Tag Archives: writing for the web

7 tips to turn your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read

The purpose of sending out a newsletter is to create or strengthen the relationship between you and your customers by sharing valuable content. As a part of your overall marketing mix, the B2B newsletter is a dependable method for driving customers to your site and giving a boost to your sales numbers.

In the B2B world, coming up with interesting topics that will keep your audience interested can be difficult to do with each and every mailing. Here are seven great ideas for turning your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read:

  1. Ask for help. Do you work with a vendor who enjoys writing? Ask them to write an article  to be featured in your next newsletter. It will make your newsletter more interesting while strengthening the relationship with your vendor.
  2. Summarize articles. Use short summary paragraphs to entice your readers to click through and read the article on your website. Keeping it short helps people quickly get the information they need.
  3. Have fun. Find topics that may not be directly related to the kind of business you do, but that will entertain your audience. Turning a story about an alligator caught in a sewer into a valuable business lesson may take some creativity on your part, but your audience will enjoy reading it.
  4. Answer customer questions. Are your customer service representatives being asked the same questions over and over? Turn those questions into articles that provide customers with information before they have to ask for it.
  5. Follow the competition. Sign up for your competitor’s newsletter and follow the topics they write about. Their topics could spark ideas to include in future newsletters.
  6. Reuse and recycle. Repurpose some of the old articles that have been collecting dust in your content library. As long as the content is still relevant, recycling articles is a great way to create new content.
  7. Ask your readers. Send some of your customers a small survey asking what kind of topics they would like to hear about in the newsletter. When you know exactly what they want to hear, you can’t go wrong.

Coming up with interesting content every time you put your B2B newsletter together can be extremely difficult if you’re not prepared. With a plan and a little creativity, your next newsletter can be a hit.

Do you have any more tips for turning a boring B2B newsletter into a must-read? How do you consistently come up with interesting topics?

Growing your fan base on Twitter: What not to do

Using Twitter for business has proven to be a valuable tool for many companies, but like any growing media, the rules are still developing and constantly changing.

In a recent post at Mashable, blogger Atherton Bartleby compares the interaction between people on Twitter to that of a fabulous party:

“We’ve all been there: You’re at a party hosted by that one fabulous friend, and populated with the best of your mutual circle of friends. The atmosphere is almost carbonated with excitement; the guests’ personalities flawlessly compliment each other; and the conversations that abound are infused with intelligence, caustic wit, and a wide variety of knowledge that ensures the complete absence of any pregnant, awkward pauses. Then, it happens: someone appears who just doesn’t…fit.”

A similar situation occurs on Twitter when someone starts following you and doesn’t fit into the conversation. “This is the person whose follow on Twitter you simply cannot bring yourself to return,” and what Bartleby calls the “follow fail.”

If you would like to grow the number of followers you have on Twitter and get Bartelby to start following you too, here are a few pointers from his list of top reasons why he doesn’t follow some people in return:

  • No user avatar. You may think that tiny 48 x 48 pixel avatar is insignificant, but it may have a lot to do with whether people choose to follow you or not. Create an avatar that is either a personalized photograph or reflective of your brand to help users associate your Twitter account with your company.
  • You profile is lacking. Take a minute or two to make sure your Twitter profile includes your location, website and a short bio. Remember, you want people to follow you – so explain why they should.
  • It’s all about you. By using Twitter, you hope to increase awareness of your brand to drive more people to your site to buy your stuff, but you don’t have to make it so obvious. Show that your account is worthy of followers by sharing valuable content, not just product updates.
  • You’re not engaging. Engage and interact with the people who are following you. “They aren’t called ‘social’ networking and ‘social’ media for nothing.

And that’s not even the half of it … read more Twitter tips here.

Like any other aspect of your business, Twitter should be used to create value for your followers. Twitter has the potential to improve your business if you work to engage the people in your network, start interesting conversations and share valuable information.

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.

What’s the best email subject line length?

New research shows that the length of your email subject lines may not be the most important factor when it comes to email performance.

While sending emails with shorter subject lines does correlate with higher open and click-thru rates, subject-line word order and content may be just as important to email performance, according to new research by U.S. marketing services firm Epsilon.

Epsilon analyzed more than one billion emails over almost 20,000 separate campaigns, finding that the relationship between subject-line length and open and click-thru rates is relatively weak.

The most critical email success factors include word order, word choice and brand and audience awareness, according to their analysis.

“Marketers should keep in mind that most recipients will likely decide to open an email based on their relationship with the sender and the first 38 to 47 characters of the subject line,” the report stated. “However, that decision may depend less on a subject line of 38 to 47 characters, and more on the information those 38 to 47 characters contain. campaign, the vital piece of information may be the brand name. For another, it may be the consumer benefit.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Put the most emphasis on positioning the most important elements first. Put the most important information at the beginning of your subject lines.
  • Keep subject lines as short as possible. Use only as many characters as you need to convey the message. Use long subject lines only when there is a compelling reason to do so.

We usually spend the most time thinking about and testing the creative aspects of emails, leaving little time to focus on subject lines. Remember, more people will be looking at our subject lines than will ever take a peek at the creative.

Your 2009 content marketing to-do list

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again … content is king. To achieve online success in your organization next year, you will have to learn how to deliver relevant and valuable content to your audience.

“If 2008 was the year social media went mainstream, 2009 should be the year of content marketing, the corporation as media company, the brand as publisher and broadcaster,” according to at Junta42.

He recently put together an awesome content marketing to-do list for 2009 at Junta42 that is more than worthwhile to check out. Here are just a few of our favorite content marketing tactics to include in your plan for next year:

  • Tell the story differently using different media. Don’t just take the print version of a marketing piece and throw it online somewhere. Change the story when your media outlet changes.
  • Tweet. It’s time to get on Twitter. At first it may look and sound pointless, but it’s one of the best ways to connect with anyone and everyone in your industry.
  • Manage your reputation. With simple tools like Google Alerts, you can stay on top of who is saying what about you and your brand. It’s an easy and free way to stay on top of your reputation management.
  • Hire a “Conversation Agent.” Whatever title you choose, put someone in charge of listening to customer conversations through blogs, Google Alerts, and Twitter. Listen to your audience’s needs and deliver as best you can.

Check out the full list of content marketing tactics to add to your plan next year at the Junta42 blog and have a happy New Year.

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.”