Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Content That Converts: Writing for Your Sales Funnel

We've all seen tons of websites that just didn't do it for us for whatever reason. Maybe you got hit with a gigantic wall of text covering everything the company does, thinks, and believes, when all you wanted was to find the right replacement part for your lawnmower motor. Or maybe you clicked onto a page promising to solve that exact issue, only to slog through more generalized, irrelevant content. It's enough to make you jump ship for a competitor's website, isn't it? Well, your online presence may be suffering the same problem -- a low conversion rate caused by folks ejecting themselves from your sales funnel.

Attention-grabbing Articles

If you've been in sales for long, you know of course that the sales funnel is your system from grabbing a large number of visitors and narrowing that number down to red-hot qualified leads. You scoop them into the top of the sales funnel by coming up in their online search for a particular problem, topic, or question. For instance, someone in the Austin area searching for "lawnmower trouble" might be rewarded with a link to your blog article on "Lawnmower Troubleshooting Tips for Austin Homeowners." The article itself might invite readers to click through to your website for more helpful information. So now you've got Austin homeowners coming to your site for answers to their lawnmower problems. Assuming that's what you wanted, congratulations!

Web Wrangling

But there's still the rest of the funnel to guide your prospective customers through -- and without the proper content, you'll lose them somewhere along the way. You might even lose them right from the home page, in fact. Some businesses try to land the sale immediately, which not comes across as pushy but also turns the home page into a gigantic mess of "Here's way more than you wanted to know. Now click here to purchase." Sales don't work that way! You have to route your visitors to specific areas of the site that offer solid, specific solutions. Make sure your site navigation is clear enough that they can find these portals quickly and easily.

Landing Leads

Your customers-to-be are now in the midpoint of the sales funnel: your product or service landing pages. These pages do a lot of the heavy lifting in converting your prospects. Now that you've gout your audience pared down to a specific need or interest, here's your chance to demonstrate your detailed understanding of their problem, along with an exciting sales pitch for your solution. There's a good chance that your visitor might be intrigued enough to make a purchase or contact your business at this point -- but don't count on it!

Fulfilling Followups

Yes, there's usually one more level of the sales funnel to negotiate. Your visitor may be almost ready to buy from you, but maybe not right this minute. It's imperative that you grab their contact information at this point so you can continue to follow up with them later. You do this by enticing them to sign up for a special offer such as, say, a free ebook on "How to Keep Your Lawnmower Working for 50 Years." You can then send them periodic email blasts and e-newsletters to keep them interested until they finally buy.

As you can see, different parts of the sales funnel call for different kinds of marketing content. Once you've achieved this fine tuning, you'll be able to keep those visitors moving through the funnel until they emerge as genuine leads. Contact me if you'd like some professional help as you write your way to higher conversion rates!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why Is a Freelance Copywriter Like a Microwave?

My microwave went kaput not long ago -- the second small, cheap unit to have lived up to its price tag in a matter of months. Since this particular freelance marketing copywriter doesn't have a lot of kitchen expertise, this failure might seem like a major crisis to be resolved with an immediate replacement. But I'm obviously not having much luck with these contrivances, and since I can't afford to take out a membership in the Microwave of the Month Club, I'm content for the moment to steam and bake and boil and broil the old-fashioned way. Everything comes out just as well as it did under radiation. Why, then, are microwaves so popular in households the world over? Here are some reasons:

  • Speed - Microwave ovens can drastically reduce the time needed to produce the final result.
  • Convenience - Pop the food in, press some buttons, and wait a bit. No muss, no fuss.
  • Energy savings - Microwaves don't burn nearly as much as energy as running your burners and oven for an hour or more at a time.
  • Redundancy - It's a handy backup to your other cooking appliances.
  • Space savings - A microwave is like a little kitchen in a box, doing the job of multiple specialized tools within a single small "footprint."

While I was pondering these benefits, it suddenly hit me that we freelance copywriters are the microwave ovens of the marketing content world. How so? Let's go back over the list again:

  • Speed - A skilled, experienced writer can produce top-quality content in a fraction of the time it might take a non-expert.
  • Convenience - Pay the fee, hand over the background info, and wait a bit. No muss, no fuss.
  • Energy savings - Outsourcing your writing needs frees up your available energy to do a zillion other critical tasks.
  • Redundancy - Freelancers are a great backup to whatever writing staff you already have.
  • Space savings - Don't want to keep a full-time writer? Hire a freelancer as needed and save "space" on your payroll!

Yes, you can continue to write your own marketing materials, just as I can continue cooking my food using those bulky old appliances. But it's a comparatively wasteful, stressful and tiring process compared to letting the "miracle machine" do all the work. Consider freelance copywriters your "miracle machine" for producing effective marketing content quickly and painlessly. 

Well, that did it; I've talked myself into shopping for another microwave. Sure, I'll have to spend a little money, but I've got better things to do than slave over a hot stove. Don't you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Web Content Not Working? Could Be Your Design

The title makes this post sound like it's focused on web design, but it isn't really. Why would a copywriter presume to write about web design? It just so happens that web design and written content are two sides of the same coin -- that coin being the revenue you make off of incoming site traffic and conversions.

Let's say your fabulous new business website is failing to turn visitors into buyers. You know it's fabulous because you hired a professional copywriter to cook up some fabulous content, which he did. The text grabs the attention right off the bat, makes a powerful statement, and closes with the appropriate call to action -- so why is it tanking?

Well, for starters, maybe it's sitting in an effective layout. Does the design make it easy for visitors to see where they can find the specific solution to the problem that brought them to the site? If the home page doesn't provide the necessary navigational cues, viewers may never drill deeper to encounter the rest of that fabulous content buried within the site. But the designer doesn't hold the sole responsibility in creating a viewer-friendly web page. If the writer presents an overstuffed wall of text, the designer may find it impossible to set that text in a visually appealing way. Writer and designer must be on the same page (so to speak) from the beginning, working in concert to create a final result that gets results.

Or maybe your written content isn't working because a large percentage of your viewers can't even read it on their weapons of choice -- mobile devices. Unless you're using a responsive website design that takes different forms to fit different screen sizes, your entire site may be squeezed down until the text becomes microscopic. This issue has grown so significant that Google recently decided to give search-ranking preference to "mobile-friendly" sites sporting responsive designs. The higher your search rankings, the more visitors you'll receive -- and thanks to your responsive design, they'll actually be able to read your content.

Landing pages pose challenges of their own. These pages are saddled with the task of pitching their particular product or service so compellingly that the viewer can't help but click through to the order page. This means that the content must take center stage with as few visual encumbrances as possible. If your landing pages are too busy showing off your web designer's visual flair, they may not be able to direct your prospective customers' attention from beginning to end in an uninterrupted flow. It's like having having someone repeatedly running into the room and shouting at you while you're trying to work on an important project.

Is your design doing this to your landing page content?

By contrast, a well-conceived landing page design will enhance the text instead of competing with it. This is another situation in which writer and designer can achieve great things by working as a team. Creating exciting headers and positioning them in the perfect font and alignment, for instance, will break up the text in a way that soothes the eyes even as it compels further reading. The writer can also indicate to the designer where it might make sense to post specific images, trust badges, and other eye candy that will keep the reader engaged.

Web content and web design are equally important pieces of the big branding and inbound marketing puzzle. That's why you should choose writers and designers who communicate well, work together effectively, and understand the roles they must play in your success. Configure your website so it's easier to read and follow, and you've made it easier for yourself to make customers. So... here's looking at you, website!