WriterAccess Webinar Archive
Snap, Crackle and Pop Content
Thursday, November 21, 2013 – 1:00 PM ET
Does your copy snap off the page? Is there a loud crackle when your product descriptions are read? Are your headlines eye-popping magnets? Just like adding salt, pepper and secret spice to your favorite dish, you need to spice up your content if you want it to engage and convert.
Join Byron for a quick spin through a deck he presented at Conversion Conference last month. You'll learn how to turn boring copy and mundane headlines into buzz saws that connect and convert. View sizzling samples that Snap, Crackle and Pop. And get the actionable insights you can put to work, FAST.
The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.
Byron: You know, criticizing the industry and pinpointing a few people over at Google and you know, the normal stuff that we do. We’ll hold off on all of that. I am super excited today to take on a really interesting topic, which is how to make content Snap, Crackle and Pop. This is a presentation that I gave at Conversion Conference with my pal Tim Ash who asked me to be the “Trojan Horse” at a conference filled with analysts and conversion experts. To be the guy that comes in there and disrupts everything and says, “Hey, actually it’s quality content folks that is the secret sauce here. Not how you mess with the landing page and try to hyper focus on a particular page.” So I’ll be talking about that today. But I was really excited for you to join Heather because you come from a wonderful angle of content and SEO copywriting of course as your home base. And you’ve been teaching and training writers forever, so I’m excited for you to chime in at the end of the presentation and cast in your thoughts and your views. Give me the normal critique that you lay on me whenever we speak together, telling me all of the 27 things that I did wrong, haha no.
Heather: (chuckles) No, I don’t do that.
Byron: I’m just joking. You’ve been great and we’ve really enjoyed speaking together over the years so I’m psyched to have you join along. So without further ado, I think I’m gonna dive in and just continue to walk you through this presentation everyone and really have a go here. Your 2 speakers are myself, this is the 47th webinar that I’ve done on the content marketing topic. Which just means that the hair on my head is actually less than what you actually see in that image right there but it’s been a lot of fun and there’s been a lot of change in the industry and I’ll talk about that today with a big announcement that was made this week. An article was written about a company that I think is leading the way in getting a lot of press around it. But for the most part let’s kind of show what I’m going to walk you through here today.
First of all, a brief introduction to where this crazy phrase came from and what it means when it comes to content. I think everyone will enjoy that. Then we’ll talk, I’m actually going to show some samples today, which has been a popular request at various conferences that I’ve spoken at. People like hearing the theory of content marketing and what’s happening with methodology, technology, tactics and tools. But very rarely in the past have I gotten into actually showing samples of quality content. So I have a really neat series of before and after examples. The way I’m going to pan that out, there’s a lot of them, I’m going to actually show you on the screen the “good” example that is written well and then I’m going to read to you the “bad” example. However, the deck will show both of them. So if you choose to download the deck, which everyone will be able to do, you’ll be able to see these before and afters and have some fun and entertainment looking through them to see what we’ve done.
Then I’ll walk you through some tips and advice on how to make your content “Snap, Crackle and Pop” if you like what you hear today. A couple of ground rules just before I begin. Please, please, please ask questions throughout the presentation. Glen Jackman is on the line and he will sort of moderate in the end and through some questions at Heather and I. Feel free to ask some questions for Heather as well as myself. We’ll both take a stab at your questions and see what angle you’re coming from and see if we can help you out. Great turnout today, excited about that and overall let me now sort of have at it. Do ask us questions and let me just show you this screen one more time. Please tweet for both Heather and I. We love your Twitter love. We love Twitter love, so send a heads up to us if you like the presentation. We’d really appreciate it. You’ll see this at the end of the presentation again.
Alright, so without further ado, a brief introduction to “Snap, Crackle and Pop.” The challenge we have continues to be the same in the advertising and marketing world. We’ve faced it for many years and that is in a matter of seconds, some would argue milliseconds, readers determine if your content, your products your services, match their wants and needs. We’re up against literally milliseconds when it comes to content. As a result of all of that the quality and the publishing frequency of your content now plays a much bigger part of the overall conversion funnel. That is certainly defined as turning somebody from a browser into a believer and a believer into a buyer. And that’s what you’ll sort of see. Google is leading the charge with Panda and Penguin and some would argue even Hummingbird, that you really do need to continue publishing a steady stream of content. Customers are asking me all the time, “How much content do I need? How frequently do I need to publish it? Where do I need to publish it?” That’s what content marketing strategy is really all about. The answer is, you need a lot of content. You need to publish it in multiple places, platforms and multiple channels to really be successful. And if you don’t, you will suffer the consequences. That’s really what Panda and Penguin did. They really knocked a lot of sites out of the search result positions and forced those companies to remove their duplicate content and step up into the real world of making sure that they’re wise in what they’re publishing and how they’re publishing it.
And of course content marketing, you’ve probably seen this slide a million times, hopefully. If you haven't that’s too bad. This is a great slide that confirms in about 33 percent of the marketing spend is now focused on content and marketing. And this is a new piece. There’s a really neat article GeekWire that you might look up, it is declaring “Corporate sites are dead!” arguing the storytelling, as displayed here through Coca-Cola is really becoming the mainstream or may become the mainstream for what large companies and even small companies need to do to connect with their users. And it’s really, if you look at some of these headlines, stories, opinions, brands, videos, unbottled, food music. I mean that’s a little bit odd for Coca-Cola to be diving into these more lifestyle driven topics but that’s what you’re gonna see on their website. It almost feels like a magazine. It feels like an informational portal where you can actually find good information that was well beyond just selling more products. So neat article there, check it out on GeekWire.
But at the end of the day I think we all know that customers demand helpful information and answers to questions that is written in a way that is engaging and entertaining. That’s really the demand that we have on our shoulders today, as we begin thinking about content. You of course need content in multiple channels. The channels seem to be increasing not decreasing. So we need to be cognizant of that. If you think about it, at least from my perspective, and everyone else’s I would assume as well, is that the customer is now really the center of the movement or the revolution that is sweeping the web.
The real challenge that folks like Heather and I and all of us listening on the line in creating and or part of the content creation process for either ourselves or customers, the big question is, “How do we learn what customers want and need?” There are some tricks to that. Like first of all, having a search box on your website. Second of all, looking for what people are searching for on your website. That would be a revealing tool for your creative team of writers creating content for you. That’s one of the problems that we are really experiencing right now. Is that writers are not armed with the ammunition of what the wants and needs are. It’s difficult to convey the style and the tone to a writer when they’re left with a title of an article that you want them to create and some keywords you want them to use. For that problem we’ve created something called creativebriefwizard.com that you can check out, that tries to allow you to sort of fill out a form that says we want to get inside your head, you know? And then give that document to a writer. So you can check that out.
The real challenge is, what is high quality content? And why does it turn browsers into believers and believers into buyers? This is the mystery that we need to dive much deeper into. And clearly that quality content will offer, almost religiously, this sort of “Ah-Ha” moment. Something that you learn from that content. And that’s really the challenge that you have throughout this process. You know, how do you find those “Ah-Ha” moments? How do you create it in an engaging way that will ultimately keep people coming back for more?
So that brings us to this “Snap, Crackle and Pop” concept that I developed, pulling from a cereal that you might remember, Sugarpops many years ago. I thought it made sense for what I was seeing with content that really did have lift to it. Quality content has that Snap, Crackle and Pop that really causes a reaction with readers. It not only happens when you read it but I would argue long after readers pass it by.
Let me sort of walk you through the steps here of what each of these 3 elements are. From my perspective, content “snaps” when readers can quickly understand the value proposition. They understand why it was written and what purpose it had and how it can help them make their lives smarter, better, faster and wiser. That is a key element that you need to get to. Where you insert that value also becomes very critical because you may lose a reader, which I like calling a reader a reader by the way, not a customer. You lose a reader if you are not carefully placing that value proposition somewhere that makes sense.
The next part is the “crackle.” From my perspective a “crackle” could be a laugh, certainly a smile but it would at least be a reaction that connects with a reader and connects the reader to the content in a personal way. That needs to happen. It doesn’t happen enough. Great writing will tend to have these elements.
Content “pops” when it motivates action or continues to inspire based upon what you are reading. This is really where the conversion happens arguably but unless you have both “snap” and “crackle” happening prior to the “pop” I would argue that it is not as effective. It’s not just a call to action, for example, it’s the road of intrigue, mystery and storytelling that forces the “pop.” Which therefore helps the motivation and continues on through this channel.
What we find is content that hopefully has that “Snap, Crackle and Pop” gets shared and passed around, That’s the real magnifying potential of content that can help you improve conversion rates.
So let me now have some fun and hopefully, I wish I could hear people laugh when they read these examples you’re about to hear but unfortunately we can’t. Not unless we turned on the microphone ability which would probably blow up GoToWebinar. What I want to do is to show you some real examples and I’m going to read to you the examples, as mentioned, that really suck. The examples that are really boring, if you will. They don’t have “Snap, Crackle and Pop” and then I’m going to let you read a screen that has the better version of it. So I’m going to be talking and you’re going to be reading and that’s how we’re going to pound through this because there are a lot of examples that I want to go through so you can really get a feel for all of this.
The first one I’m going to talk about is a home decor company. So let’s walk through this here. Here’s the bad version that I’m going to read and the good one that you can read yourself. “The Chic Casa Company was founded in 1983. The company makes blankets, tapestry hangings and other home decor. It makes a ‘Home Sweet Home’.” That’s pretty bad. Hopefully, what you’re reading is much better.
Let’s take a look at the next one. “This blanket is fleece, which is a good selling point. It is warm and cozy and makes the room brighter.” Fairly lame, whereas what you’re reading is once again, hopefully much better. We should have Heather laugh here, by the way. Feel free to laugh Heather, if you want. Brighten up our day.
Let’s take a look at the next one. “Welcome to the Chic Casa Home Page. Look around the website and you might find home decor you might like. You can buy things from the website or you can look in the retail section that says where to buy it in stores.“ Gosh, Something close to that actually exists on a website, if you can believe it. Can’t tell you the site but these are real-life examples. You can’t make this stuff up folks.
Alright, let’s get some calls to action here. Some bad examples for us. “Click here to join the mailing list for the Chic Casa Company. Click here to get a discount coupon for your first order. Click here to get a free lamp from the Chic Casa Company.” Stale, boring, mundane copy. Much better, what you’re reading now.
Alright. Lets’ try this one, some headlines. “Read the Chic Casca Company blog to see what’s new and exciting in home decor and blankets and other things. The Chic Casa Company has new blankets for fall and they sold 5,000 of them to a school district in Montana.”
Let’s look at some emails. “Thank you for signing up for the Chic Casa Company emails. The company will send you emails that have information on the latest home decor trends, news about home decor and exciting things that happen with the Chic Casa Company.” (chuckles)
Let’s take a look at a New Guide Announcement. “The Chic Casa Company has a new offer and it involves giving you a free home decor guide called, ‘Making a house a cozy home.’ The thinking is that you will see things in the guide that the Chic Casa Company sells and then you will buy the things from the Chic Casa Company. The company is always honest so they are telling it ‘like it is.’” Hahah, wow. Scary stuff.
Email subject lines. “Welcome New Chic Casa Company Customer. Another subject line: Free!” Which of course would be caught in the spam box but anyway. “Free! New Chic Casa Company Home Decor Guide for Free!” Haha, free twice. Beautiful stuff. Bad examples.
Okay, let’s go to the Insurance Company. So here’s a service company, I didn’t just want to show people examples within a retail environment. I wanted to show some service examples as well, knowing there would be some people on the line that work in that space. So let’s look at first some About Us copy. “The Anderson Insurance Company sells insurance. Whether you need life insurance or house insurance or health insurance, you can count on Anderson Insurance. They sell car insurance, too!”
A Press Release, “The Anderson Insurance Company is announcing they will be at the Main Street Health Fair giving out free insurance consultations. You must go! You won’t want to miss this!!” Haha, twisting my arm.
Alright, let’s try a News Article. “Last Saturday on October 19 at 10am, an informative time was had by all when the Anderson Insurance Company had a booth at the Main Street Health Fair and gave out free consultations. One agent said people learned a lot. ‘People learned a lot,’ he said.” Haha, I love that. Always brings out a smile when I read that. I think this version is quite a bit better.
Alright, let’s take a look at the Featured Article. “The Anderson Insurance Company starts with ‘A’, so they are at the top of the list alphabetically. Last month they were at the top of the BBB list, too, when they received a special award. It was just one of the many awards over the years and years of good, ‘A’ service.” Really bad. 2 star in best writing.
Alright. Let’s look at a blog post here. “You need home insurance to protect your home from fires and floods and other disasters. In fact, if you have a mortgage and the mortgage says you have to have home insurance, so you can’t get around it!” Perhaps a fact, yes it’s true but the delivery is very poor.
Alright. Let’s look at an e-book. We’ve got a few more here. “This e-book is going to explain how to figure out how to get the insurance policies you need to suit your very own needs. You will first look at things you need to protect and then you will see if you are protecting them the right way.” Haha, thank you for that great wisdom.
Let’s look at a Brief Bio. “John Anderson, founder of the Anderson Insurance Company, wrote a lot of books about insurance and finances and started his own insurance company named after him.” Haha, wow. I’m thinking maybe 6th grade there Heather? That’s what I’m thinking.
Alright. This stuff is real people. Alright, let’s look at a Review. “The Anderson Company is really good because they really care. They aren’t just out to make a buck even though they sold me all kinds of insurance.” Haha, very interesting.
Okay, a Facebook Update. “Click here to see 3 types of insurance you might not even know existed. They are pet insurance, insurance for your shoes and another one that will make you surprised!” Haha, okay. That’s kind of interesting. Let’s look at a Tweet, “Weird and freaky insurance. Look now!” Hahaha, I actually might click on that. This is a nice tweet here. I love this. “No it’s not weird to insure your shoes, your nose or your bunny rabbit. Check out 3 lesser known insurance types.” I love that, Great writing.
Alright. So there ends the fun part of the presentation. Let’s dive into some tips and advice to really make you understand more deeply, what’s going on here. For starters, how do you create content with “Snap Crackle, and Pop?” I would suggest that your company should climb a mountain with your creative team and really try to create a mantra, as Guy Kawasaki has led us all to understand and really define your overarching purpose.
From that overarching purpose I think you can begin to develop a content strategy that has an edge, that has some distinction, that has some vision for your creative team to really start creating better content. Content that has a purpose and an edge. The other thing to really look very, very closely at and this is particularly true for those that are trying to look at individual pages to improve conversion rates and the ingredients of those pages as the gateway to do that, it’s basically the wrong approach. And I’m going to kind of walk you through this so that you can understand this. I think this is a really important part of this presentation today and even how we write now. The way that we think about content in general is to sort of put the ingredients of what we want to talk about down on paper. Often we’re asked in the copywriting world to list the features, the benefits and spike up the call to action. We do our best to research and find out what the competitors are doing and it’s really a focus on the ingredients.
We then map out alternative copy and start writing of course. We pick the images and try to find both the copy and the images that work well together and we pick the winners. And then we infer that the better the copy with that single area and the better of all those ingredients the better the cake. Then we artfully combine them so and they all look nice together. They look pretty and they look great. And that makes a big assumption that if you have all of these individual ingredients that are stacked on top of one another that it will be a great tasting cake and that’s just not how it works. We have to look much deeper into the story being told and the value of that story, the meaning of that story, how it’s presented and the elements that we looked at today. So don’t focus on the ingredients of a page particularly if conversion is what you are trying to do. You need to look at the story being told the much bigger picture.
The next thing to look at is getting the right content to the right person at the right time. We’ve talked about this but here are some examples of really how to do that. It’s some actual copy that you see in green here. You know, I’ve worked in the advertising industry for about 8 years and learned that in a matter of milliseconds people form an opinion and determine whether they want to stop on an ad on a page. And that’s really a key factor for headline writing and imagery within ads. There’s lots of focus group testing out there of how people look through magazines and which ads they stop on. Which really helps to identify the strength of the ad and how it is helping to support the brand. But the preliminary view, particularly for the new customers visiting your website is critical. So you want to speak their language and you’re not sure if they’re proficient or not so you need some copy on there that would connect with them. For example, you’re new to this art and science but you’re not alone Of course we have more deeper knowledge seekers where you are trying to earn trust and build trust so you’d want to perhaps add an element of surprise at that stage. You know, “you’d be surprised to see who’s using this project.” I mean that’s an interesting thing or an intriguing thing that might want to make you read more.
Demonstrating capability is another key aspect. You know, how products solve problems and here is some copy. If the ingredients are not mixed well your time is wasted. “That’s why you should go here or that’s why you should do the following.” You’re warning and at the same time demonstrating capability and being an informational and educational guide and cautioning them that they’re wasting a lot of time if they’re not cognizant on that.
Next, obtaining permission. The classic drive action, sign-up, so much pressure here. You know, are there creative ways to do that? “We’d like for you to give it a try! And we’re so convinced you’ll love it here’s what we’re gonna do.” This is a much more logical way. It’s difficult to see a call to action like that on the bottom of the page but that’s what you’re trying to do. To be honest, to be sincere and reward them with great copy that guides them throughout the whole journey.
I think one of the biggest thing our writers at Writer Access are afraid to do when they are creating content for customers is to be creative and to take on creative risk. That is hard to do. You need courage to do that. You also need to be good at it, that’s the problem. There’s a guide that I’ve developed, a professional writing guide a skill and price guide that everyone’s going to be able to get a copy on. I think it offers some wonderful examples that everyone’s going to get a free download on that as part of listening and tuning in. But taking on that creative risk is probably one of the hardest things to do particularly in the marketplace environment that all of our writers here at Writer Access are working in. But do you know how to make people laugh with your copy and content? It’s much different making people laugh with your voice. You know, are you willing to touch the heart and take that risk? And you worry that clients may not be receptive to that. I would ask you to step out, take some chances, raise your game and start creating that wonderful content. It people could only see the client’s response regularly when the work with great writers that understand how to create, how to be creative with writing, I think that everyone would want to jump on that bandwagon and do more of it.
So the other thing to consider is just plain applying different strokes for different folks. And what I mean by that is when in Rome do as the Romans do, speak the language of the readers and deep content for deep readers. You know, lighter content for more impulsive buyers. and really developing an architecture that is designed to move people around based upon what their needs are.
This is a really interesting New York Times study that I read, it was by the New York Times Customer Insight Group, that talked about the biggest reasons that people share content. And not surprisingly with the advent of Facebook and Twitter and sharing information that is entertaining rather than just informational, entertainment was a big value but also bringing value in entertainment to other people. I think that when you share things it sort of begins to define yourself to the other that you’re sharing with. And that becomes a big factor in growing and nurturing relationships. Naturally, we’re all understanding of that. And also just exhibiting your connection to the world and the community, I think that’s quite fascinating. You know, what happens when you don’t blog for 3 months? Is that a declaration that you’re out of touch with the world and your community? Probably. Whereas when you’re talking about the current issues and chiming in on the conversation you’re exhibiting and displaying your connection. And that’s a key factor. And surprisingly, the 5th on the list was to actually showcase support for a brand or a cause. And I think that is really something that is even happening now with this whole Coca Cola piece that was spotted, people are beginning to chime into that conversation. I was doing some research on that and some really neat stuff is starting to happen with people forming opinions on whether the sky is falling and the corporate website is dying as we know it. So these are some key issues as we plug this along.
So I mentioned a really cool tool that’s free and it actually has no label of Writer Access on it whatsoever. But you guys can go check this out it’s called CreativeBriefWizard.com and it allows writers to use this for their own customers or to send their own customers to this wizard, that will allow the client to start actually describe what they want with the copy they’re creating. This is one of our really key distinguishers for Writer Access. I believe when we work with client’s inside the platform with this wizard we’re really digging in to the target audience. You know, profiling the target audience and asking the tone and style requirements and documenting all of that so the writer can quickly ascertain what the goals are for a particular project. So use it and take a look at it. I think it will be helpful for everyone.
So, you know, obviously we all need to stop selling and start providing solutions to problems and hopefully that’s what you saw in some of the examples that I wrote. But the key to that is helpful information, solutions for problems and those 2 things combined help you earn trust with prospect customers and readers. Another key thing to do is just plain finding meaning to engage readers. You know, “What’s worth living of r or dying for?” You know, “What will bring a smile onto my face?” “What makes the world better?” These are questions that we need to ask ourselves perpetually as we’re reading content. And so many customers are riveted to the features of their benefits or even their keywords that they’re ramming down the throats of writers. It’s time to step away from that and say, Hey, if every asset that I published had some engagement to it a little “Snap, Crackle and Pop” that was feathered into the content in creative ways. I think that the content would be better and all would be better in regards to sales and the end result of what this is all aiming towards.
So, okay Byron I get it I need to write about creative things but what are those things? How do I find those things? And it’s a tough question. You need to dig a lot. I mean. you need to think like an actor like a journalist and really get a crowbar out and get inside the head of the people within your company. Are there trade show interests that are happening or remarkable employees or green initiatives, speaking engagements. You can see the things that I've bolded here. But here’s hopefully a good list for everyone to circulate perhaps with their employees and let your base camp of employees become your curators of these stories that can be told. That begin to shape your brand and define who you are. Combining those great stories with great writing that’s developed with things like the creative brief, with good methodology of finding the “Snap, Crackle and Pop” in the storytelling element. You know, these are the things that begin to add up to create the great stories and content that you need to be successful these days.
So how do you develop an actual story that sells? You have to certainly get under the skin of the target audience and understand them. I spoke about that at the beginning of this presentation. It’s probably the single most difficult thing to do and the biggest guessing game we do. Yet it’s the foundation for where the story comes from. How do we find those wants and needs of our customers? How do we learn about them? Well there are some tricks to that, that I've talked about in many other webinars and one if them is just plain looking at which of your articles are most popular. Which of your blog posts gets the most traffic? Which get the longest time on the page? Which get shared the most? That’s beginning to understand what your target audience wants and needs.
Developing an engaging and passionate voice, once again hard to do. The creative brief might help. You know, we have a lot of customers that don’t know what they want, to be honest until they see it. Hopefully some examples in this deck might give you an example of good copy, copy that’s elevated to the next level and help you be confident that that edgy, engaging, passionate voice is a better way to write. And so conveying that to our writers is the key to making this all work. You know, writing the lines that engage and they can be simple lines. They can just be simple, it can be a great command of a thesaurus in finding powerful words that enlighten and engage. Just in the way that you talk and the way you speak and the way you write and the language that you use. Much like actors need to revise the script that’s what split testing can do. And once you develop your formula, your haiku if you will, for the formula you use for writing, which involves all of the elements then it just needs to hopefully be performed day after day and you need to track that performance.
So obviously, stop thinking so hard and put professional writers to work. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing for people to do. Is to let this go and let professional writers jump up to the table here and let them do their job. A lot of people, even like me I might add, would like to write what I call the Byron bad version of our copy and then move it over to a writer and I would often judge writers with how far they moved from my original content. My strategy now in working with some amazing writers at Writer Access like Wren who I use all the time. I encourage Wren, Wren, here’s literally the Byron bad version that I want you to not follow at all. I want to give you a base camp of what I think should be written and what maybe is important to me but I want you to spin it in a way that gives it that “Snap, Crackle and Pop’ which is a radical departure from what I might have originally created.
So my final thought for you here is we look at the famous David Ogilvy’s book on advertising and one of my famous quotes that I can recite without looking at it but my way of explaining this is “If we hire people or writers, I would argue who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If we hire writers that are bigger than ourselves we become a company of giants.” And I think that’s really, really true now more than ever. When it comes to writing let the pros do the work and hire great writers. And educate and acclimate those writers on tips and techniques that they need to be successful.
So, we’re gonna pop this page up for everyone. I’ll send you this link but I do have a really exciting new book that everyone will get a free copy on that registered for this domain name. It’s called Professional Writing Skill and Price Guide and basically I try to walk people through on understanding that there are different star levels of writers at Writer Access that produce standard orders. But there’s another higher caliber of writers that we call Premium Writers that involve being tested in copy writing, tech writing and journalism. With separate tests that we’re certifying as able for this premium writing which is also gonna come with a whole bunch of other attachments to it. With higher price ranges that start from $.10 to $1 per word and all this fun stuff. Including attribution in using these actual writers names if they’re willing to do so for projects you are creating for them. So we have a whole new wave of really where Writer Access is going in 2014. Which is why I wanted to introduce first of all the “Snap, Crackle and Pop.” Second of all this book, which I think is really gonna help people, which really gets into a nitty-gritty analysis of, “Okay, when I pay $.05 per word what am gonna get. Show me what that is. Or when I pay $.50 per word, what is better than the original paragraph?” I take the same assignment and step it all the way through the standard orders from 2 star to 5 star and then all the other orders, ranging from copywriting to tech writing to journalism. Again the same assignment but pulling out all the elements of what you should expect when you get more. So I think this is gonna really rock and I’m gonna ask you to help spread the word of this great new piece that I've created. I thinks it’s, I wouldn’t say revolutionary, but it’s insightful and entertaining hopefully along the way as well. So there ends my presentation. I should probably start that again and leave you with that last slide. I’ll leave you with this slide, even better! So without further ado, I want to invite everyone to ask some questions now and Glen is going to chime in. We have a lot of questions thank you so much. So Heather you ready to fend off some questions?
Heather: I am ready!
Byron: Sounds good. And Heather could you just talk for a minute while Glen gets some questions and myself as well, could you just tell everyone a little bit about what you do, what SEO CopyWriting is all about and all that fun stuff? And I think you have a special offer for people that want to take their writing to the next level, as well. So would you talk about that for a little bit and then we’ll dive into some questions everyone.
Heather: Thank you. I certainly can. So SEO CopyWriting or I should say that I’ve been in the search marketing arena for almost 16 years, so back in the day when I started doing this there was no Google. Google wasn’t even on the horizon and SEO at that time was all about the technical tips and tricks of how you could spam the various engines in order to get where you wanted it to be. And slowly I have seen a major change in the industry which has been so wonderful. Going from what kind of technical things do we need to do to people really focusing on the content, not just saying content is king, because we’ve heard this for years. But actually spending the time and spending the money and the resources to make sure that the content they create is very customer focused. It has that “Snap, Crackle and Pop.” It answers people’s questions and gets them excited about their company, their services or their products. And so where I come in is, certainly we provide writer services as well, but the main thing I do is help people learn how to do that. Because there are a lot of people, whether they are freelancers or they might be working in-house, that are a little afraid of the SEO stuff. Or they might know a little bit but because they keep reading different things in different areas, they’re not quite sure how to do it correctly. And they know that doing it correctly is a big deal. So, what I have is a 3 month SEO copywriting certification training, where I lead people through the latest and greatest of what is good, not just for Google. And certainly I update everything on a very frequent basis to make sure that is the latest and greatest of what’s good for Google. But more importantly, how to write in a way that will grab you readers’ attention and not let go. So if this is something that you’d be interested in, again you can be a freelancer or you could be working in-house and you need to have some sort of training but going to a conference or doing anything that might be a bit heavier would be difficult for you. You can go to SEOCopyWriting.com, which is right there on the screen you will see a link that says ”Learn SEO Copywriting” and you’ll be able to read more about the training. If you choose to sign up for the training by Monday, then there is a special 20 percent discount that saves you about $150, a little bit more. If you use coupon code ACCESS, that is all capitals I am happy to extend that to you guys because I know if you are here today content is a big thing in your world and you want to learn how to do it better. So if you have questions let me know. Otherwise feel free to learn more about me and the certification training on the site.
Byron: Awesome. And I have a couple of questions for you Heather myself. First of all well get that coupon information and stuff out to everybody that was registered so don’t worry about writing it down or doing anything too crazy.
Heather: Oh, awesome. Thank you.
Byron: You bet. But you know Heather I wanted to talk with you a little bit about the tension that has existed for many years now about SEO and quality writing and sort of this, you know, this forced situation that we seem to have in our workplace. You know, SEO department over here, writing department over here. Can the 2 get together and can the 2 coexist? Obviously this is a myth and the 2 need to be united. But what is your latest and greatest take on some of these challenges we’ve all faced? Do we want to abandon SEO and optimizing content? Or do we want to continue optimizing content for the bots and the search engines particularly?
Heather: That’s a really good question and about every year or so there is at least on headline out there that says SEO copywriting is dead and I laugh everytime that I read it. Certainly it has changed a lot. So once upon a time, the definition, which was never my definition but what a lot of SEOs kicked out there and agencies as well. These aren’t just the folks that send you the spammy emails, these are really well known companies that speak at conferences and are folks that you would think would know better. Their definition of SEO content was pay the least amount of money we possibly can, let us try to push as many key phrases into the content as we possibly can and if nobody takes action we don’t really care because it’s at the top of the search results. So we’ve got that “top of mind” awareness in Google. And fortunately that has changed.
Now there certainly are always going to be the people that believe that just because. But what I’m seeing now is within the industry there is a shift that it’s not just kicking out content for the sake of content, it’s not content marketing just because. It is developing content that is really well written and is well researched and that they have spent the money in order to get those professional writers. Now does that mean that because Google has changed things that professional writers no longer need to know about SEO? No. Certainly those odd page things are still important. You still want to be able to research keyphrases. If nothing else, it’s good market research. Market research that we never had access to way back in the day when I first started. There are things about how to write a title that’s clickable that still positions well but gets that click off the search results page. How to structure your copy in a way so Google knows that your site is relevant for a particular theme. These are all things that are really important.
So certainly where I see the industry heading is back to what copywriting and SEO copywriting was always supposed to be. People just like trying to mix it up and make it seem easier and spammier than it was. It’s good writing. You know, certainly you need to know how the search engines work and what’s going on in the industry to really ace your job. That’s important. I think that if you are a writer working in the SEO space that without being up to date on that you’re really missing out on really important opportunities. But at the same time, it is also going back to that creative brief, you know. Figuring out how to get inside your readers head, going back to copywriting fundamentals that we have known for many, many years. Ogilvy and Baldwyn and certainly folks even before that. Of how to write the content that will really get the results that you want. So, we’re not a hundred percent there yet. Certainly, I’ll still hear about somebody who wants to optimize a page for X key phrases with a Y key phrase density and it makes me want to cringe a little bit. But I think that as everything integrates more and that customer and reader experience becomes even more important, it’s not just about the ranking it’s about the conversion and the engagement. And as writers and authors have their writing tied to Google authorship so they can be proud of that work and show it off and have their face next to search results, these are the things that are changing the game with SEO copywriting. So it’s always been a growing field, now it’s at the time that it’s really, really exciting. Because you are able to really use your creativity. It’s not something that people are thinking, why are you spending so much time writing the content. Now they’re slowly starting to get, this is the reason why you spend so much time writing the content and that time pays off.
Byron: Ah, someone’s got a question for you Heather. “Heather,” it says, “There is a conflict between the quantity of times you have to post a day and the level of the quality of the content. Can you comment on this dichotomy? Can I do one high quality piece a week and still rank highly on Google or do I still need to post 3 or 4 times per week?”
Heather: That’s always an interesting question and I’m sure Byron you’ve got your own opinions on the as well. Because, as I had said earlier, you know, content marketing is not just about shoving a bunch of stuff out there to see what sticks. You know ideally what you’re writing is really good quality stuff and if you’re providing that good quality stuff people will hang on. So I know people that will blog once a week but that blog post is excellent. They do everything they can to be able to provide a really good, in depth informative type of post that they are then able to share with their social network and they are able to get that love and that traffic back to their site.
Having said that, something to consider is when you can kick out more on social networking, again that are quality and relevant, that does encourage participation. Either in terms of engagement on Twitter or Google+ or it also helps people come back to the site. So, if for you personally posting more than once a week is not possible, there are things that you can do. Including bringing in guests posters and that way you’ve always got a new fresh amount of traffic coming to your site every day. Plus those guest posters are then able to say, hey I just wrote for the SEO copywriting blog, you know, here’s my article. So you might get in new traffic. You can curate content, where you’re pulling together the best of the best in your particular vertical. Maybe bring someone on to do this. And even if that’s not possible. Say your business is one that having someone help you in that capacity just isn’t going to work, I would still recommend even taking old guest posts that you’ve written and bringing those out on social media. Making sure that you have a presence there and engaging more. So that way it’s not like, you’re only online, so to speak, one time a week, you always have a presence but people also know that on Thursday, that is your blog post.
So certainly that is something to watch, the traffic. I noticed that when I post my blog posts on Thursdays, traffic typically spikes. Because people are looking for that post. Not that it’s not good during the other days of the week but I do notice that kind of spike. If we don’t blog for a while, say during the holidays, traffic goes down which makes sense. So there is something to consider with that as well.
Byron: And just to chime in on that Heather, this is the question that is asked at Writer Access, with regards to content strategy, all day, every day. You know, how much content do I need and how frequently do I need to publish it? There are a couple simple rules. That is, the more the better but the better the better. Those are the 2 rules. The more the better but the better the better.
So at the end of the day, let’s face it, no matter what you’re industry is no matter what your niche is there is a lot of content that you could write about, alright? And that’s the problem and that’s what Google is faced with. Making decisions on who should receive a top listing in the search engines. If your goal is to increase traffic and connect better with your customers and to turn browsers into believers and believers into buyers you need to publish a lot of content and that’s the bottom line. And you need to tap into the conversations and be smart about what you publish and that just is what it is. That’s why Google rewards people like Heather. Because she has a reputation, she’s an authority in her industry, she speaks at the conferences, she has all the ducks lined up to prove to Google that she is an authority in her space. She has the friends, the family, the re-tweets, the net casted very widely and that’s what people need to do.
Now when you’re starting out you need to get very good at the quality part of the game, I would argue. Because when you start focusing on the quality element you will get what Google wants from you. Which is, how many comments are being posted on that blog post? How often is it shared and passed around? What is the reach, the clout of the person that wrote it? Those are the critical elements but once you get that established, with your fan base and your reader base, then it’s time to accelerate and go all in with content marketing.
Here are the sad realities, okay. The sad realities are content and content marketing is still only, you know, 30 percent of marketing spend and that’s really looking at larger to mid-size companies. Smaller companies are not there yet. They don’t get it. Writers, in my opinion, are undervalued right now in the marketplace. People are not getting it. They’re not getting the importance of storytelling, the importance of a perpetual, steady stream of content. I argue that optimization is the new SEO. Let’s just drop Search and Engine from SEO and it’s all about Optimization. And optimization is understanding that it will help you to have the spider bots come visit your site every day to see what fresh new content you have coming up. It absolutely will help your fanbase if you are publishing a steady stream of fresh, high quality content. Once again more is better. The more stimulation you can provide to your reader base and the search engine bots, I say the better. So I’m for big. I’m for going big. But you have to prove that out. Prove it out to A, yourself. That it’s worth posting one amazing blog post a day. That it’s riveting, that it’s engaging. That it’s not just covering the same boring topics of insurance and liability insurance and different kinds of insurance! You need to talk about the wants and needs of your customers which are more about risk aversion and how you get a cat out of a tree and you know, other things that are relevant and important that publishers do a very good job of. And thousands of different niches. Think like a publisher. I love saying forward thinking companies are starting to think like old school publishers. Gathering ideas, developing stories and publishing a steady stream of content which is propelling the whole model. So that’s the goal. That’s what we need to do. But that’s hard to do. And Heather where are you philosophically these days when in-house writers, I know you train a lot of in-house writers and a lot of content creators. You know, do you feel like you can use the talent of professional writers to help your content marketing strategy? Are you all for like, in-house do it yourself? Cause I’ve known you forever and be honest, some people don’t like ghostwriting and it might not be relevant. Or even polishers or editors to fix their content. Where are you on that these days?
Heather: That’s a really good question. And certainly I think, I recently wrote a blog post about this is one of the easiest ways that you can source low-cost, quality content is in-house. And it doesn’t mean that suddenly your engineer colleague is going to turn into an SEO copywriter and be able to crank-out really good copy. That’s not always true. A lot of times you have to have an editor in place and a lot of time that editor is outsourced. But certainly those people in-house that are already evangelists for your company, they love what you do, let’s see Zappos is an example, their employees blog a lot. And those blogs will point to product pages. So even if you don’t necessarily land on a page about boots you can read a post that is really interesting where somebody is talking about a pair of boots and there’s the product page. So that’s a really great way for in-house folks to look at it. There are a lot of things that go into that to make sure that the content that’s coming out is coming out on-time and making sure that the content is truly quality.
Now having said that, I also work with a lot of freelancers and train them as well and a lot of businesses have a blind spot around how to write their own content. They’re too close to it. A lot of times it’s because they don’t have the time to really sit down and do it well. And what they find happens is that they have these really awful, crappy sales pages that have been up forever or really bad blog posts or they aren’t blogging at all. You look at their site and realize that their blogs come in once every couple of months or so, if that. If that’s what’s going on then those companies really need to bite the bullet and hire high quality folks that can help them. Because it’s not just what Byron was talking about, creating content. It’s creating what Eric, he’s another person in our industry, he talks about standout content. So you’re not just writing another article about how to get a mortgage. You’re writing an article from a different slant that nobody else is doing and so that is that content that stands out. That’s what gets rewarded by Google. And in-house, sometimes it can be very hard to do that because you’re constantly thinking about these issues and you’re in your own head all the time. You don’t have that kind of broader perspective. But when you can bring a professional writer who knows your industry or can learn your industry, that person can find all of these different ways to be able to help promote you. So suddenly, those crappy sales pages are transformed into ones that are making you money. And the blog posts that weren’t there suddenly are there and are able to start driving traffic.
So the sad thing is a lot of companies see copywriting as an unnecessary expense. They’ll spend $100,000 or more on building a website and then they’ll argue with a writer saying I need this and I’m only going to pay you 50 bucks for it. That’s not the right conversation to have. Good writing should make companies money. And if you’re in a position where you can’t do it in-house, whether its time, whether there’s nobody in-house with skills, whether you feel like you’re too close to it, whatever. Once you realize that your content is lacking then you are doing your company a disservice by not finding a writer that can come in and do it for you. And that writer isn’t necessarily going to be the lowest bidder. That’s someone that you know that you can partner with and is actually going to be sort of an outsourced member of your team, a partner. And once you have that person it’s amazing how everything changes. A website that might have been kind of stagnant before, suddenly is new and fresh. It’s bringing in new leads, making new sales and everyone in the company gets excited then because they see the potential. Where before it was kind of this log of, yeah you can look at our website to learn more but they start apologizing for their website right after they say that. Which is never good to say to a prospect. So certainly hiring professional writers is a really, really smart thing to do.
Byron: Indeed. You know I also worry about creative talent on this subject. We’re on the end of the hour but I just want to cast in one more piece to this. You know, writers are the most, we’ve seen this historically in the advertising and marketing industry as a whole. When you make the jump over to the client’s side of the table it sort of like, oh bummer. They kind of cashed out their creativity and they are now working for one client for the rest of their natural life, you know? So the environment isn’t as creative, you’re stuck with one client, that you're trying to move forward. I don’t have a problem with that cause companies need that in-house but I do think that writers also need to be creative. They need to work with different clients and that’s where some of the best writing really comes to the market. So that creativity, that diversity, that’s where I think professional writers will continue to make a living. Taking their talent and taking it to various companies, not just one company. That’s just kind of the nature of the creative business in general, if you look at how agencies are built up. So I think there’s great future and great hope for writing.
At Writer Access we believe that we are now in a position to invite premium writers to come to our platform, that will only work for $1 per word. Like, what Byron? Yes. $1 per word. You would just say my minimum rate is $1 per word. I only want to work on copywriting projects that are creative and interesting and here’s the profile of the type of client I’m looking for. Somebody that values content and has creative and interesting products and services, is willing to let me be creative with the kind of work that I’m doing. Sign me up for a client like that. But everyone else that wants $.05 per word and sort of quick turnaround blog posts to fuel the search engines, not interested. So that will be where this marketplace goes. I believe and we want to be there on the forefront of that. Which is why conversations like the one today on “Snap, Crackle and Pop” and revealing to the world that here are amazing writers out there and they need to shine. They need to make their way to the forefront of this revolution of content marketing. So that’s what today’s presentation was all about. But thank you so much for being with me today Heather. Awesome stuff!
Heather: Oh, thank you for inviting me.
Byron: Indeed. We’ll get some contact information for Heather out to people. You’ll have a link over to her site where she can get you a special deal with a coupon code she’s given everyone. Her course is awesome, she’s awesome and we hope you enjoyed this presentation today. Thanks for tuning in everyone. Until next month we hope your life is a little smarter, better, faster and wiser with the help of this webinar on “Snap, Crackle and Pop” your content so it converts. Thanks everyone. See you next month.
Heather: Thank you.
Byron: See ya, Heather. Thanks!
Heather: Thanks. Buh-bye, ya’ll.