The Pomodoro Technique & Writing an Honest FAQ: The Web Content Roundup

WebContentRoundup21Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). Writing an honest FAQ http://feedly.com/k/14rP9iR

2). What gets in the way of great digital copy? http://feedly.com/k/11 Ignorance, apathy, budget…

3). A Crash Course on Storytelling http://feedly.com/k/1cwOcZz by @demianfarnworth 6 TED Talk videos

4). 6 Simple Steps to Writing Seductive Web Copy http://feedly.com/k/14c8VAh

5). Design + Copy: The Sum Is Greater Than the Parts http://feedly.com/k/138XWKV Hallelujah!

6). 5 Types of Content Marketing to Continuously Attract Prospects http://feedly.com/k/132RaoX

7). How The Pomodoro Technique Can Help You Draft Your Book In Just 3 Weeks – While Still Having A Life http://feedly.com/k/18b70jp

For more of the freshest tips and tactics on web copywriting, SEO, social media and online marketing be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Top 7 Things You Should Know About Charles Cuninghame

Charles Cuninghame is an experienced freelance copywriter and plain English editor.

Since 1997 he has helped many marketing teams, communications managers, business owners and creative agencies get better results from their marketing materials and improve their communications.

Here are the top seven things you should know about Charles:

1. Good credentials
Charles holds a Commerce/Law degree from the University of NSW. He also has copywriting qualifications from American Writers & Artists Inc.

2. Creative and strategic
Charles offers a rare combination of creative inspiration and strategic marketing thinking.

3. Website copywriting pioneer
Back in 1995 Charles wrote his first web pages. This makes him one of Australia’s most experienced website copywriters.

4. Keen self-educator
Charles’s clients don’t have to read the latest articles, books and blog posts on copywriting and marketing. Because Charles does and knows what’s working.

5. Passionate about plain English
After being constantly drilled by his first boss and writing mentor to “write like you speak”, Charles became a passionate advocate of plain English.

6. Seen in all the best places
The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, Better Homes & Gardens, Australian Doctor and Your Mortgage Magazine have all featured articles written by Charles.

7. You might have read his work (and not known it)
Charles has ghost-written nine business and inspirational books for high profile entrepreneurs and sportspeople, including one best seller.

Bonus fact
In his spare time you might find Charles riding his longboard at Bondi Beach or photographing his family and urban landscapes.

But enough about me…
… what about you? Do you need an experienced copywriter to create effective marketing materials or plain English documents? If so, please get in touch to discuss your needs.

Step One to a Profitable Website: Set Your Goals

Goals2My first job after uni was working at a small publishing company. One of my boss’s favourite sayings was, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

It was a reminder to his staff that the first step in any project is to establish what you want to achieve i.e. setting goals or targets.

Why you must have goals

In my experience few websites have any goals. Often they’re built on the reasoning, “We’ve gotta have a website because everyone else has one.” Even now, many people think a website is a kind of marketing panacea. They think that by simply putting a website up they’ll be deluged with sales enquiries. Unfortunately it ain’t so.

Realistic and achievable goals for a website fall into the following categories:

Sales lead generation

A website can deliver sales leads directly (e.g. by prospects emailing you to arrange a consultation or providing their contact details in exchange for a white paper or special report) or indirectly (e.g. by prospects visiting your showroom after finding out about your products online).

E-commerce

Making sales directly from your website.

Customer service

You can serve your customers better by providing customer service online. This can range from FAQs on common customer queries to a 24/7 online help desk.

Process automation

You can cut costs by automating processes online e.g. online billing, data gathering, delivering information, and human resources procedures.

One, or a combination, of these goals should be the primary focus of your website. Once you’ve selected your goals you can develop strategies to achieve them. Don’t even think about calling a website developer until you’re clear about what you’d like to achieve with your website.

Website Mistake 5: Your Website Doesn’t Capture Qualified Sales Leads

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

There is a Zen Buddhist riddle that goes: If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

The question you should be pondering is: If a prospective customer visits my website, but doesn’t leave their contact details, how can I convert them into a customer?

Gathering sales leads

If you want to generate qualified sales leads from your website (and you definitely should if you’re selling business-to-business), you don’t want visitors to leave your site without registering their contact details.

Why? Because if you don’t have their contact details there’s no way to follow up with them. And consistent follow-up is the way to convert prospects into customers.

Make them an offer!

So your site should include compelling offers to entice visitors to register their contact details. Offering a free report, guide or white paper is a tried and tested method of obtaining prospects’ email addresses.

Once you have a prospect’s contact details you can deliver stay-in-touch marketing – online and/or offline. Over time you will convert prospects into customers.

If your site doesn’t offer enticing incentives to get visitors to register their contact details you’re not maximising the marketing potential of your website.

Things to do

  • Write a special report on your area of expertise.
  • Make the report available for download on your website.
  • Capture prospects’ contact details using your special report as bait.

This post is part 6 of the series Your Website Sucks!

“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

Are You Aiming for a Viable Niche?

Sometimes a business idea can seem fail-safe. Before you launch out blindly, however, be aware that there are a number of factors that can seriously hinder success.

Sean D’Souza points out in a recent article that while a freshly deregulated India seemed like a goldmine for many western countries, the sheer number of potential customers didn’t guarantee success. In fact, many companies failed to even get off the ground.

Sean goes on to suggest that you start by looking at your competition:

“If you can find a ton of competition in the market you’re in, then you’ll know it’s extremely viable. Why? Because a whole truckload of people have been there before you, and have been able to keep their businesses afloat.”

While it might feel great to be a pioneer, sometimes it’s better to follow the competition and then carve out your own position in the market.

Read the full article at Copyblogger.com: How to Know if You’re Entering a Viable Niche

Mobile Internet – First Impressions

I got hold of a 3G mobile phone last week. While I’m excited about the potential of mobile internet, the technology isn’t quite there yet. My main gripe is speed. It’s just too slow. I felt like I was back in 1995 with my 9K modem.

The content that has been created specifically for the medium is generally useable and useful. The provider I was using has a restaurant and bar guide with pithy reviews and tabulated contact details. You can click the phone number and your mobile speed-dials the restaurant or bar.

Website content that had been adapted for mobile wasn’t as user-friendly. Browsing through search results on eBay or dating sites is nigh impossible. It’s very hard to orientate yourself on such a small screen. Also, without a QWERTY keyboard entering text into forms is painfully laborious.

One thing is for sure – on mobile, copywriters must make every word count. They need to be absolutely ruthless with their copy editing.

Website Mistake 4: Your Site Doesn’t Create Trust and Credibility

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

It’s a sad fact of life that the web is a very low-trust environment.

In terms of commerce, it doesn’t have the physical solidity and/or familiarity that other sales channels do.

Often there is no clear delineation between editorial content and advertising. And because the barriers to entry are low, people are often dubious about the validity of information on the web.

To create a profitable website you must overcome people’s scepticism. You must convince them that they can believe what you tell them and it’s safe to do business with you. Trust on the web is measured by a visitor’s willingness to risk time, money and personal data on a website.

Trust is not conferred in an instant. It is built up with a series of positive customer experiences over time. There are several website design and content factors that can start the trust-building process online. Dismiss them at your peril.

Trustworthy design

People expect a reputable company to have a professionally designed and attractive website. Clear navigation shows respect for visitors and suggests they can expect high levels of customer service.

No surprises

Give visitors all the information they need to make a purchase decision. Be up-front with your returns policy, shipping charges and times, and what to do if there’s a problem.

All your contact details

Visitors feel more confident about you if they know you have a bricks and mortar office and you can be contacted by phone if necessary. So include all contact details for your business including phone numbers and physical address.

Correct and up-to-date content

Most business websites don’t need to be updated regularly. But you must ensure all your information is correct and current. Don’t have a news section unless you have the resources to update it regularly. The best idea is to fill your website with evergreen content.

It’s also a good idea to have your content proof read before you put it on your site. Typos and bad grammar communicate contempt for readers and tarnish your image.

Sensitive use of email

People are very reluctant to give out their email addresses online because they fear a barrage of spam. So any time you ask for an email address you should also include a link to your privacy policy, which should outline exactly what you intend to do with a customer’s email address.

You should clearly explain what email you will be sending them. Is it an order confirmation, regular e-newsletter or periodic special offers? Visitors should also be able to control how much email they get from you with easily accessible unsubscribe functions.

Website visitors are also reluctant to give away anything more than their most basic email details i.e. name and email address. Once you’ve established a relationship, and if you offer something of value in return (e.g. a free report or white paper), visitors are often more willing to give you more information.

But they’ll still want to know exactly what you intend to do with their contact details. If you intend to have a sales representative call them, be up-front about it. Better still, ask them whether they want to be contacted offline.

Things to do

  • Make sure you give all your contact details including street address and phone number.
  • Write a privacy policy and link to it whenever you ask for a visitor’s email address.
  • Give customers all the information they need to make a purchase.

This post is part 5 of the series Your Website Sucks!

Understanding Business Structures

When you’re launching a business for the first time, you’ll need to decide on your business structure – and that can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated.

Susan Napper, a small business bookkeeper and consultant, offered a clear explanation of terms and some great advice for the new business owner.

Click through to find out whether you should be operating as a sole trader, partnership, company, or discretionary trust: Choosing the right business structure

SEO Copywriting: Let Clients Know Your Rates in Advance?

SEO copywriting experts go through virtually the same interactions with clients. One of the most common questions involves the expert’s rate and the price of the service.

Seocopywriting.com published an intriguing article that provides SEO copywriters with advice about the issue. According to the author, experts should publish their rates online rather than remain flexible about it. Such a strategy saves time and helps a professional build reputation.

To find out more about interactions with clients, go to the original article.