More to Come

The Science of Copywriting

Let’s talk about your copy. Search, display, social, email, landing page – doesn’t matter. First of all, I’m sure it’s great. Your copywriter knows the audience and the writing is effective. But here’s the question… could it be better? If not, return to Facebook and go about your day. Now, if you feel there’s some room for improvements, let’s talk.

What could be better?

Could you use a more engaging tone? Are your key messages effective? Are you asking users to read too much or do they want to know more?

There are a lot of variables at work. Most marketers view copywriting as a left-brain activity, but when we isolate these individual factors, we can introduce a touch of right- brain that connects your copy to your goals. So what’s the answer?

A/B testing.

I know, I know. Calm down and let me explain; It’s more than a buzzword. Marketers generally have one of two thoughts about A/B testing.

  1. Crippling fear of numbers
  2. Passive nodding because you get it and you’re a pro

I say to both of you: A/B testing can be incredibly easy and incredibly easy to overcomplicate. For us, it comes down to three considerations: Isolate, tag and test. Remember those three things and you’re well on your well to better conversion rates.

True-Copytesting

Isolate

When you look at copywriting as a sacred, creative process that must be organic, it’s hard to isolate. And it makes sense – like colors and brushstrokes in a painting, all these factors work together to make a final product. But when you take a step back, it’s still just brushstrokes and colors. What if this stroke was broader or that color was brighter? Pick one area that may be weak, and try something new.

True-Copytesting-2

Tag

Naming convention is crucial to testing. As campaigns get more and more complex, we need short-hand to keep track. Your ads, emails and pages all have a lot of elements. For example, you have email campaigns that address several audiences and you want to test a call to action (CTA). Try something like:

Edition_Number-Audience-KeyTheme-CTA

Now we can test the following CTAs and clearly determine the winner. More importantly we can test as many CTAs as we want over the next year. As long as we are consistent, we always have clear data.

  • 078-WestCoastDealers-Spring2015sale-BuyNowCTA
  • 078-WestCoastDealers-Spring2015sale-LearnMoreCTA

Test

This can be the tricky part. How do you implement the test. For landing pages, Google Analytics has a tool that will automatically serve your test pages. Some email systems link MailChimp and ExactTarget have the feature already built in. And any good ad platform allows you to ad and test a lot of variations.

Social media can be a little more difficult to run a test because we don’t want to post the same thing over and over again. There are ways to adapt your content calendar to test a single variable over time. More on that another time.

One last caution: sample size. The goal is a sample large enough for statistical significance. I know audience size doesn’t always allow for a large enough sample. So when you’re dealing with smaller numbers, tread lightly. Feel free to reach out for more on that one (don’t want to bore all these copywriters with too many numbers).

But for now – go forth! Isolate, tag and test!

 

 

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

newyearIf your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, you’re in good company. Every year, 45% of Americans make resolutions and 92% of those fail to keep them. If personal improvement seems like too lofty a goal for 2015, why not apply a few of the most common resolutions to your blog instead?

Resolution #1: Lose Weight/Get Fit
Getting rid of the extra weight on your blog will help your pages load faster and create a better user experience. High resolution images and WordPress plugins are two of the most common causes of slow page load. Trim the fat by reducing image size and resolution before you upload, rather than relying on HTML scaling to display images at the proper side. Take a look at your list of plugins and remove any that aren’t absolutely necessary, and look for plugins that can do double duty.

Resolution #2: Get Organized
If you’ve been adding categories and tags to your blog posts without any real strategy, chances are you’ve created quite a bit of content clutter in the process. Take some time to clean house. Decide on a manageable set of categories that encompass the types of content you typically write and consolidate posts into those categories. Clean up tags, too. If you have multiple versions of the same tag with capital letters, no capital letters, plural versions and singular versions, decide on a tag strategy and weed out all the stragglers.

Resolution #3: Reduce Stress
Developing a content calendar is the number one way to avoid spending 20 minutes staring at a blank screen because it’s 4 p.m., you need to write something and you’re fresh out of ideas. Plan ahead. Use that list of categories you cleaned up in resolution #2 and brainstorm post ideas for each one. Set up a tentative schedule for at least a month’s worth of content and try to build up a cache of finished posts, whether that means working a week or two ahead on your calendar or creating a handful of “evergreen” posts that you can rely on for blogging emergencies.

The year is still young. Take the rest of January to make a plan and implement a few changes, and you can join that smug 8% of resolution-makers who actually succeed!

Free Kittens – What’s in a title? Everything.

IMG_9876

Pictured from left to right: Molly & Vito- Allison’s adorable kittens!

In our ADD-stricken lifestyle where we can’t be bothered to read more than a smartphone screen’s worth of information, a good title is more important than ever before. While titles have always needed to be attention grabbing to pull readers into an article, it was Twitter that really changed the game. Twitter forced us all to step up our creative game since the title or lead is the only words that show in Twitter.

I’m seeing the trend continue on Facebook where headlines are all competing for my time and attention. Here’s what’s on my Facebook feed right now:

25 Hilariously Awkward Texts Only a Mom Could Send from Distractify – I wonder if any of my mom’s text messages made this list? Probably.

10 Habits that are Killing your Productivity from Business Insider – I’m guessing that reading Facebook and getting sucked in by the headlines is one of them.

11 Health Problems Hidden on Your Face from The Weather Channel – Okay, the headline didn’t get me as much as the source. Why is the Weather Channel reporting on health issues?

Why are you So Damned Scared of Nipples from Huffington Post – Is it wrong to admit that I’m bummed this is a podcast and there are no pictures? I never thought I was afraid of nipples. Must find out why I am now.

Who needs pick up lines when you have this sweater from Awkward Family Photos – I don’t even have to read; just look at pictures? Sold!

Beagle siblings team up to fight a toy snake from Mashable – Don’t get me started on puppies. Only possible better headline would be Pug Puppies or cats, which of course rule the Internet. I just can’t say no to a cute, little puppy.

So the next time you’re working on a blog post or article, spend time on your headline and include attention-grabbing words. Remember, you had me at “kittens.”

 

 

Finding your Strengths

imageI was asked to come back to Kent State University (my alma mater) and speak at PRSSA’s annual Communications Connection event. This was my second time speaking at this event, and it’s still crazy to me because I feel like it was just yesterday that I was the student attending this event to gain knowledge from area professionals.

The topic I was given was “finding your strengths” and I thought I would recap the key points I told the students.

  • Identify what you love to do and recognize what you excel at. Build on those strengths and find opportunities that will allow you to do what you love.
  • It’s OK to not know what all of your strengths are! This can take time, and that’s totally fine. (There is a great book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, that takes the guess work out of identifying your strengths and weaknesses.)
  • Take advantages of committees (i.e. PRSSA Kent and AAF Kent), internships and jobs. This will allow you to gain valuable knowledge and get experience in multiple areas. You never know when these opportunities will turn into a passion you didn’t even know you had.
  • When interviewing for an internship or job, I highly recommend having a section in the back of your portfolio that highlights things you are passionate about. Even though this may have nothing to do with the job you are applying for, it says a lot about you and your personality. For me, I highlighted several of my favorite photos that I had taken, along with several of my favorite posts from my Vera Bradley blog. Besides, it’s easy to talk about the things you love! Embrace it.
  • If you know your strengths, but your current internship or job doesn’t necessarily list that in the job description, I would encourage anyone to volunteer. Volunteering is one of my favorite things to do- especially when I can use a skill that I’m already good at, and help an organization that may struggle in that area due to lack of resources and time. Either way, it’s a great networking opportunity and you’re gaining real-world experience, too!
  • On the other hand, if you know what one of your strengths is, let’s say- media relations, yet your current internship or job doesn’t list that in your responsibilities, speak up and talk to your supervisor or boss. Letting them know (or better yet, showing them) that you are interesting in a particular area, is one way to get on their radar. Ask if you can sit in on their next media pitch or see if you can help craft the next media list, the worst they can say is “no.”

Do you have any tips that you would add? I’d love to hear them.

 

Open Office Considerations

There was a lot of interest in the concept of open offices at the Worldcom Americas Meeting earlier this month. Open offices can offer a significant cost saving for employers, but they can also dramatically increase employee stress and decrease productivity. As open office dwellers ourselves, we’d like to share a few suggestions for those who may be considering knocking down the walls:

  1. Consider how much time team members spend on the phone. Lack of privacy makes client conversations more difficult, and constant exposure to other people’s phone conversations creates disruptions for those who aren’t part of the discussion.
  2. Separate meeting spaces from workspaces. Sound carries in an open office. Plan ahead to make sure a meeting in one part of the office won’t create so much noise that it takes over the entire space.
  3. Give employees a way to control how accessible they are. There’s a fine line between “spontaneous collaboration” and “constant interruption.” You might be able to ignore someone who stops at your office door in a traditional office, but that’s harder to do when they’re staring at you from the other side of a table. Let employees create visual cues that let others know when they’re not available, and respect their need for some uninterrupted time.
  4. Respect how employees need to work. Chances are you have account managers who spend a lot of time on the phone, senior staff who regularly meet with clients and team members, and writers, analysts or developers who need blocks of uninterrupted time to produce work. Creating a space that works for everyone may mean grouping employees together by work style rather than client team.
  5. Ask your employees for their input before you draw up plans. Their insight can help you determine the best use for your space and minimize frustration and stress in the long run.

Author: Pam Long[Google+]

True Digital Communications is the newest member of the Worldcom Public Relations Group

I am pleased to announce that True Digital Communications joined the Worldcom Public Relations Group this week. I was a member of this esteemed network of independent PR and marketing firms in the past and am so happy that they welcomed True into the network. We are the only digital marketing focused firm in the network.

20090427203608!Worldcom-logo

For our clients today, we now have the ability to provide you access to firsthand geographic insights and representation, best-in-class public relations services and experience, and unparalleled industry knowledge. For example, if you have an event in Los Angeles, we will work with The Pollack PR Marketing Group, which is based there, to provide strategic planning and support. There are more than 140 agencies in the Worldcom network with offices all around the globe. See the full list here.

I am a firm believer in working with partners who can provide knowledge and insights to help our clients achieve greater results and growth. I know many of our Worldcom partners personally and believe we can work together well with them in developing solutions to meet our clients’ challenges.

As True continues to grow, I will be tapping well-established and successful Worldcom friends to give us direction and insights as we add services, team members and continue to evolve. I know we will be better because of it.

In addition, many Worldcom member agencies are already reaching out to our True Team members to provide digital marketing services and recommendations. We are quickly finding our skills and services are helping create successful integrated campaigns for their clients.

Worldcom is an exciting partnership for True and for all of our clients, today and tomorrow. I invite you to check out Worldcom and please let us know what questions you have.

U Talkin’ to Me?

UTalkintoMeBy now, it’s no secret that social media has become a major outlet for communication across every industry worldwide. I would go as far to say that business leaders outside of the marketing world are even aware that a brand should have a social media strategy complete with personality, style and characteristics that match the brand image. However, not everyone on social media seems to know how to post content that speaks to their audience and conveys a tone that highlights their brand image.

So far in my career, one of the areas I’ve focused a lot of my time and effort in is social media messaging and tone. I’ve heard business leaders of other agencies and my own say that they know why they need a Facebook account but they don’t know how to effectively talk to their customers through the channel. This is where messaging and tone become major players.

With both messaging and tone being key elements in your social media strategy, the best way to effectively convey these factors is by knowing your audience. The more research and understanding you have with the people you interact with on your page, the more effective your social strategy will be. People on social media interact with what they know; let your audience know your brand. Their personal connection to your brand and content is what will boost your engagement rates.

Unless you’re a pet store or something of that nature, resist the urge to post the cute puppy “Happy Friday” photo. We’ve all had thought about posting to Facebook about the weather or a trending topic from the Internet, but if the content doesn’t relate to your brand, steer clear. I highly suggest checking out John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight rant regarding corporations on Twitter for a better understanding of how brands should not act on social (I was going to link out to the video in this blog post, but it’s a little too vulgar…but also hilarious). Anyway, it’s better to focus your social media strategy on content that allows you to create a direct connection with your audience. One of True’s areas of expertise is the building products industry, which is heavily dominated by male culture. It would not make sense to post content with puppies and flowers to men who work with power tools day in and day out. The content needs to reflect the brand and appeal to the correct audience.

Equally as important as the content of your messaging, is your tone of voice. How does your brand talk to its audience? Going back to True’s industrial clients, tone of voice definitely plays a factor in audience engagement. Because the audience is mainly blue-collar construction workers, using a dominant and confident tone in the messaging resonates better than a cheerful and energetic tone. The audience needs to identify with your content in order to engage. The best way to go about that is to speak to them on the same level.

As a recap, it’s important to have a clear image of your audience, with the goal in mind of making your social content as personal as possible. Social engagement stems from the connection the user has to the post. A user’s connection with social content derives from the right messaging and tone that appropriately reflects the brand. The more you know about your audience, the better your social media strategy can be, which will lead to better engagement rates that benefit your brand.

: ) Is Modern Communications Personal?

acronyms 2We live in a world of instant communication and information. While the power of this technology is awesome, we forget that it does come with great responsibilities too. How many times are we texting or talking on our mobile phones when we shouldn’t or are checking Facebook while we should be paying attention in a meeting.

Earlier this week Pope Francis asked Catholics to “get off the Internet and do something productive.” I guess even the Pope knows what a time-suck social media can be.

Long before there was an Internet and the idea of digital marketing was non- existent, when we needed to communicate, we spoke to each other. We picked up the phone and called, set up a meeting or talked at lunch. Instant messaging was however long it took the U.S. Mail to deliver a letter and e-mail was a typed letter, not handwritten. I remember seeing my first fax machine in 1992 and being amazed. What technology would be next? Turned out to be the pager which was a big pain in the butt.

As communications became faster and more powerful, it also became less personal. I remember my first conference call. I quickly realized that I liked to see faces when I spoke so I could gauge body language during conversations. I hated conference calls. Then email came out. Quick, fast communications but totally devoid of the tones we hear in voices that give us cues on emotion. THIS BECAME SHOUTING.

Today it’s texting which has its own language (LOL, OMW, IDK) and signs to show our emotion such as : ) Thank God I work with a team of 20-somethings otherwise I would still think that “LOL” means Lots of Love and “WTF,” Why that Face? I’ve learned the hard way that neither is an appropriate response when texting a friend who is going through tough times.

Communications and technology is a powerful and profitable business. Worldwide it has launched revolutions. Locally, it makes sure me and my team receive  a paycheck every two weeks. However, never forget the power of a phone call or better yet, getting up from your desk and talking to one another instead of sending an email or another text. Learn the power of reading faces and listen for emotion and tone.

Communication is personal, regardless of the technology that connects us.

The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Graph Search

 

The audience data on Facebook is a marketer’s dream.  And if you aren’t using Facebook’s free tools to mine it, you’re missing out on valuable insights about your customers.

Graph Search queries aren’t new to Facebook (they launched in 2013 with updated profiles), but so few people seem to use the feature. Its primary purpose is to make Facebook more like Google – answering useful questions for Facebook users to add value to the service. For example, typing “Restaurants my friends like near Cleveland”) in the blue header bar returns a Yelp-like map of restaurants and reviews. But the information you can query about pages, people who like pages and their interest are endless. What can you find out? Glad you asked. See the full list of Graph Search queries for marketers below.

There are a lot of things this info can do for you, including:

  • Guide your content strategy
  • Offer promotion and contest ideas
  • Reveal ad targeting opportunities
  • Show social media best practices for similar audiences

Don’t let the long list of queries scare you. You won’t need all of them. We just had trouble finding a comprehensive list for marketers, so we made one of our own! If you just want to learn a little more about your audience, try starting with the following process.

  1. “Interests of people who like [my page]” – Dip your toe in the water and learn a little bit about your audience’s interests.
  2. “Pages liked by people who like [my page]” – Similar to interests, this will tell you what your audience does on social media. Look for your competition on this list to determine if there’s a strong overlap.
  3. “Pages liked by people who are interested in [interests revealed by previous searches]” – See what pages with people with those interests like. What kind of content do those pages post? What kind of tone do they use?
  4. “Groups of people who like [pages identified in step 3]” – Looking at the groups those users belong to will give you an idea of the types of conversions and topics the audience finds interesting. It can help you determine the types of content you should produce or help you find influencers.
  5. Repeat all the above steps for your competition. Depending on the overlap in likes, you may get dramatically different results.

 

 

Discover What People Like

Find out what people like:

  • Favorite interests of [person]
  • Favorite interests of people who like [place]
  • Favorite interests of people who live in [place]
  • Favorite interests of people who like [page] and live nearby
  • Favorite interests of people who like [page] and live in [place]
  • Favorite interests of people who like [page] and work at [company]

 

Behavioral factors

  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who like [page]
  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who live in [place]
  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who work at [company]
  • [organization, media, place, page, person] liked by people who live in [place] and like [page]

 

Similar/Popular Page Identification

  • Pages liked by people who like [page]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [page]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and work at [company]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and live in [place]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and visited [place or location page]
  • Pages liked by people who like [page] and visited [place or location page]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and work at [company]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and visited [place or location page]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and visited [place]
  • Pages liked by people who live in [place] and like [page]

 

Find people

Find people by where they work:

  • People who work at [company] and like [page]
  • People who work at [company] and live in [place]
  • People who work at [company] and visited [place or location page]

 

Find people by pages they like:

  • People who like [page] and [page]
  • People who like [page] and [place]
  • People who like [page] and visited [place or location page]

 

Find a new group:

  • Groups of people who like [page]
  • Groups of people who like [page] and [page]
  • Groups of people who like [page] and visited [place or location page]

 

 

Find places

Find Businesses/Services

  • Places that people who like [page] visited
  • Places that people who live in [place] visited
  • Places that people who work at [company] visited
  • Places that people who work at [company] and like [page] visited
  • Places that people who work at [company] and live in [place] visited

 

 

Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]

 

Are we “too connected”?

IMG_8534Over the past six months, I’ve noticed an overwhelming (and somewhat shocking) trend at almost every in-person meeting I attend. Before I tell you what it is, I bet you either have one right beside you, or you may be reading this blog post from one. That’s right – I’m talking about cell phones – those wonderful little devices that allow us to hold the whole world on our fingertips. Now, I’m not saying that I’m not guilty of having my iPhone by me at meetings from time to time, but now that I’m tuned into the fact that many of us feel we “need” to have our devices inches from our reach, I’ve been consciously putting my phone away. This rant isn’t to scold anyone who may keep their phone next to them, but I’m hoping this may serve as a gentle reminder that it’s OK to put your phone away. I promise you that the withdrawal from your device won’t kill you. Sure, you may get the shakes or feel anxious about missing the next great selfie your friends post to Facebook- but I can guarantee you (and most importantly) your co-workers and client will secretly be happy that you were fully engaged in the conversation.

Are we capable of multitasking? 

Multitasking is a skill that many people think they are good at. But can the human brain truly process multiple things at the same time and process them well? Ira Hyman, a Western Washington University cognitive psychologist and professor believes multitasking comes at a significant cost.  “Whenever people are in a situation when they’re both trying to track a social interaction they’re engaged in and track something with their cell phones, they’re engaged in a divided-attention task,” Hyman says. “What this means is that they’ll do both things more poorly than if they did one of them.”

Meeting Etiquette

I guess the point I’m trying to get to is that having your phone out at a meeting just seems rude. So please, the next time you’re in a face-to-face meeting, make it just that. Face-to-screen just isn’t the same.

Author: Allison Ewing[Google+]