Posted on Leave a comment

Headlines in 2014 and beyond

I can’t use keywords in headlines anymore!! (Of course you can, although keywords suddenly stopped being important.) How then does one do Search Engine Optimisation? Wasn’t SEO all about keywords, keywords and more keywords? How does one get to rank online? If not for keywords, how do I get my website perpetual visibility?

It was so easy before! I would do my keyword analysis diligently and also top it up with competitor analysis. Then I would spend hours coming up with the perfect keywords that people were searching that were related to my business, and I would add them into my titles, headlines and meta descriptions and everywhere I could inside my page content.

Are these your thoughts?

Best way to write headlines
Writing effective headlines

Absolutely, every search engine optimiser knows how this feels. This is the reason why Google’s updates are so dreadful. But this article is not exactly about keywords.

This article is about titles and headlines.

And we all do agree that good content is playing a major role in the search engine rankings.

A typical piece of content usually contains a great catchy headline, a good introduction that gives you a peek into the article and goes on to speak about important aspects with a generous but judicious use of headings.

Looking at the evolution of headlines, it is interesting to note that there have been a lot of trends making headlines about headlines, pun intended. For example, content curation site Techmeme was recently in the news for writing its own headlines for curated content.

Going back to how headlines evolved,

The “Nothing special” Age: This was the age when the title would be just what we wrote in our school essays. For example, “The Evolution of Computers”

Not many knew about search engines and what optimisation was all about. Adding keywords to the title was just accidental or perhaps logical rather than deliberate and planned.

The “How to” Age: Then came a barrage of “How to make the best eggless cake ever” style headings that answered themselves in the body of article. Another example “How to optimise your page titles for search engines”

The “Question” Age: On the lines of “How to” came the “Question” age which spewed questions as headlines. For example, “Did you know that making an eggless cake is very easy?” Yes, with a past tense in the question!!

The “Countdown” Age: Tops 10’s of everything were everywhere on the Internet. This is still being used by many entertainment websites. For example, “Top 10 Hollywood actors who don’t smoke”

The “Number” Age: This interesting period saw the dawn of paragraphs and numbered side headings. So, if you are writing an article that has 3 side headings, you would title it “3 Awesome Ways to Write Catchy Headlines”.

Another example, “11 tips and tricks to make your computer faster that you didn’t know about”

The “Viral” Age a.k.a the “Emotional” catch: With Social Media Optimisation, writers started becoming smarter and headlines now appeared with something called a “hook”, which is basically a bait that says something interesting enough to click yet reveals nothing. Currently, you will find these headlines on websites like Mashable and Upworthy that publish a 1 minute to 5 minutes average length videos that most usually do go viral, if not in a big way.

Examples of these headlines from their latest content:

What The Hell Do People Believe In If They Don’t Believe In God? This Guy Has One Heck Of An Answer.” – Upworthy post on being human

This Video Shows Just How Crazy English Is As A Language” – Buzzfeed video on the idiosyncrasies of English language

“You won’t believe what this 8 year old did that left me speechless and shell shocked!”

“10 dog shaming pictures. The 8th one is unbelievably cute.”

So, the million dollar question, what should your headlines in 2014 look like? And beyond?

Well, search engines are now trying to understand content through semantics. Your best bet would be to write for the user. No matter what kind of headline you use, do not dupe your readers. Do not give them an impression through your headline about X and make them read Y in your article. If your users feel cheated once, they will never trust you. The best case study is the Upworthy title as mentioned above. It does look like a classic example of spam, but it isn’t. Click on the link and you will see an interesting video about how the meaning of life lies in giving meanings to life. Amazing thought, right? When your headline matches the emotions it evokes, trust is sealed.

So, the next time you write your headlines, debate on whether it helps build trust in your readers. Remember, once gained, trust brings them back for more like nothing else. For all you know, you will end up converting readers into subscribers.

Subscribers mean votes. And it’s no more keywords alone in a heading that are flagging the search engines about great content. It’s also the social signals that count as recommendations. And you can never go wrong with social signals if you write honest and great content that offers value for the time that a user has granted to you to read your article.

And if you cannot come up with great headlines, leave it to the professionals who can do a great job with creative experts dishing out awesome headlines that grow your website traffic by leaps and bounds. Talk to our experts here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Content Unlimited and the Dreaded Writers’ Block

If you are a content writer and have been writing for years, then I am sure you would have encountered the dreaded writers’ block. Churning articles for the print media or the online media is not easy. Especially when you are just starting out on a career in content, you are expected to write several scores of articles on various topics, and it is very easy to arrive at a complete shutdown of ideas.

Writers Block
Writers Block

As an author also, you could risk stumbling at crucial parts of your story, and just cannot seem to move any further in a way desired by your satisfaction. What do you do?

Let us understand what writers’ block is first.

Writers thrive on creativity. Creativity basically means to come up with new ideas and new ways to represent a story or an article. Creativity also implies saying something mundane in an innovative way, just like it happens in advertising.

When something like this happens, it is really alarming and upsetting, especially when you have deadlines to stick to.

What does one do, as a content writer, to combat such a writers’ block?

Whether we are writing for the web or for the book, we have to keep our creative juices flowing. When it comes to the web, content writers of today have to take care of so many things. It’s not enough to dish out a ‘good’ article with the use of high class vocabulary. Content writing for the Millennials is all about keywords, density, search engine optimization, packing the punch, marketing for the machine, digital, info graphics et al.

Here are a few tips for you to help you ease yourself out of that infamous writers’ block effortlessly:

  • The moment you realize you have a block, S.T.O.P. Leave everything, no matter how tight the deadline. Just stop, and take a deep breath. Get up and go out for a short walk. Just get away from work.
  • If you are into meditation, try visualizing during your meditation sessions.
  • If you aren’t the meditating kind, understand that you need to calm the crows inside your mind to concentrate on the stuck piece of written work. So, try counting numbers backward until there are no thoughts in your head. Slowly, get back to where you got stuck.
  • Deconstruct the constructed. Supposing you were writing content for a website, and the block struck. Deconstruct what you have written till now.
  • On a white board, list down the important areas to cover, mark the topics already addressed.
  • Try writing exercises – for example, choose a random page out of a random book, and start a new story with a random line in the page. Do it for the sake of helping the creative juices flow.
  • Relax… it is very important to have all your faculties working at the topmost order. So, when faced with a block, de-stress, relax, go for a pampering session. Whatever you do, relax.
  • If you are still unable to move ahead, you can try leaving that portion of the story and deal with another part of it – the subsequent outcome might bring about an idea you were looking for at the previous milestone.
  • When short of ideas for articles, or if you have written so much that you don’t really know what to write on anymore, the best way to go ahead is to see trending topics and add on your own to them. Trending topics are always changing. For example, even as I am writing this, the current trending topic on Twitter is LCD TVs. How? Why? One never knows. Just capitalize on it. Your next post could be a well-researched topic on the LCD technology. Or one on the marketing strategy of the biggest LCD brand.

Overcoming the writers’ block is not as tough as it looks. Try these tips the next time you encounter one, and let us know if they worked for you.

And if you have your own little trick that pulls you out of the block, do share with us in the comments section below.

Also, if none of these tips work, contact us to see how we can help you fulfill your content needs.

Posted on Leave a comment

How to write powerful web copy content that boosts product sales

Content is ‘king’ is passé. Good Content is king is the new mantra. Good content means content that your customers can trust. With the advent of Web 3.0, the entire landscape of digital marketing is going to see a sea change. That web copy writing is going to be the most daunting task is a given. And the game is all about conversions. Your copy is not ‘good content’ until it turns leads to conversions.

Shareable content has just become the norm. Share-ability of content is going to be measured not only by the understanding of users, but also by Google’s semantic algorithm that tries to “understand” content-worthiness.

The important elements of good web copy content and how to create copy that boosts the sale of your products phenomenally.
The important elements of good web copy content and how to create copy that boosts the sale of your products phenomenally.

Let us see the ingredients of the perfect content/copy recipe that “sells”.

Do you have a Content Strategy?

First off, do not start with a blindfolded, take-as-it-comes approach. Content strategy is very important, because it is going to be the base for all your marketing analytics. This strategy will include every detail about key players, starting from product info, target audience, target location, primary and secondary keywords, to a well-defined writing style and a uniform brand.

Secondly, who are you writing for? Remember – Google might bring you to the top, but if your copy fails to address the needs of your audience, they will never spend a penny. That is why a content strategy is required, to strike a balance between SEO practices and writing simple copy that converses with your customers and tells them what they need and why they need it.

“Content marketing is not just about amplifying your message to your customer; it is about helping them find what they are looking for.”

– Kaitlin Walsh via bluechipcommunication.com.au

What’s in a headline?

A headline by any other name would still be as important.

Call it title, headline or caption. It is the most important part of your content – the element that is going to decide if the customer will scroll down to read your content and do as instructed or not.

Write a headline that confirms to 3 Cs:

(a) Generates Curiosity, (b) Is Compelling and (c) That Connects

A headline that does all the three is a clincher. Making your customers curious enough to be compelled to read through the end and make a connection that makes them fill up the lead form – you are done.

Does your copy contain a hook?

Once you are done with the headline, decide what element you would want to use inside the copy that serves as a hook. Good copy uses emotions to create that hook. For example, “Never miss out on your granddaughter’s stories anymore – with XYZ hearing devices” will make your customers want to know more, as the emotional hook has them ensnared.

Does your copy tell your visitors what to do?

You may write pages and pages of value, features, and benefits, but if your visitors do not know what to do, they will keep on reading and get lost in the scrolling. Tell them in BIG clear font what to do. “Call to Action” items such as “Click Here”, “Add Me”, “Count me in”, “Get EazyMop now!”, “Step into the inner circle”, etc., can be used as buttons on lead forms that take user information for various outcomes which include subscribing, data input, or actually buying the product.

Size does matter! Long copy Vs. Short and Crisp copy

Long copy or short? How long? These are some questions worth pondering before writing web copy for a product or service.

First off, rule 1, your customers have NO time. Read no time. And that means their attention span is gone in a second. So, if you are writing long copy, know that the product has to be of that much importance and worthiness that the customer wants to know anything and everything about it. If you are trying to sell a mop and you write 3 pages of copy convincing the customer of its benefits, you won’t have any customers left. “Keep your floors sparkling clean with EazyMop!!” works perfect for an ad copy of a mop. On the other hand, if you are selling a washing machine, long copy will help you distribute all the benefits that the customer would want to know before investing in it.

The eternal debate: Features or Benefits?

The best way to convince ghost-convince your customers is to help them visualize what the benefit actually does to them after they have bought a product. Instead of listing features and then benefits, make them SEE the benefit in actual use. For example, you are selling a shirt – show the user how the shirt will look when worn. And there he goes, convinced and ready to hit the big Buy button.

And always, benefits first – preferably visually served. Features next.

Testimonials: Everyone’s used it!

The best way to convince a customer is to tell him/her that they are the only ones left out and that everyone else has tried the product. And how do you do that? You publish lot of testimonials about the product from your happiest customers (Base rule: You better have happy customers if you want to really sell your product). The moment a user sees another of his/her kind praising truckloads about a product, he/she is convinced. Testimonials are the online versions of “Word of mouth” publicity. They work like nothing else. They are deal clinchers.

Surprise!! You’ve got a free gift!

Your product must have a free giveaway, and it must be a surprise. This plays on the emotions of an already-convinced customer to get him to buy more. Much like up-selling.

“I am convinced. I am buying a product. Oh Wow! Free gift! That’s amazing! Let me spread the news. Let me buy one more.”

You get the drift. Surprise is what makes a customer return for more.

Serve them content on different platters

Current most-effective trend in digital marketing is to re-purpose content in a different way. Use of info graphics has become the in thing, as customers understand visual cues better than rolls and rolls of boring text. Using graphs, info graphics and other visual elements such as interactive or response-based articles actually hooks the customer on to the next step without giving him/her a chance to digress from the page.

Final Say:

Just one last thing to remember: always write to the customer, and not for the search engine. What you write has to connect with your customer and genuinely make him feel that it is of real benefit.

It sounds tough but isn’t really. Learn to use these tips in your copy and you are sure to make lasting impressions (pun intended).

Can’t write? No worries!

Contact My Digital Marketing Team here for a quote.

Posted on Leave a comment

Impact advertising: The art of indirect online marketing

The key to creating good marketing content – whether it is an ad, or a blog post or a deal page – is to make it customer-centric and personal by touching upon the emotional factor. We as human beings are emotional creatures. We click well when a piece of content touches our emotions. When an online marketing copy, ad or video sells a product indirectly through references, connections and recall elements, it amounts to indirect online marketing. Common customer behaviour indicates that sales figures see a boost, when a product associates itself with a particular feeling, for example, awe, joy, panic, fear, contentment etc., rather than just speaking about its features.

A recent trend on this front has been witnessed across the World Wide Web with the release of videos and ads that play upon feelings as primary content and speak much less about the product being endorsed. A case in point for a highly effective sales strategy that uses indirect online marketing is the advertisement called Real Beauty Sketches that was released by cosmetics company Dove in April this year. This advertisement took home the Titanium Grand Prix1, which is the highest honor at the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity1. Voted as 2013’s most shared advertisement, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches touched millions of hearts and received over 4 million shares till date. The videos hardly talk about the product; but they elicit emotions that are deep. Ending with just one line, “You are more beautiful than you think”, Dove created a gigantic brand image for itself on one word – ‘Beautiful’, and effectively advertised a whole range of products without naming even one. The concept rests on depicting how we see ourselves (described in the sketches as not so well) and how others see us (described in the sketches as beautiful).

1Dove ‘Sketches’ Campaign Takes Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes

An indirect online marketing strategy in fact causes more impact than a “Hey! I have an awesome product to sell. Buy it!!” declaration.

Here’s how you can develop an indirect online marketing strategy:

  1. Identify the keywords that associate perfectly with the product/brand that you are trying to sell online.
  2. Identify the emotions that the keyword generates in its entirety, in context with the brand, and also on its own.
  3. Play on the emotions and create a context map that starts with the element of surprise and ends with the keyword and a logo.

To be able to do this, you need to ask several direct and/or subtle questions to the target audience that is going to view the marketing campaign so as to initiate favourable action on their part. These questions form an essential part of an effective content strategy and are basically aimed at piquing the curiosity of the viewer, creating a compulsion to ‘know more’, and compelling the viewer to perform the subsequent action as desired by us.

  • Identify your target audience’s need. Ask them about the need.
  • Identify what will benefit them. Ask them how they would feel if the need is fulfilled.
  • Identify what emotion is perfect for selling your product. For example, a home cleaning solution advertisement played on the emotion of fear of germs and disease, enacted by a mother who has a crawling baby at home. Another telecom company came out with a 4 minute song, with jingles and catch line, that exploits the need of friends to be in constant touch with each other – so keep talking. This song caught on so much that it became an anthem for friendship.
  • Offer something “extra”. I wouldn’t call it a freebie. Today’s customer is informed. But it’s good practice to offer a little value over and above the product you are selling. For example, if you are a Broadband service provider and your website and social pages are trying to sell various Internet plans, you can offer a no-charge plan upgrade for two weeks or increase the Fair Usage Policy limit as a surprise. Customers love being surprised with such offerings and tend to spread the word, bringing in more enquiries and leads.

Thus, by understanding what need your product is fulfilling and what gratification the audience will truly enjoy, create hitting content that subtly puts forth a curiosity and leads your customer to think, “Why shouldn’t I try this once?”