When you’re marketing a new product or feature you want to shout about it. Everywhere. Website? Check. Social media? Check. Email? Check. PPC? Check. Media? Check. In-app? Check.
Each outlet brings opportunities, but each opportunity comes with style barriers because what works in-app won’t necessarily sell on social. So, to help you hit your targets, here we’ll explain how you can optimise your words for each platform.
Let’s cover a few of the basics. Whatever medium you’re writing and whatever message you’re sending remember these four golden rules:
1. Concision converts. People are busy so don’t give them chance to wander by waffling. Have your point in front of mind before you put pen to paper and then make it in as few words as possible.
2. Check, check and check again. There’s nothing quite like a typo getting in the way of your message. Proof what you’ve written with fresh eyes and ask a colleague to give it a once over too.
3. Speak their language. Understand how your market (or personas, if you’ve got them) want to be spoken to and feed that tone of voice into what you write.
4. Don’t baffle them. Jargon and any type of technical mumbo jumbo can be a big turn off (unless, by miracle, it’s what your audience likes) so use simple language throughout.
With that in mind, here’s some platform-specific food for thought.
Outside of any internal product stuff, this will probably be your longest asset. There’s no gospel order web copy has to follow but you’ll want to cover all the key primary information and some useful secondary bits too, like:
Because you’ll have more copy, you’ll end up with lots of paragraphs (unlike your social and PPC stuff, for example) and the last thing you want is to overwhelm your visitors with a wall of text, so try and stick to a three or four line limit and make use of bullet points and tables where you can - they can be easier to digest.
Remember: just because you can make it as long as you want doesn’t mean you should. People have limited attention spans so make sure you load all the essential items at the top.
And in terms of your tone, it’s important to keep consistent with the rest of your site (which is why a clear tone of voice is so important) to ensure your new page doesn’t look disjointed.
Tip: if this kind of thing isn’t your forte ping it over to the marketing department for a final check.
One of the key differences between writing for your website over other platforms is the need to factor in SEO. After all, you want to get organic leads from it right?
Writing with search engines and users in mind is a craft. You need to balance the keywords needed to rank in Google with maximising featured snippet opportunities with a genuinely engaging and useful user experience.
Tip: do the keyword research before you start on the copy to help naturally feed the terms into your writing.
If you’ve not got the luxury of an in-house SEO team or the budget to outsource it, here are some free tools to get you started:
- Google Trends
- Keyword Shitter
- AdWord & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator
- Answer the Public
- Google Correlate
- Keywords Everywhere
- Wordtracker Scout
- Google Search Console
- Suggestion Keyword Finder
And if you’re new to SEO altogether here are eight super quick tips to help with your writing:
- Write for your audience first. Cramming keywords into every other word is an outdated and inefficient strategy,
- Keep it all under the same roof - i.e. under one domain.
- Make use of powerful headlines that incorporate rich keywords.
- Sprinkle head and longtail keywords throughout your copy...but make sure it’s natural.
- Use a logical structure that’s easy to read. Think H1s, H2s, H3s, paragraphs, bullets, tables, etc.
- Use images. People are visual anyway, but they could help you pop up in image searches too.
- Make the most of Google Authorship by adding authors to your content; they show in search results and can increase click-through rates.
- Link to other, relevant internal pages to build your site’s architecture and encourage further reading.
Offline collateral (brochures, flyers, etc.)
Unlike your website’s pages, you don’t have infinite space to work with and cramming every square millimetre full of info just doesn’t work, so it’s a case of picking out the essentials (everything that sits on the primary list above, basically) and condensing it.
For example, I took this from a business’ digital strategy service page:
The world is becoming more and more digitised. This affects your customers, their behaviour and their expectations. It also affects your company's business. But how? That's what Novicell's strategy department will find out. We make your company's digitisation a strength for your business by answering key questions:
- Where is the company currently challenged, and where can it make a profit?
- What are your customers' expectations when they do business with you?
- How can a digital channel best support the overall goal of these expectations?
It’s way too much to squeeze onto a flyer like that, but here’s the same message in less than half the words:
We’ll strengthen your business’ digital position and help you serve your customers better by getting to the bottom of things like:
- Where your challenges lie and more profit can be made,
- What your customers’ expectations are, and
- How a digital channel can support your goals.
The moral? Cut out anything that doesn’t need to be there and focus on making the words you do have as impactful as possible.
Write with a specific end goal in mind
Your website’s pages are a bit harder to do this for because you don’t really have any control over whether it’s a brand new prospect, someone who’s already engaged with you a few times or an existing or past customer landing on it, but with your offline collateral you can.
The overarching end goal will inevitably be a conversion but you might have micro-milestones before that, like:
- Putting your name on prospects’ radar,
- Educating them about your product,
- Encouraging adoption,
- Promoting a free trial, or
- Highlighting useful resources.
Once you’ve got your objective in tow keep referring to it to make sure what you write’s aligned with it.
Remember, less is more
It might not be your job to design the collateral but bear in mind whoever’s it is will need to make it visual and include plenty of space, so, to reduce time spent going back and forth factor all this into your word count and layout.
Online videos, radio and TV
There’s nothing worse than listening to a video or audio clip that’s clearly staged, is there? People aren’t naive and they know it’ll be scripted but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it as human as possible.
Here are two tips to help with this:
1. While you’re drafting your script have this in mind throughout: if you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it. Would you say converse aloud? Probably not. Would you say talk, chat or speak aloud? Yes.
2. Read what you’ve written out loud at a normal pace to get a sense of how it flows and sounds, and get a second, third or fourth opinion too (if you’re not comfortable rehearsing it in front of others you could always just record and play it back to yourself, but an objective set of ears is best).
Keep an eye on your length
According to research, more than half (56%) of videos published in the last two years were less than two minutes long and the platform plays its part in dictating that.
If you’re producing a video for social media here are some guideline lengths:
- Instagram: 30 seconds
- Twitter: 45 seconds
- Facebook: 1 minute
- YouTube: 2 minutes
Anyway, the point is, keep the end length in mind when you’re scripting, you’d be surprised by how quick your words soak up time.
Tip: save valuable seconds where you can by cutting out things like saying www. before your URL.
AKA your most informal platform. People talk to people so if you want to drum up engagement don’t speak like a corporate robot - put real people behind your posts.
For example, instead of saying:
“We are really excited to announce we’ve added a new type of spatula to our cooking range. Check them out here: [insert link]”
“Hoorah, it’s here! By popular demand and after lots of hard work from our in-house chefs we’re delighted to finally reveal our brand new range of spatulas. See what’s cooking on our site: [insert link]. Happy frying, all!”
It’s different, it’s personable and it’s a lot more likely to get noticed (with a fab-looking pic, of course).
Try and forget the B2B stereotype too. CEOs, MDs and Directors still have a sense of humour and social media’s your platform to show off that side of you from time-to-time.
Cutting through the noise
We don’t need to tell you how busy social media is, the numbers speak for themselves:
And that means it’s even harder to get your message seen and heard. Here are a few takeaways to help though:
- Tailor your post to each platform (what works on Twitter won’t necessarily work on LinkedIn),
- Think outside the box,
- Experiment with videos,
- Keep them brief,
- Use hashtags,
- Tag people and pages (when relevant, don’t spam them),
- Make sure your posts are friendly, and
- Keep your tone of voice in mind...but dare to be a bit looser with it.
This one sort of breaks the norm because, unlike all the other platforms we’ve covered so far, your own tone of voice pretty much goes out of the window and it’s about speaking journalists’ language instead.
Why? Because you want to make it as easy as possible for them to run with your story and the less of your release they have to change, the more likely they are to use it.
Another key difference is you’ll be writing in the third person, not the first. So instead of saying “We’re launching our new spatula range”, you’d say “Tasty Dishes Ltd is launching its new spatula range”.
In terms of the structure, here’s a pretty standard format to follow:
- Catchy headline
- Three of four summary bullet points
- Intro paragraph summarising what your release is about
- Four to five concise follow-up paragraphs providing substance to your opening statement
- A quote relevant to the publication
- Your boilerplate
- Up-to-date contact details
Tip 1: Use the inverted pyramid structure
Tip 2: Make sure you answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What are you doing/announcing?
- Where are you doing it?
- When are you doing it?
- Why are you doing?
- How will you do it?
This is another that’ll stray from your brand’s standard tone of voice in places.
For starters, for visual purposes, it’s best practice to To Capitalise The First Letter Of Every Word because it makes your ad more eye-grabbing and gives the illusion of a larger appearance. So, even if your style guide says titles shouldn’t be capitalised, break the rule for this one.
And secondly, be frugal with your space by using numbers and abbreviations wherever you can...in the world of AdWords every letter really is gold dust. Here are some common examples:
- & instead of and
- # instead of number
- 3 instead of three
- Co. instead of company
- Ltd. instead of limited
Important: remember not to go overboard with your abbreviations, they’re no use if no-one has a clue what they mean.
And here are a few more things to bear in mind:
1. Use the main keyword in the ad’s headline to increase its relevance. This will attract more of the right visitors, give your click-through rate a boost and bolden the corresponding term (making your ad more attractive).
2. Keep your audience in mind. Even though there’ll be a few tweaks to your standard style guidelines as mentioned, your overall tone needs to align with who you’re targeting.
3. Include a call-to-action. Some popular choices include:
- Buy Now
- Call Today
- Register Now
- Sign-up Today
- Find Out More
- Get a Quote.
So, that’s all from us. If you’ve got any other platforms you want tips on let us know in the comments below. Happy tailoring!