Writing for the Web, Part II

Writing for the Web, Part II

Subject Line: The Write Market Release – Issue #4

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CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Editor’s Remarks
2. Writing For The Web – Part II –
a) “Anatomy of a Website”
b) “The Introduction Page” – Renee Kennedy
c) “Headings That Bite” – Rachel McAlpine
d) “The Hook” – Renee Kennedy
3. What’s New at The Write Market
4. Free Monthly Drawing – sign up today!v 5. A little begging
6. Information

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EDITOR’S REMARKS

Welcome all new subscribers! I’m pleased to see that so many people are interested in MCNN (Marketing Course Newsletter Network). If you haven’t signed up for The Marketing Edge Tip-Zine or Advertizers & Web Marketers Digest – go to http://www.thewritemarket.com/newsletter.shtml to sign up now!

Time certainly flies by when you’re marketing on the web! It only seems yesterday that we started our newsletter – but this is already the fourth issue – and those four months have flown by.

Things are changing in the world of search engines. There has been talk that the web is expanding at such a rapid pace that the search engines can’t keep up with it – and I tend to agree with that bit of scuttlebutt.

I encourage you all to look for other means of promoting your site. Promoting in search engines is a good way to spend your “free” time – however, if you have no free time, try getting listed in their directories instead, you’ll spend a lot less time and get a lot more traffic for your efforts.

Just as a refresher – a “directory” is compiled by humans, a “search engine” is a machine, a robot which visits sites and compiles information.

For instance, get your website listed in the Open Directory Project at http://www.dmoz.org/. Also to try and get listed in the Infoseek directory. For more information on how to get listed in Infoseek – check out http://www.thewritemarket.com/search/specifics1.htm.

There’s a new search engine popping up and it’s called http://www.excitextreme.com/. However, do not attempt to browse it unless you have a 500 mhz pentium III processor and Windows 98. I’ve already crashed my little 400 mhz pentium II twice on the thing (and I do have Windows 98)! However, if you can even get part of it to load – you’re going to be amazed – you’ll be looking right in the face of the future of the web.

There is also talk that AltaVista is going to be geared toward advanced internet users.

Excite and AltaVista are tapping into niche markets. They’re going to capitalize on the “advanced” market – to keep up with emerging technology that will be commonplace in 2-3 years.

It’s smart to find a niche and a niche that’s not already exploited – but before you change your site over to Shockwave – make sure your product fits the market.

In our last issue we discussed targeting your market – if you are new to this newsletter – I recommend that you go to http://www.thewritemarket.com/articles/ and read our first installment of “Writing For The Web”.

We will be publishing all articles within that section on our site – so that you can bookmark it and refer back to it at any time.

Please, send us your comments – we’d like to make the newsletter better and better: critique@thewritemarket.com

Happy marketing!

Renee Kennedy
rkennedy@thewritemarket.com

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ANATOMY OF A WEBSITE

Before we start talking about “The Introduction Page”, it’s important that we give a brief summary of all the pages you will need to market your product on the web. This “sketch” will help you see where all the parts fit together.

1. The Introduction Page
2. More Benefits and Features of Your Product (can be 2-3 more pages)
3. Trust Building Pages
4. Closing Page – Get them to act – elicits Target Response

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THE INTRODUCTION PAGE
By Renee Kennedy

The “Introduction Page” may also be your home page. If you have one product or service – the introduction page will definitely be your home page. If you have several products and services that you are marketing on your website – you will need to have an introduction page for each product or service.

The purpose of the introduction page – is just what it says – it “introduces” your product or service. This is the place where you need to spend the most time thinking very carefully about what you are saying. If you lose a visitor here, you’ve basically lost them forever.

Parts of the Introduction Page:

1. Headline: “Get in here and read this page!” Well, it’s not going to say that, but it will accomplish that. Here are some pointers:

a) Ask a question.
b) Create urgency – time limited offer.
c) Use a reference to money – cheap, affordable, do you want more money? etc…
d) Create a situation of pain – you are in pain – and I can help you. (Pain is relative – a painful situation may simply be that someone doesn’t have enough time to have a morning cup of coffee.)
e) Offer a solution to a problem that your visitor might have.

Remember the headline is the first thing they are going to read – it must grab their attention. It must also be targeted to your market. (Remember you can never forget your market – in every word that you write – think about your market.)

2. Opening Sentence: The opening sentence should blast people with the biggest, best benefit your product has to offer – and why it’s unique, why it’s better than anyone else’s product or service. Marketing experts have termed this sentence “the unique selling proposition”.

3. Logo: Your company logo – or your business name in text – something that indicates where your visitors are.

4. Benefits: The copy that follows the headline and the opening sentence should present the benefits of your product.

5. Closing Sentence: Entice them to click to the next page. Give them a hint of what’s on the next page – or ask another question that will lead them to the next page.

What’s next?

After the opening page – you will lead them on to the next page that may explain more benefits. Or the next page may explain the features of your product – what the product does.

Features are not the same thing as benefits. Benefits go to the emotion of a product – they tell people what that product is going to do for them emotionally – how the product will fulfill their needs. Features will describe the product – the details of what’s included in your product or service.

The idea is to hook them with the benefits – then describe the product in more detail.

Tip #1: You must believe in your product – and you must transfer that belief to your visitors. If you are writing about something you don’t believe in – that will be transferred through your writing – people will see through it.

Tip #2: When you are analyzing your target market – think about how much “hype” they can take. Are your visitors the “down-to-earth” type and can’t take much hype? For instance, “Buy this – increase your profits by 400%.” Are they of the opinion that, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” Or do they have a high tolerance for this sort of thing? Can they wade through the “hype” and really believe it? Go by this standard: if it sounds like hype to you – it will sound like hype to your visitor. The trick is to get enough hype to get them to read, but to have enough content to keep them reading.

Tip #3: Web copy is never done; keep rereading and going over it again and again. Let it rest for a week – then come back to it. There’s always something you can improve.

To see how we did it – go to our services section: http://www.thewritemarket.com/services.shtml. For each service or product you will see an opening page. We’re continually working on these pages – trying to make them better. (After reading Rachel’s article – we will definitely be working over our headlines!) You must do the same for your web copy.

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SPONSOR MESSAGE

Rachel McAlpine is a professional writer specializing in Web copywriting. See http://www.globalenglish.co.nz for tips, and check out ‘Web Word Wizardry’, an easy, user-friendly guide to writing Web pages that are findable, readable, credible and profitable.

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HEADINGS THAT BITE
by Rachel McAlpine

Headings have a powerful impact – for better or for worse. It’s a fact that you can double or treble your sales simply by improving a heading on an advertisement or Web page.

On the dazzling pages of the Web, headings are essential. Text is really hard to read on-screen, so people generally don’t bother. Instead their eyes skim the page looking for clues about the content. As soon they have enough clues, they can decide whether to bookmark, download or print the page – or leave it forever.

With so much at stake, it’s worth concentrating on this aspect of your Web copy. The majority of people will read only your headings, and nothing more. So give those headings teeth!

1. Use key words in every heading.
2. Be specific, not general.
3. Pack headings with information.
4. Write positive headings: say what something is, not what it isn’t.
5. Use plenty of headings: two or three per screen.

‘Our products’ is a perfectly good button but a hopeless heading. Waste of space! It breaks rules 1, 2 and 3. ‘Products’ is not a useful keyword. ‘Our products’ is extremely general: it could apply to anything from pocket handkerchiefs to information management software solutions.

Imagine your Web site as a kitchen, and each paragraph as a jar or tin. Every container needs a label. (And almost every paragraph needs a heading.) It’s obviously no use if all the containers are labelled ‘Ingredients’. They need specific labels like ‘Flour’ or ‘Sugar’ or ‘Spice’. Better still, give them even more precise labels such as ‘Wholemeal wheat flour’, ‘Cornflour’ and ‘Rye flour’.

As in the kitchen, so on the Web. The more precise the labels are, the more useful they are as keywords (up to a point).

But we can go one step further than just writing labels. We can add a little more information:
‘White flour for sauces and sponge cakes.’
‘Vitamin-rich rye flour.’

Another option is to write a compressed sentence instead of a phrase – in other words, a headline:
‘White flour makes light cakes.’
‘Fight allergies with versatile potato flour.’

Use ‘yes’ words in headings, every time. The Web is no place for negative language, which tends to be depressing, confusing and generally counterproductive. Avoid playing games like this with headings on the Web:
‘Hate tasteless cookies? Add cinnamon.’
Your visitors will remember one phrase: ‘tasteless cookies’.

Headings are a blunt instrument, and should perform a simple job: each one should summarise the information that follows. Be extremely direct, because if you’re subtle, those busy, information-hungry visitors may miss the point.

Some people will read the paragraph below your heading, and some people won’t. Just remember that brutal fact, and you’ll have a strong incentive for polishing your headings until they are perfect.

Rachel McAlpine
Web copy specialist. Order the complete guide to writing
Web copy from http://www.globalenglish.co.nz

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THE HOOK
By Renee Kennedy

The last sentence of your opening page is as important as the headline. This is the sentence that must entice your visitor to move on to the next page. It must lead your visitor on. In the same vein.

Each paragraph of each page must lead your visitor to the next paragraph. A hook – oh – I know this is a very bad term – it implies that you’re trying to catch fish rather than sell products. For lack of a better term.

A hook’s purpose is to maintain your visitor’s interest; it must keep them reading. So at every juncture – at every break – whether within the page or going to the next page – you need to “lead people on”. Also.

Always keep in mind that you are trying to lead visitors through your pages in the order that you want them to go. You want to present a solid case for why they should purchase your stuff – in order to present a solid case, you need to stack up your benefits so high that they will have no choice but to buy. You also need to.

Present your case in the order that will get the best response – that’s why it’s necessary to lead them. Benefits first, then features. At the forefront of your writing remember.

Your goal is attaining your target response. You want them to read your introduction page first – then at the bottom of the introduction page – you “lead” them to your next page. At the bottom of the second page – you will have another hook which leads them to your third page – and so on. until they get to your final page which contains your call to action that elicits your target response.

(Talk about bad writing! Incomplete sentences, more punctuation than you even want to think about, the beginning of a paragraph stuck on the end of the last paragraph – throw all the conventions of writing away. In future issues, we will be covering many more ways you can make your English teacher blush.)

Content tips to keep them reading.

1. Ask a question (beware, you can really overuse this technique) also the “question” must somehow be tied to the benefits of your product.
2. Use elipses (.) or long dashes (–). Gets them thinking, “Mmmm, what’s next?”
3. Use an unfinished sentence, “90% of internet newbies don’t know how to.” How to what? What’s the answer?! Well, you’ll need to click here to find out. http://www.thewritemarket.com/webmasters.shtml

Linking tips to keep them clicking.

1. Use arrows (you’ll need a graphic arrow – an image.)
2. Have the link to the next page inside your final sentence (or incomplete sentence).
3. Use a “next” button.
4. A clear navigation system is your friend. (You may have the most awesome text – but if they can’t find the next page – you’re dead in the water.)

Our next issue will cover “Building Trust”. And it will be jam packed with several ways that you can build your potential customers trust.

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WHAT’S NEW AT THE WRITE MARKET

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