E-mail marketing — these folks really get it!

I recently ordered a CD from a site called cdbaby.com. The next day I received a thank you that blew me away! It came in a plain email, no fancy graphics, but the message exuded brand personality. It had me laughing and feeling darn good about this company. Here’s what they wrote:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

Like it so far? Here’s more:

We all had a wonderful celebration afterward and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you in our private CD Baby jet on this day, September 23, 2009.

Here’s the clincher:

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBaby.com.

Thank, you, thank you, thank you!

Signed…

We miss you already. We’ll be right here patiently awaiting your return.

Have they made a customer for life? You betcha.

Do your emails connect with your customers? Take a hint from CD Baby. Write them in a friendly, conversational style. Include humor if appropriate. And your open rate is sure to soar.

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SEO copywriting tips for catalog marketers

In a recent article, SEO expert Heather Lloyd Martin takes catalog marketers to task for what she calls “10 stupid things” they do to mess up their websites. Here are a few of her comments about SEO copywriting:

1. Uploading your catalog content without rewriting it for the online market

If the task seems daunting, she suggests rewriting your top 20% pages first, incorporating key phrases customers search for. You should see an increase in search rankings and conversions.

2. Putting every applicable keyphrase on your home page

The goal isn’t to get visitors to land on your home page. You want them to land on a page that closely matches their search query.

3.  Using the same page titles on all site pages

One of the fastest ways to improve your search engine rankings is to create unique keyword-rich titles for every page.

4.  Not researching keyword phrases

You’re not a mind reader. You may *think* you know how customers are searching but keyphrase research will either confirm your hunches or give you new ideas.

And here’s the kicker… Hiring cheap writers who write poorly

Martin cites the example of an ecommerce site owner who went offshore for his SEO copywriting and wasted $2500 on bad writing. Remember, you get what you pay for. Hire a professional writer and reap the benefits of a better ROI.

Read the rest on Heather Lloyd Martin’s blog »

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How to write landing pages that land you more sales

Are your landing pages attracting visitors but not convincing them to buy?

I recently listened to a teleclass on this subject given by experts Michel Neray, an online pioneer and brand strategist, and Steve Slaunwhite, a copywriter and coach.

They shared some valuable tips for writing landing pages (aka sales pages) that  convert lookers into buyers.

  • Keep it focused. Don’t load up the page with a lot of distractions.
  • Give visitors all the information they need to make a buying decision — on the spot. Otherwise you may lose them.
  • Write for both scanners and readers using subheads, short paragraphs and bullet points.
  • Keep your headlines descriptive and loaded with benefits.
  • Write in a conversational tone, don’t make the copy sound too salesy.

Once you’ve accomplished all of the above, be sure to tell them what to do next,
i.e., “Buy Now” or “Sign Up Now” if it’s a class or a course.

Do it right and those prospects are now your customers.

Need help writing a landing page that nets you more sales? Then land at copywhiz.com.

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Website Design & Copy: That all-important first impression

In her recent column in the San Francisco Examiner, graphic designer Stephanie Orma talks about the importance of working with a professional designer when creating or re-doing your website. She writes:

When startups and established businesses alike are looking to cut corners and save money, graphic design is usually at the top of their chopping block. But what these companies fail to realize is that good website design can literally mean the difference between being in the red or being in the black –- it’s that crucial. A website is often the first point of contact consumers have with a company. And just like in life, the first impression really does matter.

She’s absolutely right. And the same can be said for good copywriting.

As another cost-cutting measure, many companies write their own copy, even if this is not their area of expertise. And often the results are disastrous.  I’ve heard designers complain that they wait for months for the client to give them the copy. Think about all the revenue the company could have been earning during that time. Enough to have paid a professional freelance copywriter to get the job done right?

Copy and design work synergistically to create a positive online experience for your customers.

Remember, you’ve got about two seconds to capture their attention.  They’ve come to your site with a mission…whether it’s to find information about your company or to purchase your product online. So that first impression is all-important.

Read Stephanie’s entire article here »

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Copywriting clue: A little alliteration goes a long way.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love alliteration when it’s used skillfully and judiciously.  But when it’s overdone, it can be downright annoying.

Today I happened upon a website that overused alliteration in an attempt to be cute and catchy with phrases like, “Promote your company with postcards that pop.” Page after page of that made me cringe. (Or do I lack a sense of humor?)

In his gem of a book On Writing Well, William Zinsser reminds us that people may read with their eyes, but they actually hear your words in their mind’s ear.

So, yes, you want your copy to sing, but not off-key.

Zinsser quotes E.B. White, whose Elements of Style should be on everyone’s bookshelf. White tried to rearrange the words in Thomas Paine’s famous statement, “These are the times that try men’s souls”:

Times like these try men’s souls.
These are trying times for men’s souls.
How trying it is to live in these times!
Soulwise, these are trying times.

Clearly, Paine got it right.

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Marketing 101 – You gotta have a plan.

Ok, here it is. January 2009. If you’re anything like me, you know you’ve got to do something to get the phone to ring. We’ve all heard more than enough recession talk, now we’ve got to get busy and prevent our own recessions.

So where to start?

You know you should write a marketing plan, but the notion can be daunting. A little like your resolution to lose weight–you may start out with good intentions but they soon fall by the wayside.

So today in my inbox comes an email from Ilse Benun, the Marketing Mentor. She’s touting her newly updated package: 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar. She even has a version for startups and one for us veterans that makes it painless to create your plan and stay with it.

And, get this–every day for the next two weeks she’ll send you a 3-minute audio clip with a tip to help you keep your marketing on track.

Whew, I feel better already.

Check it out at marketing-mentor-store.com »

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Direct Mailers: An out of date list could cost you, big time!

You never know where a valuable marketing tip may come from. While I was perusing the November issue of The Costco Connection this sidebar story caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you:

Outdated mailing lists will cost you…

According to the article, the USPS wants to reduce the amount of undeliverable addressed mail which costs them about $2 billion every year.

The main cause? People on the move. (And in this year of rampant foreclosures, you can imagine.)

So, on November 23, 2008, the postal service is instituting new Move Update requirements to include all standard mail in addition to first-class mail, and also to shorten the minimum frequency of change-of-address processing from 185 days to 95 days prior to the date of mailing to be eligible for automation and presort discount rates.

Update or pay the price.

If you rely on mass mailings to market your product or services, make sure your list is clean and current.  If it is filled with bad addresses, you could miss potential customers and lose touch with customers who have moved. But that’s not all. If the USPS finds mail pieces that are noncompliant, like the rotten apple in the proverbial barrel, the entire mailing is considered noncompliant and you could be fined 7-cents for every piece in the mailing.

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Website content … does spelling really matter?

The Web, especially, is rife with typos, misspelled words, run-on sentences…but why should we care?

Simple. This real-life example explains it best. A copywriting client, who happens to be in the building trades, had a misspelled word on his truck. Instead of installation, it read instalation. A driver of another vehicle pulled up alongside him and said:

“I hope your work is better than your spelling.”

Yikes!

It’s all about how you present yourself to the world. Sloppy writing and spelling makes you look unprofessional, and you can’t always count on spell check for accuracy.

So do yourself a favor. Ask someone to proofread your work. A second set of eyes can spot errors before you publish and save you the embarrassment.

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Does your marketing message stand a chance?

These pearls of wisdom were uttered by Carlos Segura, an award-winning designer and founder and principal of Segura, Inc…

Communication that doesn’t take a chance, doesn’t stand a chance.

His words really hit home with me. Why? Because all too often businesses want to take the safe and familiar route in their marketing communications, a strategy that results in bland copy that doesn’t connect (i.e., stand a chance) with their audience.

In one of my favorite newsletters, The Monday Morning Memo, Roy H. Williams (aka The Wizard of Ads®) gave some examples of copy that didn’t connect. He’s talking about ads but his comments hold true for any marketing communications:

1. The ad was so predictable that few people even noticed it.

SOLUTION: Get a new ad writer or remove the handcuffs from the one you’ve got.

2. Prospective customers noticed the ad, received the message and understood it perfectly. They just didn’t care.

SOLUTION: Dump the irrelevant subject matter. Discover what people actually care about and talk about that instead.Good advice.

Before you unleash your next piece of written communication, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your copy free of technical jargon?
  • Is it written in a friendly, conversational tone?
  • Is it loaded with benefits, not just a list of features?
  • Does it reflect the personality of your company and set you apart from your competitors?
  • Does it take complicated information and make it easy to understand?
  • Does it talk about something your customer cares about?

Hopefully you answered yes to all of the above. If not, look back at point #1 above—hire a new writer or take the handcuffs off the one you’ve got.

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Case studies…and why you need them.

I recently co-authored an article for North Bay Biz magazine talking about the many benefits of case studies (or success stories, as I prefer to call them).

When you first hear the term, you may think: bo-ring. But think again.

What’s more compelling than the story of a challenge well met, a customer well served…especially when it’s told primarily from the customer’s point of view? They’re touting your services, not you, making it all the more believable.

One of the main benefits of using success stories as part of your marketing mix is their versatility.

That’s right, you pay a freelance copywriter once for a case study that you can repurpose in a myriad of ways.

For example, I am currently writing case studies for DriveSavers Data Recovery Services. This savvy client is adapting their success stories for use in press releases, trade show hand-outs, newsletter and ads. And oh, did I mention on their website? Not a bad ROI!

To learn more about this affordable, effective, multi-tasking marketing tool, check out my free report. Then think about your own success stories and how you can leverage them in your marketing materials.

Are you using case studies now? I’d love to hear how your business benefits from using this powerful tool.

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