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Archive for November, 2008

Interactive Copywriting: The Difference

November 25, 2008 2 comments

Deal with it, advertisers. Interactive copywriting differs from traditional copywriting. But how?

First: Don’t throw out the baby with the soggy diaper. Declaring yourself an interactive copywriter requires you to master the skills of traditional copywriting. If you’re going to enjoy success in this business, you still must be able to:

  • Concept with an interactive designer or art director
  • Come up with 9,003 big ideas and executions
  • Endure dirty looks from creative directors
  • Come up with better big ideas and executions
  • Write smart, compelling, conceptual copy

That’s hard. No matter what kind of copywriter you call yourself, chances are good you’ll need to attend an advertising portfolio school or take a concentrated, mentor-guided journey before landing that first job. Building up to interactive copywriting requires mastery of additional considerations:

1.    Your audience cares. (Hallelujah!)
Because online and mobile initiatives require active participation, people reading your bullet points, listening to your podcast or watching your spot hold you to a higher standard. You must be able to answer their questions and make them smarter. This means you must be able to weave conceptual solutions with meaty, often expletory, content.

2.    Your audience needs you to be good at Jenga.

Interactive copywriting is how we create choose-your-own adventure stories for corporate America. It doesn’t matter how well you can write. If you can’t create (or collaboratively understand) site maps and information architecture, you’re ignoring user experience. Your copy will fail. In other words, you’ve got to keep a beanie and a pocket protector in your soul.

3.    Your audience wants to be told what to do.
Yes, traditional copywriting includes calls to action. But you’re not trying for a point-something percent response rate. Part trail guide and part waiter, you must eliminate guesswork and name action steps clearly and compellingly. Tell them to open the e-newsletter, download the widget or bookmark for a time when their boss isn’t peering over their shoulder.

4.    But, your audience wants to tell you what to do.

As a wise mentor put it, interactive isn’t another media space for messages. It’s fundamentally changing the nature of branded conversation. Your audience wants to take part in your creations. Allow them to customize, personalize and navigate their own journey with your brand. Give them space to speak up.

5.    Your audience is ready to run with the message.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the term viral marketing? Or social media? Meaning your boss wants you to crank out a blockbuster right now? In order for someone to pass along your message, you must make it compelling (hilarious, unusual or somehow otherwise relevant), customizable and somehow better when shared.

Interactive copywriting adds distinctly new skills to the traditional bread and rum butter of Mad Men-esque copywriting. That’s cool. After all, geek is the new glamorous.

Related Post:

deal with it: interactive copywriting is different.

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Web Content and Writing Tips

November 14, 2008 Leave a comment
Ginny Redish at MIMA "Web Content Session" Nov 12, 2008

Ginny Redish at MIMA

I’ve been on Web content strategy binge lately. I’ve been wondering if one way we can increase the effectiveness of our online efforts is simply have smarter copy?

MIMA to the rescue. I was thrilled when MIMA recently hosted a Web Content event featuring speaker Ginny Redish, author of the best-selling book Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works. Redish focused on the concept of speaking to the site visitor and giving them what they need. Seems like a basic concept, but this is often lost on many marketing folks who put up websites.

Consider the difference between print and online content:

Print- Push Technology, you start the engagement with the customer.
Web- Pull Technology, the visitor starts the conversation.

If the visitor is starting the conversation and the average time spent on the homepage is 30 seconds, you have to capture their attention… fast.

Overall Tips for Web Content:

  • Mesh your business goals with the visitors’ goals
  • Visitor is not looking for a document, he is looking for information
  • Don’t focus on YOU, how wonderful you are, your mission statement, etc
  • Don’t put a lot of words on the page, put the right words on the page
  • Respect visitors’ time: use short paragraphs, lists, visuals

Content Writing Tips:

  • Use language appropriate to the visitor based on the target audience
  • Heat maps show an F pattern is used when scanning content, so using bold headings and sub-headings to make it easier to scan and break up copy
  • Change paragraphs to bulleted lists
  • Put the main point first (inverted pyramid)
  • Use personal pronouns
  • Put yourself in the place of the visitor and consider questions the visitor may have, then get to the point with the answer
  • Add links, if appropriate, to keep the visitor engaged on your site and to keep them from searching elsewhere
  • Name links (and anchor text) in a way that the visitor will know what to expect when they click
  • Find out what keywords visitors are searching for to reach your site and write with these keywords in mind

These tips are a great starting point for anyone wanting to optimize their website content. For the complete presentation, a video can be found: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/858588

2008 Election: Who Won Online?

November 9, 2008 Leave a comment
Obama's campaign Facebook page
Obama

We all know who won the election, but both Barack Obama and John McCain relied on online media and social networking more than in any past election.  Who formed the best connections and communities online? Did this really have an impact on the outcome?

Consider the following:

According to Pewinternet.org, a record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the Internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views, and mobilize others.

Democrats are more active online than Republicans and are more likely to participate in online communities. They say they’re more heavily influenced in their voting decisions by information they find online, according to data released by Rubicon Consulting.

Perhaps the most interesting /disturbing of all to me is Google endorses Barack Obama.

Some Fun Numbers from the Internet

Google Searches: Obama-related search terms were used almost twice as much as McCain in the last 30 days, according to data from Google Insights for Search. Google has also has created a special 2008 US Election Trends page.

Website Traffic: According to compete.com, Obama’s website had twice as many visitors in the past year as McCain.

Link Power: Obama’s website has many more external links pointing to it than McCain’s website, according to Yahoo Site Explorer.

YouTube: Both candidates have YouTube Channels, but Obama’s channel has significantly more views:

Facebook: With more than 110 million active users, Obama had more supporters from this community.

  • Obama: 2.2 million supporters
  • McCain: 192,000 supporters

Even with this small snapshot of numbers from around the Internet, it’s clear to see the Web presence of Obama’s campaign has been significant and pivotal in the way it has rallied supporters and formed communities around the now president-elect.

And now, your moment of Zen:

Google hearts Obama

Google hearts Obama