

If your company isn’t sending a regular newsletter via email perhaps it’s time to start. You do have a list, don’t you?

Email, and e-newsletters, will continue to reign supreme when it comes to relevant, targeted audience building. And it’s still one of the best ways to nurture leads, and convert them into customers.

An Exciting Year Ahead

It looks like 2017 will be an exciting year for online content marketing, and I’m looking forward to getting in there and getting my hands dirty.

I want to wish all my clients and readers a very happy and successful 2017.

As always, I’m here to serve you, and together we can make your business outstanding (as in standing out) and exceptional.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

 

Direct-Response Sales Copy – The Difference Between B2C And B2B

Direct-Response Sales Copy – The Difference Between B2C And B2B

 

Office Building

After last month’s post on what makes a good direct-response sales letter, I was asked an interesting question.

What about direct-response in the B2B sector?

Are direct-response sales letters even used in B2B?

The answer: Yes, they are, but there are some differences between B2C and B2B, and it comes down to the differences in your target audience.

Direct-response, by definition, is intended to produce an almost instant response from the reader via a call-to-action. As opposed to, say, an advertisement for something which only informs, but doesn’t demand any action from the target audience – or anyone else for that matter.

So, as I’ve said many times before, you need to know your audience to know what it is that’ll make them take the desired action.

Let’s do a quick comparison between B2C, and B2B:

B2C – an individual person, usually spending their own money:

  • Product driven
  • Mass market
  • Single step buying process – shorter sales cycle
  • Brand loyalty
  • People buy for emotional reasons like status, desire, price

B2B – a business, made up of many people, spending the company’s money:

  • Relationship driven
  • Small, focused market
  • Multi step buying process – longer sales cycle
  • Education and awareness building activities
  • Rational buying based on the needs of the business

When you want to sell to other businesses you have to remember that you’re not targeting just one person, or one type of person. There’s a whole buying team you need to appeal to.

But, they are people, so some of the rules do still apply. Just go easy on the emotional hype, it won’t work for business buyers.

A B2C direct-response sales letter often contains a certain amount of hype, to get the reader interested and excited about the product.

With B2B, the sales cycle is much longer, so the direct-response letters are aimed more at lead generation – and they are just one small piece of the complex lead-generation and selling process.

And as such, they are much shorter, but still need to have that call-to-action at the end. Although that action is more likely to be a request for more information.

Direct-response in B2B may not look like your standard sales letter.  Think white papers, sell sheets (a brochure targeted to one specific type of buyer), and case studies.

Here are the main differences:

  • Every member of your B2B audience has different reasons for buying. They can’t just buy because they like it, they have to consider the whole buying team.
  • A B2B audience has competing motives for buying. They need to think about the business’s bottom line, but they may also have personal reasons, like looking good to their superiors. A copywriter needs to address all those reasons.
  • The company you’re trying to sell to already knows they need the type of product or service you offer. You don’t have to convince them they need it, you have to convince them they need yours.
  • A B2C buyer can decide to purchase something on a whim. Not so the B2B buyers, they have to consider business needs, and personal needs. B2B is generally a much bigger financial risk, and the buyers are spending company funds, not their own.
  • Most B2C consumers are only interested in the benefits. With B2B you focus on the features, as well as the benefits.
  • Many people think B2B copy is short, and B2C copy is longer. Long form sales copy does exist in B2B but it’s broken up into smaller pieces because of the longer sales cycle. So you might have 15 pieces of different sales copy but they’re all selling the same thing. And they may be skewed toward different people because of the larger buying team. When it’s added up it can often be much longer than B2C copy.
  • There’s no fluff, or emotional hype in B2B copy. Every word matters and must give a lot of information in a shorter space.
  • B2B sales copy might be direct-response but the response is to generate leads, not to make the sale straight away.

I can’t say this enough times, to sell anything to anyone, you must first know exactly who you’re selling to. And make your sales copy applicable to your target market.

When you do that, the rest is easy.

KEEP THE FAITH

Direct Response Sales Letters – The Good, The Bad, And The Unbelievable.

Direct Response Sales Letters – The Good, The Bad, And The Unbelievable.

Unbelievable Deal

 

I have a confession to make.

As much as I love writing lead-generating online copy – and I do – writing online sales letters is my favourite type of project.

Direct response sales letters, that is.

Anyone who’s ever been online has seen an online sales letter, they’re hard to miss. Most times you click on a link in an email, or another website, and you go to a long, or short form, letter that tells you a pertinent story along with a host of features and benefits, testimonials, guarantees and an offer.

If it’s a good sales letter you’ll read it through till the end, without being aware you’re being sold.

Oh, you’ll know on a subconscious level that there’ll be an offer of some sort near the end, but the letter is so compelling, so relevant to you, and so exactly-what-you-need, that before you know it you’ll be fumbling for your credit card, eager to get yours before the offer ends, or you miss out.

The thing about online sales letters is it’s easy to measure the results. And just as easy to test different letters to see what’s working and what isn’t.

And as a copywriter, I love getting creative and finding just the right unique selling point that’ll deliver those results. I love to find something new, but familiar, a new spin on an old idea, to give readers an oh-yeah moment and make them take notice.

I love a challenge.

So, what makes a good sales letter?

How long should it be?

Do people even read long-form sales letters anymore? Doesn’t everyone have the attention span of a fruit fly in this brave new world of digital distractions?

An effective sales letter has to do more than grab the reader’s attention with the headline. It has to keep their attention, sentence by sentence, until the end.

The reader must relate to the content.

Know your audience. Use language they understand. They’re called letters because you’re writing to someone you know, make it conversational.

It must address a particular problem, remind the reader how that problem affects their life, and then offer a solution to that problem. Hint: It’s your product or service.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

But the number of bad sales letters online suggests that’s not the case.

Of course, everything is easy if you know how.

The main problem is that people love to buy, but they hate to be sold.

If the reader is aware that they’re about to read a load of lies, and be duped out of their money, they won’t keep reading.

We’ve all read those fake ads claiming all kinds of ridiculous things, with made-up testimonials and too-good-to-be-true offers.

You know, the ones with pictures of luxury cars, yachts, mansions, and don’t forget the questionable graphs and statistics no one can understand.

A true and genuine sales letter is aimed at the right people for all the right reasons. Not to make a quick buck, but to help them solve a problem, or offer the solution to that problem.

It’s all about helping people.

There are no outlandish claims. Everything stated is true, the testimonials are real, and the guarantee is genuine. The letter has credibility.

As a general rule, the more expensive, complex, or abstract the product or service is, the more information the reader needs to make a decision. So, the longer the sales letter should be.

Long or short? It should be as long as it needs to be to convince the reader the product or service will do what you claim it will do.

Remember, you’re asking people to buy something they can only see a picture of. You need to detail all the benefits, and address all the objections.

And yes, people do read long copy. Tests have shown long-form sales copy often outperforms short copy, because of the amount of information, statistics, social proof etc.

If the sales letter is interesting and relevant, people will read to the end. And for those who like to scan, that’s what subheads are for.

Short form copy has its place for familiar products and services, as well as those that don’t ask for much of a commitment, like groceries, and everyday essentials.

For most products or services it’s a case of the more you tell, the more you sell.

The only real downside that I can see with online sales letters is the very crowded market place.

These days we’re bombarded by sales messages, and everyone is trying to sell us the next gotta-have-it thing.

To stand out from the crowd you just have to be different.

And that isn’t as hard as sounds either. If you can establish credibility early on, keep the reader engaged and focus on their needs, while solving a problem for them, you’ll gain a loyal following, and repeat business.

Because honesty and integrity in advertising is becoming a rare commodity.

You don’t need to know your audience to know they want that.

It’s about what your customers need, not what you need.

 

KEEP THE FAITH

 

 

Autoresponders – Automated Hands-Off Marketing

Autoresponders – Automated Hands-Off Marketing

 

Autoresponders

Now you have your lead magnet set up, you might want to automate your follow up emails and use an autoresponder.

An autoresponder is a program that automatically sends prewritten emails to your list at a predetermined time, and frequency. Predetermined by you, of course.

Anyone who has ever signed up to a list will have received at least the first email in an autoresponder sequence – that’s most often the welcome email.

Your email program will have all the tools you need to set up your own autoresponder series.

All you have to do is write a sequence of emails for an easy, hands-off way to market to your list.

And just like any other business email, autoresponder emails need to be engaging and interesting, with subject lines that people can’t resist.

Now, keep in mind, this is a series of 3, 5, 7, or more, short emails sent out over days, or weeks, depending on their specific purpose. So your emails all need to have a common thread, and naturally progress to the next, and the next …

Your job is to make the reader want to read the following email in the series. Make them easy to consume, in a language they’re familiar with.

How do you do that?

By giving them something useful in the first email, and letting them see that they’ll get more if they read the next email. This works for the initial trust-building emails, and the later sales emails, although both should have the same components, and many companies now merge the two, to save time. Others have a welcome series, then they move to a conversion series.

Use a theme throughout your email series and don’t forget your call to action and links.

You can use a sequence of emails to highlight a different feature, and its benefits, in each one. Readers will be waiting in anticipation to see what comes next.

Once a prospect takes you up on your offer, their name usually gets put onto a different list. You should be marketing to prospects and customers differently. No one wants to keep receiving marketing emails for something they’ve already bought.

This happens a lot more than it should, and it’s annoying. To me, it says the company hasn’t taken the time or effort to look after its customers. It’s just sending everything to everyone in the hopes of positive results.

It also reeks of laziness, poor planning, or both. It tells me the company is only interested in my money. Do you really want to be perceived that way?

Segmenting your list makes sense for your company, and for your prospects and customers, because not everyone will respond to the same messages. When you segment your list, you can customise your autoresponder messages for maximum conversions.

Always be giving your readers usefulness and relevance, they’ll want to buy your product or service to gain even more value.

Don’t be concerned that people won’t buy because you’re giving away all the good stuff. People will buy because they know you, trust you, and like what you have to offer.

You’re going to help them, so show them how you’ll do that.

Keep the emails short and punchy, because they’re not the sales letter. You’re using persuasion and relevant stories to send the readers to a landing page, or your website, where the real selling begins.

I recommend a series of at least seven emails. That way you’re still building a relationship with your prospect and not being pushy or coming across like a used-car-salesman (no disrespect to car salesmen, but we’ve all been there).

You want to convert them to buyers, not scare them away forever.

Remember, people have already signed up to receive your emails, They want to hear more from you. For the most part, adding more emails to your autoresponder sequence will increase sales.

But, as always, keep testing to find out what’s working and what isn’t.

 

KEEP THE FAITH