Writing Effective Copy

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How can you or your company create a blog that outshines and outlasts every other blog? And how do you hypnotize readers to keep coming back? This article provides tips to write effective, attention-arresting blog copy and shows how you can develop reader and customer loyalty. As a teacher, I want to point out that many of these points can be used when writing speeches as well.

1. WRITE CONVERSATIONALLY.

The most engaging blogs speak to their audience in a casual and conversational tone. A big benefit of a blog is its ability to speak to readers in a way that is personal, candid and straightforward. Write your blog the same way you’d speak to your audience, face to face. The personal element is almost always what attracts people and keeps them coming back to your blog.

2. TELL STORIES.

Readers want to know things they already don’t know about your company. They want to know what the products, services, people, challenges, and innovations in your organization are really like. If you give them a glimpse of the inner workings, express your opinions boldly, and tell engaging stories, you will foster reader interest and loyalty. In a biography, both interviews and quotations usually are the most intriguing parts. Think of your company blog as a business biography. Personalize it with your unique thoughts and perspective.

3. MAKE IT PERSONAL.

Write about what you know. Draw from your expertise to tell the public about the finer points of your business. Detailing development ideas, setbacks, successes, and reactions reveals the human element and engages the reader. It’s fine to talk about new products and innovations, but blogs devoted mostly to marketing and promotion are the most boring and least popular of company blogs.

Make these topics more appealing to readers by framing such announcements with personal impressions and insights. Customers want to feel a kinship with the brand. Letting them in on the details of your business will make them feel part of your company culture and increase the chances of their lifetime loyalty.

4. UPDATE FREQUENTLY.

Once you have established a good reader base, offer new insights regularly to reward surfers for coming back. Not only does this offer more information and exposure, but it also reflects that your company is active and on top of things. Link to current articles from other sources to keep readers abreast of developments in your sector. A rarely updated blog feels stale and tired. This is not the reputation you want your company to have!

5. ADHERE TO COMPANY RULES.

You are personally responsible for whatever material you publish on your company blog. Respect the confidentiality of your organization and employees. Though you may express disagreements or concerns, do not make personal attacks or use the blog to air petty complaints. Do not reveal proprietary information; and avoid discussing revenue, share price, or other financial statistics.

Observe copyright law, and quote sources as you would in any other document. Make sure what you write in the company blog reflects the company’s goals. Keep in mind the goal of most company blogs is to increase visibility and promote the exchange of information. While most companies allow and encourage blogging on company time, you should avoid letting your writing time interfere with your regular workload.

6. WRITE GRAMMATICALLY.

Finally, make sure that what you write is grammatical. Your blog entries reflect your company’s image, and you want to give the best possible impression of the organization and its people. The Internet is rife with bad English. Though blogs tend to be relaxed in tone, it is also important to use standard English. Use a program like StyleWriter ( http://www.StyleWriter-USA.com ) or White Smoke ( http://www.WhiteSmokeSoftware.com ) to find and fix embarrassing grammar mistakes and help you write like a pro. As I have said in previous blog posts, there are also many free grammar, style, and spell-checkers available online (http://wp.me/p4wpJe-3I).

A blog is an excellent tool for promotion, communication, and information. The tips outlined here will help elevate your blog and generate traffic and interest. Good luck, and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging.

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(Business) Blog Web Design Mistakes

With more companies adopting blogs, we’re starting to see what works and what doesn’t work from a design perspective. As a cue from Jakob Nielsen’s article on the topic, here are problems I often find.

Bad headlines: They’re frustrating. Some bloggers like to get creative, but creativity can affect search engine keyword opportunities. The important thing is that readers have a hint of what the post is about. I hate it when a headline is deliberately misleading.

Links: Readers like to know where links take them and most of us rely on the status bar, but sometimes that doesn’t help. Some experts say to use “click here” to help those who are newer to the Web and others say that’s wrong, wrong, wrong. It just depends on the content. When linking, try to pick the best words that give readers an idea of what to expect.

Bad Navigational Tools: I almost always resort to search when I want to find postings no longer on the home page. Unfortunately, some blogs don’t have a search option. That’s why I put the archive links in my sidebar. As my site goes through redesign, I’m making sure the archives are accessible, and placing them into the individual category page sections, too. Some bloggers will say that have a search tool is a bad idea, I will leave the final decision up to you.

Bloggers must be regular:  When a blog looks abandoned for a month, your audience is gone. They’ll take you off their feed reader and blogroll. If you plan to do it again or to take a long sabbatical, prepare to start over again when you return. But more importantly, let your readers know what you are doing. Let them know you are taking a break, or quitting altogether. Delete your blog if you are not going to use it.

Keep the boss in mind, even if you’re the boss:  Always blog with a boss in mind. Will your boss (current and future) be offended by your posts? Not only do people get fired for their blogs, but they could also cost job offers. It has become custom practice for HR managers to Google applicants while going through the interview process.

Bad Links: If you are going to add a link to another blog or webpage, make sure that it works. Enough said.

Blogging has many benefits and problems. Businesses need to tread carefully when entering into this world. It’s wise to have policies on the approval process and what can and can’t be said. Like anything else in a business, blogs need to be evaluated to decide whether they fit the business’ model. There are many new companies out that will write and post to your blog(s) via email for a minimal daily or monthly fee. Take a look at Constant Contact, Aweber, iContact, VerticalResponse, Hubspot, and similar companies that offer marketing and subscription services for your business.