Writing For the Web – What You Need To Hook Your Reader

Web WritingBy Julia Duvall, Cooper Smith & Company writer

 The Telegraph reports that the average adult is exposed to the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data per day. Amid this landslide of mostly digital information, you have just seconds to grab your audience’s attention. So, how do you stand out from the vast sea of content online? Rise to the top of the digital wasteland with these five tips to fix your copy.

Get To The Meat

Writing for digital consumption is all about providing the right amount of information in the right format. Your reader is likely using a tablet or mobile device, and doesn’t have time to sift through a bunch of text. Get to the meat of your content quickly, and don’t include lots of explanation. More detailed content can be split into separate pages for readers who want more information.

Chunk Your Content

Make your digital content easy to digest by “chunking” the copy – use subheads to help your reader jump around. Bullet points can help key facts stand out. Use short sentences of 20 words or less, and paragraphs of no more than five sentences. One-sentence paragraphs are encouraged!

Be Visually Appealing

Your digital content must be visually appealing. Use graphs, photos, infographics, and whatever visual elements can help to tell your story. Italics and bolding are difficult to read and should be used sparingly, and don’t be afraid of white space.

Include A Clear Call-To-Action

Content should inspire a specific action. Want your reader to subscribe to your YouTube channel or register for a class? Make the call-to-action clear and easy to execute.

Dig Into Your Data

Which pages of your website have the highest bounce rates? Do some social media posts perform better than others? Between free tools like Google Analytics and the robust analytics available on nearly every social media platform, you’re sitting on a mountain of priceless data.

 

You don’t have to guess if your copy online is effective – look at Facebook post engagement, conduct A/B testing for your email campaigns, and explore bounce rates on each page of your website. Let your audience tell you what works and what doesn’t.

 

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The “Cloud’s” silver lining

Mar

We’ve been an Apple Macintosh shop from day one. We loved them. They were intuitive, stable, and reliable.

Until the Cloud.

Most of our software now comes from the Cloud. Programs update automatically and sometimes without warning. Apple, in an effort to stay ahead of hackers and competitors, releases new systems more frequently than my windows get washed. As new versions are introduced, software developers scramble to stay compatible.

Apple isn’t the only culprit. Larger developers drive change as well. Often, Adobe’s Creative Cloud’s frequent updates mean files built with the latest software won’t open in even slightly older versions.

All these “New and Improved” developments coming from the Cloud got me thinking. Could thoughtful marketing communications have made these changes easier to accept?

Here’s what I wish I could tell Apple to do, and what you can do if you’re introducing a changed product or service.

Give us a warning.

Tell us when change is coming with enough time to prepare for the transition. Upgrade costs, training demands and operational impacts will all be factors in determining how much lead time your customers may need.

Educate me.

Show me and tell me what is changing and how it will impact me. Provide demos and documentation. Share your research, trial results and white papers. Discuss the benefits of the “new”, but be honest about any potentially unwelcome changes, too.

Let me test it first.

Provide samples, a trial period, or a preview. Letting us try the new thing into our own real-world setting alleviates a lot of fear.

Give me options.

As much as possible, give me control over when the change occurs. Keep both the new and old products in production for a while to accommodate late adopters. Tell me when the original will no longer be available.

Let me change my mind.

If I hate the new thing, how do I undo my decision? Are refunds or guarantees possible? How do I return, uninstall, or dispose of the thing? What are the alternatives if this doesn’t work for me?

How you introduce change to a customer can make a big impact on its acceptance. Make marketing communications your ally and you’ll go a long way toward keeping them happy and open to improvements.

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Exhibiting? Six tips to make the most of your show experience.

Feb

We’re coming up on trade show season again. Exhibiting at trade shows can be stressful and costly but when done well, they can be a powerful tool to move you closer to your business goals. Below are five tips to help you make the most of your company’s tradeshow experience:

1. Visit before you exhibit
If possible, attend a show before you commit to exhibiting. Walking the expo floor will tell you a great deal about what you’ll need to do to be successful. This is especially important in shows overseas. They have very different booth systems than we do in the US. If you don’t match their style you’ll look like a clueless newbie. Get a feel for the exhibit floor layout and decide where you’d like your booth to be placed. Make note of exhibitor’s booths. You’ll want to rise to the standard, but also stand out.

2. Know your purpose
Set a clear purpose for going to the show. The best shows will attract a range of potential prospects and customers. Pin down your goals and decide what metrics you’ll track for success. For instance, how many prospects are you hoping to gain, and how are you identifying them? Are they a prospect if they register for your drawing, or only if they request product information?

3. Refine your message.
Your booth is like a billboard. When attendees walk by your booth you only have about five seconds to capture their attention. Based on your purpose for exhibiting at this show, decide what ONE message you’re going to lead with and stick with it. Keep it short and succinct—8 to 12 words—and use it everywhere; on the booth, in collateral, and on giveaways.

4. Don’t be afraid to stand out
Trade shows may have inspired the phrase Go Big or Go Home. Shows are absolutely the time to break out of the routine. Stick with that one message but be bold with it. Let your brand show its purest, most passionate self. Be you. Only bigger!

5. Stay on brand
Avoid off-brand traffic building gimmicks. We’ve probably all been to a trade show where a booth ran an event that drew long lines, and yet you have no memory of the company exhibiting’s name or what they were selling. Too many times booth bait is used that has no relation to the company, brand or marketing message. If your booth is using something random like Jedi Knights for an attendee photo-op, you better find a clever way to tie it back to your message.

6. Train your team
Make sure everyone working the booth understands the show’s purpose and marketing message. Not only should they be able to repeat it and work it into a sentence or pitch, they need to know why it is the message for this show. Hold a training session and do some role-playing. It’s a good way to get a group focused and excited for a trade show.

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