No-Brainer Web and Email Communication Essentials David Kuhns, Director of Marketing and Communications, Blue Sphere Labs; Senior Writer & Web Content Consultant, www.cyranowriter.com Maybe this is a rant, not an article on web and email writing and communications. Is it a white paper? You decide. It will be short. Direct. To the point. And answer the question: What marketing and writing basics did I forget in my email or web page TODAY?
• • • • •
The changing face of copywriting Copywriting is a funny business. I’ve been a writer and editor of print and web content since Al Gore invented the Internet. Web content and emails are getting: Shorter More punchy Focused on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) More direct Hyper audience-focused I hope your emails and website copy reflects those communication ideals. It’s a start. Here’s the problem: forgetting basic communication skills In our web content and emails, we forget basic communication principles proven during CENTURIES of Direct Mail marketing. There are two key customer-focused communication questions that many websites and emails don’t answer: What are you telling me? How do I contact you?
Simple, right? Yet 70% of the websites and emails I get DON’T answer those questions. I think the web is sucking out our minds. Here are communication examples and best practice solutions: 1. “What are you telling me?” – website. Do you go to a website page and it says “About Jill” or “Being Happy” or “Improve Your Life”? What you’re telling me? Instead, how about “Using [my product or service feature] to [benefit #1], [benefit #2], etc.” (Note: This also has HUGE search engine optimization benefits.) 2. “What are you telling me?” – email. How many times do you get an email that says “No Subject” or “Re:_________”? If I’m expecting that email from RichG, I’ll know what it’s about. But 2 days later, when I want to reference it, how will I find it? Use the subject box. Subject: “Re: White paper workshop + Kuhns’ case study thoughts.” 3. “How Do I Contact You?” - website. I would never give out a business card that just said: “David Kuhns, Web Content Writer” without my email and phone number on it. But our websites do that every day. Your customer is on your website. They want to contact you. Tell them how on every page. Don’t make them click “Contact us” to get that information there. Top page,
bottom page, side bar, wherever: Every page should have your email (with a hot link) and phone information. 4. “How Do I Contact You?” – email. How many times have you received an email that says: “Call me.” and you look at their auto signature and it only says “Dave Kuhns”? So you scroll down through ALL the emails in the chain, until you find the original email with their signature on it. UNLESS the emails are truncated… then you have to go through your contact list, where MAYBE you’ll find them. Don’t make your customer work. It’s pretty simple: “Dave Kuhns, 206-605-2022, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.cyranowriter.com”. 5. “How Do I Contact You?” – white papers, case studies, marketing collateral. Have your contact information – including your name, phone number, and email – on EVERY page of your white paper, research report, case study, marketing collateral. Put it in the footer. Remember: If this is printed out, front and back pages get lost all the time. How do they contact the person (you) who wrote the brilliant paragraph that everyone is copying and quoting on page 3 of your white paper? 6. “How Do I Contact You?” – web video and social media. Web video newsletters, YouTube, Veoh, WordPress blogs, etc. are the rage. The other day I got a video from a friend of a friend of an associate, etc., etc. It was a GREAT business video – and NOWHERE on it was ANY contact information! I have no idea how to contact the person on it. It’s easy to imbed contact information onto your web-based viral video, blog, or other social media. Don’t forget. 7. “What are you telling me?” / How Do I Contact You?” – telephone. While technically NOT web-based, phone messages still drive me crazy. The other day I got a phone from a lady with a very sultry voice. “Dave, I so enjoyed our chat yesterday. Call me!” Chat about what? What about her phone number? Withheld on my cell phone screen. [Note: Call me! 206-605-2022.] Maybe this is simplistic. But look at your emails and web content. Do they answer those questions: • What are you telling me? • How do I contact you? If they don’t – fix them. And, while you’re at it, see if you can answer those questions better. And now I’ll eat my own dog food! Dave Kuhns is Seattle-based writer, editor, and social media MarCom consultant. He loves writing and editing web content, and specializes in “local search optimization” at Blue Sphere Labs, teaching Do It Today Workshops at www.DoitTodayWorkshops.com. Reach him at (206) 605-2022, at email@example.com, and at www.cyranowriter.com.