If you can make your product sexy, there’s a good chance sales will spike. In the online marketplace, one of the easiest ways to do that is through your content–appealing, engaging text and product images.
But what do I mean by “sexy” content? Well, sexy content attracts users through its looks–originally. Like a pretty girl or a handsome man, if your content is easy on the eyes, it’ll attract people. Then, like an intelligent woman or man, if you have something good to say, you’ll keep them there.
So how do we get our content sexy?
Trim the Fat
Like I said, your content should be easy on the eyes. That means you need to trim the fat. By eliminating long, drawn-out sentences and paragraphs, you’ll be able to whittle your content down to a concise message.
Big chunks of text, bogged down with unnecessary modifiers, scare readers off. By keeping things brief with one sentence logically flowing into the next, you’ll find that more visitors read your content from beginning to end.
Be Active and Build up the Muscle
What sounds better: The ball was hit by the golfer down the fairway or the golfer clobbered the ball, launching it down the middle of the fairway? Most people would say the latter. That’s because it’s in the active voice.
Good writing contains strong action verbs. Good writing packs a punch. It keeps your readers on their toes rather than lulling them to sleep. Don’t be afraid to flex those muscles and create strong content that keeps readers locked in.
Spice it Up
Predictability isn’t sexy. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of sexy. Content that’s formatted the same way on every page will turn people off.
Instead, spice things up with a picture. Break your content up with subheadings and bulleted lists–anything to provide a little variety, a little diversity. This will also make your content easier to scan which improves the user experience.
Well-Groomed and Articulate
Being sexy isn’t all about looks. If something is truly sexy, it’s both physically and intellectually attractive. This means your content needs to be error-free and it needs to bring something interesting to the conversation. No one wants to date a person with the intelligence of parking cone, regardless of how attractive they may be.
I know that if I start reading an article and find a grammatical error, I automatically like it less. Also, if I start to read something and feel like I’m not getting anything out of it, I’ll stop.
So, how sexy is your content? Leave a comment here on our blog or message me directly at dheinkel(at)webimax.com.
I recently read a quote from Lewis Schiff of the Inc. Business Owner’s Council who said: ”Facts get recorded; stories get remembered.”
Well, I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Schiff. And here’s why.
Let’s use this year’s Olympics as an example. I’m willing to bet that if I asked you what John Orozco scored on the pommel horse, you wouldn’t be able to tell me. However, if I asked you to tell me about his childhood in the Bronx, you’d probably respond without hesitation–facts get recorded; stories get remembered.
John Orozco isn’t the only Olympic athlete who we’ve come to know through story, though. The Olympics thrive off stories–the Blade Runner, Michael Phelps, the Fab Five, etc. That’s why people get so invested; they want to know how the story ends. So what does this mean for marketing?
Simply put, stories stick. As human beings, we’re hard-wired to remember stories much more easily than we remember facts. There’s a reason why most TV commercials are in story form. And there’s a reason why public speakers start with an anecdote–they lock us in.
Stories keep us engaged. They connect with us on an emotional level, which in marketing can make the difference between someone using your service and someone brushing you off.
Still not sold on the power of stories?
Let’s look at TOMS Shoes. This company’s story has been its driving force since day one. Owner Blake Mycoskie started the company after being inspired by a trip to Argentina where he saw extreme poverty and health conditions, as well as children walking around without shoes. This led him to reinvent the native Argentine alpargata shoe which he would sell to customers around the world, and for everyone one pair sold, he would donate a new pair to a child in need. Are there better shoes being sold online? Sure. But people want to buy from TOMS because they know their story. They want to be a part of the movement. It’s something real that they can connect with; it’s something emotional.
Of course, not every company has a story like TOMS to use. But every company does, in fact, have a story. It’s up to you to find that story and share it with the world. The content will literally market itself. Once you start doing that, you’ll find that customers don’t just record your name, they remember it.
Think you’ve figured that story out? Start sharing right here on our blog–we’re all ears.
This is my first blog post for WebiMax and I’d hate to start things off on the wrong foot. So, first and foremost, I’d like to apologize for misleading any Gene Simmons fans. As much as I’d love to tie The Demon and Starchild to SEO, I think I’ll save that for a later date.
I do want to talk about KISS, though: Keep it simple, stupid!
This is probably the best advice I can give to content creators. It’s the key to good, attractive web content. And as we know in SEO and business, in general, good web copy can be your biggest asset.
So what do I mean by writing clear copy and keeping it simple?
We’ve all been there. We’ve all started to read something only to feel completely lost after the first sentence. So what do we do? We go back and read it again. Once we think we’ve got it, we move onto the next sentence. Then, sure enough we come across another sentence that causes us to pause and re-read it. It’s exhausting.
In order to have good web copy it needs to be engaging. One sentence should flow into the next. Your readers should be able to get through the entire page without feeling they had to labor. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality, though. Sometimes the wisest words are found in the shortest sentences.
Brevity is Best
This should apply to all forms of writing but it is particularly true with the web. Simply put, people don’t read–they scan. This means you need to be strategic with your writing. Big, long chunks of text intimidate users. Common language, short sentences, short paragraphs, headings, and bullet points are your allies.
By doing so, you drastically increase the number of users who will actually read your content. After all, isn’t that the goal?
This is Nothing New
Clarity has always been instrumental in good writing. If you pick up any writing book, most harp on simplicity. Whether you prefer to read Strunk and White or Stephen King’s memoir, they all talk about being clear in your writing. When people label a piece as “a good read” it’s usually because it connects with them; it doesn’t soar over their heads. And that’s because the author kept things simple–they engaged and conversed with the reader.
In the words of W.B. Yeats: “Think like a wise man but express yourself like the common people.”
As a senior copywriter at WebiMax, I look forward to sharing more blog posts on content and how it can help your business. For more information, please feel free reach out to me at dheinkel(at)webimax.com
Any time a business uses a third-party’s services, it’s placing itself in a vulnerable position. This goes for any outsourcing, but especially for SEO and online marketing.
How many impressions can be had regarding your campaign? I don’t mean the traditional advertising kinds of impressions, such as the number of times drivers cruise pass your billboard. I mean the impressions of onlookers, whether they are consumers, peers, potential consumers, etc.
I can’t stress enough the importance of the diligence of the business owner in approaching an SEO service. Marketing is all about associating your market back to your brand and services/products. Wow, you’re leaving that up to another source entirely?! Okay, the notion of ‘outsourcing’ is not mind blowing, but the notion of electing a hands-off, leave-it-to-the-experts is very much so.
Here are a few things your marketing company can be messing up for you.
Sure, at present, the Penguin update is a heavy topic of discussion; yet, the notions behind the update are as old as the Web itself. I believe many businesspeople have a limited understanding of SEO. It’s not an insult to their intelligence; it’s just plain fact.
It wasn’t totally insane for businesspeople to be led to believe that a high number of links, signaling what you sell (anchor text), would grant you traction on this totally cool platform ‘everyone’ is now using to shop for goods/services, search engines.
However, let’s speed up time to now, when traditional sentiments of marketing caught up to the totally new, cool way to market. Why should a particular domain/page associated with a product/service necessarily be a better provider of such because a search engine says so? Understood, the theory behind engines leads browsers to believe such, but it is a marketing promise (Yes! These engines are brands too! They want you to think they’re great! And great for your business too!) – not a foolproof reality.
DO NOT allow your marketing service to go for numbers rather than quality. Do you make a distinction on quality? Why are you engaged in the matter to start from such a limited position of knowledge? Why are you letting others make decisions for your business?
“Content is…” I can’t even stomach to finish the line. Actually, how many out there assume content strictly means written copy? It does not. “But Anthony, I need a specific number of keywords occurrences on my Web page or I won’t get ranked, I won’t get traffic, I won’t get conversions…”
So, again, who is feeding you these sentiments? What kinds of content can best intrigue your targeted consumers? It could be a picture. It may be an epic poem… It may be a podcast… “But wait, pictures and podcasts don’t have keywords! I need to inundate my pages with them to rank!”
Sure, ranking well for particular terms helps, but it’s not a be-all-end-all necessity. That’s like saying if search engines ‘disappeared’ tomorrow, your business would have to fold-up shop. Really? That would be unfortunate and majorly make me question what kind of brand you have going on over there.
Pay attention to your consumers and serve them with useful content. If you pay more attention to the desires of your target market rather than how many times engines can count your keywords, your business is likely to be more successful…because you’re in business to please the customer, correct?
Search engine ‘optimization,’ to me, means your brand is finding ways to make engines work for you, not the other way around. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean Google serves you first for your “chosen word”; it means your marketing team has utilized engines as another way to create associations to your users, which can mean A LOT of things aside from rank for a particular term.
Who are you placing in power to produce your content? The agency’s writers? Have you seen their (you know, the writer who writes YOUR content) stuff before? What are their thoughts on content? Should yours be written? Audio recorded? Visually recorded? Stocked with images rather than written sentiment? What do you think about it? Do you have an opinion? Why not? You should know your service/product and consumers BETTER than the third-party provider; yet, you leave it up to someone else to make major decisions for your company?
Of course, the Penguin update is a hot topic at the moment. Google, the most widely-leveraged search engine, made some modifications, which influenced a number of Web masters. What’s done is done. It’s not the first time Google has done it; and, it won’t be the last.
Should it chill your reception of online marketing? I can see how it can for a party of people who view online marketing as an unknown mystery that can deliver results if you type in the right codes. It’s not quite like that. SEO, online marketing, SEM, and other derivations of “marketing” vary in degrees but all pursue the same end…intriguing and converting consumers…as it has always been.
Back to Basics
A while ago now, Gianluca Fiorelli wrote a post, urging us to ‘wake up.’ I’ve referenced the post before; it’s a great learning resource for novices; it explains the major components of online marketing and justifies them. Gianluca urges us to focus on the technical, content, and social aspects of online marketing. Let’s further explain for our purposes here:
Gianluca is referencing a site’s meta information, HTML, backend design, etc – all the technical aspects. He wants to ensure your site is appropriately ‘communicating’ with the search engines, which host its information and pages. This is a job for your coders, IT guys, designers, and other professionals who understand the ‘language’ of computers.
The technical ensures the engines understand and properly read your pages. Consumers use engines; so, make sure your pages are properly indexed. Here is another good post on technical SEO by Dave Sottimano.
Let’s continue by discussing a beloved topic of content. Online…success (whatever that means to your brand) is king. That’s why you pursued online marketing in the first place – to make your brand successful. Content (written posts, audio files, info-graphics, videos, cartoon strips, etc) needs to be composed and released entirely with the target market in mind.
Who should know your market the best? You should. Why else would you be offering goods/services to it? You’ll find tons of great information on how to generate great content online. Collect tidbits here and there you can use to help organize and share your own content. However, understand you can’t recreate the success of another brand by emulating their tactics; you must heed practices then create something unique to your brand.
Jonathan Morrow wrote a content-focused piece on Copyblogger recently. It’s written in a humorous but highly pragmatic style. The post gets down to the essence of writing sales copy and writing for your consumer.
There was a time when a consumer leveraged the phone book or some kind of directory to locate a service or product need. There would be a broad heading, like electricians, with a number of service providers listed after. Aside from some copy cues, there was really no way for the brands to differentiate themselves, to express personality. Nowadays, brands can freely engage markets and express personality through social media channels.
Remember why so many brands were obsessed with the Web in the beginning? They knew it was a new marketing channel, a way to get peoples’ attentions. Brands quickly started chasing rankings, thinking consumers bought from providers listed on the top of SERs. It’s still a sound decision to get on the first page; yet, it’s not a necessity. Get your market’s attention through social media; that’s what you wanted in the first place, right? You wanted to get consumers’ attentions.
Engaging in social media is highly subjective too, just like constructing copy. I can give you suggestions; but, you can’t be me and I can’t be your brand.
However, a brand can use resources to devise its own methodical and strategic way of addressing social media initiatives. I often read the BlueGlass blog for tips on peer, social, and public relations. The social aspect of online marketing is very akin to traditional PR, except now, brands are not just being social with the press; brands are being social with just about anyone involved with them.
The technical/content/social approach to online marketing is a sound paradigm at present. There are six-million ways to try your marketing initiatives. Ideally, arrange your online marketing around your target market rather than Penguins and Googles. I couldn’t of said it better myself:
Be dependent on your target market’s interest rather than movements of zoo animals and their ‘keepers’
How many articles have you seen cruise past your Twitter stream? I see hundreds of suggestions per day. Where does all that digital content go? Surely, the lifeline of posts is not long; there’s an incipient flood coming by the hour. However, from a curation perspective, there’s no reason for content to rest in peace.
Jacob Klein wrote a post yesterday on building links with video content. I thought the suggestions were great; it got me thinking of bounce rates and conversions. In the comments, I inquired about such. Jacob ensured me he had experienced longer on-page times due to inserting video into posts. It makes sense; people skim through written copy, but usually watch video from beginning to end.
In many cases, video galvanizes otherwise ‘boring’ or ‘dry’ content. Think about some product or service-related suggestions. Would you rather read about the proper way to paint your home’s interior, ‘seeing’ professionals at work, or read inanimate words on a page? What better serves the consumer, the readers’ needs?
Do you have older content? Has it experienced any visitors or grievers lately? Why not do some video experimentation, Dr. Frankenstein? Raise the old sentiments from the dead, recharging and reinventing insight with video implementation.
You’ve written a post. Now we know what you think. What about the opinions of others? Have you ever considered beseeching a running tally of opinions? Passionate professionals love sharing and expressing opinions. In many cases, more views make for a better piece of content. Two minds are better than one; what about a community of minds? Have you done any fiddling with Survey Monkey? The service is free and you can insert a customized survey at the bottom of your post.
Did you write a successful post? Did you write a not-so-successful post? Would you like to reintroduce the conversation? Pin a survey at the end and send it out to the community, asking for input. If you get enough responses, your brand can orchestrate a modern-day part II.
Graphic Design/Comic Strip
I wrote a guest post for Michael King a little while ago on sweet tweeting. When I sent him the rough copy, Mike told me to take a look at this post by Cyrus Shephard. Take a look. Cyrus makes some good points, yes? Have you released prior copy void of eye stimuli? Perhaps it’s time to loop back around and implement some pictures, infographs, or even comic strips. Take a look at Mike King’s comics; he’s known for them because he does a good job of illustrating points using visual stimulants. Could you pull rank, rising interest in old copy by emulating his artistic sympathies? I think so.
What other suggestions do you suggest, readers? Surely there are other ways to raise awareness about old content. Have you taken notice of our free white paper? Do you have more questions about SEO or online marketing? Direct your attention to the WebiMax contact page.