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    January 22, 2013 // 9:00 AM

    10 Places You Can't Afford to Publish Mediocre Marketing Copy

    Written by Corey Eridon | @

    marketing copywritingintroductory3

    We all know that you can't skimp on hiring great writers if you're looking to adopt an effective inbound marketing strategy. Hey, those blog posts aren't going to write themselves! But aside from writing a killer marketing email, an insightful blog post, a mind-blowing ebook, there are other, smaller, easily passed over areas in your marketing where killer copy is a must. These are the places that are often overlooked or filled in absent-mindedly at the last minute, while hours and hours were spent on other elements like design, layout, research, or storyline.

    But as we all know, the little things can make or break us all. So this post will outline those places in your marketing that, while seemingly minor, actually pack a big copy punch. Employ your best copywriter for these 10 areas where you simply can't afford to have mediocre marketing copy.

    10 Places You Can't Afford to Write Crappy Marketing Copy

    1) Meta Descriptions

    You may think meta descriptions are a remnant of 1990s SEO. And you would be right. Kind of. While meta descriptions have no impact on your search engine rankings in and of themselves -- Google's figured out how to determine the subject matter of your content in other ways -- they do impact conversion rates. And conversion rates do matter for your SEO. In other words, if you write boring content in your meta descriptions, searchers are going to be far less prone to click on your search engine result.

    serp conversions resized 600

    The same goes for social media updates, too -- if you're publishing a blog post to your Facebook Page, you better believe a compelling meta description is of the utmost importance.

    social meta resized 600

    Use actionable words at the beginning of your meta description, like "Read," "Discover," and "Learn," and explain what's in it for the reader if they click on your piece of content to help improve conversion rates in the SERPs and social media.

    2) Blog Titles

    Your blog post -- whether 400 words or 4,000 -- needs to be well written to maintain credibility with your readers. But what gets them there in the first place? Your blog title ... you know, that little '70 characters or fewer' blurb. It's what readers will see in the SERPs, social media, and their inboxes. So if that copy doesn't grab readers' attention, you won't even have the chance to show off that awesome post you slaved all day over.

    There are several best practices you can keep in mind to craft compelling blog post titles, all of which you can read through in this blog post (I know ... how meta). But some good things to keep in mind include:

    • Make It Actionable: Readers should know what they'll be able to take away from the post by reading the title.
    • Make It Reader-Oriented: Talk about "You" and "Your," not "We" and "Us."
    • Make It Clear: The more general you are, the less targeted your content will seem.
    • Make It Brief: We all have short attention spans. Find a way to say more with less.
    • Make It Definitive: Your word choice should exude confidence. Make your readers think it's an absolute must read.

    3) Email Subject Lines

    Similar to the titles of your blog posts, the subject lines of your emails are the gateway to your email content. Even companies with the best offers and sexiest copy aren't going to get anywhere if their subject line doesn't entice a recipient to first open the email message. So just like with your blog posts, we recommend you follow a few basic best practices to ensure email subject line copy is as strong as it can possibly be. Here's an entire blog post that talks about the ingredients to that secret email subject line sauce, but here's a quick distillation for you, too:

    • Be Personal: Use lead data to send emails that speak to that particular recipient's needs.
    • Be Clear: Make it clear to the recipient what content is contained within the email.
    • Be Actionable: Make it clear to the recipient what action they can take based on the contents of that email.
    • Be Brief: Email subject lines will get cut off if they're too long, particularly on mobile devices, where it's recommended you stick to fewer than 50 characters.

    You're probably not too shocked to see these aren't too different from the tips we recommend for fabulous blog titles ;-).

    4) Offer Titles

    The last of the title melee we're all embroiled in together (hey, titles are important!), it's crucial you spend some time really thinking about what you're calling your offers -- whether to generate leads, or transactions. There's a reason BOGO, or Buy One Get One, is so commonly used with ecommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses. It's catchy as hell. Now that is one copywriter who deserves a raise!

    Be deliberate with your choice of offer title. Make sure it conveys the contents of your offer and what the lead can do with it, but also has a little pizzazz that catches the eye and makes all of your visitors want to convert instantly. Let's take the offer we're promoting to new blog visitors at the end of this very blog post as an example, 27 Pre-Designed Calls-to-Action for Your Customization. (If you don't see it, it's because you're already a lead in our database, and you're seeing a different Smart CTA.) In any event, we chose this title because we wanted to convey the two biggest value propositions of this offer to our audience: 1) All of the design work is already done ("pre-designed"), and  2) they are customizable to fit your particular design scheme ("customization"). Simply calling this offer "27 Calls-to-Action" would've completely omitted the reason this bad boy is so sexy!

    5) Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

    Now that we've talked about how important it is to invest copywriting brain power into offer titles, it's a good time to transition into the reason copywriting brain power is also wisely spent in your CTA copy.

    A CTA should be copy-light. We all know people don't read too much these days; instead, we scan. So what should be in a CTA? It's your opportunity to expand upon why viewers should convert on your offer. Let's continue with our example of the 27 pre-designed CTAs. Here's a screenshot of the CTA:

    cta copy

    While there isn't much copy in this CTA, there's plenty of opportunity to display your offer's value that we marketers cannot afford to miss out on ... if we want to see conversions, that is. Use this space to explain exactly what this offer is:

    • This offer is free
    • This offer is a template
    • This offer is in PowerPoint
    • This offer doesn't require the purchase of any additional software

    This copy space in the CTA provides marketers with the opportunity to elaborate more on the offer than they can in just the space of the title. Take advantage of it with strong word choice, and concise sentences.

    6) Submission Buttons

    Submission buttons -- whether part of your CTA, part of a form on your landing pages, or standing on their own on something like a homepage -- provide a very tiny amount of space to exercise your copywriting chops. But it's a pretty important place to do it. Chiefly, it's critical that you use specific, actionable language that instructs a visitor on what to do next. For instance, a button that says "Go" is a bit ... confusing. Go where? To do what? What's going to be on that next screen? I'm scared! Instead, saying something like "Get Your Ebook" tells you you're actually going to, well, get your ebook. Clarity helps conversions, and the copy on your submission buttons is a prime opportunity to make things extra clear.

    7) PPC Ad Copy

    If you're running a PPC ad campaign, you have a little space to say a lot. Here, look at the ads that pop up in the SERPs for the search term "PPC Agencies." (This copy better be good, eh?)

    ad titles resized 600

    I've called out three ads I think made particularly good use of their limited copy space, especially in the ad titles. These three establish their differentiators -- they specialize in global PPC, PPC for SMBs, or approach PPC very analytically. This is far more compelling than generic copy, and is thus more likely to elicit clicks from searchers.

    8) Content Visualizations

    Marketers who choose to leverage visual content may find themselves in a bit of a pickle if they're used to creating long-form content. One of the reasons visual content is so impactful is that it says a lot, with very few words -- AKA people don't have to read, and they love that. That means the copy you do include in any content visualizations should be spot-on. If you're looking for a great example of this, take a look at a couple SlideShare presentation's we've recently featured on our blog. These both do an excellent job of finding words and phrases that say a lot, in a little: "How to Totally Suck at Marketing," and "Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge," from HubSpot partner Velocity Partners.

    9) Social Profiles

    Business' social media profiles provide a brief opportunity to engage new fans and followers. What's yours saying about your brand? This is particularly important for fans and followers that you're gaining, who aren't totally sure exactly what you do. Let's look at ModCloth's Facebook and Twitter accounts as two prime examples of places businesses should be writing the best copy possible.

    Here's ModCloth's Facebook 'About' section:

    modcloht fb resized 600

    "Mod clothes abound, but don't pin us down. We have indie, vintage-inspired, retro & one-of-a-kind vintage!"

    And here's ModCloth's Twitter blurb:

    mcloth twitter resized 600

    I love that not only is this copy interesting, devoid of "blah," and representative of the brand and its target persona ... but it's also not the same from Twitter to Facebook, either. Use this space on your social profiles wisely, so that fans and followers can actually understand who you are and why they might want to join your network.

    10) Product Descriptions

    The product descriptions on ecommerce sites -- or any sites with a product, frankly -- are important to get right if you're looking for transactions. You want to ensure you're hitting a few best practices when writing product description copy:

    • Content isn't duplicate (from a manufacturer description, for instance) or generic
    • Content answers common questions about the product
    • Content compels the reader to take action

    While your product description copy shouldn't be so long readers can't get through it, you should still be sure you're providing answers to questions that would otherwise impede conversions.

    Image credit: Maximus_W

    Where else is it critical to employ the best copywriters in your marketing?

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