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Archive | February, 2017

Making It Easy for Customers To Choose You

Isn’t it frustrating? All you need is a new computer desk (or whatever you may be currently shopping for), but you can’t make a decision you’re comfortable with. It shouldn’t be this hard, should it? What’s holding you back? Probably lack of information.

Here’s something every web site owner should know. When visitors come to your site, they are looking for a reason to buy from you. Think that’s stating the obvious? You’d be surprised! I come across countless sites every day that do everything but give the visitor a reason to buy, subscribe, click, call or otherwise take action. It’s a fatal mistake in any business, but it’s especially damaging for web-based companies.

Let’s continue with our example of buying a computer desk. You start with the big three office-supply stores. You click the “office furniture” link, and you’re faced with a barrage of links to pages about lamps, printer stands, bookshelves and more. Then you get to the desks. Computer desks, desk collections, metal desks, workstations… geez! There are lots of links, but no information. Finally, after drudging through pages of links, you find some actual copy that describes a desk you think you might want.

You look over the features. You write down the price. You gather the shipping or delivery information. Great! Now, on to the next site.

When you arrive, everything looks almost the same except the logo. Same navigation, same links, same inventory, same prices. The shipping amount is the same, and the delivery policy is identical to the site you just came from. As you click from site to site, it’s like déjà vu. How are you supposed to make a decision to buy when all your options are equal? What will be the determining factor between site A and site B?

If you’re feeling frustrated just reading this scenario, imagine how your site visitors feel. When they come to your site, they are looking for a clear reason to buy from you instead of all the other sites. Do you give them a reason? Do you give them several reasons?

If all factors are equal – even if all factors are similar – your visitors will find it difficult to make a decision. When they start guessing at which site would be best to buy from, you start losing business. Maybe they’ll choose you, maybe they won’t. There is a way to ensure you are chosen over your competition. You have to clearly point out how you are different or better than every other option available.

MarketingExperiments.com recently published their findings in regards to differentiating your company from others. They reported that most companies – when asked what their most unique aspect was – answered, “Our great customer service.” I have bad news for you. That won’t cut it. Why? Because, in most cases, when customers are visiting sites to gather information and make purchasing decisions, they won’t come in contact with your customer service department. It would be a nonissue until something went wrong.

Also, since most businesses are claiming excellent customer service, it’s an overused promise that has begun to carry less and less weight. You need something solid. You need something that is persuasive. If I were standing in front of you and told you that I was considering buying my desk from you or from Vendor Z, what would you say to convince me to buy from you? Here are some things to consider when trying to discover ways to differentiate yourself from other businesses.

· Offer free shipping (on all orders or on orders over a certain amount)

· Increase your inventory
· Decrease your inventory and only carry specialty items

· Lower your prices

· Raise your prices (works well for premium goods & services)

· Increase your area of expertise (for service-based businesses)

· Specialize or narrow your niche

· Achieve ratings or rankings from well-known associations or organizations

· Apply for a patent

· Win awards

· Offer a customer loyalty program

Conduct an online survey of your visitors to ask what they want. (SurveyMonkey.com is great for this.) Look back over your complaints and other feedback for ideas about how to set yourself apart. Email existing customers (if you have their permission to do so) and ask them why they chose you. Whatever you do, don’t stay in a position where you are exactly the same as (or highly similar to) your competition. The chances are far too great you’ll get lost in the crowd.

Copywriting For An Online Audience

So what’s the big deal about copywriting for the Internet? It’s the same as any other form of copywriting isn’t it? In a word, yes. But in another word, no. Confused? Sick of all these questions? I had better myself explain then.

No matter what medium you are using, all copywriting should have one prime objective – create an effective message that appeals to the audience it is intended to influence. This golden rule applies to websites, brochures, and sales letters, even adding a nice message to Grandma’s little pink birthday card. However, the Internet presents a number of unique challenges for a copywriter, even if the people reading your sales letters are the same ones reading your website.

Think about it for a minute. Do you read on the Internet the same way you read on paper? Not for long. First of all, there are comfort factors such as the monitor resolution, colours, glare, and a reading surface that doesn’t move. Secondly, we are conditioned to read websites in a different manner. Online, we are quite comfortable scanning sub-headings, clicking on hyperlinks, and jumping between pages.

Thirdly, the majority of people looking at your business website are there because they seek a service that you provide. After all, they made the effort to visit you didn’t they? The online reader can be impatient and demanding, and they usually know what they want before they click through he door. If your business doesn’t impress them straight away, it’s a quick tap on the keyboard to find someone who will. Even if you do provide the product or service they need, it doesn’t take much effort to duck into your competitors store for a browse around. Website copywriting is a bit like speed dating – you have to make a big first impression and leave them thinking “I bet we’d be good together”.

Readers of hard copy sales material don’t have the luxury to pick and choose, so they become somewhat of a captive audience. After all, it takes a lot more effort to call or visit your competitors business in the real world. In addition, a brochure could sit on a potential customers desk for months, staring at them with puppy dog eyes, day in day out, until one day the customer decides to make some enquiries.

With these unique challenges in mind, here are a few copywriting pointers to help make your website a lean, mean, highly effective, sales machine:

1. Snatch their attention from the first paragraph
Most visitors spent less than one minute summing up a website before they decide whether to stay or go. There is no time for waffling paragraphs about who you are, where you live, and how your wife makes the best apple pie. You have to get to the point as fast as you can. If you don’t convey your key message in the first few lines, don’t expect many people to be around to read them further on.

2. Short paragraphs
If you want people to read your website, forget the long descriptive, romantic prose about the salubrious ambience of your pulchritudinous offer. They will only think you are stercorous (take my word for it, you really don’t want to be). Short paragraphs are most effective on the web because they can be differentiated and skimmed at a glance. Visual layout is the key.

3. Make sure your copy flows
Reading online is straining enough. Flowing on from the point above, using jargon, formal language and/or trying to impress your audience with your knowledge of words containing more than ten letters will only make the reader irritated, frustrated and start to think about places or sites they’d rather be.

4. KISS
Remember the old adage Keep It Simple Stupid? Write as though your audience is a bunch of twelve year olds. Don’t sound patronising, but don’t assume they know anything about your business or what you do. They have arrived laden with buring questions, “What are you selling?” “Why should I choose you?” “Where are you?” “How can I get some of this?” “How much is it?”

5. Appropriately tempt your audience
A lot of hot and personal activity goes down on the Internet, but lets face it, the technology itself isn’t causing readers monitors to fog up. The content is what makes things exciting. The Internet itself is just an impersonal two-dimensional screen. Good copywriting might not always be intended to get the heart racing, but it must connect with your intended audience to break through this impersonal barrier. Maybe you need a little humor, sophistication, cold corporate speak, personal touch, or yes, even something racy.

Copywriting 101: How to Get Your Customers to Take Action

If you want people to buy, you gotta ask for the sale.

Truly, it is that simple. Yet I can’t tell you how many ads, Web sites, brochures, sales letters, etc. are floating around out there that aren’t asking.

So, what is a call to action? It’s telling people what action you want them to take. Typical calls to action include:

Hurry in today.
Buy now.
Call now.
Visit now.
Click here now.

Nothing terribly sexy, I agree. However, if you want to see an increase in your customers, leads, income, etc., this is an essential component.

But, you might be thinking, isn’t it obvious? Why else would you be running an ad if you didn’t want people to buy what you’re selling?

Good question. And it’s true, people do know (if they stop to think about it) that you would probably like them to buy from you.

However, the unfortunate truth is your potential customers aren’t going to spend that much time thinking about it. People have too much going on in their lives to spend very much time and energy on your business. If they do read your ad or promotional material and it doesn’t contain a call to action, they’ll likely say, “Oh, that’s nice” and go on to the next thing.

And even if they were interested in purchasing your offerings, they may not know what their next step should be. Do they pick up the phone? Go to a specific Web page? Visit a store? And if they don’t know what they should be doing, chances are they won’t do anything at all.

So you need to tell your potential customers what you want them to do. (Remember, people are busy, and if you don’t make doing business with you easy, they probably won’t do business with you at all.)

So, back to the above call to actions. Did you notice they all had something in common? The word “now” (or, in the case of the first one, “today”).

If people think they can buy from you anytime, they’ll say “oh, I can do this later.” And later rarely comes. You need to give them a reason to buy from you right now, while they’re interested. Adding the “now” or some other urgency or scarcity technique (maybe a limited time offer or few copies left statement) is a great way to push people into doing what you want them to do right now and not later.

While we’re on the topic of calls to action, I want to talk about one other type of advertising campaign where you rarely see calls to action. These are called branding campaigns. Typically they’re shown on national television by big corporations (MacDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, Target). In those instances, the businesses are building a brand that will cause you think of that business first when you’re interested in purchasing their products. For instance, when you’re hungry, you think MacDonald’s. You need new athletic shoes, you think Nike. You’re dying for that cup of joe, so you think Starbucks, etc.

While there’s nothing wrong with branding campaigns, they are tougher to track than campaigns with a specific call to action (Sale ends Saturday, call before Friday to receive your free gift, etc.) Those campaigns are also called direct response because you’re asking the customer to respond directly. Direct response campaigns can be tested, so you have a good idea what’s working and what’s not (and can tweak the campaign accordingly). And, if the campaign doesn’t require getting a salesperson involved (i.e. if the call to action is for the customer to whip out his wallet right there) the campaign will just run itself (and make money all by itself).

(One note: You do need to do more than add a call to action to have a strong direct response campaign, but that doesn’t negate the power a call to action can bring to your campaigns.)

Branding campaigns are nearly impossible to test, track and tweak. They either appear to work or don’t appear to work. And if they don’t appear to work, it’s very difficult to start tweaking to improve the response rate.

However, branding is still very, very important. As a business owner, you need a good brand and you need to communicate that brand effectively. And sometimes it makes sense to run a branding campaign.

However, my advice for most situations is to combine branding and direct response. Your brand is clearly communicated in your ads and promotional materials, but you also take advantage of some direct response techniques at the same time.

If nothing else, make sure you don’t forget the call to action.

Creativity Resources — Write Your Call to Action

Want to include a call to action in your promotional materials but don’t know where to start? Here’s an easy step-by-step formula:

1. Figure out your purpose for the ad or promotional material. Why are you running this ad, creating this Web site, printing this brochure? (And no, an acceptable answer is NOT because everyone else has one.) Is it to generate leads? Get your name out there? Get people to buy? Or what?

2. Now write it down.

3. That’s it. That’s your call to action. Whatever the end result you want for the campaign is what you should be asking people to do.

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