Over the past week, I have received a couple of pieces of email marketing that just didn’t read very well and it got me thinking about copywriting, and how vital it is to be done correctly.
Now please don’t take this the wrong way. There was nothing exactly wrong with this particular email's copy per-se, nothing that I could put my finger on exactly.
But they just didn’t read very well and to be honest, that made me doubt the credibility of the business, let alone the marketing campaign.
I do realize that I may be quite unique in these instances, as many people who are not interested in the industry, or indeed writing, may not notice.
To be honest, I blame my hatred of terrible spelling and grammar on Facebook and other social media platforms, where I am forced to look at it every day. It’s a shame.
However, I thought I would share my thoughts on the blog just in case anyone else agrees. And by ‘my’ thoughts, I mean some great tips taken from our Email Marketing Best Practice Guide, which has just been released today.
Emails, from one to the next you either love them or hate them. Bad ones are deleted and I even enter the bin and 'delete forever' if I think a particular example is karmically altering my inbox.
In the past I've written about some things I like to see in emails. I've been on the look-out again and here you'll find six companies (B2B and B2C) that sent me emails deserving of mention for their creative strategies.
Design and copywriting are hard to teach, I'm certainly not somebody that sees natural order in things. See what you think of these examples and feel free to tell me if you would have deleted them in an instant.
Here is a checklist you can hold against your agency’s ‘about us’ section. Don't worry, it is equal parts 'do' and 'don't'.
Make sure you weed out examples of the latter and add in some of the former and your copy should improve. This list is solely about the content of your copywriting, the words you choose, not the formatting or style.
If you wonder why I’m qualified to create such a checklist, I can only cite my personal and professional interests in writing. I haven’t worked for many clients or won any awards but I have doggedly scrolled through many agency websites.
I must say that my favourite, in the end, was e3, which forgoes an 'about us' section altogether, opting instead for a little piece of copy on the homepage.
However, there are lots of great 'about us' pages out there, and even some of the 'don'ts' I have gathered work well in context. That means having a great copywriter on your team is essential.
Aside from this checklist, other resources worth looking at include my post on building a personal brand, and Chris Lake’s oldie-but-goodie, the A-Z of online copywriting.
It’s easy to overlook the value of copywriting in web design as there are so many other factors to take into account, many of which have a more obvious impact on the user experience.
But as a writer I’m obviously keen to highlight the impact that good copywriting can have on conversions and revenue.
As such I’ve rounded up several case studies which show that even small tweaks to copywriting can have a big impact on conversions, particularly on calls-to-action.
For more information on this topic, read our blog post on 11 useful examples of copywriting for product recommendations or book yourself onto our online copywriting training course...
Copywriting is just one of the elements that combine to make up an effective ecommerce product page.
The product description needs to be informative and sell the benefits of the item, while also being concise enough to retain the customer’s interest.
Copywriting also goes some way to contributing to a brand’s identity, as the tone and type of language used will impact how customers perceive the site.
To show the extent to which the quality of copywriting varies among major retailers I’ve pulled together nine examples of product descriptions for the same pair of Levi 510 skinny jeans.
Is it any wonder that those in need of a loan (and a fast one) turn to Wonga and not a high street bank?
One is approachable and colourful and isn’t full of boring text or ambiguous wording, and the other is an institution the public has gradually learned to call the enemy.
Of course, the two aren’t really comparable. The need to turn to Wonga is often caused by desperation (and being desperate is a reality for lots of people post 2008). And Wonga itself is gradually acquiring a reputation as not exactly a pillar of the community, as many are educated about the realities of interest rates.
However, despite selling different products, Wonga still has lots to teach the high street banks. More and more customers turn to banking websites before their branches, but the bank websites are often dry and difficult to use (albeit with some very nice mobile app alternatives).
So, to demonstrate how the user experience for some banks compares to Wonga, I’m going to look at the recently re-launched ‘people’s bank’, or TSB. And for a fairer comparison, I’ll look at Lloyds Bank, too.
Chiefly I’ll look at the 'approachability' of the homepage and the copy therein, as totems for the service on offer.
Before we get started, I have two apologies to make: one to every company featured in this blog post (my opinion obviously has little bearing on the success of your marketing efforts), and another for writing a post with a wholly negative premise.
In my defence, it’s often a lot easier to run your own emails against a checklist of ‘do nots’, as it arguably supplies some super-quick fixes.
Anyway, off we go.
Webinars are annoying, ultimately, because we are designed for face to face communication. However, they are extremely useful if your colleagues and customers are ‘global’.
There are many annoying things about webinar tech, but most of them centre on UX. And central to UX is getting your language right.
Webex, as my chosen example, simply didn’t work with a good copywriter when laying out its back-end and webinar UI. I can’t speak for others such as Adobe Connect, as I haven’t used them myself.
I don’t think Webex is attempting to appear natty or complex, using slightly mystifying words or combinations of words. It’s just badly written.
Here are some examples:
Detailed product information is essential for achieving conversions as customers obviously can’t touch the product so retailers need to provide all the relevant details through images, product descriptions, reviews and videos.
This is an easy enough task for simple product such as DVDs, books and some clothing items, but electronics and other technical products require a great deal more information.
The challenge is then to try and present all the relevant information in a clear and concise manner that doesn’t cause the reader to lose interest and go elsewhere.
A case in point is the Samsung 3D 51” plasma TV which retails at around £1,800. It’s not the sort of purchase that most people will make on a whim, so retailers have to provide detailed information to ensure customers are happy to part with their cash.
With this in mind, I browsed a number of ecommerce sites to see how they deal with product descriptions for this particular TV.
It has been a long-standing belief of mine that writers need to create headlines that sell, in order to persuade people to click.
A descriptive headline isn’t good enough, despite what the SEO Class Of 2006 might tell you, and neither is a clever pun, which will no doubt horrify traditional sports journalists all over the world.
Adding a punchy or emotive word to a headline is absolutely vital to enticing that all-important click, and it can really help encourage sharing.
This is where adjectives and verbs come into play.