Copywriting

Hiring experts brought results

“My job is to make my boss look good, and when SecureWorks hired Netconcepts for SEO I expected them to make me look good – and they definitely did.”

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How To Write For Search Engines

November 1st, 2004

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In order to start writing for maximum search engine visibility, you need to start thinking like a search engine.

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Web content really IS critical!

August 26th, 2004

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Today I had the pleasure to hear web content guru Gerry McGovern speak at a full-day workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. He’s got to be one of the very best speakers I’ve ever heard! His course material, his sense of humor, his thought-provoking insights, and especially his Irish accent — had everyone in the audience mesmerized. Here’s a sampling of the day’s take-aways:

  • Action vs. reaction: If a site visitor’s action results in a reaction from your web site that has a wait time exceeding that of the action, the visitor will become frustrated. That frustration will build as more . For example, clicking on the File menu tab only takes a second, so the time it takes for the menubar to appear underneath should take no more than a second.
  • 80/20 rule of content: For many sites, less than 20% of the site content accounts for over 80% of the pageviews. With Microsoft.com it was 1% of their content accounted for 99% of the pageviews. In fact, 35% of their pages had never been viewed! That’s well over a million pages of content that people at Microsoft worked hard to write ? for nothing. Focus your efforts on the copy that will be read, not on the copy that won’t.
  • Columns: Readers use their peripheral vision to keep track of the beginning of the next line down while they are reading across a line. So with text that has a long linewidth, it becomes difficult to read. Gerry recommends a three column format, with 20% or so of the width going to the first column (use this column for navigation), 60% or so dedicated to the middle column, and another 20% or so for the right hand column.
  • Call for action: Always end your pages with a clear action for the reader to take. Never leave the reader hanging, wondering what to do next. The center column at the end of the body copy is a critical piece of real estate for these calls for action.
  • Links in copy: According to Gerry, links in the middle of body copy distracts the readers making it difficult for them to read the paragraph, and it connotes “hey, click on me… the rest of this text is really boring!” Instead of embedding links within the body copy, consider using the right hand column for the related links. If there are important links there that take the reader to the “next step,” also repeat them at underneath the body copy in the center column.
  • Simplicity: Einstein purportedly was quoted as saying “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Apply this idea to your web copy. Keep your copy as short and simple as possible. People tend not to read long copy on the web. With a 300 word page, 50% will read it to the end; 500 words, 20%; 1000 words, 5%. Gerry recommends headings of 4 to 8 words, summaries of 30 to 50 words, sentences of 15 to 20 words, and paragraphs of 40 to 70 words.
  • “Kill your darlings”: William Faulkner once said this. If there’s a particular expression or way of saying something that you’re particularly fond of, delete it from your copy, because you’re probably overusing it.

Gerry covered so much more than this, but it would take a book to cover it all. Oh, wait a minute… there is a book covering it all. Buy Gerry’s book, Content Critical.

500% increase in Google traffic

“Thanks to Netconcepts, in the first six months, we improved our Google search results 300 percent and increased Google traffic 500 percent.”

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Case Study: Guild.com

Guild.com logo

  • Sales up 41% after 4 weeks
  • #1 ranked on key products
  • 10,000 new pages indexed
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Internet Marketing workshop

New Zealand DMA workshop — Auckland, NZ

October 7th, 2003

Workshop by

Join us for a hands-on, one-day workshop on Internet marketing tactics, including search engine optimisation, copywriting, conversion, and web project management. Each module will be jammed packed with practical advice, online resources, tools, tips, case studies – including the “inside scoop” on what worked and what didn’t – and interactive critiques of attendees’ websites and online marketing efforts. With a live Internet connection, we will examine in-depth:

Search engine optimisation
You want to get to the top of the search engines? Ah… but which search engines should you target? What keywords are your prospects searching for? And how do you get your site to the top for those keywords and then stay there?

Learn the tactics that will make your site ‘scream’ in the search engines – ethically and sustainably – without costing you a fortune ongoing.

  • Hands-on keyword research
  • Fine tuning your content, HTML, design, and site architecture for optimal rankings
  • Workarounds for poor search engine practices (such as frames, question marks in URLs, Flash, pop-up windows, links that say “click here,” page titles like “Welcome to ABC.com”, pull-down navigation menus)
  • Making your e-commerce or database-driven site “search engine friendly”
  • Building links (directories, niche sites, etc.)
  • Google’s secrets revealed (PageRank, hyperlink text, etc.)
  • Pay-per-click search engines (Overture, etc.)
  • Benchmarking & competitive intelligence
  • Measuring the return on your search engine marketing investment

Improving conversion rate
So you’ve got visitors on your website, but will they “convert” to customers? Improving conversion on your site is an art and a science that involves a mix of clever copywriting, compelling offers, a follow-up strategy, meaningful metrics for measuring success, and more.
  • Developing a unique voice / personality
  • Active vs. passive tense
  • Verbs vs. adjectives
  • “You” vs. “we”
  • Toning down the marketingspeak
  • Fine tuning your offer
  • The call-to-action
  • Segmenting
  • Personalizing the content and the message
  • Marketing metrics: cost per click, cost per conversion, customer lifetime value, churn rate, etc.
  • “Blogging”

Working with your web developer
What are the ingredients for sucess when launching a redesign or a new site? What processes are helpful in keeping the project and the vendor on track? What are reasonable expectations of the client and the vendor? What goes into (and what doesn’t go into) an effective brief or specification? How do you manage the legal risk?
  • Writing a strategic brief, creative brief, functional spec, content plan, etc.
  • Budgeting and resource allocation
  • Vendor selection
  • The art and science of estimating time and costs
  • The web development process
  • Change management
  • The project extranet
  • Web development contracts
  • Liability and disclaimers
  • Ownership of source code
  • Terms & Conditions for your website users

We guarantee that after this intensive workshop you’ll walk away with loads of practical, actionable tactics and tips. So what are you waiting for? Register today.

BIOGRAPHY
Stephan Spencer, M.Sc., is the founder and president of Netconcepts, a full-service interactive agency with specialization in search engine optimisation, e-commerce, email marketing, and Web site auditing. They count amongst their U.S. clients: Birds Eye, Wella, Midwest Express Airlines, InfoSpace, Homestead.com, The Sharper Image, Cabela’s, and MP3.com; local clients include Westpac (NZ), The Fletcher Trust, nzgirl, SmokeCDs.com, TrustPower, and Business in the Community.

Stephan is a columnist for Unlimited. He has also written for Marketing Magazine, Management Magazine, Catalog Age, and Building Online Business. He has been featured on the cover of In Business magazine in the U.S. Stephan is a frequent speaker at Internet conferences around the globe – Berlin, London, Toronto, Santiago, Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco. He currently serves as a director of Sales & Marketing Executives International.

Internet Marketing workshop

Marketing Today (New Zealand DMA annual conference) — Auckland, NZ

June 16th, 2003

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Presented by Stephan Spencer, Managing Director of Netconcepts:

  • Search engine optimization
    You want to get to the top of the search engines? Ah… but which search engines should you target? What keywords are your prospects searching for? And how do you actually get your site to the top for those keywords and then to stay there? Learn the tactics that will make your site ‘scream’ in the search engines – ethically and sustainably – without costing you a fortune ongoing.
  • Improving conversion rate
    So you’ve got visitors to your site, but will they purchase? Improving conversion on your site is an art and a science that involves a mix of clever copywriting, compelling offers, a follow-up strategy, meaningful metrics for measuring success, and more.
  • Email marketing
    Email can get you in front of your customers and prospects without relying on them to remember to come back and visit your site. But pitfalls abound. Get it wrong just once and you’ll significantly trim your list and burn your relationships. Learn what it takes to make great campaigns and newsletters, get the permission you need from your intended audience, and then test your assumptions scientifically.
  • Working with your web developer
    What are the ingredients for sucess when launching a redesign or a new site? What processes are helpful in keeping the project and the vendor on track? What are reasonable expectations of the client and the vendor? What goes into (and what doesn’t go into) an effective brief or specification? How do you manage the legal risk?

Presented by Kelly Goto, Principal, gotomedia, Inc.:

  • Usability
  • Information design
  • Workflow
  • Metrics for ROI from a user experience perspective

Speak the Customers Language

December 1st, 2002

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Originally published in Unlimited

I decided to go on a virtual field trip through the corporate sites of the biggest companies in New Zealand. I’m amazed I stayed awake. You’d think by now corporates would have realised their online visitors don’t want to read marketing-speak, testaments to the brand, letters from the chief executive or assorted press releases.

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Conversion Rate Marketing

Step-by-Step Web Marketing (produced by IIR, sponsored by Google, and endorsed by the American Marketing Association) — Atlanta, GA

November 6th, 2002

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How to Create Email Campaigns That Drive Action and Build Relationships
Learn how to develop objectives and strategies for implementing email communication campaigns that involve email newsletters and promotional emails.
Deliverable is a 2-3 month email campaign.

How to Decipher Your Web Trends to Maximize Results
Learn how to develop, track, maintain, analyze and utilize the large volumes of data available and turn that into useful information you can use to manage and optimize your business.
Deliverable is to develop historical data, current benchmarks and an understanding of what to measure, why to measure it and what it means.

Developing Strategic and Creative Methodologies For Increasing Results

Learn how to increase your conversion rate one step at a time. You goals are for prospects to make purchases, or subscribe, or register, or make referrals. Each of these goals is a “macro-action,” and you can measure its conversion rate. Every one of your macro-actions is composed of a series of smaller micro-actions.

Deliverable is to develop an efficient conversion system matching your selling process to your prospect’s buying decisions by dealing with real examples from your website.

Development Doesn’t Have to be Rocket Science
Learn how to communicate effectively with web developers about what your requirements are. Did you know that of all software development projects are failures? Did you know that 80% of development costs are incurred after the initial project is delivered?
Deliverable is to take your project from concept to wireframe, to storyboard to final prototype independent of what technology your company uses by effectively creating a prototype of an application you want to have developed.


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