What Match.com Taught Me About First Email Impressions

Did I just send an email with a major typo?

Did I just send an email with a major typo?

I had one rule when I was on Match.com.

If I saw misspellings, typos or the wrong form of a word (like “they’re” when he meant to type “there,”) that person was no longer a candidate.

Harsh? Yes. But here’s my theory. First impressions count. If a person can’t spend two minutes proofing their email, they weren’t overly invested in meeting me in the first place.

I thought of my “Match rule” after receiving an email from a possible vendor. I was searching for solutions and had asked some pretty specific questions.

When I finally received an email, I noticed a number of typos:

– The customer service representative had misspelled the company name. YES. THE COMPANY NAME!

– He would Randomly capitalize words That didn’t need Capitalization.

– On the flip side, some words that should have been capitalized were not.

My response was an immediate “I’m not impressed.” If a company couldn’t be bothered to spell their company name correctly, how could I trust them as a vendor?

I immediately went from being hot to trot about this company to throwing them in the “undatable” pile.

Companies need to realize that good copywriting means more than having great SEO copy. It also means that all auto responder copy is top notch. All newsletters are proofed. And yes, all customer service emails are free from major typos, they’re easy-to-read and they address the recipients’ needs.

Otherwise, your company may also be considered “undatable” – and you’ll lose the sale.

Don’t let this happen to you! Here are some copywriting tips to consider:

– Comb through all of your auto responder content. Do you see any typos or grammatical errors? Can you see ways to make a good email even better? This is a task you can do in house, or you can hire a copywriter to help. An outside person can often see opportunities and mistakes you may not notice anymore. Like the Febreeze commercial that talks about being “nose-blind,” it’s easy to be “content-blind” when it comes to your own copy.

– Review your sales teams’ email correspondence. There are some folks out there who are great talkers, but their emails are full of mistakes. It could be because they’re writing fast and they need to take some additional email time. Or, it could be that they just aren’t good writers. In that case, you may want to consider other avenues (pre-written templates, hiring an email editor, pairing them with another sales person) to make sure the job is done right.

– Are you a business owner? If you know that email writing isn’t your strong suit, don’t take chances. Hire an assistant who can write your emails for you (as well as take on other duties.) It may seem like a luxury. It’s not. You’ll free up time and know that everything is written correctly.

What about you? What do you think when you see an email typo from a vendor? Are you forgiving? Or does it depend on the situation?

Photo thanks to © Spaxia | Dreamstime.com – Oh Boss That Are You Doing? Photo

Authorship: Google giveth and Google taketh away

Looks like Google’s taking away something else…

Bottom line: Should you continue producing content now that Google Authorship markup is dead? Is blogging and guest posting still worth it, even if you won’t see your shining face next to the search results page?

The answer: Yes.

Many writers freaked out when they heard the Google Authorship news. These folks wrote great content, went through Google’s somewhat confusing Authorship instructions and built a nice author platform on Google+. Heck, some writers wouldn’t have even joined Google+ if it wasn’t for the Authorship benefits.

Now these folks feel scammed – especially writers who were riding the Authorship wave. One person said the announcement was “devastating” to web writers.

To that I say “Hogwash” (and how often does one get to say “hogwash?”)

If you’re freaking out about Authorship, relax. I know it’s frustrating that it’s suddenly gone (although we did have some warning.) But that doesn’t mean that you stop creating commanding content. Besides, although Google may not support Authorship anymore, Author Rank is not dead (as Danny Sullivan explains in this post.)

To those new to the web writing world, know that Google (and content marketing) existed long before Authorship. People have always written articles to establish themselves as subject matter experts. In the old days before Google, we wrote for print trade publications to establish expertise. Before Authorship, we still blogged, created ebooks and wrote white papers. The byline is still alive and well.

To paraphrase the Talking Heads, today’s content marketing world is the “same as it ever was.”

The reality is, Google giveth and Google taketh away. We used to have keyword search data and now we don’t. Authorship markup was in our lives for a short time – and then it disappeared. The only constant in SEO is that the field (and the rules) are constantly changing.

Despite what Google is doing this month, the important thing is to keep writing. Build your author platform. Get your name out there. Build your brand.

Because although Authorship may have gone away, good content never goes out of style.

Get out of your own head and work with a freelance writing coach instead! Pay by the month or by the minute. Learn more!)

Time to get some perspective

Shift your perspective to see the hidden image.

Shift your perspective to see the hidden image.

Do you remember those Magic Eye pictures? They were all the rage in the 1990s. (There was even an appearance in a Seinfeld episode … but, I digress.)

The point of these pictures was to stare at it until you saw the hidden 3-D image within the picture. Some people saw the image right away, others took some time, and some people never saw the picture (although they claimed they did).

Those pictures used to drive me crazy because I was never sure how – exactly – I had shifted my perspective to make the image show. All I know is it eventually shifted and the image was revealed.

Your content marketing may be filled with hidden images

You may not realize it, but you may have hidden gems in your content marketing. I’m not saying that if you stare at your website long enough a new website will pop up. No, I mean there may be opportunities there that you can’t see unless you shift your perspective.

You and your in-house marketing team may be too close to your content and online marketing to see obvious blind spots. If you don’t find a way to shift your perspective, you may be losing sales and other conversion opportunities.

Find ways to shift your perspective

Your product or service may be the best thing since sliced bread, but if you aren’t marketing it correctly, no one may ever know about it. The trick is to change your focus from what you think the top selling points of your products and services are, and shift it to what your client (and prospective clients) think is important.

Last week, Heather discussed shifting her focus from free content to monetized content. If you read the post, you will see that this wasn’t something Heather just came up with on a whim. She had been told many times that she was “giving away too many secrets” on her blog. At first, she didn’t listen because she liked educating people and her blog generated leads. However, the more she heard comments about hurting her business with all of the free content, the more she began to listen.

I’m not advocating jumping on the bandwagon for a passing fad. But, I do think you need to listen to third parties. A powerful way to shift your focus is to listen to third-party feedback. Your company may be stuck in a “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset. You need to pay attention to people who aren’t as married to your content and way of doing things as you are.

Easy ways to get third-party perspective are:

  • Asking your current client base what they like and don’t like about your products, services and marketing efforts.
  • Hiring a marketing consultant or editor to look at your content with fresh eyes.
  • Polling your social media followers for fresh ideas.

These are just a few ways you can get a new perspective. How does your company make sure your content marketing efforts are working at their peak performance? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Need a content consultation? Heather offers an SEO content review! Check it out!

Photo credit: Magic Eye 3D Picture #36

FREE is powerful, but dangerous

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-free-message-image22936345“Free” is a very effective power word. It grabs your reader’s attention and may even convince him to take that next conversion step.

However, if you use “free” incorrectly, it could cost you.

Does “free” remove value?

I recently witnessed the following scene.

A 15-year-old boy uses color ink to print the informational page for a PC that he wants to buy (Let’s not kid ourselves – that he wants his mother to buy). The printed description has a picture of the computer, so the printer definitely uses some color ink.

His mom sees the printout and says, “Next time, could you print something like that in grayscale so we can save the color ink?”

The son replies, “But it’s the free ink that came with the printer. It didn’t cost us anything.”

The discussion continued and it consisted mostly of his mom asking him to conserve ink and he kept stating that it was free. (It was quite fun to watch as a third party, but I digress.)

Although most of us are probably not trying to reach a 15-year-old demographic, the point is that he saw the ink as something that had no value because it was free.

Put a price tag on “free” products and services

It’s great to offer a free content marketing evaluation or to entice website visitors with a free product sample. However, be sure to include the value of the free product or service.

If you don’t include something as simple as “$200 value” or whatever the true cost of the product or service would be, why would your clients think it is valuable?

Including a waived price/value to the free item or service can:

  • Increase conversions because potential clients understand the deal they are getting
  • Keep clients from insisting you give them similar products or services for free
  • Give a glimpse into your prices and (hopefully) minimize the number of inquiries you receive from people who cannot afford your services or products – saving your time to focus on those who can.

Make sure it’s not always free

In addition to giving your service or product a value, be sure to limit your offer. If something is always free, it loses whatever value you assign to it.

Utilize the principle of scarcity to further entice your audience. By telling your website visitors that your free offer is only for a limited time, you are adding additional value to it – and encouraging an action sooner rather than later.

Keep “free” in your arsenal

Don’t remove “free” from your list of power words. By taking a few precautions and using it correctly, you can increase your conversions.

Speaking of deals, save nearly $200 on the SEO Copywriting Certification training if you sign up before April 30! Use coupon code UPDATE.

Photo credit: ID 22936345 ©  | Dreamstime.com

What's in it for me?

CarlAs I have mentioned before, I am a fan of 1980s pop culture. One of my favorite teen angst movies from the 80s is The Breakfast Club. However, I don’t want to talk about any of the main characters or pivotal scenes.

No, I want to talk about a few lines muttered by Carl, the janitor.

In one scene, Carl catches Richard Vernon (the school administrator) snooping through the personal files of the other teachers. Vernon wants Carl to not mention it to anyone and Carl asks,

“What’s in it for me, man?”

Turns out, he’ll keep quiet for “50 bucks.”

Carl is your client

Sure your potential clients may not want $50.00 (or they might), but they do want to know “What’s in it for me?”

Tell them!

Who cares how wonderful you are?

You may be the best in the business, but if all you tell prospective clients is how wonderful you are – and NOT how your wonderfulness will help them, they will not care.

Don’t just write a list of all of your business’s attributes. Transform those features into customer benefits. You may be surprised by the increase in your conversion rates.

Wondering if you talk too much about yourself? Look at your copy. How often do you use your company’s name or the word “we” compared to the number of times you use the word “you”?

If you talk about yourself more, you may be hurting your business. Turn the focus around and tell your customers what you can give them – make sure it’s something that they want … even if it is $50.

B2B copywriting isn’t always directed towards “stuff suits.” Sometimes you write for Richard Vernons, sometimes it is for Carls. Master the art of B2B SEO copywriting with the B2B SEO Copywriting Certification training. There’s a special price  – so sign up now

Photo credit: DarkSarcasm on FanPop

Many writers, one voice – it IS possible

Group of people working with laptops in officeYour in-house marketing team may consist of several copywriters … or at least numerous team members who contribute content.

Your website may include:

  • Product pages written by your creative team
  • How-to pages written by your tech team
  • About pages written by upper management
  • Blog posts written by members of various departments

So how can you ensure your content marketing has a consistent voice?

Share who you are writing for

Your customers want you to tell them, “What’s in it for me?”

But how do you highlight what they need if you don’t know who they are?

You can’t … at least not very well.

Your writers – whoever they may be – need to know who they are speaking to. In order to do this, you need to create a customer persona. Once this persona is produced, clearly share it with your team.

The more detailed you can get, the better your writers can find a way to relate. Be sure to provide your team with a clear picture of whom they are writing for.

Set a guiding voice

Once your writers know who they are writing for, they still need more guidance. You need to create a content marketing guide.

Your guide should include:

  • Integral components of the company’s voice and branding
  • A clear explanation of your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Style guide with preferred use of grammar rules and sentence structure

Don’t let them have the final word

You should have an editor or editorial team that reviews each web page, blog post, and online campaign before it posts. The editing process should not only include grammar and spelling, but also review of voice, tone and message.

What tips can you add for writing with multiple writers?

Developing a brand voice is just one aspect of copywriting. Master the art of B2B SEO copywriting with the B2B SEO Copywriting Certification training. There’s a special price  – so sign up now!

Are your complimentary services free? Understanding word choice

ComplimentaryFREE2During some recent holiday travel, I saw this sign in the San Diego airport. I had to take a picture of it because I wondered how many people asked. “How much does it cost?” before they added the handwritten sign “free.”

Who are you trying to reach?

A 2012 report indicated that the average reading level of the books taught in U.S. high schools (grades 9 through 12) was just over a fifth-grade level.

Using the readability index calculator, I tested two very similar sentences. Here are the results.

“We offer a complimentary breakfast.” Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 15. Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: -1. (The higher number for the reading-ease score, the easier the text is to read. Comics usually score around 90. Legal documents usually score below a 10.)

“We offer a free breakfast.” Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 5. Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: 66.

One word makes a BIG difference!

Are you trying to reach the average U.S. adult, or are you hoping to reach adults with a higher level of education? If you aren’t sure, take a step back and create a profile of your ideal customer.

Refined or powerful?

Yes, “complimentary” sounds more refined than “free,” but “free” is more powerful!

“Free” is one of many power words – words that get your readers excited about your product or service. You can grab your readers’ attention by mentioning they can get something for free.

What are they searching for?

People don’t typically search for complimentary items; they search for free items.

Let’s take a look at the hotel industry. The term “hotels with free breakfast” is searched for 3.5 times more often than the term “hotels with complimentary breakfast” (although “complimentary breakfast” was a term that had been used for some time in the industry).

By focusing on what your audience is searching for, you can increase the traffic to your website.

What are the big boys doing?

Let’s take a look at the hotel industry again. In the world of complimentary breakfasts and free Wi-Fi access, what words are being used?

I did some perusing of hotel websites. In most cases, the hotel chains touted “free” breakfast and Wi-Fi, although some companies hedged their bets by still including “complimentary” on the page. Check out these examples.

Wyndham offers free breakfast and made sure you knew there was free Wi-Fi included in your free breakfast.



Comfort Inn also stuck with a free hot breakfast and free high-speed Internet access.



Hampton Inn makes sure you know that a hot breakfast and Wi-Fi are both free with your stay.



Residence Inn lets you know about several free offerings: breakfast, grocery delivery and Wi-Fi.



Embassy Suites touts free cooked-to-order breakfast, but offered complimentary drinks.



Holiday Inn makes sure you see that breakfast is both free and complimentary.


Country Inns & Suites by Carlton bucked the system with a complimentary breakfast, but it still mentions free high-speed Internet access.


Whichever word you choose, be sure to highlight value

Be cautious when publicizing free services (no matter how you phrase it). When highlighting something that is free, be sure you let your audience know what the monetary value of the product or service is. Otherwise, it is very easy for them to diminish the worth and significance of this bonus.

What’s your take? Do you offer something for free or is it complimentary?

Make yourself even more valuable to your team.  Sign up for the SEO Copywriting Certification training today!

What Girls can teach you about your soul-crushing corporate job

Does your in-house job leave you feeling a little...stuck?

Does your in-house job leave you feeling a little … stuck?

Do you feel stuck in your corporate job?

Yes, you’re happy to even have a job. Your paycheck arrives like clockwork. You have benefits. Heck, you may even have a creative job like marketing communications, design or SEO writing.

Yet, you feel like your corporate job is sucking away at your soul.

You dream of casting off the chains, hanging out your freelance writing shingle and being your own boss. Picking your own clients. Writing about what you feel passionate about – not creating spec sheets for industrial machinery (or whatever your current job has you doing.)

In a recent episode of Girls, Hannah’s new job is writing advertorials for GQ magazine. She starts out feeling excited – she’s got some great ideas, she makes a new friend and she discovers the joy of free snacks.

Then, reality kicks in. Hannah realizes her coworkers are published writers – yet, they haven’t pursued their writing for a long time. They let their dreams die while enjoying the benefits a corporate job brings.  After an initial freak-out, Hannah vows that will never happen to her.

If you’ve been feeling stuck, consider this Girls episode your wake-up call.

You can have it all – a full-time gig and a creative business. You just have to want it bad enough. Maybe you only have an hour a day to work on your side gig. Maybe you spend your lunch hours working on creative projects. But you can do it.

Here’s how to make it happen:

– Assess your landscape. What do you need to help your dream take shape? $10K in the bank? Pay off your debts? Refine your copywriting skills? Make a list of what you’ll need to make it happen. Don’t censor yourself or think, “There is no way in hell I can do this.” Quiet that voice. You CAN do it.

Set SMART goals. This isn’t a sprint. It’s a baby-step process. Figure out your top three goals and break down the individual tasks. It may take you months to accomplish one goal. That’s OK.

– Stay disciplined. Set aside time to work your butt off. If you’re too tired after work, get up an hour early and work on your dreams before work. Find chunks of time during your day. A little bit of progress is better than none at all. Do NOT let “I don’t have time” creep into your vocabulary.

– Allow yourself some slack-off time. You can’t work like a fiend 24/7. Take at least one day off a week and do something fun. Burnout and overwhelm will slow you down.

– Create a cheering section. There will be days you’ll think you’ll never escape from your real job. Life will test you and cause you to question your goals and progress. Your cheering section will remind you how far you’ve come and keep your eye on the prize

– Finally, celebrate your successes. Did you launch your new website? Publish an article? Land a new client? Take time out to celebrate. It may take you a couple years to pull away from your “real job,” but you have a plan. You’ve made progress.  And that’s a huge success.

What about you? Did you escape from your corporate job? Are you planning to? Share your story in the comments below.

Want to hang out your freelance shingle and make more money, faster? The Copywriting Business Bootcamp is just $180 when you purchase it at the same time as the SEO Copywriting Certification training. Get started today!

Photo credit:   | Dreamstime.com

Write for Humans and Robots for Best Search Results

Write for robots, too.

Robots write for us. We can write for them, too!

I’m not an SEO expert. I don’t even play one on TV.

But I am a communications expert and, as part of my job, I’ve been writing my entire career.

In 2008, when social media began to take a hold, many of us had to quickly figure out how to use content to build our brands.

And, as part of that brand-building exercise, came learning how to write for both readers and robots.

In fact, I didn’t realize there was an entire technical side of writing until well into my blogging journey. I was just writing what I thought people would like to read and using our social networks to expand our readership. And it worked.

As it turns out, though, if you are smart and strategic about also writing for robots, you can extend your readership much more quickly than writing just for humans.

Before you get out the tar and feathers, I’m not advocating keyword-stuffed content. The first priority is always to your readers. But there are a few things you can do to help grow your audience.


Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios has a template he likes to use when he sets out to write a blog post.

It includes the headline, the target SEO keyword or phrase, the meta description, the permalink, and the images you plan to use.

This is where you plan your work.

Think about the competition already on the web for the topic.

Think about the amount of searches around the keyword or phrase you want to use.

Consider the images – are they original? Did you buy them? Or are they Creative Commons?

Will your meta description motivate people to click on the link when they come across your blog post in a search?

Does your permalink have your keyword or phrase in it?

It’s important to consider all of these things as you plan your content.

Do Your Research

Now it’s time to do your keyword research.

Take a look at the word or phrase you chose. Does it have a lot of competition? How many monthly searches does it have?

Let’s say it has 100 monthly searches and there isn’t a lot of competition. That’s a word or phrase worth using.

But if it has 20,000 monthly searches and you’re going to compete with big brands, you’ll want to tweak the word or phrase.

Once you determine the right fit, you’ll use that in your meta description, permalink and title.

Adjust those things, as necessary, from your planning phase.


You can finally get to writing!

A few things to consider:

  • Blog posts should be 400-700 words to get the most Google juice.
  • Use headers, subheads and bullets to break up your content to make it easier to read.
  • Make sure you use your target keyword or phrase in at least one header … and I’d recommend three to five times in the copy.
  • Include approximately one link for every 100 words.
  • Provide a call-to-action, which can very easily be an invitation for comments.

The best kind of content written for humans includes active voice, short sentences and a reason to keep readers engaged. You can write in first or third person. Don’t make it too hard on yourself. Do what’s most comfortable for you.


Now it’s time to publish.

Most marketing and social media gurus aren’t very keen on Google+, but I love it because it helps with your search results. Google owns it and they want you to use it, so they’ll reward you if you do.

When you post the link to your newest content in Google+, use the keyword or phrase you’ve chosen for the piece.

Do this on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well. It’s less important on Facebook and Pinterest, but do try to customize your updates with the word or phrase in it.

Make it easy for your readers to share your content on the social networks by providing social share buttons on every page of your website or blog.

There is almost nothing more frustrating than wanting to share content and having to manually share it. Make it easy for your readers and they will reward you in turn.

So there you have it. It sounds like a lot, but the more you write, the easier it becomes.

About the Author

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is due out on March 10.

Photo thanks to Brett Jordan (Roboscribe)

Want to make more money – in less time – as a freelance writer? Take the Copywriting Business Bootcamp course! Start earning more now!

The SEO content writers' manifesto

SEO Writers' ManifestoI am more than “just a writer.”

I am a profit driver. A matchmaker. A storyteller.

A content marketing dream-fulfiller.

My SEO writing helps companies reach more people, do more good and make more money.

It doesn’t matter if I’m writing about industrial machinery, hotels or software.

Or if I’m blogging, tweeting or writing sales pages.

I entice my readers. I entertain them. And I empower them to make a buying decision.

I know that I have a responsibility to learn more, write more, research more.

The more I learn, the more my writing can touch one more person. Drive one more sale. Do more good.

Sitting on my laurels and refusing to expand my knowledge goes against everything I am.

I take classes. I read books. I study and network with other writers.

Sometimes, I’m even a copywriting rebel – because “following the rules” may not make sense 100% of the time.

I’m not afraid of Google.

I embrace new social networks, new algorithmic updates and new online opportunities.

Because I know I can master anything new that’s thrown my way.

And I know good writing never goes out of style.

I know my writing ability is a gift and I treat it like the precious thing it is.

I charge accordingly for my time, set good boundaries and work when I’m fresh.

When I feel burned out or blasé, I know taking a break will restore my focus and heighten my abilities.

This helps me write commanding SEO content that stands out, gets shared and boosts conversion rates.

I take care of myself physically and mentally.

And my writing inspires people to take action, calms peoples’ fears and gives them hope.

That’s pretty powerful.

Over the years, I will drive thousands (maybe millions) in profit for my clients.

I will change lives.

I will provide hope.

I will succeed.

I am an SEO content writer.

And I love what I do.

UPDATE: My designer, Erin Kistner, transformed this post into a beautiful graphic. Please feel free to share it. :) I’ll also have a downloadable PDF soon!

SEO Writers' Manifesto

Want a PDF of the SEO Writers’ Manifesto? Just sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you the manifesto as a thank you! It’s perfect for those days when you need a little inspiration. Sign up now!