Saturday, 26 May 2018

Is your copy bone idle?

How is your copy performing?

Is it working hard to get you the results you need?

Or is it merely lounging on your page, watching the world — and your potential customers — go by?

5 Signs your copy may not be working hard enough.

  1. You have a healthy audience, but little engagement.
  2. Your copy is not translating into sales or conversions.
  3. You're spending valuable time explaining things or clarifying misunderstandings.
  4. You're spending too much time and money on rework.
  5. Your website is not getting the volume of visitors you think it should.

10 Things that could be wrong.

1. Your copy is not getting your readers' attention.
  • Look at your headlines — do they grab you and convince you to read?
  • Look at your headings — do they draw you in and keep you reading?
  • Look at your content — is it written in an engaging way?

2. Your copy doesn't encompass the full extent of your market.

  • Are you narrowing your market by being too niche?
  • Do you use a lot of tech terms or jargon that could bamboozle someone outside your industry?
  • If your language and approach were more inclusive could you attract a wider clientele? 

3. Your copy is not speaking to your readers effectively.

  • Does your copy use the right language and tone for your market?
  • Does it focus on you rather than your customer?
  • Does it focus on the features of your product/service rather than the benefits?

4. Your copy is a one-way street.

  • Are you encouraging engagement?
  • Have you written a monologue rather than copy that will start a dialogue?
  • You can increase engagement by involving your readers more, for example, by asking questions, actively requesting feedback and inviting suggestions. 
  • Show you're listening and make your audience feel valued by answering questions, responding to feedback and acting on the best suggestions.
5. Your copy isn't publicising some of the most important things you offer.

  • Does your copy highlight all the ways you can help your readers?
  • Don't rely on people asking if you offer something — if they need it and you don't advertise it, they are likely to go elsewhere.

6. Your copy is not current or relevant.

  • Is your copy and subject matter on-brand and on-topic?
  • Does your copy have its finger on the pulse, or is it late to the party?
  • Are you talking about things your audience is interested in right now?
  • Could you think even further ahead to the ideas, innovations and issues of tomorrow?

7. Your copy waffles too much or doesn't get to the point quickly enough.

  • People are often short of time and they get bored easily.
  • Too much information can be overwhelming, so keep your communications focused and simple.
  • Keep your copy concise and make sure every sentence makes a point.
  • If you're in doubt, make your main point first, then follow up on it.

8. Your copy is confusing or ambiguous.

  • Does your copy say what you think it does?
  • Could it be interpreted in a different way?
  • If a potential customer doesn't feel certain, they may walk away — so make sure it's crystal clear.

9. Your copy is difficult to read.

  • Divide large chunks of text into paragraphs.
  • Keep your sentences short and clear.
  • Use simple terms the average person will understand without needing a dictionary. 

10. Your website SEO isn't implemented properly or your keywords need updating.

  • Have you had your copy checked by someone who understands Search Engine Optimisation?
  • If you haven't and your website is not getting much traffic, this could be the reason.

Would you like some free help with your existing copy?

If you're a UK-based company and you would like some more specific help with one of your own communications, why not get in touch with me?

I'm an experienced copywriter, content writer and copy editor based in the Midlands. For the next three months I'm offering a free evaluation of your existing copy. 

That's right. I will look at a piece of your copy and give you an honest critique for free.

No strings, no obligations, just some friendly advice on what might be wrong and how to put it right.

If that sounds good, follow this link for the full terms and contact details.

Let's get your copy up off its sun lounger and start putting it to work!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Why you should be blogging.

"You should have a blog," they say. 

"It will be great," they say. 

"All the big, successful businesses have a blog."

So you decide to start a blog.

Except, perhaps you've never really understood the value of a blog — or why you would need one.

If you're in any doubt about the value a blog can add to your marketing efforts, allow me to enlighten you.

A blog, done properly, is a valuable tool for your organisation.

You will fail to see any value from your blog if you don't place any value upon it.

Writing the blog is an important job and a chance to engage with your target market. The responsibility for writing it should be given to someone who wants to do it, who can understand your customers and is a brand ambassador for your business.

The blog is an extension of your brand. It should have a clear content strategy and communicate consistently, using your brand's tone of voice. 

Your blog should feature original, high quality content, created specifically for you. 

The content should be meaningful and created because you have something to say — not just because you feel obliged to publish something — anything — to fill the void.

If you decide blogging isn't for you, that's okay too. Just make sure you take down the blog you created. If you leave it out in cyberspace, with two lame articles you wrote in 2001, it could come back to haunt you.

Here are five reasons you should be blogging and how it can benefit your business.

1. Blogging helps you stay connected with your customers

Blogging regularly keeps your brand on your customers' radar.

Blog about things you know your customers will be interested in. 

You can use images, visuals and video to add interest and engage your customers' attention.

There are several ways to make sure your blog posts reach your customers:

  • Make it easy for customers to subscribe to your blog. When they do, they will be alerted every time there is a new post.
  • Include links to your latest blog posts in your email marketing/newsletters.
  • Publicise new blog posts to your social media followers.
And, if you use smart, search-engine-optimised titles, your blog could be picking up visitors your website might not. So it's a chance to reach out to potential new customers too.

2. Blogging positions you as an expert in your field

Your blog is your chance to show the world how knowledgable and capable you are, so make the most of it.

Some of the posts you could create to demonstrate your mastery include:
  • Information and advice on a popular topic
  • Tutorials 
  • Style guides
  • Answering a frequently asked question

3. Blogging allows you to be current

Instead of constantly updating your website content, you can use your blog to talk about things currently happening in your field.

Such posts may include:
  • Latest styles and trends
  • New technology and innovations
  • Changes to policy or legislation
  • Forthcoming events or events you have attended

4. Blogging builds a valuable following

Your blog is a valuable tool for engaging with your target audience.

And, rather than it being a one-way process, it's interactive.

Every time you put something out there, your followers will be reading it, commenting and asking questions.

It's a great opportunity to:
  • Test ideas for new products or services
  • Find out what your customers really want
  • Gain feedback and make improvements
  • See where your current communications could be improved. For example, if a particular question is being asked frequently, you could make sure there is an answer on your website.

5. Blogging gets you noticed

A new website can take 6 to 12 months to show up in the search results, so promoting it is vital.
But, if your social media posts are all just links to your website, you won't get many followers or reach. 

Blogging helps to drive traffic to your website by offering something new and valuable — and a link to your website.

There are several ways this happens:
  • It gives you a reason to update your website, which gives the search engines a reason to crawl your website and index it, which helps your page rank
  • Each blog post adds another page of quality content to your website and another opportunity for your site to appear in the search results
  • Each blog post gives you something worthwhile and original to post on social media
  • When you promote your blog content on social media, your followers will see it and, if it's good, they might share it too — which nets you a wider audience

So now you understand the value of your blog, you probably need some quality content, right?

A good place to start is my recent blog post 101 Blog post ideas for your business.

If you need someone to create your content, why not give me a call?

I am an accomplished copywriter who specialises in writing search-engine-optimised blogs and web content.

I can help by writing content and providing ideas and inspiration.

For more information, please visit my website.

Or contact me about your blog project here.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

10 Ways to improve your website's user experience.

A great user experience benefits your customers and your profits.

Your website's user experience is instrumental in building customer confidence and trust. The better a customer's experience, the more likely they are to buy from you and recommend your site to others.

Here are ten ways you can improve your website's user experience and reap the rewards.

1. Make sure your site is responsive.

Your site should provide a great user experience on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

Google is giving preference to mobile-friendly websites and has already started rolling out mobile-first indexing. This means Google's bots will only crawl and index the mobile version of your page.

2. Use a logical, flexible structure.

Make it easy for users to find and access the information they need.
  • If you have a sizeable site, consider including a search box before the fold
  • Group like sections/products/questions together
  • Think about the future of the website and how it might develop over time e.g. new products, new services, new regions
  • Keep a flexible format so you can easily add to it when necessary

3. Make it easy to navigate.

Think about the user's path through the site. Ideally, they should be able to access any page within three clicks.

Most websites include a main navigation bar at the top of each page. Some websites keep this visible on screen at all times, but this can be intrusive on mobiles and tablets.

Instead, add further buttons and links as your customer scrolls down the page. These will provide easy access to other, relevant parts of your site without the user having to scroll back up to the main navigation bar each time.

Also, keep in mind what your users might want to look at next and use your existing pages to link to similar sections/products/questions.

4. Make sure your definition is on-point.

Your definition should make it easy for your customers to see what you do, who you do it for and how you do it differently.

These three points help users to quickly determine if your site is for them.

Your definition should be at the top of your landing page, so it's one of the first things visitors see.

Keep it simple and succinct — one or two sentences at most.

5. Use plain English.

All businesses want to sound professional. But overuse of jargon or pompous, pretentious language can alienate some users, leaving them feeling bored, confused or — worse still — stupid. 

Before you know it, they're retreating from your site, back to the search results to seek out one of your competitors.

All users appreciate engaging, straightforward copy that reads well and makes good sense. And with the right copywriter, it can still sound professional and creative too.

6. Give enough information.

You need to strike a balance with the information you provide.

Too much content can be overwhelming — especially for mobile phone users.

Too little content can leave users undecided.

To get the balance right, make sure the essential information is available on your website and that your sales message and call to action are targeted correctly to deliver your desired outcome. 

Finally, make sure your contact information is readily available, so users know where to find out more.

7. Make sure your links work.

Users can be frustrated by links that go to the wrong pages or pages that no longer exist.

If you're making changes to your website and are removing pages, make sure you find and remove the links to them too.

Similarly, if you are adding pages, make sure there are active links to those pages on your site. Pages that have no links to them are known as 'orphan pages' and they can't be indexed or accessed.

If your site features external links, it's advisable to check those regularly to make sure the pages they link to still exist.

8. Use pop-ups wisely.

During a recent Facebook chat, copywriters were discussing the merits and evils of pop-ups.

The general consensus was that, although they are proven to work well, they can also be irritating to users — especially when they:
  • Don't offer anything of value
  • Appear before the user has had a chance to see your website properly
  • Ask users to sign up to something before they have seen what you have to offer
To provide the best user experience, consider:
  • Only using a pop-up if you have something truly amazing and unmissable to offer
  • Using the pop-up on the home page only
  • Activating the pop-up when the user is leaving the page rather than when they arrive

9. Have a clear, GDPR-compliant privacy policy.

Your privacy policy should be clear on what data your website will be collecting from your users and how you intend to use that data.

A clear privacy policy helps users build trust and confidence in you, knowing that their personal data is in safe hands and will not be abused.

Guidelines suggest your privacy policy should not be hidden away and a link to it should be clearly visible on every page of your website. 

10. Make your call to action obvious.

The call to action button is one of the most important features on your page, so make sure you give it some prominence. Make it stand out by using a contrasting colour and surrounding it with plenty of white space.

And make it clear what will happen when users click the button.

If your call to action is a phone number, make sure that stands out too. And make it clickable for users on mobile phones, so it's a straightforward, one-touch process.

A clear call to action shows users exactly what to do next, which is also key to your conversions.

Does your website need a copy overhaul?

As I've mentioned several times in this article, the quality of your website copy can dramatically improve the user experience. From effective SEO copy that helps users find your site online, to a clear opening definition and plain English copy that reads well.

If your website isn't working as well as you hoped it would, maybe I can help.

I am an accomplished copywriter with more than seven years' experience of writing search-engine-optimised websites. You can find out more about me and see examples of my work on my website.

If you would like a FREE, objective critique of your current website and some advice on how it could be improved to boost sales and engagement, please get in touch with me.