Announcing: How to grow your business through positive word-of-mouth

There's a lot that you can learn about customer service from a stinky fish... read on to find out more!

There’s a lot that you can learn about customer service from a stinky fish…

Wow, what great feedback I got from you, my Marketing Tips readers!

It seems that the stinky fish customer service story really hit a note with you.

After all, everyone has been on the receiving end of poor customer service at some time or another.

(And if a company has bad customer service, then all the money spent on glossy brochures and slick websites is wasted.)

How to give your customers a great story to tell about your business…

The flip side of story telling is that a good story also gets passed around.

(Yep, that’s positive marketing you can get for free!)

But how can you get your customers to proactively tell other people a positive story about your business?

There’s a methodology in generating a positive word-of-mouth story

There are specific steps you can take to give your customers a great word-of-mouth story to tell their friends. I call this giving your customers ‘Mentionitis’, because they get a buzz out of telling the story!

The Leaky Bathtub eBook guides you through this word-of-mouth methodology step by step. There are also lots of examples so you can see how the storytelling works in different industries. Invest in your copy today.

The Leaky Bathtub

Get The Leaky Bathtub today.

Till next time,

Cornelia

Cornelia Luethi  BSc (Hons), DipM
Author of The Leaky Bathtub

PS. One reader loved this book because it’s “so easy to read and understand as it’s written in plain, non-marketing guru language for us non-marketing people”.

See more details of how The Leaky Bathtub can grow your business

 

Update on SEO copywriting strategy – from Matt Cutts at Google

Here's the latest update on SEO copywriting strategy from Google.

Here’s the latest update on SEO copywriting strategy from Google.

In my geeky world, updates on SEO copywriting strategy are big news.

After all, Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms… Yet at the same time, my goal is to write website copy that’ll give my clients good results not just now, but in years to come.

I don’t believe in looking for Google’s loopholes (known as using ‘black hat’ SEO copywriting strategies), I’d rather focus on techniques that’ll give enduring results.

For that reason, I’ve always focused on writing content that’s good for human readers first and foremast, rather than doing weird and wonderful things with keywords.

And the good news is that writing reader-friendly content is officially the right thing to do!

In her excellent article Matt Cutts Reveals Google’s Updated SEO Copywriting Strategy, Karon Thackston shares some excellent tips on SEO copywriting strategy that she learned from an email conversation with Matt Cutts.

Who is Matt Cutts?

Matt Cutts is a Google employee, who works with the Search Quality team on search engine optimization issues. He is currently the head of Google’s Webspam team, and he’s the one who kinda lets the world at large know what Google is up to with algorithm updates.

So any SEO copywriting strategies and tactics from Matt Cutts is like hearing it all directly from the proverbial horse’s mouth. 🙂

What does Matt Cutts say about SEO copywriting strategy?

The key takeaway for me from Karon Thackston’s article is that you don’t need to use all the words in a keyphrase together. This is good news if you’ve been struggling to write website copy with ‘unnatural’ keywords.

Let me explain with an example…

Say that you’ve identified “widget repair Auckland” as a keyword that you want to target.

Till now, many of us have struggled to write website copy that sounds natural with a keyword like that: “widget repair Auckland” just isn’t something we’d say or write!

Well, what Matt Cutts has said is that we don’t need to cram the words in they keyphrase together: the words can be sprinkled around your web page.

Yep, you can use “widget” and “repair” and “Auckland” separately… or put it in a natural-sounding phrase, like “widget repair in Auckland”, or something like that.

(I’ve had a hunch for a while that Google is smart enough to figure this out, but it’s great to hear it confirmed from The Guy That Knows.)

And there’s more good news…

Google now has synonym technology. (A synonym being a word with the same, or similar, meaning.) This means that search results can bring up web pages that use related search terms, whereas previously only exact matches were revealed.

(Using the example above for a web page optimised with “widget repair Auckland”, your page could also get found for searches with “widget repair service” or “Auckland widget repairs”, etc.)

Caution: Matt Cutts said to Karon Thackston:

“Keyphrases don’t have to be in their original form. We do a lot of synonym work so that we can find good pages that don’t happen to use the same words as the user typed.

In general, though, if the words are on the web page (not in a spammy way, of course), that makes our job easier because we don’t have to rely on synonym matches to find good documents.”

In other words: don’t rely too much on the synonym technology!

Optimise for more than one keyword per page

What you can do is optimise for more than one keyword per page. (I’ve always incorporated secondary keywords into client copy, which is why my copywriting customers get enduring results.)

Again, I’d advise some caution here: if you use too many keywords, Google could penalise you for “keyword stuffing”… after all, cramming too many keywords onto a page reads unnaturally and looks spammy. So focus on writing high-quality, reader-friendly content first and foremost.

Summary

Focus on writing website content that’s appealing to human readers (and don’t worry too much about the latest SEO fads).

 

Here’s what a stinky fish can teach you about customer service…

There's a lot that you can learn about customer service from a stinky fish... read on to find out more!

There’s a lot that you can learn about customer service from a stinky fish… read on to find out more!

For years I’ve been telling clients that consistently good customer service is a far more powerful marketing (and sales) tool than anything else.

In fact, all the money spent on glossy brochures and slick websites goes down the drain if your customers have a poor purchasing experience… Something I was reminded of recently when I unwittingly bought some stinky, rotten fish at the supermarket.

Here’s what happened (in a nutshell)…

Bought fish. Opened the pack. It stank (even my dog turned its nose up at it). Too stinky to put back in the fridge – it HAD to go in the bin.

Contacted supermarket via Facebook Page… no response for several days. (Marketing lesson: if you’re on social media, you must be ready to respond and provide customer service.)

Emailed supermarket: was told I had to drive across town to return the stinky fish. Spend 45 minutes driving (worth $115 of my billable time) and a few dollars in petrol for a refund of $9.16? I don’t think so!

Was told via email that the supermarket had been notified of the rotten fish they were selling. (But was not told what action had been taken.)

Phoned supermarket to request a refund without chauffeuring rotten fish across town… I was told the store manager had to give approval for this. Eh? Doesn’t the store manager have better things to do than monitor requests for $9.16 refunds?

Bear in mind that my household spends thousands of dollars with this supermarket every year, and we aren’t in the habit of making returns. They can easily track my purchasing habits through my loyalty card number.

Anyhoo, I hadn’t heard back from the store after a few days… the call centre told me that if I wanted an update, I had to call back.

Customer service: fail!

Yet this is a large corporation than spends millions of dollars on TV advertising, direct mail, yadda yadda yadda… it’s New Zealand’s biggest supermarket chain (not a mom ‘n’ pop store).

Mega fail!

I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences a consumer.

Let’s take a look and see how a company can better handle customer complaints…

The key thing is to consider the outcomes a customer wants… But what outcomes does a customer want?

There are two outcomes you should work towards:

1. Fixing the customer’s immediate problem

Fixing the customer’s immediate problem should be relatively simple: apologise sincerely, and make restitution.

The nature of “restitution” may vary depending on the status of that customer. Yes, the restitution should always fully compensate a customer (and in a way that’s convenient to them, seeing as they’ve already been inconvenienced), but if it’s a VIP customer that’s been loyal to you for many years, you may want to go beyond the basics.

For example, with the stinky fish scenario, the ideal outcome would have been for them to quickly agree to the refund, and mail me a voucher. (I would have been happy with a $10 voucher.)

2. Fixing the wider issue

Most people care about the people around us. So with the stinky fish example, I would hate for an elderly person to buy the rotten seafood; not realise it’s rotten; and get really sick.

After all, that’s the real reason I alerted the supermarket – I’m not that fussed about my $9.16, it’s more important to me that other people don’t get sick from eating dodgy food.

Sure, the customer service centre told me that the supermarket had been notified, but that’s not quite enough. Ideally they would have gone into more detail, and told me what corrective action had been taken – e.g. the seafood counter had been examined, and all the fish from that batch had been pulled off the shelves.

The customer service issue isn’t fixed until both the immediate and wider issues are solved

Customers are left with a bad taste in their mouths if the problem isn’t fully solved.

However, many businesses make the mistake of fixing just the customer’s immediate issue… but that isn’t enough to re-establish your business as being high quality and trustworthy.

Speed is the other issue here: customers want both the immediate problem and the wider issue dealt with promptly.

If for any reason you can’t action something right away, let the customer know when you will action it – and do it. And then give them a detailed, timely update when you have rectified the issue. That’ll help restore your business’ credibility and professionalism.

What happens if you don’t put things right in this way?

Not addressing customer problems in a way that satisfies the disgruntled customer is expensive for business.

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reckons that “news of bad customer services reaches twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience”.

I’d say that it’s more than twice, in this age of social media… depending on how connected (and verbal) someone is, it could easily be 5 or 10 times – or more. (I know for sure that the tale of my stinky fish will reach thousands of people globally!)

What’s even more worrying is that for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent. (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs.)

That makes sense: complaining to a business takes time and effort, so many people put it in the “too hard” basket. So if you get a complaint, take it seriously. It might not be important to you, but if someone’s bothered to tell you something, you need to listen. (Whether you agree or not is up to you, but remember the old adage of “the customer is always right”.)

What if the customer is a jerk?

Let’s face it, not all customers are created equal. If the customer is being unreasonable, and they’re getting you riled up, my advice would be to refund their money, and cut them loose.

A wise friend of mine told me that a small business should budget so that they can afford to walk away from difficult customers, and I think that’s wise. You don’t have to serve everyone, and if someone makes you stressed and unhappy, you don’t need to put up with that. Be prepared to give them their money back, and walk away.

But fortunately those customers are rare. It’s far better to focus on keeping your VIPs happy.

That’s the very best marketing you can do. It’s not always easy, but it will be far more effective in the long run than any expensive marketing campaigns.

Prologue: the happy ending

After a week, the supermarket contacted me by Facebook, asking for my address because the Store Manager was going to visit with a gift card.

Sure enough, the next day a $50 gift card was hand-delivered… I was staggered to say the least! (Bearing in mind that I would have been happy with a $10 voucher mailed to me.)

Bonus lesson: the sooner you act on a complaint, the cheaper it will most likely be for you to resolve.

The Manager also explained in more detail the action they’d taken regarding the rotten fish. So yeah, I’m happy again. I will resume shopping at that supermarket (though I may be buying my seafood from elsewhere…). 😉

Summary

  • News of bad customer services reaches at least twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
  • For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.
  • If you get a complaint:
    • Fix the customer’s immediate issue, and make restitution.
    • Fix the wider issue – and let the customer know what you’re doing.
    • Deal with complaints promptly, to nip them in the bud. (This may save you further expense down the track.)
  • Social media is a double-edged sword: if you’re using social media, ensure that problems and complaints are handled swiftly and professionally.

How long should a sales page be?

“How long should a sales page be?” … That’s a very good question!

My answer: long enough to give your prospects all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.

Here's what you need to include on your sales page to make it a winner.

Here’s what you need to include on your sales page to make it a winner.

But that’s such a vague answer…

Well, yes and no.

It might seem vague to you, but I’m about to share with you what should go on your sales page, so here’s a bit of a checklist for you…

What should be included on a sales page?

If you’re wondering what to include on a sales page, you need to put yourself into your prospects’ shoes and consider their needs and concerns.

So you’d start off with:

1. An attention-grabbing headline: this must address the prospects’ primary problem or concern

If you’re not sure what the primary problem is that your prospects face, you need to ask them. Or your sales message risks falling flat.

Once you’ve got a really good headline:

2. Demonstrate that you understand your prospects’ primary problem

Show a bit of empathy… and dig a little bit deeper into the pain. The prospect then realises that you ‘get’ them… and that you may just have the answer they’re looking for.

3. Present your solution

This is where you talk about the features and benefits of your product or service.

4. Testimonials

Yes, testimonials really work. (Though there are interviewing techniques that will help you get a good, believable testimonial that’s more credible than the average sickly-sweet testimonial.) Photographs of the testimonial people add extra credibility to your message.

It’s a good idea to sprinkle a number of testimonials throughout the sales page. Testimonials should be carefully selected to cover key objections your prospects may have.

5. Bullet points

Cover every single benefit of your product or service with bullet points.

Yes, really – people can buy your product or service based on one single, tiny, feature.

What’s more, by listing all the benefits it shows that your product or service has depth. Readers will begin to imagine themselves benefitting from what’s there – and they can do that because your message is so specific.

Here’s an example to show why detailed bullet points work best:

This example is from my own sales page, for my eBook the ‘Website Owner’s Manual‘.

Imagine that you’re a small business owner, and you’ve got a website that isn’t converting.

Which of the following is more enticing sales copy:

(a) Tips on how to get your website converting better;

or:

(b)

bullet-point-benefits

… There’s a good chance that one of these specific bullet points will hit a nerve, and compel a prospect to buy.

A vague bullet point won’t do that.

What’s more, notice how I’ve added page numbers next to each bullet point. This does a number of things:

  • It creates the “I want that factor”. If you’re struggling with one of those topics, having the solution waved in front of you creates desire.
  • It creates credibility. My promises aren’t vauge; they’re real.
  • Once a customer has bought from you, they can access the information really quickly if they need to.

So yeah, detailed bullet points are your friend. 🙂

6. Screenshots and graphics

Adding graphics and screenshots of what’s inside your product is a good idea. (Not just the packaging shots, but nitty-gritty detail shots.)

Not only do graphics perk up your sales page (to balance out all the words), but it’s another way of boosting credibility, too.

7. Risk reversal and the buying process

It’s a good idea to outline what happens next in the buying process, so that the customer doesn’t hit any potholes they’re not expecting. (If they know what’s likely to happen during the checkout process, they’re less likely to abandon it.)

A guarantee of some sort is really powerful here too. If you’re an internet marketer, a money-back guarantee is the norm.

If you’re in the professional services industry, that may not be such a relevant guarantee, so you’ll need to come up with another risk reversal mechanism. This could be a Promise, or a Pledge, for example.

8. Bonuses

If you’re offering bonuses, explain why they’re fabulous and such must-have items!

9. Product offer

Yep, this is where you name your price.

You may want to remind readers of your Guarantee (or other risk-reversal mechanism) at this point.

10. Customer service information

Technology isn’t perfect, so someone’s bound to encounter problems buying online. So be sure to include key contact details (which is great for trust-building, and therefore conversions, too).

11. Personal sign-off

Add your signature and profile photograph at the end of the sales page… this personal touch provides credibility and helps with conversions.

(No-one likes buying from ‘anonymous’ websites… it’s like the business owner has something to hide, and will raise a red flag to many of your prospects.)

12. “PS” message

Repeat your main message as a “PS” at the bottom. It’s surprising how many people will skim-read (or scroll through) the bulk of the sales copy, but will read the PS. So make it good – and make it stand out.

Can any other copywriters verify this approach to long sales copy?

Yes… and I’ll refer to two copywriters and internet marketers whose work I respect.

First of all, Sean D’Souza at Psychotactics.com has tested long versus short sales copy over many years. He’s discovered that long sales copy (when it’s well written and constructed) can increase sales – and result in fewer refund requests.

I really respect Sean’s work, as he walks the walk when it comes to marketing. He is very open about what’s been successful for him. (And if you haven’t read his book The Brain Audit, you should, it provides a good insight into why customers buy – and why they don’t. Plus you’ll see his own sales page when you click on the link.)

What’s more, Sean’s copywriting approach his classy. Personally I’m not big on sales pages that use lots of highlighter pens and pop-ups and look like get-rich-quick schemes… ugh! So I’m happy learning from Sean’s approach (I’ve taken a number of his courses) because (a) his techniques work, and (b) it’s a classy, high-quality approach.

Secondly, copywriter Bob Bly is an interesting character to watch. He reportedly makes a massive income from selling eBooks online (as well as from his freelance copywriting), so he’s got some interesting techniques to observe. All of his sales pages are long… the structure may be a little bit different to what I’ve outlined above, but most of the elements are covered. Here’s a example of a Bob Bly sales page, for his product on Building A Large and Profitable Email List.

You’ll notice that Bob Bly has “Order Now” buttons scattered throughout the page, whereas Sean D’Souza has the “Buy Now” buttons at the very end… this is because Sean wants you to read his sales copy right to the very end. (Fewer refunds that way!)

In short: successful internet marketers and copywriters whom I respect use long sales pages, so that’s the approach I’d recommend.

But I hate long sales copy…

If you hate long sales copy, you need to remember that the sales page isn’t for you – it’s for your prospects.

Besides, doesn’t the idea of more sales and fewer refunds appeal to you? C’mon!

But I really REALLY hate long sales pages…

OK, if you really REALLY hate long sales pages there is one more approach. But I’m writing about it with a Disclaimer, because I haven’t tested for myself how successful this approach is or not.

Here’s what you do:

1. Create a really enticing (short) sales page

This includes two links: a Buy Now link, and a link to More Information.

This makes the page appealing to both Decisive Dan and Tentatitve Tom readers.

2. The More Information page gives all the product details

… So essentially, you still have to write long sales copy… it’s just that not everyone is forced to read it.

Here are the problems I foresee with this approach:

  • (a) You have two website pages to maintain instead of one.
  • (b) You have an additional metric to measure, i.e. how many people are clicking through to the second page.
  • (c) You’ll most likely have more refund requests, because some people haven’t bothered to find out what they’re buying.

It’s your choice, but I think it may just be easier to have one long page…! 😉

Summary

  • How long should a sales page be? Long enough to give your prospects the information they need to make an informed decision.
  • A good sales page should include the following:
    • 1. An attention-grabbing headline: this must address the prospects’ primary problem or concern
    • 2. Demonstrate that you understand your prospects’ primary problem
    • 3. Present your solution
    • 4. Testimonials
    • 5. Bullet points
    • 6. Screenshots and graphic
    • 7. Risk reversal and the buying process
    • 8. Bonuses
    • 9. Product offer
    • 10. Customer service information
    • 11. Personal sign-off
    • 12. “PS” message
  • Successful internet marketers and copywriters whom I respect use long sales pages because these pages increase sales and decrease refund requests.

 

Copywriting tip: How to get your prospects to take action

Here’s a copywriting tip on why you need to treat your prospects like dogs…

(Hint: Avoid using negative language, and tell people what you DO want them to do!)


 
 
 
(Yes, this is me, Cornelia Luethi in the video, and here’s the link to the FREE Marketing Tips: http://wordsbycornelia.com/marketing-tips/)

Do you use negative phrases in your marketing copy?

Copywriting tip: how to get your prospects to take action!Here’s a better way:

… Instead of writing: “Don’t hesitate to contact us”, write, “Please get in touch”.

Instead of: “Don’t forget to sign up”, write, “Remember to sign up”.

And instead of: “It’s not a problem”, write, “It’s a pleasure”.

Little copywriting tricks like these make a world of difference to your marketing materials and website… and writing in this positive, easy-to-understand way doesn’t cost you a cent!

Why you need to take time out from your business

Do you schedule regular time out from your business?

Here’s why it’s important…

FREE Marketing Tips: http://wordsbycornelia.com/marketing-tips/

Why you need to take time out from your business

Hi, this is Cornelia Luethi from The Leaky Bathtub, and thank for joining me on my mid-winter break on Waiheke Island.

Waiheke Island is an hour by car ferry from Auckland, New Zealand. It’s home to about 8,000 residents, and has dozens of good restaurants and wineries.

It gets pretty busy on the island over summer, but it’s a nice place to visit in winter, too.

I rent a cottage on the beach for a few nights, with my man and my dog, most winters.

In fact, we take short breaks throughout the year. These mini-vacations don’t have to be extravagant or expensive – the aim is for me to get out of the house, seeing as I work from home. It’s about having a change of scenery, and relaxing.

My business is actually better off for me taking these breaks… here’s why…

1. Breaks revitalise you

Firstly, the breaks help me recharge my batteries. Like most small business owners, I work long hours, and over time that takes its toll. Constantly working long hours is tiring for both the brain and the body, and that’s when we get prone to getting sick or burnt out.

Getting sick or burnt out doesn’t help me or my customers, so it’s best all round if I look after myself.

2. The distance gives you a new perspective

The second reason why it’s good to get away from your business is that it gives you distance.

Huh?

That might sound obvious… after all, if you’re away from your business, of course there’s distance! But I’m not just talking about geographical distance. By getting away from the daily demands of work, you get a new perspective on things.

I find that when I’m on holiday, the creative side of my brain kicks in. I get all inspired about my business, and my long-term goals become clearer to me.

Ideas, ideas, and more ideas!

In fact, I get so many ideas, that I always take a notebook to jot my ideas down. These ideas then get incorporated into my one-page marketing plan.

And believe me, writing a marketing plan is so much easier when your ideas are flowing freely, rather than trying to get inspiration sat at your desk, where your phone’s ringing, and your In Box is overflowing!

So if you think that you can’t afford to take time out from your business, my question to you is:
… Can you afford NOT to take time out?

Isn’t it better you take care of yourself, than to get sick and burnt out?

Why you need to take time out from your business

Breaks are also a really good way of re-connecting with our loved ones.

Believe me, your favourite people are going to love that you’re spending more quality time with them!

Anyway, speaking of loved ones, I’m off to spend more time with mine… till next time!

Why I love the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO website copywriting

If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast SEO plugin can help boost your Google rankings. Here's how to use it...

If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast SEO plugin can help boost your Google rankings. Here’s how to use it…

One of the benefits of WordPress websites is that you can add so much functionality, by using plugins.

A WordPress plugin that’s on my “must have” list is the Yoast SEO plugin. (This article relates to version 1.4.x of the plugin.)

Now, I know that the Yoast SEO plugin does a heap of cool stuff, and the features I use are just the beginning. So there’s a lot more to it than this article covers. What I’m going to be talking about is specific to SEO website copywriting.

How to use the Yoast SEO plugin to help you with your SEO website copywriting

Using the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO website copywriting has two main stages:

  1. Inputting the focus keyword and meta data
  2. Analysing the content and making tweaks.

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

1. Input the focus keyword and meta data

First of all, you need a focus keyword (derived from your keyword research and keyword strategy). You need just one focus keyword for each web page or post.

As an example, let’s use screenshots from this actual blog post, where I’ve chosen “Yoast SEO plugin” as my focus keyword… That makes sense, yes? Seeing as this is an article primarily about the Yoast SEO plugin. (Oh, look at me dropping the keyword in yet again!)

(Note: “Yoast SEO plugin review” would probably be an even better keyword, but it’s kinda hard to write that naturally in the copy. The golden rule of website copywriting – even SEO website copywriting – is to write for human readers first of all. If something sounds stilted and awkward, don’t write it that way.)

You input your focus keyword in the “General” tab of the plugin window… which is on the same page of your WordPress admin as the page or post you’re writing, so all you need to do is scroll down.

The orange “1”, below, indicates where you put your focus keyword (and it even comes up with some suggestions… though personally I always ignore these!):

yoast-seo-plugin-1

As you can see, the plugin automatically generates a Meta Title and Meta Description (see the orange “2”), but you should re-write these… you can do oh so much better!

(a) The Meta Title (called the “SEO Title” in Yoast)

The Meta Title will show up in the search engine results, so you need to make this an enticing headline that grabs readers’ attention.

AND it needs to include your focus keyword… and you get extra Brownie Points if it’s at the very beginning.

AND you should stay within the 70 character word limit. (Something that’s a little too short is better than it being too long.)

AND every page on your website needs a unique Meta Title, or Google will penalise your site’s rankings.

You can see the Meta Title I’ve written for this article in the image below, next to the orange “3”:

yoast-seo-plugin-2

(b) The Meta Description

The Meta Description may show up in the search results… or else Google may just use a random bit of text from your web page. Assume that it will show up.

Also, apparently according to Google, it doesn’t matter if you use your focus keyword in the Meta Description or not… but let’s face it, it’s not going to hurt. So I’d always suggest using it (as does the Yoast SEO plugin).

So here you can write a short (156 character max.) blurb. Make it a bit of a teaser; make it enticing so that people want to click through.

Do make the description accurate and relevant to your web page, too. And every page on your website needs a unique Meta Description.

You can see the Meta Description I’ve written for this article in the image above, next to the orange “4”.

Stick to the character count!

What’s super handy about this plugin is that a character count is included… there’s nothing worse than having your copy cut short in the Google search results. (That looks very unprofessional.)

And the character count saves you so much time, rather than using the word count in Word, and copying and pasting and all those shenanigans.

2. Analyse the content and make tweaks

OK, now that you’ve loaded your content and entered the focus keyword, Meta Title and Meta Description you can see how your content stacks up.

As soon as you hit “Save Draft” you’ll see some information come up in the “General” tab of the Yoast SEO plugin (highlighted in yellow, below):

yoast-seo-plugin-6

… But it can do much, much more than that.

Click on the “Page Analysis” tab and you’ll see something like this:

yoast-seo-plugin-3

As you can see, it uses a traffic light system to show you what you’ve done well (indicated by a green circle); important things that need attention (indicated by a red circle); and not-so-important things to consider (indicated by an orange circle).

And if you look at the “Publish” pane, it gives an overall “traffic light” for the page:

yoast-seo-plugin-4

… as you can see, I get a nice, big fat green light for this page. Woohoo!

Important: A green light isn’t a guarantee of success, it’s simply an indicator that you’ve done your job well. After all, the actual Google rankings have so many other variables, like degree of competition for your chosen keywords; your site’s overall Page Rank; number of quality inbound links to your site; etc. etc. But by getting a green light, you’re well on your way.

I’d also suggest that you set up your All Posts and All Pages admin areas to resemble this:

yoast-seo-plugin-5

That way, you can see at a glance the traffic light ranking for each page; the focus keyword; and the Meta Data. Then you can quickly see which pages you’ve optimised well, and which pages need attention.

Do all pages and posts need a green light?

In my view, you shouldn’t worry about getting the green light for all your pages and posts… It just isn’t possible all the time.

Using the focus keyword should read naturally, and if you can’t possibly use the keyword naturally, then leave it be.

At the end of the day it is always better to write quality content for human readers than ticking all the SEO boxes.

What if you’re already using an SEO plugin, such as All In One SEO Pack?

At the time of writing this article (July 2013), the All In One SEO Pack plugin doesn’t come close to the Yoast SEO plugin.

One client paid his web developer to migrate the data from the All In One SEO Pack to the Yoast SEO plugin. Then I carried out an Analysis of all the web pages and blog posts, and made some small tweaks here and there to get that “green light” on as many pages as possible.

This resulted in increased website visibility for the client, and just a year after launching his brand new website (on a new URL), he is ranking naturally on Page 1 of Google for all of his chosen keywords. The Yoast SEO plugin definitely helped with that.

Other cool stuff that the Yoast SEO plugin can help you with

There’s a bunch of other stuff that the Yoast SEO plugin can do for your WordPress site, such as XML sitemaps, and a whole lot more… things that are far too technical for me, and that I get my web designer to look after. You’ll need to read the Yoast website to check out the rest of the features. 🙂

PS. A thank you…

A big thank you to my awesome web designer, Trisha Cupra at Blue Owl Web Design Makeovers for telling me about this plugin in the first place. This lady is the WordPress Queen, she seriously knows her stuff when it comes to effective websites.

 

How to get your prospects to take action

Do you ever wish that your prospects were a little more… obedient?

That they took the action you want them to take?

The trick is to treat them like dogs… all is explained in this video!

FREE Marketing Tips: http://wordsbycornelia.com/marketing-tips/

Do you ever wish that your prospects and customers were a little more obedient?

Do you wish that more of your customers and prospects took the action you suggest in your emails, website pages, letters and brochures?

The trick to getting your customers to be more obedient is to treat them like dogs…

It's not just dogs that don't understand negative commands - neither do your prospects.

It’s not just dogs that don’t understand negative commands – neither do your prospects.

Let me explain…

Imagine that I’m telling my dog to “not sit”.

What do you think my dog, Minnie, would do?

Why, she sits down, of course!

Minnie, didn’t hear the word “don’t”… she only heard the word “sit”.

Humans are much the same…

Although we may hear negative words, such as “not” or “do not” or “don’t”; our brain picks up on the main word in the sentence. So the negative word affects our ability to communicate clearly.

Let’s have a look at some examples to show what I mean.

Here are some common things that I’ve seen business owners write in their marketing:

Here’s a classic example: “Don’t hesitate to contact us.”

Now let’s look at that again…

The message that sticks in my brain is: “Hesitate to contact us.”

Or what about: “Don’t forget to sign up.”

Ugh, the word that I’m hearing is “forget”! Of course I’ll forget, my To Do list is long enough!

Or: “It’s not a problem.”

Oh dear, all I’m hearing is: “Problem!”

Have you used negative phrases like that in your marketing and business communications?

Here’s a better way… instead of writing: “Don’t hesitate to contact us”, write, “Please get in touch”.

Doesn’t that sound a lot friendlier?

Instead of: “Don’t forget to sign up”, write, “Remember to sign up”.

And instead of: “It’s not a problem”, write, “It’s a pleasure”.

Do you see how those small changes make your business seem far more friendly, approachable and positive?

It’s such a small thing, but it really makes a difference.

Go on, give it a try next time you write some marketing copy.

Then have a look at your existing marketing materials – printed and online.

Zap those negatives and replace them with the positive actions you want your readers to take.

That way, you’ll get more customers and prospects taking the action you want them to take… and you’ll get to earn more, um, dog biscuits.

Talking of earning dog biscuits, notice how this is a small tweak you can make to your marketing that is absolutely free to make?

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How to write a Contact Us page (that actually makes it enticing for prospects to contact you!)

It's vital that your website's Contact Us page makes it easy and enticing for prospects to contact you.

It’s vital that your website’s Contact Us page makes it easy and enticing for prospects to contact you.

What action would you like your readers to take when they look at your website?

Do you want prospects to contact you? Perhaps to make an appointment, or to request a quote?

Some kind of “Contact Us” message is the main call-to-action on most brochure-style websites. So hopefully you’ve got calls-to-action sprinkled throughout your site. (And ideally in a way that’ll appeal to both Decisive Dan and also Tentative Tom readers.)

But what happens when people visit your Contact Us page?

Is your Contact Us page carefully crafted to sound friendly and inviting?

Or is it a page that you quickly threw together to get it off your To Do list as fast as possible? (After all, how hard can it be to write a good Contact Us page?!)

It’s kind of ironic that the most important page on a website is usually written without much thought…

It doesn’t make sense when you stop to think about it, does it? If “Contact Us” is the primary call-to-action on your website, then you need to put a bit of effort in when you write a Contact Us page.

Here’s a checklist of things you should include when you write a Contact Us page:

1. Friendly introductory blurb

Don’t just go straight to the nitty-gritty contact details, as that can come across as being rather abrupt.

Instead, add a sentence or two right at the beginning of your Contact Us page that makes your company sound friendly and approachable.

2. Email address

Even if your website has an enquiry form, you should always always include an email address as well. Read my article to find out why you should include an email address.

3. Contact form

You should be aware that lots of people (a) hate filling out forms, and (b) have filled out forms, only to never hear from the company they’ve contacted. So treat contact forms with caution.

To make contact forms more user friendly:

  • ALWAYS specify how quickly you’ll respond to enquiries. Will it be within 24 hours? Or 1 to 2 business days? Tell the reader! Also tell them what to do if they don’t hear back within that time frame.This is really important. Contact Forms aren’t perfect. By adding this blurb, the keenest prospects will get back in touch with you. (This happened to me just last week!)
  • NEVER use CAPTCHA – you know, those awful codes you have to input to prove that you’re not a robot or a spammer. Most of them are totally illegible and incredibly frustrating. Read my rant about CAPTCHA – which includes a far better (and totally unobtrusive, human-friendly) solution.

4. Physical and postal addresses

Putting an address on your website is vital for building trust, as it shows that you are a real, actual business.

Now, here in New Zealand things are a bit quirky in that many businesses get their mail delivered to a PO (Post Office) Box rather than to their physical address. That’s the norm here. I have no idea why.

But having  PO Box address is good for work-at-home businesses, like myself. A friend of mine, who also works from home, initially put her physical address on her website and business card, and then had an unexpected visit from a client – whilst she was in her pyjamas! Oops! In this scenario, by using a PO Box address you can still build trust, but without having to worry about strangers seeing your PJs.

Extra tips for businesses whose premises are visited by clients…

If clients routinely visit your business, there are some extra things you should do:

  • Opening hours: You would be amazed at the number of physical retailers that don’t put their opening hours on their website. Craziness!
  • By appointment only: Don’t have set opening hours? Then tell readers that they are welcome to visit, but must make an appointment first. That way they know where they stand, and what to do.
  • Car parking information: Visiting a business can be stressful for people, especially if they’re not familiar with the area. It can also be incredibly frustrating to get somewhere and find out that there’s no parking available, or that they need change for the parking meter.
    • Visitor Parking: make it clear if you have Visitor Parking, and what the procedure is for parking there (for example, does the space need to be pre-booked?).
    • Other parking: If you don’t provide parking, tell readers where they can park, and if they need to pay for the parking, tell them what the payment methods are (e.g. cash, credit card, TXT-a-park, etc.). This is hugely valuable for people like me who never carry cash!
    • Time limits: Also, if there’s a time limit on the parking (e.g. 30 minutes, an hour, two hours), let people know. You’d be making a very big negative deposit into your customers’ emotional bank balances if they were to get a parking ticket, clamp or towed as a result of visiting your business!
  • Photograph of your building’s exterior: Makes it easy for prospects to find your business.
  • Map: Ditto! My preferred tool is Google Maps… not only is it free, but their maps are also interactive and let users get directions… very handy!
  • Directions: If your premises are difficult to find, include written directions as well.
  • Public transport links: If your customers take public transport to travel to you, include this information. E.g.: bus route(s), location of nearest bus stop or train station, etc.

5. Phone numbers

Yes, list all of your relevant phone numbers:

  • Land line
  • Cell phone
  • Fax
  • Skype username.

If there’s a specific number you’d prefer people to call you on (e.g. your cell phone, if you’re always out and about), then:

(a)  Put your preferred phone number at the top of the list.

(b)  Make your preferred phone number bold and stand out.

(c)  Make it clear that that’s your preferred number, e.g. by saying “this is the best number to call us on” next to it.

Also, if you prefer being contacted by phone than email, then put your phone number(s) nearer the top of the web page, and the email details below it.

(And likewise, if you prefer email contact, put your email address near the top of the page, and the phone numbers further down the page.)

6. Links to social media profiles

The Contact Us page is a good place to include links to your social media profiles:

  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube Channel
  • Pinterest
  • Anything else that you use!

Tip: set up these links to your social media profiles so that they open in a new web browser window (the HTML code for this is: target=_blank). This means that visitors won’t be taken away from your company website.

You could include your Facebook Feed or Twitter stream here, but that’s not essential.

7. Photographs of key contact people

Remember, the goal of the Contact Us page is to encourage prospects to contact you. And making your company look friendly and approachable will really help with that.

So be sure to include some staff photos on your Contact Us page. Photos help with trust building – and also help with building rapport.

If you have a Receptionist or Customer Services team, or other people who field most of the calls and enquiries, use their photos. A good caption to go with this kind of photo is:

“Mary Smith, our Receptionist, is the friendly voice you’ll first speak to when you call us.”

(The caption explains who the person is; and what their role is in the business.)

Or if you’re a one-person business, use your own photo and write a suitable caption.

8. Signature

Finally, end the page with your signature, name and credentials.

This helps with building trust – you can read all about using signatures for trust building here.

9. PS message with a final call-to-action

Is there a really important message you’d like to remind people of before they leave your site? Then include it in a “PS” message at the end.

PS messages do get read, and if people have scrolled to the bottom of your Contact Us page (and haven’t made contact), then point them towards some other useful content on your website. The person reading this message is likely to be a “Tentative Tom“, so your job is to give them all the information they need to spur them into contacting you.

Here are examples of the final call-to-action you could include in your PS message:

  • Testimonials page: Want to see what our customers are saying about us? Find out here
  • Newsletter sign-up: Get all the latest tips for free! 
  • Free quote: Contact us today for your free quote: call
  • Resources: Get the inside tips…

Pick just one message in your PS… if there’s more than one option, the reader will probably feel overwhelmed!

Summary

  • “Contact us” is the main call-to-action on many small business websites, yet many businesses throw these pages together quickly without much thought.
  • A good contact us page helps with conversions – and also helps to build rapport with your prospects.
  • Include the following when you write a Contact Us page for your website:
    1. Friendly introductory blurb
    2. Email address
    3. Contact form
    4. Physical and postal addresses
    5. Phone numbers
    6. Links to social media profiles
    7. Photographs of key contact people
    8. Signature
    9. PS message with a final call-to-action
  • If you have business premises that you want your customers and prospects to visit, also include:
    • Opening hours – or by appointment only
    • Car parking information: visitor parking, other parking, and any time limits
    • Photograph of your building’s exterior
    • Map
    • Directions
    • Public transport links

 

 

An easy-peasy headline writing technique you can use right away…

Need to write a good headline – but don’t have time to suss out a bunch of different headline writing techniques?

Here’s an easy way to write a decent headline in 3 simple steps:

FREE Marketing Tips:  http://wordsbycornelia.com/marketing-tips/

Summary:

Good headlines help attract readers' attention... here's an easy headline writing technique.

Good headlines help attract readers’ attention… here’s an easy headline writing technique.

There are lots of headline writing techniques out there, but this one is probably the easiest to learn… and it works really well.

Step 1: Ask a question
Step 2. Use the word ‘you’ in your question
Step 3: The question should address a problem that your prospect is experiencing

Example: the intro to this video uses this technique! It is:

Are you struggling to write an attention-grabbing headline?

Next time you need to write a headline, see if you can use this headline writing technique.

Then, review your existing marketing materials (printed and online) and give them a re-vamp by writing a catchy headline.

iPhone video hero

PS. Yes, this is me, Cornelia, in the video!

This is my very first attempt at a video blog – or ‘vlog’ as it’s called.

It’s filmed on my iPhone using techniques learned from iPhone Video Hero… you can get a FREE eBook on iPhone Video Marketing here.

A rant about CAPTCHA (and a possible better solution)

I'll never understand why some companies make it so hard to do business with them.

I’ll never understand why some companies make it so hard to do business with them.

How do you feel about “CAPTCHA” forms?

You know, those awful, illegible “words” that you have to type in on some websites (usually on enquiry forms).

About CAPTCHA…

CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”… or in other words, it’s a test to check that it’s a human filling in the website form, not an automated spam robot.

Guilty till proven innocent

To me, it seems totally rude to ask your website visitors to waste their time trying to interpret these frustrating eye-tests.

I mean seriously, what next? Do prospects also have to jump through hoops of fire to contact you?!

An example of a terrible CAPTCHA…

Here’s an example I had to contend with recently:

CAPTCHA

 

Nope, I have no idea what it says. They’re not even real words, for goodness sake!

This was from a website that I had to use to fulfil a job for a copywriting client.

Every time I hit ‘refresh’ the CAPTCHA had the same level of gobbledygook as this. And there was no audio version for people with hearing problems… it’s rude, rude, rude!

Are you really that worried about spam?

If you have a half decent email system, most spam will get filtered out automatically. I use Gmail (via Google Apps) as my email provider, and I’m really happy with the spam filtering. 

The supplier I used previously wasn’t so good, but personally I’d rather delete a few spam emails than make it so ridiculously hard for people to contact me.

There’s a better way: the spam honeypot

Disclaimer: I’m not a website programmer; I’m just repeating information my awesome web designer has shared with me.

Instead of the “guilty till proven innocent” approach of CAPTCHA, there’s another method called the “spam honeypot” that seeks to trip up robots (not humans). Hurrah!

The way it works is that a hidden text field is added to Contact forms. This field is invisible to human users, but the spam bots aren’t aware of this, so they will insert something into that form. The system then knows that this was a spammer, and you’ll never even see the spam.

Cool, huh?

It is effective (and something that’s used on this website).

So please, instead of using annoying, frustrating and rude CAPTCHA forms… ask your web developer to use nice and unobtrusive spam honeypots instead! 

 

Why you need both a 2D and 3D cover for your book or eBook

One copywriting task I often help my clients with is eBook, book or white paper writing, as I’ve built up some good experience with my own eBooks.

An important consideration for this kind of document is its cover: after all, books are very much judged by their covers. And just because the book may be electronic (either a PDF, Kindle, ePub or another format), a great cover design is a must. Even if the eBook is free! (You still have to convince people that it’s worth their while downloading and reading.)

What you may not realise is that you need both a 2D and a 3D book cover design.

Let’s take a look at what they are, how they’re different, and how each is used…

Introducing the 2D (or “flat”) book cover

Here are a couple of examples of a 2D (flat) book cover design:

Above: The 2D cover for one of my own eBooks, published in PDF format.Above: The 2D cover for a cartoon book I've published in paperback and Kindle formats.

… as you can see, the name is exactly what it says… the design is square and flat and two-dimensional.

How and where you use the 2D book covers

Not only will you need the 2D cover to create the 3D cover (more on that later), but you’ll also need it as follows:

  • For PDF eBooks: This should be inserted on the first page of your book document.
  • For Kindle and ePub eBooks: This is also inserted on the first page of your book document. And additionally this is the image used on your online bookstore (e.g. Amazon.com) listings.

Introducing the 3D cover

The 3D cover is created with the 2D cover as a starting point… here are some examples:

Above: the 3D cover for my Website Owner's Manual book.Above: the 3D cover for my Website Owner's Manual book.

How do you create the 3D cover?

3D cover designs take a lot of skill to do well. (Good design is harder than it looks!) If you have good design skills in PhotoShop software, then you can use PhotoShop actions such as Cover Action Pro.

Personally, I prefer to stick to my strengths (i.e. writing!) and let an expert design my book covers. Trisha Cupra at Blue Owl Web Design has designed all of my covers for me.

Note: there are plenty of other options available for 3D cover creation, but that’s what works for me.

Some tips on 3D cover design

There are so many whizzy 3D book designs out there it can be hard to choose the right design sometimes! Here are some tricks I’ve learned from my cover designer:

Keep the design plain

Too much text and detailed images won’t be legible once your design is reduced in size. Stick to:

  • The title of the book (in a font that’s easy to read)
  • Your name (also in a legible font)
  • One clear image that can be seen even at a small size.

Choose an appropriate book thickness

If your book is short, then pick a design that also looks slim. And if your book is blockbuster length, than choose a design that represents that. It gives your audience an idea of what to expect, and they may feel cheated or misled if what they receive doesn’t match with their expectations.

For example, the 3D images above demonstrates roughly how long the books are. Compare that to another eBook of mine, which is longer:

Above: This 3D design makes it obvious that this eBook I've written is relatively long and comprehensive.

Above: This 3D design makes it obvious that this eBook I’ve written is relatively long and comprehensive.

 

Avoid whacky angles

Some eBook designs use crazy angles where the text runs almost diagonally, making it very hard to read. It’s far better to stick with a design where the angle is more normal, and the text runs horizontally.

Where to use the 3D book covers

OK, so now that you know what 3D book covers look like, and how they’re created – how do you actually use them?

The place where you use the 3D book covers is on your own website. The 3D design is purely to promote your book and make it look attractive.

3D book covers get more sales (or sign ups, if it’s a free white paper), simply because they look more enticing… and a whole lot more professional, too. Packaging sells, so this a good cover design is definitely worth investing in.

After all, you want your book to get read, so you’re doing yourself a big favour if you package it nicely!

Summary

  • 2D (“flat”) book covers are used as follows:
    • PDF eBooks: Insert the 2D design on the first page of your book document.
    • For Kindle and ePub eBooks: Inserted the 2D design on the first page of your book document. And additionally this is the image used on your online bookstore listings (e.g. Amazon.com).
    • 3D cover generation: the 2D cover is a starting point in the design process for the 3D cover.
  • 3D covers are used on your website to promote your book. Packaging sells, and books with attractive covers sell better.
  • If you’re not a design whizz yourself, engage someone to do this for you… ideally someone with book cover design experience, as their are some unique design factors for book covers. I’d suggest that you:
    • Keep the design plain.
    • Choose a book thickness that’s relevant to your book
    • Avoid whacky angles where the text is hard to read. Try and keep the text as horizontal as possible.