Spelling Errors Affect Response Rates

I am appalled at how many spelling errors I see on websites and in email marketing messages. Back in the days of print, there were proofreaders and other safeguards to ensure grammar and spelling were correct. Maybe that’s because print production is more expensive than online production.

Misspelled words online have caused me to change my mind and not call that company, or to abandon a shopping cart.

When I see lots of misspelled words on a website, it tells me they are sloppy. If they are sloppy before the sale, how much better — or worse — will they be after they have my money? Spelling errors reflect directly on the company, the brand image and the product and services offered.

Tip: Read your own copy three times, and then have someone else read the copy with fresh eyes. Many writers rely too heavily on spell checkers in their rush to get copy out on deadline. This is why I see words that are spelled correctly, but are used incorrectly where they appear. There is no substitute for eyeballing every word of copy.


Mobile Marketing = Short Copy

Subway’s successful mobile coupon campaign using text messaging must limit itself to 160 characters. It proves you can hit a home run with very little space.

As more people read more messages on their Smartphones, the marketer will have to confine his/herself to getting the message across in a fraction of characters. Current wisdom is email subject lines can be up to 35 characters or so.

Imagine how much your current subject lines will have to shrink in order to be mostly seen on a cell phone screen. Your copy will really have to be very “direct” in the truest sense of the word.


Watch Your Competition

Want to know what campaigns work in your industry? Then follow the ads of your competitors like a hawk. If you see the ads repeated over and over, there’s a good chance the copy is working, unless it’s a branding campaign… in which case, who knows.

But if your competitor is employing direct copy tactics, the chances are good that they’re watching the ROI on that campaign. If they alter the copy slightly, it may mean the campaign is working and they’re just trying to improve results incrementally.

If your competitor changes the entire thrust of their campaign, it can either mean it has run its course over time and a new approach was needed, or the offer didn’t work right out of the box, and they left it for something else right away. Either way, the only way you’ll know what is happening is to study what your competition does from one week to the next.


SEO Tip: Make a Vid

Remember, the major search engines are moving towards Universal Search, which delivers blended search results. So you see videos, podcasts, pictures, plus press releases, websites, etc…

This means the search engines want to deliver multimedia options to the user in the quest to heighten user experience. For them it’s a branding thing, in part.

Give the search engines what they want. You know they’re now looking for multimedia files. Make it available to them. Yes, it’s more time and money to create sound and picture files, but c’mon, we’re not talking big money here. Do it, and make sure other sites know about it and point to it.


When to Be Bold

Making keywords bold is a classic direct response technique that is often overlooked, or overused. When a reader sees a sea of black or grey type, online or off, it sends a message of undifferentiated text. It telegraphs to the reader to go away.

Breaking up copy with bold type helps the reader jump around to key words that help him/her quickly absorb what the basic message is. Then, he or she may go back and read more text if the bold words are intriguing enough.

It’s natural for advertisers to want to make too many words bold. The thinking is everything will jump out at the reader and it will all get read. Usually that is not so. Making too many things bold dilutes the contrast between regular type and bold.

Once you’ve made your key words bold, re-read just those bold words back to yourself to make sure they make sense when strung together.


Good Copy, Wrong Keyword Phrase

Let’s say you’ve got lousy results on a particular PPC ad you’re running. It might be the copy, it might be the keyword, or it might be both.

Before you throw out everything and start over, try your copy with another set of keyword phrases. Your copy could be great and just hooked up to the wrong keywords and thus not resonating with the audience searching for that particular phrase.


What is KISS?

It’s an old marketing dictum that has never gone out of style. It stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” In other words, don’t get too cute, especially online, where everyone is time-challenged.

This old dictum goes on to map out the basic flow of your message:

1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
2. Tell them crisply what your value proposition is.
3. Reiterate what you just told them so as to reinforce the primary message.

This is true for TV, radio, email marketing, websites, direct mail, billboards, F2F… you name it.


It doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to make money.

This is an old direct response dictum. Sometimes a set of words strung together does not make perfect sense. It may not even be proper English. But it can work like gangbusters because it keys into the reader’s psyche.

If you think you have created one of these anomalies, I suggest you first informally test it in an unaided environment (don’t help the subject in any way). If it passes muster in this informal context, then do a limited test online before rolling it out to your entire audience.


Check Your Referrer Logs

You should look at your referrer logs at least every month. If you’re running messaging campaigns, you should be all over these logs weekly or daily, like a hawk.

These logs tell you what is working and what isn’t. I’m often pleasantly surprised by what I find in there.

When I visit the pages linking into my site, I get a real-world idea of why other sites point to me. Sometimes they point to an article I wrote. Other times, sites point to my CPM calculator at www.wdfm.com/advertising.html. Still other sites point to our review of their site which originally appeared in Web Digest For Marketers.

Inbound links tell you what the rest of the world likes about your site. It’s invaluable information.

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