Business

Writing for online without sounding like an utter know it all

Write to Right - Finding your online voice part 1Ever wondered how to write about yourself online without sounding like a “complete dork” or a “know it all”? Finding that happy medium to sell yourself positively online can be difficult. The following steps will set you and therefore your business to have a strong, client-focused and cohesive online presence.

Know your business

Does your business have a mission statement? Do you know why you are spending your time in it?

If you don’t have one then this is where you need to start. These questions set the foundations of how others see your business. Here are some simple prompts to help you write your mission:
Who- who are you, are you a multi-national, family company, or sole trader? Who are your customers? Are they families, singles, seniors, small business, multi-nationals?
What- What is it that you do? What do you sell?
Why- Why do customers use your business? What is the benefit to them?
Where- Where can they find you? Are you a bricks & mortar, online, franchise?

Do you have a vision statement? Do you know where you want your business to be in one year, three years, five years?

This is where you have to be SMARTER. Make sure your vision is:
Specific- No wishy-washy motherhood statements. Say exactly where you want to be, put a dollar figure to it.
Measurable- If it can’t be measured then you can look back and see if you have achieved it. It also means that it’s likely to be a motherhood statement and you are less likely to hold yourself to account.
Achievable- The goal has to be appropriate, able to be attained in the given timeframe.
Reportable- You have to make yourself accountable for the goal and the only way to do that is to make it reportable. That could be in your end of year financial report, quarterly reports, cash flow reports, stakeholder reports, reportable to a mentor or a friend.
Time-sensitive- The goal has to have a deadline. Don’t make it a moveable goal or you are less likely to set tasks to achieve it.
Evaluated- Is it reasonable, achievable, how does it compare to others in your industry?
Reviewed- How often will it be reviewed so you know if you are on track?

I like the added aspects of evaluation and review. These not only speak to the quality assurer in me, they are best practice in project management. I use many aspects of project management in my own business, especially review. Many businesses underestimate the value of reviewing, especially when things don’t turn out as anticipated. I think I will write more on this in the future as I can see a whole blog post on this one.

Know your ideal customer

Marketing experts have a number of ways to determine your ideal client. I use scripts to determine my ideal client. When you script your ideal client you write a little story about who they are. It’s like writing an online dating profile for your soul mate.
Demographics- What is their age (or age range), gender, family status, and employment status. This is all about who they are.
Preferences- What are their values, likes, and dislikes? Do they differ between the ones they hold personally, for their family or for their business?
Daily activities- How do they spend their day? Do they work 9-5 in an office? Do they work part-time? Do they work in an office or from home? Are they running around after the kids? Are they single living a laissez-faire lifestyle? Are they retirees? Do they play sports? Write about how they fill their day/weekend.
Write up this narrative, and don’t worry, you can have more than one (though it’s easiest to pitch to one client) and it can change over time. Just make sure you keep this person firmly in your sights.

Work out where these overlap

Where do your mission and visions cross? Are there any common words or themes? Where does you ideal customer meet with your mission? With your vision? List the adjectives, or find relevant adjectives, to describe these intersections. These are the words which need to drive your interactions. There’s a word of warning, they must be for your client. If you start writing about the business it becomes about you. You don’t need to sell, or convince, to you. Unless your ideal client is a competitor, don’t write about your industry either. Your customer doesn’t want to know why your industry does xyz, they have a need and want you to meet it. It’s why they are at your website/Facebook/Google+ (or other platform, more on this soon).

Go back and look at the list and where it meets your ideal client. What words help to meet their needs? What benefits are they looking for? Remember you wrote out their preferences, look to these for inspiration on how they want to be sold to and what needs you need to meet. Now, what are the benefits of your product or service and how do you meet your idea customer’s needs.

So now you have the adjectives to help describe your product or service and you have the benefits you need to include when you write those descriptions. But what tone do you use?

Finding your voice

Look at your adjectives, benefits and your ideal customer – what language suits these best? Will they appreciate slang, a conversational tone, factual, or formal speech?

I would suggest that if your business has more than one person writing for it that you establish a style guide. While I use the Commonwealth Style Manual for proofreading, I also worked with a departmental style guide. This certainly helped when writing for different media and clients. There were guides for press releases, ministerials, client letters and an overarching guide. Unless you are a business with a few hundred staff who communicate across many media and stakeholders, you are unlikely to need this many guides. However a document that outlines your mission, vision, ideal client, benefits, key adjectives and preferred tone is a great start. From here it can evolve to including which messages are distributed over particular media. You can even detail how minutes will be taken and distributed.

Style guides are beneficial for copy writers and copy editors. It allows us an insight into the back end of your business and means that we can easily support you and help you to achieve your outcomes. It also saves lengthy discussions when engaging us to undertake work for your business, saving you time and money.

In Part 2

Find out how to use these skills online. Learn how to customise your content for different social media platforms. Find out how to ensure your brand’s profile. Hear how to instil a piece of yourself into the business and online.

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Errors Small Business Website owners make which is killing their Sales

Write to Right - beat Google at its gameSmart business owners know that the best place to sell, outside of their bricks and mortar, is online. Some have tried Facebook, but with declining reach, the smartest ones are moving to web sales. Sadly, it’s no ‘Field of Dreams”, if you build it, there’s no guarantee that they will come. Sound familiar? Struggling to get customers to your site?

Languishing in the back pages of Google

Google is the most used search engine. Like Facebook, Google has its own methods for working out the ranking for pages in a search result. I don’t know of many small businesses that would pay for Google rankings, and to be honest if you pay, your result is only as good as the amount you or your competitor pays (the more the better).

Focusing on the following hints will boost you through Google. How do I know? I did it. I moved my website from page 16 at launch to the first listing on page 2. I also have related content listed on page 1, they also link to my website. So I am on page 1 and 2 of Google Search. Follow these steps to get there too.

Complacent about Key words

Key words are that, key. If you do not use the words in your website that your customers use in their searches then you are starting behind the eight ball. There are a number of ways to find out what these words are: trial and error, ask your customers, put yourself in your customer’s shoes, Google Analytics, paying SEO experts.

But be warned, don’t make your website a gobbledegook mess of keywords. Google has its ways of weeding out nonsensical pages. This is where SEO experts and copywriters can fail. These businesses don’t understand the intricate details of your business, quite like you. You know the benefits for your customers, you know how they use your goods or services. You know what makes your business unique.

Skimping on spelling

Don’t think spelling on your website is important, think again.

Research shows that 59% of customers will not buy from a website with spelling errors. That’s a lot of lost revenue. Why? Quality. Customers believe that if you don’t value the basic skill of spelling, then you are less likely to value them or quality service.

But what does this have to do with Google? Have you ever misspelt something in a Google search? It autocorrects. I’m sorry to say Google will not autocorrect your website. If you type words incorrectly in your website, then that is how they will be indexed by Google and how people will have to type them in a search. Small problem, Google autocorrects searches. See the problem?

Skimping on links

Remember how I said I was on page 2 AND page 1, well my page 1 results are my social media pages (Google + and Facebook). I know many businesses start of Facebook and with the declining reach they have developed a website, you might be one of them.

Don’t get caught up trying to fill Facebook or G+ (or any other platform) with new content, link to your website. Links on Facebook are not just a simple way to populate posts, they are actually a highly respected (and ranked) post type for the platform. Using links to your site drives traffic to where the sales take place. (You can also set up a tab to import your shop into Facebook, more on that another post) Google likes inbound links (coming in to your site) as they are third party endorsements.

Link within your site. Linking within your site allows for cross promotion and cross or upselling. Internal links also work as when Google searches your page the internal links direct it through your site. The more pages Google sees, the more pages it knows of to put in its search results, the more often you are seen in Google.

Like to know more? Not sure you could do this all yourself? Don’t have enough time to go through it all yourself?

Based on my experience managing websites and proofreading and copy editing for the federal government I am offering my skills to businesses to improve their website results. Having your website appear higher in Google search results will mean more customers to your site, most people will stop searching at page 3 of Google.

What is involved?

Write to Right offer two levels of health checks. The first is for larger sites or those businesses after a more comprehensive service; the second is for smaller sites or those looking to brush up their essential pages.

To book you website health check, contact us.

What do others say about the Website Health Check?

“Kara has provided me with feedback on many aspects of my business page with regard to professional written communication. She is very knowledgeable, helpful and does not miss a thing! I know I can rely on her to pick up on my typos, spelling errors, punctuation and even grammatical errors. It is worth having Kara take a look at your written communication, whether you are in business and would like to appear professional, or whether you are doing a job  application that needs to be perfect! Highly recommended!” – Jacqui, Celestial Photography

Comprehensive Website Health Check

This health check is for businesses looking to grab those 59% of customers who are put off by errors on their website. It’s for businesses that rely on their website to sell their products and services 24/7. It’s a check for businesses that pride themselves on their excellence and attention to detail.

This check will:

• Focus on the top ten non-product pages on your site
• Advise if your content achieves its aim
• Includes at least ten, researched, keyword suggestions for you to use to help increase your search engine ranking
• Assess your content for optimal layout, helping to get your message across sooner and potentially reduce ‘bouncing’ from your site
• Ensure links on these pages are functional and appropriate
• Check for your social media integration and offer suggestions for your site as a whole
• Include an Excel spreadsheet report for you, or your developer, to keep for implementation, and
• Free email follow-up one month after the report is delivered.

This premium service is offered to you for the introductory price of $185. It is a small price to pay when it has the potential to turn up to 59% of your web traffic into paying clients.

 Book your comprehensive website health check by contacting us.

 Essentials website health check

This health check is for those smaller sites with fewer non-product pages. It is perfect for those businesses just starting out but still pride themselves on how their business is presented to the public.

This check will:

• Focus on the top five non-product pages on your site
• Advise if your content achieves its aim
• Includes at least five, researched, keyword suggestions for you to use to help increase your search engine ranking
• Ensure links on these pages are functional and appropriate
• Check for your social media integration and offer suggestions for your site as a whole, and
• Include an Excel spreadsheet report for you, or your developer, to keep for implementation.

This essentials health check is a wise investment at $95 and a fantastic way to ensure you are starting out on the right foot.

Is your site larger than average or do you want more?

If your site has more than ten non-product pages, or you would like to include your product pages, we can perform a more comprehensive check for $80/hr and includes all of the elements in the comprehensive website health check. Write to Right is able to offer proofreading & copy editing for all other documents, please contact us for our full list of fees.

 To book your website in for a health check contact us.

 

Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behaviours.

Write to Right - How Facebook proved being positive makes moneyReleased today, Facebook shows that seeing more positive emotions on Facebook leads to more positive posts and vice versa.

The 2012 research has been written up by Kramer et al. (2014) and describes how they manipulated newsfeeds in English speaking participants to show either less positive or negative posts by their friends. They found a strong link in seeing positive emotions in Facebook Newsfeeds leading to more positive emotions in individual posts, which disproves the adage that “exposure to the happiness of others may actually be depressing to us”.

So I wonder if that is what friends think, then how does that influence business pages? Facebook business pages rely on people (friends) sharing your posts, liking them, commenting on them; all of which appear in their friends’ newsfeed and activity feed. So if business is positive in their emotions on their Facebook page, will that increase sales?

Influencers of customer emotions and their behaviour

Mazaheri et al. (2011) found in their research of Canadians that customer attitudes on the site positively (and significantly) influenced their service attitudes and that service attitudes influenced buying intention. They also found that the perceived entertainment value of the site positively influenced customer attitudes. Varhagen & van Dolen (2011), took this intention one step further showing that positive intention lead to actual purchases.

Businesses rely on likes, comments & shares of their Facebook posts to increase their customer base, increase brand awareness and boost sales. Whilst product scarcity can drive sales, the Facebook research shows that post emotion drives user emotion. It also shows that user emotion can drive offline behaviour. This links with the 2011 research by Mazaheri et al and Varhagen & van Dolen.

What do businesses need to consider?

Varhagen & van Dolen (2011) found that “Consumer behaviour is likely to be dominated by positive emotions and less by negative emotions”.

Businesses need to consider why they have a Facebook page. Is it there to entertain? Is it there to inform? Is it there to drive sales? If your Facebook page exists to do any of these things then you need to pay attention to the Facebook research.

So, if your Facebook page is entertaining, then this will increase how customers view your business. If they view it more positively, they are more likely to view the service they receive as positive. If they believe that the service they will receive is positive, then they are more likely to want to purchase from you. If they want to purchase from you, they will.

  1. Positive emotion in your posts = positive emotion in your customers posts on Facebook.
  2. Positive emotions on Facebook leads to positive emotions offline.
  3. Positive emotions on a website (or Facebook page) leads to positive opinions towards service.
  4. Positive opinions of service leads to positive purchase intentions.
  5. Positive intentions lead to purchases.

So it’s true! Being positive on your Facebook page, really does make for good business and makes you money! Read more on the topic of how to handle negative business situations in a positive manner.

References:

Adam D. I. Kramer, Jamie E. Guillory, and Jeffrey T. Hancock (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111, 24, pp 8788-90.

Ebrahim Mazaheri, Marie-Odile Richard, Miche Laroche, (2011). Online consumer behaviour: Comparing Canadian and Chinese website visitors. Journal of Business Research (Vol. 64), (Issue 9), pp. 959-965.

Tibert Verhagen and Willemijn van Dolen (2011). The influence of online store beliefs on consumer online impulse buying: A model and empirical application. Information and Management, 48, pp 320-327.

 

 

Why you aren’t getting the sales on Facebook any more

7 reasons you dont sell on Facebook

Facebook is social media, not a sales platform. Here are 7 ways to be social, increase interaction & drive sales.

Facebook, although it has the plug-ins for shops, is not a reliable way to sell; it doesn’t pass on notifications or messages, it loses comments & if it gets really huffy it will stop you from accessing/commenting/posting. The main problem with selling exclusively on Facebook is that the content below your main page level (photos, shops, events) is not indexed for internet searches, so unless a person is on Facebook (and many people aren’t) your business is not going to make a sale. Facebook is part of the group of social media platforms, in the beginning it was quite easy to generate sales, however, user behaviour is changing. Facebook is returning to a social medium, where people escape from their chaotic/dreary/mundane lives. So, how can you help them to escape AND generate engagement, customer base and sales?

1. Laugh

Make them laugh, share a joke, share a funny photo, share a funny story. It turns frowns upside down. Best of all, research shows that if you help someone feel better, you feel better too.

~ People like to laugh; it releases chemicals in our brain that make us feel good. ~

2. Cry

I haven’t done this on my pages, but I have seen it done quite successfully. I have seen businesses share their struggles with cancer, when they have welcomed a new family member into their arms (be it a human or fur baby), when they have said goodbye to a family member, or when they just don’t feel as if they can continue their business.

I am not suggesting that your posts always relate to these things, too much doom and gloom does not make for a very sociable page. I’m also not suggesting that you whinge about not being seen in Facebook feeds, or declining sales – that said, I have seen a great spin on driving sales by tying the need for sales to fund a common purpose (buying a special birthday gift, wanting a new appliance). Just make yourself approachable.

3. Relate

I do this on my other business page, where most of my customers are parents. I share with them things I have done to make my life easier. I share with them if I have a bad day and need another coffee (or am waiting until bedtime/wine o’clock). I know of businesses that get fabulous interaction from sharing their struggles with mental illness, cyber-bullying or David & Goliath stories. It creates rapport and if your customers ever see you face-to-face it means that you have one less barrier to overcome – trust. If they feel that they already know you, that you are like a friend, then they can trust you.

~ People like to know that you are a real person, that you are not some faceless selling machine. ~

4. Applaud

Certainly applaud your successes – business award nominations and signing a major retail customer instil confidence through third-party endorsement. Applaud customers who share their creations using your products, show them how proud you are that they have succeeded (and you have helped them to get there). Applaud friends in business, celebrate their triumphs and share the love. Remember that helping others makes you feel good long after the act of helping is over.

5. Teach

Set up a regular post and teach your customers something that relates directly to your business. My other business is making hair accessories and every Sunday night I share a hair tutorial I have found. Sometimes it is a way to improve a technique, sometimes it is a new technique, and sometimes it’s a new style. I have likers who tune in every Sunday just to see the tutorial. My likers will comment, tag and share the tutorials; all of which increase engagement on my page, improving my Edgerank and how often Facebook shows the page in Newsfeeds. I will occasionally share styles that use accessories and I will link to the related accessory in the post comments.

If you are in a service industry teach them something about what you do or teach them what they need to do to make working with you easier (eg. an accountant shares an idea on organising receipts for tax time). Teaching creates a relationship and trust; it shows customers that you are willing to share what you know with them.

~ Teaching opens a door. ~

6. Inspire

On my other business page I do this when I am making my kids’ birthday cakes. I share the photos of the cakes my kids want to have and how they end up. My customers love it, they are parents and like to see that human side and where my ideas come from (I share blogs I use for inspiration).

On Monday mornings I share an inspirational quote, an affirmation or a wish. It removes a feeling of doom and gloom often linked to Mondays. It makes me feel good as I believe that it will make someone’s day better and it reminds me of how I want to live my life.

Inspiring others not only lifts the other person up, it lifts you up.

7. Share

Ask them to share your page, ask them to share their fears, ask them to share ideas on how to use your product or ask them to share photos of themselves using your product.
Share your website, share products from your website, or share your blog from your website. Ask them to share their favourite items from your site in one post, get them to share it publicly in their newsfeed and to use a specific hashtag for it so you can see. Sharing your website does a number of things:

- it drives traffic to your site

- it increases your Edgeranking by linking to a verified source, and

- it is where your checkout is and where the buyers need to be.

~ People love to share things, so ask them to share. ~

Facebook is a fabulous marketing tool, but it’s just that, a way to market your business. It is not a reliable way to sell your product. There are sociable ways to incorporate sales into your Facebook content; you just need to think socially.

Let me know in the comments what other ways you like to be sociable on your Facebook business page.