01438 840 040
Writing for the Web
Today’s marketing requires a mix of online and traditional channels of communication.

It’s right to be consistent in what we say to our target customers; regarding message and style. But can we use the same wording? No.

Why should copywriting adapt for the web?

People read screens and pages differently. What you write needs to respect that online, readers will:
  • Have less time
  • Scan for relevant information before settling into the content
  • Have a different viewing pattern
So, your message may be the same, but online content will need its own version.

If we get our words right, we can create action. In marketing terms, the action we’re aiming for is engagement, via connection, conversation and/or sales.

Six top tips for effective online writing:

  1. Simple, short sentences. No more than 15 words, ideally 12… it’s tough, but it works!
  2. Succinct paragraphs with no more than five lines. Help people to scan as they want to.
  3. Use bulleted lists. Again for the scanners; they’re visually inviting too.
  4. Write directional text, with links. This is your conversation with the reader and your chance to encourage action. ‘Contact us’, ‘download free guide’, ‘sign up for our top tips’ are good examples.
  5. F style. People read online across the top of the screen, left to right, then down in the shape of the letter ‘F’. Respect this with your key content. (It also explains website menu positions.)
  6. Keyword positioning.  Blend what we know about search engine optimisation with online reading habits. Position a select number of keywords within your copy. It’s difficult to know column widths online (far easier with printed media). Position your chosen keywords at the start of each paragraph; early within the first sentence. They’ll be picked up by search engines and human readers alike.
To summarise: be clear, be brief, be relevant.

Getting your words right is tremendously powerful; influencing the action of others. For more tips about copywriting, follow us on Twitter. Or contact us for a chat. 
Content Marketing. Why Bother?
Content marketing is relevant and available to all businesses – any size, any sector.

It aims to inform, to motivate readers rather than overtly sell.

What does it involve? Why is content marketing important?

This blog looks at what this tool is and what it offers… 


What is content marketing?

In essence, content marketing is a marketing activity which creates and shares free information to engage with target customers. Blogging, ‘how to’ guides, social media posts, e-books, webinars… all are popular formats for content marketing.

In reality, it’s always been at the heart of marketing. The explosion of internet activity – especially blogging and social media – has seen it become extremely current. The UK content marketing industry is worth over £900 million.

The Content Marketing Institute offers deeper definition:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action."

As with any marketing activity, it’s the planning and preparation that’s key rather than simply writing and posting content.

Best of all, it works.  


Content marketing - why bother? 

There are three distinct advantages involved which are relevant to every business, large and small:

•    Credibility – demonstrating your knowledge, experience and passion for your business sector gains huge credibility. Be warned – this is quickly undone if always linked to sales messages. Compelling content will motivate readers and assist the buying process on its own.

•    Connections – tapping into the interests of your target customers will ‘connect’ with new contacts and reinforce existing relationships. Your content should always be interesting and relevant, then people will want to read – and share – it. The ultimate aim of any content marketing is to engage with readers. 

•    Cost – content marketing can be very, very cost effective. Many businesses (62%) outsource content creation to save time. It’s that old chestnut of whether you do it yourself, or involve others so that you can concentrate on what you do best within your business. The main point is that this choice is available to all. Content marketing doesn’t have to cost a penny. 

Convinced that content marketing is a good idea? Great!

Read our blog to see how to create a practical content marketing strategy – and make it happen.

If you want to know more or would like a hand with developing your content, let us know.

You’ll be amazed at how many great ideas can come out of a brainstorming discussion! 
The Myths and Magic of Social Media
Social media for business is huge! But with every trend comes myth and misunderstanding.  Here are our top six comments about social media, based upon clients’ feedback…

1.    Everyone uses social media

Do they? Many, many people do - but not everyone… especially when they’re in ‘work mode’. Current UK usage figures are:

•    LinkedIn – generates 64% website referrals , with 10+ million users 
•    Twitter – 34% businesses generate leads from the 15+ million users
•    Facebook – 31+ million users, with 40% preferring to read rather than post content
•    Pinterest – 2+ million users and growing fast with 80% pins shared
•    Instagram – 150+ million globally (UK unavailable)
•    Google + - UK usage figures are unavailable (Google’s figures include Gmail  and YouTube accounts) 

Tip: research your target customers... which channels do they use? 

2.    You need to be seen using all the options

No! Save your sanity! 

Tip: focus your energy on the platforms that your target – and existing - customers are using.

3.    You can measure return

Yes!  Make sure that the time you put into social media is reaping rewards. Set yourself reasonable yet challenging targets regarding connections, engagement and website visits.

Review which type of content is most successful and how your new website visitors behave. Getting them to your site isn’t quite enough… ensure that you meet the expectations set by your social media content. If your bounce rate (fast exits) increases with your visits, something isn't working.

Tip: use Google Analytics to see how may referrals your social media activity is generating

4.    It needs hours a day for it to work

Don’t worry – there are many free tools to help with planning and posting content.
Tip: try and allocate and hour each week for this, supported by dipping in daily to respond to connections and interaction.

5.    It’s a sales channel

Yes… and no! Generating sales is often the ultimate reason for using social media for business – but contacts should never feel this intention. Overtly promotional information is the fastest way of disengaging people. Stick to relevant interesting information. Sell your enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to gain credibility and enquiries.

Tip: be informative, interesting and approachable

6.    It’s addictive!

Be warned! Many business owners are reticent about using social media within their internet marketing arsenal… initially. Finding your way around your chosen social media can be rewarding in itself. Generating responses is like a pat on the back for your hard work. It feels great… make sure it rewards your business too. 

Tip: record the time you spend on social media for business for one week. It’s a sobering exercise!

Now’s the time to review your social media activity. Make sure that the time your business is investing is as effective as possible. If in doubt, contact us – we’re here to help.
Social Media for Business Success
Social media: most businesses use it as a platform to generate contact, engagement and ultimately sales. But how can we make the most of a tool which simply doesn’t tolerate overt selling? How can we make our conversations count in business terms?

Is Social Media Right for Business?

In short, yes. However – choose the platform which best suits your audience. Think about your content and where your target (and existing) customers will see you. Facebook is still by far the strongest option for volume of users and sharing; but it simply isn’t right for most business-to-business marketing. Pinterest is growing fast and already has the second highest volume of referral traffic. LinkedIn has comparatively small levels of users and activity but is the obvious choice for most business-to-business marketing activity.

Credibility Counts 

That’s how social media can definitely help us all. Regular, relevant conversations help generate awareness and credibility. Responsiveness is a key requirement of your social media too. The pace is fast – and unforgiving. A lean month of Twitter content can look like you’ve shut up shop. Often, social media for businesses is about credibility. It’s a powerful back-up for the rest of your internet marketing arsenal. It’s where people will find you to seek reassurance. They’re looking for confirmation of their impressions about you and your business. That’s where it can always help the sales process.


Selling via Social Media

Have you ever stopped following someone because of their non-stop promotional content? Or left a group because of the plethora of sales messages? Many groups monitor this but once connected, you’re vulnerable to direct messaging. People use social media to be social; not to be sold to. Relevant conversations can gain valuable feedback as well as demonstrate your own expertise in a helpful way. So, what you’re selling is your knowledge, your experience; not your product or service in a direct way. 

Tips for Social Media Success:

1.    Be relevant – in your choice of social media, content and style 
2.    Monitor conversations; respond quickly and wisely
3.    Define success. Do you want website visits, newsletter signups, direct contact? Successful social media will lead to engagement first, then sales opportunities
4.    Be patient. Social media for business isn’t a quick fix. But – stick at it… it’s likely to reap rewards. 

No time to research, write and respond? 62% businesses save time by outsourcing their copywriting

Need a better return from your social media activity? Contact us at Decisions Marketing for a free discussion. We’re here to help.
The Essentials of Email
With the increasing domination of social media, many people wonder whether the old fashioned email is dead.

No! There is definitely a place for well-targeted, professionally presented emails. Just like print, people are returning to this form of communication, fed up with the barrage of sheer ‘noise’ from social media.

There are a myriad of options out there – from the simple to the sophisticated. We usually recommend a system based upon the time and comfort within each business. The good news is that there will be something that suits you perfectly.

Here are our top five tip tips if you're embarking on emailing:

1.    Take A Step Back – before you start emailing, take some time to think about why you’re using this tool. What are you expecting to achieve?  How will you measure success – website visits, social media connections, emails, calls?

2.    The System Itself – how straight forward it is to use? If it’s unnatural and clunky, you’re less likely to make the most of it. Check it has a free trail too – some are free forever, as long as you meet certain criteria such as list size.  

3.    Design – most options offer a range of pre-set templates which help emails look professionally presented. How good are the ‘free’ options? What flexibility do you have? Your template must offer the corporate style and consistency that your brand needs. Changing colours and fonts for each email happens all too often, devaluing brands.

4.     Content – think about your recipients. What are they interested in? How will you grab their attention and encouraging them to read on, of click through? Concentrate upon benefits to your customers, teasing through your wording so that they want more details. A link to your blog is ideal, keeping your newsletter inviting to read and inviting people to your website. 

5.    Did It Work? How will you know? Most email software options will give an analysis of your email campaign. The depth will depend upon the package you’ve signed up for; the freebies still offer good insight though. Plus – check the visitor numbers and landing page traffic in your Google Analytics. This will show whether your email links have enticed readers to your website.

The legal bits…
It’s never ok to ‘cold email’ a personal email address; business addresses ones are ok. In all cases, you should explain how/why the email has arrived with the individual and data must be kept securely. Everyone must be given an ‘opt out’ option, which it is vital to respect.

Last thought…
Results from a first ‘cold’ email are rarely great. Allow momentum to build with a series of three or four regular emails. Just like your print adverts or direct mailing, repetitive exposure works a treat!

If you would like to know how these tips can work for you, please contact us. At Decisions Marketing, we love email... and it's also good to talk!
The Google Hummingbird Affect

What is Google's Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is a completely new search algorithm, or process. It affects 90% of all searches. It was launched a month ago but only announced recently as part of Google’s 15th birthday. In fact, it’s the first completely new algorithm since 2001.

It’s aimed at making Google better at gathering information. It’s more user-focussed, indexing websites more often (identifying changes) and identifying spammy content, (‘keyword stuffing’ has long been ill-advised… even more so now). It coincides with Google Analytic’s encrypting of keyword data, which had rendered ‘Organic Traffic Sources’ almost useless – another nudge in the ‘don’t rely on keywords’ direction.

How will Hummingbird help?

It’s all about the user…  Google wants to be better at understanding what searchers really want and providing them with better answers. This new search process allows Google to understand user intent more closely. Understanding people will prepare Google for a future dominated by voice and mobile search.

Quite simply, we’re entering more conversational queries such as ‘how do I’ or 'where can I find’ rather than a string of key terms. Hummingbird will allow Goggle to provide us with more relevant results to our queries rather than simply a long list of relevant (hopefully) web links.

How will Hummingbird affect my website?

Anticipate the questions which people will ask. They are usually ‘open’ questions, starting with ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘where’, when’, ‘who’ and ‘what’. Then use these phrases together with relevant keywords within your site. Try this post as an example.

In marketing, the customer is king and relevant, helpful content is the way to gain favour. This ‘best practice’ approach has always meant creating a more advisory than ‘salesy’ style to information and messages you want to promote. This is ideal for Hummingbird! It also offers harmony between copywriting and optimisation for websites - at last!

Remember - always keep your aims in mind before jumping on the latest seo bandwagon. Hummingbird is perfect for guides, downloads and advisory wording. How will you ensure that this transfers into the original goals you have for your website?  

If you'd like to discuss this further, please contact us.