New version of Comic Sans for hipster typography snobs

Here at Articulate Plaza, we love good design, good typography and readable text. We’ve ranted about Comic Sans, just like the rest of the digerati.

Please don't use Comic Sans, we're not a lemonade stand

But now Craig Rozynski, an Australian designer based in Japan, has released Comic Neue, a typeface that has the casual, informal flavour of Comic Sans without the design ghastliness. He says it’s perfect:

‘…as a display face, for marking up comments, and writing passive aggressive office memos’

Critically, for hipster-glasses-wearing, bearded, Shoreditch types, it has the word ‘Neue’ added to it. When you add a German word to anything, it automatically becomes more serious. Like when you add the letters Phd after someone’s name.

Anyhow, here’s your Thursday typography treat.

Comic Neue samples


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9 weird tricks that turn sales leads into done deals

Three arrows in the bullseye of an archery target

To bring in more sales leads and turn them into real sales, you have to make people love your product and want to be your customer. It’s all about mystique, intrigue, emotion and logic. Here are some strategies for closing more business:

1. Offer less.

Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University tested this at a grocery store sample booth. On the first day, she offered twenty four jams. Sixty percent of customers stopped to sample, but only three percent of that group made a purchase.

But on the second day, she offered only six jams. Forty percent of the customers stopped and thirty percent of them bought jam. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more products or services you present for evaluation, the easier it is to overwhelm the buyer and lose their attention.

2. Tug on some heart strings.

To get their attention, you may have to try a different approach. A clothing company recently released a video of strangers sharing a kiss. The few minutes of video, which made no mention of clothing, went viral getting over seventy million views on YouTube.

The company, in turn, reported a mass increase in sales. Appealing to emotion instead of pitching the product made the company more likeable and attracted more leads which led to those sales.

3. Make some enemies.

Apple bases whole campaigns on the difference between Mac users and PC users. While you may never have a Microsoft-Apple level rivalry, there is value in standing by what you do and how you do it.

Your product or company won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. And if you try to please everyone, you may end up with a generic product or service that helps no one. Target your ideal buyers instead.

4. Get back in the classroom.

It’s a good idea to make friends too. Where you work and what you do is a natural part of the conversation in a classroom setting, whether local or online in a webinar.

Whether you teach or take a class from someone in the industry, it’s a way to network that establishes your credibility and allows you to hear what your potential customers care about. When they need what your company does, they’ll think of you.

5. Ask for a referral.

Recommendations carry a lot of weight with buyers. You can ask your customers to refer others to you or to recommend potential customers for you to seek out.

Social media has made referrals even easier. Ask customers, new and old, to use the social media ‘share’ buttons on your content and landing pages to share what you have to offer with their network.

6. Engaging content.

You probably notice when an article receives extra attention through shares or comments, but you might not have time to figure out what the draw was and how to put that element into more of your writing.

But information available online can help you learn, plan and generate effective content that gets shared without having to test the waters. Of course, there are firms that make it their business to know the why and how (and would be more than willing to help!).

7. Conduct an interview.

And speaking of content, an interview is valuable content for your audience. It’s a way to give your readers information that will propel them forward in their search for a solution.

A case study with one of your already loyal customers will give leads someone to identify with. Or, simply sharing information from another authority in the industry is a way to offer valuable insight.

8. Testing, testing.

You should test how your calls to action perform on each page. You’ll be surprised how the background colour, placement, wording or text colour can affect click-through rates.

Conduct tests by placing the same call to action on your page, but with a different variable. Measure how colour, text and placement affects your click-through rates and act on those results.

9. Listen first, talk later.

Keep in mind, people think in-your-face selling is invasive. If a salesperson were to mention your product or service every time they spoke, it would be a huge turn-off.

In marketing, be certain you understand the exact problem that person is trying to solve. When they ask you how your company can solve that problem, that’s your segue. It’s your responsibility to make the company appear credible and likeable enough for them to ask.

(Hat tip to Nina Matthews for the photo)

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Content marketing in ten diagrams

Let’s be clear: at Articulate we are specialists in content marketing and copywriting. Not art.

That said, content marketing is such a simple concept that even we can explain it in ten simple diagrams.
content marketing target1. Acquire your ideal target. Develop buyer personas so that you know who you are aiming your content marketing at. You don’t want to just attract anyone to your site, you want to attract viable, potential customers.



content marketing attract2. Attract. Entice your ideal customer to your website using blog posts, keywords and social media. Give them what they want, not what you want to give them. Give advice, information and insight.




diamond locked away3. Create leads. Develop long-form valuable content such as ebooks and white papers that provide real value to your site visitors. Use landing pages to offer this content in exchange for visitor details such as name, email address, company size etc.



tracking footprints4. Track. Once you have converted a visitor into a lead you can track their behaviour on your website and across your marketing efforts. Which product pages have they visited most often? Which emails are they opening and clicking on? How often do they visit the blog? This information can help you nurture and qualify leads for the sales team.



watering a small plant to nurture it5. Nurture. Turn leads into qualified leads through automated email campaigns, social media engagement and more valuable, targeted content. Use tracking data to target specific content at different persona leads in order to better engage them.



sealed deal6. Close. Seal the deal with bottom of the funnel offers such as free trials, consultations and case studies. Case studies in particular are useful in providing social proof: if other people like it, it must be good. They provide credibility to your claims of excellence.



closed loop analytics of content marketing7. Connect the dots. Link your marketing software up to your customer relationship management software in order to create closed-loop analytics. This way you can track a lead all the way from the moment they arrive on your site to the point of sale and beyond, and thereby more accurately calculate the effectiveness and ROI of different marketing campaigns.



content marketing promote8. Delight. Content marketing doesn’t end once you’ve made a sale. Creating how-to guides and best practices, as well as providing customer service and engagement through social media and email allows to you convert customers into promoters. After all, word of mouth is the most valuable kind of marketing.



measuring instruments9. Measure, refine, optimise. Thanks to the analytics provided by closed loop reporting, site visitor tracking, email analytics and more, you can begin to really measure and refine your marketing efforts. Create A/B tests to increase click through rates on calls-to-action. Optimise landing pages and tweak product descriptions. Use your data to ensure you never stop improving.


hubspot inbound methodology10. Learn a little more.(Ok we cheated, HubSpot did this one). Learn a litte more about the inbound methodology by understanding the business case and by downloading our free beginner’s guide to content-driven, inbound marketing.

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6 ways to end the war between sales and marketing

Dog and cat facing off

It’s true. Sales and marketing don’t get on. In fact, 87 percent of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative, according to a recent survey.

It’s bad for business and it’s got to stop.

When sales and marketing work together it’s been shown that ‘companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: ‘sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower,’ according to the Harvard Business Review.

Not only that, but as Steve McKee writes in Business Week,

It should go without saying that customers these days are too mobile, too connected, and too informed to tolerate any gap between what one department says and another does.

When a customer reads your blog and engages with your Twitter feed, the last thing you want is a sales rep ringing up and presenting an entirely different personality and product-focus.

Instead the two teams need to work together to raise awareness of your company’s brand, tone and messaging so that leads choose to engage with, and trust it enough to become customers.

Bridging the culture gap

With such a wide and established cultural gap, it’s perhaps naive to think that sales and marketing will ever be the perfect, friction-free match. Bill Rozier, VP of global marketing at Ciena puts it well when he says,

One important thing we’ve done is to set expectations appropriately. Our senior management understands that conflict is inevitable and expects us to manage it.

So perhaps you can’t end the war, but there are ways you can call a truce and extend out a few olive branches so that the business can benefit from a smoother running ‘smarketing‘ machine.

1. Understand sales and marketing have the same end game

This should be the most obvious, but often gets forgotten in the trenches. Both sales and marketing are working to grow the company. Both want more customers, more brand awareness and more profits. While each team works differently to achieve it, ultimately everyone is still on the same side.

2. Develop buyer personas

Make sure everyone is targeting their efforts at the same potential customers. Both teams need to understand the challenges, pain points and objections that have to be overcome in order to ultimately make a sale.

Buyer personas ensure everyone is promoting the same answers, targeted at the same problems and speaking to the same people. They also helps to align decisions on which products to focus on and how to set pricing levels because the decisions aren’t being made based on sales or marketing’s preference: they’re being made based on the persona’s preference.

3. Have regular meetings

Communication, as in every other walk of life, is key. You need to have regular meetings, with agreed topics for discussion and hard data to back up queries or gripes.

‘At other companies the primary relationship between the two teams might be between the VP Marketing and the VP Sales.  This is a mistake.’ HubSpot recommends weekly meetings with the entirety of both teams as well as informal regular meet ups for different parts of the teams. They suggest developing common terminology to make sure everyone is communicating clearly.

They even suggest mixing up desks to have sales and marketing sitting amongst each other meaning everyone can see first hand what the other does, and asking questions becomes easier and more natural.

4. Create a standard hand-off process

You need an easy way to get leads into the right hands automatically, a way for them to report on whether they have accepted or rejected the lead, and, if they accepted the lead, what the disposition eventually was—won, lost, or not really a lead,’ says Bill Babcock.

The two teams will be able to work much better if their technology is integrated. Creating a closed-loop reporting system between marketing and sales helps with the hand-off process, giving sales all the salient information that an inbound-mareting strategy can gather, and the success or failure rate of the leads can feed back to marketing to help them improve their campaigns.

5. Agree on mutually beneficial SLAs

There needs to be both transparency and a relationship between the targets set for marketing and sales. For example, if you are able to gather reliable analytics on an inbound campaign, you can work backwards from how many customers were generated from leads, how many leads from visitors. This way you can calculate a target for marketing that matches how many deals sales need to close to meet their quota.

In return, sales can agree to follow up on a minimum number of leads to ensure marketing’s efforts are not wasted and there is an accurate picture of what really generates sales.

6. Educate each other on your differences

By their very nature, sales and marketing will attract different types of people. The Harvard Business Review ran an influential article back in 2006, titled ‘Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing‘. In it they addressed both the economic and cultural divides that exist between the two teams,

Marketers…are highly analytical, data oriented, and project focused. They’re all about building competitive advantage for the future…Salespeople, in contrast, spend their time talking to existing and potential customers. They’re skilled relationship builders…they want to keep moving.

With one group focused on short-term, tangible goals and the other looking further ahead, working towards goals that are harder to measure like brand awareness, the two are bound to clash.

But if you can educate each team on what the other is doing and why, and present it in a way that explains the mutual benefits their efforts produce, you may just have the beginnings of a long-lasting peace treaty.

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10 top content marketing blogs you need to follow

content marketing blogs: extra extra headline

You’re busy – too many blogs to read, not enough time.

You haven’t got the time to trawl through search results for content marketing stats, facts and figures.

These are the blogs you can trust and revisit time and time again to keep up to date on the world of content marketing and get the tips and tricks to run more effective and profitable campaigns.

Content Marketing Institute blog

Content Marketing Institute screenshot

Lots of excellent stuff from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), whose mission it is to advance the practice of content marketing. It covers all aspects of content marketing, from specific, practical advice to more general industry trends.

What is it good for? – all things content marketing

Example posts:

How Content Creators Can Provide the Actionable Relevance the C-Suite Needs

Inventions and Reinventions That Are Changing Content Marketing

Convince & Convert blog

Convince and Convert blog screenshot

Named the number one content marketing blog in the CMI’s final Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing List, you’d expect it to be good, and it doesn’t disappoint. Much of it is written by the respected marketing consultant, Jay Baer, and there’s a strong focus on results. Lots of good video content as well.

What is it good for? – getting results with social media marketing

Example posts:

This Is The Usually Absent Secret Ingredient of Content Marketing

What Every Marketing Department Needs to Know About Google+

Copyblogger blog

Copyblogger blog screenshot

A frequenter of the Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing List (while it was still running), Copyblogger continues to pump out great content about copywriting and blogging, and content marketing more generally.

What is it good for? – copywriting and blogging

Example posts:

How to Turn Bland Text into Sparkling Online Content

Agile Content Marketing: How to Attract an Audience That Builds Your Business

TopRank blog

TopRank blog screenshot

Another highly regarded blog, Lee Odden’s blog focusses on online marketing, dealing with everything from content strategy to general industry news and trends.

What is it good for? – online marketing and industry trends

Example posts:

5 Steps to Content Marketing Awesome – You Can Do This!

10 New Media Trends Shaping the Lives of Modern Consumers

MarketingExperiments blog

MarketingExperiments blog screenshot

MarketingExperiments was the first internet-based research lab to conduct experiments in optimising marketing and sales processes. The blog complements the research and case studies published in the MarketingExperiments Journal, putting some much needed data behind marketing claims.

It also wins brownie points because, unlike all the others, its titles aren’t quite so plagued by a rash of redundant capitals letters.

What is it good for? – data-driven marketing tips

Example posts:

Email Marketing: Change in CTA copy increases clickthrough 13%

Lead Generation: Great results don’t always have to be complicated

Quick Sprout blog

Quick Sprout blog screenshot

Written by serial entrepreneur and online marketer, Neil Patel, this blog covers many aspects of online marketing, but focusses on SEO and driving up visitor numbers.

What is it good for? – SEO and building traffic

Example posts:

Your Content Marketing Will Fail without These 10 Features

How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data Driven Answer

HubSpot – Inbound Hub

HubSpot Inbound Hub screenshot

Deals with content marketing down the entire funnel, from attracting strangers to delighting customers, and gives sage advice to both marketing and sales teams, encouraging them to work together. Also has a ‘stat of the day’ on the main blog page, which is handy.

What is it good for? – content marketing for marketing and sales

Example posts:

4 Marketing Metrics You’re Probably Not Measuring (and Should)

Close With Content: 7 New Ways Sales Can Leverage Marketing Materials

Buffer blog

Buffer blog screenshot

Filled with the sort of great content you’d expect from the folks that brought you the go-to social media management tool.

They blog about writing, productivity, content marketing, company news and, of course, social media.

What is it good for? – social media marketing

Example posts:

How to Perform an A/B Test on Headlines, Tweets, Traffic, and More

The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content: 12 Ways to Extend the Life of Every Article You Write

KISSmetrics blog

KISSmetrics blog screenshot

It has a strong focus on conversions, analytics and testing to help you tighten up your content marketing efforts.

What is it good for? – analytics and conversions

Example posts:

17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content

7 Types of Landing Pages That Will Make Your Website Visitors Stick Like Fly Paper

Bad Language – our very own content marketing blog

Ours isn’t too bad, either. We focus on copywriting – that is, after all, our bag – but we cover everything from how to work with copywriters to boosting website conversions to building a compelling business case for content marketing.

What is it good for? – copywriting and content marketing for techies

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We’re giving away our copywriting briefing checklist

Hand ticking checklist boxes

Without a clear copywriting briefing checklist, marketing copywriters and their clients are (sometimes) like two people divided by a common language. I’ve written before that writers are from Mars and clients are from Venus. Perhaps we speak Martian and Venusian. But the costs of miscommunication are high:

  • Project delays
  • Avoidable rework
  • Unnecessary frustration
  • Less effective copy
  • Hair loss

Yes, sometimes good writers produce bad copy, but in my experience most projects that go wrong fail because of a lack of communication at the earliest stages. A good briefing checklist can reduce these risks and contribute to a great agency-client relationship.

The checklist manifesto

Checklist Manifesto coverI’m a pilot and I sometimes make passengers nervous because they see me calling out items from a dog-eared checklist at various points in the flight. ‘Don’t you know how to fly?’ somebody asked once.

Checklists are the best way to make sure I don’t forget any of them. It can be embarrassing trying to lower the landing gear if you forgot to raise it in the first place. Military pilots and airline captains use them too.

Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto, came to the same conclusions:

Today we find ourselves in possession of stupendous know-how, which we willingly place in the hands of the most highly skilled people. But avoidable failures are common, and the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of our knowledge has exceeded our ability to consistently deliver it – correctly, safely or efficiently.

The thing with flying is that you are busy all the time and there are a lot of things to remember. It’s the same in the office. It’s easy to forget to ask a client the right questions and it’s even easier to assume that you know the answer without asking.

Benefits of a copywriting briefing for clients

When I run writing training courses for Articulate clients, I ask them to complete a five-minute exercise. I give them a simplified copywriting briefing sheet and ask them to complete it for their next project. It always comes as a surprise that it takes so little time and yet highlights so many areas that need to be decided.

The cost is small – it doesn’t take long to complete a brief – but the benefits are significant:

  • Align the project with your business goals.
  • Set specific deadlines.
  • Highlight differences before they become problems.
  • Clarify your own thinking.
  • Check you haven’t forgotten anything important.

Benefits of a briefing checklist for writers

For writers and agencies, too, the cost of the briefing process is small but the benefits are large:

  • Reduced risk of rewrites and negative feedback.
  • Increased chance of getting the copy right first time.
  • This all makes your client happy.
  • A brief makes a contract enforceable and reduces the risk of a conflict.
  • Reminds your client about all the things you need to do a good job.
  • A client that spends the time to prepare a brief is likely to be conscientious in other ways.

11 things every writing brief should contain

A writer’s brief, like a pilot’s checklist, is necessary and useful. But what should it cover?

  1. Business goals. What does the client want to achieve with this project?
  2. Audience. Who is it for? Personas help, if available.
  3. Copy length. We charge by the word so this is very important.
  4. Key messages. Specific themes or points that we have to include (or avoid).
  5. Style guidelines. Links to client style guides or just ‘Economist Style Guide’ or similar. US or UK English? Also, it helps to know if the document will be translated.
  6. Delivery format. Word? Web? PDF?
  7. Use case. Blog post? White paper? Case study? Etc.
  8. Call to action. Is there a specific action we want readers to take?
  9. Sources. Links or documents with product or market information. Interview contacts.
  10. Approval and feedback. What happens after we submit our first draft?
  11. Deadline. When is it due? (Too little time = bad copy.)

Download our four-page briefing checklist

Alternatively, you can freelance Dilbert-style.

Dilbert marketing brief

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14 misconceptions about working with agencies

Truth and lies about working with agencies

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘content is king‘, but research has shown it’s more than hype. When it comes to B2B purchasing behaviour, customers will contact a sales rep only after they’ve independently completed about 60 percent of the purchasing decision process.

This means potential leads and customers have been to your website, read your blog and probably downloaded a white paper or a brochure all before making first contact.

Working with the right agency therefore matters more than ever. You don’t just need on time and on budget, you need on message and on the ball as well.

Dispelling the myths of working with agencies

It’s time to cut through the chatter and shatter a few myths to make finding an agency, which takes the value of your content as seriously as you do, that much easier. Below are 14 common misconceptions that will help you separate the wheat from the chaff:

1. All agencies are created equal

Not every agency produces excellent content, has knowledge in your industry and is able to form a lasting business relationship. Look at an agency’s own online presence to get a clue as to whether they’ll be a good fit for your company, industry and working style.

2. It takes too much time to find a quality agency

If it takes a long time to find a marketing agency, you probably don’t want them in charge of your online presence, right? An agency should be reasonably easy to locate if they are capable of meeting your needs.

3. They’re doing the same job my employees could be doing

If you’ve assembled an incredible team, they might possess the talents, skills and drive to create great content. But it’s usually at the expense of the tasks for which they’re already responsible. Outsourcing means bringing in the experts for specialist tasks so that the day-to-day performance of your own employees isn’t compromised.

4. I’ve no idea who is producing the content

You shouldn’t feel like you are sending your briefs into an abyss and hoping it spits out great content. Build relationships with agencies that you can trust because you know who at the agency is responsible for your content.

5. I get no control over the content produced

A good brief gives you more control over the final product than you think. A professional, competent agency can turn a good brief into the content you hoped for. It also gives you something to refer to if expectations are not met.

6. Outsourcing content is not efficient

Working with an agency shouldn’t add more stress to your job. A good agency will work alongside your wider marketing campaign to deliver content when and where it’s needed. Plus, once you find an agency that suits the company, working with them again and again will build trust and familiarity making outsourcing even smoother.

7. Agencies are one-dimensional

Don’t stick with an agency that only promises more Twitter followers when you told them your goal is more leads from your website. The agency you work with should be able to tailor their content, strategy and delivery based on your specific campaign goals.

8. A marketing agency will put me over budget

Ineffective content will cost your company when it fails to produce results. A quality agency makes outsourcing worthwhile by producing content that beckons customers to your business. Plus, the best (achem) agencies have fixed budgets that you can plan around up front.

9. Less costs less

It’s important to learn the value of each product an agency sells, so you can handle your budget effectively. It’s not always just about the word count. Research-intense or interview-based editorials and reports take a lot more effort and input than say a blog post.

10. Agencies are just after the pay cheque

A good agency understands the role they play in your wider marketing goals. The right agency will want to build a working relationship with you and make those goals theirs, and thereby consider your success their victory. It’s about more than creative wordplay: it’s about measurable results.

11. Generating content is the easy part

Marketing isn’t magic. An agency needs time to do the work you’ve asked of them. Have realistic expectations for deadlines, provide a great brief, be available as needed and leave them to it.

12. Agencies can get everything they need off the company website

For best results, let them get to know your business beyond what’s already on the website. Provide adequate resources on the company, products, services, goals and strategy to get accurate, detailed content that is aimed at your ideal audience and fits your greater purpose.

13. Every client is a number one priority

Every client is important to an agency, but it’s impossible for every client to be number one. Understand that it is an agency’s business to meet all of their deadlines and each client’s expectations. Trust that they will meet yours as well.

14. They always overpromise and under-deliver

If this is the case, you’ve been working with the wrong agencies. An experienced agency knows and can communicate the value of effective content and accurately plan for the time it takes to produce it.

Nobody has time to work with poor agencies that perpetuate these common misconceptions. Take some time to find a good agency, and the right agency for your market, and then be sure to keep working with them.

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12 top copy tips to boost your website conversion rate

Writing on post-it note – copy tips for website conversions

(Hat tip to stanjourdan for the photo)

Your website is the front line of your content marketing strategy, so don’t cut corners with the copy.

Visitors tend to leave websites within ten to 20 seconds and only read about 20 percent of the content on each page. Your copy therefore has to be something special to grab their attention, inspire action and drive up your website conversion rate .

But it’s not brain surgery – just tweaking and slimming your existing copy can make all the difference. Indeed, changing the description of a shipping charge on a DVD trial offer from ‘a $5 fee’ to ‘a small $5 fee’ increased conversions by 20 percent in one study.

Warm ups

First, the obvious ones:

  • Cut your copy. No one has time to read paragraph after paragraph across dozens of pages, no matter how well crafted they are. Cut it down and make sure all the text on your website is pithy and relevant. Highrise, the customer relationship management software from 37signals, saw a 22.72 percent decrease in conversions after increasing the amount of copy on their home page.
  • Be direct. Don’t feel awkward talking about price and prompting people to sign up to something. Being up front and specific tells visitors what’s on offer and exactly how to get it. Skirting around the issue just looks suspicious.
  • Verbs not adjectives. Saying your product or service ‘saves you $15 dollars a month’ is much more persuasive than saying that it’s ‘cost-effective’. Actions speak louder than adjectives.
  • Keep it human. Check the readability of your web pages. Avoid jargon, hyperbole, obscure acronyms, excessive punctuation, etc – they’re all speed bumps for the reader.
  • Be conversational. Write as you speak, within reason. Use ‘you’ and ‘we’, rather than the third person, and avoid florid language.
  • Keep it focussed. One topic per sentence, one topic per paragraph, one message per page. Anymore and you’ll confuse the reader.
  • Stay active. Avoid passive sentences and use active words.
  • Make it scannable. Don’t be afraid of sub-heads, bullet points and maybe even a little bold.

Follow these tips and your website conversion rate will increase. But if you really want to see it sky-rocket then get a little more involved with the four tips below.

Super-boosting website conversion tips

  • Optimise for your personas. SEO optimisation alone is useless. Your content needs to be optimised for both search engines and personas. In fact, by creating quality content that resonates with your ideal buyers, you’ll naturally improve your SEO. This means tapping into the main issues of your personas and the keywords they use in search queries.
  • Benefits not solutions. Customers want benefits, not features and specs. They’re not looking for ‘bigger, better, faster, stronger’. They need to solve a specific problem, so acknowledge that by framing their questions and explaining how your product or service answers them.
  • They’re here. Now what? You don’t want your website visitors to just read something, you want them to do something. Employ clear calls-to-action (CTAs) – like we do at the end of our posts now – to guide visitors to relevant content and offers and use hyperlinks in the content to help visitors navigate your website.
    A CTA leads the visitor to a landing page, where they complete a form in return for an offer. After submitting the form, they’re taken to a thank you page that lets them download the content, arrange the appointment, start the trial or whatever the offer is. It also suggests the next action in the sales funnel with another CTA. This ‘CTA–landing page–thank you page’ process is the heart of the conversion process – it seamlessly converts visitors into leads.
  • Mix it up. Run A/B tests to work out what sort of copy best fuels website conversion. Try ‘sign up for your 30-day free trial’ rather than ‘sign up for a free trial’. This technique is particularly important for CTAs, landing pages and thank you pages but it should be used for every part of your website.

Copy is too often overlooked for the design of the website, but the words are as much a part of the design as the visuals and structure. The copy on your website is what your ideal buyers are there to read so make it worth their time.

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Content marketing: building a compelling business case

Inbound content marketing - lots of clicks heading to a computer screen

‘Inbound content marketing is the worst form of marketing,’ to misquote Churchill, ‘apart from all the others.’ Of course, we would say that because it’s what we do at Articulate.

But the evidence confirms that content marketing is cost effective. HubSpot reckons that it costs 61 percent less per lead than traditional techniques.

Filling the funnel: a top CEO priority

This is more important than ever. CEOs are focusing on their reaching customers and converting them, according to new research. Of course, they always have. What’s new is their use of words like ‘audience’, ‘content’ and ‘proving ROI’.

CEO Marketing Goals - finding the right audience is the biggest bar in the chart

Yet, the most attractive audiences are the hardest to reach. They are blind to conventional advertising and self-promotion. But content marketing cuts through the noise. This means you have to:

  • Go to where people are – social media, search engines etc.
  • Talk about things that matter to them.
  • Use their language, not yours.
  • Become a trusted advisor.
  • Introduce your products and solutions in this favourable context.

Traditional marketing strategies don’t deliver

Think about your own experience. Would you prefer a noisy intrusion into your day or useful, relevant information when you wanted it? What would you think of the companies that used these different strategies?

Again, the evidence supports the argument. Intrusion fails spectacularly. The majority of TV viewers (86 percent) skip adverts if they can. Nearly half of all direct mail (44 percent) is never opened.

Social media is on the up but it’s hard to measure. If you don’t have something to contribute to the conversation, you’re just breaking eggs without making an omelette.

If you use online advertising, you already know the pain of keyword competition, rising costs and falling conversion rates. Worse, you need a PhD in Google Adwords to run a campaign. And you pay per click not per advert. It’s the gift that doesn’t keep giving.

There’s light at the end of the funnel

The traditional view of the sales funnel is too narrow. Half of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. Inbound marketing helps you engage them much earlier in the sales cycle. Thought leadership content can help raise your profile and shape the marketplace. Think of it as winning the air war.

Similarly, content marketing helps you extend the sales cycle beyond the actual purchase decision. If you can delight customers as well as close leads, you can turn them into advocates. Word of mouth endorsement is a very powerful sales tool. The right content can empower your customers to get more from your products. It also encourages repeat business.

With content marketing, the traditional AIDA model of the sales funnel gives way to the Attract-Convert-Close-Delight model.

Attract Convert Close Delight flowchart

Content marketing does the business

Research shows that inbound content marketing helps at every stage of the sales cycle:

  • Attract. Inbound marketing delivers 54 percent more leads into the funnel. Content such as ebooks are very effective. Call to actions promoting ebooks get almost twice the click through rate as emails promoting webinars. Blogs are also an essential element. B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads and B2C companies generate 88 percent more leads
  • Convert. Landing pages with persona-targeted copy are a smart way to convert leads into customers. The more, the better. Businesses with 31 to 40 landing pages got seven times more leads than those with only one to five landing pages.
  • Close. Lead-nurturing emails and a drip feed of relevant content helps to convince leads to buy. In fact, nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
  • Delight. Social media monitoring and how-to guides can turn customers from ‘users’ into ‘champions’.

Measuring the return on investment

To build a business case for content-driven inbound marketing, you need to show that it will generate a better return on investment than traditional methods. ‘Half my advertising is effective, but I don’t know which half’, goes the old Madison Avenue joke. But a staggering 34 percent of businesses do not calculate ROI at all.

This is another area where content marketing shines. It focuses on things that you can control and measure, such as landing pages, calls to action, your social media pages, your website and your content. This means that you can measure the effort required to do it and the results it creates.

With tools like HubSpot, you can link your lead nurturing activity directly to your CRM system. Qualified leads just drop into the CRM system ready for a sales call. This allows you to calculate the cost of each qualified lead precisely.

No wonder that 41 percent of marketers confirm that inbound produces measurable ROI and 82 percent of marketers who blog see positive ROI for inbound, content-driven marketing.

Sometimes these results can be remarkable: Marketers who have implemented inbound marketing strategies see even greater website conversion rates than the industry average, and they reach almost double the conversion rate of non-inbound marketers, from 6 percent to 12 percent. Imagine what doubling your conversion rate would do for your business.

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Cheat sheet: we’re giving away our proofreading checklist

Proofreading checklist mistake

Proofreading. Not the most exciting job in the world, but an absolutely necessary one.

We’ve covered before what happens when you miss a typo (that’s right, the errorists win). Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier to turn out entirely perfect copy. And if you work for a marketing agency, delivering clumsy copy to a client reflects badly on both you and your copywriters.

But you’re in luck: we at Articulate Marketing are sharing our Proofreading checklist with you to make life a little easier. (Just click the link).

Why you need a proofreading checklist

Randall Davidson wrote on here about the five secrets of better proofreading, but a lot of people tend to get stuck at number one: create a checklist. He’s not the only one to put it atop the list, and with good reason. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how can you expect to find it?

Proofreading isn’t just about spotting spelling mistakes or dodgy grammar: it’s about that final chance to make the copy shine a little brighter and the headlines punch a little harder.

What to look for as you read

Our single-page cheat sheet is divided into headings that cover different topics to focus on each time you read through your copy. (Yes, you most certainly have to read through it more than once). We also cover some basic techniques for making proofreading that little bit easier.

The following are the areas where we prioritise our proofreading:

  • Readability
  • Consistency checks
  • Words to avoid
  • Headline tips
  • Sharpen up
  • Grammar

Each topic has a subset of specific things for you to look for or eliminate so that you end up with truly outstanding copy.

And no, you can’t just rely on spellchecker…

…and this wonderful poem explains why.

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