Category Archives: Content Marketing

What’s your story?

You’ve noticed top brands presenting creative stories during the Superbowl and winter Olympics.  They’ve intertwined touching moments from athletes’ lives into brand messaging.

Now, it’s your turn.

Help clients to understand you. What is the mission behind your brand?

Know your story and breathe life into your message with word pictures.

Then, share your story on your blog, through press releases, via email, and with social media.

Here’s an example of a story from My Web Writers’ founder, Jean.  She shared this story with Huntington University students last year during a Forrester lecture.

Before Google Was Google and My Web Writers was My Web Writers

A couple decades ago, I was a high school and community college, English and speech teacher with a dual background in Communications and media.

Back then, AOL gave you the ability to build html web pages. It occurred to me that I could build these web pages and put extra credit assignments and homework assignments online for parents and students. This was before the Internet as you know it. Schools did not have web pages. But it excited me to be on the cutting edge for this generation of teens (who are all in their late thirties/ early forties, today.) They would inevitably need to know more about search and the Internet. I had NO idea that I actually was training myself for my future career.

I laugh because I remember the principal coming into my room and somberly explaining that we had a problem. A parent had called to complain that I was offering extra credit to students who used the computer and that the home of this particular student did not have a computer. Apparently, the student did not want to come in before or after school to complete the extra credit in the school’s computer lab. This was 1997 and we felt tech-savvy, but we had no idea how much more was to come. Google was live by 1998.

When You’re Ahead of the Curve, Keep Your Vision. Keep Going!

I remember thinking…REALLY?… Hello. Am I really being scolded for this? This is your future. But, at that moment in time, using a web page to host a teacher’s extra credit assignment was ahead of the curve. Should I carry my torch?

I continued to offer extra credit on the web. I was the only teacher in this large, suburban high school that had a web page. How ‘bout that for how things have changed?

Now, I lead a team of talented writers who craft content for the Internet each day. An entire industry was built from kids who made time in a computer lab years ago.

What’s your story?  

If you can’t identify it or write it, find a writer who can.

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Top 5 Tips to Grow Your Email Audience

Top 5 Tips to Grow Your Email Audience Image

The inbox is a sacred place for personal messages and important information. It’s a virtual “home” for many of us. Much the same way we would protect our home from unwanted intruders, people protect their inbox from unsolicited marketing messages. To motivate people to sign-up for yet one more newsletter can seem like an impossible task. But there are several strategies to help make this not such a fruitless effort. Here are 5 effective ways you can begin growing your email audience now!

Make it easy.

If you want people to do anything, you have to make it as easy as possible! To grow your email audience, be sure that subscribing is an option clearly available to your customers. Place a sign-up button prominently on your web site or blog. Also, market it across social media by sharing a link for people to sign-up. Finally, be sure that your current newsletter has the option to subscribe. Sure, the person receiving it is already on your email list, but if they forward it to a friend you want to be sure to give that person an easy way to sign up as well!

Offer incentive.

So you’ve clearly given your customers an easy way to sign-up to receive your newsletters, but your audience hasn’t grown much. Now what? Offer incentive! Your customers’ inboxes are already bombarded with junk mail and unsolicited messages.  They want to know that what you’re offering isn’t more spam.  Offer exclusive news, advice or discounts through your newsletter.   Let them know exactly how often they’ll hear from you – say once a month.  Some businesses even offer a special one-time discount that’s instantly sent once you sign-up. If people know they’ll save 20% on their purchase, they’re more likely to share their info!

Capture every relationship.

Asking people to subscribe is only one way to grow your email audience; another is to subscribe for them. This doesn’t mean buying a list or randomly taking email addresses from people you don’t know. This means auto-subscribing people who have used your products or services or fill out a contact form on your web site. This will help you reach every customer at least once and engage some of those people who would never sign up on their own. It’s very important to offer an unsubscribe option in all of your emails and to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. So long as you give people an easy way to opt-out, there’s no problem with auto-subscribing your customer base. In many cases, people will choose to continue receiving these emails and build a closer relationship with your business.

Provide meaningful content.

Content is king. If your newsletters fail to offer valuable information or resonate with your audience, you will begin to see the number of unsubscribers rise with each e-blast. To avoid undoing all of your hard work, put the necessary effort into creating meaningful content that’s tailored to your customers’ wants and needs. But don’t get wrapped up in writing a whole novel! Keep your messages short and sweet. A long newsletter will overwhelm your readers and seem like one more thing on their to-do list. Make your content tasty and easy to digest.

Be consistent.

Now that you’ve got their attention, don’t blow it! Be sure to set a regular frequency for your newsletters and stick to it. Readers don’t want to be bombarded with a message every other day for a week and then never hear from you for 2 months. Be consistent. For some businesses, a monthly newsletter is all they need while others have enough content to send a weekly email. How often you send messages should be based on how much useful or important information you have to share.  Most importantly, this consistency will keep readers engaged and keep you top of mind.

There you have it – 5 ways to grow your email audience! Don’t let your messages get lost in wind. Utilize these tools to begin building your audience and maximizing the impact of your email marketing today. ~Stephanie

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Filed under Content Marketing, Email Campaigns, Marketing

How to Create a Hot Holiday Buzz for Your Business

By My Web WritersChristmas present

It’s that time of year! Get ready to have your inbox and newsfeed filled with holiday promotions of all shapes and sizes. It’s a marketing bandwagon worth jumping on because the holidays are when your customers are most likely to act on impulse and splurge more than the usual. But how do you go about creating a hot holiday buzz that will command attention and motivate action? Here are the top 5 tips to helps get your started!

Make your product or service relevant.

You should carefully select the product or service you’re promoting based on what is relevant to your customers’ wants this time of year. For example, a salon that runs a sale on its summer lipstick line isn’t going to connect with its customers. It may be tempting to promote the product that you want to move or offers you the biggest margins, but this won’t connect with your audience. Instead, pick a promotion that “makes sense” for the holidays. Put together a holiday gift set that is packaged and priced perfectly for a small gift for a loved one. Or offer a special on a service that is most likely to help your customers this time of year. Whatever you choose, first ask yourself, “Is this relevant?”

Build excitement.

You should decide on your promotion at least two months in advance of the holidays. This will give you enough time to build excitement with your customer base. Give them a sneak preview on Facebook or allude to the “very special holiday promotion” to come in your next newsletter. Prime your customers to be on the lookout for this exciting deal and then be sure to deliver!

Create incentive.

In order to create an effective holiday buzz for your business, your promotion or sale should offer an incentive (or benefit) for your customers to buy now. Set a limit on how long the offer will last. Will it expire on a certain date? Will it close after enough offers are claimed? Creating scarcity will help to create a buzz. It will also make customers prioritize your offer as urgent and motivate them to act now.

Make it more than an afterthought.

The more thought you put into creating a holiday promotion, the more business you’re likely to get out of it. From mid October through the holidays, your core marketing focus should be on positioning yourself to capture holiday business. Sure, these are busy times for everyone, but don’t get distracted or split your marketing efforts by announcing other news to your customers at this time. All of your communications should tie back to your holiday promotion.

Spread the word!

You’ve gone through the effort of creating a promotion, now you must market it across every communication outlet to make it truly effective. The biggest mistake many businesses make is running a promotion, but forgetting to inform their customers. Create articles for content marketing and circulate them via Google Plus, Facebook, or Twitter to segmented audiences. Use your web site, newsletter, press releases, other social media niches, blog, and anything else to spread a consistent message. Create a signature graphic for this deal that you can also place on all of these pages. We are visual people, so the more we see the offer the more likely we are to remember it when it comes time to gift buying.

The holidays are a time to both give and receive – for businesses as well! By giving a great deal and a little extra to your customers, you are more likely to receive their business in return. But simply running a holiday promotion won’t have people lining up at your door, proper placement and marketing is key. Try out these top 5 tips to help create a hot holiday buzz for your business this winter season!

~Stephanie


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Filed under Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Email Campaigns, Facebook, Google Plus, Holiday Blog, Marketing, Newsletters, Press Release Writing, Social Media, Twitter

Seven Ideas for Writing Better Email Newsletters

By My Web Writers

Billions of emails are sent every single day, and estimates from the Radicati Group show that in 2013, each user sends/receives more than 100 email messages daily with a majority of those – 78, they predict – coming into your inbox.

Once that email comes in, there’s no guarantee it’ll be read. According to mailchip.com statistics, email open rates vary among industries, peaking at 45.4% for food service and agriculture, and sinking down to 26.5% for vitamin supplements.

So how do you make your email newsletter stand out from all the rest?

Seven Tips for Writing Better Emails:

1 – Keep emails conversational. Sharing a story with a friend over coffee is much more enjoyable than watching a corporate PowerPoint presentation in a large conference room. Use that same approach to your email newsletter writing. Save the formal prose for your print newsletter and keep it casual online.

2 – K.I.S.S. You might remember this acronym from your grade school teacher: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart! Except in this case, you might want to change the “simple” to “short,” especially if you hit send frequently. The more you send, the shorter it should be.

3 – Drive traffic online. One way to keep your email newsletter short is to summarize your point one click away. It’s a great way to move customers to your website, which is a goal for many of us. A commonly accepted link-to-text ration is one hyperlink per 125 words.

4 – Know your goal. Want to gain awareness of your brand? Drive sales with click-throughs? Gain trust from your audience? Your desired end-result determines what you write. If writing isn’t your expertise, or if you just don’t have the time, find an expert writer.

5 – You think timing is everything? Think again. According to a post by email-marketing-reports.com, it really might not matter. Case in point: the author’s traditional every-other-Monday email was slated for a January 1 distribution if he kept to his regular schedule. He decided to keep it on that day just to see how big of a difference the distribution date makes. It was minimal. More important than timing, we believe, is consistency. Once a week on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., every day at 6:00 a.m., or the first of each month are all great examples.

6 – Know the rules. The CAN-SPAM Act was created in 2003 to protect consumers, and it carries hefty penalties for abusers – to the tune of $16,000 per email. Ouch! The Bureau of Consumer Protection has a nice summary of the rules and regulations if you need a refresher.

7 – If you’re an online store, share customer feedback – positive and negative – and provide your own commentary. This will give your customers insight into how you run your business, and create a trusting relationship between you and your (potential) customers.

What has and hasn’t worked for you in the past?

Leave your comments below.   ~Joanne


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3 Comments

Filed under Content, Content Marketing, Email Campaigns, Narrative Writing, Newsletters

Content Improved our Client’s Keyword Reach and Searchlight Mapped It

By My Web Writers

Today, I’m off to the 2013 Conductor C3 conference in New York to talk about actionable, content strategies and ideas.  As a sneak preview, huddle in for a snapshot of how adding and refreshing content was successful for one of My Web Writers’s clients. We used Searchlight to map the progress.

Before Content:

It amazes me how some Internet Marketers glibly preach, “content is king” and yet remove content fields at the tops and bottoms of their web pages.  Why?

Some e-tailers believe that words clutter a page’s look, while others lack the manpower, planning, and budget for content.  “Pictures are worth a thousand words,” right?

A year ago, one of My Web Writers’s clients embarked on a site redesign.  Two weeks before launch the redesign team informed us of the project and that they needed a lot of content quickly.  Unfortunately, this customer did not plan for content and thus didn’t have the budget until 2013 to add content to a significant number of blank pages.  Sales and SEO suffered during the wait.

Our team was able to put the final pages of content up by February 2013.  Then, we went back and attacked pages that hadn’t been touched in over a year.  Because we kept spreadsheets of what had been refreshed and when it had been refreshed and had the advantage of using Searchlight, Conductor’s keyword tool and Google Analytics, we were able to identify which urls needed new and improved content.For Slideshow- Where to start optimizing

What Kind of Content?

In 2012, I’d worked with Conductor’s Searchlight tool for about a year before attending the C3 conference as a participant.  During one of the evening socials, a camera crew interviewed me about my Searchlight experience.

This year, I’m going to touch on what content to add and where to add it on your website.  In general, deliver the content that your keywords promise, be mindful of spelling and grammar, show and don’t tell the story, and reach out to customers to help you with user-generated content.  Employ writers who combine product knowledge, category facts, and persona data with SEO, marketing, and customer-service savvy.

After Content

June- August 18, 2013 Conductor Keyword Pipeline Graph

By April we were beginning to see traction with not only the client’s most strategic keywords, but a plethora of other industry terms that had been under-performing, simply because picture-only pages now offered conversion-inspiring content.

Sales improved.

Do you have a similar story?

By all means, if you’ll be at #C3NY, please come over, say “hi,” and share your story!

~Jean


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7 Comments

Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Conferences, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Keywords, My Web Writers Introduction

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

Learn from Websites with Above-the-Fold Content

By My Web Writers

It’s amazing how many e-commerce companies don’t offer content in the top half of their web pages.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but an Internet page without words is an opportunity missed and it leaves room for confusion.

When we write content for e-commerce sites, the ultimate goal is to entice consumers to buy the website’s products or services.  Written content is an additional tool in your conversion toolbox.

Let’s see how above-the-fold content successfully reaches out to customers on the following websites:

Starbucks

Starbucks warms its readers up to a cupful of coffee with its content.

Starbucks

The adjectives and story go down smoothly and the font sizes and styles are easy on the eyes.  There’s an obvious call to action that drives the reader deeper into the purchasing funnel.  Starbucks doesn’t confuse the reader with too many choices.

Baby Einstein

Each page at Baby Einstein ties together what you see with how you use it. Baby Einstein

Sharing ideas about how to play with and teach baby using Baby Einstein products is exactly what new parents and Google appreciate.

Fanimation

You can use words to better direct traffic through your site. Fanimation

Fanimation invites customers to take personal tours through the major categories in their fan store.

American Spice

AS Baking Content

 

The content on this American Spice category page marries baking with memories from a certain time of year.  You can create emotional and psychological connections to categories or products with word pictures.  We like the play on the words, “Hot Deals” with spices warming up customers.  However, the link takes buyers to a horizontal category page verses a vertical product page. This link might serve better at the bottom of the baking supplies page, after customers have searched through all of the products, but still are looking for more suggestions. We’d also change the graphic’s wording into two sentences.

Amazon

Amazon isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done and it ranks at the top of search engine results. Amazon tv

Notice that Amazon also moves buyers deeper into television verticals through the content linking.  Some people notice words before they notice pictures.  Don’t forget the words!

White CastleWhite Castle

White Castle has a social media presence to go with their yummy pictures.  They haven’t forgotten to make your mouth-water with words that sell burgers!  Notice they suggest how to freeze and reheat sliders.  Did you know how to do that?  Now, you might buy a few extra just to try a reheated, late-night snack at home.

White Castle offers recipes and videos to sell even more burgers. Show people how to eat and they will eat!

 Your Favorite?

What are some of your favorite above-the-fold content pieces?  Share them with us!


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3 Comments

Filed under Capturing Audience, E-Tail Category Content, Website Linking, Words Which Sell