A majority of the writing we do for our clients takes shape in the digital realm. From social media and email newsletters to website pages and blog posts and beyond. Let’s take a look at three main pieces of digital content that everyone uses: email marketing, social media and website content.
Writing Email Marketing Newsletters
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 resources out there on the best ways to write a captivating subject line, but in essence it comes down to three things. First, know your audience. Second, make the headline as enticing as possible (but also truthful). Third, test it out and look at the data. Several email marketing platforms offer A/B testing capabilities for subject lines, and they work well.
Calls to Action
What goes in an email newsletter? The things you want people to act on. Emails need to be timely and have something actionable. A big, bright button will do the trick, and make sure it’s linked correctly. These can be tested email by email, and some systems have A/B testing capabilities for this, too.
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 in the subject line to open your email. Benchmark rates can vary, but in the tourism industry, 18-20% is an average open rate. I like to refer to this chart of benchmark email marketing rates from MailChimp. Click rate shows engagement with the email. These people opened, read and were interested enough in something to take action. For the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, click rates range from 1-3%.
One thing to keep in mind with all digital content is to remember that the digital space is also a visual space. People are looking for information that is quick and easy to digest, so being concise in your writing and incorporating visual elements is the best way to go.
Mobile has changed the way we create digital content. The best thing about email marketing platforms is that they give you tons of data (Break The Ice Media prefers Constant Contact for consumer emails, although we have also worked with other major services). Years ago, I saw that week after week, 50% or more of our winery client’s recipients viewed our newsletter on a mobile device. I immediately redesigned their weekly email newsletter to use a mobile-friendly template. Since then, the catchphrases went from mobile-friendly to today’s mobile-first design principles.
We’re all human. The best way to avoid typos 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 on the channels you are working in, as each one its unique from each other. And yet the messaging needs to be consistent throughout all your marketing channels. Each social media platform offers another audience to reach with your key messages.
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 posts to 2-3 sentences and it’s pretty common to use a few hashtags. Twitter has a 280-character limit and you can use 2-3 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 (if you have a lot of hashtags, add them below spaces in the post or in the comments). TikTok, Instagram Reels and Facebook Stories are the latest in social media video content. Tell a story, convey your key messages, and keep words to a minimum. Let the visual do the heavy lifting on these mediums. Remember to always tag partner and stakeholder accounts whenever possible!
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 on Facebook or in Creator Studio, 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.
We’ve built many websites for clients, in addition to updating site content and posting regular blog content. A website is a living thing, and needs to be updated continually. We love working in WordPress and we love working with our AMI partner DigiSage for website development and hosting. The best tools for data analysis are Google Analytics, Google Search Console and, occasionally, HotJar.
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. 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.
Navigation is also an important part of creating website content. Help your audience find their way to the most important parts of the website. Connect the dots for them by linking the pages that go together, and let them explore their own path through the information. The more pages link to each other, the better.
Google Analytics has to be on your website. It just 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. It’s free and easy to set up. A little more advanced but even more powerful is Google Search Console. 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.
Calls to Action
Call to action is the most important marketing tool out there, regardless of whether you’re working with digital content or another medium. 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 good on mobile, it can get left off. The call to action may be as simple as a contact form, or maybe it’s to download a resource, read a blog or visit additional pages for more information.