A majority of the writing I do for our clients takes place in the digital realm. I work in social media, and do a lot of marketing writing for email newsletters and websites. One thing to keep in mind when doing any digital writing is to remember that the digital space is an increasingly visual space. People are looking for information that is quick and easy to digest, so being concise and visual are in your best interest as a marketer.
Email Newsletter Writing
Subject Lines: Easily the #1 tip for writing a good email newsletter is to get people to open the newsletter in the first place. Keep your subject lines short, and tell people what they are going to find inside the email. There are many different rules out there, but really the only way to get a feel for how an audience is responding to certain subject lines is to look at the data.
Call to Action: What goes in an email newsletter? The things you want people to act on. They need to be timely, and have something actionable. A big, bright button will do the trick, but make sure it’s linked correctly. The top-level data you’ll receive from your email service provider is open rate and click rate. Open rate lets you know how many people were interested enough to click on your email. Depending on the industry, 17% is a good average open rate. Anything above that is awesome. Click rate shows engagement with the email. These people opened, read and were interested enough in something to take action.
Design: Mobile has changed the way we work in the digital space. The best thing about email services is that they give you tons of data (Break The Ice Media prefers Constant Contact, although we have also worked with other services). A few years ago, I noticed that 50% or more of our winery client’s email recipients were viewing our newsletter on a mobile device. I immediately redesigned their weekly email newsletter to use a mobile-friendly template. However, a that client that works in technology had different data. Their email newsletters go to the business community, who seem to be reading it at work on their desktops, according to the data. No redesign needed, yet.
Proof: No one is immune to mistakes. The best way to avoid small mistakes is to have someone else look at the email, read it top to bottom, and test all the links.
Social Media Writing
Writing for social media depends significantly on the platform/channel you are working in. See also: using hashtags (#TrendingNow: Hashtags & the Tourism Industry).
Platforms: Facebook is one of the longest-form channels, but as with all writing, you still need to keep the audience in mind. Best to keep it to 2-3 sentences, tag other accounts whenever possible and occasionally use an established hashtag or two. Twitter has a 140 character limit, which thankfully no longer includes photos. Tagging is encouraged, and you can use up to 3 hashtags. Instagram posts can be longer, like Facebook, but can also do well with a simple photo description. Feel free to go wild with hashtags- but always hashtag responsibly.
Call to Action: It never hurts to ask. Ask for likes, comments or shares if that’s what you’re looking for. Tell people to “read more” on your blog or website. Sharing a link on Twitter? Tell them what’s on it – more info? tickets on sale? Contact info?
Data: Pay attention to what your audience likes and engages with. It’s not enough to look at the “surface” stats on your posts – dig deeper by going to the Insights tab on your Facebook page, analytics.twitter.com, analytics.pinterest.com, etc. Dig in to what is getting engagement. If you post a link and it only gets a handful of likes, that doesn’t mean your audience didn’t engage with it. Check the data to see who clicked the link! Once you dig in to the analytics, you’ll be able to see what works best for your audience.
Besides several website projects, I have also done regular website updates for clients. A website is a living thing, and needs to be updated continually. We love working in WordPress and we love working with RevaultMedia. A great tool for figuring out what’s happening is through Google Analytics, or my favorite new tool, HotJar (and they have a free version).
Audience: Always keep in mind that a customer may be new to your website and needs to know the basics. It’s very important to be clear and informative, which can also be difficult. The challenge in writing about what you do is that you know it so well – be sure to concentrate on not leaving information gaps. Fresh eyes can be a big help; once you write it, ask someone who is less familiar with your organization to read it over and see what questions they have.
Data Tools: Google Analytics has to be on your website. It has to be there. It collects so much information, from how many people visited in a certain time period to where they came from, keywords they used, and much more. Don’t worry- it’s free. Or try Hotjar.com for a heatmap of where people click and scroll on your site. It’s really cool to see what site visitors are most interested in. I added a link to a client’s page after Hotjar showed me that visitors thought a text email address was a link.
Call to Action: Call to action is the most important marketing tool out there. You have to tell the audience what you want them to do. When balancing what you want to say with who you are saying it to and whether the page looks nice and if people will understand what you’re saying, it can get left off. The call to action may be as simple as a contact form, or maybe it’s to download something, read a blog or visit additional pages for more information.
Follow these and you’ll be well on your way to great digital marketing. Need some help? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.