7 Kinds of Copy That Should Be Avoided at All Costs

Demian Farnworth recently published another instalment in his excellent series on copywriting. In this recent post, he discusses copywriting styles that should really be avoided. These include:

  • Lyrical – poetic and wordy, but ineffective
  • Sentimental – trying desperately to make you “feel”
  • Outlandish –just weird and often scammy
  • Humorous – sometimes good, but generally risky
  • Short – full of unnecessary mystery
  • Clever – snarky and snappy, but usually confusing
  • Advertorial – popular, but overused and abused

Find out how NOT to use these styles in your copywriting: 7 Ways to Write Damn Bad Copy

How To Get More Of Your Website Content Read

Most people go to a lot of effort to make their home page a welcoming entrance for first-time visitors. But in reality many – if not most – visitors will bypass your home page and enter your website on an interior page via a link in a search engine listing.

When you consider every page on your website is an entrance, you start to view your pages differently. You start to think of every page as a “home” page which must entice the reader to stick around, read the page and, hopefully, click a link to explore your site further.

Here are six tips to stop first-time visitors hitting the back button when they arrive at your site:

1. Answer visitors’ questions upfront

A visitor to your website will decide whether to stay or hit the back button in less than 10 seconds. In that short time they have to decide:

  • Am I in the right place?
  • Does this page have the information I’m looking for?
  • Should I bother reading more?

As many as 50% of visitors will bail after a quick glance.

To prevent visitors bailing immediately you have to answer their questions ASAP. The content at the top of the page – such as the page header, headline and first paragraph – must work together to communicate quickly and clearly what the page is about and why a visitor should keep reading.

2. Create stand alone pages

When a visitor arrives via a link they have very little context for your website. So make sure every page is self-explanatory and can be understood without having to read any other pages on your site. It’s OK to repeat some information found on other pages if it helps the reader understand the page.

And be sure to put some links to related information at the end of the page. Because every page must be a starting point for further exploration, not an end point.

3. Have an informative page header

The page header is an important sign post that helps visitors orient themselves to your website. It should include:

  • Your company name and/or logo in the top left-hand corner
  • A link to the home page from your company name/logo
  • A brief and descriptive website tagline that explains what your site is about.

Avoid large header graphics as they reduce the usable space above the fold (see below).

4. Put important information above the fold

Above the fold” refers to the portion of a web page a reader can see without scrolling. Readers will only scroll down if you’ve successfully captured their attention and aroused enough curiosity to read on.

So don’t bury your lead. Don’t make visitors read a load of background information before they get to the point. A good tactic is to write a summary of the page in the first paragraph – just like a newspaper article. And don’t forget to include your most compelling benefits.

5. Ensure global navigation is clear and intuitive

Global navigation appears on every page of a site, usually under the page header and/or in the left hand column. For visitors who arrive through a link and decide to continue browsing your site, clear, concise and intuitive navigation labels are a must.

6. Link to related pages

When someone arrives at your page from a search engine you know they’re interested in the page’s topic. So it makes sense to link to relevant information on the same topic, such as articles and products. You can add a list of related links in a side bar or at the end of the page.

“Secret” Website Ingredient #1: A Simple Yet Effective Strategy

IngredientsA simple and clear strategy is the foundation of a successful website. Unfortunately, creating an effective strategy is the most difficult part of building your site.

You need to do a bit of research and give the matter some deep thought. Perhaps that’s why so many business owners skip this crucial step.

But rest assured, the difference between success and failure often comes down to website strategy. It’s far better to have a solid strategy with mediocre execution, than a poor strategy that’s brilliantly executed.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Alan Lakein, author and time management expert

Strategy is about aligning your website with the needs of your target market. Developing a strategy forces you to consider what result you want and how you’ll get it. It guides the design and content of your website, without hampering creativity. And it ensures the site meets your most important business objectives.

So how do you develop a strategy? By answering the following five questions:

1. What’s the target audience for your website?

Websites should be tailored for the audiences they’re trying to reach. Who is your website for? Be specific. Trying to be all things to all people is a marketing mistake that’s made frequently online.

2. What’s your unique competitive advantage?

All your prospective customers are asking themselves, “Why should I choose you and not one of your competitors?” The answer to this question is your “unique competitive advantage” or UCA.

Your UCA is a clear and concise statement of what makes you a better alternative than all your competitors. It helps customers understand what makes you different, and how that difference benefits them.

Here’s a famous example of the power of a UCA: Domino’s dominated the home delivery pizza market by adopting the UCA of fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.

Your UCA is the nucleus around which you build your website content. So it’s worth putting in the time and effort to create one that’s right for your business and your customers.

3. What benefits do you offer?

Benefits are the building blocks of all successful marketing materials. Yet few businesses take the time to identify, articulate and document the benefits customers get from using their products and services.

By simply adding benefit-rich content to their websites, many companies could get a significant edge over their competition.

4. What is your most wanted response?

The term “most wanted response” or MWR was coined by e-commerce guru Ken McEvoy. It refers to the one action you most want website visitors to do. Examples of MWRs include order a product, subscribe to an e-newsletter, call to arrange a free consultation or download your special report.

Just ask yourself, “What is the ONE thing I want my website visitors to do?” You need to be very clear on this. Once you’ve set your MWR you design your entire site around encouraging visitors to take that one action that moves them a step closer to the sale.

5. What is the personality of your company?

Your website is often the first point of contact for your potential customers. It’s where you start building a relationship with them. So you should let the best personality traits of your company shine through.

Your strategy guides development

In the process of building a website many decisions must be made. Designers will present various options for the look and feel of the site. And you can choose from dozens of different tactics for bringing traffic to the site and converting it into customers.

Use your website strategy to guide you through these decisions. Because your website strategy shows how your site supports the objectives of your business. It’s the yardstick for judging all your website efforts.

This post is part 2 of the series: The 4 “Secret” Ingredients of a Profitable Website

Read part 3: Customer-Focused Content

How to Make Your Clients Uber-Happy

The simple answer: meet your deadlines. Turns out many freelancers suck at meeting deadlines. Naturally, this makes for some frustrated customers.

James Chartrand, founder and CEO of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, offers some tried-and-true advice on making sure your deadlines are met. She also offers some handy tips for avoiding those occasional days when (despite your best efforts) you run short on time.

Check it out: The Best-Kept Secret to Ecstatically Happy Clients

How to Measure Your Content Marketing Effectiveness

You may be putting a lot of work into your marketing campaign, but if you’re not measuring your effectiveness, you’re missing out. In fact, some say that measurement is the most essential component of your strategy.

CMI consultants Carla Johnson, Michael Weiss, Ardath Albee, and Jay Baer weighed in on the topic in a recent roundtable conversation. Check it out to learn how to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing.

Watch it here: Measuring Marketing Effectiveness: 4 Content Experts Weigh In