Posts

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 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.

Your Turn

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

Greetings! Glad you’re here, because today’s SEO copywriting how-to video is about creating a killer home page.  However powerful your copywriting and skilled your SEO, if you’re making these all-too-common, conversions-killing mistakes with your home page copy, your business will suffer.  The good news is, bad as it may seem now, it is easily corrected!

If you’ve been following Heather’s weekly how-to video posts, you’ll notice the progression from the inaugural 3 skills every SEO copywriter must have to this step-by-step series, aimed at providing you with explicit guidance to creating a fantastic website.

Beginning at the beginning, Heather first addresses the home page: what you should include on your home page to serve both the search engines and your target audience, as well as what tactics to avoid.

So let’s review:

Why Focus on the Home Page?

Because the home page is the most important page on your site!  It is your second conversions opportunity following the search engine results page.

The Home Page:

  • Is the page most indexed by the search engines
  • Sets the “tone” for the entire site
  • Orients people: they know they’re at the right “place” and that you offer what they want/need

Your Home Page is Like a Funnel:

From a sales perspective, you should assume that your prospects are coming to your site directly from search engine results, a link, or an offline source.  Your objective is to first, immediately let these folks know that they’re at the right place and then second, direct them to exactly where they need to go next.

Your home page serves to segment your audience and then prompt them to move around your site. Your home page is a great “preview” of all that you offer, not an index of every single benefit you offer.

Tried and true strategies for writing a killer home page, whether B2B or B2C, are:

  • Use overarching benefit statements & general, overarching keywords/keyphrases

A well-written home page should serve as a “teaser,” offering a preview of the great benefits your company has to offer.  It isn’t the place to discuss each and every benefit you offer, or list each and every keyword or keyphrase in your arsenal.  It is the place to offer your readers a taste, then clearly direct them to exactly where they need to go for the full entrée.

Trying to say too much too soon overwhelms the reader, dilutes your message, and detracts from those keywords and phrases that actually apply to the home page.  The same goes for your home page footer:  jamming keywords and phrases into your footer doesn’t do anybody any good, period.  Don’t do it.

It is better to sprinkle your benefit statements and related keyword/keyphrases throughout your site.  You’ve product/service pages to address specific product/service benefits, about pages to discuss your company and mission statement, etc., and to include the corresponding, relevant keywords and phrases for those pages.

  • Link intelligently from your home page to your product/services page

Again, your home page should serve as a funnel, directing your readers deeper into your site.  As with benefit statements and keywords/phrases, you want to avoid linking out to each and every product or service you offer.  It serves all concerned far better to link to main sections/categories of your site.

Far too often, otherwise well-written home pages go wrong with this “link-o-rama” (mal)practice, whereby your prospect is confronted with one big hyperlink.  It only sabotages your home page content to jam it up with numerous internal links.  For the reader, it is both visually overwhelming and psychologically overwhelming.  Easy does it!

  • Write copy that is focused around your customer persona

Write as if you were addressing an audience of one:  your ideal customer.  You want to reach and resonate with that one person.  Writing general, untargeted copy will get you general, untargeted results.

This is a great opportunity to change up your copy to increase conversions by honing your message specifically for your customer persona.  Even if you have multiple customer personas, you can readily structure your home page copy to address each persona and then direct the prospect to vertical-specific, niche landing pages within your website.

  • Create a fantastic, benefit-oriented home page title

We’ve already discussed the importance of creating compelling, “clickable” page Titles.  Far, far better to compose a powerful home page Title that couples one or two of the main keywords/phrases specific to the home page with a strong benefit statement, than to write a so-so title that is stuffed with keywords.  You want to match your targeted home page copy with an equally targeted, clickable page Title.

  • Get to the point

Stay on track and relay your message to your customer persona as succinctly as possible.  Ruthlessly edit your copy and strive for an economy of words:  if you can say something in five words as opposed to 25, do it.  Your home page isn’t the place for waxing poetic!

So, what information should you have on your products or services pages? Stay tuned, as next week Heather will discuss how to craft conversions-driving copy for your company’s products/services!

Thanks for checking in!  As always, your questions and comments are most welcome.

 

Want to sell more?

Make your benefit statements specific. Very specific.

Heather developed this piece in response to a reader question about how to increase the effectiveness of their web copy. In looking through the reader’s web content, Heather realized that one of the opportunities the copywriter could leverage was to make their marketing copy more specific.

While the general reader benefit statements were powerful, honing them to highly tangible and specific “what’s-in-it-for-me” language is what this copywriter needed to do to improve their conversions. So for those of you who have been struggling with writing better sales copy and are looking for any advantage you can find, you should find this most helpful:

1. So these are so-so benefit statements. (Let’s make them better…)

  • Boost your revenue!
  • Let us help you save time!
  • Save money!

The challenge? People have different ideas about what “boosting revenue,” “saving time” and “saving money” mean. The web copy doesn’t paint a picture. This is where the specifics come in…

2. Specifics take a good marketing statement and make it sexy

  • Boost your revenue by 30%!
  • What would you do with an extra hour every day?
  • Slice your expenses by $2,000 a month!

So you can see how these highly specific benefits, expressed in such personalized, concrete and precise terms, can be something simple to leverage…

3. So what does this mean to your online writing?

  • Track how you’ve helped your customers – what specifics can you uncover?
  • Try to back up any “general” benefit statement with an exact number or percentage.
  • Don’t feel compelled to “round up.” If you’ve boosted profits by 27.6%, it’s OK to use that stat.

If you haven’t yet asked your customers for testimonials, now would be a great time to start. Ask them if they can provide you with any precise specifications in terms of numbers and percentages. Studies have shown that accurate, factual spec’s (e.g., 27.6% as opposed to 25- or 30%) are found to be more credible by prospects. And besides, it’s the truth of the matter!

Try these suggestions and watch your conversions improve!

Welcome back!  In today’s video post, Heather answers a question from the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group:  What does an SEO copywriter do, anyway? It is an excellent question, as many folks are somewhat mystified by the words “SEO copywriting.”  Whether you’re in the online writing profession, or are considering hiring a SEO copywriter, you will learn a lot in just a few minutes,  as Heather tackles this question in her second Q & A video post.

What Do They Write?

  • An SEO copywriter may create content for blogs, Facebook posts and tweets (often know as a social media writer), or…
  • She may create sales and informational copy for Websites, writing content that helps people take action and buy the product or service offered.

The common denominator is that in SEO copywriting, all writing is “wrapped around” keyphrases.  The SEO copywriter knows how to research those keyphrases, or knows what the keyphrase research means, and she also knows how to skillfully incorporate those keyphrases within the page copy in a way that they fit and flow smoothly.

SEO Copywriters Are a Crucial Part of the Equation in a SEO Campaign

The image of the well-known marketing expert, Seth Godin, is shown because he is quoted as saying that “the best SEO is great content.”

How he meant that is, when you have a really well-written page, people will want link to it, because they want to link out to good quality content.  Well-composed, high-quality pages tend to attract more readers, and keep them on the site longer.

This is important to consider when hiring or working with a SEO copywriter, because you need to have solid, quality content on your site.  The writing needs to be good, and read smoothly.  You want to steer clear of clunky, keyphrase-riddled copy.

The Words SEO Copywriters Use Help Drive Traffic and Make Money

SEO copywriters are also crucial to the equation from a sales and conversions perspective, because their incorporation of keyphrases within the copy helps to drive traffic and income.  Their skilled writing will help visitors take that next conversions step, whether it’s going to another page in the site, or buying a product, or requesting more information.

SEO Copywriters Work in Conjunction with a Great SEO/Social Team

The chart by Matt McGee aptly demonstrates the many components that make up a successful SEO campaign.  The SEO copywriter plays an essential role in the overarching campaign, as noted, and may work with a number of team members such as programmers, web designers, social media and content strategists.  Ultimately, it is the SEO copywriter that creates the content that attracts traffic, engages the audience, and encourages site conversions.

 

Welcome!  Today we’re introducing a fun new feature to Heather’s Monday how-to video blog series: answering your questions!  Yes, Heather is accepting questions you may have regarding anything SEO, content marketing, and web writing, then answering via her video blog post.  How cool is that?  

Today’s post answers one of Heather’s most frequently asked questions:  “I’ve had this website for awhile and I want to make some changes, but I don’t know what to check out or where to start.”

Listen in, as Heather addresses what you should be checking out right now, and other tips to ramp up your web copy and content marketing!

1. Revisit Your Marketing  (A Good Thing)

It’s an inescapable truism: with any website or marketing material that we’ve been looking at for awhile, we tend to lose the “fresh” perspective of our prospect and it simply gets stale.  But this sticking point is actually a fantastic opportunity to revisit your marketing, and the starting point for that is analytics.

2. What’s Working?  What’s Not?  (Check Your Analytics)

For those of you who are averse to analytics, please don’t be!  No need: it’s not too difficult or techie. Really! Embrace analytics as your friend!  Analytics offer incredible information at your fingertips that shows you what pages are resonating with your audience, as well as those that are “clunky” and could be improved upon to do more for your conversions.

But if you’re simply allergic to analytics, consider bringing on some one who can help you.  Once you’ve a handle on the data, you can start making some really smart, informed decisions about what is working for your site as well as what needs tweaking.

3.  Are You Boring Your Readers or Engaging Them?  (Customer Persona, Tone and Feel)

It’s always a smart move to revisit the tone and feel of your site: is it resonating with your customer persona?   How does your content “sound” to your perfect prospect?  Are you engaging your reader?

Now that companies have begun to emerge from the recession, it’s delightful to see them want to reinvest in their website copy, and especially to re-invest in their sites’ tone and feel.  This renewal presents a fabulous opportunity for reviewing and updating their customer persona — or begin to build one — by figuring out what makes their prospects tick.

This doesn’t mean that you have to sound “corporate” in your tone and feel.  But by all means, play with the tone and feel and see what happens, then write content that is tightly wrapped around your customer persona.

Again, this is where you check your analytics to see what is working and what is not.

4.  What New Opportunities Can You Explore?

Some folks may have had to hold back due to tight finances, and so haven’t invested the time, energy, or other resources necessary to building a blog, a Twitter presence, or other social media profile.  Maybe now is the time to do so, as blogs and other social media platforms present great new opportunities to:

  • Connect and engage with your customers
  • Show prospects that you have what they’re looking for
  • Prove yourself as an “expert resource” for your customer

And that is when your customers are going to feel more comfortable and confident in buying from you, asking you for more information, or otherwise converting!

5. Think of Content Opportunities That Might Make Sense for You

Some social media platforms or venues may make far more sense for you than others.  There are so many opportunities out there, and it truly is up to you to decide what works best for you! For instance, Facebook might be best for B2C, while LinkedIn and white papers may prove the best venue for B2B.

Thanks for tuning in to this inaugural Heather Q&A how-to!  

 

Greetings! Today’s video post answers the common reader question: “What should I focus on first in an SEO copywriting campaign?” This question is asked ever more frequently, by businesses both large and small, because there are so many SEO copywriting and content marketing opportunities out there that it can be overwhelming.

Back in the day, SEO copywriters were primarily concerned with creating websites and producing content for those sites. Now, there’s that plus social media venues like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, perhaps e-books and white papers, all vying for your attention. While all these opportunities are great, the typical content marketer can get completely overwhelmed by all the competing options and lose her momentum because she has no idea where to start first.

Tune in as Heather suggests solid ways to find your focus and get the SEO copywriting and content marketing ball rolling again:

You can figure out ideas for a starting point for your SEO copywriting campaign based on:

1. Analytics

If you don’t have any kind of website analytics installed on your site (such as Google Analytics, which is free), then it is strongly recommended that you do so. Analytics helps you make informed decisions about your website and related marketing content – anything else is only an educated guess. Analytics allows you to drill down into your data so you can figure out exactly what is going on.

2. Site Goals

What are your website goals? What do you want to be when you grow up with your site? After creating your website, it’s easy to want to move on to the next big thing, such as starting a Twitter campaign, when really – considering where your business is at right now – it may not be the best thing to focus on first. It may be a smarter and more cost-effective move to start with smaller, readily do-able things which many companies have realized great gains from…

A sampling of low-hanging fruit tasks includes:

  • Conduct keyphrase research/revise your current research: While this especially applies to new sites, if you haven’t revisited your analytics for awhile this may be the time to do so.  You may well find that some keyphrases that worked when you started out are no longer performing.
  • Train your staff in the latest Web SEO writing techniques: This particularly applies to those of you stuck in the “I need to produce content but don’t have the budget” track. It can prove very cost-effective to have a staff member involved with your content marketing trained in SEO copywriting best practices.
  • Determine what content is working and write more of it.
  • Repurpose existing content (e.g., turn a blog into tweets).
  • Poll your customers/readers and ask what they’d like to see.
  • Guest blog: this is a great way to get exposure to other markets.
  • Get outside help: We all sometimes suffer from being so close to our work that we don’t see content opportunities. There’s no shame in having someone on the “outside” review your content with a fresh perspective.

Greetings!  Today’s SEO copywriting video tip addresses the three telling signs that your SEO copy may be over-optimized.  Yes, there is such a thing, and it happens when you’ve geared the copy so heavily towards the search engines that you’ve forgotten about the user experience.

Join Heather as she discusses the three telltale signs that your web content is over-optimized, and the three ways to fix the problem:

1) Too Many Keyphrases on the Page

  • Pages like the one shown are easy to spot: it is pretty obvious that the keyphrases are New York City and gift baskets.  But for the folks who are trying to read the page, and determine whether or not they want to work with this company, it’s flat-out bad copy:
  • User experience = bad. Too much emphasis on SEO: There’s nothing in the copy for the reader, and there’s nothing that speaks to benefits. Plus, the copy is so hard to wade through that anyone reading the page would be tempted to bounce out and find another site.

In trying to achieve ranking, the writer has created a user experience that is so bad that it’s actually hurting conversions.

  • The fix?  Reduce keyphrases: You have to pare down the keyphrases in the copy.  In some cases, this might mean that you have to re-write the page altogether.  But when you do that, and bring focus to what you’re doing, you’re going to see a huge jump in sales.

2) Too Many Hyperlinks on the Page

Sometimes copywriters pepper the page with hyperlinks for the perceived SEO benefits, thinking all those hyperlinked keyphrases will automatically get the page top ranking.  Others overdo it with the hyperlinks because they want to give their readers lots of choices, so they end up giving them all the choices and assume the reader will pick one.

  • Again, the user experience = bad.  Too many choices cause overwhelm.  Plus – what’s in it for the customer?

From the search engine perspective, hyperlinking users all over the place is not going to help you in your SEO ambitions – it’s not going to help you increase your rankings. From the users’ perspective, they are overwhelmed with too many choices and they find it difficult to make a decision.

  • The fix?  Focus on your conversion funnel

What you want to do in this case is to think about what’s in it for the prospect — the customer benefits – and then focus your copy around that.  On a landing page, narrow down the decisions facing the reader and hone it to a few educated choices.

In removing the “overwhelm” factor for readers, you’ll see a higher conversion rate as you help move the prospect along the conversion funnel:  you’ll achieve an increase in ROI.

3) “Fluffy” SEO Copy

  • The content is longer than it needs to be, so it loses conversion flow
  • Local pages and e-commerce product pages are typically the worst offenders

“Fluffy” SEO copy is often a result of the writer or site editor being instructed to conjure 500 words for a web page in order for it to be recognized by the search engines.  This 500-word rule has never been true – it’s a tenacious misconception.  So the writer ends up trying to say something in 500 words that may ideally need only 250 words.

The result is that the content is not only too long, but that it really isn’t written for the readers.  Instead, it’s stuffed with fluff to meet a mythical search engine word count.

  • The fix?  Write great sales copy and weave in the SEO elements.  Not the other way around.

This requires a change in thinking.  Approaching your web page copy this way, you’ll have really good, tight, benefits-oriented copy that will not only help folks to take action, but you’ll have what you need for the search engines too.

 

Greetings! You’re in for a fun treat: learning all about the secret awesome sauce of powerful copywriting, held dear and effectively applied by marketers, advertisers and speech writers alike…the rule of three.

Described in detail by Heather in this week’s SEO Copywriting how-to video, once you learn about this tip, you’ll think “Oh my goodness – this is EVERYWHERE!” And it is, because it is a tried-and-true strategy that has stood the test of copywriting time.

Tune in as Heather explains what the rule of three is, and shows you how to employ the rule of three in your Web writing, from creating killer benefit statements to engaging taglines to fantastic web copy…

What’s the “rule of three”?

What we know collectively as copywriters is that grouping things in threes tends to provide a greater impact, and when speaking it tends to roll off the tongue easily. This is something that speechwriters and marketers have been using since the beginning of copywriting time.

  • Grouping things in threes provides a greater impact – and makes the list easier to remember.
  • Old school marketers have been using this technique since the beginning of copywriting time (and speech writers, too!)

So if you think about the advertising messages or slogans out there, you see this rule of 3 happens everywhere:

  •  “Just do it” – Nike
  • “Tune in, turn on, drop out” – Timothy Leary
  • “Blood, sweat and tears” – The band, and the saying
  • “Words and phrases and clauses” – Conjunction Junction

Heather had to use the little screenshot from “Conjunction junction,” because if you grew up in that generation then you know the lyrics, “Words and phrases and clauses.” Again, the rule of three is used to make something stick in the readers’ or listeners’ minds.

So here are some ways that you can edge this rule of three into your copy….

Use three benefit statements

One of the first ways you can incorporate the rule of three in your copy is to use three main benefit statements. While this is especially applicable to your home page, it is actually something that you can do on your other web pages as well.

  • Rather than listing a bunch of benefits, limit yourself to your top three heavy-hitters.

The screenshot example shown here is from You Need A Budget (YNAB). As you can see, on their home page they have three main benefits bullets:

  • A Proven Method
  • Amazing Software
  • Free, Live Classes

So all of the benefits pop! They stand out, and as readers it’s really easy for us to quick-scan the page and see exactly what’s in it for us.

Create a “rule of three” tagline

  • Can you distill your company’s essence down to three main statements? Sure you can!

So here we have an example from GAIAM, with their tagline:  “live | learn | grow.” And Mind Body’s tagline:  “Love your business.”  See how well that those three-word groupings slide off the tongue, and provide a powerful impact?

Again, this is something you can do for your own business and for your clients’ businesses!

Think in threes when you write your copy

The third thing to remember is to think in threes when you write your content:

  • There are lots of ways to structure your copy so that you’re able to really leverage the rule of three.

So for example, here we have 37 Signals, presenting their web content in three main points: “Frustration free web-based apps for collaboration, sharing information, and making decisions.”

Another great example is from Despair, Inc. – Heather loves their demotivational posters. Again, we see three concise main points: “Demotivational Posters. Invented here. Perfected here.”

And even looking at Google’s copy, where they’re promoting Google Drive, they use three main bullet points: “Create and collaborate,” “Store everything safely,” and “Search everything.”

So again, once you’re hip to this rule of three, you will notice that it is everywhere – in advertising messages, in books, in magazines, and in speeches – and again, this is something that you can use in your own copy to help that copy pop and make a greater impact.

 

photo thanks to lrargerich (Luis Argerich)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: This week’s latest and greatest web writing news is about adaptation, whether it’s to changes in content, SEO/search or social media marketing. Google’s string of 52+ updates keep SEO & search pro’s dancing, content marketers take a hard look at their websites, and social media marketers respond to all the new developments in their field with a plethora of how-to’s.

So let’s turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes, shall we? Enjoy this week’s picks!

Content Marketing

Jason Amunwa pens “Help Your Website Sell More: 11 Overlooked Page Elements That Drive Online Sales” at KISSmetrics.

Beth Fox discusses how to make your content pop with five bullet point basics at Content Marketing Institute.

Pamela Vaughan posts “20 Simple Ways to Boost Blog Subscribers” at HubSpot.

Are you insane? It may help: Neil Patel discusses “How to Become a Blogging Superstar” at SEOmoz.

Marketing Sherpa’s weekly Marketing Research Chart shows the results of its survey  of 1500+ marketers that answered: “What are the most valuable inbound lead sources?”

SEO & Search

Eric Ward debates the definition of “unnatural” links and lists 15 of the most obvious examples with (his self-described link-bait title) “Can There Really Be 85 Types Of Unnatural Links?” at Search Engine Land

Aaron Wall presents a reality check on negative SEO with “Ha! Bullets Can’t Hurt ME” at SEOBook.

Jenny Halasz continues her “Keyword Seed Method” series of how-to’s for beginners with “Time To Reap What You’ve Sown From Keyword Seeds” at Search Engine Land.

The source of the SEO industry’s “reputation problem” – “Google Perhaps” – is brilliantly explored by Aaron Wall at SEOBook.

Social Media Marketing

Cindy King’s weekly wrap of social media marketing news at Social Media Examiner features Google’s new set of social reports designed to “help you measure the impact of your social marketing initiatives and evaluate the effect social media has on your goals and commerce activities.”

Jason Falls posts “Why Forums May Be the Most Powerful Social Media Channel for Brands” at Entrepreneur.

Google v. Facebook, the mobile version: Greg Sterling cites comScore data in discussing the relative time spent on mobile channels with “Most Mobile Time Spent In Apps: Google Has Top Reach, Facebook Has Highest Engagement,” at Marketing Land.

Lee Odden discusses search and social optimization with “Is Your Optimization Meaningful or Mechanical?” at Top Rank.

Citing Bitly data, Danny Sullivan discusses optimum times for social sharing with “For Social Success, Post to Twitter & Facebook In Early Afternoons, Tumblr in Evenings” at Marketing Land.

Michael King (“iPullRank”) pens a detailed how-to on maintaining your social shares after a site migration, at Search Engine Watch

photo thanks to Thuany Gabriela

Pinterest or Google+?

Both of these social networks have broken up the Twitter/Facebook monopoly. In the last year, Google+ has gained 100 million active followers and Pinterest has expanded rapidly to become the 3rd most popular social network.

Not surprisingly, marketers have taken notice. Making Google+ and/or Pinterest part of your social media strategy is a smart move. Based on their early performances, these social networks will be an integral part of an effective social strategy from here on out.

Choosing one or the other isn’t necessary – but it’s a smart move if you want more targeted social media marketing. Each social network has distinct user groups, specific benefits and a few drawbacks.

Taking a Look at the Stats

Understanding the difference between Google+ and Pinterest is as simple as looking at the stats for each social network:

What to know about Google+:

  • As of April 2012, Google reports that Google+ now has 170 million active users. (Google)
  • As of January 2012, American users spent an average of 3.3 minutes on Google+. (eMarketer)
  • Websites using the +1 button generate 3.5x the Google+ visits than sites without the button. (HubSpot)
  • Two of the biggest user groups on Google+ are college students and software developers. (Remcolandia)
  • 63% of Google+ users are male. (Remcolandia)
  • Over 40% of marketers report that Google+ is “useful to critical” for their business. (HubSpot 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report)
  • Google+ is expected to attract 400 million users by the end of 2012. (Remcolandia)

What to know about Pinterest:

  • As of February 2012, Pinterest had accumulated 10.4 million users. (AppData)
  • As of January 2012, American users spent an average of 97.8 minutes on Pinterest. (eMarketer)
  • As of January 2012, Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic. (Shareaholic)
  • The top interests on Pinterest in the U.S. include crafts, gifts, hobbies/leisure, interior design, and fashion designers/collections. (Ragan.com)
  • 80% of Pinterest’s users are female. (comScore)
  • Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors referred from non-social channels, including search, according to industry reports. (Wayfair)
  • With over 11 million unique monthly visitors (and counting), Pinterest became the fastest standalone website to eclipse the 10 million per month mark ever. (PR Daily)

The growth of both social networks has been impressive – but they clearly have different audiences and different benefits. In order to use one or the other effectively, you need to evaluate your goals.

Know What You Want from Social Media

Knowing your organization’s needs and capabilities for social media marketing will help you select between Pinterest and Google+.

Is your business targeted specifically toward a particular industry, job or gender?

Use the social network that your ideal clients are using. For example, if your target market is developers and other marketers, Google+ is a natural fit. For crafts based businesses, food related companies and products for a female audience; Pinterest would be a much better choice. Speak to the crowd by picking the right platform.

What Type of Traffic are You Seeking? 

Google+ has some unique search engine optimization benefits. Sharing your own links and resources can improve your quality score for your entire site. Having Google+ can enhance your chances for a higher search engine ranking.

Alternatively, Pinterest is a terrific referral traffic generator. If you have some interesting visual elements, product pictures or infographics that you want to spread across the social web, Pinterest is the way to go. Sharing visuals and images can bring more targeted visitors directly to your website.

Can You be Involved Enough to Make an Impact?

Before diving in, do you have the resources to manage another platform effectively? Although Google+ users spend less time on the site than Pinterest users do on their social media platform choice, both require investment and community involvement.

You can’t expect to start a profile, update it infrequently and reap any benefits. It’s better to be involved on a few platforms effectively than spread your resources too thin.

Pinterest vs. Google+ isn’t an issue that will go away anytime soon. With their meteoric rise in users and traffic potential, one or the other is worth your businesses’ time. It just depends on your target market, your traffic goals and your resources.

Do you use Google+ or Pinterest? Or both? Why?

About the Author – Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is a proud graduate of the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program, and CEO of Six Degrees Content. She is passionate about helping small businesses compete with the big boys with skilled SEO copywriting and content marketing. You can connect with Courtney on Twitter @CourtneyRamirez.

photo thanks to TheBusyBrain