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As a copywriter, I’m much more motivated by words than video.  I’d rather read a book than watch TV.  As a result, I didn’t understand how video motivates website visitors.  What better way to find out than to ask the questions.  So, a big thank you to the 126 people who took part in our website video survey.

Click on the graph images to enlarge.

Age range of respondents

Anyone involved in marketing (and copywriting is an integral part of the marketing process) can’t afford to let personal preferences colour their judgement.  To do so would be to miss valuable opportunities. There is nothing quite so risky or damaging as taking the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ approach.  Marketers must keep up with developments and embrace change.

The survey was not a huge sample, but considerably more than I expected to achieve.  And it must be said, it generated a bigger response than some of the popular brands which advertise on TV (67% of 89 people who use this shampoo, etc.).

Please note, the survey was created to help us understand visitor behaviour. The SEO benefits of video were not disputed.

What we wanted to know:

•    Does age have a bearing on people’s attitudes?
•    Does the person’s occupation influence their perception of video?
•    Are people now more interested in video than written website content?
•    If faced with a video and words on a site, what would the visitor do first?
•    What sort of video content is the most popular?
•    What video format is most popular?

Age

From our analysis, the age of the visitor had little bearing on the results of the survey.  I will admit to being surprised by this!  Overall, the majority of respondents were aged between 31 and 59 and 10% were over the age of 60 and 12.6% under 30.

Occupation

Again, I was surprised to see the respondent’s occupation had little influence on the overall results.  The two exceptions were those in the sales and marketing sector and people involved in video production.

However, the supplementary answers suggested this was because both groups had a vested interest in their marketing strategies and watching videos helped them understand the competition.

Videos streaming automatically

Videos streaming automatically when a site opens got a big thumbs down.  71% said they would either turn the video off or leave the site.  19% stated they would watch the video, but this figure was influenced by those involved in marketing and video production.

Video streaming automatically

Reading website content vs. watching video

Wearing my copywriter’s hat, I was delighted to see 81% of respondents said they would prefer to read than watch video.  However, that same percentage said it was the quality and value of the content which would influence their decision to watch the video.

Video content

This question looked at video content.  As you will see from the chart, informative ‘how to’ videos were the run-away winners in the content stakes.  Promotional and testimonial videos fared badly, with a large percentage saying they rarely or never watched them.

 

Video format

Overall, our results suggested conversation or interview formats and podcasts with voice-overs were of more interest than presenter videos.


Video turn-offs

The length of video, not surprisingly, appears to have a bearing on the audience, as does dull and boring content and poor quality.  The message is clear: keep it short, sweet and punchy!

A useful survey?

As far as we’re concerned, the considerable time spent on this survey has been valuable.  Clearly, it is not an authoritative study.  We’ve only polled a very small non-random sample, and we admit to being inexperienced researchers.  However, it has given us a valuable insight into video as a marketing tool and we hope you’ve found the results helpful too.

Who knows, in light of our findings, perhaps our next project will be a short podcast video on our survey results – watch this space!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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If I had £5 for every time someone said, “I don’t want a lot written – it’ll only take five minutes”, I would be rich.  The fact is no copywriter will attempt to write something as important as marketing copy in a few minutes.  If they profess to … I would seriously doubt their professionalism and standard of work.

Long copy or short copy?

Many people assume it takes a lot longer to write 500 words than it does to write 50 words.  Wrong!  It is much easier to write 500 words on a given subject than to summarise that message into 50.

Try it for yourself: write a twenty word sentence and then try to say exactly the same thing in four or five words.

Writing short copy needs economical use of words, command of the language and a great deal of skill.  It’s not something you can do in five minutes.

The copywriting process

Before starting writing, your copywriter needs to understand your business. That takes time.  If you engage your copywriter on an ongoing basis, they will of course become knowledgeable about you and your company, which speeds up this part of the process.

Your writer will also have to be briefed.  They must understand the ‘proposition’.  For example: they need to know the purpose of the copy, how and where it will be used, and who your target market is.  That takes more time.

With that information under their belt, your copywriter will move into the planning stage.  Everyone works in different ways.  Some writers will plan the copy on paper or make a list of the main points perhaps, while others map it out mentally.  Time-consuming research is often needed too.  How are we doing for time?  Is that five minutes up yet?

The next stage is actually writing the draft copy.  While an average typist will have a typing speed of around 40 words a minute, remember this is a  copy typing rate.  It does not allow for the creativity and time needed to craft powerful copy.

Once the draft copy has been written, it must be printed and checked.  The copywriter will check every word carefully to make sure it is correct, accurate and is delivering the right message.  Here at WORD-right, the copy is always checked by two different people.  That’s because when you try to proof something you’ve written yourself, you only see what you think you’ve written, not what is actually there.  Is the time up yet?

Next, the copywriter has to compose the email to you, attach the file and send it – OK that bit doesn’t take long!

Now it’s over to you: the client.  You might want some revisions.  So the copywriter goes back over the copy, ‘tweaks’ it, and the printing and checking stages are done all over again.

So even if you just want a short bit of copy, can you really expect anyone to do all that in five minutes?

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Baby cabbages

Tomorrow's lunch?

To get the best results from your marketing, as with your gardening, you have to work at it.  Growing a business is a lot like gardening … would you expect to plant some seeds today … and have cabbages for lunch tomorrow?  If only ….

The garden is your business; the plants are your customers; the flowers and fruit are your sales; and the weeds, slugs and other predators are your competitors!

Marketing your company, like gardening, takes planning, effort and imagination.  So how can you make ‘your garden grow’?

  • Prepare the ground: think about your branding & niche markets
  • Preserve the older, more mature plants:  look after your existing customers.  Making repeat sales to them is 5 times easier!
  • Condition the soil with lots of good organic material:  make sure your marketing material is well-written, ideally by a professional copywriter
  • Choose good quality seeds: invest in your marketing materials – they say everything about your business
  • Watch out for predators!  Did you know a slug has 27,000 teeth? Develop a USP (Unique Selling Point). Your competitors will!  There are a lot of slugs about!
  • Nurture your seedlings:  develop good customer service strategies
  • Water & feed regularly:  communicate with your customers.  Send them newsletters … drip feed them with information
  • Propagate your own plants: ask for referrals and work on your networking
  • Boast about your garden: think about PR, and make the most of your free opportunities
Vegetable harvest

Harvesting the fruits of your marketing?

Don’t forget your company’s marketing activities will be what your prospective customer or client will use to judge you.  While you should always present yourself in a positive light, don’t over do the ‘fertiliser’!

Marketing your business takes time.  Like your garden, you shouldn’t expect results overnight.  Your objective is to build solid, long-lasting relationships with your customers.  This way you can look forward to repeat sales, referrals, and a sound customer base.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

The price: what you pay a professional copywriter
The cost: the damage to your business if you don’t

As copywriters, we use an external proofreader to check all the writing we do for our clients.  This isn’t because we don’t know how to spell, or don’t understand grammar, it’s about maintaining professional standards and attention to detail.

When we run our Masterclass sessions or in our work with student writers, we stress how hard it is to proof your own writing.  You only see what you THINK you’ve written and it’s easy for mistakes to creep in.  It only takes a slip of the fingers or a misplaced apostrophe to create a mistake.

A post on the BBC website yesterday said poor spelling can have a significant impact on business, and is costing millions in lost sales.  The fact is – poor copywriting in general will cost you sales.

Unfortunately, few people realise the very tangible benefits of having professionally written copy.  There is a considerable difference between just being able to write and good copywriting.

Last year a new client was concerned about the performance of their website.  Despite paying for SEO services, it didn’t appear on any searches, even in their local area, and wasn’t bringing them any business.  We reviewed the site and it was obvious the problem was in the copy.  It was poorly written, didn’t provide a good visitor experience, and wasn’t optimised.  Less than two weeks after rewriting the copy, the site had shot to the top of Google and was generating business.  That’s the difference between being able to write and good copywriting!

While we use our wonderful proofreaderto check our clients’ copy, we don’t always send our own in-house copy to be checked.  That’s something we’re about to change.  Yesterday we found a glaring typo in the first line of our WORD-right newsletter!  No excuses – we both checked it more than once, but it still slipped through the net.  And that is, quite simply, unacceptable and it certainly won’t happen again.

We frequently see inaccurate copy which has been written by professional writers.  Because we know our copywriting service will increase your sales, we don’t take any chances.

Now we’re going to make sure we do the same for ourselves.  So it’s time to wind up this post and send it off to our proofreader!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Having recently celebrated WORD-right’s 5th birthday, we’ve spent some time thinking about the last five years.

Like many people who venture into life as a full-time copywriters, I had several illusions which were quickly shattered.  My plan was to work like mad through the winter months.  In the summer I would work part-time … sitting outside with a long cool drink and a laptop, creating compelling copy in the sunshine.  The reality check started on 4th July 2006!

Real life copywriting

A copywriter’s life is fascinating, sometimes stressful, but never dull.  Because we work from home, we are seldom off duty and frequently speak to and see clients in the evening, as well as during the day.  Deadlines must be met and we often burn the midnight oil to complete a rush job.

The past five years have been a roller-coaster ride.  We moved from Sussex to Chipping Norton, with a two month stay in Portsmouth in-between.  Not many businesses can boast launching in three different counties in their first nine months!

Mine of information

In my opinion, a copywriter must have a thirst for knowledge.  This is an essential attribute if you are going to become a freelance writer.  Some of our more ‘eclectic’ copywriting subjects have included Santa’s Grottos and Christian Healing!

We were fascinated to learn how Pringles tubes were made.  Writing about alpaca breeding provided a firm footing for a dog breeder’s website.  I’m now almost an authority on beauty treatments thanks to Serenity at Sibford, and The Cutting Edge in Banbury is educating us in the art of hairdressing.  And have you any idea how many different types of hairdressing scissors you can buy?  We didn’t before we met the Scissor Man!

The delights of freelance copywriting

Apart from satisfying our desire for knowledge, our greatest pleasure has come from working with a host of amazing people.  We tend to work with our clients on an ongoing basis, several of whom have been with us since 2006.  Each business is unique and the people working in these businesses are hard-working and inspirational.

As well as clients, we work alongside other professionals who help us deliver our service.  A special thank you must go to our pernickety proof-reader who has been making sure our every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed for the past two years.  In our opinion, every copywriter needs a Proof Fairy!
So you want to be a copywriter?  Recommendations …

We are frequently contacted by would-be copywriters looking for advice.  If this is you, here are some of our recommendations:

  • Be prepared to work long, often unsociable hours – the job isn’t over until the deadline’s met
  • Give your clients 150% and then some more – remember who pays your wages
  • Learn your craft, never stop learning and pay attention to detail
  • Keep up-to-speed with everything going on – technology doesn’t stand still and nor should you
  • Don’t forget your work-life balance – copywriters need days off too!

Finally … if you dream of sitting in the sun writing, invest in a large garden umbrella … or you won’t be able to see the screen on your laptop!

What the future holds for WORD-right

WORD-right’s services have evolved over the past five years.  We added WEB-right, our small business website package, to the mix in 2009.  In 2011, we launched our Copywriting Masterclasses.  This year we have also gone ‘International’, working for an interesting combination of overseas companies.

Because we are passionate about the power of the written word, we want to help encourage more talented writers make a career in copywriting.  That project is already in the pipeline.

And of course, most importantly, we will be continuing to work with our client companies.  Thank you to them all.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

As a copywriter, I’m passionate about communication.  Remember the old adage which says, ‘businesses don’t plan to fail, but many fail to plan’?  My take on this is businesses should plan to communicate, and effective communication can solve many a business problem.

I was pleased to meet a local small business marketing expert called Jez Hunt through Twitter, and it was an article on his blog which prompted me to write this one.  His message (and ours) is that marketing isn’t rocket science … marketing doesn’t need deep pockets, and there is a great deal you can do to promote your business, simply by communicating with people.

Let me tell you a story … a few years ago I was attending the local rugby club’s junior section AGM … and jolly boring it was too!  The club had several problems:

  • Not enough children playing
  • Not enough income
  • Not enough coaches

After an hour of lengthy discussion they were still going round in circles, and I couldn’t hold my tongue any longer.  Couldn’t they see the answer was simple?  Start communicating!  Reach out to the local community.  Recruit more children … they come as a package deal with parents (potential coaches) … more children would mean more membership ‘subs’ … problem solved!  What was difficult about that?

So we produced flyers which were distributed through the schools, the coaches ran ‘taster sessions’ in the schools, we put up posters, we got coverage in the local press, and we contacted old members.

Just 3 months later, several new coaches were being trained and the club coffers started to fill up.  And I knew the problem was solved when the under-7 coach took me to one side and hissed … “Will you please stop!  I’ve got 27 b***** kids round there and I don’t know what to do with them all!’

There are a lot of businesses out there with similar problems:

  • Need more customers
  • Need more sales
  • Need more income

Sound familiar?  So how many ways could you communicate with people to solve your problems?  Do you communicate with your existing customers, or do you abandon them and move on the next hot prospect?

Why not try this communication lark for yourself and see what happens?  My guess is you’ll be surprised at just how simple and effective it really is.

Now … how about bringing the kids along to rugby on Sunday …

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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