tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/copywriting Latest Copywriting content from Econsultancy 2016-05-26T15:15:19+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67874 2016-05-26T15:15:19+01:00 2016-05-26T15:15:19+01:00 The rise of the artisanal tone of voice among brand marketers Nikki Gilliland <p>With an increasing desire from consumers to know <em>how</em> and <em>where</em> products are made, small and artisan brands are growing in popularity.</p> <p>As a result, reassuringly authentic copywriting is popping up all over the place.</p> <p>So why do we want to buy beer from micro-breweries, get our caffeine fix from pop-up coffee shops, and source sourdough from independent bakeries?</p> <p>Perhaps it’s the reassuring nature of the old butcher, baker and candlestick maker – a place where you can go for a chat as well as a quick shop.</p> <p>Or, maybe we just believe that it’s worth spending a little extra on something premium or independently produced.</p> <p>Either way, copy that was once quirky and witty is now thoughtful and earnest.</p> <p>Look at Teapigs for example - a company that has six pages of its website dedicated to telling you how high quality its product is.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5262/Teapigs.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="473"></p> <p>With its slightly unconventional packaging, Orchard Pigs is also still slightly 'Innocent-esque' - but by detailing its 'expertly crafted' cider that's rooted in 'fine Somerset tradition', it can't help but big up its humble beginnings. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5234/Orchard_s_Pig.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="472"></p> <p>Likewise, Primrose's Kitchen has a name that directly reflects the artisanal nature of the product.</p> <p>Its muesli, made in the heart of Dorset, is a world away from the mass-produced, sugar-saturated world of Nestle. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5235/Primrose_Kitchen.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="620"></p> <p>Of course, it’s not only lesser-known brands that are capitalising on this image.</p> <p>Larger corporate companies are now deliberately trying to appear smaller in order to get a slice of the action. </p> <p>Have you popped into <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/10/tesco-takes-full-ownership-of-harris-hoole-coffee-chain">Harris + Hoole</a> lately?</p> <p>With its dedicated baristas and laid-back atmosphere, it markets itself as the ultimate independent coffee shop.</p> <p>A company that literally ‘pours hours of training’ into bringing you the ultimate cup of coffee. You’d never guess it was owned by Tesco. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5236/Harris___Hoole.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="463"></p> <p>Costa Coffee is also well-known for using these tactics.</p> <p>With 1,500 stores in the UK alone, it is one of the biggest and most recognisable brands on the high street. Yet, it still tries to convince us that every single one of its employees was born to serve skinny lattes.</p> <blockquote> <p>Coffee is an art, and our baristas are artisans – learn about the passion and precision that goes into each cup.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nice to hear, but if you’ve ever queued for a coffee at 8:50am on a Monday morning you’ll know that staying calm and not spilling anything is the main priority for staff.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5237/Costa_Coffee.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="473"></p> <p>A brand that has mass-market appeal, Walkers Crisps is another culprit.</p> <p>Usually synonymous with famous footballers and big advertising campaigns, it's been trying a different tack of late.</p> <p>With a focus on real ingredients (as opposed to fake ones, I suppose), Market Deli crisps is an attempt to target a more discerning consumer.</p> <p>Promoting itself as “inspired by authentic produce found in delicatessens across the UK”, it is a somewhat strange concept.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5238/Walkers.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="291"></p> <p>Could the fact that the product is <em>inspired</em> by authentic produce mean just that?</p> <p>Inspired, but not actually authentic in itself?</p> <p>The danger of the artisanal tone of voice trend is that it will result in false advertising. And sadly, there have already been examples.</p> <p>Tesco was recently <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2016/mar/22/tescos-fictional-farms-a-marketing-strategy-past-its-sell-by-date">called-out</a> for using fictional farm names on the packaging of fresh produce. </p> <p>Though the supermarket chain has since explained that the likes of ‘Boswell Farm’ are simply brand names, and in no way meant to suggest the place where the meat was actually sourced, it certainly doesn't instil confidence in the consumer.</p> <p>Rather, it just goes to show how the lines between artisan brands and artisanal <em>branding</em> are becoming well and truly blurred. </p> <p>When it comes to trust, at least you know what you're getting with a classic bag of cheese and onion Walkers.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, book yourself onto Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting-advanced">Online Copywriting Course</a> or check out these posts<strong>:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65198-a-simple-tip-for-improving-your-brand-tone-of-voice-guidelines/"><em>A simple tip for improving your brand tone of voice guidelines</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67149-how-to-create-simple-brand-tone-of-voice-guidelines-for-twitter/"><em>How to create simple brand tone-of-voice guidelines for Twitter</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67846 2016-05-13T10:14:25+01:00 2016-05-13T10:14:25+01:00 Logic & magic: How to harness the power of language Nikki Gilliland <p>I digress. The point is that lexicographer Susie certainly knows her stuff when it comes to words and how they work.</p> <p>Yesterday, I heard her speak at the <a href="http://summit.adobe.com/emea/">Adobe Summit</a> where she provided unique insight into how language can be utilised for business on all levels.</p> <p>Before I summarise her wisdom in a handy little list, here are the results of a poll taken by the audience during the talk. </p> <p>(This might give you an idea of just how strongly people feel about language)</p> <ul> <li>52% ‘literally’ blow up at the over-use of literally.</li> <li>65% are annoyed by the habit of using ‘so’ at the beginning of every sentence.</li> <li>87% have talked about ‘solutions’ and ‘paradigm shifts’ at work.</li> <li>92% want to face-palm when they spot a misspelling.</li> <li>60% aren’t bothered by new words like ‘face-palm’.</li> <li>87% say their company does NOT communicate effectively.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4906/dictionary.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="496"></p> <p>Now, on with that list...</p> <h3>Don’t be scared to stutter</h3> <p>According to research, ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ is not always a bad thing.</p> <p>One experiment demonstrated how a speech including conversational fillers was more readily understood by the same audience than one that was word-perfect.</p> <p>This is due to natural rhythms of conversation aiding comprehension, with regular pauses in speech allowing the listener to absorb what is being said.</p> <h3>A large vocabulary doesn’t mean a complicated one</h3> <p>Expanding your vocabulary is one of the most overlooked ways to improve your prospects (and sharpen communication). But it doesn’t mean the words have to be complex – quite the opposite in fact. </p> <p>Shakespeare had just 20,000 words at his disposal. Today, we have around 50,000.</p> <p>Learning new words doesn't mean you have to use all of them, or indeed speak like Shakespeare, but it'll certainly help you think in a more agile fashion.</p> <h3>Use words with precision</h3> <p>The more words we know, the more we have to choose from, but often the most basic sentence can be the most powerful.</p> <p>Let’s take Apple for example. With just one phrase, “Think different”, they managed to encapsulate everything the brand stands for. </p> <p>And not a single mention of the product.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nmwXdGm89Tk?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <h3>Know your audience</h3> <p>Just because more slang words are appearing, it doesn’t mean the overall language is shrinking. You just have to use them sparingly and appropriately as well as aim them at the right people.</p> <p>A great example of slang is Susie’s favourite word of the moment: 'Procaffeinating'. Which means the art of putting everything off until you’ve had another cup of tea. </p> <p>Similarly, you should always be aware of cultural norms and how words will be translated. </p> <h3>Ditch the gobbledygook</h3> <p>The definition of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives/">jargon</a> is ‘unintelligible or meaningless talk’, and in this sense, it is definitely something worth discarding.</p> <p>Revenue streams, joined up best practice, digital natives... if the person you're talking to is forced to decipher or un-pick the meaning, it’s not worth saying. </p> <h3>Not all jargon is bad!</h3> <p>According to Susie, although jargon is often annoying, it's also helpful.</p> <p>This is because jargon can be seen as a tribal language – i.e. a language that is used to bond or unite a specific group.</p> <p>With marketers dealing with brand-new concepts on a continuous basis, it's unsuprising that we're coming up with new words to describe them.</p> <p>That being said, whether this is a good enough excuse for ever saying the word ‘leverage’ is debateable. </p> <p><em>For more on this topic book yourself onto our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting/">Online Copywriting Training Course</a>, or check out these other posts:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67752-three-online-copywriting-tips-supported-by-research/"><em>Three online copywriting tips supported by research</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67256-should-writers-be-worried-about-automated-copywriting/"><em>Should writers be worried about automated copywriting?</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65642-nine-writing-rules-you-can-safely-ignore/"><em>Nine writing ‘rules’ you can safely ignore</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67798 2016-05-10T01:22:00+01:00 2016-05-10T01:22:00+01:00 A collection of useful tips for online copywriting that works Jeff Rajeck <ol> <li>Use short words, short sentences, and signpost your writing. (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67752-three-online-copywriting-tips-supported-by-research/">link</a>)</li> <li>Outline for your audience, write for yourself. (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67770-the-online-copywriter-s-paradox-how-to-write-for-your-audience-yourself/">link</a>)</li> </ol> <p>If you follow these rules, your writing will be easy-to-read, clear, and coherent. </p> <p>Your writing will also be well-structured yet capture some of your unique, personal voice which keeps readers interested. Additionally, you won't lose your easily-distracted online audience.</p> <p>If you're just blogging as a hobby, you can probably stop here. Following these two rules will help you write in a way which is far more readable and interesting than most.</p> <p>But if you are writing professionally, one more step is needed.</p> <h3>Before we start...</h3> <p>Econsultancy is offering an Online Copywriting Workshop in Singapore on Wednesday, May 25th for those in the region who would like to improve their writing.</p> <p>You can find more details about the workshop and register here: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting-workshop-singapore/dates/2780/">Online Copywriting Workshop (Singapore)</a>.</p> <h3>Writing that works</h3> <p>According to Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson in <em>Writing That Works:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>Clarity, desirable as it is, is not the goal. The goal is effective communication — writing that works.</p> </blockquote> <p>Business writers Roman and Raphaelson focus on a single point throughout their famous book.  That is, professional writers have to write in a way which distinguishes their writing from an amateur's.</p> <p>Specifically, <strong>professional writers have to write with the intention to have an effect in the real world.</strong></p> <p>As a professional writer, you goal is to motivate a reader to do something or think differently. They may buy something from your company, try something new, or change their perspective on a familiar topic.</p> <p>Whatever it is, the end result of professional writing should be an action.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4489/writing.png" alt="" width="800" height="600"></p> <h3>But how can a writer achieve this?</h3> <p>It's difficult and it's also not something you can necessarily improve through trial-and-error.  </p> <p>If you're writing to sell then, yes, you can track readers to sales or conversions. More effective writing will produce better results.</p> <p>If you're writing to change an opinion, however, it is not quite so easy to know which pieces are working. Readers simply don't comment like they used to and so it can be hard to know whether you have made an impression.</p> <p>One source of advice about how to be more effective is other professional writers. Reading about writing is a great way to move from good amateur writing to effective professional writing.</p> <p>Start with the classics: </p> <ul> <li>Stunk &amp; White, <em>The Elements of Style</em> </li> <li>Zinsser, <em>On Writing Well</em> </li> <li>Raphaelson &amp; Roman, <em>Writing that Works</em> </li> </ul> <p> Then try reading modern writing books which also cover online copywriting: </p> <ul> <li>Felder,<em> Writing for the Web</em> </li> <li>Handley, <em>Everybody Writes</em> </li> <li>Redish, <em>Letting Go of the Words</em> </li> </ul> <p>And for organizing ideas, I've found <em>Beyond Bullet Points</em> (Atkinson) indispensable.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4492/Capture.PNG" alt="" width="784" height="451"></p> <h3>Key points from the professionals</h3> <p>Here are a few key points I've collected from these which help make writing more effective.</p> <h4>1. Drive the action point home</h4> <p>The most important thing you can do to encourage action is to make it absolutely clear what you want your reader to do.</p> <p>Have a clear call-to-action in your writing and make sure it is front-and-center, not buried at the bottom of your post.</p> <p>Also, check your structure and ensure that the outline supports the intended action. Irrelevant or conflicting points distract from your goal and should be removed.</p> <h4>2. Add spark</h4> <p>Spark is what makes writing exciting to read, and adding it is much more enjoyable than fiddling with structure. </p> <p>Spark comes as much from removing words as from adding them. Most adjectives, the passive voice, and cliches should all disappear.  </p> <p>There are many more best practices in the books listed above. Apply them mercilessly and review. You will, almost certainly, have clearer writing and more effective results.</p> <p>Besides the books mentioned above, here are a few more tips to review:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2010/07/12-timeless-writing-tips-from-mark-twain/">Timeless writing tips from Mark Twain</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/george-orwells-5-rules-for-effective-writing/">5 Rules for effective writing from George Orwell</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/07/david-ogilvy-on-writing/">Ogilvy: How to write</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.economist.com/styleguide/introduction">The Economist Style Guide</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/01/14/how-to-write-with-style-kurt-vonnegut/">Vonnegut: How to write with style</a></li> </ul> <p>And Econsultancy offers all sorts of tips and tricks to help digital marketers avoid commonly-made mistakes and add spark to their writing. </p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66633-12-elements-of-a-user-friendly-blog-page/">12 elements of a user-friendly blog page</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67380-14-safety-precautions-for-inexperienced-content-writers/">14 safety precautions for inexperienced content writers</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67708-10-common-online-copywriting-mistakes/">10 common online copywriting mistakes</a></li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4491/8208261208_b63ee32616_o.jpg" alt="" width="450" height="300"></p> <h3>3) Swap places with your readers</h3> <p>Ann Handley, in her book <em>Everybody Writes</em>, makes this additional suggestion. </p> <p>Swap places with your reader. Read what you have written and ask yourself a few simple questions: </p> <ul> <li>Is the point of the piece absolutely clear, from start to finish?</li> <li>Has it been written with a real, honest tone? </li> <li>Have I been drawn into the subject, even if it doesn't interest me?</li> <li>Did I enjoy reading it?</li> </ul> <p>If you answer 'no' to any of the questions, then you need to revise.  </p> <p>Writing which is memorable, enjoyable, and real is much more likely to make a lasting impression than that which is written in business-speak.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4490/everybody-writes.png" alt="" width="428" height="606"></p> <h3>So...</h3> <p>Writing quality, amateur online copy is fairly straightforward. You can simply follow a few basic rules and write a post which is clear and pleasant to read. </p> <p>But moving from amateur to professional writing is not easy at all. You not only have to capture your audience's attention, but you need to convince them to take action.</p> <p>Additionally, it is difficult to improve in this way by trial and error. Instead, it takes research, practice, and a lot of self-critique.</p> <p>There is, however, a simple indicator that you have crossed over, though. Your writing will have an impact in the real world.  You will have more feedback, more confidence, and perhaps even measurable results.</p> <p>That is, your writing will start to 'work'.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67770 2016-04-28T00:05:00+01:00 2016-04-28T00:05:00+01:00 The online copywriter's paradox: How to write for your audience & yourself Jeff Rajeck <p>For very short passages, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67752-three-online-copywriting-tips-supported-by-research/">technical writing tips</a> are great. Keep words simple, sentences short, and use signposts in your writing.</p> <p>But for longer copy, you have to do more than that.  </p> <p>Your writing has to make an impression, convince someone of something, and then, ideally, get the reader to do what they might not otherwise do.</p> <p><strong>So how can you do that? </strong></p> <p>There are many books and countless blog posts written on this topic. Sorting the useful tips from the noise is not easy.  </p> <p>At a very high level, though, writing online copy requires two approaches which may seem contradictory, but can actually help you deliver lively, yet relevant, online copy.</p> <h3>Before we start...</h3> <p>Econsultancy is offering an Online Copywriting Workshop in Singapore on Wednesday, May 25th for those in the region who would like to improve their writing.</p> <p>You can find more details about the workshop and register here: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting-workshop-singapore/dates/2780/">Online Copywriting Workshop (Singapore)</a>.</p> <h3>First, write for an audience</h3> <p>To write persuasive and compelling copy, it helps first to think about the people you are writing for.</p> <ul> <li>What do they care about?</li> <li>What is on their mind?</li> <li>What problem are they trying to solve right now?</li> <li>What can they accomplish by reading your writing? </li> </ul> <p>Notice that doing this is not the same thing as keeping your words simple and your sentences short.</p> <p>Writing for an audience means stepping back from your writing tools, assembling a logical structure, and checking, constantly, that you are writing something which your intended audience values.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4159/photo1.png" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <p>Focusing on your audience offers three main benefits.</p> <h4>1. It will help you de-clutter your copy</h4> <p>When you have a clear idea of what you are writing and who you are writing for, you will feel confident to remove the 'business speak' which clutters writing and confuses readers.</p> <p>Econsultancy has a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives/">list of banned words</a> including 'leverage', 'synergies', and 'learnings'.  </p> <p>Using these during a corporate meeting might seem normal nowadays, but you would never use them elsewhere, so they shouldn't clutter your writing either.</p> <h4>2. You will grab your reader's attention</h4> <p>When you prioritize your writing by featuring items which people are already interested in rather than what you want to say, readers will naturally be attracted to it. </p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.lsac.org/docs/default-source/research-(lsac-resources)/rr-11-02.pdf">numerous research papers</a>, individuals pay close attention to and focus on things which they deem to be interesting.</p> <h4>3. You will keep your reader's attention</h4> <p>Your readers are faced with the same distractions we all face: emails, messaging apps, notifications, even phone calls.</p> <p>The competition to keep ahold of your reader's attention is almost overwhelming to consider.</p> <p>But if you write about something which the reader thinks and cares about, your writing can transcend these distractions and capture the reader in a virtual bubble, of sorts.</p> <p>This really does happen. NPR, a radio network in the USA, has even come up with a term for when this happens, '<a href="http://www.npr.org/series/700000/driveway-moments">driveway moments</a>.'  </p> <p>These are times when a programme is so compelling that listeners stay in their car even after they have reached home to hear the end.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4158/NPR-driveway-momemts.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="300"></p> <h3>But...</h3> <p>But you're not done yet. Writing which only considers its audience can end up sounding like a essay written for a school assignment.  </p> <p>Yes, it will cover all the right points, but it will be lifeless. And lifeless writing loses readers.</p> <p><strong>This is where the paradox lies.</strong> In order to make your writing interesting, you have to forget pleasing your readers and write for yourself.</p> <h3>...then write for yourself</h3> <p>Writing for yourself means putting words down as they come into your head. Writing as you speak and think.</p> <p>Somehow, this seems wrong. We are meant to write in order to attract and keep the audience's attention. How will writing in our own voice accomplish that?</p> <p>I will address this apparent contradiction at the end, but first have a look at the benefits you get from just writing for yourself.</p> <h4>1. Your writing will flow more naturally</h4> <p>If you bind yourself to writing only for someone else, then you will simply find it harder to write.</p> <p>Writing is much easier when the only filter you use when deciding what to say is your own preference, not what you imagine someone else's to be.</p> <h4>2. Your writing will sound more human</h4> <p>Back to the point about removing clutter. If you write in a way that makes sense to you, then you will naturally remove the words which make you sound like a corporate-speak robot.</p> <p>Words and phrases such as <em>mission-critical</em>, <em>touch base</em>, and <em>going forward</em> (yes, all <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives/">banned from this blog </a>as well) never appear naturally when speaking with someone.</p> <p>Writing for yourself will keep them out of your copy as well.</p> <h4>3. You will break rules and catch people off guard</h4> <p>The most important reason to write for yourself is that it makes your writing more interesting.</p> <p>Letting your own <em>cray-cray</em> self into your writing captures attention because you, naturally, do not think or speak like anyone else.</p> <p>So if you can deliver your own personal quirks through your writing, you will stand out from the crowd and be interesting.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4160/photo2.png" alt="" width="800" height="577"></p> <h3>Resolving the paradox</h3> <p>William Zinsser, in his influential work <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/On-Writing-Well-Classic-Nonfiction/dp/0060891548">On Writing Well</a></em>, discusses these two opposing approaches to writing.  </p> <p>He says that trying to do both seems like a paradox but explains that writing for an audience and writing for yourself are two separate tasks which you can do on the same passage.</p> <p>One, writing for the audience, he calls 'craft' and the other, writing for yourself, he calls 'attitude.' </p> <p>When you are thinking of what you are going to say, you are practicing the 'craft' of writing and you should think of your audience. </p> <p>When you thinking of how you are going to say it, you need to inject your own personality, your own 'attitude', and you need to think of yourself.</p> <p>It's easier said than done. Most, if not all, writers struggle with these opposing constraints.</p> <p>Yet in order to capture and keep an audience, we must use both approaches when writing.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4161/writing.png" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>So...</h3> <p>So how can a writer manage the paradox?</p> <p>Every writer does it in their own way, but I've found it useful to:</p> <ol> <li>Think what you want to say and who you want to say it to.</li> <li>Put together an outline which covers your main points.</li> <li>With your outline in view, write a draft in your personal voice.</li> </ol> <p>It takes practice, but allowing yourself to write in your own voice is liberating and will produce more interesting copy.</p> <p>And managing this apparent paradox also makes writing online copy much easier, even enjoyable at times!</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67775 2016-04-22T15:15:00+01:00 2016-04-22T15:15:00+01:00 Six common reasons content marketing campaigns don't perform Patricio Robles <h3>1. You didn't do the research</h3> <p>Content marketers should remember that even though content is ultimately expected to deliver a return on investment, it won't do that if it doesn't deliver value to the target audience.</p> <p>While some content marketers might assume they know what's of value to the target audience, the best way to identify the best opportunities is to do market research before any content is created.</p> <p>Market research can take many forms, and marketers should remember that analytics data and data from CRM systems can be a valuable source of worthwhile ideas.</p> <p>For more on this, read: </p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66976-are-your-audience-personas-really-helping-to-inform-your-content-strategy/">Are your audience personas really helping to inform your content strategy?</a></li> </ul> <h3>2. The content doesn't align to the objectives</h3> <p>Even great content can fall short when it's not aligned well enough to a campaign's objectives.</p> <p>For example, if a company is aiming to generate leads for a new service but its snazzy infographic is only modestly relevant to the target audience, it might not see the desired results because it won't capture attention from the right people.</p> <p>For more on this, read:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64044-the-content-cycle-how-to-improve-your-campaign-strategy/">The Content Cycle: how to improve your campaign strategy</a></li> </ul> <h3>3. The content isn't compelling</h3> <p>The web is awash in content, and more and more companies have adopted content marketing, so it can be difficult for brands to stand out.</p> <p>If content isn't interesting, informative or insightful, a campaign isn't likely to deliver on its objectives. It's that simple.</p> <p>For some inspiration on your content marketing efforts, check out these other posts:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66247-14-examples-of-evergreen-content-formats-that-work-wonders/">14 examples of evergreen content formats that work wonders</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65518-six-examples-of-interesting-content-from-boring-businesses/">Six examples of interesting content from ‘boring’ businesses</a></li> </ul> <h3>4. The presentation is lacking</h3> <p>Content experience matters.</p> <p>Making the right presentation decisions – delivery format (eg. web page versus infographic versus whitepaper PDF), typography, use of graphics and video, etc. – is critical, as is ensuring that the final product is professional if not highly-polished.</p> <p>Econsultancy's own <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64539-introducing-the-periodic-table-of-content-marketing/">Periodic Table of Content Marketing</a> will help choose which content format to use.</p> <p>It's also a good example of how presentation can bring a potentially dry topic to life (even if we do say so ourselves).</p> <p><a href="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0004/5832/The_Periodic_Table_of_Content_Marketing.png"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/5829/the_perdiodic_table_of_content_marketing-blog-full.png" alt="" width="615" height="387"></a></p> <h3>5. The distribution strategy is wrong</h3> <p>Even the best content doesn't distribute itself.</p> <p>Having <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/maximising-the-reach-of-your-content-assets-digital-marketing-template-files/">the right content distribution strategy</a> can mean the difference between content reaching the right people or not.</p> <p>While social media is often a potent distribution channel for content marketers, successful campaigns, particularly in B2B markets, frequently rely on other channels.</p> <p>This can include owned channels like company websites and mailing lists.</p> <h3>6. Quantity is prioritized over quality</h3> <p>While content marketing teams may feel good about their ability to produce content in large volumes, quantity doesn't guarantee results.</p> <p>This is something Chris Sheen, Head of Marketing at SaleCycle, explained in a post about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67475-why-80-of-our-b2b-content-marketing-failed">why 80% of his company's content failed</a>.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TotoIZdle3c?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67752 2016-04-20T01:00:00+01:00 2016-04-20T01:00:00+01:00 Three online copywriting tips supported by research Jeff Rajeck <p>These include:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67708-10-common-online-copywriting-mistakes">10 common online copywriting mistakes</a>.</li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66120-12-handy-tips-for-writing-better-web-copy">12 handy tips for writing better web copy</a>.</li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65642-nine-writing-rules-you-can-safely-ignore">Nine writing ‘rules’ you can safely ignore</a>.</li> </ul> <p>But where do these tips come from? Are they just general 'rules of thumb' or is there some scientific substance behind them?</p> <p>Though most writing tips come from writers sharing their personal approach, research does exist which supports some of the best practices.</p> <p>Three such tips are listed below along with links to the original research, for the curious.</p> <h4>Before we start...</h4> <p>Econsultancy is offering an Online Copywriting Workshop in Singapore on Wednesday, May 25th.</p> <p>You can find more details about the workshop and register here: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting-workshop-singapore/dates/2780/">Online Copywriting Workshop (Singapore)</a>.</p> <h3>Tip 1: Use simple vocabulary</h3> <p>Using simple words makes sense. Doing so forces the writer to think clearly and makes it easier for the reader to understand what is being said.</p> <p>But there is another reason why writing simple words is a good idea. In short, literacy in English-speaking countries is not as high as you may think.</p> <h4>The research</h4> <p><a href="https://www.ets.org/research/report/reading-skills/contents">A recent study by ETS</a>, a non-profit dedicated to advancing education, measured three aspects of reading comprehension across print vocabulary, sentence processing, and passage comprehension.</p> <p>After testing a variety of people in a number of countries, the researchers organized the participants by the level of reading proficiency.</p> <p>The first chart, Table 2, shows the distribution of subjects by levels of reading proficiency. Notice that, for all countries, around half of participants are below level three.</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3993/Picture1.jpg" alt="" width="748" height="435"></p> <p>And the second, Table 10, shows the relative time it takes for people with proficiency below level four to complete a passage comprehension task.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3994/Capture.PNG" alt="" width="762" height="383"></p> <p>The paper notes that level three is a reference point for 'a typical, skilled adult reader.'</p> <p>So, <strong>more than half of participants in the study take much more time to comprehend writing than a 'typical' adult reader.</strong></p> <p>The study has more details about the methods used and the differences between the levels, but the overall point is that people read at very different levels.</p> <p>When you are writing for the web you typically cannot choose your audience, so your readers may require more time than you think to understand your writing.  </p> <p>And in our age of short attention spans, difficult reading could mean that many people will not read what you have written.</p> <p>There are no quick solutions for this issue. Using focus groups to review your brand copy would be ideal, but it would be a lot of work to manage the testing and implement the recommendations.</p> <p>One easier way to help <strong>keep your vocabulary simple is to check what you write against a basic English dictionary.</strong></p> <p>Ogden's Basic English publishes a <a href="http://ogden.basic-english.org/wordalph.html">2,000 word index</a> which can help you identify words that should be easier for all audiences to understand.</p> <p>Once having reviewed the vocabulary, be mindful of the words that you write. If you find yourself reaching for a thesaurus or dictionary when writing, then be aware that you may end up losing readers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3996/image.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="400"></p> <h3>Tip 2: Use short sentences</h3> <p>Another way to ensure you don't lose readers is to use simple sentences.</p> <h4>The research</h4> <p>In a frequently-referenced (yet sadly not available online) research paper, the American Press Institute measured reader comprehension against sentences with a varying number of words.</p> <p>The study found that: </p> <ul> <li>For sentences with less than eight words, readers understood 100% of the information.</li> <li>For sentences with nine to 14 words, average comprehension was 90% of the information.</li> <li>But for long sentences (up to 43 words), average comprehension dropped to as low as 10%.</li> </ul> <p>The results make sense and the recommendation is clear. <strong>Use shorter sentences.</strong></p> <p>(Source: “Readers’ Degree of Understanding,” American Press Institute)</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3995/pic.jpg" alt="" width="945" height="454"></p> <h3>Tip 3: Help readers navigate your writing</h3> <p>Simple words and concise sentences are a good way to ensure readers will understand your writing, but they still have to read it.</p> <h4>The research</h4> <p>According to <a href="https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-users-read-on-the-web/">research</a> by the Nielsen Norman Group (NN Group), people do not read sentences in sequential order when browsing the web.</p> <p>Instead, they 'scan the pages' and choose sentence fragments to get the information that they are looking for.</p> <p>Because of this behavior, tests indicate that text which is 'concise, scannable, and objective' enjoys a comprehension boost of 124% among readers.</p> <p>The link offers more details of the research, but the NN Group offers suggestions on a few simple things writers can do to achieve this boost in comprehension: </p> <ul> <li>Use highlighted words</li> <li>Include meaningful sub-headings throughout an article</li> <li>Use bulleted lists</li> <li>Keep paragraphs to one idea</li> <li>And remove at least half of the words used in offline writing.</li> </ul> <p>Following these guidelines are a good way to ensure that readers will, at the very least, skim your writing correctly and understand the point you are making.  </p> <p>What more can you ask for?</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3997/image2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="400"></p> <h3>So...</h3> <p>For experienced online copywriters, these tips are obvious.</p> <p>Most successful writers online use simple words and sentences and employ headlines, bullet points, and emphasis to help readers navigate long blocks of text. </p> <p>It's good to know, though, why we should do so.  </p> <p>Research shows that people are simply more likely to read and understand what you have written if you follow these guidelines.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67739 2016-04-14T12:32:00+01:00 2016-04-14T12:32:00+01:00 According to 32,198 emails, most retailers use boring subject lines Parry Malm <p>I’m in the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66967-10-trailblazing-tech-startups-that-demand-your-attention/">subject line business</a>. So, it makes sense that my company keeps track of subject lines that brands around the world are sending.</p> <p>We’ve built up one of the worlds’ largest databases of subject lines sent by B2C brands. It is all content that we receive in our inboxes after signing up on retailers’ websites, so it’s all public domain (no confidences are being broken, don’t worry!)</p> <p>We took 32,198 randomly-selected subject lines from major global retailers and ran them through Phrasee Pheelings, a sentiment analysis engine we built specifically to quantify the semantic makeup of subject lines.</p> <p style="color: #333333;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3882/email_overload.gif" alt="" width="250" height="142"></p> <p><strong>Note</strong>: In this analysis, we decided to not look at individual word frequency, as from a linguistic standpoint this is suboptimal. Why is this?</p> <p>Take these two subject lines:</p> <ol> <li>Our <strong>new</strong> products suck big time and only idiots buy them.</li> <li>Our <strong>brand new</strong> products suck big time and only idiots buy them.</li> </ol> <p>If you only look at individual words, some people would tell you that the second subject line is better than the first, because “brand new” is a better phrase than “new.”</p> <p>But – the entirety of the subject line sucks big time and only an idiot would use either. So knowing that one word is better than another really doesn’t help you, as it doesn’t consider context or sentiment.</p> <p>(Editor's note: the author's own example subject lines were 'sanitised' significantly here...).</p> <p>Also, I’ve already done that sort of research a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66328-211-awesome-phrases-for-email-subject-lines-that-sell/">bunch of times</a>, and a bunch of other companies have followed my lead. So, I’m kind bored of it. While perhaps piquing intellectual curiosity, it only tells you part of the story.</p> <p><strong>So instead, we looked at the overarching sentiment</strong> – that is, how humans actually interpret the language in full, not just word-by-word – and compared subject lines from 2,598 retailers across the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia, from January through March.</p> <h3>Spoiler alert: Most retailers use very similar language in their subject lines</h3> <p>A quick word on the methodology:</p> <p>Phrasee Pheelings scores each subject line on five key semantic categories: urgency, friendliness, offbeatness, directness and curiosity.</p> <p>These were derived from a factor analysis of over 20 emotions, which statistically converge on these five categories.</p> <p>Why not measure more, say 15 or 17 or 19? Well, take ‘Urgency’ and ‘Fear of Missing Out’, for example. They have huge semantic – and statistical – crossover, so ranking both makes no sense.</p> <p>The same goes for many other emotions. Measuring more doesn’t add statistical or semantic value, it just adds confusion and complicated charts that mean nothing.</p> <p>We then took all the quantified semantic results and ran a variety of statistical methods to understand the nature of the data. One of these methods included a K-Means Cluster Analysis, which is how you find common subsets within a dataset.</p> <p>We then used this cluster analysis to find similarities and differences that exist within the data.</p> <p style="color: #333333;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3866/Nerds.gif" alt="" width="500" height="272"></p> <h3>The most common types of retailer subject lines are:</h3> <p style="color: #333333;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/3877/retailer_subject_lines-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="334"></p> <h3>What are the individual clusters?</h3> <p><strong>Cluster 1 - Very direct, very urgent.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3941/Screen_Shot_2016-04-14_at_12.00.15.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Example: </p> <blockquote> <p>5 for £100 Shirts - 48 HOURS ONLY</p> </blockquote> <p>Very direct, very urgent. It's a generic message, and could be for any brand out there, so it doesn't build your brand at all. Helps with short-term sales lifts, but in long run trains customers to only purchase when a sale is on. </p> <p><strong>Cluster 2: Very direct, less urgent.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3940/Screen_Shot_2016-04-14_at_12.00.23.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Example:</p> <blockquote> <p>Exclusive New Season UNDER £100, and many more offers for you</p> </blockquote> <p>Very direct, less urgent, and once again devoid of brand voice. Likely delivers less of a short-term sales uplift, but may get customers who are already in "buying mode" to move on their impulse.</p> <p><strong>Cluster 3: Descriptive, but 'blah'.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3939/Screen_Shot_2016-04-14_at_12.00.30.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Example:</p> <blockquote> <p>Free Delivery on orders over £30</p> </blockquote> <p>Descriptive, and devoid of humanness. Will interest some a bit of the time, but mostly not. When repeated, turns into one big, repetitive blah.</p> <p><strong>Cluster 4: Evokes interest.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3938/Screen_Shot_2016-04-14_at_12.00.36.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Example:</p> <blockquote> <p>The pastel pieces you need now</p> </blockquote> <p>Evokes interest in what's coming. For specific product ranges, will generate interest.</p> <p><strong>Cluster 5: Ambiguous, but benefit-driven.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3937/Screen_Shot_2016-04-14_at_12.00.42.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Example:</p> <blockquote> <p>Clothes worth making a *lot* of noise about</p> </blockquote> <p>Ambiguous, but benefit-driven. When offering a wide product set, will enter people into information-seeking phase of buying process.</p> <p><strong>Cluster 6: Benefit-led and human.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3936/Screen_Shot_2016-04-14_at_12.00.49.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Example:</p> <blockquote> <p>Dry your laundry whatever the weather!</p> </blockquote> <p>Pure benefit-led, and human-sounding. If you are facing a specific problem, this will solve it. Perfect for interest generation. </p> <h3>63% of retailer subject lines are generic, and they're losing brand value - and sales - as a result</h3> <p>The vast majority of the subject lines in the data set are very direct, quite urgent, sound very similar… and could be sent from pretty much any brand.</p> <p>That is fine if your brand’s voice is generic – but it’s not. (If your brand’s voice is generic, stop reading here).</p> <h3>Why are most subject lines so generic? There are numerous reasons:</h3> <p><strong>1.</strong></p> <p>Many email marketers benchmark their subject lines on what their competitors are doing. They’ll see something and go, “Oh I like that!” and write something similar.</p> <p>But then, the market converges upon a mean of boring, samey-samey sounding subject lines. And consumers switch off, because there’s no linguistic differentiation between competitive actors in the marketplace. So subject lines just become one big blah.</p> <p><strong>2.</strong></p> <p>If you’re an email marketer you’ll know what I’m talking about here; writing a subject line that strays from the status quo is difficult – for both political and fear-aversion reasons.</p> <p>Political because often the subject lines need to get signed off by other people who are risk-averse; and fear-aversion because what if your subject line sucks? So people just do what they’ve always done, thus perpetuating the status quo.</p> <p><strong>3.</strong></p> <p>Quite often, the writing of the subject line is left till the last minute. And in the panic to get the email out, there isn’t enough thought put into what it should be.</p> <p>This results in a lack of creativity, and the perpetuating of boring, samey-samey sounding language. This is surprisingly common, as <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65885-how-304-email-marketers-split-test-their-subject-lines-spoiler-alert-it-s-usually-badly/">this study</a> indicates.</p> <p><strong>4.</strong></p> <p>People simply don’t like writing subject lines. Many email marketers spend more time on the data, or making the inside of the email look beautiful, or whatever else.</p> <p>Both of these things matter – a lot – but if no one opens your email in the first place, then it’s all a waste of time.</p> <p><strong>5.</strong></p> <p>If you’ve been writing subject lines for your brand for a while, then you’ll know how hard it is to keep coming up with new ways to ostensibly say the same thing.</p> <p>And even the most creative copywriters in the world have off days. So if your email goes out today, and you’re having a particularly uncreative day, the easiest solution is just to settle on something boring. </p> <h3>If you don’t care about your brand, then use subject lines like these:</h3> <p>Here’s a couple subject lines that were mentioned on Twitter (not by us!) as being mega spammy:</p> <p style="color: #333333;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/3879/spam_subject_line_image-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="213"></p> <p style="color: #333333;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/3880/spam_subject_line_image_2-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="178"></p> <p><strong>Ouch</strong>. When your subject lines are being publicly shamed, that’s bad times, amirite?</p> <p>Whoever is signing off these Argos lines, can I humbly suggest you consider an alternative linguistic pattern? You may be getting a few more sales in the short run, but in the long run it’s just going to alienate your customer base. </p> <h3>Interesting stuff! But hey, what does this analysis mean for me?</h3> <p>Your subject line is critical from two standpoints:</p> <p>1) increasing short-run response rates; and 2) improving long-run brand perception.</p> <p><strong>The above data indicates that most email marketers focus on #1, in a fleeting manner, and ignore #2</strong>.</p> <p>See, if you always send out repetitive “50% off deals unlocked - BUY NOW PLEASE” emails over and over and over, in the short term you’ll get a few more sales. But in the long term, you’ll train your audience to perceive your brand as a perpetual discounter. This means that they’ll learn to only buy from you when there’s a big sale on.</p> <p>Or if you mis-sell, and say things like “You’ve unlocked a deal,” or whatever, like in the twitter examples above, when no deals have been unlocked, it will be detrimental to your brand.</p> <p>This isn’t a good thing. So don’t do it.</p> <p>The key to continued, on-brand success is to continuously and progressively explore the semantic variant space that exists within subject line language. There’s no such thing as boring brands – but there is such a thing as a boring subject line.</p> <p><strong>Stop copying. Stop being boring. Stop following the status quo.</strong> Your customers will thank you with their wallets.</p> <p><strong>You can get your own subject line’s sentiment ranked by Phrasee Pheelings for free <a href="https://phrasee.co/optimise-email-subject-lines-with-phrasee-pheelings-lite/">here</a> (Editor’s note: registration required).</strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67708 2016-04-06T10:22:00+01:00 2016-04-06T10:22:00+01:00 10 common online copywriting mistakes Jack Simpson <p>But digital writing requires a unique approach that caters for the way people read online, i.e. through scanning the page for information that is relevant to them. </p> <p>In this post I’m going to cover 10 common <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting">online copywriting</a> mistakes I come across regularly when reading content. </p> <h3>1. Bad headlines</h3> <p>Headlines are hard. It can take a relatively long time to come up with what is essentially just a few words, but it is important to get your headline right. </p> <p>It is the first thing people will see, and makes the difference between them clicking to read more or scrolling on by. </p> <p>Your headline should be eye-catching, not overly long, and descriptive enough that people will know what to expect from the post without seeing any of the content. </p> <p>This latter point is vital because the headline will often appear in isolation on social media or within an email newsletter, etc.  </p> <h3>2. No subheadings</h3> <p>This is a sin punishable by the worst kind of tutting and head-shaking, not to mention a speedy click back to Google. </p> <p>If you don’t include multiple subheadings you make it very difficult for readers to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66920-why-visitors-only-read-20-of-your-web-page">scan through your content</a> and pick out the information that is relevant to them. </p> <p>Each subheading should be descriptive enough to stand on its own, giving the reader a very clear idea of what is included in that section. </p> <h3>3. The ‘wall of text’</h3> <p>Arguably the most offensive of all online copywriting faux pas. </p> <p>Upon being faced with an enormous block of uninterrupted text on a web page, most people will swiftly search for an escape route. Why? Because it is a violent sin against the eyes. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3718/holy_wal_of_text.jpg" alt="" width="479" height="382"></p> <p>Break your copy up into short paragraphs, two or three sentences each. This creates plenty of white space and makes your writing much easier to read.</p> <p>It also means you can focus on one key point or idea per paragraph, which makes it much easier for somebody to scan your post and quickly find the information they’re looking for. </p> <h3>4. Overly complex language</h3> <p>If you can’t explain something in simple terms then it’s likely you don’t fully understand it yourself. </p> <p>Use simple language and avoid needlessly obscure words or phrases. You’re not trying to win the Booker Prize here, you just want to deliver information to people as quickly and effectively as possible. </p> <h3>5. Not putting the best bits first</h3> <p>The way people consume online content is different to how they would read a newspaper or novel. </p> <p>People are generally searching for the answer to a question. They’ve likely found your article via a search engine and they want to find the relevant information as quickly and easily as possible. </p> <p>The main point of your article should feature in the first two or three paragraphs.</p> <p>You can then expand throughout the rest of the article, but people should be able to get the general gist of what you’re saying in those initial paragraphs. </p> <h3>6. Overuse of buzzwords</h3> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3637/buzzwords.jpg" alt="Buzzwords" width="400" height="222"></p> <p>Nothing turns copy ugly faster than the presence of meaningless words, and marketers are arguably the worst offenders. </p> <p>We actually have <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66631-20-banned-words-from-the-econsultancy-blog-and-their-alternatives">a list of banned words and phrases</a> on the Econsultancy blog, including ‘leverage’, ‘best in class’, and the ever-cringe-inducing ‘learnings’.</p> <p>For any buzzword you can think of there is a perfectly normal and infinitely less stupid alternative. Use it.</p> <h3>7. Not spelling out acronyms</h3> <p>You may know what CTR, CRM and UTO mean, but don’t assume your readers will, particularly if they’re researching a topic for the first time. </p> <p>Spell the acronym out the first time you mention it, like this: Search engine results page (SERP).</p> <p>Then use the acronym for the rest of the post.</p> <h3>8. Not proof reading</h3> <p>Online publishing is wonderful in the fact that things can be edited after they’ve gone live, but this comfort blanket has a tendency to induce a degree of laziness in writers.</p> <p>Make sure you leave enough time after writing an article to go through and proof read thoroughly.</p> <p>People will spot mistakes. It doesn’t reflect well on your brand and could detract from any genuinely good points you’ve made.</p> <h3>9. Poor formatting</h3> <p>I’ve covered various elements of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66633-12-elements-of-a-user-friendly-blog-page">formatting</a> under a number of the subheadings here, but let’s reiterate some key points:</p> <ul> <li>Use lots of subheadings.</li> <li>Create plenty of white space through short paragraphs.</li> <li>Use bullet points like I’m doing now. </li> <li>Include imagery to put points into context and make the content more visually pleasing.</li> <li>Use internal links, but not too many. </li> </ul> <h3>10. The comma splice</h3> <p>This is perhaps more of a personal gripe than anything, but I often see people using commas where they shouldn’t be. </p> <p>Online copywriting is complicated, there are lots of things to remember and many rules to bear in mind. = <strong>WRONG</strong></p> <p>Online copywriting is complicated. There are lots of things to remember and many rules to bear in mind. = <strong>BETTER</strong></p> <p>It seems like a small thing, but when a writer uses a comma incorrectly in this way it can be very jarring for the reader and it instantly makes the writing seem less professional.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67683 2016-03-30T11:06:00+01:00 2016-03-30T11:06:00+01:00 How typography will help your responsive website stand out James Hopkins <h3>Be responsive, accessible and different</h3> <p>When someone uses the term ‘accessibility’ in the context of web development, they’ll likely be referring to the practice of ensuring that users who require assistive technologies are able to use your website.</p> <p>However, the topic of accessibility is far wider ranging than the aforementioned scope. Rather, it is ensuring that <em>anyone</em> regardless of device is able to use your application.</p> <p dir="ltr">With such a wide-ranging array of internet-enabled devices (phones, tablets, etc), it’s important that your application caters for these devices in seamless way.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">“Oh, here is another big picture website…!”</h3> <p dir="ltr">Hamburger menu? Check. Full screen image? Check. Scroll prompt? Check.</p> <p dir="ltr">Did you ever get <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67408-web-design-convergence-what-why-and-does-it-matter/">a sense of deja vu</a>?</p> <p dir="ltr">Chances are, the website you’re looking at is ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66081-responsive-web-design-15-of-the-best-sites-from-2014/">responsive</a>’ - meaning the same webpage will fit in different screen sizes nicely, with the same functionality on offer.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">But why don’t you make a separate m. website instead?</h4> <p dir="ltr">Chances are you’ve seen a URL in your address bar whilst on your mobile that is prepended with an ‘m’ subdomain.</p> <p dir="ltr">The vast majority of the time this’ll denote a standalone mobile-specific website, that is entirely separate from the desktop version.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are some major drawbacks with this model:</p> <ul> <li>Maintenance overhead and development costs associated with several disparate codebases.</li> <li>Reliance on potentially brittle device detection.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">In contrast, a responsive website incorporates the same underlying codebase, with its responsive nature coming from adaptations of its user interface based on environmental variables.</p> <p dir="ltr">These include screen resolution, aspect ratio, and orientation. This concept provides a leaner approach throughout the project lifecycle.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to the technical decisions when constructing a responsive website, design considerations are also incredibly important.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>A typical responsive website, with hamburger menu and 'big picture'.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0005/9589/IDA.png" alt="responsive website" width="615"></p> <h3 dir="ltr">Mobile first</h3> <p dir="ltr">Another buzz word in the responsive design sphere is the term ‘mobile first’. Essentially, this means that you should be designing for the smallest device size envisaged, and progressively increasing support for larger resolutions.</p> <p dir="ltr">On larger screens such as a desktop monitor, you can have content elements side by side. There is enough room for it. You can have several items displayed almost at the same level.</p> <p dir="ltr">However on the narrowest possible screen, you have to reduce the number of columns, which forces you to organise your content in a much more linear fashion. Moreover, it forces you to think in terms of information hierarchy and single priority order.</p> <p dir="ltr">Once you work out the order, going back to a larger screen is a much simpler process. And many choose to keep this single order; even keep the hamburger menu (it’s the icon with three lines stacked up and usually reveals a site navigation in some way).</p> <p dir="ltr">They reason “you might as well put beautiful massive images on it. Or make it a video. Nice simple layout. Clear hierarchy. Job done.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Except, that is what a lot of other people are doing. How can we achieve a responsive website that doesn’t look like everyone else’s?</p> <h3 dir="ltr">It’s all about typography</h3> <p dir="ltr">The best responsive designs come with good, considered typography. As far as I am concerned, there are two factors for great typography.</p> <p dir="ltr">The first one is personality. Is the typeface appropriate for what you’re trying to communicate? You don’t warn people of death in Comic Sans (unless it’s for comic purposes obviously). Does it represent the brand? Does it have right level of authority?</p> <p dir="ltr">And the second one is semantic. Typography has to convey the right relationship between each word, sentence and paragraph.</p> <p dir="ltr">To illustrate, this example is stripped off any typographic consideration:</p> <table style="border-collapse: collapse;"> <colgroup><col width="593"></colgroup> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p dir="ltr">It’s all about typography.</p> <p dir="ltr">How personality of typeface and semantic affects how you communicate through words.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh, here is another big picture website…!” Hamburger menu? Check. Full screen...</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p dir="ltr">And the same text, with some of those considerations added back in:</p> <table style="border-collapse: collapse;"> <colgroup><col width="590"></colgroup> <tbody> <tr style="height: 0px;"> <td style="vertical-align: top;"> <h3 dir="ltr">It’s all about typography</h3> <p dir="ltr"><strong>How personality of typeface and semantic affects how you communicate through words</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">“Oh, here is another big picture website…!” Hamburger menu? Check. Full screen...</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p dir="ltr">The second example makes it clear that these are heading, subheading and extract, rather than three equally weighted paragraphs in various grammatical styles.</p> <p dir="ltr">It may seem that this is simple stuff that everyone does but awareness of relationships between content and style are critical in achieving a good responsive layout.</p> <p dir="ltr">Once style and content are tied together so they are ‘semantic’, layout can be a lot more flexible.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is the same principle as the relationship between HTML and CSS, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67625-making-your-html-accessible-for-the-visually-impaired/">which have separate functions but linked meaning</a>. HTML displays the ‘meaning’ of your content and CSS displays how it ‘looks’.</p> <p dir="ltr">Typography displays the ‘relationships’ of your content and layout changes how it ‘flows’ without changing the order.</p> <p dir="ltr">Having strong typographic principles allows you to move your content around more freely without breaking what it means.</p> <p dir="ltr">Good typography combined with clear prioritisation of mobile devices will allow you to be more flexible with layout at different screen sizes.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>An example of bold typography from agency land.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67376-13-examples-of-websites-with-confident-typography/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0452/Screen_Shot_2016-01-06_at_09.11.42.png" alt="bold typography" width="615"></a></p> <h3 dir="ltr">Think accessibility and beyond</h3> <p dir="ltr">How can you ensure your typography is semantic and communicates what it supposed to do? I found the best way to achieve this is to think in terms of accessibility.</p> <p dir="ltr">Here are some stats around visual impairments you can consider.</p> <ul> <li>70% of UK population <a href="http://www.college-optometrists.org/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm/A60DE8E4-B6CF-49ED-8E0FE694FCF4B426">have mild vision impairment</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Factsheets/Later_Life_UK_factsheet.pdf?dtrk=true">17% (or 11m people) of the UK population is 65 or above</a> and many of them are tech savvy.</li> <li>3% (or 2 million people) of the UK population <a href="https://help.rnib.org.uk/help/newly-diagnosed-registration/registering-sight-loss/statistics">are living with sight loss</a>.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.colourblindawareness.org/colour-blindness/">4.5% has colour blindness</a>, and <a href="http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/">10% has dyslexia - 4% severely so</a>.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">To give you the sense of scale, current IE8 &amp; IE9 users in UK <a href="http://gs.statcounter.com/#desktop-browser_version_partially_combined-GB-monthly-201501-201601">are about 3.5% combined</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">As you can see, these are not trivial numbers. And on top of making all these new users happy (and hopefully buying your products), by considering them, you can design a better responsive website.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">Semantic typography</h4> <p dir="ltr">The way to do this right is to think of semantic HTML. If it’s an article, call it an article. If it’s a button, call it a button.</p> <p dir="ltr">The same principle applies to typography, if it’s a heading, call it heading 1 &lt;h1&gt;, if it’s a subheading call it heading 2 &lt;h2&gt;, etc.</p> <p dir="ltr">It helps the browser to examine your content and really understand the position of each sentence.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">Think large and spacious</h4> <p dir="ltr">For those with minor visual impairment, having large text definitely helps. I consider 14pt average sized, as a guide. Having plenty of space that complements typography helps dyslexic audience, as well as creating a clean spacious design.</p> <p dir="ltr">With so many different devices, thinking about ‘the fold’ is pretty much replaced by mobile first, single priority order, which means you can add more space between elements; in fact, as much as you need to create the right context.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">Characterful typeface</h4> <p dir="ltr">Those with dyslexia may prefer having a font with distinct shapes for each letter. For example when d and b are just the mirror of each other, it’s hard to distinguish between them.</p> <p dir="ltr">Choose a font that reflects your brand well and works well for a dyslexic audience. Differentiate for yourself and for others.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">Make it work without colours</h4> <p dir="ltr">The principle “if it works without colours, it works anywhere”  is a good, plain old usability.</p> <p dir="ltr">Colours can be used to emphasise information and that can be a really powerful design element. However, if it works without colours, that is even more robust.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">Mind the contrast</h4> <p dir="ltr">Good contrast helps mild vision impairment and make things much easier to read for everyone.</p> <h4 dir="ltr">Consider background colour</h4> <p dir="ltr">Dyslexic audiences may find it easier to read when the page doesn’t have the strong glare of a white background. A softer tone is easier to read from and it will help add a personality to your design. Added bonus.</p> <p dir="ltr">You can see this in action at <a href="https://www.fortnumandmason.com/">Fortnum &amp; Mason's site</a>, where we’ve used soft cream tones to differentiate the atmosphere of the site and create a warm and ambient feeling.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Be different</h3> <p dir="ltr">Taking all these factors into account, you will end up with a clear, accessible, responsive website. And it doesn’t have to look like a wider, bigger version of mobile layout.</p> <p dir="ltr">Push yourself to think differently - as long as you don’t forget the all important accessibility, your responsive website will work well and stand out from the crowd. Give it a go.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>This blog was co-authored by Sari Griffiths, Chief Design Officer at Red Badger</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67565 2016-02-24T11:42:50+00:00 2016-02-24T11:42:50+00:00 A day in the life of... Head of Editorial at Government Digital Service Ben Davis <h3><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/2245/carrie-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="Carrie Barclay, GDS" width="300"></h3> <h3>Please describe your job! What does a Head of Editorial in UK Government do?</h3> <p>I’m responsible for the overarching editorial strategy for our blogs platform - which is home to over 80 government blogs. </p> <p>I work with colleagues across government to encourage and support blogging as an important communication tool.</p> <p>I’m also responsible for the content on the Government Digital Service (GDS) blog - my role is similar to an Editor-in-Chief; I plan and commission content, edit posts, as well as working with other GDS teams to make sure their content is reaching the right audiences, and that they’re receiving the right level of support.</p> <p><a href="https://www.blog.gov.uk/"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2264/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.22.29.png" alt="government blogs" width="615"></a></p> <h3>Whereabouts do you sit within the… government? Who do you report to?</h3> <p>GDS is technically part of Cabinet Office, and day to day my work feeds into the strategy and development of the Head of Digital Engagement and Design.</p> <h3>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?</h3> <p>You need to be really organised, and pretty ballsy; but you also need to balance that with a patient, supportive nature.</p> <p>You need to have a deep understanding of the workings of central government, and be confident enough to be a leading advocate for the platform and its processes.</p> <p>It’s my responsibility to make sure that teams and individuals across government have the skills and support they need to blog successfully, and autonomously.</p> <p>You need to be a strong communicator, and have a really strong, developed editorial approach.</p> <h3>Tell us about a typical working day…</h3> <p>I check emails first thing and deal with anything urgent. I’m a parent, so I make sure my daughter gets off to school before either heading into Holborn or to my home office if I’m working remotely. </p> <p>Before anything else I’ll have a coffee and a catch up with my Assistant Editor - she’ll fill me in on anything that I’ve missed, and we’ll go through my diary to see what the day holds.</p> <p>During the day it’s usually a mixture of meetings and planning, commissioning, and publishing posts.</p> <p>I also spend quite a lot of time away from the office around government working with colleagues either to talk about prospective blogs, working through issues, or just catching up and offering support. </p> <p>My role is very autonomous so I’m free to plan my days the best way I see fit. Some days are very admin-heavy, others are dedicated to strategy and planning.</p> <p>Whether I’m working in the office or remotely, I’m in constant contact with my team online or on the phone to make sure we’re all up to speed with each others workloads and priorities.</p> <p><a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/blogging"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2266/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.25.50.png" alt="gds blog guide" width="615"></a></p> <h3>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h3> <p>I love the autonomy and flexibility; I’m able to work from home when I need to, and go where I’m needed across government.</p> <p>Fundamentally, I love being part of such a high-profile project that directly affect citizens around the country.</p> <p>What sucks? <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66973-how-to-ensure-a-pain-free-sign-off-process/">Sign off process</a>. Government is a very busy and complex place to work, so sometimes getting a post signed off by all the interested parties can mean delays and missed deadlines. </p> <p>But, it’s a completely necessary evil. When you’re working with words that represent the UK government, you can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to sign off.</p> <p>It can be frustrating, but the reality of publishing misleading or false information is much worse.</p> <h3>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?</h3> <p>We use a blend of analytics and social media monitoring to keep an eye on things.</p> <p>I’m not massively interested in high numbers of visitors - some of our blogs are quite niche - I’m more concerned with consistency and engagement.</p> <p>Our comments facility is important, but these days many more conversations happen on social platforms, so that’s where we focus our attention.</p> <h3>What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?</h3> <p>Well, the platform itself is pretty important - we use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65372-the-complete-guide-to-setting-up-and-running-a-wordpress-site/">Wordpress</a>. For my work day to day I use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67489-slack-yammer-facebook-who-ll-win-the-collaboration-battle">Slack</a> and Google Hangouts to engage with colleagues and Google Drive for reports, presentations, documents, and images.</p> <p>I also use <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66187-17-fantastically-useful-tools-for-content-writers-and-bloggers">Hemingwayapp</a> (to check readability); Flickr (for creative commons images); Basecamp (to organise our communities); Brandwatch (social media management); and Trello (to manage workflow).</p> <p><em><strong>Hemingwayapp</strong></em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2275/Screen_Shot_2016-02-23_at_15.37.17.png" alt="hemingwayapp" width="615"></p> <h3>How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?</h3> <p>I started out as a digital journalist about 12 years ago, and ended up as a spa reviewer and beauty journalist. I began blogging alongside my job in 2010, running three blogs: one lifestyle, one food, and one interiors.</p> <p>By 2012 I’d quit my day job and was blogging, writing, and consulting through my editorial agency, Digital Bungalow, full-time. I joined GDS in 2013.</p> <p>Although I have no plans to move on at the moment, I imagine that my next steps could be taking my central government blogging expertise to another part of government, or another public sector or charity organisation.</p> <p>That said, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider a step back into the private sector, or even back into digital journalism again, if the right opportunity presented itself.</p> <h3>Which brands do you think are doing digital well?</h3> <p>My favourites at the moment are: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>ASOS</strong>: they’re really committed to content across blogging, social, and apps and understand their audience incredibly well.</li> <li> <strong>Toblerone</strong>: these guys are the kings of strong real-time marketing.</li> <li> <strong>Nike</strong>: now one of the best brands on Instagram - they’re always creating communication from the perspective of the user.</li> </ul> <h3>Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?</h3> <p>You have to have curiosity; things change so quickly that you have to have a curious spirit to maintain the energy needed to stay on top of everything.</p> <p>You need to be confident and friendly, but also be willing to stick your head above the parapet and fight for what you believe in. Oh, and don’t be a dick.</p> <p>-----</p> <p><em>If you're looking for a new challenge in digital, see the <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/">Econsultancy jobs board</a> or benchmark your own digital knowledge using our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-skills-index-lite/">Digital Skills Index</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Alternatively, if you already work in the digital industry and would like a Day In The Life profile, you can email us via press@econsultancy.com.</em></p>