The Point

Archive for the ‘Best practices for copywriting’ Category

Aug

How to Take Advantage of the Web’s Two Most Important Words

Two most important words

Two words: how to. Simple. Effective. Foolproof. Timeless.

“How to” are the two most important words on the web. Experienced writers know it. Now you do too.

Should every headline begin with “how to?”

No. That’d be boring as the Celine Dion catalog.

Should every business blog include how-to articles?

Yes. Some blogs use the technique in practically every post. Again, snoozeville. Some bloggers purposely avoid the “how to” headline. They find it too cliché. Big mistake. Here’s the thing about clichés: people get ‘em.

You can make every post title include “how to” or never type the two words your entire publishing career. Doesn’t matter.

What does matter is your blog posts, web pages, infographics, podcasts, videos, SlideShares, and every friggen helping of content you serve should serve your audience. The sooner you start applying this principle, the sooner you’ll have an audience.

(more…)

May

Conversion Copywriting: Strategies to Create a Customer Comfort Zone

conversion copywriting

How are you feeling?

If you’ve been here before and have come to know and trust me, you probably feel quite comfortable.

Is it your first time? Now that’s an entirely different bale of hay. It’s human nature, right? When you arrive somewhere—or interact with someone—for the first time, you may be curious, but you can’t help being anxious.

Your guard’s up. Your wallet’s tucked away. Any little bump and away you go.

As you’ve surmised, I’m talking about your experience on a web page—one that until now, you’ve never before landed on.

Discomfort’s the mother of all conversion killers

Any copywriter worth his (or her) weight (or rate) needs to understand this reality and quickly wordsmith newcomers down a path to their comfort zone.

Where a web page is the terrain, the copywriter’s the tour guide, instructor, concierge, maître d’, and of course, sales clerk. If the copy can’t seal the deal, it must offer something compelling to start some sort of relationship.

Conversion, we say. Conversion, we seek. (more…)

Apr

20 Signs Your Web Content Writer Won’t Cut Through the Crap

Web content writer

I was on vacation in Vancouver with my family last week. We went to the famous public market on Granville Island. There’s a lot to see and do there. The market seems to offer every flavor of everything.

I would have enjoyed it more if my sinuses were not a stuffed-up mess. When I decided to give my throbbing head a break and sit down and listen to a busker play guitar, my family headed back into the market for tea.

When they came to rally me again, they presented me with a tea specially blended to kick colds. The concoction included ginger and cayenne pepper. I took a sip, gagged, and tossed it in the trash. The tea was nastier than my head cold.

It wasn’t the highlight of my trip, but it’s not an experience I’ll soon forget. I’ll remember where I got it and how it made me feel.

Who the hell puts cayenne pepper in tea?

The answer is a tea specialist, a tea specialist who wants to make someone feel better… a tea specialist that wants to make a bold statement… a tea specialist aiming to get a response from her customer.

For all the same reasons, I submit great copywriters mix in cayenne pepper too. They may not use pepper in every paragraph they serve. They may choose to forgo the pepper in favor of different flavor. But trust me on this: they shan’t shy away from peppering their prose with spice.

Everyone’s a web content writer now

The gold rush of 1849 produced the term 49er, meaning a person who had gone to California to mine gold.

I just did a Google search for “web content writer.” In a half-second the search engine returned 115-million results. From my POV, it seems today’s mother lode is content marketing, the treasure trove that connects customers to companies.

Will the legions of new web content writers earn the nickname 15ers?

I’ve written this post to help you understand wordsmiths are cut from different cloths. I hope to tool you with insights to spare you from the headaches symptomatic of hiring the wrong writer. (more…)

Feb

How to Move Readers to Share Stories [71.4]

Share storiesI spent some serious time messing with the headline above. It’s a good one, but I’ve done better. Keep reading and you’ll understand.

First, know this: I want a lot of people to read this blog post. Bloggers generally attach great value to the number of viewers a post earns. And a proven strategy for increasing the reach of your content is to inspire readers to share it via social media.

Also, I want you to know a version of this post was published by KISSmetrics, with a headline that earned a 75.

71.4? 75? What’s with the numbers? I’m talking about emotional value, which apparently is predictable. I shall explain.

Search engine rankings aren’t everything

Selecting the perfect keywords and optimizing your post to rank high on Google is an immensely powerful tactic for increasing your reach. It’s called SEO. (Here’s SEO, nutshellified.)

SEO is clearly one of the best ways to earn eyeballs. However, success with search doesn’t come easily and rarely comes fast. Should it happen, and your post garners a spot on the first page of a search, you’re likely to enjoy a steady stream of page views over a sustained period of time.

But today we’ll look at a different strategy.

The objective: write something to earn heaps of social media shares to deliver a sudden and pronounced spike in traffic.

The key is giving your post an emotional headline

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.

Whether appearing on a blog post, the subject line of an email, a Twitter update, or any of the zillion places your content may appear, your headline prompts three potential responses:

  1. Nothing. Your post is ignored.
  2. Click. Your post is presented.
  3. Share. Your post’s reach is magnified.

The combination of 2 and 3 is the goal and an opportunity to achieve a fourth potential response: your post gets read and its call to action is effective. This is called “conversion.”

Emotions drive actions. We need not do a deep dive on this. The principle’s understood by neuroscientists and marketers (nearly) universally. The subject I do want to dive into is writing emotional headlines to invoke a response from your readers.

Proof that emotional headlines drive social sharing

My friends at CoSchedule are all about helping content marketers blog smart and earn traffic via social media. They’re also insanely analytical. So they analyzed more than one million headlines in an effort to determine which are shared most and how such a thing might be predicted.

CoSchedule data

As you see, CoSchedule determined (in no uncertain terms) headlines with a higher emotional value get more shares on social media.

How to score your headline’s emotional value

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, emotional value can be measured. What can’t?. Advanced Marketing Institute created a tool: the emotional marketing value (EMV) headline analyzer.

EMV analyzer

You enter your headline, select a category, and submit. You get your score…

EMV analyer results

To demonstrate, I went to Topsy.com, a free tool that provides social analytics, and entered “Super Bowl.” Unsurprisingly, a story published on Huffington Post about a Super Bowl commercial currently ruled from a social shares perspective, having been tweeted 59.5K times over the past 24 hours.

I pasted the headline into the EMV headline analyzer and as you can see in the screenshot above, the headline was ultra-emotional: 66.67.

Copy on the results page explains:

For comparison, most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will have50%-75% EMV words in headlines. A perfect score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your headline is less than five words.

Earning big share numbers with high EMV headlines

I used BuzzSumo.com, a tool featuring a search engine that finds the most shared content for any topic or domain, to validate the power of emotional headlines and show you some examples.

email marketing best practices

A recent post from the GetVero.com blog, 20 Tips for Dramatically Better Emails, by Jimmy Daly, is Vero’s most shared of the past six months. The headline gets a 50 EMV score and has earned close to 9K shares.

The EMV headline analyzer tool also reported this headline falls in an “intellectual” classification. Intellectual impact words are ideal for arousing curiosity. The analysis adds, the majority of words with emotional impact fall into this category, are the most used, and have the broadest appeal.

what not to post on social media

Among Hootsuite’s hottest stories of 2015 is What Not To Post on Social Media: 5 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before You Publish, a story by Olsy Sorokina. The headline gets a 53 EMV score and has quickly earned close to 2K shares.

The EMV headline analyzer tool classified the headline as “spiritual.” According to the Advanced Marketing Institute, spiritual impact words carry the strongest potential for influence and appeal to people at a deep emotional level.

perfect marketing plan

Everything You Need to Know for the Perfect Marketing Event (the headline differs slightly in the image they created), a story by Julie Neidlinger, on the CoSchedule blog gets a 55 EMV score. So far this year, the post is CoSchedule’s most shared.

And now back to the headline of this post

A few minutes ago, you learned I did a good amount of “messing” with the headline of this post. I wasn’t about to settle for a low score. I’ll show you what happened.

First, I tested the working headline I chose when the idea for this post began to gel. EMV scores follow each headline.

How to Accelerate the Reach of Your Content with Emotion-Packed Headlines (27)
The headline probably has strong SEO potential. Assuming “reach of your content” or “emotion-packed headlines” are keywords that get searched. But for EMV, I didn’t even achieve “professional copywriter” status.

So I wrote alternate headlines and scored them. Here’s what that exercise looked like:

Touch Readers with Emotionally Charged Headlines to Inspire More Social Sharing (36)
If Your Headline Moves Me I’m Likely to Share It (40)

Move Readers Emotionally with a Headline Worthy of Sharing (44)

Headlines that Move Readers Emotionally Move Them to Share Your Story (55)

You’ll Love the Astonishing Effect Emotional Headlines Have on Your Content” (55)

As you can see, I was catching on and making progress. I thought I might beat a 55 score with this one:

If You Don’t Care for this Headline You’ll Probably Share It
No such luck. It tied the previous one at 55. I did like where that one was going, so I tested a hunch. Would a strong emotional word such as “hate” increase the headline’s score? Maybe a one-two punch with a question…

Hate This Headline? You’ll Probably Share the Story.
Score: 75. Cha-ching.

I used that headline when I guest posted on KISSmetrics. I didn’t want to compete with them with search rankings, so I returned to the emotional marketing value (EMV) headline analyzer and tried some more ideas so this post could have a different, but emotional, headline.

The headline I settled on scored 71.4. That’s quite good and suggests you’ll share this story. Please do. I’ve made it easy for you…

How to write emotional headlines

You understand the reason behind topping your blog posts with emotional headlines and now know of a tool to assess your ideas. Perhaps the question swimming between your ears now is “how do I write emotional headlines?”

The answer: you use powerful words, words that invoke feelings.

I did some searching and clicking in an effort to provide an emo-glossary and found a great resource here: feeling words (courtesy of PsychPage). Jon Morrow, the mastermind writer of Boost Blog Traffic dedicates a post to explaining (and listing) power words here. And finally, CoSchedule created a cheat sheet of 180+ power words.

Power words for headline

Emotional headlines that touch readers make them feel various forms of pleasure and pain. Most notably, for pleasure, use words that invoke:

  • Happiness
  • Fun
  • Belonging
  • Awe
  • Love
  • Positivity
  • Strength
  • Empowerment

For pain, consider words that invoke:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Helplessness
  • Indifference
  • Sadness

Feeling drives sharing

Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to uncover why people share information. He and his colleagues examined hundreds of brands, thousands of articles, and millions of purchases.

jonah berger

Berger presented his conclusions in the New York Times bestseller, “Contagious—Why Things Catch On.” Before the book release, in a post for the “Think with Google” blog, Berger wrote, “Our results found that articles, ads, or information that evoke emotion in the reader are around 20 percent more likely to be highly shared. What we see in these cases, and many more, is that feeling drives sharing.”Want to write contagious blog posts? Apply this idea to your headlines. Choose words that touch your reader.

And hey, obviously you didn’t hate this post. Here you are at its end. Now I’d like to ask you to share it. It’ll make me look smart.

Dec

Top Content and Lessons Learned in 2014

Top Content 2104 Feldman Creative

I want to thank you, big time. Interest in The Point, the blog here at Feldman Creative, skyrocketed in 2014. I learned a lot and I’m hoping you did too.

I checked the analytics for the top content I published in 2014 and tallied the top topics and posts for page views. I also looked at the data to determine which was the most popular eBook and infographic. So you’ve probably read some of this content. But if you missed anything you think will help you create more effective online marketing, this year-end roundup presents popular favorites once again.

I value having you as a reader and appreciate your feedback and comments. If you would, share with me, and the readers here, some of the lessons you’ve learned in 2014 about online marketing. Also, let me know if there are subjects you’d like to learn more about. I’m on it. That’s what top content marketers do: answer questions (as you’ll learn about in what proved to be our number one blog post in 2014, “The Most Effective Content Marketing Tip Ever.”

Happy reading. Happy holidays.

Content marketing

The topic of content marketing appears to have been your top area of interest. Good for you. My hope is in 2015, you’ll take it very seriously and publish great works. The following posts covered the best way to get started, how a content marketing consultant can support your initiatives, and a plan and template for creating a content marketing plan fast, efficiently and effectively.

The Most Effective Content Marketing Tip Ever

What Can a Content Marketing Consultant Do for You?

The Content Marketing Plan that Quadruples Your Leads

(more…)

Dec

How to Write a Home Page Headline that Gets the Job Done

Home page headline

You’ve arrived, but feel lost. Or confused. You’re being bombarded with stimuli. Or too many choices. You’re unsure what to do next.

I know exactly what you’re going to do next. You’re going to leave. You’re off in search of a place where you feel comfortable, confident, more “at home.”

Now here’s the rub. You actually were at someone’s home—their home on the web—their home page, but something went terribly wrong.

The problem’s simple enough. The home page isn’t simple enough. The host made you work. As a website visitor, you don’t want that. And as a website host, your goal must be to invoke a sense of belonging.

The home page has a job to do: get clicked

Bounce rate, which is revealed in your analytics, indicates the percentage of web site visits where only a single page was viewed. Translation: zero clicks.

For a blog site, you need not get overly concerned about bounce rate. One-and-done visits are common. However, those that enter your site via its home page are likely to be first-timers. In this case, a high bounce rate is deadly.

So how do you inspire a visitor to click a page deeper into your site? You interest them. And how do you interest your visitor? You communicate an idea that is easy to understand and memorable. Marketers often describe such ideas as “sticky.”

Made to Stick, the bestselling book by Chip and Dan Heath, spells out the formula with six principles. The first, and perhaps, most vital, is simplicity.

I’ll paraphrase from the book where they ask and answer the question, “How do you find the essential core of your ideas?” They submit you must be a master of exclusion. You must relentlessly prioritize.

The book’s chapter on simplicity also offers the following:

  • It’s hard to make ideas stick in a noisy environment
  • You must weed out ideas, even if they’re important, in an effort to highlight the most important one
  • Uncertainty—caused by multiple choices—tends to paralyze readers
  • Powerful ideas are compact and meaningful

Is your homepage simple? Does it elicit the response you want from visitors? If it’s not clear and compact, it’s time to review and revise it. It’s time to simplify. It’s time to learn how to write a home page headline that inspires visitors to stick around and click around.

What’s in it for me?

If you’ve studied copywriting even a wee bit, you’re likely to have read the “WIIFM” lesson. A common derivative of it goes: readers don’t care about your company or product; they care about themselves.

I want to say you get the idea. I want to say everybody does. But they don’t. In fact, I don’t think it’d be outrageous to say a painfully large majority can’t (and maybe never will) comprehend the concept. And it’s a pity because when you shine the spotlight on yourself, you lose business.

Your headline has a job to do

While your typical web-browsing human is obviously not a goldfish, researchers like to explain his or her average attention span falls short of the little orange pucker’s.

This means your job is to create a page, which is capable of expanding the average attention span. You need to grab ‘em fast. This is the headline’s job. The headline on your home page is the first line the visitor reads and therefore the most important line on your entire website.

(more…)

Oct

How to Write a Lead Like a Professional Blogger

Write a Lead

 

Writing leads is a bitch.

But I just wrote a great one. How do I know? You read the second sentence. And now you’re on the fifth. I’m on a roll. You’re into sentence number seven and I love you for it.

The objective of the first sentence (often called the lead, or lede) is to get you into the second one. Some say the lead is the first paragraph and, as you must have gathered, its goal is to get you to read the paragraph that follows.

Of course, the headline ranks highest, so those that dole out writing advice tend to focus on it. I thought we’d focus on the lead today. When it fails you, your reader takes in only two lines. That’s a form of rejection no writer can live with.

So let’s get back to that bitch

At this year’s International Association of Procrastinators Conference (which was originally scheduled for last year), a poll determined the hardest part of every task is getting started.

Beginning a blog post is no exception. The challenge often thwarts the progress of the most successful professionals. Kristi Hines, professional blogger of the highest order, told me:

“For me, the lead is the most difficult part of the article to write. I’ve found that when I get stuck, the best approach is to write the rest of the article and circle back to it. By that point, I know exactly what I’ve covered in the article and that makes it easier to introduce the content. Otherwise, if I try to force the lead out first, I end up procrastinating on the whole piece.”

We have our first tip: skip the lead if it freezes you. Try to switch to defrost and just dive into the story. (more…)

Jul

The World’s Greatest Social Media Marketer [INFOGRAPHIC]

great social media marketer

I wrote this article for MarketingProfs a while back…

The world’s greatest social media marketer has objectives and strategies. They’re documented—on a spreadsheet—or on some social platform where her peers can collaborate.

She understands the whole analytics and metrics thing that matters to the bean counters. Another spreadsheet? You’d better believe it.

Social media blog feeds feed her a daily dose of updates because she knows some genius somewhere updated a social media network with a new feature while she was sleeping.

She can even tell you how many pixels tall and wide your profile pics need to be. Yep, she keeps all this on a spreadsheet—in the cloud, of course.

You too can master such things. But they won’t make you the world’s greatest social media marketer. In fact, you may remain amazingly mediocre.

The world’s greatest social media marketer possesses more meaningful skills.

(more…)

Jun

Copy Editing Tips: Delete + 12 More Ways to Improve Your Writing

copy editing tips

Look at this monster.

It’s a blank page. It’s not a rattlesnake. It’s not an axe murderer. It can’t hurt you. How could it creep you out so badly?

The answer can only be one thing: you don’t know what to do. You feel helpless. That’s a shitty feeling.

I’m going to help you. I’m going to tell you what to do.

Write.

That’s right. Write something. Anything. It might be awful. It could be truly amateurish. It doesn’t matter. Write. Right now.

Let me talk you through this, a fictitious, but very real enactment. I’ve done it many times before and it usually goes something like this…

I ask the obvious question, “What’s the problem?”

I get the obvious answer, “I don’t know where to start.”

Next question: “What are you trying to say?”

Next answer: “Well, we’re hosting an event, so I want to tell the prospects who have indicated some interest in our solution the value of attending. They’ll learn a lot and it won’t cost a dime.

My turn: “Well there you go. That’s great. Write that down.”

Response: “Write what down?”

“Write what you just told me. It sounded pretty good.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

You’re out of order.

You came in search of the prescription for this writing disorder of yours and the big secret I offer you is “write?” It sounds kind of lame.

Maybe you take me for a poser now. Not so fast my friend.

Am I telling you the secret to becoming a writer is simply “start writing?” No, I’m not. However, I’m telling you what your biggest problem is.

(more…)

Apr

If You Think You Can’t Write, You’re Wrong

CAN'T WRITE

“I can’t write.”

You’ve said it a zillion times, but you’re not going to say it again because it’s a giant, steamy, and stinky pile of crap.

I know what your problem is.

You learned how to write. Then you learned you were doing it wrong.

Blame it on your teachers. Or the man. Or the system. Or the business world. Let’s agree to point the finger at some anonymous entity so you’ll need not feel guilty about it or suffer any consequences.

The truth is you got off to a great start. In your early grade school years, you were merely expected to use legible penmanship and transfer your thoughts—any thoughts—to the paper.

You wrote with abandon. It was fun. It was freeing. But not for long. (more…)