Writing for the Web, Part III

Writing for the Web, Part III

Subject Line: The Write Market Release – Issue #5

CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Editor’s Remarks
2. Writing For The Web ­ Part III ­
a) Are “Benefits” and “Features” Really Dead?
b) Building Trust
c) Web Writing For Many Interest Levels – Nathan Wallace
3. What’s New at The Write Market
4. Free Monthly Drawing ­ sign up today!
5. A little begging
6. Information

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EDITOR’S REMARKS

Welcome all new subscribers!

Wow – September already! The summer is over, school is in session, and Mom’s are starting to think about Christmas shopping. If you are considering a revamp to your website – now is the time to get it done – before the Christmas rush.

Think about re-writing a few pages for the search engines for “Christmasy” words. Here’s a few suggestions: Christmas gift idea, Christmas gifts, holiday gift, holiday gift idea, x-mas gift, children’s christmas gift, unique christmas gift, unusal Christmas gift, unusal holiday gift, etc. etc.

While optimizing use these two free tools to get your keywords up-to-speed:
http://inventory.go2.com/inventory/searchInventory.mp
http://www.keywordcount.com

If you don’t know how to use these tools – check out our free search engine promotion tutorial at:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/intro.shtml

If you are new to this newsletter – please go to:
http://www.thewritemarket.com/articles/writing.shtml and read our previous articles on Writing For the Web. (They are presented in a sequential-tutorial format.)

We have a great article this month from Nathan Wallace – it’s a totally different point of view on web-copy and well worth the read.

Hope September finds everyone in the marketing spirit!

Renee Kennedy
rkennedy@thewritemarket.com

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ARE “BENEFITS” AND “FEATURES” REALLY DEAD?
by Renee Kennedy

If you’ve been following the i-sales digest you’ll know that there has been an ongoing debate on “benefits” v. “features” and “emotion” v. “logic”. This debate has really sparked my imagination on the ins-and-outs of web copy. (Although, those of you who are subscribed to i-sales are probably sick of the topic – I’m still gonna talk about it and relate it to web-copy as best I can. For those of you not subscribed here’s how: http://www.mmgco.com/isales/ )

The Basics:
The traditional method of gaining sales in advertising is to grab people’s attention with “benefits”. By presenting the emotional side of your product, you are trying to get people to think that they “need” it to satisfy their basic urges or to ease some “pain”.

Once you have hooked them with the benefits – you will draw them into a “brick and mortar” store to make a purchasing decision based on what they “think” they need.

For example – take a look at some of the commercials that you see on TV. In the new commercial for Old Navy (TM) – you see a bunch of young, hip people dancing around in baggy pants – an emotional appeal – if you buy these pants you will be young and hip!

However, TV commercials are usually 30 sec. spots – they have to grab attention in 30 seconds. The Web is a different advertising medium. It’s somewhere between the 30 second spot and a “brick and mortar” store. In the “brick and mortar” store you can see the product, touch the product, read the back of the package. In otherwords – you can check out the product’s “features”. The Web is similar to this. You have the ability to show your products (pictures) and describe them (words). Yet, you may only have 30 seconds to get your “benefits” across – to hook them with the first page of your site.

I think that most marketers agree that the “logical” and the “emotional” decisions behind a purchase are tied together. As marketers – we must provide both the emotional (benefits) and logical (features) to sell our products.

A Theory:
Now – here’s where my thoughts on the buying process on the internet take a different course. First, I am convinced that a website needs both an emotional and a logical appeal to persuade people to buy. However, because the internet is a different medium – I am also convinced that the way that people find products is different than the way they find products in “the real world”. Because people find products in a different way – I believe it may have a direct impact on how we should be writing web copy.

Jaques Werth (http://www.highprobsell.com ) wrote in the i-sales digest:
“The average American is now bombarded with about 2,400 informational messages a day, according to communications scientists. More educated, urban Americans are exposed to about 8,500 bits of information. This information comes at them both purposefully and randomly, as well as that which they seek out. Thus, there is almost no product or service which they have not been exposed to *generically.* If they have the need and can afford your type of product or service they already know it – at some level.”

The web is a big place. In order to find products on the internet, you have to know what you’re looking for. Do people just “happen” across a site and decide to buy? Probably not – they’ve probably “searched” for a particular site and/or a particular product. They set out to buy something – already convinced of the products benefits – or the “emotional appeal” – now they just have to find a company which will give them the features that they want – that website must provide the logic to back up the purchasing decision.

So should we forget the emotional appeal altogther?

No, because it’s not that simple! Still, the buying decision is tied up with both the emotional and the logical.

Brad Smith (www.ledgehill.com ) writes (after an explanation of right brain (logic) v. left brain (emotion) functions):
“For marketers the important message is this. Even if you can target your market by brain dominance, your message must contain both logic and emotion. The skew of the message will be dependent upon the target group and the product/service that is being presented. A simple example of this would be if you were selling software to engineers. It should have a left-brain logic skew. However, even though engineers have a preference to left-brain decision making, they have not removed the right-side of their brain. There will still be a degree of emotion involved in the final decision.”

First – you must think about your target market. You must know that market like the back of your hand. Then you can make decisions on how much time you will spend discussing the benefits and features of your product.

Here’s two examples:

1. A grandmother is searching the internet for a present for her grandchild. She comes across a site which sells children’s toys. There are lots of toys to choose from. She looks at the Teddy Bears and decides that would be a nice gift. She already knows what a Teddy Bear is – she’s already convinced that the Teddy Bear will make her grandchild smile, will make her grandchild love her more (emotion). Now she wants to know if the Teddy Bear will last for more than a week as the child plays with it. Is it composed of a durable construction? Is it made of fire safe materials? Is it a collectible – will it increase in value over the years? Are other people who have bought from this company satisfied with the product quality? Can she purchase over a secure server and use her credit card? etc. etc. (logic)

2. Recently we were looking for an online bank. We knew we wanted to do our banking over the internet, we wanted a reputable company that would serve our needs. So the search began. We immediately ruled out any company with a shoddy website (just too unprofessional for a bank!) (emotion) Then we began to search for features. We knew exactly what we needed, we just had to find a bank that offered the right services. (logic) Then we weeded down to the price. Which bank offered the services we needed at the “cheapest” price. (logic.)

You can’t make a purchasing decision without both the benefits and the features. However, I personally feel that the features should outweigh benefits when marketing on the internet – if (and it’s a big IF) your product is already a “known” product.

In your webcopy – highlight benefits and target those benefits to your market. More importantly, present a professional image, with an accredited product (build their trust), and describe the features in every detail.

And now… how to build that trust…

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BUILDING TRUST
by Renee Kennedy

If you’ve described the benefits and features of your product – then you will need to build your visitor’s trust. How are you going to get them to respond the way you want them to? If you want them to buy online – you definitely need to do some trust building.

Trust Builders:

1. Secure Server: If you have credit card processing – you need a secure server. Your credit card processor should offer this. If they don’t – then look elsewhere.

2. Professional Graphics: If you can’t afford professional graphics – then don’t bother with them. If your graphics look sloppy – your business will look sloppy.

There are many free graphics available all over the internet – choose wisely and carefully. Do not have graphics on your site that mean nothing to your product. Graphics should aid in navigation or show pictures of your products or your company. A cute little doggy wagging it’s tail is not going to sell your product (unless you’re offering dog care products or services).

3. Professional Web Copy: Spelling errors are probably the most common mistake. It’s so easy to make spelling errors – especially if you are composing HTML in notepad – which doesn’t allow for a spell check. The best tip I can give you is to have about 3 other people read your web copy.
Ask them these questions:
a. Is it understandable?
b. Is my offer clear?
c. Are there any spelling mistakes?
d. Was the site easy to read?

4. Navigation: If your visitor cannot get around your site – back and forth – up and down – they will go elsewhere. (This topic will be discussed in more detail in future newsletters.)

5. Your Own Domain: Your own domain name will lend a lot to your credibility. It shows that you are serious about your business and your website.

6. Complete Contact Information: Your real address – a physical location. A phone number. A fax number. Email addresses. The names of your employees, the name of the owner.

7. Photographs: A photograph of you or your employees in action. Not a head shot. Show what you do – especially if you’re offering services. Show that you are happy and working and a “real live person”.

8. Privacy Statement: A privacy statement tells your visitors that you will not break their trust. That they can give you information and you will not reveal that information to anyone else. Try out the Link Exchange Privacy Wizard (http://privacy.linkexchange.com/ ). Use their wizard to help you create a privacy statement taylored to your business.

9. Two Trust Builders That Work: The following trust builders are a necessity. Because they are so important, I will explain them in greater detail in the next issue of the newsletter:

a. Testimonials – quotes from people that tell your visitors that they’ve purchased your product and they like it.
b. Guarantees or Warranties – if someone buys your product – and they don’t like it – can they return it for a refund or money toward another purchase?

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WEB WRITING FOR MANY INTEREST LEVELS
by Nathan Wallace

Clear, usable content is easily created by deliberating writing for many different levels of reader interest. Every person has a certain level of interest in every piece of information. A writer should help each reader get their desired level of information as quickly as possible. Knowledge of and writing to these levels will increase the satisfaction of all readers.

Levels of Interest:
Every person has a certain level of interest in every web page. This may be:

– no interest
– some interest
– strong interest

Unfortunately, most of your audience will only have some interest. This may be due to limited time or a basic lack of interest. How often have you needed to know something but not particularly wanted to? Users may already know the information or may be seeking knowledge in a similar but slightly different area.

The levels of interest can be more clearly defined:

– no interest
– title only
– one sentence summary
– one paragraph summary
– major points
– minor points
– detailed interest
– thirst for more information

Writing to Each Interest Level:
A web page which caters to each level of reader interest will result in more satisfied visitors. A user is happy when they get the information they want quickly and easily. Luckily there are specific techniques which can be employed to cater for readers at each level.

No Interest:
Hopefully people with no interest in your topic will never reach the page, saving them time and bandwidth. On the web most of these people will never even have the chance to reach your page, or at most will ignore the link.

Readers with no interest are a burden and better avoided. They are unlikely to be interested in your targeted advertisements, reducing your click-through rate. Their visit wastes valuable bandwidth and server resources.

We can help those with no interest in the topic avoid our page by:

– writing clear and informative titles to make links clearer
– promoting links and the site in relevant locations only
– providing accurate descriptions and keywords for search engines

Title Only:
The page title is the first piece of information that you give the user. The web often relies on the title as the single piece of information which is used to invite (link) the reader to the page. Clear, meaningful titles will improve this first filter of users into your site.

Titles that contain the basic idea of the page can give some users all of the information that they need. InsWeb files for $57.5 million IPO – http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,36336,00.html?owv – is a perfect example. I don’t care about the stock market all that much so the details of the IPO are not important to me. I am however interested in the continual growth of Internet companies so the fact that another has reached the IPO stage and the size of the offering are interesting. This title answers all of my questions.

One Sentence Summary:
The main purpose of the one sentence summary is for links to this page. It is the final line of defence against readers with no interest in your page.

Many hub or directory sites use a one sentence description with each link. Providing this one sentence description at the start of the article will:

1. make these links simple to create (copy and paste)
2. give you some control over the linking sentence (since others don’t have to write it)

Making it simple to link to your site will probably increase the number of links you receive. Most people creating links will save time and defer to your judgment by using your one sentence summary in describing their link. This is preferable since the writer of the article can probably write this better than anyone. The result will help readers determine their level of interest in your article more accurately.

The one sentence summary is also useful within the context of the page itself. Visitors thrown in through search engines want to determine their interest in your page quickly (since they probably have 1 million other search matches). Using the very first sentence to summarize the complete page introduces a small interest level filter. If also gives those skimming the page an insight into the major point of the page.

The one sentence summary should be the first sentence on the page and be the first sentence in the one paragraph summary.

One Paragraph Summary:
The one paragraph summary is a higher quality version of the one sentence summary. It will be used by high quality hubs. Readers who have reached this level clearly have some interest in your page.

This paragraph gives you a few seconds to influence your reader. The purpose of this paragraph is not to entice people to continue reading. It should give people an insight into your information in a few short sentences. This is a powerful opportunity to impact the thinking of people whose interest in your topic is only small.

Remember that you are selling your information, not your article. Often I will bookmark a page on the strength of the opening paragraph. I do this when I know that the topic will be of interest but I don’t have sufficient time to read it properly now. If this paragraph is just an enticement into the article then I will probably leave before I reach any information. An interested reader is lost.

For the rest of this article – go to:
http://www.e-gineer.com/e-gineer/articles/web-writing-for-many-interest-leve ls.phtml

Check out Nathan’s website at:
http://www.e-gineer.com/

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WHAT’S NEW AT THE WRITE MARKET

We’ve added MCNN’s Ultimate Marketing Guide – Check it out at: http://www.thewritemarket.com/mcnn/index.php?mcnn=intro

It includes 37 marketing, promotion and design articles by all varieties of internet marketing experts!

Don’t forget to send in your free ad for next months newsletter!

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