Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5 Ways To Create Attention-Grabbing Subject Lines

If your e-marketing subject line doesn't grab attention, your customers and prospects will simply hit "delete" without even bothering to read what's inside. So how do you create subject lines that help ensure click-ins?

1. Keep it short and punchy: In its 2007 Email Benchmark Guide, MarketingSherpa concludes, "When it comes to subject lines, shorter is better." Our digital attention span is short and your "teaser" line should be, too.

2. Use the recipient's name: People are more inclined to open an email if you address them personally. For example: "Matthew, here is your affordable IT solution."

3. Avoid the spam monsters: Make sure your subject line doesn't trigger spam filters. Use SPAM content checker and send it to your own email address to test.

4. Make sure you're using the right words: Certain words trigger responses better than others. Check out Google Analytics to see which words are often searched; it's likely that those same words will motivate prospects.

5. Don't get sloppy: Take an extra couple of minutes to use spell checker, proofread yourself, and then ask someone else to proofread as well. The last thing you want is to appear unprofessional.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marketing Communications With Added Value

I specialize in web content writing and marketing communications, pure and simple. But these days, no one stands alone. I'm often asked, "Who should I use for design?" Or: "What about search engine optimization?" Or, "Can you give me the name of a good lettershop?"

As a result, I've put together a list of services you should bookmark. Here are just a few:

Search engine optimization: Thad Thompson at He's great.

Designers: Leslie Harrold at Julie Nykiel at

Lettershop: Steve Ross at

Twitter: Grow your network with Or

I'm here to make your web content writing and brochure writing jobs a little easier. I serve as the hub of a virtual network so you can just hand off the job...and I'll do the rest.

Do More With Less With Your Marketing Communications

In an economy like this one, all too many companies try to do less with less. They dig in and cut back, while their competition steams ahead. They put that great idea on hold. And when the recession ends -- as it always inevitably does -- they are behind the eight-ball.

Someone once said, "There are no challenges, just opportunities." That doesn't mean that the opportunities can't be merged with the realities of today's market. It just means that just because times are lean, you don't need to sacrifice your hard-earned market share. Here's how:

1. Work with an established freelancer instead of a full-fledged ad agency: In an economic downturn like this, many writers are new to the freelance market and haven't proven themselves quite yet. So the key word is "established". A freelancer can cost far less than a Madison Avenue shop. FAR less.

2. Get social: It's time to get involved in the online conversation. Register your company on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Del.i.cious and others and gain visibility.

3. Stand out in the industry: Don't rely on the same old elevator noise -- "results, quality, service." Ask yourself what your key differentiators are. What makes you better than your competitors? Why do clients and customers keep coming back to you? How would you sell yourself if you were sitting across from a client? Make sure this is communicated throughout your marketing communications.

4. Above all else, don't give up on your marketing goals because resources are scarcer: Many writers, designers, and other professionals will work with you to accommodate your budget, with the expectation of building a relationship. Be sure to ask if prices are negotiable. Within reason, they usually are.

The five biggest mistakes of creating web content

Your website design and formatting is of crucial importance, of course. Done correctly, you'll get maximum click-throughs. But what about converting visitors to enthusiastic customers? That's where website content comes in.

All too often, though, companies will spend a fortune on design and then make major mistakes when it comes to content. Here are five of the most common mistakes...

1. Write long, tedious paragraphs: The human eye can only take in six lines at a time. Web copy must be short and compelling. The fact is, no one has the time to read your long tome.

2. Talk about yourself, not your customer: It's almost like a salesperson who instantly touts all the great things about his or her product, without bothering to see if the customer has a need. If you identify with the customer's challenges, he or she is more likely to see your company as a solution.

3. Use generic words like "quality, service, results": Your company is not the only company that believes it offers great quality and service. But how do you prove it? The more specific you are, the more likely the customer is to believe you.

4. Rely on a lot of jargon: It's been proven: B2B sites are far more likely to get clicks if the customer loses the jargon and uses a more accessible tone. That doesn't mean promotional; it DOES mean clear, communicative, and to-the-point.

5. Forget that web content is a science, not just an art: Search engines send out little spiders, to scan the content on the page and index that content based on keywords they find. A successful web content writer must leverage that science to increase visibility.

By sidestepping these mistakes -- and hiring a professional writer -- who knows what she's doing -- you can build responses and business.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pay-Per-Click Or Organic: Why You Should Care

It's not enough to simply create a great website.  The more important element is getting visitors -- qualified, profitable visitors -- to click on your sites.  There are two ways to achieve this goal:  organic search and PPC (pay per click).

The advantages of pay-per-click are compelling:

  • Nearly instant traffic:  your ads should start showing within 10 minutes after setting up a PPC campaign.
  • Keyword monitoring:  you can quickly monitor which keywords bring visitors who convert.
However, every visitor -- even those who are "just looking" -- will cost you money.  And competition is growing daily, which will only drive the cost per click up over time.

So what about an organic search results?  Well, for one thing, visitors are free, so there's a very high ROI on those clicks.  More searchers click in the organic search results than the PPC ads, according to research, which leads to more targeted traffic.  By investing a little time and money each month, you can gradually build a site to attract loads of free visitors.

Of course, there are disadvantages, too.  Organic search ranking takes time -- a few weeks or even a few months.  And it often requires a skilled SEO professional to help you create the content and format that's most likely to get the greatest number of free clicks.

The bottom line is that no one advertising method is perfect for everyone. But if you understand the difference, you can make the right choice for your goals.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Copy or Design: Which Is Most Important For A Website?

In a word:  BOTH.  Quite simply:  no website can thrive on copy alone.  It's the marriage of professional copy and compelling design that will give you the click-throughs you want.  Here are some points to consider:

*Start with the planning and navigation.  If your prospect can't locate the information, you've just lost a sale.

*No font should be less than 10 or 12 points.  None!

*A menu of links to key pages should be on every page.  You want to make it as easy as possible for your visitor.

*Keep the background either white or light unless there's a VERY good reason to do otherwise. Every page on your site should be consistent with the home page.

*Excessive graphics slow down a website's loading time -- and also a visitor's patience.  There should be a good ratio of graphics to copy.

*Internet Explorer is the browser of choice for most visitors, but Firefox, Safari, and Navigator Net are also gaining popularity.  Make sure your website is browser friendly.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How Are E-Newsletters Really Read?

So you're ready to launch an e-newsletter.  And you're committed to making it very readable and intriguing to your customers or clients.  Here are some facts to keep in mind:

*The average time allocated to a newsletter after opening it is only 51 seconds.

*Only 19% of newsletter is likely to be fully read;  for the most part, readers scan.

*One third of the time, readers only skim a small portion of the newsletter before moving on.

*Most readers totally skip the introductory "fluff" text (67% move right to the "meat").

When writing an e-newsletter, keep it short.  Keep it simple. Keep it meaty and interesting.  And resist the urge to add lots of meaningless filler copy that is likely not to be read.