Tag Archives: web copywriting tips

Eyetracking study reveals enlightening online tactics

Enlightening eytracking study

Enlightening eytracking study

Want to know whether your homepage layout is effective? Or if readers prefer short paragraphs over long ones? And if your ads are in the best place to be noticed by your audience?

Take a few minutes out of your day and read over the latest findings from Eyetrack III (via ProBlogger and the Direct Creative Blog). Their research could give your team a better idea of where to start and what to fix when it comes to your Web site design.

You can check out the full article for a complete overview of their findings, but here are some of the main points:

Headlines first, then pictures. When people first land on a page, they tend to look at dominant headlines before looking at pictures. Headlines located in the upper left of the page got the most attention.

The first few words in a headline are most important. A headline will grab less than a second of a visitor’s attention and it appears that the first few words need to be the most eye-catching. People scan the first couple words before deciding to read on.

Use large type for scanning, small type for closer reading. Smaller type is harder to read, so visitors have to focus when they want to find out more. As always, large type should be used for headlines to allow for easy scanning.

Short paragraphs have a better chance of being read than longer ones. Long paragraphs, especially on the Web, look difficult to read. Short paragraphs are more appealing.

Ads in the top and left portions of a homepage get the most attention. Our eyes tend to look at the upper left of a page when we first arrive on it.

Bigger ads are better. Bigger ads have a better chance of being seen. When ads are also placed next to popular content they’ll generally get more attention.

Top free resources to improve your online writing

Whether you’re Tweeting, blogging or creating new content for your website, good writing skills are a key to your online success.

Improving your online writing skills doesn’t have to involve expensive courses or training seminars. In fact, you can find some of the best training for free online.

Check out some of these great free resources to improve your online writing:

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online – Formal college courses take time and money to complete, but luckily there are plenty of universities out there offering free writing courses online.

Copyblogger – Everyday the writers at Copyblogger deliver the latest best practices and tips for web writing. Improve your copywriting skills using resources ranging from “Copywriting 101” to “Writing Headlines.”

Problogger – Along with tips on writing for the web, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger offers daily tips on how to promote your blog, blog design and improve your search engine optimization.

Confident Writing – A blog by writing coach Johanna Young offering advice, encouragement and instruction on how to be a confident writer online and off.

Daily Writing Tips – Five talented professional writers offer exactly what the title of their blog states, daily tips on how to improve your writing.

Grammar Girl – Improve your writing skills with friendly and quick writing tips from Mignon Fogarty. Grammar Girl makes confusing grammar rules simple with memorable tricks.

Manage Your Writing – According to blog author Kenneth Davis, “writing is a process that can be managed, like any other business process.” Learn how to manage your writing in almost the same way you manage your people, money and time.

Improve your online marketing with tips from the cover of Cosmo

For years, magazine publishers have been mixing traditional and new marketing tactics to quickly catch the attention of a distracted audience and convince them to subscribe.

Though the medium may be different, online marketers can still learn a thing or two from their offline counterparts. Recently, Paul Gillin wrote a guest post at HubSpot outlining exactly what businesses can take from the print world and how to apply it to online marketing.

Here are his top five web publishing secrets to learn from the cover of popular women’s magazines:

  1. Get their attention. “Cover stories are everything,” when it comes to the success of each new issue. Choose topics that matter the most to your audience and will have them coming back for more each time you publish.
  2. Make it easy. Women’s magazines are generally broken up by units of single pages and 100-word sound bites. Content is kept in quick and simple segments to snag readers and keep them reading.
  3. Speak to your reader. Don’t be afraid to use words like “I,” “me,” “you,” “our” and “us.” And remember, “People don’t just want information; they want to know how information affects them.”
  4. Show your face. “Humans respond strongly to the faces of other humans.” Whenever possible, include people in your images with lively facial expressions.
  5. Tell a story. People enjoy hearing stories about other people. They’re also the most powerful way to get your message across.

Is your business sending a clear marketing message?

With everything you want to say to your customer, keeping your marketing message clear can be difficult. But …

“If readers don’t understand what you write, you might as well have written nothing at all,” according to Skellie at Copyblogger.

So, how do you give the customer all the information they want without muffling the message? Start with these tips for delivering a clear message:

  • Remember the three top enemies of writing for the web – metadiscourse, redundancy and pretentiousness.
  • Keep it simple. If your mom, kid or neighbor can’t understand what you’re saying, chances are your customers will be lost as well.
  • Talk directly to your customer. Using “you” in your message creates engaging copy on a personal level.
  • Use punctuation to bring attention to important information. Ellipses (…), quotes, and long dashes can help people read what’s important in short bites.
  • Keep it short. No one has time to sit around and read essays, give customers information in short, quick snippets.

Those at Human Markets recently sent a crystal clear lesson reminding us to keep our messages precise:

“Lesson for the wise communicator – the market for attention is frequently a cloudy distracted place. Clear signals and a bit of tailoring to the circumstances at hand frequently help interrupt the pattern.”

Promote content, generate buzz with Yahoo Buzz!

Yahoo Buzz!

Yahoo Buzz!

Six months ago Yahoo launched Buzz!, what some call a Digg “clone,” on their homepage. Originally there were only 100 publishers posting content to the site, but Yahoo has opened the doors to everyone.

Now, anyone with “buzzable” news can submit articles and posts to the site. The Buzz community then votes on submissions, posts with the most votes are pushed to the top of the ranking boards.

While Yahoo ranks second under Google, their front page still welcomes an average of 90 million U.S. visitors a month.

The network is new, still in beta, but has potential. If you already submit content to sites like Digg, reddit or Propeller, you may want to add Yahoo Buzz to your list of article submission sites.

For a review on how to use article submission sites like Digg and Buzz! to increase website or blog traffic review some tips from Problogger.

How ‘smart’ is your press release? Grade it for free

HubSpot’s new Press Release Grader is an online application that evaluates and scores your press releases for free. (Special thanks to David Meerman Scott for sharing the good news with the marketing world.)

Just cut and paste the press release content into the tool, along with company information including your name, website and email. In a few seconds the site will come back with a “marketing effectiveness score” and specific suggestions on improvements.

Press releases are graded on basic factors most public relations experts stick to, along with factors from Internet marketing experts such as links and search engine optimization characteristics.

If you regularly create and distribute marketing press releases, check out the Press Release Grader and see how well you score.

Adding the human touch to customer communication

Seth Godin points out the obvious in a recent post about “rough edges and attention.” Explaining that sometimes it’s the human touch that gets things noticed. Like a haphazardly placed sign on the back of a UPS truck or the list of specials on a restaurant table, “you notice it because a human being did it.”

Add a human touch to your marketing pieces, “you” is a powerful word. Remember that your customers are people. Think of how you communicate with family and friends. Try to extend that type of communication across to your customers. Talk to people like they’re people.

After you figure out your customer demographic, how do you know how to talk to them? What tone will fit best?

Copyblogger tackled that topic early last month in a post titled “Are You Talkin’ to My Generation?

Your customers may fit into one or a variety of groups, that’s up to you to figure out. Copyblogger can get you started by breaking most consumers into four categories: the silent generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.

Here’s their general breakdown of how each likes to be spoken to:

Silent Generation: respect for authority; conformity and adherence to the rules; law, order and duty; dedication, hard work and sacrifice.

Baby Boomers: personal gratification; personal growth, health and wellness; optimism and positive attitude; teamwork and being involved.

Generation X: diversity and global thinking; self-reliance and independence; life balance; fun and informal attitude; technologically literate.

Generation Y: confidence and achievement; sociability and collective action; diversity and morality; street-smart; optimistic and savvy.

“These days, it’s not enough to slap up a nice design and some well-written content. You have to get into the heads of your buyers and learn how they think – and why they think that way.”