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Getting content marketing done

This post was anonymously written as part of Blog Secret Santa. There’s a list of all Secret Santa posts, including one written by me, on Santa’s list of 2013 gift posts. I have to apologise for the tardiness in getting this post up. I’ve been working on some behind-the-scenes things on this site which caused the delay.

Enjoy the post!

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This post is written by a secret admirer from the USA who has always loved all things Australian.

AU, the postal abbreviation for Australia also stands for Gold, and for Access and Understanding.

Content Marketing and content is all about communications. These are the days when the internet can amplify your message- or someone else’s in the click of a mouse, and not one of those little Tasmanian ones, but the digital kind.

Access- the internet is the great equalizer. Worldwide. Every person and every business has access to the same amount of screen space as anyone else. How does a small company compete?

Understanding -knowing your marketplace, your competitors and most of all, knowing the needs and hangouts of your clients. This is where content comes in.

Content is King. These days, you are what you publish. Targeted marketing, supplemented by content of value makes for happy customers and repeat visits. Repeat visits to your sites makes for a basis for establishing relationships and a propensity toward doing business.We all still prefer to do business with people/businesses where we know something about them.

There is one simple key to getting content marketing done.In the words of that famous running shoe company……Just Do It.Really.

Write Regularly; if you have a blog – make an appointment with yourself to update it – even if its only 300 words once a week – at least you’re keeping your appointments and writing regularly.

Write Topics of Interest; your prospects and your clients will look to you to set a good example and to be relevant to their needs

Write with Passion; if you care, your blog is a great place to show it. Posts over time reveal a lot about the personality and interests of the leadership team or owner if you’re a one person band.

That’s Right,www.BLOG gets it done.Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Write!

SEO and content: 3 ways to improve your site today

I run a free content strategy meetup in Brisbane for anyone interested in content-related topics. Our December meetup featured Iain Calvert, Strategy Director for Reload Media discussing SEO and content. As a copywriter and content strategist, I am asked about SEO a lot. In fact it’s one of the questions in my client brief! So it was fantastic Iain shared three simple ways to improve SEO by using content. Here’s a summary of his presentation.

1.     Build useful content online

Google changes its algorithm daily, but the one thing that remains constant is the importance it places on quality, useful content. Why? Because it still gets the bulk of its revenue through advertising, and the better its search results are the more likely it can make money from the ads. In order to have better results, it needs better content.

Where do you start? Figure out what kind of content your customers/target audience would find useful and then decide the best way to deliver that content (such as a blog post, podcast, infographic, newsletter etc.). Then commit to creating great content on an ongoing basis.

2.     Get your technical SEO sorted

Make sure your keywords are used in your content, including:

  • The title tag, page header (H1) and url.
  • In the main body of the content, making sure the language is still natural and not obviously stuffed with keywords (if you do this you’ll be penalised by Google too).
  • In links to other important internal pages of your own site.

Iain also pointed out that all important content should be in HTML (so don’t bury it in PDFs) and to use Google Webmaster Tools as a way to monitor performance and known issues.

3.     Promote your content

There’s no point having fantastic content on your site if no one sees it! Use different methods to promote your content such as:

  • Writing guest posts for other relevant sites with a link back to your own site. For example, you may sell gardening products and write a guest post on the best way to care for your gardening tools for a home-handyman site.
  • Commenting on related sites, making sure you add to the conversation.
  • Emailing your existing database when launching something new, making sure they have the ability to opt-out if they want to.
  • Promoting your content on social networks.
  • Listing your business on industry sites. For example if you are chiropractor, make sure you are listed in the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia’s directory.

In summary

Iain’s presentation was a fantastic introduction to SEO and content. The points he made may seem obvious, but I still see so many businesses that don’t have these basics covered.

He also made a special point about the importance of being on Google+. I created a Goggle+ account when it was still in beta, then ended up not using it because my main email address was through Google Apps (which at the time Google+ didn’t support). But this is no longer the case, so I have merged by old Google+ account to my new one and will start making more of an effort to use the tool (it’s a bit empty at the moment while I wait for the accounts to merge). Connect with me on Google+ here or use the badge below.

Remember to add Iain to your circles too.

 


Microcopy: The forgotten persuader

Tweet from my presentation on microcopy

Yes, microcopy does rock

A few weeks ago I presented at Interactive Minds on the topic ‘Optimising your web content to perform’.

While I think some people were expecting me to talk about SEO, I instead focused on what you can do to optimise your content to convert visitors to customers.

I talked about some of the techniques you can use to identify your most important content, how to tell if it’s performing or not, and what to do to help it perform better.

One of the tips I gave to help boost content performance was to improve microcopy.

What’s microcopy?

Think of all of the small pieces of in-context content which help visitors perform a task on your website.

It’s often an overlooked part of content development because it’s found on error pages, forms, buttons and other elements which may not be part of the ‘main’ content areas.

For example, if you have a shopping cart on your site you’ll most likely have microcopy to assist customers making a purchase. It may be a couple of words about which credit cards you accept, advice that shipping is a flat rate, or even tips on creating a password.

Why is microcopy important?

Good microcopy smooths the pathway to conversion. It reassures, it informs, it clarifies. It helps the user engage with the site. And an engaged user is far more likely to convert than a non-engaged one.

On the flip side, bad microcopy can confuse, frustrate and erode trust. Think of a bad shopping cart experience you’ve had. Have you ever abandoned a purchase because of something simple like not knowing if postage is included or not? I know I have.

Or, have you ever got an error message on an online registration form—but no clues as to what went wrong? Do you persist, or do you leave the site?

In both of these situations some well-written microcopy could have helped you stay on the site.

So next time you’re planning a content project, spend some time thinking about your microcopy and how it can help convert your visitors.

If you want to know more, I suggest reading Joshua Porter’s post on writing microcopy. Or, if you have a content project coming up which requires microcopy, get in touch with me so I can help.

 

 

Big copywriting projects – 5 things to ask your copywriter

Many events prompt a big copywriting project. It may be a website redevelopment, a branding exercise, or even a new product launch. In any case, you suddenly find yourself faced with a mountain of content which needs to be reviewed, refined, and (most likely) re-written.

Thankfully the powers that be have given you a budget to hire an external copywriter to help with the work.

Now from a copywriter’s perspective, big projects are a completely different kettle of fish than a quick-turnaround brochure or web page update. They require far more planning and often a different approach. You really need to understand how a project works, and how your component (the writing) fits in with everything else.

Often, you need to do far more non-writing activities like content audits, schedules, and stakeholder interviews than you’d otherwise allow for.

So from your point of view, when it comes to selecting the copywriter for your big project, make sure you ask them these questions to see if they’re going to be the best fit for your project.

Have you worked on a big copywriting project before?

A copywriter who understands the basics of project management will be easier to manage than one who doesn’t. This includes things like stakeholder engagement, scope changes, and risk management.

Do you have a day rate?

Personally I find it easier to work on a day rate for big projects because you have to be more fluid with the timing of deliverables. Allocating which days you’ll be working makes it easier for the project manager to schedule meetings and allocate tasks.

When quoting for big projects I break the project up into a number of core deliverables, each with an estimated amount of days. I then identify key milestones to re-assess if the days are still realistic.

Have you allowed enough time for feedback?

This is an important one. From my experience, the best-planned content project can still be de-railed by rounds and rounds of feedback. Even if you stipulate your hours only cover two rounds of feedback, some organisations simply don’t work like that (no matter what they say). So you have to be flexible and adapt along the way, and that’s why I use milestones to re-assess how much work can be done in the time allocated (see the question above).

What happens if the scope changes and there’s additional work to be done?

Find out if your copywriter has other copywriters who can be called on, or if they have the capacity themselves to take on the additional work.

What’s your availability after the project is scheduled to finish?

Delays are common. Don’t get trapped by having your project run over time and then losing your copywriter because they are already booked immediately after your project finishes.

What’s your experience with big copywriting projects? Have they gone to plan?

Share your thoughts below.

 

I can help you with the content strategy and copywriting components of your next content project. Send me an email to get in touch.

 

Why writing great web content is like selling gloves to rich ladies

A week after finishing my last exam at university I packed my bags and left for London. I wasn’t interested in working in my chosen career (which at that stage was PR)—I just wanted to have fun and travel.

I ended living in a big share house in Camden, and working at the very upmarket department store Simpsons of Piccadilly. Have you ever seen the show Are you being served? Well it was based on that very same department store.

It was awfully proper, and I was in charge of selling gloves.

Posh, expensive gloves.

It was the type of place where ladies from the country (actually I should say Ladies, as often it was Lady so-and-so) would come and purchase a whole wardrobe of clothes while their husbands were measured up for new suits. Such a different world.

How does this relate to web writing?

Well, the key to a sale with these rich ladies was quite often asking them the right questions before we’d even started looking at the gloves. The same can be said for copywriting—if you ask clients the right questions before the project starts you are much more likely to get a positive writing outcome.

Where will you wear the gloves?

Yes, on your hands. But in what situation? A special occasion? Wedding? Driving? Long walks in the freezing countryside? Understanding what conditions the gloves would get exposed to was an important part of fitting the right type of glove.

From a content point of view, I ask:

  • What’s the purpose of the content? Is it help content? Is it sales content? Is it news?
  • How does the content help the visitor complete a task on the website?
  • Will the content be used for anything else? A fact sheet, brochure or the like?

What other gloves do you already own?

Most customers wanted gloves which were different to pairs they already owned. So even though they were after some warm, lined gloves—they wanted brown rather than black.

From a content point of view, I ask:

  • What other content is already on your site?
  • How will this new content fit in with that?
  • What other online (or offline) marketing are you doing which will impact this new content?
  • Do you have a brand guide?

How much do you want to spend?

Some of my glove customers never looked at the price tag (or their credit card bills probably), but other ‘normal’ people off the street did have a budget to stick to and our beautiful soft leather cashmere-lined gloves were probably beyond what they could afford.

From a content point of view, I ask:

  • What’s your initial copywriting budget?
  • How do you plan to maintain your new content? Will this be resourced internally or externally? Do you need a style guide to help maintain the content consistently?
  • Do you have existing content to go from, or does all this new content need to be written from scratch?
  • What other material will need to be updated because of this new content? Will that be done now or later?
  • Do you need an editorial calendar to plan your content?

Over to you—do you normally think about these things when developing new content? What have I missed?

I’m happy to ask you all of these questions for your next copywriting project. Simply get in touch and I’ll give you a quote.