Viewing all posts by Amy C. Teeple.

Don’t just get customers – keep them

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-cell-phone-business-laptop-over-open-blue-space-image22896233You’ve most likely seen offers from cable companies, mobile phone carriers, and internet providers that promise amazing value and service.

But what happens if you are already a customer and you want to get these deals? Typically you hear, “No. These are for new customers only.”

So much for rewarding loyalty!

Is your content marketing strategy the phone company?

Do your website and social media plan only focus on leads and not on your current customers?

This is a big mistake.

You are missing a great opportunity. According to Marketing Metrics, it is approximately 50% easier to sell to existing customers than it is to sell to brand new prospects.

New customers aren’t the only ones you should be wooing. Addressing the needs of your current customers – and rewarding them for loyalty when you can – has the potential to increase your sales (with less work).

There are easy ways to show your customers you care about them

In addition to offering your current customers the same pricing options (or even better ones) that you offer to new ones, you can continue to court your current customers through your content marketing.

Here are just a few of the simple ways you can market to your current customers:

  • Dedicate a section of your website to address issues for current customers (offer guides, FAQs, customer service options, etc.)
  • Keep customers up to date through e-newsletters (make sure customers opt in)
  • Invite conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
  • Include blog posts that current customers can connect with
  • Announce customer-only sales/offers

Don’t forget about your customers and they won’t forget about you.

How do you court your customers?

 

Photo credit: ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Baby, it’s cold outside … or is it?

Petersburg2008 110The other day, my iHeartRadio app alerted me that it just added a playlist that was “perfect for staying warm on a snow day.”

That’s great, except I live in San Diego and it reached 80 degrees that day.

I know that I am in the minority when it comes to weather in the country. (I’m also sure that many of you are probably cursing me right now.) However, this situation got me thinking about tailoring your message.

Yes, it makes sense to appeal to your main demographic (in this case, the chunk of the country dealing with cold weather), but it would have had a bigger impact on me if I had been alerted (based on the location listed in my profile – or from whatever location tracking I inadvertently agreed to when I signed up) that they had added a playlist that was “perfect for enjoyable, enviable weather.”

Do you have more than one target demographic?

Who are you writing for? Your ideal customer is not everyone, but you can have more than one target market.

If you are trying to reach more than one group, you need to have web pages for each segment of your target audience.

Start broad then narrow it down

Your home page should feature your overarching message and tone. It should also let people know they are in the right place. However, your home page should also act as a funnel that directs visitors to the pages that speak directly to them.

If your target market includes different specific niches, you need a page that addresses the needs for each niche.

For example, a dentist may have a practice that offers family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. On one hand, you need to address the concerns of parents looking for an affordable dentist who takes their insurance and has a good reputation working with kids. On the other hand, you need to target people with a bit more disposable income, who are willing to invest in cosmetic dental work. These are two completely different markets and should have their needs addressed separately.

Winter in San Diego

Winter in San Diego

You can’t please them all

While you won’t be able to address specifically each person who comes to your website, you can appeal to your main markets.

Take some time to really discover who your target markets are. Find out what connects these markets. Address these similarities on your home page.

Then, find out what makes these markets different. Is it:

  • Location?
  • Occupation?
  • Family status?
  • Income level?

Use this information to address the unique needs of these markets when you write your target-specific pages. By using this technique, you can better connect with your customers and see your conversions increase.

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The trick to web writing: White it out

WhiteboardWhen you sit down to write a web page, what’s your M.O.?

Do you just sit down and write? If you do, you may find yourself getting off topic or stuck trying to get all of the elements on the page to flow.

All I have to say is, “White it out.”

Add a visual, don’t take it away

By “white it out,” I am not referring to the product Wite-Out (or whatever version you use). No, I don’t want you to erase something; I want you to add something.

When I have to write web pages, I turn to my whiteboard. Depending on the project, I may just sketch an outline of one page at a time or I may craft a website’s navigation on the whiteboard.

Many times, it is just the simple act of writing headings for the page. By doing this on the whiteboard, I can visualize which section or topic should go where and how to connect each section. Then, when I start to write, my ideas flow more easily and my writing time is trimmed without sacrificing quality.

Write, sketch, plot – whatever works for you

Personally, I like the whiteboard because it allows me to not only visualize things, but also to easily move things (dry-erase markers rule).

However, you don’t have to use a whiteboard. You can sketch your ideas on a notebook page. You can type it out in Word. You can even use mind mapping software.

Whatever method you choose, the point is to plan. The simple act of outlining your page before you write will make the writing process smoother.

Do you have a method that helps you when planning your page? I’d love to hear it – please share it below in the comments.

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Make a date with your content

Make a DateThese days, distractions are everywhere. One of the biggest culprits is your smartphone. Texts, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, games, YouTube, news updates, and numerous apps all distract you throughout the day.

It seems that these things have become more than a distraction. You may feel as though you are missing out on something if you are not constantly checking your updates.

However, if you are constantly looking at your phone, what you may be missing is life.

Phone-free date night

A couple I know realized that when they went out, they were each paying more attention to their phones than to each other. To combat this, they decided to incorporate a phone-free date night once a week.

On these nights, phones disappear and they spend a few uninterrupted hours just focusing on each other. The evenings have been a great success and are something they now look forward to each week.

Take your content on a date

Have you ever been writing only to have your flow interrupted by the chiming of an email notification or the ringing of the phone? Most likely you have.

Even if you don’t answer the phone or check that email, you have become distracted and your rhythm has been interrupted.

You can avoid this by making a date with your content.

Set aside 30 minutes, an hour, or however long you want to work on a project without interruption. Make it part of your schedule.

Then during that time, turn off any potential distractions. Turn off your phone (or at least put it on silent and put it in a drawer). Turn off your Outlook notifications. Use a website blocker (like LeechBlock for Firefox, Focus Booster, or Nanny for Google Chrome) to keep you from wandering onto sites like Facebook. Whatever you need to do, do it!

Allowing yourself this uninterrupted, quality writing time will increase your productivity and boost your creative juices.

Go ahead. Be bold. Ask your content out on a date.

 

Photo credit: ID 7356459 ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Take your content marketing to the Super Bowl

footballIf you follow the NFL, you know that the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are in the Super Bowl. And, you most likely know who is not in the Super Bowl: the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots.

For this post, I want to focus on the Broncos and the Patriots; the two teams who played each other for the AFC Championship and the chance to go to the Super Bowl.

New England was playing without one of their key offensive players: Rob Gronkowski. How key was Gronkowski? Let’s look at how the Patriots ranked in the league this past season:

  • Scoring in the Red Zone (within the 20-yard line): with him: 4th; without him: 30th
  • Passing yards: with him: 3rd; without him: 19th
  • Gaining first downs: with him: 2nd; without him: 16th

Not having him on the field definitely affects the team’s effectiveness … and may have cost the team their shot at the Super Bowl. Although there was an entire team, one player made such an impact.

Speaking of one player making an impact, you don’t have to watch football to know who Peyton Manning is. The quarterback for the Broncos is definitely an impact player. In fact, when he was the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts when he was injured for a season, the entire team seemed to fall apart.

The Colts learned the hard way that you couldn’t put all of your hopes in one player. The Denver Broncos built a team around Manning, but they made sure they had a solid team with other diverse and strong players.

You need more than one strong player

When it comes to your content marketing, don’t put all of your efforts in one place. If you want to take your marketing “to the big game,” you need a solid team.

As you have seen, Google is constantly updating its algorithm. If you’re thinking, “But Amy, Google likes X,” stop it! There are a lot of things that Google once “loved,” but now the search engine actually penalizes you for. Remember:

Those tactics worked great for a while, but companies who relied on one of these ended up paying the price when Google updated its algorithm – plus they were probably already losing conversions thanks to bad copy.

Build a diverse team for your content marketing

Even if you have a solid player, like customer-focused quality content, you need to have a full content marketing team. I’m not talking about people; I’m talking about strategies.

You can stop worrying about Google updates if – in addition to superior content that targets your specific audience – you have a:

With a strong team and just not one star, you can take your content to Super Bowl levels.

 

Photo credit:  American Football ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Lay off on the butter … and the keywords

256px-Bowl_of_melted_butterChances are you have seen (and possibly used) spray butter. You know, the “butter” (and I use the term lightly) that is in liquid form, allowing you to spritz your food. This gives you the butter taste without the calories.

When I have used it, I may give it an extra spray or two, but for the most part, I use it as instructed. That doesn’t mean everyone does.

At dinner one night, I watched a family member (whom shall remain nameless) unscrew the top and pour the liquid on vegetables. It seemed to defeat the purpose to me – and it was a bit of overkill.

Keywords and spray butter: A little goes a long way

Are you using your keywords like a certain someone uses spray butter? Don’t just unscrew the lid on your terms and pour them into your copy.

Just like spray butter, keywords need to be used sparingly to be most effective.

“Writing for Google” isn’t about overkill (anymore)

There was a time that some SEO copywriters felt as though they needed to stuff their copy with keywords to make Google happy. It may have provided traffic at one time, but your conversion rate probably suffered.

After Hummingbird (and other Google updates), quality content is more important than ever. Stuffing keywords isn’t going to get you higher ranking in the SERPs.

The secret is simple

It’s really not a secret.

When it comes to SEO copywriting, you can make Google and your clients happy if you follow these techniques:

Don’t overdo it. Use your keywords correctly and you can strike the right balance between ranking well and increased conversion.

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Sing to your customers

SingHave you ever listened to the lyrics of a song and thought, “I feel like that song was written about me”? I don’t mean in a Carly Simon You’re So Vain sort of way. I mean the words are so relatable to your life, you feel like the songwriter was thinking about you.

Unless you personally know the songwriter (or if you are famous), odds are that the song isn’t about you. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it resonates with you and it evokes emotions whenever you hear it.

Your marketing copy – whether online, in print, or in another medium – needs to have this same effect.

Add emotion to your writing – no matter the product/service

There are certain services or products that may seem to lend themselves to reaching people on an emotional level:

  • Childcare
  • Marriage counseling
  • Family photo packages

But what if you have to write marketing copy for “emotionless” products or services like:

  • Plumbing services
  • Garage doors
  • Office supplies

You can still reach your customers on an emotional level … which is what you need to do to be successful. After all, even B2B purchases are made (to a certain degree) based on emotions.

Take these steps to successfully reach your customers

By taking a few extra steps, you can reach your potential customers’ emotions. Here’s how.

Step 1: Embrace your USP

What makes you stand out from your competition? (Hint: it’s not “good customer service.”) Discover and embrace your unique selling proposition (USP).  Your USP should be something that provides your clients with a benefit that your competition doesn’t offer.

Step 2: Know your customer

Who is your ideal client? If you answered, “Everyone,” then you are wrong. Yes, you may have more than one target market, but you should not try to reach everyone.

Before you can write for them, you need to truly know your audience. Take the time to create a customer persona, so you know who you are writing for.

Step 3: Address your clients’ pain points

Once you know what you have to offer (your USP) and who your ideal client is, it’s time to focus on your clients’ pain points and what you can do to address them. Pain points are issues your clients have that you or your product can solve.

Make sure your marketing copy highlights these pain points and how you fix them. For example, FedEx was able to provide a delivery service that guaranteed reliable, quick delivery of packages. It focused on business people who needed their packages delivered the next day. It promoted this with: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

By taking a little bit of extra time, your website can be the song that reaches your customers’ emotions. Write that song and your website visitors will become your biggest fans.

Photo credit:  Young man in green t-shirt sing a song ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Go jump in the ocean! Better yet, take a flying leap!

Jumping in the ocean on New Year's DayIt’s my first post of 2014. I can’t believe we are a week into the year already. Let me wish you a belated happy New Year!

Now that we got that out the way, let me tell you to go take a flying leap!

Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m not telling you off; I’m offering inspiration.

Clean the slate

2013 wasn’t the best year for me (although it definitely had some good highlights). Just a few low moments included:

  • Breaking my nose
  • Ending my 10-year marriage
  • Having to dramatically cut my business to part-time and get a 9-to-5 job
  • Putting on a bunch of the weight I had previously took off (and kept off for several years)

I highlighted other not-so-great moments and some positive outlooks in my Not another thankful post, if you were curious.

Needless to say, I was ready to move on from 2013 and wanted to embrace 2014. I felt as though I was digging myself out of hole and needed to just give myself a new starting point.

I saw 2014 as that new starting point.

A little less talk and a lot more action

In my last post of 2013, I discussed setting goals instead of making resolutions. A couple of years ago, Heather outlined the same strategy, but got more in depth with how to apply this to your content marketing goals.

So once you set your goals, how do you flip the switch? Is having the goal enough to change your behaviors? Not always.

Sometimes you need to conquer your fears in order to make the next move.

Make it dramatic, if you have to

Some people can just make a decision then take action. Other people need to be guided through the process (read: dragged into change). And still other people just need something to spark the change.

I like that spark – even if it is symbolic.

SkydivingSeveral years ago, when my life needed a shakeup, I jumped out of an airplane. That year, I quit a job that I hated and started my freelance copywriting business. It was freeing and wonderful. Jumping out of the plane was the symbolic change I needed.

To kick off 2014, I jumped into the ocean (dove in head first) on New Year’s Day. It was my way to wash off all that I didn’t want from 2013, so I could start 2014 clean.

Things didn’t magically change with diving in that ocean, but I had the spark I needed. In less than a week from jumping in the ocean, I ran a 5k (I haven’t been running in months!) and I joined a gym (with a gym partner to keep me motivated).

Where’s your spark?

What’s it going to take to get you moving? What can you do that will get you motivated and excited to take that first crucial step? Whatever it is – whether it is symbolic or a concrete step (like renting an office space) – go for it.

Make 2014 your year to shine! Happy New Year!

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Be SMART and scrap the resolutions

Happy New Year

As 2013 winds down, you may find yourself reflecting on the good and bad of the past year, and looking forward to 2014.

‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions.

As you sit down to create your resolutions, my advice to you is DON’T DO IT!

Resolutions are too easily broken

There is a good chance that at some time in your life, you started the year with proclamations like:

I am going to get healthy and lose weight.

I am going to be more organized and focused.

I am going to be more successful in my business.

These are all wonderful ideas, but if you are like most people who make resolutions, you were not successful.

It’s not that you didn’t want to be successful. You just didn’t set yourself up for success.

Want to succeed? Be SMART

Instead of making resolutions this year, you should create SMART goals. This means creating goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

By creating specific and measurable goals, you can better craft a plan to attain them. Determine exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. Don’t say, “I want to be more successful.” Instead say, “I want to increase profits 20% by a combination of increasing my prices by 10% and following up with five past clients each month to produce one additional project each month.”

Take the first step

Before you can create your goals, you need to figure out what it is you want to achieve. When it comes to your business, you may want to:

Once you know what you want to do, start creating your SMART goals. To further help you stay on track with your goals – especially if you are a freelance copywriter – enlist the help of a friend or colleague. Tell them your goals and ask them to check in with you regularly, so you are accountable to someone.

Whatever you want to achieve, I wish you luck … actually, you don’t need luck if you plan properly. Here’s to proper planning!

Happy New Year!

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I can’t read this

blurryThis isn’t something that I want to admit, but I need new glasses.

Each day, I find that I’m squinting more often trying to see something. This week, I haven’t been able to read the directions on the bottle of cold medicine, which I so desperately needed to take.

The thing is, I should have visited the eye doctor a few years ago … okay, more like five years ago. I thought my eyes were fine, so I put it off.

Well, they aren’t fine and, I probably need to invest more money now (need to get several new pairs, instead just one and have more tests) than if I had gone to the optometrist when I was supposed to go. Plus, I have been dealing with the fact that I can’t see well.

Perhaps you have done this, too. Maybe you haven’t done it with your eyes, but with your car or your teeth. Routine maintenance can save you from an expensive overhaul down the line.

Chances are you’ve done this with your website, too.

Tweaking for the New Year

Don’t wait until:

It’s easier – and more cost effective – to make ongoing minor adjustments instead of undertaking a major content overhaul.

You can baby-step your way into a content development program. As things wind down at the end of the year, start to plan your strategy for next year by:

Do you have other ideas to save time and money with regular updates instead of a major overhaul? Please let me know in the comments … hopefully I will be able to see them. (Guess I need to make that eye appointment.)

 

Image credit: ©  | Dreamstime.com

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