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How to Write Content That Actually Generates Leads

How to Write Content That Actually Generates Leads

It’s tough to be a businessperson in the digital age. While you might think that the Internet makes it a breeze to find loyal customers, the ease of communication between business and potential customer has made competition with other businesses tougher than ever.

Online lead generation is akin to fishing in the midst of thousands of other people hoping to catch the same fish as you are. To be effective, you must not only use the best bait, but you must also have the best tackle to reel in the catch.

In marketing terms, it’s  important to develop content for your website that draws people in and converts them into customers.

This, of course, is much easier said than done.

We developed this resource to give you some simple tips to instantly improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and conversions.

Since many start-ups and small businesses are new to the wonderful world of SEO, here is a brief introduction to the term. For more veteran content creators, feel free to skip down to the tips list below.

SEO refers to increasing your website’s visibility in search engine results (primarily Google) and thereby increasing traffic and (hopefully) sales.

Optimizing your website can get quite nuanced, but much of it has to do with useful and clear web copy and the appropriate use of headings and tags, which allow search engines to index the site more easily.

SEO (bait) and conversion rate (tackle) exist in unison. Content on your site should draw traffic to your site, but it should also motivate visitors to action.

The following are the top five must-haves for web content that converts:

1. High-Quality Content

When asked whether writing matters in blog posts, author and digital marketing expert Guy Kawasaki replied, “This is like asking if the quality of food in a restaurant matters. Writing is the primary determinant of the success of the post. Everything else—timing, graphics, frequency—is secondary.”

High quality doesn’t just mean that your posts are grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. A good blog post will be grammatically correct, but it will first and foremost be of use to your audience.

The Internet is already so full of content that if you are posting for the sake of posting, you are just adding to the noise. Listen to your audience and learn what they want to read about.

In addition to great writing, don’t forget to include great-quality graphics that supplement the main points of your post. This is especially important to get viewers of your post to click the preview on social media or the front page of your website.

2. Keywords

High-quality content will help you move up in the ranking of Google’s search results because the most valuable currency in SEO is trust.

However, great content, while necessary, won’t get you very far in terms of driving traffic to your site. To make your content visible in searches, you need to understand the importance of keywords.

Google’s Keyword Planner (available for free online once you create a Google AdWords account) is a great tool to help you understand what words and phrases your clients are searching for and incorporate those terms into your content.

3. Post Length

Another very important factor in SEO is the length of your posts, titles, and meta descriptions.

A good rule of thumb is that title tags should be 55 characters or less, while meta descriptions should be 155 characters or less.

The length of a blog post itself is a bit more variable, as optimal post length has long been debated by content marketers and SEOs. Keep in mind that the length of a blog post is really more about usefulness and trust than actual word count, and longer posts tend to have more detailed and reliable information.

However, as Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content, explains, “Ideally, you want to worry less about blog post length and more about being useful to your audience. If you can be useful in 300 words, go for it!”

4. Design

Generate Leads

While many web content how-to articles focus on writing (which makes sense), they often overlook the very important aspect of visual appeal.

You’ve done all this work to bring visitors to your site by producing trustworthy writing that contains well-researched keywords and is of optimal length, but you still aren’t meeting your lead generation goals.

The problem might be your website’s design. Our first impressions of websites are often subconscious, but there is no doubt that design and aesthetics play a major role in gaining a visitor’s trust.

Evan Bailyn, author of SEO Made Easy, puts it this way: “Websites are like commercial buildings: If you walk into one and feel surrounded by symmetry, calm, and beauty, you feel comfortable transacting with the business.”

5. Call to Action

This is perhaps one of the most important, and often forgotten, aspects of content writing. You are writing a post not only to provide your audience with useful information but also to educate them about your organization, product, or service.

The majority of business owners started their company because they believe their product can make a difference in the lives of others, whether by saving time, providing entertainment, or solving a common problem. Don’t forget that many of the people who clicked the link to your site could benefit from the products or services your company provides.

Within each blog post, and on each page of your website, make sure to reserve a specific section where you can place a button, link, or clear direction for the customer to follow to learn more about your company or to make a purchase. With blog posts, this typically occurs at the very end. Be sure that, wherever you place the call to action, it is related to the content of the page it is on.

By approaching SEO from the perspective of generating leads and customers—not just increasing traffic—you’ll be even more effective at harnessing the power of your website and blog, resulting in a measurable impact on your bottom line.

Image sources: Markus Spiske/Stocksnap.io, Jay Mantri/Stocksnap.io

How to Write a Blog

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The Comic Touch: How to Be Funny in Your Writing

A dog in a funny mask.

A dog in a funny mask.

Airplanes. Ben Affleck making a comeback after Gigli. Space travel. Women not just wearing—but totally rocking—pants on a regular basis. Justin Timberlake being taken seriously as an actor.

These are all things that people once thought highly unlikely, and maybe even impossible, yet they’re all totally accepted facts today.

The lesson here? There’s no such thing as impossible. If you put your mind to it and are willing to do the work, then gosh dang it, you can learn how to be funny.

But before we get into the how of writing humor, I’d like to delve into the why. The suspense of waiting for the how may very well kill you, I know, but what can I say? I’m a risk taker.

What are the benefits of writing humor into your story?

You may be wondering why incorporating humor into fiction and other types of creative writing is even important. You may think that learning how to be funny is secondary to learning how to tell compelling, dramatic stories.

The truth is, writing humor is important precisely because it helps create compelling and dramatic stories. Allow me to break that down into five easily digestible points that are sure to provide you with your daily dose of figurative fiber:

1. Humor can be used to give us a break from other more intense emotions.

You’ve surely heard the term “comic relief” tossed around before. Comic relief occurs when a comic scene or character appears in an otherwise tragic or serious tale. It gives the audience or reader a break from the intensity of the rest of the story.

Shakespeare is big on comic relief. Considering that his tragedies—like King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello, to name a few—always conclude with the violent deaths of most of the characters, you can see how some laughs might ease the tension a bit before the imminent bloodshed.

2. Writing humor can be satiric—it can work to highlight the absurdity of a real issue.

Sometimes writing about reality can be a hefty task. Explicitly stating what’s wrong with the world, with society, with your parents, or with your less-than-complete sense of self is not always the most effective or entertaining way to communicate your message. Plus, some topics are taboo—and as fun as it is to say taboo, what this word means is that you’re not really supposed to talk about certain things. Cue satire.

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is an astonishing example of satire. Heller uses satire to highlight the absurdity, the illogicality, the painful contradictions, and the nonsensical confusion experienced by soldiers fighting in a world war, as well as the chaos behind the concept of war itself.

Another example of tackling a taboo subject with satire is Oscar Wilde’s hilarious play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which highlights the contradictions between appearances and reality in English society in the late 1800s. In Earnest, deviations from convention are the only ways to escape a world in which believing something is enough to make it true. In the play, this is seen in Algernon’s “Bunburying,” which is widely interpreted as a metaphor for homosexual activity (which was illegal at the time and landed Wilde himself in prison).

3. Writing humor can help create an honest connection between the reader and the narrator or character.

Just as we love the “class clown” in real life, we tend to love funny characters in books. These are the kinds of people who, if they actually existed, would make my grandmother smile wryly and say, “Oh, that one’s a character all right!” I love that woman.

A great example of using humor in writing to help the reader relate to the story is John Dies at the End, a comic horror novel by David Wong. A truly absurd book from start to finish, this comic and sardonic narrative lets the reader inside the mind of the narrator, David. We get a solid grasp of his sense of humor (complete with grammar jokes about apostrophes and dangling modifiers, I might add), but we also get the inside scoop on the intense experiences and feelings he’s having.

Considering that David has unwittingly contributed to the opening of a portal to other dimensions, complete with gods of chaos and squiggly, creepy creatures, you could say he’s going through a pretty tough time. The humor in this book also helps us fall in love with David’s partner in crime, John, who to our relief—spoiler alert—does not actually die at the end.

4. Humor can be used as a contrast to tragedy, making the poignancy of more difficult emotions hit the reader even harder.

Dave Eggers masters the contrast of comedy with tragedy in his semi-fictional memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. This book is laugh-out-loud funny. It’s crawling with Eggers’ trademark wit and astute observations about the hilarity of everyday life. Filled with wild tangents and unconventional fourth-wall confrontations, this book is sure to keep most readers on their toes.

Did I mention both of Eggers’ parents die at the beginning of the book and that Eggers must then assume custody of his young brother? Eggers, with his fantastical blurring of fiction and reality, allows the reader to almost forget this. Then, quietly, he reminds us. The result? We’re momentarily heartbroken, only to be uplifted again by Eggers’ next wild tangent. While it may be either wildly pretentious or painfully ironic, the book’s title is quite accurate.

5. Writing humorously keeps the reader interested and engaged.

Even if humor serves no other purpose in your writing, know this—most people respect a good display of wit. Even if you don’t know how to be funny in real life, I suggest you learn how to be in your writing.

Clever writing is intelligent writing, and intelligent writing is respected and encourages engagement. Shakespeare reigns supreme in the wit department, and Wilde runs a close second. For more examples of wit that just won’t quit, I recommend checking out anything written by Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

So there’s the why. Now where’s the how?

As promised, here is your guide to how to be funny in writing. Follow these steps, and you’ll surely be busting guts in no time at all:

1. Give up now.

If you haven’t figured out how to be funny on your own already, it’s not going to happen. What do you think I am, a wizard or something? Go on. Get outta here!

2. Wait, no! I was lying! Don’t go!

I was just doing something unexpected to try to catch you off guard. Did it work? Sometimes the element of surprise is enough to elicit a laugh when writing humor.

3. See what I did there? Aren’t I clever?

“Oh, the cleverness of me!” If it fits your story, making allusions to famous icons and events can put your jokes into context and help readers relate to you. Peter Pan is a go-to of mine, so you can’t have him, but anyone else is all yours. Another way to illicit a laugh is to hearken back to a previous point from your own story in a surprising way. Once you set up a world, weave together inside jokes that you share with your reader.

4. A false sense of grandeur can sometimes be funny, too. Trust me—I know.

Pretending that you know what you’re talking about is a sure way to get people to laugh at you, especially if you quite obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Sure, it might not be the kind of laughter you’re after, but a laugh is a laugh, right?

5. Right. You wanted to learn how to be funny.

If you really want to learn how to be funny, you’re going to have to do a bit of work. Read some of the works mentioned above, and think about how humor is used in them (using my handy-dandy descriptions as a guide). Then, think about how you can incorporate humor into your own writing.

Make note of the jokes that made you laugh the hardest, and dissect them to really understand how they work before putting those mechanisms into practice.

Your jokes might not be gold at first, but in time, I’m sure you’ll find that you’re cracking jokes faster than my grandma cracks eggs for Sunday brunch. Have I mentioned yet today how much I love her?

Image Source: Braydon Anderson/Unsplash.com

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Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Content

Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Content

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by JP Misenas. JP is the Content Marketing Director and Audio/Visual Technician/Engineer at Interact.

Nowadays, Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Contentpeople have begun using quizzes as a form of content to enhance their brand’s strategy. The goal of content is to attract readers, but good content makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the volume of traffic it can attract.

You might be surprised to find out that quizzes aren’t just great for engaging audiences and boosting social traffic. In marketing, they’re also capable of driving revenue (depending on what your brand is marketing) and generating leads. But you might already know that.

Regardless, we’re here to help you create your own quiz.

At Interact, we’ve helped over 10,000 brands create over 25,000 quizzes, so it’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about creating them; however, there’s more to it than that. As a writer myself, I know that the success of a piece of content depends heavily on its quality.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to create your own quiz and, specifically, how to draft copy that’s engaging, clear, and highly shareable. We’ll dissect the entire creation process from the inside out so that you can create phenomenal content in the form of a quiz. So, what are we waiting for?

Coming Up with an Exciting Title that Attracts

There’s more to a title than most would think. The title of your quiz can say a great deal about its contents and about your brand. The title conveys what is to come, and when it comes to sharing your quiz later on, it’s the very first thing everyone will see.

If you want people to crowd around your quiz, you will want to come up with a title that not only attracts but also engages. What do we mean by that? We’re looking for a title that screams “Hey, this is something you’ll like. Take a look!”

Here are some templates that you can work with when coming up with a title for your quiz:

  • The “Challenge” Template – Did you know a question changes drastically when you add the word “actually” to it? For instance, take a look at the difference between “How Much Do You Know about Disney/Pixar Movies?” to “How Much Do You Actually Know about Disney/Pixar Movies?” It’s amazing how one word can transform a simple question into a challenge. Use this title template to see if your audience is up to the task. It’s got the perfect grab, and it generates a lot of buzz.
  • The “Which One Are You?” Template – You’ll probably come across this title often. These quizzes simply ask questions like “Which General Mills Cereal Are You?” They’re simple, fun, and straight to the point. Consider using this title to entice audiences into figuring out which one of something that they are. Take advantage of the fact that these are frequently shared on social media networks.
  • The “Which One Are You?” Template (Celebrity Remix) – Yep, you heard it. You can put a spin on a title template just by making it revolve around celebrities. Just like its predecessor, it prompts readers to find out who they are most like. The results are fun, and people tend to retake this quiz just to get a different outcome. Consider using this template for the same reason as the “Which One Are You?” template.

Which Fair Food is Made For You?

Picking the Right Type of Quiz for You

Once you’ve settled on a title that you think works best for you, it’s time to figure out what kind of quiz you want to create. “What?” you might ask. “There’s more than one kind?” You bet! There are two types of quizzes, so choose the one that you feel would be a perfect fit for your target audience:

  • The Personality Quiz – This type of quiz aims to compliment its taker, and the “self-serving bias” is what makes it so effective. It categorizes people into personalities based on their answers.
  • The Knowledge Test – This type of quiz challenges how much someone knows about a given subject and delivers results based on accuracy. It’s used as a method to gauge the knowledge of an audience and lets them know how well they did.

Who's Your Country Singer Soul Mate?

Creating the Perfect Questions for Engagement

Not many people know this, but the questions in a quiz are where you can establish a direct, one-on-one connection with your audience. This kind of engagement is amazing and is easily overlooked. In order for you to make the most out of the opportunity, here are some ways to craft the perfect quiz questions:

  • Inject Your Personality – Infusing who you are into your questions can go a long way with your audience. Approach them as if you were talking to them in person. This sets a more relaxed tone and allows your audience to get comfortable with you.
  • Make Use of Images – Creating a quiz isn’t just about asking questions; it’s about providing an experience that your audience will enjoy and remember. Including images makes your quiz much more engaging and can instantly transform it into a trivia game. The quiz is already fun, but there’s definitely no harm in making it even more fun.
  • Keep Things Simple – It’s a good idea to aim to include six to ten questions in your quiz. Keeping things short and simple will allow your audience to spend no more than two or three minutes on your quiz, which is just the right amount of time for most people.

Quiz Answer Example

Drafting an Effective Lead Capture

At the end of the day, most of us are focused on creating content that delivers results. If lead generation is your thing, gating your quiz with a lead capture form is the perfect way to obtain your audience’s contact information in exchange for their quiz results. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when optimizing the opt-in rate:

  • Be Honest about Your Marketing – Most lead captures will include a privacy policy. This is just to let your audience know what you’ll be doing with their information. Others include the option of skipping the lead capture form altogether.
  • Consider the Use of Incentives – There’s nothing wrong with offering a little value to your audience. If you want to increase the chances of your audience giving you their contact information, offer things like a free ebook, a personalized email with some advice, or maybe even an entry into a free giveaway. Be creative.
  • Don’t Ask for Too Much – Only ask for information that you’ll actually use. For instance, what’s the point in asking for a phone number if you’ll never call it?

Lead Capture Example

Delivering Highly Shareable Results

To complete your quiz, come up with results worth sharing. The kind of results you deliver to your audience is crucial to how viral your quiz will become. If you want people to share their results from your quiz, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Evoke Positive Emotions – You want your results to make people feel good. Positive emotions promote sharing, and vice versa, and no one ever posts results if these results suggest something unpleasant or unattractive. Be encouraging, but make sure that you also speak the truth.
  • Use Images Worth Sharing – In most cases, when people share results, an image appears when the post goes up. Be sure to use images that attract people’s attention so that they’ll be curious about your quiz and take it.
  • Include a Call-to-Action – It doesn’t hurt to include a link to your brand website, or maybe your products/services, in your results. Some marketers have even included links to relevant articles or landing pages, depending on the kind of quiz and the results given.

Quiz Result Example

Let’s Review What We’ve Learned

Today, we saw that there’s much more to a quiz than just coming up with a title, filling it up with questions, and generating results. Title creation requires a good amount of thought to ensure that it’s strong enough to captivate audiences, and the choice of the quiz type plays an important role, as well.

How you structure the questions in a quiz will also determine how engaging it is, and there are several ways to improve the opt-in rate if you’re in it for lead generation. Finally, creating results that get shared across the Internet will be the deciding factor in how popular your quiz becomes.

When creating your own quiz, put everything you’ve learned today into practice. Taking the time to flesh it out will be what turns boring content into great content. Aim to create something entertaining every time, and it will be worth implementing in your strategy.

Author JP Misenas

JP Misenas is the Content Marketing Director & Audio/Visual Technician/Engineer of Interact, a place for creating entertaining and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. He writes about innovative ways to connect with customers and to build professional, long-lasting relationships with them. Connect with him on Twitter @jollibeats or @tryinteract.

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What Can Inklyo’s Copywriting Resources Do For You?

Copywriting ResourcesWhat is the most important part of a business’s website? Is it the product descriptions? The pictures? The navigation system? No, the most essential part of any website is its killer content. The content is what builds up a website’s search engine ranking, and it’s what keeps customers coming back for more. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure that your content shines.

But what if you’re not the best writer or think your writing could be improved? Having to create all this content can be overwhelming.

Don’t fret! With a willingness to learn and the right resources, you can easily improve your content writing skills and develop the knowledge and habits to consistently produce stellar content for your blog or website. Check out the list below to learn some copywriting tips that will form the basis of your copywriting education. Then, develop your practical writing skills with Inklyo’s writing courses and ebooks.

1. Copywriters are, first and foremost, writers.

Businesses want their website copy to be persuasive and earn the trust of potential customers. The best way to do this, however, is not to stuff the website with dry company information or grandiose but empty promises. Producing engaging copy is no different than producing an engaging novel: it must be grounded in a solid understanding of grammar, language, and storytelling.

If a website’s content is poorly written—either filled with typos or filled with cheesy slogans—it says something about the company that produced it. Before you write your website’s copy, make sure you thoroughly edit your work and employ the art of telling a story.

2. Copywriters write for the reader.

As a copywriter, try to put yourself in customers’ shoes. Put yourself into the minds of readers to understand how to speak to them. If your company has developed buyer personas, reviewing these is a great way to create a mindset that will allow you to write something they will want to read. In addition to enticing potential clients to read the content, once you know whom you are writing for, you can help the reader to look at things from a particular perspective. For instance, if you want to draw attention to the benefits of a particular product, gear the article toward the reader by uniting the problems the reader is likely experiencing with the solutions offered by your product.

3. Copywriters write for the business.

In addition to aligning themselves with readers, copywriters should align themselves with their company’s goals. By maintaining good communication with employers and other team members, all parties know what will be included in the copy to produce the desired outcome. This way, the content produced by you, the copywriter, will be in tune with the specific end goals of the business. If you know the end goals, you can clearly convey your company’s message to the public.

4. Copywriters write using search engine optimization.

The Internet categorizes information based on relevance. Search engines will pull up articles that fit certain keywords based on criteria such as the articles’ content, metadata, and posting date. Copywriters need to be aware of what keywords and phrases to include to ensure that the content is optimized and can be found by the readers who are looking for it. This way, the content is brought up in searches more often and will increase the visibility of your site. You should also make sure that the content is not simply stuffed with keywords but incorporates them in a way that sounds natural. This will make the content more enjoyable to read and will help your site avoid penalties from Google.

Conclusion

There’s always something new to learn in the field of copywriting. In addition to having a solid grasp of grammar and being a good writer, copywriters need to stay abreast of new trends and changes in search engine optimization best practices. There is no “finish line” when you’re a copywriter; there’s always a new challenge to overcome or a new skill to learn. This can be daunting, but remember that you don’t have to do it all alone. Check out Inklyo’s blog and other writing resources for help along the way.

Image source: fancycrave1/Pixabay.com

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6 Reasons Businesses Outsource Their SEO Content Writing

SEO Content Writing

A Guide for Writers

SEO Content WritingSome companies are wary of the shift to outsourcing search engine optimization (SEO) content writing, worrying that it might not be the best decision. However, there are several benefits to outsourcing content writing. In fact, outsourcing can actually be much better for a company than attempting to do the work internally. Knowing why companies choose to outsource can help you, as a writer, understand the obstacles they face and better cater to their needs.

1. They want to focus on what they do best.

If a company doesn’t specialize in SEO content writing, then why strain to make it churn out content? Companies often choose to outsource SEO content writing services to keep their employees working on the tasks that are essential to the core functions of their businesses. This improves efficiency and quality assurance.

2. They want to save the hassle of hiring, training, and paying full-time writers.

When companies try to internalize SEO content writing, it often means having to hire new staff. This itself can be a huge hassle, particularly if the company is new to the world of SEO content writing and doesn’t know what skills to look for.

Once they finally find someone who is able to take on SEO content writing duties, they then need to train them. Even if new hires are competent writers and are familiar with SEO, they will still need to be familiarized with the company and the procedures for writing and posting content. Hiring full-time in-house writers can be a good solution for larger companies, but many small businesses cannot sustain the burden of paying another full-time team member. Plus, if the company is only aiming to produce a weekly or bi-weekly blog post, a full-time writer is likely overkill.

3. They want their SEO content writing to be done skillfully.

Even if some members of a business’s in-house staff take the time to learn the basics of SEO content writing, there’s no denying that a full-time professional SEO content writer is going to be much more skilled at incorporating SEO best practices into clear and engaging copy. As an SEO writer, your knowledge of and experience in the field is what sets you apart from the average employee, and a desire for the high-quality content you can produce is ultimately what will push businesses away from completing the work in-house and toward outsourcing to a professional.

4. They want their SEO content writing to be done efficiently.

Because freelance writers are used to working within deadlines, companies are guaranteed that their projects will be completed efficiently. This beats waiting for the one or two employees who have picked up some SEO content writing skills to complete the projects after finishing their other duties.

5. They want to choose their own output frequency.

The great thing about outsourcing is that companies don’t need to stick to a certain number of articles every month. If they find that the frequency at which they are posting is not enough to engage and excite their readers, they can easily increase the number of articles they issue each month. Similarly, if they need to downscale to fit a budget, they won’t have to worry about having a full-time staff member without tasks to complete. Outsourcing to a freelance SEO content writer allows them the freedom to post at the frequency they determine appropriate.

Conclusion

As a writer, it’s important to be looking for opportunities to use your skills. Many businesses are seeking high-quality SEO web content to keep their blogs and websites fresh, compelling, and valuable to potential customers, and understanding the obstacles businesses face can help you partner with them to produce the content they need.

Image source: Luis Llerena/Stocksnap.io

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Writing Persuasive Web Copy (No Jedi Mind Tricks Required)

Writing Persuasive Web CopyStar Wars. Responsible for inspiring the most popular Halloween costumes, inciting heated debates over who shot first, and turning chubby, lightsaber-wielding kids into overnight YouTube sensations. Among the Ewoks, droids, stormtroopers, and starships, one iconic image sums up the Star Wars empire (pun intended): Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader’s clashing green and red lightsabers, locked in a timeless struggle between good and evil.

Imagine what would have happened, then, if, instead of throwing himself down Cloud City’s air shaft in a final act of defiant heroics, Luke had accepted Vader’s offer to “rule the galaxy as father and son.” For all his mind tricks, persuasive powers, and paternal bullying, our dear asthmatic Sith Lord made a fatal error: he failed to read his audience, and thus didn’t speak to him effectively.

The same goes for writing persuasive web copy. A beautiful website design and a perfect SEO system may bring a Star Destroyer full of consumers to your webpage, but if your writing doesn’t resonate with your audience, it will fail to convert those visitors into leads. In short, you’ll be left hanging—just like Vader, hand outstretched—failing to make the sale. (Maybe he should have rethought that one—offering a hand right after chopping off Luke’s. Bit of a costly oversight there, Anakin.)

From Jedi mind tricks to dark side scare tactics, Star Wars can teach us a lot about writing persuasive web copy. Grab some popcorn and blue milk, tell your friends you’ll have to pick up power converters at Tosche Station another time, and settle in to learn a few things from the denizens of a galaxy far, far away.

Use positive language

“Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”

Like the divide between the light and dark sides of the Force, the message here is about positive over negative language. How did Obi-Wan divert the stormtroopers who were searching for R2-D2 and C-3P0? Some Jedi mind tricks, to be sure, but also positive language. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for; you can go about your business. Move along.” Negative language has a tendency to be memorable in a bad way; the last thing you want is for your readers to develop a negative association with your content. You want them to feel empowered to tackle whatever problem they came to your website to solve. Another technique is to ask a question early on—a question you know the consumer will answer with a “yes.” Unless your readers are Toydarians, they’ll develop a habit of saying “yes” to other questions or offers you pose.

Use the active voice

“Do, or do not—there is no try.”

Write in the active voice. The active voice is direct, simple, and easy to understand. The passive voice removes the power of action from the subject and can quickly muddy your meaning with convoluted turns of phrase. The active voice is particularly important when writing headlines or titles, meta descriptions, image captions, and calls to action (CTAs). You want clear, effective language to draw users to your landing page and compel them to take the desired action. As much as we love Yoda, you should probably avoid his legendary speech patterns.

Be authentic and believable

Luke: “I cant believe it. Yoda: “That is why you fail.

Consider your audience. If your content is not culturally relevant to your target group—or worse yet, not believable—your chances of gathering successful conversions are slim to none. Avoid salesy jargon and claims that sound too good to be true. Don’t hesitate to link to factual supporting evidence, research studies, testimonials, or other verifiable sources to demonstrate your credibility. If your users don’t believe you, they aren’t going to buy.

Choose your titles wisely

“Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease!”

Names are important. Put extra effort into names, titles, and headlines. Imagine if the Death Star had been called the Planet Zapper, or if Obi-Wan Kenobi had described Mos Eisley as a “wretched hive of icky people.” Doesn’t quite have the same zing, does it? Your titles and headlines need to draw users to your page and encourage them to keep reading. For tips and tricks, take a look at this guide for writing headlines more engaging than an Imperial tractor beam.

Tell a story

“I’m not much more than an interpreter, and not very good at telling stories.”

Emotional response can be the deciding factor in changing visitors to conversions. A fantastic way to make a connection with your reader and elicit emotion is through storytelling. While only a small part of the brain is triggered by facts and figures, stories can activate the entire brain, including emotions. This can be a powerful tool for swaying your audience. Need proof? C-3P0 wooed a whole civilization of Ewoks by telling them stories of the Rebel Alliance’s battles with the Galactic Empire, inspiring the Ewoks to fight beside the Rebels against the Imperial troops on Endor.

Get to your landing page

“Stay on target!”

Everything you write needs to maintain focus. Your ultimate goal is to get consumers to your landing page by convincing them that your product will solve their problems. There are many ways of doing this—showing empathy by acknowledging your own experience with their problem, providing testimonials for emotional relatability and positive assurance, or simply describing the benefits your product will bring to the user, as opposed to merely listing its features. Whatever approach you take, make absolutely sure your content relates directly to your audience and points toward a solution. If it doesn’t, cut it out.

Create scarcity

“Control, control, you must learn control!”

Take control of a user’s impulse to click away from an offer by creating the feeling of product scarcity. This is a tried-and-true aspect of writing persuasive web copy: you want your readers to feel as though they’ll miss out if they don’t act on your offer now. Marketing a product as available for a limited time only, or to a limited number of consumers—an ebook available free for just three days, for example, or a special discount for the first 100 buyers—can move someone who might otherwise wander off to “think about it” to jump on the limited opportunity instead.

Target Millennials

“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

It’s time to acknowledge the new greatest power in the universe. It isn’t the Death Star anymore—it’s Millennials. These tech-savvy, Internet-dominating, information-processing machines are what drive online marketing success. They are your future consumers. So it’s time you learned to speak (and write) their language. Millennials value engaging, relatable content that can be skimmed quickly for key points. Break up your copy with visual aids (bolded headings, photos, embedded videos, graphical content) and divide large sections of text into manageable chunks with concise headings so that readers can find the information they need via a quick scan.

Target Millennials

Never stop adapting

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Internet technologies change, and they change fast. Effective online marketers extend their brand presence across a variety of web spaces, from product websites to social media networks. Your web copy should reflect the attitudes and behaviors of each platform. A Facebook post that directs users to your landing page, for example, requires language that is considerably more attention-grabbing and concise than the copy for your website’s homepage or a blog post.

To market in each space effectively, it’s important to stay on top of the trends. Relying on your knowledge of past Internet trends or writing styles is a mistake, as these become obsolete faster than the Millennium Falcon can complete the Kessel Run. You’ll also want to keep in mind changing social attitudes and needs when you consider the tone of your writing. In the wise words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” The buying cycles that marketers used in the past aren’t effective anymore, especially with Millennials. Writing to satisfy the conventions and buying patterns only of older groups won’t resonate with this now-dominant Internet generation and will result in lost conversions.

So you’ve soaked it all up? Great, kid. Don’t get cocky!

When writing persuasive web copy, it’s important to continuously remind yourself of the personas of your target consumers and their stages in the buyer’s journey. Creating a personalized experience that applies the right emotional triggers will enhance the likelihood of your users’ completing the action you’ve laid out for them. If Luke could feel comfortable flying the Death Star’s exhaust port corridor because it reminded him of shooting womp rats from his T-16 back home, you can certainly give your users the confidence to follow your CTAs by creating a positive, action-oriented, culturally relevant experience.

In the words of Jedi Master Yoda: mind what you have learned, and may the Force be with you.

Image sources: Josh Felise/Stocksnap.io, DasWortgewand/Pixabay.com

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How to Create a Content Strategy

How to Create a Content Strategy

How to Create a Content StrategyBefore you can begin marketing your business online, you need to create a strategy that outlines exactly how your marketing will work. Just like any goal, establishing an online presence is a process that needs to be planned out, step by step. This way, you can use the content to spread your business’s name and help your business grow. A content strategy is a plan that you can use to determine what content you publish, when to publish it, what platform you use to publish it, and what it will achieve.

Creating content is a great way to promote your business. And methodically planning out what content you will present to your customers will help you shape the message you want to convey. This a huge part of building your brand.

So how can you create an effective content strategy? Here are four steps to consider:

Determine your business’s goals

The best way to plan out a content strategy is to start with very, very specific goals. Why specific and not broad? Beginning with the end in mind will help you to work backward and create clear, actionable steps to get there.

A good goal might be something like: I want to have a ten percent increase in leads for product X by the end of next quarter.

Do you see how that immediately makes everything so much clearer? Instead of floundering around wondering what content to produce and then hoping it somehow goes viral, you’ve already made some decisions. You now know that if you’re going to get an increase in leads for product X, you’ve got to create content related to product X. And you also know that if you want to increase leads by a specific number by a certain date, you’ll have to produce Y amount of content and promote it by Z amount.

To be sure, there are still a few unknowns in the preceding paragraph. For example, it can take time for content to help your organic search traffic, and it might be difficult to estimate just how many pieces of content you’ll need to bump the lead count. You’ll have a better idea of how your content is received as time goes on. But by basing your content strategy on business goals, rather than using the so-called “spray and pray” approach, you’ll get results much, much faster.

Determine your audience

Choosing a specific demographic group for your content is an extremely important part of disseminating your message. Figuring out the exact target group can help you determine what types of content should be shared, what medium you should share it through, and even the specific phrases you need to use.

Specific phrases? Really?

Definitely!

If you want your audience to be your customers, then you have to speak their language. For example, let’s say you sell high-end audio equipment, and you’re trying to grow your sales revenue. You could create several highly technical articles targeted at the sound geeks who get into heated debates over the best speaker cables to use. But are those the people who are coming to your store, or visiting your website? What if the people doing that are saying things like “I want something really good, but I don’t know where to start” or “All of this seems so intimidating!” If you use similar language when creating a piece of content that solves a problem your audience has, your audience will feel that you are speaking directly to them.

Your content needs to cater to the needs of your audience, so you need to keep their interests in mind when you plan the content you intend to share with them. The more you know about your audience, the better the experience they will have when engaging with your content.

What format and why?

One of the most cost-effective pieces of content to produce is an article, especially if you outsource the writing part of it to allow your team to concentrate on their core skills. However, other types of content might be appropriate to your audience. You could produce an infographic, a video, an ebook, or an email course. Again, think of your audience and their needs. What format best serves them?

How will you share it with your audience?

To reach your demographic, you need to share your content in a place that your customers will frequent. If your audience doesn’t know a Tweet from a twit, there isn’t a lot of point spending time promoting your content on Twitter, is there?

Take the time to find out where your customers hang out. You can do that by asking your sales staff, your customer service teams, checking your referral logs in your website analytics, and even just straight up asking your customers via a poll, or in a direct conversation.

Having a good long think about these factors will help you figure out your content strategy. And remember, a long term strategy beats short term tactics any day.

Image source: Ivelin Radkov/BigStockPhoto.com

Inklyo's free ebook about business blogging.

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The Role of the Copywriter

Inklyo.com explains the role of copywriters and their importance to your business.

The importance of copywriters and how hiring one can enhance your business

Inklyo explains the role of copywriters and their importance to your business. For as long as the English language has been transcribed onto paper, there has been a constant need for content writing. We need written language to record events, converse over long distances, and, most importantly, share information. Unfortunately, with different points of view and various language systems, the flow of information can get misconstrued if not presented correctly.

To solve this problem, people have studied the art of language. There are those who can manipulate words to persuade—people who can string a sentence together to create a precise image or give perfect instructions. These experts understand how other humans interpret information, and they can tailor their writing to meet the needs of the audience. This is the role of the copywriter.

Copywriting is a profession typically associated with advertising and sales. The job of a copywriter is to take information and create a piece of writing that can convey it in an engaging, creative, and informative way. While a large percentage of copywriting jobs are in advertising, copywriters are not limited to this field; instead, there are a variety of jobs a copywriter can choose from:

Advertising

This is the field most commonly associated with copywriting, as there is a wide variety of writing opportunities in various media. Many copywriters create slogans and write print ads for companies or products. The writer’s ability to use concise words helps to create persuasive material that grabs an audience’s attention. By understanding how the audience absorbs information, copywriters can also create scripts for radio and TV commercials. Advertising, in general, is the ideal industry for a successful copywriter because of this unique opportunity to influence the public with language.

Business

Outside of advertising and public relations, there are other opportunities in business for copywriters. Many businesses need professional communication specialists to write company reports and draw up proposals for products and events so that they can be effectively communicated to management. Just as important, management must communicate with its employees, so copywriters will also write newsletters and informative in-house documents. Copywriters can increase workplace efficiency by making the paths of communication within the business clearer. This will ultimately help the business create a defined and understandable method of communication any time it needs to reach an understanding.

Internet

As with advertising and business communications work, copywriters can find job opportunities in the online industry, where they can interact with their audience. Through the use of blogs and social media, copywriters are required to communicate with their audience both quickly and accurately. They are also required to constantly monitor these online platforms in order to respond to their audience if contacted. This direct interaction is a huge advantage for copywriters. Because they are able to speak to the readers firsthand about their content, copywriters can get the public’s opinion about the message they are trying to convey. Writers are also required to regularly update these online platforms by creating content with the specific purpose of engaging with the audience while also meeting search engine optimization (SEO) requirements. Copywriters need to incorporate popular and searchable keywords and phrases to increase their likelihood of being found through an online search engine. Being able to cater to both the audience and the technology in a timely, consistent fashion is a challenge, but it presents more opportunities for copywriting work than ever before.

Image source: PixelsAway/BigStockPhoto.com

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Web Content Development Tips

Inklyo.com's eight tips for effective web content development.

Eight tips that will bring your content to the next level

Inklyo.com’s eight tips for effective web content development.Help! I know nothing about web content development, but I need to design a website for my business! What do I do?

Do not panic. Plenty of people need to design websites, but very few know every technique for optimizing their site. The first thing you need to know about is developing high-quality web content. The content is what makes the website valuable for your customers. Without informative content, the website cannot serve your business’s goals.

So what do you include in your content to develop it? Here are a few simple tips to get you started with web content development.

1. Use headings

A great way to format your content is to divide it into points and use headers to describe them. This gives your customers a good idea of what information they will get from reading each point. Then, they can decide which ones they want to read and which ones they want to skip. If the text is simply one long document, the customer could get overwhelmed and decide your page is not worth reading.

2. Inverted-pyramid style

From their first look at your page, your customers will decide if they want to continue reading it. It is essential that most of the information that you think is important to your business be included in the first content section that appears on the home page. This way, the customers can get a good idea of your business and what you do, and they can make an informed decision about whether they should invest the time to read the website.

3. Call to action

This is where you direct your customers to what you want them to do. Make sure you explicitly tell the readers how to engage with your business. For example, if your website sells a product or service, write a statement that says something like “buy now” or “purchase today” so readers know how they can use the information on the site.

4. Bold keywords

It’s very rare that a customer will visit your website and read every single word on the page. Instead, you’ll get customers passing through for a glimpse or visiting to find particular information. Cater to this audience by bolding all the keywords and phrases in your content that are important to your business. This makes them jump out at the customer. In addition, search engines pick up on bolded words as keywords and phrases for search engine optimization, which will make your business’s website appear when customers search for those words.

5. Use lists

People like to read short content that flows nicely. A great way to format your web content and make it flow is to use a list. Short, bulleted lists present the reader with a clear layout that will help them retain the information because they do not have to pick it out from long, complex paragraphs.

6. Allow the content to stand on its own

Make each page of your website easy to navigate and understand. That way, if customers begin on a random page, they will not get lost in your web content. Every page should include essential information about your site (such as the business’s name), navigation, and an outline of the website. This will ensure your readers are never confused and always understand the message of the website.

7. Link to other pages

Instead of explaining every last detail to your customers in your web content, use links to direct them to explanations and more information. This keeps your web content short and concise, which is appealing to readers.

8. Pictures

Try to use pictures that complement your content. Visuals will engage readers in a dynamic way and might make them interested in learning more.

Image source: Ivelin Radkov/BigStockPhoto.com

25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales

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Why Does Your Business Need a Newsletter Service?

Inklyo.com explains why email newsletters are still an essential part of web marketing for your business, and why you need a newsletter service.

Inklyo.com explains why email newsletters are still an essential part of web marketing for your business, and why you need a newsletter service.With the emergence of Web 2.0 and social media websites, it might seem like email is a thing of the past. Why bother putting so much effort into a newsletter that will barely be read by the public? What does your business have to gain?

Actually, there is quite a bit to gain from creating a weekly email newsletter (e-newsletter), even though email can seem like a prehistoric technology.

1. People still check their email

Although many young people use social media for their news, correspondence, and other networking activities, email still remains at the center of them all. Each one of these social media websites is connected to an email account that their users need to check regularly for business or work-related purposes, confirmation emails, and various other reasons. Many people still use email on a regular basis, so it’s important to make sure that your business is catering to that demographic.

2. It builds a relationship

Email is a great way to directly address your customers and build personal relationships with them. In an email, you can write directly to you customers and speak to them on a personal level so that they feel connected to your business.

3. It reminds customers that you’re still around

Sending a weekly update to your customers reminds them that your business is still operating and that there have been changes to your website. This sparks interest that may not have been there before. It also encourages the customer to check your website for the updates you referred to in your e-newsletter.

4. It automatically adds SEO content to your website

Even though the email newsletters you create will be delivered to your customers, a copy of each newsletter will be on your website. This adds content to your website, which is then used to increase your SEO. By adding more keywords to your website, you can increase your chances of appearing in keyword searches on major search engines.

5. It makes a big impact for a small cost

Unlike paper newsletters that need to be written, edited, printed, and delivered, e-newsletters do not require the latter two steps. Email cuts the cost of printing and delivery by electronically sending out your information through a mass medium. In addition, the delivery method is instantaneous, which means that all the necessary information can be sent out in a matter of seconds.

6. It links directly to your website

Hypertext linking to your website gives your business the opportunity to lead customers directly to it. Unlike paper flyers that require visiting your store in person, linking makes it easy for them to access your business instantly. Giving them the ability to access your website this easily encourages customers to visit the exact web pages you referred to in your e-newsletter.

7. Advertises to interested customers

By having a subscription list of potential customers, you are advertising your product or service to those who are already interested in engaging with your business. Prospective customers will agree to receive emails, and engaging with this audience will be more likely to yield results rather than only advertising to a general audience.

Although email might seem like a thing of the past, e-newsletters can still help your business thrive on the web.

Image source: Ivelin Radkov/BigStockPhoto.com