21 Ways a Copywriter Can Help a Small Business

Opportunities for small business copywritersIf you ask a small business owner to give a presentation in public, you can see beads of perspiration forming almost immediately. That is, if your attention isn’t drawn to their knees knocking or their leg imitating a piston right where they sit.

While public speaking is a known and easy-to-admit fear of many, writing is a more subtle fear. Accepting the task is easy, but when it comes to stringing words together, many business owners are like a deer in headlights.

Just as the best speakers value speech writers, and professional athletes have coaches, business owners need copywriters and copy editors. Here are a few areas where most small businesses could use a wordsmith:

Writing Big Pieces

  • Web Page Copy: There are plenty of small business web pages filled with mangled text, piecemealed and pasted from multiple sources, not always from their own pages or brochures.
  • Ebooks: Every business owner likes to think they are an expert in their field (ask their employees). Every business owner would like a bigger mailing list. Ebooks can prove the former while building the latter.
  • Press Releases: While some writers think press releases are a thing of the past, small business owners (your potential clients) do not. In smaller towns, well written press releases can mean local media coverage.
  • Blog Posts: This type of writing is the mud where many businesses get stuck. Providing conversational copy, relevant to a targeted audience, with a clear call-to-action, often means bigger profits in less time (and agony).
  • Articles: Most business owners are not familiar with terms like article marketing, advertorials, or native advertising. They like the concept, but shy away from the writing.
  • Sales Pages and Landing Pages: Most small business owners are familiar with the concept of long-form sales letters. Few are adept at putting the copy, the callouts, and the calls-to-action together.

Small Bits & Pieces

  • Commercials: Television and radio remain a popular platform for small business advertising dollars, especially in smaller local markets. As you know, short-and-quick is not always synonymous with clear-and-concise.
  • Catalog or Product Descriptions: Small blurbs like product descriptions, catalog copy and menu items are often difficult for a small business owner. It becomes an exercise of the ketchup trying to read its own label – from inside the bottle.
  • Email: Canned responses are time savers. Template sales emails or inquiry emails can also save time and increase outreach. When written clear and concise, a small business can send these emails with confidence.
  • Display Ad Copy: From taglines to internal signage, chamber directory ads to phone books, some small businesses haven’t changed their ad copy in years.
  • Brochures: Still viewed as an expected leave behind, sales collateral like brochures and sales cards hold a lot of value to some businesses. Creativity can be a key in creating a library of copy to be used elsewhere within the business.
  • Status Updates: If a small business is active in social media, status updates read more like commercials than conversations.

Mouth Pieces

  • Speeches and Presentations: Whether the full body of the speech or an outline, some of the best presenters tap into the strengths of a writer. Presentation slideshows are often in need of a good writer or editor.
  • Profiles and Bios: A lot of business leaders have difficulty writing about themselves. Bio pages on the web, in print or media kits, and social media profiles can all use the touch of a professional writer.
  • Video and Podcast Scripts: The “ums” and “ers” along with the always popular “so” and “basically” fill video voice overs and podcast episodes across the mediums. Good writing and a tool like CuePrompter will make your clients sound eloquent when they say the words you’ve written.
  • Transcription and Re-purposing: Smart business owners are starting to realize the value of recorded presentations or conversations, capturing large portions or small money quotes they can use elsewhere. A writer or editor who can extract the value from the whole is an asset to the company.

Specialty Pieces

  • SEO Copywriting: Writing title tags, headlines, and meta data is a specialized writing skill all its own. Recognizing how to improve copy for findability is also a strength many business don’t have internally. SEO copywriting is one of the most sought after types of writing.
  • Infographics: This style of writing also requires talents for both research and design. Being able to partner with a graphics person can strengthen the copy and the flow.
  • Tutorials: Technical writing or instructional manuals are very important to many kinds of businesses. Small businesses with a high turnover of employment are often seeking operational guidelines for new employees. Manufacturers are always on the lookout for a simpler way to teach customers how to use their products.
  • Grant Writing: If writing blog posts strikes fear into the minds of a business owner, grant writing can send them running for cover.
  • Policies: Terms of service, disclaimers, and codes of conduct are sought after as more businesses launch their own websites. This type of writing often includes a back-and-forth approval process with a legal department.

A lot of small business owners will avoid writing at all costs, sometimes delegating to someone within their company. Not every business will use all of the writing types listed above. It’s likely they haven’t yet considered the possibility of most of them.

As I work with small business owners daily, writing is clearly one of their weakest areas. If you’re a copywriter, or learning to build a copywriting business, I strongly encourage you to reach out to the small business owners in your area and help them in these areas.

About the Author

Mike Sansone works with small business owners and solopreneurs in building a better business presence online and offline through his company, SmallBizTracks. He has authored the ConverStations blog since 2006. You can connect with Mike on Twitter or Google Plus.

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14 SEO Copywriting Tips — in Haiku! [Revised]


I often tell writers to have fun with their content. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, you can get your point across — and establish your expertise — without sounding boring.

Today, I thought I’d take my own advice. Below you’ll find common SEO copywriting tips – written Haiku-style. Enjoy!

SEO copy
Doesn’t mean “keyphrase stuffing”
Write for people first.

Don’t “write for engines”
Google doesn’t buy from you
But your prospects do.

Know your customers
Write informative content
Focus on their needs.

Do keyphrase research
Before you write your copy
Don’t ever skip it.

Focus your content
Think about reader intent
Choose words carefully.

Synonyms are OK now
And related words
Writers can rejoice

Include benefits
Tell folks what’s in it for them
Show how you can help.

Looking for an edge?
Research long-tail keyphrases
Answer the questions.

Another idea
Experiment with headlines
Play with your wording.

Watch your messaging
Pushy sales copy won’t sell
Folks will tune you out.

Don’t talk about YOU
Talk about your customer
Focus on her needs.

Titles are crucial
Always include keyphrases
Write to get the click.

Measure your results
See what works and what doesn’t
Change up your copy.

Have fun with writing
It’s a great way to connect
Thanks for reading this!

Did you have a fun time reading this post? Cool! You’ll learn even more fun SEO writing goodness if you sign up for my free newsletter (hint, hint!)

Photo thanks to M161m161 | Dreamstime.com

Want to Write A Sizzling Services Page? Check Out These 7 Tips!

Want to know the secrets to writing a top-converting services page?

Unlike product pages, which are all about landing the sale, service pages are different.

It’s all about getting the lead.

With that in mind, here are seven smart strategies for capturing leads with savvy SEO copywriting.

Watch the video for all the juicy information, or check out a summary of the tips below:

1. Focus on benefits, not features

Don’t bury your benefit statements! It’s important to address how your service can specifically help your prospect. For instance, will your service save your customers money? Help them make more money? Streamline their operations? Tell them!

Features are important– but it’s your unique sales proposition (U.S.P.) and benefit statements that will grab your prospect’s interest and make them contact you. Merely listing features makes you sound the same as everyone else providing the same or a similar service. Who wants that?

2.  Consider persona-specific landing pages

Creating landing pages specifically addressing your main targeted audiences is a powerful strategy.

Constant Contact, an email platform, used to show vertical-specific landing pages targeted towards individual industry niches. I LOVE this approach. Why? Vertical-specific pages have very cool SEO and reader benefits.

From the SEO side, vertical-specific landing pages allow you to target highly specific keyphrases, for example [email marketing for real estate agents].

From the reader side, you can tie your writing back to your customer persona and drive home the “what’s-in-it-for-them” benefits. For instance, in the case of Constant Contact, people won’t just read about how cool email marketing is — instead, they’ll read an entire page focused on the benefits of email marketing for their industry. That’s a pretty powerful message!

3.  Don’t write skimpy copy

67% of the B2B buyers’ journey is done digitally, according to Forrester Research. That means if your site offers skimpy information and little copy, you run the risk of prospects leaving your site and checking out another vendor. Remember, people won’t “just call” or send you an email. No solid services information = no sale.

4. Include solid, vertical-specific testimonials

Yes, testimonials are smart to have on your site as social proof — but they are only as credible as you make them. Whenever possible, use the full, real names of your testimonial clients rather than just initials.  The latter can look fake (however real they might be) and could prove counter-productive.

5.  Highlight your company’s overarching benefits, too

Besides individual, specific service benefits, you want to highlight the larger, big-picture benefits that your company has to offer on every single page of your website.

Do you offer free, fast shipping? Does your company offer “white-glove” services, while your competitors offer a DIY solution? Shout your overarching benefits from the rooftops!

Boring B2B and B2C companies list technical features and facts, assuming that’s all their prospect wants (or needs) to know. Don’t be like those companies! In the words of Theodore Levitt from Harvard University, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

6Pay close attention to your page Titles

Yes, Titles are very important to readers and for SEO purposes — and it’s crucial to write them right.  If you create vague, non-descript Titles with broad keywords, such as “marketing services” or “web design,” you won’t see the positions you want — nor will you see much organic search traffic.

If your Titles are so-so, consider revisiting your keyphrase research and making some strategic tweaks. You may see a boost in page positions (and search traffic) if you do!

7.  Consider conducting keyphrase research before you name your services 

A cool-sounding, unique service name may seem edgy — but it may not be intuitively searchable. Naming your service something like “Revenue $ucce$$” when you offer “accounts payable services” may make your service hard to find online.

Some companies will conduct keyphrase research before naming a service. That way, they know what words people are using to search for what they offer — and they can consider using those search terms as part of the service name.

Looking for more how-to information? Learn how to write a killer home page and a revenue-driving product page!

Want to learn how to work where you want, when you want and make the money you want to make? Discover profitable SEO writing tips, business strategies, and proven productivity hacks.

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7 Call-To-Action Techniques and Examples That Work

When it comes to your website, if you want your readers to do something, you have to ask them – but do you know how to do it the right way?

Call us

Want people to contact you? Try these tips!

If there’s a way to direct your readers to action that works better than others, do you know what it is? How do you get your audience to click, download, subscribe or purchase? What can you do to improve overall response rates?

To help answer those questions, here’s a look at seven specific call-to-action examples and strategies that work.

To boost the power of your advertising and click-throughs, try these techniques!

1. Offer Something of Value
Screen shot of Free Photo Editing call to actionWhether you offer a “Free Download,” a “20% Off Discount,” or something else, giving your audience something of value is a perfect way to get them to respond to your call to action. This sort of request speaks directly to a reader’s sense of motivation, encouraging him or her to complete a task because of what comes in return. To use this option, ask yourself what’s in it for your reader and emphasize that in your call to action.

2. Speak to Objections
Shutterfly Photo Prints call to actionYou know what your customers’ main objections will be in making a purchase, so why not head them off before they happen? Speak directly to these biggest objections by responding to them right in your call to action. If it’s worry about product satisfaction, include “Money-back Guarantee” in your link or advertising. If it’s cold feet about commitment, assure them of what they have to gain. Think through the drawbacks, from a customer’s perspective, of responding to your request, and figure out a way to alleviate those concerns.

3. Rouse Curiosity
eatreal.org call-to-action exampleThink about what makes you click an ad or respond to a call to action – isn’t it often because something in it made you curious? You wanted to find out more or learn something. Use this to your advantage: make it easy for your readers to do what you want them to by making it hard to resist. Pique their interest. Make them want to learn more. Ask a question to which they want to find the answer and you will see better responses.

4. Use Social Proof
Free Email from MailChimp cta examplePeople are much more likely to click something when they know other people have done it, too. When possible, use social proof to your advantage. Try a call to action that references the approval of other customers and fans. “See why 9 out of 10 clients choose our company!” or “Join the 5,100 readers subscribing to our newsletter!” are good examples of this sort of call to action. Show your audience that doing what you’re asking will make them part of the group.

5. Customize to Your AudienceamazonPrime cta example

Not every reader is alike, so your calls to action shouldn’t be either. Rather than sticking to a one-size-fits-all strategy, think about the people you’re trying to reach. The better you know your audience, the better equipped you are to reach them. If your goal is more sales, craft your calls to action to appeal to your most common demographics. To be even more effective, create different calls to action for the different stages of the sales cycle in order to coax readers through their purchases.

6. Include a Timeline
A sense of urgency adds importance to your call to action.
When there’s a timeline on your request, readers Freshman Admission Process call to action example know they have a limited window in which to act, and that prioritizes a decision. To encourage readers to respond to your request, give them a deadline. Try an “Act now to receive our 20% discount!” or a “This deal available for 7 days only!”

7. Sweeten the Deal
Example CTA: Add $4.52 of eligible itemsThink about the famous PBS commercials where they ask viewers to increase their donations – they always offer extra incentives. The same principle works online. When you want your readers to give a little more money or buy another product or take their action one step further, use a call to action that sweetens their incentives when they do.

Your thoughts?

What is it that you want your readers to do? Follow the advice in this article, and find a strategic way to ask. By using proven tactics to ask readers to follow a step or take an action, you make it easier to improve results.

About the Author ~ Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a marketing agency providing specialized SEO, Web development, blog marketing strategy, and other online marketing services, with headquarters in Chicago. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.


SEO Editing vs. Copywriting for SEO

Should you create original content? Or, should you SEO optimize a page that’s already on the site?

Freelance and in-house writers ask this question all the time. Their emails say, “My boss (or client) wants me to add keyphrases to this existing page. The problem is, the page isn’t very good. Will the keyphrases help? Or is better to rewrite it?”

That’s an excellent question that I address in the video  — or, you can read the modified transcript, below.

SEO copywriting and SEO editing — what’s the difference?

First, let’s go over the differences between SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing.

Keyphrase editing is also known as “on-page optimization,” “optimizing the text,” or “SEO copyediting.” The technique is to add keywords — either derived from the writer’s keyphrase research or received from an SEO — to existing text.

When a page is optimized (or edited,) the content is not rewritten. The writer may edit the page Title and meta description, but for the most part, she’s working with the existing content.

SEO copywriting usually refers to creating original content. The writer still conducts keyphrase research (or receives the keyphrases from an SEO.) However, rather than editing the existing content, she would write brand-new content and include the keyphrases (along with synonyms and related words.)

So you see, SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing are very different: one is working with existing text, and the other is throwing away the existing text and starting fresh.

Should you optimize your site? Or rewrite your pages?

So, when is a better strategy to edit existing pages rather than rewrite them?

It’s best to optimize a page (keyphase editing) when:

  • You (and your readers) already love the content
  • The page isn’t crucial to the sales process
  • The bounce rate isn’t too high

If you have content on your site you (and your readers) already love and it’s performing well, but it wasn’t written with keyphrases the first time around, the page may be a good candidate for keyphrase editing.

It’s also OK to edit the page when it isn’t crucial to the sales process. For example, I’ve worked with companies that have edited old blog posts and saw a great bump in search positions as a result. Editing FAQ pages and articles can offer the same benefit.

Finally, optimizing the page is OK when the time on page (or bounce rate) isn’t too high. You know that people are sticking around and reading the page once they’ve landed on it, so adding in some strategic keyphrases here and there is typically fine for that page.

An SEO content editor or an SEO copywriter usually handles the keyphrase editing. He may be someone you employ in-house, or a freelancer.

There are also certain times when it’s better to write original content, such as:

  • When the page is crucial to the sales process
  • When the page is a duplicate
  • When page conversions or time on page is low

If a page is crucial to the sales process, or is somehow intended to make money — like the home page, and subcategory pages such as products and services — it’s better to rewrite it.

You also want to rewrite the page if it’s a duplicate. This is common with  local landing pages, where two (or more) pages may be basically the same (outside of the city name.)

Also, when you know that the page isn’t working — you’re not getting conversions, the time on page is low, and people are bouncing out quickly —  rewrite it. Readers are telling you they don’t like the page by leaving as soon as they can.

Sure, you can edit the keyphrases into a poorly performing page and sure, hypothetically that page might position a little better, but it won’t help boost conversions.

Either a freelancer or an experienced in-house SEO copywriter can rewrite your pages. Also, an SEO content strategist could do the keyphrase research for you, as well as dovetail her research with the rest of your SEO plan.

Make sense? There’s clearly a difference between when you would write original content and when you can work with the existing content — and it’s smart to know those differences before you proceed.

(Editors note: I originally wrote this post in 2011. A lot has changed since then, so I updated the video and the transcript. I hope you enjoyed the post!)

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Photo thanks: © Bakhtiar Zein | Dreamstime.com


What Is SEO Copywriting and Why Is It Important?

Wondering “what is SEO copywriting” — and if it’s really important for your site?

SEO copywriting is a specialized form of online writing that:

  1. Contains keyphrases — words your target reader types into a search box to find the information she wants.
  2. Helps online content rank higher in search results (such as Google.)
  3. Drives qualified traffic.

SEO copywriting is quality writing. Period. The keyphrases shouldn’t make the writing hard-to-read, sound repetitive, or lose its conversion focus.

Want to learn more about the definition of SEO copywriting? View the video below — or read the modified transcript.

How is SEO copywriting different from traditional copywriting?

The main difference is: SEO copywriting contains keyphrases. For instance [blue cashmere sweaters] is a keyphrase.

Typing keyphrases into Google is what we do every day, right? We type words into Google’s search box to get answers to our questions.

But the thing is, SEO copywriting is much more than just inserting keyphrases into content: Google also wants to see authoritative content that fully answers your readers’ questions and stands out from competing content.

Some people believe you can shove a bunch of keyphrases into the content and still get a high ranking (commonly known as “keyphrase stuffing.”)

Not anymore.

SEO copywriting serves two masters

Google has gotten smarter, and things have changed. Now your content needs to be high-quality content for Google to position it in the top spots.

So in actuality, your content satisfies two masters.

On the one hand, your readers need to love it. Your content needs to be relevant and a resource your readers enjoy — something that educates, entertains or enlightens them.

On the other hand, Google needs to see the content written in a certain way to understand what the page is about. Understanding how to make this happen helps your content “compete” with other pages for rankings.

This is where SEO copywriting best practices come into play.

What helps content rank in search results?

There are many factors that influence search engine rank (how a page positions in Google’s search results.)

If you look at the periodic table (which you can find on Search Engine Land), you’ll see that most of the elements on the left-hand side focus on the quality of the content.

The research, the words and the freshness of content are all important to your SEO success.

So if you’re concerned that…

  • Your pages aren’t showing in Google
  • Your pages aren’t converting
  • Your content is outdated and you never really liked it, anyway
  • Your content was never optimized, and now you think it is time to do so

The good news is that SEO copywriting could represent a huge opportunity for you!

After all, as Seth Godin said, “The best SEO is great content.”

If you can create content that grabs your readers attention, answers their questions and drives incoming links, you can finally start seeing some tasty search engine positions.

And that is a very cool thing.

Have questions about SEO copywriting? Leave a comment! You can also sign up for the weekly SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter, where I provide actionable tips I don’t include in my blog.


Photo thanks: © Cacaroot | Dreamstime.com

The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Content Promotion

Content Promotion ResourcesLast month, we shared a series of posts on how to create conversions-driving content. We started with proven copywriting formulas and how-tos on writing clickable headlines and email subject lines and ended with what Google can teach us about copywriting.

In the second article, we shared expert strategies for creating powerful landing pages and engaging content, and touched on content promotion. But since content promotion is now so critical for content marketing success, we thought we’d expand on the subject.

So here are the most authoritative and relevant articles, in-depth guides and specific how-tos on content promotion we could find…this time around!

Content Promotion Tips & Best Practices

The All-in-One Content Marketing Playbook for Startups

By Melani Dizon via Copy Hackers

In this intensive content marketing playbook of “seven repeatable, proven steps”, Melani Dizon begins with content creation and ends with content repurposing. Each of the individual steps is detailed, incorporating specific examples and linking out to expert sources.

Step five, “Promote More Than Seems Reasonable”, involves its own three-step process, conveniently laid out for you in a downloadable spreadsheet at the end of the guide.

Dizon recommends first reading through the entire playbook to get a feel for “the big picture” and then return to each step as needed. You’ll want to keep this gem for reference!

How to Promote Your Content Across Owned, Earned, and Paid Media

By Matthew Gratt via Convince & Convert

BuzzStream’s Matthew Gratt emphasizes that before even creating content, you need to determine how you’ll promote it across owned, earned and paid channels. He writes that all three channels should be integrated and fused into your overarching content marketing strategy if it is to be effective.

Gratt delves into precisely what owned, earned and paid media are, and shares specific techniques and platforms for leveraging each.

He notes that of the three, earned media is the most important (and the most difficult to acquire), as it lends credibility to your content and extends its reach through third-party amplification. This provides a smart framework to consult when formulating your content marketing strategy.

Content Promotion: The Difference Between Brands with Fans & Anonymous Content

By Larry Kim via WordStream

Like Matthew Gratt (above), Larry Kim writes that planning for content promotion should come before you even start creating it. He describes WordStream’s content marketing process, which starts with where they’d like media coverage then creating content tailored to its preferences using the appropriate angle.

Kim then outlines the content promotion and distribution strategies they employ, including pitching influencers, creating visual assets, leveraging social media, remarketing, repurposing and syndication. If you’re trying to build your brand, you’ll want to pay attention to this mini case study of how WordStream built theirs.

8 Nonobvious Tips to Promote Content

By Arnie Kuenn via Content Marketing Institute

Noting that most digital marketers are familiar with promotion strategies such as sharing content on social media networks, Arnie Kuenn discusses eight less obvious content promotion and distribution tools and platforms.

First up is live-streaming video content to users’ Twitter feeds with Meerkat or Periscope, allowing for real-time content distribution and engagement. He recommends Flipboard for creating industry- or location-specific digital magazines, writing the platform provides a superior user experience for desktop, mobile and tablet users.

Alternative tools include BuzzStream for discovering influencers and their contact information and BuzzSumo for its vast database and unparalleled analytical insights. Finally, Kuenn suggests distributing content to communities and blog aggregators like Triberr, Blog Engage and Alltop.

17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content

By Aaron Agius via Kissmetrics

Aaron Agius writes that while the advanced promotion methods he describes here are routinely employed by the most successful big brands, they’re available and doable for all content creators.

From asking relevant influencers for a “killer quote” for your article to sharing content with communities to paying for promotion services such as (the relatively inexpensive) Outbrain, these strategies are proven to be effective for those who know how to use them properly. To that end, Agius shares tips, recommended tools and links to resources so you can promote your new content like the big boys.

Need to Crush Content Promotion? Love Your Dealers

By Ian Lurie via Portent

Ian Lurie recommends leveraging the networks of content distributors (“dealers”) for your promotion needs, writing “the best dealers are sites that grow through curation of material related to them”. Specifically, he lists content sharing networks, new and growing toolsets, and industry-specific, user-generated content sites and publications.

Lurie considers content sharing networks such as SlideShare and Medium the premium dealers, as they need your fantastic content as much as you need their distribution. They have a respectable “audience oomph” factor and are “very deliberate about promoting the best stuff.”

Throughout, Lurie provides specific dealer features and benefits, as well as tips for using them effectively. This one’s definitely a keeper!

The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience

By Neil Patel & Aaron Agius via Quick Sprout

This exhaustive guide on blog marketing by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius is divided into 10 chapters, covering all that goes into building blog traffic. It’s specifically designed for readers who are already well versed in how to create content but want to build their brand status and ultimately, generate sales.

Beginning with the basics of building a community and an email list in the first chapter, Patel and Agius go on to more advanced strategies such as SEO, paid search and social ads, content syndication and influencer outreach. If you’re looking to catapult your brand and blog to the next level, then you should find this a valuable resource.

Social Media Platforms, Strategies & Tools for Content Promotion

5 Gospels to Follow on Social Media That are Strategic, Systematic, and Smart

By Jodi Harris via Content Marketing Institute

This article is a useful starting point for thinking about content promotion through social media sharing, providing a savvy lens through which to view and assess your social media strategy. Here, Jodi Harris presents Content Marketing Institute’s Jonathan Crossfield’s acerbic take on using social media via five “gospels”.

When promoting content on social media, he advises caution and details seven guidelines to follow that range from tailoring your message to the medium to adding quality images and the right hashtags. A great resource when mapping out your social media strategy!

Social Media Campaign Planning Guide – The Rocket Formula

By Ian Cleary via RazorSocial

In sharing RazorSocial’s “rocket formula”, Ian Cleary identifies planning as the critical factor in making or breaking a social media campaign. He details nine steps, each with their own component steps, in this extensive guide.

Cleary begins with pre-campaign planning such as selecting the appropriate social platforms, then walks you through the entire process, ending with documenting the results.

He suggests tools to help you with each step and thoroughly explains how to use them. A most helpful guide for content marketers, no matter the size of their budget.

Slideshare Traffic Case Study: From 0 to 243,000 Views in 30 Days

By Ana Hoffman via Traffic Generation Café

Ana Hoffman shares some truly impressive numbers documenting her astonishing success with Slideshare, not the least of which is that the LinkedIn-owned platform is her second largest source of referral traffic.

She details just how she did it, beginning with a five-step process for creating a Slideshare deck. Hoffman then shares seven highly specific tips to fully leverage your presentation, such as optimizing for search and including a call to action.

Finally, she discusses four ways to drive traffic from Slideshare, from being featured in one of its homepage sections to getting it embedded on other sites. An excellent resource you’ll want to bookmark!

13 Instagram Marketing Tips From the Experts

By Cindy King via Social Media Examiner

In her post for Social Media Examiner, the late Cindy King shared Instagram marketing tips and recommended tools from 13 social media experts. Their responses range from the relatively technical (shooting square photos) and analytical (using a custom link shortener to track traffic) to the practical (editorial calendar) and promotional.

Among the promotional tips are partnering with Instagram influencers to expand brand awareness and follower reach, leveraging sponsored ads and taking advantage of trending topics.

Other promotional tips involve strategically using your bio link, whereby you can direct users to a landing page or your most recent content. All of the tips shared are worth investigating!

Your Turn

Hope you find these resources helpful in reaching your content promotion goals! If you know of an actionable guide or article — and yes, that includes your own! — please share it with us in the comments below. Thanks!

Photo thanks: ID 945449 by Unsplash / Pixabay.com




LinkedIn Publishing: Leverage the Power of the Pulse

Pulse LogoYou’ve likely read about publishing on LinkedIn Pulse and perhaps wondered why would you want to write a piece of content to share with your connections.

Maybe you think you’re “just a writer” or business owner, or you simply “don’t do social media.”

But truth be told, LinkedIn Pulse is one of the best sources of authoritative content on the web available and offers a free publishing and distribution platform to assist you with your digital marketing.

As a highly visible media channel, it also offers a way to showcase your professional expertise beyond your LinkedIn profile or company page.

Publishing solid content on Pulse can help you with branding, conversions or even landing your next client.

I Already Have a Blog: Why Should I Publish on Pulse?

Think of Pulse as a platform for you to extend the reach of your blog content. By syndicating your blog content on Pulse, you can increase its visibility far beyond what you could realistically attain with your own on-site blog.

Your on-site blog is a valuable content asset, focusing on a niche topic of your choice that satisfies your readers. And while some of your audience may be fiercely loyal readers, they may not follow you on every social platform.

By broadening or adding a twist to your blog post and syndicating it on Pulse, you can expose both your blog and your brand to a different and larger audience. This translates into a great opportunity to grow your readership!

Get Discovered via Search: Both On & Off LinkedIn

Those of us who are passionate about creating content may not be so passionate about promoting it (myself included). That is where LinkedIn’s Pulse can help. You will spend most of your time composing your content rather than promoting it.

Simply by taking the time to share your content on the Pulse platform, you’ve instantly shared it with your connections. What’s more, you can – and should — tag your posts with keywords. That way anyone with a LinkedIn account doing a search for topics they are interested in may well surface your content.

In addition to users discovering your content with the platform’s search feature, Pulse will suggest content to them based on their industry, influencers and LinkedIn activity.

If all these perks are not enough to get you excited about publishing on Pulse, then I have one more tasty tidbit for you…search engines! Yes, you read that correctly. Like any other content on the web, the content you publish on Pulse will be crawled and indexed by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and many other search engines.

The takeaway here is to keep on creating quality, optimized content and the (search) results will fall into place!

Pulse Analytics: Every Number Tells a Story

Who doesn’t like a good story? This is why analytics data are important. When you post your content on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform you have access to instant stats. These stats date back to a year from when you first published your post, and help you make informed decisions moving forward.

For instance, you may find one of your posts did not perform very well. You can choose to do additional research on the subject to deepen or otherwise tweak the post, or simply let it go and scratch the topic from your editorial calendar altogether.

Besides offering the standard social media stats of likes, shares and number of views, LinkedIn goes a step further and breaks down the data so you can see your viewers by location, industry, job title and traffic sources in terms of percentages. This is some powerful information!

After a few good quality posts you will begin to get an idea of what type of audience is reading your material. Below is a snapshot of data from one of my posts about whether you should consider getting an MBA, a topic that can appeal to almost anyone regardless of their industry.

What I found is the e-Commerce Specialist job title and travel industry were amongst my biggest percentages. Knowing this, I can plan my next post to be related to hospitality and digital marketing.


The takeaway here is although I specialize in the area of (digital) hospitality, I chose to write about an “off” subject. This is perfectly okay to do!

As a bonus, your article may inspire some readers outside of your industry vertical to connect with you (I picked up three connections from my MBA post). Have fun with the numbers and set goals for them. Broaden your reach and enjoy watching the story unfold!

FAQ: What Should I Write About? For How Long? And When?

Settling on a topic can be one of the toughest things about writing. From my perspective, you should write about things that you are care deeply about. You may need to experiment with a variety of topics before determining which ones work best for you.

The goal for my writing is to be seen as an expert within my field. Ask yourself what your goals are prior to choosing a topic. Defining your goals will assist in finding your topical focus and in tailoring your content to your target audience. At the end of the day, you need to give your intended readers what they are searching for.

As for length, longer is better! LinkedIn readers favor long-form content with an average of 1,900 – 2,000 words according to a 2014 study of the 3,000 most successful LinkedIn posts by Paul Shapiro and Noah Kagan.wordcountShapiro and Kagan’s findings are supported by Buzzsumo’s 2015 research, which found long-form content overall consistently outperformed shorter posts in terms of links and shares.

In terms of views, Shapiro and Kagan’s study found Thursday to be the best day for posting. In terms of shares, Buzzsumo’s analysis found Tuesday to be the best day for LinkedIn publishing. It would be a good suggestion to run your own tests and see which publishing days perform best.

How to Publish on Pulse: Easy as 1-2-3

Now we’ve covered the many reasons why you should post content on LinkedIn’s Pulse, here are the few simple steps it takes:

  1. Navigate to LinkedIn.com and sign into your account
  2. Click on “Publish a Post” just below the quick stats section near the top
  3. Begin using the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to write your post, including adding media, formatting and category tagging.

I would strongly recommend writing your initial post in Word to avoid loss of content if something were to crash. Again, all of your formatting will be done on LinkedIn. Save often! Remember, you can always make changes after you publish.

LinkedIn Pulse is one of the best social channels through which we can connect with one another, discover new content and allow others to discover ours. Some users are looking for career opportunities, some are seeking to generate business leads, and some are trying to build their brand. Whatever your reason, don’t delay any longer: start sharing your content with the world!

Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn and Google+

Photo thanks: Wikimedia Commons © Alexander Hampson / Wikimedia.org

3 Things Google Can Teach You About Copywriting

Is Google more persuasive than Billy Mays? Perhaps…

This month, we’ve focused on how to write conversion-sparking content. Why? Because knowing how to write online is one thing. Knowing how to write copy that makes money, well, that’s a big deal — and a skill worth developing.

I’d like to close this month with lessons from an old friend — Google. We are so hungry for their brand that we surf their site every day, use their brand name as a verb and hang on their every word. If you want an example of a smart “sales” campaign, look at Google. They have us eating out of the palm of their virtual hands.  Enjoy!

What does Google have in common with the late Billy Mays?

Both are known for being extremely persuasive.

Google is a master at manipulating our emotions and changing our behavior. Think about it: How many of you use Google products because it’s easier, cheaper and – in the case of the now-defunct Google Glass – provides some awesome geek cred?

Yup. I thought so. And part of that reason is how Google markets their services.

Here are some copywriting lessons you can learn from Google – and how you can use them in your own business.

Everyone loves Google. Just ask them.

One of the reasons review sites are so popular is because we rely on them to help make our decisions. Should we go to a new restaurant? Better check Yelp first. Traveling? Check out Trip Advisor before booking that hotel room. We read reviews written by “people like us” to make our decisions.

If you check out the Google Analytics home page, you’ll see that the first image is a testimonial. As you click into inner pages, you see well-known company logos as “success stories.”  If a company wondered if Google Analytics would work for them, they can read the testimonials and feel more at ease. Other people like Google. So they will too.

Here’s how to use social proof in your own marketing.

I’ve talked quite a bit about the power of testimonials. However, it’s amazing how many sites ignore this easy conversion tip. If you don’t have testimonials on your site, it’s time to add them. If you work with different vertical markets, make sure you have vertical-specific testimonials. It’s really that easy.

FUD Google

FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is a big motivator. We want to minimize our pain and maximize our pleasure. So, when we hear about something that may be particularly unpleasant, we do what we can to make our world safe. Think of the millions of dollars people spent trying to calm their Year-2000 fears. Or how people will stop eating certain foods because they read one news article that said that they may be bad for you.

Google is all over the FUD approach. Once upon a time, algorithmic updates were sudden, violent acts. We may have had inklings that something was coming down, but Google didn’t warn us.

Today, Google representatives will drop hints about a “possible” update – and people immediately freak out.  Some folks are so afraid of making a wrong algorithmic move that many site owners turn to AdWords in order to guarantee consistent traffic. After all, your main site’s rankings may bounce up and down and possibly plummet – and that’s much too unpredictable.  With PPC, your ads will keep running no matter what (within reason.) Is it any wonder many site owners ignore their main site and rely 100% on PPC? That’s FUD in action.

Billy Mays used to use FUD during his pitches. If you check out this old commercial for Oxyclean, you’ll see how bleach supposedly ruined a pair of jeans – yet, Oxyclean cleaned the jeans without mishap. The message? Other cleansers may hurt your clothes, but Oxyclean is the safe alternative.

How to use FUD on your own site

FUD can be tricky. It’s important to bring up the benefits of making the right decision (read: the decision you want them to make.) Yet, if you push it too far, people may kick back and ignore your pitch.

Check out the approach Gerber Knives uses.  They don’t come out and say, “If you purchase a cheaper knife, it may fail.” But they heavily imply it in the copy:

The message is pretty clear: If you need a knife for a “survival situation,” use a Gerber one. Or else.

Did you want Google Glass? There were only a few available …

You want me. I know you do.

You want me. I know you do.

The principle of scarcity teaches us that something becomes more attractive to us if we think we can’t have it. If something is only available for a limited time, or to a limited population, we want it more.

Now, think about Google Glass. The glasses were clunky, weird looking and are like the geeky eyeglass equivalent of a Segway. But people wanted their Glass. Badly. When you limit sales of a $2,000 product to “invite only,” it’s amazing how many people will immediately catapult the product purchase to a “need.” After all, there’s only a few invites out there. Don’t you want to be part of the chosen few?

How you can apply this in your business:

Are there ways you can make your product less available – for instance, reminding people that there are just “a few products at that price,” or making it a limited-time offer? If you provide services, you can tell clients that you’re only accepting X new clients every month. It’s amazing how products will compete for your time when they think that you may not have time to take them on.

The next time you read a Google announcement, think about how they positioned their content and see what you can learn. The Big G can be a wonderful teacher…

Photo credit: “Google Glass Explorer Exchange 36274” by Ted Eytan


Sales Writing Resources for Creating Killer Copy

sales writingDo a search on “sales writing” or “copywriting” and you’ll see that the body of content around it is ginormous. And that’s no surprise. After all, copywriting is the substance of all the print and digital marketing materials out there, from headlines to calls to action (and all that stuff in between).

The art and science of writing persuasive copy as we know it has been around for some time, and the principles and best practices of David Ogilvy’s day still apply today. In part 1 in our 4-part series on conversions writing, we review some evergreen resources that feature time-saving copywriting formulas, as well as helpful how-tos on creating compelling headlines and email subject lines.

Copywriting Formulas: Acronym Soup 

Creating solid sales copy takes precious time and energy. To help you use both most efficiently, here are several resources for your virtual library.

The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever)

By Joanna Wiebe via Copy Hackers

“Because only rookies write from scratch…” So begins Joanna Wiebe’s introduction to Copy Hackers’ ambitious taxonomy of copywriting formulas (as well as several templates, methods and checklists).

Beginning with the widely known AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) model and its myriad variations to more obscure ones such as HELLYEAH (Holler-Empathize-Lambast-Legwork-Yes-Educate-Action-Handle) for long form sales letters, this guide is rich with links and examples. Definitely a keeper!

The Ultimate Guide to Copywriting

By Hassan Ud-deen via Kissmetrics

In this “ultimate guide,” author Hassan Ud-deen discusses the multiple elements that make for superlative copy. He offers a detailed description of how to apply the AIDA formula (including a great YouTube clip of Alec Baldwin’s tutorial from Glengarry Glen Ross), and delves into the psychology behind intriguing headlines, compelling openings and persuasive sales copy. Ud-deen even touches on the use of closed vs. open bullet points. A handy resource you’ll consult for most any copywriting project.

Why Most Copywriting Formulas Stink (and How to Really Write for the Web)

By Henneke Duistermaat via Enchanting Marketing

Authored by the self-described “irreverent copywriter and marketer” Henneke Duistermaat, this post takes aim at the AIDA copywriting formula. Her main objection to AIDA is the redundancy (and potential overkill) of the “attention” part. Unlike the days of print advertising when AIDA was conceived (circa 1900), you’ve already got the attention of readers — they’ve clicked on your site (several others echo this observation, including Wiebe).

Duistermaat favors the FAB (Features-Advantages-Benefits) formula (listed in Copy Hackers’ guide as “A single, solitary formula for body copy”), with the emphasis being on the benefits your product or service offers your prospect (which propels the desire called for by the AIDA model).

She also addresses the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solution, or -Solve) formula premised on the avoidance of pain, whereby you describe a problem, stir up the emotions associated with it, then offer your solution. Regarding PAS, she quotes copywriting legend Dan Kennedy:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how powerful this first formula is. (…) It may be the most reliable sales formula ever invented.”

Master This Copywriting Formula to Dominate Any Social Media Platform

By Demian Farnworth via Copyblogger

The applications for the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solve) copywriting formula (above) are “endless”, writes Demian Farnworth, citing and linking out to examples of its use in product descriptions, landing pages and sales letters.

Farnworth then delves into how to apply the PAS formula to any text-based social media platform (rather humorously), including Twitter. He further notes that “PAS gives your writing consistency, precision, and persuasion” and is a tool you can keep handy to be an efficient writer because you “don’t have to recreate the wheel every time.”

Compelling Headlines: Key to Conversions

You’re most likely familiar with David Ogilvy’s famous quote about headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Here are some resources to help you spend that 80 cents wisely.

A Simple Formula for Writing Kick-Ass Blog Titles

By Corey Eridon via HubSpot

Corey Eridon succinctly underscores the importance of creating truly compelling titles in prefacing his post: “Titles are what sell the content.” He continues, “They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media.”

Guided by best practices, notably keeping the reader experience paramount by delivering on the promise of the title, Eridon’s headline-writing formula starts with the key step of distinguishing an overarching topic from a specific, working title that “guides the creation of a blog post.”

Other requisites of a stellar title include making it sexy while keeping it accurate, as deceptive clickbait titles are liable to backfire by alienating readers (they may well lose trust in you or the brand you’re representing). Additional steps entail optimizing the title for search while keeping it short, and then brainstorming with someone else to hone it to perfection. A smart, from-the-trenches formula!

#Copywriting ALERT! 902 Headline Banging Words, SRSLY

By Marty Weintraub via aimClear

aimClear CEO Marty Weintraub and his team share a list of 902 words to use when creating blog, article and ad headlines. According to Weintraub, these words are “likely to distinguish professional from amateur copy when well used.”

The list is divided into “an array of permutations” that include emotions, expletive punch words and a set of synonyms that serve as a kind of “headline-stemming lateral thesaurus.” Then to assist with ad headline and SEO title brevity, the list is color-coded according to the word’s character count. This resource is something best understood firsthand, so definitely check it out!

How To Create Headlines That Grab Attention And Convert

By Michael Brenner via Marketing Insider Group

A study conducted by HubSpot and Outbrain of more than 3.3 million blog headlines looked into those attributes that increased or inhibited content reach as measured by click-through rates (CTRs), engagement and conversions. In a nutshell, their analysis reveals that readers have become wary of clickbait, demonstrating a strong preference for transparent titles.

Michael Brenner summarizes the study’s findings, writing that headlines with the words “who” and “photo(s),” as well as those with clarifications in brackets (such as [Webinar]), generated higher CTRs, while the latter two also drove higher engagement. Bracketed descriptions were further found to generate more conversions.

The analysis found that overused sexy words such as “secret” and “magic”, those that directly address the reader (“you”) and those that convey urgency (such as “now”) all hurt CTRs by as much as 59 percent. You can download the full study (“Data Driven Strategies for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines”) at HubSpot.

Hate this Headline? You’ll Probably Share the Story.

By Barry Feldman via Kissmetrics

While an 8-word headline of a 1300-word post represents less than 1% of the content, I’m 99% sure it will be the line that dictates the destiny of your post,” writes Barry Feldman in his own post about how to get your content shared on social media…so much so that it delivers a “sudden and pronounced spike in traffic”. The key: giving your post an emotional headline to invoke reader response by using words that pack a powerful punch.

Such “power words” can be positive (connoting pleasurable feelings), or negative (i.e., painful feelings) and there are scads of them. Feldman shares links to CoSchedule’s “cheat sheet” of over 180 power words, and to PsychPage’s equally impressively list of feeling words, both pleasant and unpleasant. He also shares a tool that scores the emotional mojo of your headlines, so you can test alternative variations. Go forth and make that headline emote!

Email Subject Lines: Stand Out in the Inbox Crowd

Email marketing is one of the most effective content marketing strategies available. You can think of email subject lines as headlines for your reader’s inbox, with their open rates the equivalent of headline click-through rates. Here are resources to assist you in persuading your readers to open your email.

The 112 Best Email Marketing Subject Lines (so far) in 2016

By Joey Barker via Unfunnel

It’s not yet mid-January, yet Unfunnel has already sent out 1.25 million emails. Their analysis of the email open rates rendered a list of their best 112 email subject lines, organized as benefit-driven, logic- and threat-based types. In turn, each type is broken down into categories.

For instance, benefit-driven email subject lines may drive open rates by appealing to the reader’s self-interest, or pique her interest with news or by telling the beginning of a story. (Their benefit-driven email subject lines accounted for nearly half of Unfunnel’s most successful ones).

Logic-based email subject lines may arouse the reader’s curiosity, invoke social proof, or appeal to her humanity with a more one-on-one, intimate tone.

Finally, threat-based email subject lines play on the reader’s fear of loss, whether by implying scarcity or urgency.

The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates

By Megan Marrs via WordStream

You needn’t look farther than your own inbox to know that subscribers are inundated with emails vying for their attention. Here Megan Marrs discusses nine types of email subject lines to boost open rates: simple and no-nonsense; funny; controversial/shocking; single-word; numbers and lists; personalized; questions and other punctuation; “missing out” and other scarcity tactics; and finally, mysterious.

She then lists several general best practices for writing email subject lines, including writing ten different lines for every email and then choosing the best, keeping the character count to under 50, playing with alliteration and using CAPITALS sparingly.

How Consumers Really Feel About Your Subject Lines

By Elyse Dupre via Direct Marketing News

To gauge the impact that emotional words and phrases in email subject lines have on reader engagement, Persado (an “automated persuasive language generator” software company) analyzed 436 of those from retail and e-commerce companies.

The specific subject lines studied were from last year’s Black Friday emails, and “engagement” was measured by open rates.

Elyse Dupre reports that Persado studied five performance-driving emotions: urgency, achievement, exclusivity, anxiety and excitement. Of them, exclusivity (such as, “Your exclusive $15 coupon is here!”) performed the best with a 28-percent average lift in open rates, and achievement (for instance, “…you’ve earned it”) a distant second with 18-percent.

An excited tone actually resulted in an 11-percent fall in open rates, compared to an 11-percent increase above the baseline in 2014. Paraphrasing Presado’s director of marketing, Julia Spano, Dupre writes that while it may seem counterintuitive, “excitement is rarely a top performing emotional category”.

[Note: You may be interested in this related story by Dupre on the impressive success Angie’s List has experienced in leveraging emotionally engaging email subject lines generated by Persado.]

Your Turn

Have you come across any evergreen sales writing resources you’d like to share? Please include them in the comments below!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next Thursday! We’ll share resources for creating conversions-driving blogs and web page copy, as well as tools and tips for promoting content. 

Photo thanks: ID 59022955 © Wujekjery / Dreamstime.com