Category Archives: Audience

Purchasing Furniture – Why Did She Buy From Your Store?

By My Web Writersphoto (1)

This typical female, Gen X, furniture customer Is ready to buy. Where will she make her purchase?

Today I’m pausing to journal about the major furniture purchases I recently made. I’m doing this for both of us. Though they’re in other industries, we’re always looking for ways to improve online marketing for our clients.

When I shop, I often revert to a personal pattern that pre-dates my use of the Internet.  Do you?  If not, you’re younger than thirty-five.  Though, I’ve changed through the years, I’m probably typical for a female, age 35 – 50.  Knowing that 65% of US shoppers will browse online and buy in stores over the holidays, how can we better serve this lucrative demographic?  What triggers dollars spent at your store?

Of course, I’m just one woman and each woman is an individual, but here’s a snapshot of how I arrived at furniture purchases from four different stores during the week prior to Thanksgiving 2013.

Top of the Furniture Sales Funnel

The buying process started a few weeks earlier.  A builder suggested that we look at Houz, a home ideas app, for backyard ideas.  The app offers ideas for all rooms of your home, too.  We never did build, but the trends I saw in the app stayed top-of-mind when it was time for furniture in the home we recently purchased.

I could have scoured Pinterest, too, but I didn’t.  I just didn’t have a lot of time to hunt and peck for pieces of online furniture and more ideas to confuse the choices.  Time is valuable and I tried not to waste it.

Middle of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Like many Americans, when it came time to shop for furniture, I drove to the nearest showrooms- Kittles, Ashley Furniture, Value City Furniture, Kittles Express, Office Max, Office Depot, and Houseworks.   Kinesthetic shoppers need to see, to feel, and to touch each piece to envision family and guests relaxing, conversing, working, and eating.

Would the quality be worth the price?  Would the exact colors match the floors, walls, countertops, and appliances?  What are today’s trends and which classics are still hip?  I didn’t shop online when I was absorbing information because I learned plenty in the stores.

In one store, a sales woman approached my husband and me and wouldn’t stop chattering. If we paused at a piece to discuss it, she’d wiggle into the middle of our conversations.  We’d politely stand there wondering when she would stop. After doing this for the third time, we quickly walked out because a hungry salesperson’s stalking, at this stage, wasted our time and was annoying.  We weren’t buying on that day.  We were just looking.

The office furniture seemed blah- mostly ugly, big ego desks or very cheap, modern designs with little space to spread or to store.  The sofas were perplexing.  Do we buy another puffy couch for the family room or a grandma-like sofa for the living room? Nothing appealed, at first.

Did we want to have a fun and casual red set or an espresso, leather upscale look? The new kitchen table needed to be round, but how big?  Should it match or contrast our floors? Should we go rustic or classic? Geez — so many choices.

Pages like the one below from Kittles did very little to help me to understand what I’d want in my living room, family room, kitchen, and office.

Kittles with no content

There is no category level content to entice or to educate.  With the exception of the main slide, the pictures don’t suggest use, features, or style. Kittles, if you’re reading this post, consider how strategic copy writing and editing can help both your conversion and SEO.  My own sales pitch aside (hey, I do understand the sales woman); there came a day when we could no longer function without furniture in our rooms.  It was time to buy.

Bottom of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Last Sunday, I decided the best place to find office furniture would probably be at an office supply store.  By then, I’d ruled out a modern, sleek look in the office. The sales person at Office Max offered the Black Friday price a week early and probably called me “Ma’am” fifty times.

Office Max pic

He put up with my indecisiveness over this desk verses that desk and he stopped talking after I cut him off on purchasing the extra protection plan.  The prices were exactly the same in the store as online.  This was a coordinated attack and I bought the furniture at the store with the same free delivery offered online.

Office Max product description

While the in-store experience offered set-up at a charge, notice that at the same purchase point online (the product page), the company’s set-up package is not suggested or offered.  If the customer has to hunt for it somewhere else on the website, forget it.  Adding drop down boxes for “I need set up” on each product page would immediately increase online revenues at Office Max.

The Final Hours of Purchasing Furniture

I spent nearly a day in Kittles yesterday trying to fine-tune what I wanted. Then, came the ping-pong price game.  Prices kept dropping, but we went back and forth so many times and it took so long, that by the afternoon, I left the store.

I opened my iPad and typed in searches for long-tailed keywords with model numbers to check pricing in other stores.  What was the price for a “Broyhill Travis sofa”?  Another business could have stolen my purchase in these moments when my sales person was going back to her manager for yet another price reduction request.

Broyhill Travis couch

After he said, “No, I can’t do it”, I would have bought online, especially if free shipping were offered. Instead, my search took me first to the Broyhill website.  Obviously, they didn’t want to get into the middle of price negotiations because they left out prices in their product descriptions.

Other stores did the same.  Instead of sharing prices, online store-after-store said, “request a quote”.  I didn’t have time to wait for a quote.

Request more info

With Thanksgiving in a few days, I wanted shopping done asap. Because I didn’t know if the purchase was sound, I dropped the sofa and chair from my list all together.

I took a trip back to Ashley Furniture and found a different sofa.  I popped into Value City Furniture and found a kitchen table and chairs that I liked better than the ones offered at Kittles and Ashley.  While there, the Value City online prices dropped, so a lower price was honored at the store.  Bed Bath and Beyond sold nifty bar stools for less and with free shipping. Then, I went back to Kittles and purchased the items I felt were fairly priced.  All of the stores said their prices were Black Friday prices and that if anything changed, they would honor the changes.  At a certain purchase point, most offered free shipping.

I’m waiting for the door bell to ring with my deliveries.  How fun!

What’s a key to increasing online conversions? Lower your online prices.  Develop better content (pictures, videos, and words) to display furniture in ways that highlight colors, finishes, and uses. Provide in-depth information.  Keep the various stages of the furniture sales funnel in mind and develop profiles of your buyers at each stage.

What have you noticed as important to increasing online sales, whether you’re in the furniture business or another industry?  How would the above process differ for a man or a younger or older person? How would the process differ for another woman in the same demographic? Take a moment to share!

~Jean


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Filed under Apps & Tools, Business Strategy, Customer Profile, Holiday Blog, Local, Mobile, Personas, Product Descriptions

Five Shoppers to Keep in Mind When Writing Holiday Copy

By My Web Writers Fido shops stockings

The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner.  When the snow begins to fly and the trees are lit, if you listen closely you’ll hear, “cha-ching”!  Counting down the days until Christmas equals an incredible amount of shopping.  Shopping means money is being spent, and who doesn’t want a chunk of that change in their pocket?  Which approach or tactics should you employ in order to funnel sales?  When writing holiday copy, it is helpful to keep in mind your audience.  Take a good look at what each type of shopper looks like.  Do your homework, and get into their heads and see what makes them tick.  You’ll be able to expertly craft written holiday material that will bring in sales, and you’ll be singing Jingle Bells to the bank.  Keep in mind five key shoppers this year when writing your holiday copy.

The “I had it first” Shopper
 
This shopper is the one who loves the hype of the newest, up-and-coming product.  Waiting in line for days is never a problem for this type of shopper, if it means getting that desired merchandise.   Setting an alarm for three o’clock in the morning to be ready precisely at the release time of the greatest fad product and clicking online a million times to place the order is what this shopper will do if it wins the prize.  The best way to target this type of shopper is to work early in advance to build hype of showcase items.  This can be accomplished with the help of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.    Market items, blog about them, and put an emphasis on exclusiveness, time-sensitivity, and desirability, and you’ll have this shopper waiting in line and setting an alarm to purchase your product.
 
The Last-Minute Shopper
 
The last-minute shopper is frazzled, harried, and in a time crunch.  This shopper has no choice but to select overnight shipping for purchases made, and will definitely not want to read much.  Target the procrastinator by offering incentives that come in handy when it’s down to the wire.  Discounted shipping on last-minute purchases or an upgrade to quicker shipping is a great tactic to funnel sales from this shopper.  When writing copy for last-minute shoppers, go big or they’ll go home.  Large print and simple verbiage are you best choices; nix the inclusion of long, descriptive, and flowery paragraphs describing the product.  Last-minute emails written concisely are an effective tactic for this shopper.  This shopper wants to get in, get out, and get on with it.
 
The Holly Jolly Shopper
 
This shopper seethes with holiday spirit, anticipating the season well in advance, and may or may not have reindeer antlers on the family minivan.  Wanting to just soak everything in, the holly jolly shopper browses much and often, taking time to scrutinize and decide on just the perfect gift for each person on the Christmas list.  To win over this shopper (and money), spruce up your e-store for the holidays.  Put together sentimental or even humorous videos that will enhance the shopping experience for this shopper.  Take time to write content that is festive and sends out warm, fuzzy, and sparkling vibes-great for winning sales from the holly jolly one.
 
The Shopper on a Hunt

This shopper has a specific product in mind, and is scouring the globe to find it.  Wanting to get in the store, grab the loot, and get out, this shopper has radar set to the product of choice.  To complete a maximized sale from this shopper, send the shopper down your crumb trail by categorizing products with internal linking, making it necessary to delve in further to reach the desired gift.  Maybe on the way, the shiny product you’ve showcased will grab the attention of the hunting shopper, and you’ve got an extra sale.  While writing content, target this shopper by offering other suggestions that are related to the product this shopper is looking for.  Maybe you’ll spark an interest in something else you have to offer. 
 
Deal Seekers
 
We all know one.  You can spot this one a mile away.  Money-saving is often the topic of conversation.  The deal seeker is someone who will spend time to save money.  Prices are compared.  Deal seeking is a little like fishing.  You’re never quite sure how big it really was, but you love to hear the stories recounted as the deal seeker says, eyes gleaming, “And she said, ‘The amount You Saved is..’”,  and her voice trails off and she gazes somewhere, her happy place, as you share in the joy of the dollars not spent.  Get the deal seeker’s holiday sales by writing content that turns shopping into a game, with the prize being discounts.  Give gift cards with a purchase over a certain amount, or free shipping.  Set the incentive within easy reach, and you’ve got a game that any deal seeker will want to win.  You, in turn, will win as well, as the order values increase.  If you can earn the loyalty of deal seekers during the holiday season, they are sure to return, with friends.  Deal seekers talk about deals often, so you’ll be able to sit back while word-of-mouth marketing unfolds all year long.
 
As you prepare for the holiday season, keep your shoppers in mind while writing holiday copy.  When you cater to each, your sales will increase.  Your effective marketing will not only increase holiday sales, but will gain returning customers.  Everyone shops during the holidays, and it is the prime time to build your customer base.  Holiday marketing is the gift that just keeps on giving.

~Tricia

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Five Ways to Prepare Your e-Store for the Holidays

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Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

Tips for Giving a Successful Toast

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Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Content, Holiday Blog, Personas

Teens & Tech – Instagram, Facebook, and Other Teen Fads

 By My Web Writersteens and tech

Teens are trend-hunters. They enjoy scouting out the latest and greatest clothes, technology and fads and being the one who introduces them to their entire network. Where they go many, many more follow. The same is true with teens’ use of social media. There is much we can learn about the future of social media by keeping a pulse on what teens are doing and saying on their favorite sites. Here are five teen trends worth knowing right now.

Video Challenges

Maybe you’ve seen some of the outrageous challenges being posed by teens to other young teens on YouTube, Vine and Instagram. Take this fad and turn it into a marketing positive. Give teens challenges that are safe, but fun.  You might find your brand riding the next viral video.

Snapchat

Snapchat allows users to share photos, but only for a brief period of time. The website highlights that you can snap a quick photo, regardless of whether it’s perfect, embarrassing or silly and share it with a small group of friends to “live in the moment.” Then, as quickly as it was sent, it permanently disappears. Snapchat’s feature has the opportunity to be innocent and fun, but also holds the recipe for danger – especially for teens. Just as the teen trend of “sexting” continues, Snapchat has started a trend where many teens will share proactive photos knowing Snapchat will delete the evidence moments later. But like any Internet technology, one small glitch in the system can cause a personal photo to be saved and shared across many other social media platforms. For anyone, especially teens, this would be a devastating outcome.

Moving Away From Facebook

This report from Digital Trends shows that teens are losing interest in Facebook. They are not logging in and interacting with their account as frequently as they used to and are finding other trends and forms of social media to replace the purpose Facebook once served. There’s no doubt that Facebook is among the most popular and most well-known social media platforms out there, which is exactly why teens are showing signs of being “over it.” They want to be on the cutting edge of starting new trends not following what’s already been discovered.

Moving Toward Instagram

While the teen trend is moving away from Facebook, it is moving toward Instagram. The most popular posts on Facebook tend to be the ones that include photos and Instagram takes this to a whole new level. Teens love experimenting with Instagram’s different filters and editing options that take the “selfie” to a whole new, stylish level. It’s a form of self expression and a way to see exactly what your friends are doing at all times. And because Instagram has yet to be deemed “too mainstream,” teens continue to flock to this social media platform.

Bullying Gone Viral

The days of the playground bully unfortunately still exist, except now the “playground” exists on numerous social media platforms. Social media bullies have been given an even bigger megaphone with which they can inflict public embarrassment and harassment upon others. This must be closely watched as an emerging trend because it is being encouraged and even glorified with the popularity of social media. And the repercussions are deadly. Edudemic.com states that 51% of kids say they’ve been bullied online and 49% say they have been the online bully. What can be done? Just like any trend, it will meet its demise once it’s deemed “uncool.” Whether you’re a teen, a parent of one or a fellow social media user who is connected with one, we can all do our part to discourage and counteract social media bullying through our own actions.

What else will teens come up with? It’s hard to say! The power and connectivity of social media has created a generation unlike any before it. But what can be expected is that the challenges and dangers of such trends will be equally as advanced as the technology that is used to create them. ~Stephanie


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Corporate Holiday Email Do’s and Don’ts

Attention to Details- What is Quality Content? Part 4

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Filed under Audience, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Facebook, Instagram, Marketing

From Blah to Fab, Freshen Up Your Web Copy Like These Sizzling Sites

By My Web Writers

The dreaded website.  You’ve been delaying that “website refresh” (for like, months now.)  Why is it so difficult to keep an online presence current? Most likely, it’s because writing website copy as a non-web writer can be very intimidating and time consuming. There are search engine optimization guidelines to garner the best possible results, flair to create, and brand enforcement guidelines. Sometimes, it’s easier to just leave the website alone.

But making (and updating) a great website doesn’t mean adding thousands of words of copy. You just have to choose the right words. Take apple.com, for example. Known for its minimalist style, this website doesn’t inundate you with words; in fact, you’ll be blown away by the size of the main image (usually an ad for its latest and greatest product) on its homepage. It utilizes perhaps the most important trick in website copywriting: succinct headlines and subtitles. If you’re looking for something other than its latest release, the navigation pane at the top is simple and clean. And Apple’s search tool is highly effective in helping you find specific information if you want to drill down further.

Another great, easy-to-read website is Groupon.com. With the flattering green background, easy-to-read details, and simple font, browsing through Groupon is better than a walk through a mall on any given day – and probably less expensive! Once you click on a deal, the copy is succinct, usually a bit entertaining, and easy-to-follow. Groupon speaks one-on-one with the customer, one of the most important tools in a web copywriter’s bag. The vendor site is also a breeze at grouponworks.com. Success stories in video form line the top half of the page, and navigation tools are just below.

Would you believe a public library’s annual report is one of our favorite sizzling sites? The St. Louis County Library District 2012 Annual Report is a unique presentation. It’s chock full of visuals (videos, pictures, graphs), easy-to-read content with great font choices, simple navigation tools, and links to its website when necessary. It’s a unique way to tell a story, from a library, the home of many stories.

Mailchimp.com subscribes to the belief that less is more. “Send better email,” it says on its homepage. By stating this one fact, there is no question about the sole purpose of MailChimp, which is yet another web writer’s trick. They even have compelling, well written success stories in their MailChimp at Work section.

In general, when freshening your web copy:

  • make sure that titles and subtitles include that page’s keywords,
  • check for grammar, spelling, and usage issues.
  • run questionable copy through Grammarly and Copyscape.
  • make sure sales, product, and seasonal information is up-to-date.
  • check analytics to see which pages visitors usually flow to before and after visiting the page you’re working.
  • update broken, old, or non-converting hyperlinks.
  • try writing to capture a new audience.  Add semantically relevant keywords to the copy.

There are many other factors to consider when writing your web copy, too. Font style and size, colors, images, accurate and concise page titles, use of white space, and killer headlines all count toward the legibility of your website. So tell us, what are your favorite websites? What makes yours easy to read?

~Joanne


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Filed under Analytics, Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Capturing Audience, Content, E-Tail Category Content, Grammar, Revising & Proofreading, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The Versatile Voice: How to change your writing to match your client or audience

My Web WritersVersatile Writer

Just as an artist can portray the image of another person in their work, so too can a writer. One of the important roles of a freelance writer is to be able to write in their client’s voice. This is important for creating a consistent brand and to ensure that content flows smoothly between the web site, blog, social media and marketing materials. But for writers who excel at creating a very distinct voice for their own writing, learning to take on the voice of a client can be challenging. Here are several ways to help create a versatile voice that can be shaped to fit the personality and style of many different people.

Learn the Lingo

Every industry has its own set of commonly used words and terminologies. As a writer, you’re not expected to be familiar with such terms from the start, but you should make the effort to learn them as you go. This will help you to use the terms accurately and create a natural voice for your clients. Aside from common terms, each business will also have its own preference for how it refers to certain aspects of the business. For example, should you use the word clients or customers? Does the business prefer a certain acronym or shortened version of its name? It’s important to learn these preferences and to use them throughout each writing project to create a genuine voice.

Feel the Rhythm

This is subtle, but important. The rhythm of writing from one person to another can vary greatly. Some people prefer lengthy and complex sentences while others keep each thought short and simple. In order to portray the same rhythm of your client’s own writing, you should review any work they have written. Take note to their particularities. Maybe they like to start a paragraph by asking a question or maybe they’re very liberal with their use of exclamation points. All of these small nuances have a big impact on the overall feel and style of the writing.

Be Consistent

Switching back and forth between multiple writing projects for a variety of clients can make creating a consistent voice a challenge. You need to remember the style that best represents each client and be able to quickly get into this mindset every time you write for them. For readers to believe that you are that person or business, you must remain consistent in your voice. Even the most subtle changes in terminology or sentence structure can make the transition in content awkward and disingenuous. Once you write several pieces for a client, be sure to reference them when starting your next project. This will refresh their voice and reset your writing style.

The job of a freelance writer is no easy task. You must develop a unique writing style to first get noticed, but then be able to let go of this style to take on the voice of a client at a moment’s notice. The ability to be versatile in your writing is invaluable. Remember to familiarize yourself with your client’s commonly used terminology, use their writing rhythm and be consistent with this style across all projects. ~Stephanie


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Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Words Which Sell

Social Media for Nonprofits: How your marketing strategy should differ

My Web Writersnonprofits social media

Nonprofit organizations are an essential part of every community and a growing career option. While many nonprofits run very similarly to for-profit businesses, the marketing strategies of the two should differ. Unlike a for-profit business, your key objective is not to sell a product or service. Also, the emotional impact you wish to make on your target audience will be much greater. Social media is a critical part of this marketing strategy and a powerful tool for nonprofits – but only if it’s used effectively. Here are several key differences that should be incorporated into every nonprofit’s social media strategy.

Aim to inform, not sell

Social media is an opportunity to inform your audience of your mission and everything you’re doing to further it. It’s not effective to simply direct people to a “donate now” button on your web site. You must first begin with a base of education as to why – someday – they may consider supporting your cause. Build a level of trust with your audience and establish yourself as a resource by offering valuable and interesting information.

Connect on an emotional level

Nonprofits have the benefit of emotional appeal when it comes to connecting with their target audience; be sure to make use of this opportunity! Social media allows you to connect on a very human level by sharing photos and stories about the people you’re helping. Use social media as a way to engage people by making them feel good and this positive emotional will be associated with your brand.

Make your network feel a part of your success

Two different social media posts can both say the same thing, but depending upon how they’re written they can make people react very differently. Nonprofits should use social media as a way to make people feel a part of their success. When you achieve a milestone such as a record number of funds raised or the launching of a new program, be sure and relate this success back to your audience in some way. If they feel as those their effort helped make this possible, they will be more likely to continue supporting your work in the future.

Offer ways to get involved

Unlike a for-profit business, nonprofits have the advantage of really engaging the community by offering them the chance to become a part of their work. Focus your social media on emphasizing upcoming opportunities to join in the action. This could be a 5k walk or run, black-tie gala or even just a general call for volunteers. All of this makes for great content on social media. Not everyone who sees your posts will choose to get involved, but by promoting your activities you will help increase brand awareness.

Understanding the differences between social media marketing for businesses versus social media marketing more nonprofits will help you to become more effective at both. With nonprofits it’s important to inform your audience, connect with them on an emotional level and make them feel welcomed to get involved. Just as your services and objectives differ from a for-profit business, so too should your social media marketing strategy. ~Stephanie


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Filed under Audience, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Social Media

How to Keep Your Lead Pipeline Moving

My Web WritersPipeline

Leads are the lifeblood of any business. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or seasoned business owner, how you generate and track your leads is a critical process to business growth and success. So often we make contact with a lead only to have the communication come to a halt. This plug in your pipeline is a sign that your lead process is not flowing as smoothly as it could. To prevent this backlog in business, here are three ways to help keep your lead pipeline moving consistently and strategically.

Profile Your Leads

Not all leads are equal; rather they sit somewhere on a spectrum ranging from cold to hot. By profiling your leads you will gather a sense of their “heat index” and be able to prioritize how much time you spend on each lead or if you choose to follow-up at all. It’s also important to focus most of your time on leads that meet the criteria of an ideal client. You should go after leads that need the services you offer. It sounds simple, but so often we waste our time chasing after clients who aren’t convinced they have a need or are asking for services outside our scope of expertise.

Define the Process

One aspect of lead tracking that greatly slows down the flow of the pipeline is not having a defined process of what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it. The easier you can make the task, the more likely you are to complete it. Put the work in upfront by defining every step of your process from the first communication down to the contract for your services. You can also pre-write the core content for each follow-up. Then all you have to do is personalize the message! If each step of your lead pipeline seems overwhelming, you’ll find every excuse not to move forward. But if you can make the process automatic, you will have no problem staying on top of your leads.

Stay Organized

From start to finish, organization is the most critical component of lead tracking. You need to be aware of all the leads you have started through your pipeline and the next appropriate step for each. Based upon the size of your business or the number of leads, something as simple as an excel spreadsheet can do the trick. If you have a more complex lead tracking system, consider upgrading to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. There are many options available and most companies will offer at least one license at no cost. Check out http://www.zoho.com for an example of a CRM service you can try for free. By staying organized, you will maintain consistent communication with your potential customers while giving them a positive example of what doing business with you would be like.

To summarize, your process for lead generation should first begin by prequalifying your potential clients before investing too much time in them. Then you must define your follow-up process to streamline what must be done and when. Finally, organization is the ultimate key to staying on top of your leads. At any time you should be able to see exactly what leads are in the pipeline and have a deadline for your next communication with them. ~Stephanie


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Filed under Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Marketing