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Reading. Writing. Using. Online Copywriting

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Overview of guidelines and best practices when developing copy for online distribution.

Overview of guidelines and best practices when developing copy for online distribution.

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  • Google search: “choosing a college”
  • Google search: “choosing a college” - https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/academic-life/8-tips-for-choosing-college-classes
  • Google search: “choosing a college” - https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started
  • Google search: “choosing a college” - http://www.actstudent.org/college/choosing.html
  • Rather than making posts or pages look like one huge intimidating wall of text, break the content into small chunks. Use short paragraphs and give each a headline, as if you are writing for brochures or other marketing booklets. Make sure the headline gives your reader a clear idea of what is in the paragraph so that they can quickly find the information they need.Unnecessary punctuation can make your sentences confusing and unappealing. Break up your sentences into smaller ones whenever you can. Extra commas (,) and semi-colons (;) make the page look complicated and may turn off your reader. Plus, you risk using them incorrectly, which can further annoy readers. Instead, transition well from sentence to sentence to create a natural flow. http://www.onextrapixel.com/2011/01/27/writing-web-content-the-top-15-rules-for-better-copy/
  • Your house vs. You are a house (you’re)There is your house vs. They are at your house vs. It is at their houseCould have not could ofLet’s go to your house. vs Can I go to your house too? vs There were two people at the house.That house is showing its age. vs It’s older than the house next door.We shopped and then went home. vs I would rather go home with you than with Dad.My pants were too loose. vs I always lose my keys.
  • Your house vs. You are a house (you’re)There is your house vs. They are at your house vs. It is at their houseCould have not could ofLet’s go to your house. vs Can I go to your house too? vs There were two people at the house.That house is showing its age. vs It’s older than the house next door.We shopped and then went home. vs I would rather go home with you than with Dad.My pants were too loose. vs I always lose my keys.
  • Effective writing is about communicating.Use short, simple words.Get to the point and stop.Eliminate pompous words and fancy phrases.
  • Twitter: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2013/01/23/9-top-twitter-tips-you-can-start-using-today/1. Research and figure out how best to use Twitter for your business. It’s important to define your goals for being on twitter and then to find your voice in support of that.2. Share 4 articles from other people and engage in 1 conversation, for each (1) self-promotional tweet you send. 3. Twitter Lists to filter accounts into important groups. Tweetdeck to scan lists and schedule posts. Triberr to curate great blog posts to share from others. Buffer when there is just too much great stuff out there and you want to spread my sharing out over a few days. 4. Hashtags are a great way to have your content exposed to people outside your circle, but try not to over-use them. You should know what hashtags to use and when to use them for the greatest effect.5. Try to find different ways to engage with people and test new approaches. Retweet, thank, follow, comment – use different ways of engagement to personalize the experience.
  • The more engaging your content the more visible it will be on search engines.
  • Engagement matters. Search and social is interrelated. It builds trust, grows relationships and gives your brand a face and voice. Quality content helps generate links to your site from other bloggers and publishers. These inbound links will also generate referral traffic helping to boost your SERP.
  • http://12most.com/2013/10/15/12-most-smart-ways-to-write-seo-friendly-content-for-your-blog/
  • http://www.windycitystrategies.com/img/ppc-ads-big.jpg
  • http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • 1. The use of numbers – You’ll see numbers a lot in successful AdWords ads. They make the ads stand out visually by breaking up blocks of words/letters. They also add some specificity to the ads, in this case the $49 price, the 100% money back guarantee and the fact that the logos are 100% custom made. This lets people know exactly what they’re getting and, especially when you include a price, can reduce clicks from those who aren’t a good fit for your business.2. The use of ASCII characters – This ad has a greater variety of ASCII characters – the percent sign (%), registered trademark (®), plus sign (+) and asterisks (*) – than I’ve ever seen in one ad. As with numbers, ASCII characters make the ads stand out from the competition and draw more eyeballs to it than a block of words/letters.3. A great offer – This ad makes a compelling offer…custom made logos, on sale for just $49 with a 100% money back guarantee. As I mentioned last month in regards to factors that make websites convert, a great offer can overcome a lot of other deficiencies in a landing page. The same is true for an ad.4. A call to action – Let people know what they’re supposed to do. In this case, Logo Design Guarantee makes it very clear that they want you to order online…NOW.5. A benefit – In this case, the benefit (aside from the low price offer) is implied in the use of the word USA a few times. They’re not-so-subtly hinting that your logo design is not going to be outsourced, it’s going to be done in the US. This will resonate with those in the US who are wary of having their logo work done overseas.http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • 1. Note the use of ASCII characters here in their AccuraScope™ Procedure. Again, it makes the ad stand out visually and also adds a degree of credibility that they’re offering a procedure that’s been trademarked.2. The phone number in the ad is an implied call to action. They want you to call (which positions them quite differently from many other back pain treatment sites) if you’d feel more comfortable talking to someone as opposed to just gathering information off their website.3. They’re offering a benefit – to treat your back pain with a minimally invasive procedure. And if you want to discover more benefits about the procedure, click on the ad to read about them (which is a good incentive to get people to click).http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • 1. These ads are the first ones we’ve looked at so far that use quotes, another effective element in AdWords ads. Using quotes like these works for a few reasons. First, the quotes, like the other ASCII characters we’ve seen, make the ads stand out visually. Second, the quotes add credibility to the companies. It’s not them talking about themselves and saying how great they are, it’s an outsider singing their praises.2. Speaking of outsiders, having the endorsement of the Wall Street Journal or CBS News adds a strong element of proof to this ad that the competition can’t match.http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • 1. What I really like about this ad that makes it unique is it starts to tell a story. Starting a story in your ad that continues on your landing page creates intrigue and can give your ad’s clickthrough rate a big boost if it’s done well. The implied story here is about an “American Mom” who makes $7,847 a month from home.2. They use a question to set up the ad. They could have just gone with the statement “Make $7487 a month”. Instead they added the question mark on the end. The question mark adds an ASCII character to the mix which we’ve talked about already. But more than that, in the “make money from home market” using the question works particularly well because a lot of people are going to be very skeptical of the claim. Just using the statement “Make $7487 a month” will be met with the thought of  “yeah, right” by many who see it. However, adding the question mark softens it up a bit and almost plays into the skepticism by reframing the claim by asking if it’s really possible to make that much money in a month from home.3. We’ve talked about using number a lot already. What this ad does well is use a very specific number $7487. Bringing this level of specificity to the ad helps its credibility in a market where that’s extremely important to have.4. The ad offers the implied benefit that if the typical American Mom can make $7,847 from home, so can you!http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • First, with the possible exception of the work from home ad, these ads are not overly hyped or sensationalistic. You have very limited space with which to work in an AdWords ad. There’s no room to be cute or gimmicky…you have to cut to the chase and make every character count to get the clicks.Second, these ads do a good job of standing out from their competitors ads. It’s not uncommon to do a search and see a good percentage of the AdWords ads with the same headline or using basically the same dry, boring message. (In fact, one time I did a search for accountants in Chicago and 3 ads were identical except for the URL!)  When you’re coming up with ads, look at what the competition is doing and make sure your ads are unique.Lastly, and most importantly, all these ads are successful because of extensive testing on the part of the businesses. Testing your ad copy and testing your landing pages is the single most important factor in developing a winning AdWords ad and campaign.http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/03/26/successful-adwords-ads/
  • Transcript

    • 1. Vicki Dirksen Plaid Swan PLAID SWAN Media. Marketing. Creative.
    • 2. Strengths of Online Information  Easily accessible.  Wealth of information.  Access to different sides of the same issue.  Easy to comparison shop.  Always available.
    • 3. Weaknesses of Online Information  Unsubstantiated claims.  Easily misguided.  Rely on search engine’s algorithms.  Can be hard to find information.  Websites change frequently – information may not always be available.
    • 4. “Choosing A College”
    • 5. Ranking #1
    • 6. Ranking #2
    • 7. Ranking #3
    • 8. What Do You Remember?  Images  Navigation  Headlines  Links  Page Copy  Other
    • 9. How People Read Online Web copy is totally different than print copy.  People scan copy online – they don’t read it.  They are hunting for information.  They make quick decisions.  They want easy answers found quickly.  They don’t want to think.
    • 10. Simple Statements Work Best  Put important information first.  Break content into small chunks.  Use headlines to emphasize main points.  Minimize punctuation.
    • 11. Make a Visual Impression  Left justify paragraphs - we read left to right.  Easier for our brains to absorb information.  Leave space in between paragraphs.  De-clutter.  Evaluate at a glance.  Format headlines.
    • 12. Avoid Empty Content  Fluff is unacceptable.  Content needs to be useful and relevant.  Answer a question or solve a problem.  Provide a clear call to action.
    • 13. Encourage Interaction  Understand your audience.  Ask for feedback, comments, and questions.  Respond to all as soon as you can.  Use a spam filter if that is a concern.
    • 14. Use Relevant Images  Images can reinforce copy points.  Don’t over use them as that can be distracting.  Add captions to emphasize your point.
    • 15. Hyperlink Appropriately  Use hyperlinks to provide access to full content.  Can be used to drill deeper into your site OR  To access articles written by others that reinforce your statements.  If using external links have them open a new window so the user can easily get back to your site.
    • 16. Proofread & Spell Check  Remember your spell checker can only catch misspelled words.  Proofread to catch incorrect spelling of real words (e.g. hear vs. here).  Properly use grammar.
    • 17. Grammar Test Can you use these correctly? 1. “Your” / “you’re” 2. “There” / “they’re” / “their” 3. How is “could’ve” spelled? 4. “To” / “too” / “two” 5. “Its” / “It’s” 6. “Then” / “Than” 7. “Loose” / “Lose”
    • 18. Grammar Answers 1. Your house vs. You are going to their house. 2.There is your house. vs. They are at your house. vs. It is at their house 3. Could have not could of 4.Let’s go to your house. vs Can I go to your house too? vs There were two people at the house. 5. That house is showing its age. vs It’s older than the house next door. 6.We shopped and then went home. vs I would rather go home with you than with Dad. 7. My pants were too loose. vs I always lose my keys.
    • 19. Write For A General Audience  Write at a 3rd grade reading level.  Remember people are scanning the page.  Always explain acronyms – at least once.  Use familiar words – avoid large words.  Explain terms most would not know.
    • 20. Content Should Be Easy To Read General Guidelines:  Headings = 8 words or less  Sentences = 15 – 20 words  Paragraphs = 40 – 70 words  Page Word Count = 250+ words
    • 21. Write For How People Search Search engines are how your website is found. 1. Brainstorm search phrases. 2. Research how often they are used. Wordtracker.com b. Wordstream.com c. Keywordeye.com a. 3. Incorporate those phrases into your copy.
    • 22. Effective Headlines Headlines are the most important piece of content. Keep them to 8 words or less. 2. Include important keywords. 3. Avoid using adjectives & prepositions (and, a, of, the) 4. Be clear and concise. 1.
    • 23. Make Connections Use links to allow people to delve deeper into your site. Short statements with clear links to more information. 2. Links should be presented using action words. 1.
    • 24. Summarize Effectively Answer these summary questions: 1. Who? 2. What? 3. When? 4. Where? 5. Why? 6. How?
    • 25. Exercise Write a heading and one paragraph about any topic.
    • 26. Why Worry About SEO? SEO = Search Engine Optimization People use search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing to look up information about anything and everything. Search engines rank information based on how well it relates to the search terms used and the content available on the landing page. Create high quality, updated and unique content people want to read and to share on social media.
    • 27. Use Keywords Effectively Don’t:  Just add a list of multiple keywords to your site. Do:  Research possible keyword phrases relevant to your planned content.
    • 28. Write Original Content Don’t:  Plan on posting once and never again. Do:  Publish original, relevant, fresh content on a consistent basis.
    • 29. Craft Descriptive Headlines Don’t:  Write lengthy “sales focused” headlines. Do:  Use headlines to grab your reader’s attention. Compelling and descriptive headlines will make your content more shareable.
    • 30. Create Share Worthy Content Don’t:  Write one way articles that go no where. Do:  Create an opportunity for people to engage and share your content.
    • 31. Format Your Content Properly Don’t:  Write long, drawn out sentences and paragraphs. Do:  Use lists, subheadings, bullet points, and paragraphs to make it easy to read and follow your content.
    • 32. Use Data Responsibly Don’t:  Present a lot of charts and graphs that don’t mean anything or are hard to understand. Do:  Use infographics to share statistics and data from reputable sources – be sure to give credit to your sources.
    • 33. Treat Links as Copy Elements Don’t:  Provide links only through a “click here” reference. Do:  Incorporate links as part of your copy.  Link to reputable sites to establish authority and trust.
    • 34. Exercise Brainstorm possible keyword phrases to support the content you wrote previously.
    • 35. What Are Pay-Per-Click Ads?
    • 36. Not Much Space 25 characters for the headline 70 characters of ad text 35 characters for the Display URL Purpose is to generate clicks to your webpage.
    • 37. 8 Common Traits of Successful Ads 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Use numbers Use ASCII symbols Focus on benefits Offer proof/credibility Use quotes Ask a question Make a strong offer Include a call to action
    • 38. Logo Design Guarantee      Use numbers Use ASCII characters Focus on benefits Make a strong offer Include a call to action
    • 39. North American Spine  Use numbers  Use ASCII characters  Focus on benefits  Include a strong call to action
    • 40. Proflowers.com / From You Flowers  Use numbers  Use ASCII characters  Offer proof/credibility  Use quotes
    • 41. POC Hiring  Use numbers  Use ASCII characters  Focus on benefits  Ask a question  Make a strong offer
    • 42. General Elements of Successful Ads Don’t sensationalize or hype. 2. Stand out from the competitors. 3. Extensive testing. 1.
    • 43. Questions For any future inquiries, I can be reached at: Vicki Dirksen Plaid Swan www.plaidswan.com 563-556-1633 vicki@plaidswan.com

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