Monday, May 21, 2018

4 Things Your Marketing Content Should Stop Doing

You probably know the old joke about the patient who complains, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." To which the doctor replies, "Then don't do that." Stopping bad habits can benefit your physical health just as powerfully as taking up new, better habits. The same holds true for the health of your business -- and your marketing content is the pump that keeps the things flowing in your business pipeline. In my years as a freelance copywriter in Central Texas, I've seen (and corrected) plenty of missteps in various enterprises' written marketing content. Here are four common yet harmful goofs that you should stop making from this day forward.

1. Over-Explaining

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to rewrite web pages and other marketing pieces that read like user guides or industry manuals. I ended up hacking away paragraph after paragraph of detail that held more potential to confuse or intimidate than to build excitement or sell. If you had to study a wiring diagram to turn your lights on, you'd probably elect to spend a lot of time in the dark. Don't give us that diagram; show us the switch, describe the wonderful light we'll enjoy, and let the perceived benefit do the rest.

2. Under-Explaining

Even though brevity is a must in copywriting (especially for online consumption), saying too little can be just as self-sabotaging as saying too much. Are you assuming industry or product knowledge that your target audience isn't likely to have? If so, you may skip from one point to the next while your reader is still stuck on "I wonder what they meant by that?" Your prospective customers can't get excited over what they don't understand. Make sure the basic bottom-line benefit statements are all in place, and invite your audience to contact you with any questions. (More on that in a moment.)

3. Writing to Impress

Trying too hard in your marketing content can backfire on you. One of the most common mistakes I've encountered is lathering the text with impressive-sounding buzzwords and industry-speak. Many of these terms either reek of cliche due to overuse or simply don't mean much to Joe Q. Public. Showing off your vocabulary with lots of five-dollar words is another surefire way to turn off your audience; even if they know what you're talking about, they'll dismiss you as pretentious. Last but not least, avoid phony enthusiasm. Dozens of exclamation marks don't make your content more exciting -- they just paint you as excitable.

4. Neglecting the Final Action Items

You might be surprised at how many marketing content pieces lay out their pain statement, features and benefits, then simply come to a stop. If they do include a call to action, the call to action is too vague to really compel. ("Discover our product's benefits for yourself!") Give your audience concrete, specific action items such as "Call us at this phone number today," or "Fill out the online appointment maker on this page." You've brought your readers this far, so why not take them the rest of the way?

It's easy to fall into old habits in your marketing content creation, even once you know better. Contact me for professional copywriting services if you want to make sure your content is doing all the right things -- and none of the wrong ones.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Meaningful Content for Email Campaigns

Do you get occasional (or frequent) emails from some company representative you met recently? Never mind why you're on that person's email list -- your contact information was probably taken from your business card. But that's okay, because you can always opt out, right? And so you do. Or you banish the sender to your spam filter. Or you simply trash each email as it coms in.

Is the sender getting anything for the time, effort and expense he puts into sending you this steady stream of unwanted email? Obviously not. Are you getting anything out of the email? Again, obviously not; that's why you're throwing them away. But what if those emails contained information you actually wanted or needed? What if they offered nuggets of insight that made a difference in your work or personal life? You might still throw them away -- but only after you've read them thoroughly and thought about what they communicated. Over time, you might even come to rely on the sender as a trusted resource. Heck, you might even buy what he's selling.

That's the power of relevant content in an email campaign.

From time to time I've been asked to pitch in and give a client's multi-touch email campaigns a creative boost. I performed this service for a business broker who was noting a drop-off in interest from his prospects following their initial inquiries. He wanted to send a series of emails that would maintain or rekindle that initial spark of excitement they'd felt over buying or selling a business. So I wrote a bunch of little articles pertaining to the subject -- explanations of the transaction process, tips on due diligence, a "checklist" of the qualities a successful business owner needs, even a description of the beautiful part of the country they'd be inhabiting. They were all written with a positive spin and, of course, a "contact us," "learn more," or "let's get started" call to action. His prospects were now receiving mouth-watering material that not only provided valuable education but also reminded them of why they inquired in the first place. 

Quality of content matters just as much to an email campaign as it does to your regular blog or newsletter. Don't just sell; give, by providing useful and captivating information and compels action. Leave the spam box to your competition!