Writing for Digital - Sarah Manners - Quirk Knowledge WeekPresentation Transcript
Writing for Digital Workshop
About me• BSocSci (Maties)• IMC (AAA)• Digital copy (7.5yrs)• Fur mom of 5!• Passionate about upcycling, pink and
About you?• Digital marketing experience?• Writing and your role?• Do you have your own blog or website?• What do you want to get out
Is any text on screen: laptop, desktop, mobile phone,tablet
Digital copy needs to:• Provide information to visitors• Engage with visitors• Convince visitors to take action• Convey brand ethos• Provide context to search engines• … and much more!Oh, and it has to achieve all of this without looking like it’s trying too hard – easy right?
It’s not as easy as it looksWhile is is oftenoverlooked, digital copyis everywhere and it’svital to help marketersachieve goals
Digital copywriting is not simply a pared downversion of traditional copywriting. It does notinvolve a simple process of transferring printmedia onto the web
• It communicates the message you’re trying to deliver• The copy that you use on your website, email campaigns, social media platforms etc. is a critical factor in converting users and achieving your business goals• Fancy flash elements and impressive design will be pointless if your copy fails to deliver
•Digital copy also plays a central role in the overallonline communications strategy of an organisation• A digital communications strategy should cover,amongst other things, your website, your visibility onsearch engines and social media
Quality is key
Characteristics of great online writingShort +Emotive +Useful +Entertaining +Informative +Attention grabbing
Conceptual vs. executionalThere is also a commonmisconception that digitalcopywriters are notconceptual
‘THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO LONG.ONLY TOO BORING .’ dan kennedy
The T represents the depth of related skillsand expertise in a single field, whereas thehorizontal bar is the ability to collaborateacross disciplines with experts in other areasand to apply knowledge in areas of expertiseother than ones own http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-shaped_skills
• Online copy needs to focus on your users, it should address their needs and solve their problems• So, the first step to online copywriting is to research your audience
According to Price and Price, audiences weretraditionally thought of as vast and vaguely definedcrowds (2002)
The more you know about the reader, the more youcan tailor the content to their needs
This means that digital copywriters should aim towrite for one ‘target user’ or for an audience of one –a persona
• A persona is a profile that you can create to embody the characteristics of the target audience for whom you are writing• Personas are based on the profile of readers of your copy• Creating a profile is all about considering the characteristics of your readers and their needs and desires
• Quantitative data – i.e. visitor demographics• Qualitative information – i.e. reader comments or answers from surveys and focus groups
• The key is to gather as much information as possible to create a well-rounded view of your target audience• This will help you craft a detailed persona
Yahoo! Style Guide: suggestions questions• How old are your readers?• Where are they from? Are they local? National? International?• Are they employed? Part or full-time? What do they do and is it related to the content you produce?• If they’re unemployed are they students, retirees, business owners?• Are they male or female? http://styleguide.yahoo.com/writing/identify-your-audience/reasearch-your-audience
Yahoo! Style Guide: suggestions questions• What is their income bracket? And what do they buy with their disposable income?• Do they spend money online? If so, how much?• What languages do they speak?• What is their level of education?• What race and ethnicity group do they fall into?• Are there any user’s who have difficulty accessing your site due to disability?
Also ask qualitative questions:
Also ask qualitative questions:How well does the site answer your audience’scontent needs?What do your visitors find most/least valuable?What would people add to make the experiencebetter?Why did people choose this site? How does it benefitthem?Would visitors recommend this site to a friend? Whyor why not?
How many?• You’re not limited to creating content for only one persona• Digital copy can be structured in such a way that it caters for several personas• However, you need to spend time understanding their needs before you are able to write copy that addresses these needs• But don’t create too many personas either. You risk losing focus and your audience’s attention
Once you’ve identified your target audienceand created your personas, you can begintailoring your content to their needsConsider where your target audience is online:•Do they use social media? If so, whatplatforms – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn?•What topics do they discuss?•How can you tailor your content to suit theirneeds and offer relevance?
• Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool• We grow up hearing, reading and writing stories• We are more likely to remember stories over cold hard facts since we connect with them on an emotional level
• If you think creatively enough, every brand, product or service has a story• But how well structured, captivating and relevant is it?
Godin on a great story• Captures the attention of a large or important audience• Is true – or at least authentic and consistent• Makes a promise – a bold one that is exceptional and worth listening to• Is trusted• Is subtle – stories work best when people are left to draw their own conclusions http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/04/ode_how_to_tell.html
Godin on a great story• Happens fast – the power of first impressions• Doesn’t contradict itself – consumers see through deceit• Won’t appeal to everyone – they identify with the world view of a small audience, who spreads the story on• Doesn’t appeal to logic – but they do appeal to the senses• Agrees with what people already believe
But how do you do it?
Always remember the basics of a good story:• Determine what facts you want to include• Use a great headline• Open strong and grab your readers attention• Create a good structure with plot and place• Have clear characters/heroes• Establish a clear tone and perspective
Always remember the basics of a good story:• Build tension through conflict• Resolve the conflict• Have a happy ending – although you don’t need to give them all the details. Let your readers use their imaginations but provide them with a sense of direction• Provide a Call to Action
Example: Old Spice
‘NIKE DIDNT DISCOVER THE POWER OFADVERTISING, NIKE DISCOVERED THEPOWER OF THEIR OWN VOICE.’dan wieden
Tone of voice“It isn’t what we say but howwe say it. It’s the languagewe use, the way weconstruct sentences, thesound of our words and thepersonality we communicate.It is to writing what logo,color and typeface are tobranding.” – Robert Mills http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/08/21/finding-tone-voice/
What’s my tone again?Look at the brand:•Typefaces•Colors•Language•ImageryIt will help you determine the most appropriate andauthentic tone
Talk to the stakeholders• What is our personality?• How do we sound to others?• How do we want to sound?• Are we authentic?• Who are we targeting?• How can we keep our voice but change the tone?• What words do we like?• What words do we despise?
Talk to the stakeholders• Should we use jargon?• Can we use humor?• How informal can we be?• What punctuation should we use?• What do our competitors sound like?
And document it all in a “style guide”
What else should I put in the style guide?• Brand history• USP• Goals• Our audience (and what we want them to think, feel and do when they read our copy)• Conventions
What else should I put in the style guide?The way we use capitalisation:•WE ARE QUIRK•We Are Quirk•We are Quirk•we are quirkIs there a list of particular words / services we treatwith different capitalisation?•QuirkStar•QuirkStation
What else should I put in the style guide?The way we write numbers:•4 / four•4 million / four million / 4 000 000 / 4,000,000The way we treat currency•R1 / R 1 / R1.00The way we treat time•4pm / 16h00•1.5hrs / 1.5 hours / 1.5 hrs
What else should I put in the style guide?The way we treat dates:•1 Jan 2013 / 1 January 2013 / 1st of January 2013 /01.01.2013The way we treat periods in titles:•Mr / Mr.Do we like contractions:•We are / we’re
What else should I put in the style guide?The way we use punctuation:•In lists, tables, headlines etc.The way we treat acronyms:•National Credit Act (NCA) first then NCA / list ofacronyms that never need to be written out in fullFull list of words we like to use and a list of ones wedon’t
We are marketingNot just writing for fun:•Be aware of business objectives•The KPIs of any work you’re doing•The goals•How the goals will be measured
An audience of one
An audience of oneRemoving instances of “our clients” and replacingthem with “you” leads to an immediate sense of one-to-one communication
Online, we often only have a limited space to attractattention and entice action. And we have to use itwell:•Your readers will be time starved•They will not read each painstakingly crafted word •They are overwhelmed•They scan•Some require more than others…
• The use of contractions• Don’t state the obvious• Limit use of specialist language• Consider using icons / infographic elements to replace text
•Bad: In my opinion, this is without a doubt, definitelythe worst time to purchase avocados.•Better: This is definitely the worst time to purchaseavocados.•Even better: It’s the worst time to purchaseavocados.•Best: Don’t buy avos now.
‘COPY IS LIKE A SKIRT, IT SHOULD BESHORT ENOUGH TO KEEP ITINTERESTING BUT LONG ENOUGH TOCOVER THE SUBJECT .’ Unknown
1st vs 3rd Person
Tense… it’s no joke
Isn’t it all English after all?
Active vs. Passive
Send us an email and we’ll issue you with an ordernumber.OrWhen your email has been received, we’ll issue youwith an order number.
Features BenefitsHas five different settings Lets you choose the settings you preferSends regular updates to Gives you peace of mindyour phoneIncludes a built-in Save time and ensure youcalendar, memo and always have the right infoaddress book at hand
‘SELL A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP – NOT THEMATTRESS .’ Instructor atAcademy of ArtUniversity, Advertising program
Seach and online copy
Online copy is read by:
And it has to be relevant to both
They crawl the web
Index web pages
Process search queries
If you’re not on the first page…
Search engines look for:• Relevance• Importance• Popularity And we give it to them,• Trust by optimising• Authority
Building search friendly sitesWe need to do everything in our power to help thespiders crawl and index our site – this is done byremoving various technical barriers
Copy must…• Provide information to readers• Engage readers• Convince them to do what you wantSEO copy must do all of that AND send signals of relevance to the search engines with content
Targeted content that is…• To target, we need to find out where to aim – enter keyword / key phrase research• Keywords can be considered as “areas in which you wish to compete”• You’ll be competing for position on the SERPs
What to consider?• Search volume• Competition• Propensity to convert• Value per lead
3 phasesBrainstorm: Think like auserResearch: Who’ssearching for whatRefine: Search volumeand competition
Now we need to send those signals• URLs• Page title• Meta data• Headers <h>• Body copy• Links• Anchor text• Alt tags• Link text
Here’s what we see
Image alt tags
All of this is sending signals of relevance to searchengines
SEO vs Copywriter
Platforms• Websites• Mobisites• Social media• Paid media• PR and blogging• Email• Display
What’s the point?• Providing information about who you are• Offering an explanation of what users can expect to find on your website• Making a statement• Building trust and credibility
Writing for websites• Writing text that can be easily scanned• Using meaningful headings and sub-headings• Having a well-organised site• The inverted pyramid• Using paragraphs effectively• Keeping copy concise
Parts of a website• A good home page• An about page• A contact page• A products or services page• Common page elements (CPEs)• Main navigation links• A search box• Forms
Site content: processReceive• Creative brief – this is put together by the client service team in association with the client• Functional specification document and wireframes - put together by the UX teamReview• Team reviews the documentation, has a project kick-off and feedback session
Site content: processUpdate• Documents are updated and re-circulated before the work kicks offSEO input• The SEO team delivers the SEO strategy and key phrases to the team (while they do have their own processes in determining these, it is important to understand this process and to have a general understanding of how it works)
Site content: processWriting• The copywriter takes the SEO phrases and begins writing• Work on copy for two+ pages together with a designer to present to the client• The client then feeds back on tone, creative direction etc. before and entire deck is created• The copywriter then creates an entire deck which goes through internal and external rounds of feedback
Site content: processDesign review• The copywriter reviews the flat art design with their copy included in it to see if everything is correct and to determine what needs to be amended to complement the design
Site content: processFinalisation•Once the copy and design are signed off it goes toHTML and Engineering•Once completed, copywriter reviews the functioningsite to ensure that all copy has been correctlyimplemented•Entire team reviews the site before completion•Site goes live•The copywriter drinks bottle of champers and does ahappy dance
Some things to considerHow does it look and read? Professional and slick?Are there clear CTAs to direct readers?Are prominent phone numbers and addresses abovethe fold of certain web pages?Have you used testimonials on each page?Is your content content fresh and updated?Is your site free of errors?
Mobile reading“Out of South Africa’s 6.8 million Internet users, 2.48million South Africans use only their cellphones toaccess the internet, and there are just 820,000 ADSLlines in use.” Internet World Stats, Dec 2011
Who are we writing for?• People who are bored and browsing while waiting (in a queue perhaps)• Those who are task driven and urgently looking for information, like someone trying to get their flight details or the number for a taxi• Those who are performing a repeated action, like checking the weather
Writing for mobile• Mobile websites• Mobile advertising• SMS/MMS/USSD• Apps
Limitations• A small screen size, often with tiny text.• Scrolling – no mouse• Navigation is limited• Downloads are often slow• Data can be expensive for mobile phone users
Mobile advertising 25 characters for the title 70 characters for the advert text 35 characters for a display URL
SMS tips• Know who you are writing to: Define your audience (it’ll help you to determine when to send the message as well)• Don’t use SMS speak: Txt spk isn’t gr8 2 use txt speak cos it isn’t professional. Remember that the messages you write are representative of your organisation and should adhere to brand tone guidelines• Start off with a bang and focus on the benefits: capture your reader’s attention immediately
SMS tips• Keep the message simple:You only have 160 characters per SMS so use them wisely and eliminate all the unnecessary text. But ensure our message still makes sense• Encourage conversation: Great opportunity for engagement, so capitalise on this. Encourage feedback and questions and always respond as quickly as possible. And use them to direct traffic to your mobisite
Twitter tips• Always consider your goal• Be informative• Stick to one or two points in your message• Use the active voice• Be wary of acronyms and abbreviations• Reply to your followers• Use keywords #tags• Use a URL shortener
Social copy tips•Research is vital: You need to understand what typeof content community members want. You need toknow who you are targeting and then whatinformation they will find meaningful•Remember it’s a conversation: Your content must bepersonable and appealing. Social media is no placefor stuffy corporate speak•Shareable content is credible content
Social copy tips•Remember that your content should offer value andbe insightful. Ultimately you should aim to create anoverall perception that your brand is the thoughtleader in its industry•Avoid overly promotional content•Community members are likely to see right througha sales pitch
Tips for paid advert copy• Heading – 25 characters• Line 1 – 35 characters• Line 2 – 35 characters• Display URL - 35• Use vanity URLs• You can put a CTA in the advert copy• No repeated exclamation marks
Tips for paid advert copy• No word may be written in capitals only• No claims of “best”, “number one” or superlatives may be used unless they can be verified by a reliable third-party source• Product numbers may be used• Test, test, test
PR and blogging
Blogging tips• Industry relevant • Meaningful and• Appeal to your target attention-grabbing market headlines• Transparent and • Use links honest • Optimise• Personal and • Write for easy entertaining scanning• Regularly updated • If you want readers to engage – provoke it
Subject lines: consider the following:Use questions - Looking for a tool to driveconversions?Use numbers - 5 killer tips on creating a powerfulimpressionCreate a sense of urgency or time factor - Onlyavailable until midnight!
Email tipsPay attention to subject linesClear CTAsGet to the pointPay attention to the dataAdd valueBuild relationships
Email tips• Solve a problem: The key to a successful newsletter is providing solutions and relevant information to your readers• Share industry secrets: For example, consultants could share their advice on best practices and tips for growing a business• Share your knowledge: What benefits could you provide to your consumers? Highlight these in your newsletter. For example, a health spa could offer home relaxation tips or advice
Email tips• Ask a question: Consider what answers your consumers are looking for, and ask an appropriate question in the subject line• Offer the reader a teaser: Try using a cleverly worded subject line to entice your reader in. For instance, ‘Four reasons your staff are costing you money’• Tell the reader what’s in it for them: Consumers want to know how things will benefit them. Make this clear in the subject line
Email tips• Turn your readers’ questions into content: If you have regular questions or concerns from readers, use these to create content• Show your softer side: Highlight charitable events, wellness endeavours and community focused initiatives through your newsletters• Be creative: Think laterally and craft newsletters in new and creative ways• Take a poll: It can be useful to take a poll and gauge what content your users would like
Display tips•Simplicity is key•Use strong headlines or questions• Focus on one clear benefit• Find a need and then offer a solution• Use Calls to Action effectively
• HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it is the foundation of online documents. • HTML tags tell web browsers how to present content. HTML tags are in the brackets that look like arrows: < >
The basics Bold: <strong>phrase you wish to bold</strong>Italics: <em>phrase you wish to italicise</em>Underline: <u>phrase you wish to underline</u>List: <li>lines you wish to list</li>Praragraph break: <p>paragraph text</p>Line break: <br/>Hyperlink: <a href=“page url”>phrase you wish to link</a>Main headong: <h1>heading</h1>Second level heading: <h2>heading</h2>Third level heading: <h3>heading</h3>
WYSIWYGWhen imnplementing online copy, you can use an HTML editor, where you insert the tags yourself, or a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor which works in a similar way to a word processor. An HTML editor codes your writing so it is ready for you to place on your website. Some programs may even create entire web pages that you can upload.
Online HTML editors • http://www.onlinehtmleditor.net/• http://htmledit.squarefree.com/• http://www.quackit.com/html/online-html-editor• http://www.free-online-html-editor.com HTML Tutorial: http://www.w3schools.com/html
Evaluating your copy: •Self evaluation•Readability tests•Spelling and grammar checks•A/B split testing and multivariate testing
Self evaluation: credibility checksPurpose• Is the purpose clearly defined and carried through all elements of the content?• Is the copy easy to understand?Authority• Have you told the reader who you are?• Have you indicated why you are well positioned to communicate your message across?
Self evaluation: credibility checksCurrency• Is your content fresh and new? • Have you indicated that you are aware of industry developments and are aware of what is going on in the world?Accuracy• Have you verified facts and statistics?• Have you referenced sources and provide links to external proof?
Self evaluation: credibility checksObjectivity• Does content convey a balanced perspective?• Have you avoided showing your agenda overtly?• If there is bias in your copy, have you stated this up-front?• Have you mentioned any affiliations up-front?Uniqueness• Is your content different to that of competitors?• Does it approach the topic in a creative way?
Self evaluation: credibility checksEmpathy• Does your copy reflect an understanding of the consumer?• Have you shown that you understand their needs?• Have you admitted a shortfall or possible negative element for the sake of transparency?
Self evaluation: digital copy checksIs the content written for easy scanning? • Clear and concise headings • Bulleted and numbered lists • Bold and italics • Descriptive links Have you used short paragraphs effectively and written in the inverted pyramid style?
Self evaluation: digital copy checksHave you optimised the copy for SEO effectively? • Optimised heading • Key phrases in the body copy • Other elements that might apply such as page title, meta description etc.
Self evaluation: digital copy checks• Have you written concisely so that the information is easy to digest, particularly for time-starved readers? If not, can you shorten phrases and sentences?• Can you shorten and tighten the copy?• Have you included links to other relevant content?
Tone, conventions and techniques checks • Does your copy convey brand personality through the words chosen and general tone?• Have you used the active voice to speak directly to your readers?• Have you used a persuasive technique?• Have you employed a convention such as storytelling? (if appropriate)
Online readability A tool using a number of readability measures: http://www.addedbytes.com/lab/readability-score/http://wordscount.info/http://flesh.sourceforge.net/http://www.niace.org.uk/misc/SMOG-calculator/smogcalchttp://www.wordscount.info/hw/smog.jsp
Spelling and grammar tests
AB split testing
CHOOSE THE BEST OPTION EVERY TIMECONVERSIONCONVERSION RATE: 1.29% RATE: 1.29%CONVERSIONCONVERSION RATE: 3.69% RATE: 3.69%
Multivariate testing If you chose to test 3 elements of your page:Headline, CTA and length of body copyYou’d have 3 variables with 2 versions each and test all to see which combination of variables works best
Multivariate testing Headline 1 + CTA 1 + Body copy 1Headline 1 + CTA 1 + Body copy 2Headline 1 + CTA 2 + body copy 1Headline 1 + CTA 2 + body copy 2Headline 2 + CTA 1 + body copy 1Headline 2 + CTA 1 + body copy 2Headline 2 + CTA 2 + body copy 1Headline 2 + CTA 2 + body copy 2
What to test?• Headline: Test different wording, as well as different text sizes• CTA text: Test different Calls to Action to see which is more effective• CTA position: Test a few different positions• Body copy length: Test different copy lengths• Body copy format: Test out different formats, changing lists subheadings, paragraphs, bolding, italics etc.
What to test?• Copy tone and style: Consider changing the tone and style• Navigation and other linked text: Test variations in the wording you use• Corresponding images: While not strictly copy, the images you opt to use with your text can have a huge impact on conversions, especially when selling a physical product. Test out which images work best, how many images are optimal and how large those images should be
What to test?• Different offers: You may want to test different offers to see which one works best. Try to set up your offers so that they have similar values (to prevent skewed results). For example, you might offer one group of visitors free shipping, and the other group 10% off• If your page is long and requires scrolling, consider having your Call to Action button repeated several times on the page
• Write in plain English • Edit like a mo fo • Get to the point • Talk like a human • Get feedback• Test and iterate • Practise • Read more (good stuff)
• Write headlines with impact• Optimise headlines • Keep active • Read your copy OUT LOUD• Write for easy scanning• Use simple, clear, precise language • Use bulleted lists• Short, concise sentences and paragraphs • Use bolding or italicising for important text
• Limit the flowery fluffy adverbs • Write the most important info above the fold• Write using the inverted pyramid• Focus on the benefits• Use persuasive writing• Optimise your copy for SEO
Quirk Education courses • Writing for Digital: Foundations and Application • Digital PR: Foundations and Best Practice • Email Marketing: Foundations and Best Practice • SEO 1: Foundations and Application• Web Analytics: Foundations and Application• Digital Marketing http://www.quirk.biz/courses/home http://www.quirk.biz/emarketingtextbook/