All posts by Jill Glen

WTF is a CTA?

CTA stands for ‘Call to Action’ and it’s what we use in writing to persuade and direct the reader to take the next step – specifically, the next step that we’d like them to take!  It can range from the blunt but effective “Click here” and “Buy now!” to forms, pop ups, banners and more.  I’m going to run through the basics, and give some examples of types of CTAs that you can use in your own marketing.

Types of Online CTAs

1. Contextual Links

The “click here to read more” or “in our previous article” style links in the body of pages or posts are hugely effective CTAs.

2. Buttons

Buttons are probably the most common type of CTA online. Usually an icon or graphic with an actionable word or phrase on top that lures users into clicking and taking further action. Usually they are a high contrast colour to help them stand out and make them even more enticing.

3. Forms

From ‘sign up to our newsletter’, to ‘get the free download’, to ‘request a quote’ there are hundreds of ways to turn  your visitors into leads using a well-placed form.

4. Banners & Adverts

Those pesky little graphics at the top, bottom, or side of a webpage that draw your eye and entice you to click are CTAs as well.  You can make use of the same theory on your own website by using CTA banners to direct your visitors to other parts of your website.

5. Pop-Ups & Slide-ins

A pop-up and the more modern slide-in are CTAs in the form of little windows that appear on top of the page being viewed. They are designed to grab the visitor’s attention and love them or hate them, they are effective little buggers.

Types of Offline CTAs

In brochures, posters, billboards, flyers and more, your calls to action are less varied, but they all have two parts:

1. The Call

This is where the words come in.  How are you asking for it?  There is a big difference between “email us to learn more” and “text I WANT TO WIN to 12345”

2. The Action

Do you want them to write to you?  Email you?  Text you?  Call you? It could be a tear off form, a number to phone, and email address, a physical address…the possibilities are not quite as endless as online CTAs but there are still a lot of choices.

So that’s the basics of What the Feck is a CTA, and coming to a blog post near you soon, I’ll cover how you write a good one…

How do I Create a Lead Magnet?

If you want to get people who visit your website or engage with you on social media to leave their details, you need to give them something in return.  In marketing, we call this a Lead Magnet, an OVO, or a Lead Generator.  You offer something, people give you their details, and you deliver value.  But how do you create a Lead Magnet that will actually convert those sign-ups into leads?

It sounds like a lot of work, but really there are just 3 super simple steps to creating a Lead Magnet and because I’m just so gosh darn nice, I’m going to give them to you:

1 –Figure out who you are targeting

If you are, say a copywriter, and you want potential clients to leave you their details, and then come back to you and become a client, you are targeting busy professionals.  So don’t create a “How to write killer web copy in 5 easy steps” course for them.  All you’ll do is attract other web copywriters looking for a blog topic, or free training! 

First, figure out who you want to attract, and what they need.  Your Lead Magnet should deliver on that need.

2 – Decide what you are going to create.

There are lots of  different things that you could create that fall under the heading of a valuable lead magnet:

  • A free course
  • A cheat sheet
  • A workbook
  • A quiz
  • A checklist
  • A quick guide to…
  • A video
  • A challenge they can take part in

You just need to choose the one that will best deliver the need you are trying to solve for the audience you defined in step one.  In my example, I’m targeting small business owners who are too busy to do something themselves and so won’t have the time, or patience, for a course or challenge. But a cheat sheet or checklist is perfect for them.

3 – Map your customer journey

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to create, the next step is to define the customer journey.  How are you going to attract them?  How will they sign up?  Will you have a landing page? If so, what will it say?  Once they sign up how will you follow up with them and convert them into leads?

Map out from first contact to quote or sale how you will speak to them, and that takes your engaged social media users or website visitors on a whole journey. 

If you need help planning or executing a Lead Magnet and customer journey, get in touch.

Can a Copywriter Write your Terms & Conditions?

Next up in the “questions I get asked all the time” we have “Can you write my Terms & Conditions?”. Yes, I can also tile a bathroom, give reasonably good haircuts, and make Oat & Raisin cookies that will make us friends for life. Should I write your Terms & Conditions is the real question.

Terms and Conditions are legal documents that create a binding agreement between you and your customers (or website/app users). You provide the services or products, and they agree to the rules you set out about how they are provided.

You DO NOT need a lawyer to write legally enforceable Terms & Conditions. However, just like you might want to get someone with qualifications to check that bathroom I just tiled for you, you may wish to get the conditions checked over by someone with expert knowledge in the area.

My solution – I have templates of terms and conditions that I created with big professional lawyer types. They can be adapted to suit your business, and you can use freely knowing that they are tailored to your services, and that they are designed to be understood by your customers. It’s the best of both worlds.

Caveat – my templates are only suitable for business trading in the UK. If you are working with customers outside of UK law, then I can point you in the direction of the smart lawyer types to help you out with the laws of the countries you are dealing in.

So yes, yes I can write your terms & conditions – next question?

How to write copy for voice search

If you have ever shouted “Google”, “Alexa” or “Siri” followed by a question, you have carried out a voice search.  Just like when you type a question into a search engine, the digital assistant that you’ve yelled at will scour the internet and bring you back an answer.  Writing for voice search means creating copy that will make your business the answer to those questions.

In 2022, there were 3.1 billion voice searches EVERY MONTH…let’s take a moment and realise how huge this opportunity is, and how relatively untapped it is.  And it’s only getting bigger.

So, what do you need to know?

1. People use more words in voice search, but answers are shorter.

The questions yelled at our digital assistants tend to be significantly longer than those we type into search engines.  “Alexa, who won the Oscar last year for the best supporting actress?” vs “2022 oscar supporting actress”.

The answers that your assistant spits back are, paradoxically shorter! “Ariana DeBose” rather than “Ariana DeBose’s Best Supporting Actress win for her role in The West Side Story is historic in more ways than one…”  There is also Position Zero results, which I’ll get to in a moment.

So what does that mean?  It means that we have to be more succinct with our language.  Unless it is strictly part of your brand voice, avoid being long-winded and overly formal.  Don’t use 8 words when 1 would do.

2. Keywords are still crucial

Yes, of course you still need to focus on your keywords.  If you don’t have the search terms on your page it will never be in the results.  However, it is more important than ever to get those keywords in your titles, URLs, and first paragraph.  Get them right up front so that they feature in the search results.

3. You need to structure your content

Please, please, please structure your content.  That means titles, subtitles, lists, snippets (absolutely crucial for voice search, see point 4) meta data – pay attention to all of it when you are creating new content.  Not only will it help you be indexed in voice search results, but it will also help people stay on your website when they reach it as your content will be easier to read.

4. You need to aim for Position Zero

For voice searches on visual devices like TVs, smartphones and PCs, you will still be presented with a page of web results.  For audio devices, you will be given one result.  The top one, which is known in the SEO biz as Position Zero – the one before the first result!  To get there your content needs to be concise and answer the question asked in a structured way.

Screenshot of google position zero example

5. Don’t neglect your FAQs

FAQs are the overlooked wonderchild of web content when it comes to voice searches.  They are exactly what the search engines are looking for  – questions your users are searching for with concise answers.

Writing for voice search is a skill in itself, and I could give 10 more tips without too much extra thought – but I don’t want to overwhelm you!  If you want to find out more, get in touch and I can teach you the skill, or help optimise your site for voice search now.

Should Marketing Teams have a Copywriter?

It’s 2023 and “Marketing” has a lot more dimensions to it than when I started in the industry back in 2005.  Back then I wrote blogs, did some SEO, sent email blasts to purchased data, and carried out daily fax marketing campaigns (yup…fax).  Now, digital marketing also includes PPC, content marketing, and good old social media.  We also still have the tried and tested offline marketing like print and events.  With so much going on, it’s common to have specialists within marketing teams, or outsource certain skills including graphics, videos, or even PPC.  But should marketing teams have a copywriter?

Content Writing vs Copywriting

Before I get too far ahead of myself, the purists will be sharpening their pitchforks and dusting off their torches as I, once again, lump all marketing writing under the heading of ‘copywriting’.  Technically, content writing is when you are writing copy to educate or raise awareness about a topic, and copywriting is solely about converting a person to take an action.

Here’s the thing, when I got my qualification in copywriting, it was all called the same thing…copywriting.  So that’s the term I use.  Fight me.

Can’t everyone be a copywriter?

Every one of the marketing activities listed above requires some element of copywriting. So much so that Brendon Burchard on his Marketing training podcast said that all entrepreneurs should be copywriters themselves, not outsource it because it was so vital to marketing a business.  That relies on his premise that copywriting is a teachable skill – and of course it is!  Everything can be taught…but talent helps too.  I can go to singing classes and learn the mechanics of singing, but it doesn’t mean anyone wants to hear me as I belt out Metallica while walking the dog.  So yes, anyone can be taught to write good copy…whether that works for you just depends how good you need it to be.

Do I need a copywriter in-house or should I outsource?

Oh, I’m about to sit in a horribly uncomfortable position on a fence right now and say “it depends”.  It’s the same as making a decision about hiring an internal IT team or continuing to outsource.  Once you get to a certain level of content production, it can make sense to bring it in-house.

So what content would a copywriter be producing in-house each day?  Things like blogs, landing pages, adverts, website copy, sales emails, newsletters, brochures and other print collateral.  If your team is producing content like this on a daily basis, then it’s time to write up that job advert.  If it’s more like weekly or monthly, then find yourself a professional copywriter whom you get on well with, and book out a few hours of their time each week instead.

Did that answer your question?  No?  OK, well how about we set up a call and you can pick my brains?  Tell me what you are producing each week, or the big project you are currently working on, and I’ll tell you the cost of using me – then you can do the maths and make an informed decision.

Get in touch and let’s have that chat.

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Do you use email marketing to reach your customers at the moment?  Campaign Monitor reckons 64% of small businesses currently do.  Or are you, like I was earlier this year, wondering if Email Marketing was ready to curl up and fade away?

The fact is that email as a medium for contact is not going anywhere.  The number of worldwide email users grows year on year and currently stands at more than half of the global population.  Marketing revenue from emails is also growing annually, and is expected to surpass $10.9 billion by the end of 2023…that is a craaaaazzy amount of potential.  But how does it translate for the little guys?

Well, according to DirectLync and OptinMonster you can expect an average return of $42 for every $1 you spend on email, with 18% of companies achieving more than $70 for every $1 spent!  (apologies for the USD pricing, but those are the folk doing the studies!).

That means that Email Marketing is not only a cheaper way to convert sales than most other forms of marketing, but it is also statistically more likely to drive sales to your business than social media, print or event marketing.

How to Create Successful Email Marketing

So how do you use Email Marketing as part of your strategy for next year, and what do you need to think about to make it successful?

1. Personalise it

Your sign up process should have captured your customer’s first name, but go beyond the ‘Hello FirstName’ greeting.  Use personal CTAs, and recommend products and services based on their previous activities.

2. Segment it

The number one rule in a successful marketing campaign is right message, to right person, at the right time.  Split up that list and target your customers with a message that means something to them.

3. Build Excitement

If you have a launch or an offer coming up, you can’t guarantee that a countdown on social media will reach your potential customers in the right order at the right time.  With email marketing, you can build the tension by drip-feeding content at milestones leading up to the launch.

4. Keep it Professional

Email marketing has been around for decades, and at this stage in the game, there is no excuse for sending out emails that don’t look professional and trustworthy.  Check your spelling, use high-quality images, and make sure it works on mobiles.

If in doubt, ask someone who has been writing email marketing campaigns back when you bought your data off eBay on CD-ROMs…yup.  I also used to create Fax Marketing campaigns #askmehow…

Get in touch if you need help!

How the feck do you write landing pages?

Conversion copywriting is a sought-after skill…but here’s the naughty little secret, it’s only partly talent.  Writing landing pages that convert is something that can be taught.  So let’s teach it.

What is a landing page?

Let’s take it back a step first.  A landing page is different from a standard website page as it’s somewhere that you direct your visitors to once they take an action.  So, for example, the page they land on when they click on a Call-to-Action (CTA) in an email. 

Why are landing pages important?

A landing page’s job does not end when your visitors click through to it, its entire purpose is to then turn that click into another action – a sale, a signup, a download…whatever it may be.

Good landing pages are designed to improve conversion, which is ultimately the purpose of your entire online presence.  So it is really important that you create good ones.

How do you write a good landing page?

1. Benefits not features

Just because it’s in my head due to recent research, let’s pretend you sell microphones. I’ve clicked through to your landing page after watching a video all about the different microphones you sell.  In order to get me to go through to your shop, you need to convince me of the benefits of choosing your product over another.  I don’t need to see the available colourways, or the extension length of the boom arm – I already know what I need.  The solution sales method is not how internet sales works…but that’s for a different blog.

I don’t want to know what a microphone does, your benchmark pricing, or an indepth explanation of each feature.  I’ve done my research, when I come to your landing page I’m ready to be convinced, not taught.

2. Show me what real people think

Customer testimonials is one of the proven ways to turn a flat landing page into a converting page.  No matter how good your copywriter is, they will not be able to write something as convincing as a real human customer can.  It’s called social proof and it’s the reason we all read Amazon reviews.

3. Don’t forget the headline

Remember my last article on ‘No one Read’s Websites’?  Same goes for landing pages, but I cross my heart that they will read your headline, so spend at least as much time on it as you do on the rest of your page copy.

4. Break up the text

Subheadings, lists, images (with captions) and even videos.  Breaking up the copy will draw people in, and lead them down to the big CTA you have waiting for them.  Keep the copy simple with clear statements.  Use numbers and facts not wishy-washy, long sentences.  Now is not the time to make your customer work for it.

5. Write for people, not for Google

I’ll say it again for the people in the back.  Your LANDING pages are not for SEARCH ENGINES.  These are campaign pages that you are directing people to.  So write them like you are speaking to a human, I promise you it will make all of the difference to your pages.

And that’s it – that’s how to write a good-quality landing page.  The bonus step that the pros will do, is that once they have a cracking landing page created…they do it at least two more times!  You see, if you are spending money on a campaign it’s a good idea to create multiple landing pages so that you can use A/B testing and find out what’s working, then review and adapt.  If you have a single landing page and you don’t know why it isn’t working, that’s what I would do next – but if that’s a step too far, get in touch and I’ll do it for you!

What is Hub and Spoke Content Marketing?

We all know what a Ferris wheel or a bike wheel looks like – the hub is the round bit right in the centre, and the spokes point outward (or inward, depending on your perspective) from it.  In Hub & Spoke content (also known as the ‘Cluster Model’ marketing) the hub is the main topic that you want to create more authority around, and the spokes are supporting content helping to boost your credibility and traffic around that topic.  Make sense?

So in Hub & Spoke content marketing campaigns, you need to create both a hub page, and multiple spoke pages to help increase how relevant you are seen to be by the search engines on a particular topic.

Why is Hub & Spoke Content Marketing important?

The Hub & Spoke content model, when done well, shows that you know the topic in depth.  This helps establish your website as an authority on the subject, and when visitors come to your website, they’ll spend more time with you, and are more likely to convert into a lead or customer.

How does Hub & Spoke work for SEO?

Hub & Spoke content campaigns are great for giving your SEO strategy real focus.  Rather than trying to get individual posts and pages to rank for competitive keyphrases, you work on improving the visibility of the entire hub of content, with highly relevant and good quality copy

What makes Hub & Spoke different from other marketing campaigns?

Most business blogs are full of disconnected posts all vaguely related to the same broad subject.  Hub & Spoke content is designed and organised in a way that is much more focused, and effective than this.  By interlinking the pages, and creating a logical URL hierarchy, you can demonstrate to the search engines and your visitors that you have a catalogue of knowledge on the topic they are looking for.

How do you create a Hub & Spoke Campaign?

Step 1: Research your keywords

Notice, our first step is not ‘decide on your topic’.  We’re going to let keyword research decide for us.  By carrying out detailed research you should figure out what focus your hub page should have, and have a list of long-tailed keyphrases for what your spoke pages should be about that stem from your hub topic.

Step 2: Look at the content you already have

The little marketer secret that is about to make your life so much easier: your spoke pages don’t need to be new content!  If you already have blogs, articles, videos and pages that cover topics that would expand on your hub page, then repurpose them as spoke pages.

Step 3: Create new content

Even the most meticulously planned and arranged Hub & Spoke strategy will fail if the content is poor quality, so you need to make sure that the copy on all of your pages is engaging, well-written, and full of useful information.

Step 4: Make sure your links make sense

The way that you organise the Hub & Spoke content on your site using internal links, and hierarchical URLs is what turns it from a batch of articles into a structured campaign.  So for example, if your hub page is on ‘Wedding Planning’ and one of your spoke pages was ‘how to choose flowers’, your URLs might be www.website.com/wedding-planning and www.website.com/wedding-planning/how-to-choose-flowers.  You would also create links between the pages.

Step 5: Promote all of the pages

You then need to tell people the pages exist, so use social media, email marketing, and adverts if you have the budget to draw people into all of the different pages on your wheel.

Step 6: Track and Improve

Keep an eye on the pages, see what is doing well and what needs improved, and gradually you’ll see the fruits of your labour.

For help creating your own Hub & Spoke campaign plan and content, get in touch.

No one reads websites, right?

I joke about this a lot.  Clients, potential clients, designers, even other copywriters say “does it matter? No one reads websites!” and I say “Yeah, but Google does!”  But is SEO the only reason to get good quality copy written for your website?  Nope.  Hell nope.

People do read your website, maybe not every word, but before they decide to part with money, they will read over your about us page, maybe your testimonials, and probably your product page.  There are even Government Guidelines on how to write content for websites! 

So let’s take a quick look at how people read online.

1. People scan text, but not the way they used to

The Nielson Norman Group eye-tracking study is what people quote when they lecture me on how people read web pages.  This “ground-breaking” (sarcastic quotes) study was carried out in 1997… Yup!  TWENTY-THREE years ago.  Before social media, and long before mobile browsing. 

Before everyone jumps in and corrects me, yes they have updated their guidance with the results of 2 more recent studies, the latest in 2019.  I’ll get to that guidance in a quick second because a lot of it is good advice, but I just want to highlight that you do not need to read the results of this survey as the gospel truth.  

Firstly, because the studies are incredibly small with only 500 participants across the 3 studies (2019 had only 60 participants and it was called ‘large-scale’ by the firm), secondly they are not controlled (everyone knows they are in an eye-tracking study), and finally they are not diverse.

If I told you that I asked 60 people in my village to give feedback on your products and recommended that you edit your sales strategy based on that information, you would (rightly) tell me to get lost.  So don’t resist improving your text based on one study!

2. People only read about a third of a page…until

Until they find what they are looking for…that’s the key point.  Yes, I will only scan a home page, but that’s because I’m looking for something specific.  For instance, if I’m looking for a review of a Ninja Multi-cooker thingy (because I’m the only adult in the world who doesn’t own one and I don’t fully understand what it is…) then I’ll go to the site home page and barely read it, jump to the product page, skip the top and delve into the reviews.  If I like what I read, I’ll scroll up and try and read the description so I can figure out if I can make yoghurt at the same time as I roast a turkey.

So write as if they are reading the whole page, but make it easy for them to get to where they are going…tips on this below, stay with me.

3. People fixate on call outs

Headings, bullet points, coloured call outs – these are the parts people are drawn to.  If they like what they see in these parts, then they read the rest, so don’t dismiss the importance of breaking up the text.  Treat your readers like magpies and give them shiny things to fixate on.

So how do you write content that people will actually read?

1. Know what they want to know.

If you understand what your readers are interested in finding out about, then you can create content that tells them what they want to know.  It really is that simple, but your average company is so excited to showcase its shiniest sales pitch the web copy doesn’t address the pain points and answer the important questions.

2. Make it easy for them to read

There is lots of value in breaking up text (or ‘chunking’ as we call it), front-loading your copy with the most important information, highlighting important words, using bullet points and keeping your vocabulary simple.

Let’s break that out for the people who are only scanning this!

  1. Chunk up your text into short sections
  2. Use headings
  3. Put the most important information at the start
  4. Highlight important words
  5. Use bullet points and numbered lists
  6. Keep your language simple.

And that’s it!  If you would like more help creating a website that engages people, get in touch.

Why do you need a copywriter?

The chances are you’ve written something before – an essay in school, a speech for a wedding, maybe even a brochure or two for your company.  It was probably pretty good.  People laughed at the right parts, you got a gold star, or your business partner liked it – overall, you are a good writer.  So why would you hire someone to do what you can do already?  Obviously, I’m biased – but I’ll try and be objective and tell you seven reasons why your business can benefit from hiring a copywriter.

1. You’ll see the difference.

If you go back through my articles you’ll see lots of examples of brilliantly written copy from some of the biggest ad agencies in the UK for clients from Marks & Spencers to Space NK.  You can tell when something has been written by a professional writer, and when it hasn’t.  Copywriters have been trained to put words together in a way that entices people in to find out more, and turns views into sales. 

2. It brings things together.

When companies are writing the content for their new website, they ask the HR person for the ‘About Us’ page, the VP of Sales for the ‘Product’ or ‘Services’ pages, and the receptionist for the ‘Contact’ page content…the result is a mixed up mess of tenses, tones, and intentions. A copywriter can take content from different people and turn it into something that sounds like only one person wrote it.  In other words, we can add a cohesive brand voice to your business.

3. It saves you time.

In 1 hour I can research, plan, write, and proof a blog article of up to 700 words…longer if the coffee is strong enough.  In an average day, I can write fabulous, original copy for an average length website.  Then again, I have been doing this for nearly 20 years.  I can guarantee that if you haven’t been living and breathing writing for a couple of decades, you are likely to be slower than that.  You are also likely to get frustrated at how much of your regular work time it is eating into.  How much is your time worth?  A good copywriter probably costs less than that.

4. It means less fewer mistakes.

OK, this one comes with two provisos: one, only the final copy will be mistake-free (because we call in the proofer before we submit it to you!) and two, good grammar is not set in stone, there are opinions…often contentious opinions, on what is correct.  However, even a mediocre copywriter will help prevent you from mixing-up affect and effect, or compliment and complement, and ensure that your tenses and voice are correct throughout. 

5. Your copy will say what you want it to

A great copywriter can capture what you offer, how you offer it, and how you want it to sound when you talk about it.  If you are struggling to get your content to sound the way that it does in your head, ask a professional.  It’s what we do. 

Copywriters are trained in writing persuasive copy without coming across like a used-car salesperson with a quota to meet.  If your current content is a bit salesy, then calling in someone with an eye for detail might be all it takes.  They will also be able to avoid getting too technical, or assuming knowledge on behalf of the customer. 

6. It will have the right message for the medium.

Different formats need different types of copy.  Video script needs to be different to brochure copy, and websites need a different touch than technical support manuals.  In order for your copy to have the most impact, it needs to be tailored to the format that it’s being written for.

7. Fresh content without duplication.

Duplicate content is a cardinal sin online, but it can be hard to write new, fresh content regularly without repeating yourself.  A copywriter can write original content for your website, on a regular basis, making sure your website ticks all of the boxes for Google without repeating itself.

So that’s my thoughts on the benefits of hiring a copywriter.  Reasons to choose me over other copywriters include my dress-sense and that I usually bring biscuits to meetings.  For more information on biscuit brands or any of my services, please get in touch.