There’s an overload of businesses sending unnecessary emails about the New Zealand Covid-19 alert level change.
May I suggest we simply put something on the website home page?
And telephone anyone who’s coming in for a meeting.
And maybe the team add a note to their email signatures….
Covid Alert Email – is it necessary?
The customer is SMART
Interrupting with email is not respectful of people’s time… they will probably guess what you’ll be doing because, let’s face it, compliance has been exemplary through lockdown.
Virtue signalling emails are self-serving and easy to see through. Do you really need to send that message?
Our clients and customers aren’t stupid.
One of my clients sells PPE gear – for them this email is useful – because they can communicate product stock levels and ordering information to bulk-buying customers who are probably already working on stocking up.
Be sensible, just think it through from the recipient’s point of view.
One thing to DO NOW
Update your Google Business Listing status. There’s already a Covid notification “post” option.
Good. Sorted in 10 minutes work.
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https://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Alert-note.png3921200Rebecca Caroehttps://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2020-08-12 15:23:052020-08-12 15:23:05Please NOT another covid email
I wrote down each colour hash on a post-it note and had it above my desk. Every time I was writing or designing, I manually wrote out the colour hash. My copying skills are all right – but the potential for a single digit error was high – particularly when I was in a rush.
And so I decided that a change was needed. Electronic copying rather than visual copy-typing was needed.
But again, having a document I had to find and open and copy and paste was a bore. You get the idea. Time consuming eh?
My big insight
I realised that my emailing programme was the place where I used these colour hashes most frequently.
And so I edited the newsletter template to include a segment where each and every colour and its associated hash is listed.
Creative Agency Secrets logo hex colours
The time saving design outcome
Now whenever I need to get the colour shade I want, I can copy it from the template block into the area where it’s needed. Remove the hash text and bingo!
The only thing to remember is to remove the block from the final email design before sending.
I write a lot. Words, words, words. Each project is designed to fit into a particular desired outcome within a marketing strategy and tactical framework. I say that so you understand context.
Context in writing is both important and valuable – but more about that later.
My actual pen and notes for B2B copywriting
How I write marketing copy
Getting a message across using printed words (as opposed to audio, images or video) is a giant challenge. Knowing how long humans have been writing, you’d think that everything that could have been written has been. And yet…. we know that’s not true. The imagination and skill of mankind to innovate is immense.
My writing is usually business to business copywriting for marketing purposes. That’s my area of expertise. And so the steps I take begin with the outcome. What do I want to happen as a result of a prospect or client reading what I’ve written?
End goal is to click through to website
End goal is to understand how to write B2B copy
End goal is to reply with a question
These examples are all valid outcomes and each requires very different copy treatments.
The first version is always factual
What are the true, inalienable facts that support the end goal? I list these in a brain dump document. Frequently these are the result of conversations with the client, the internal team and existing customers.
Then I supplement this with some desk research. Reading ‘around the subject’ can come from many sources – newsletters, online magazines, blogs, books. Interestingly, I rarely search social media for this information. My choice – it may suit your needs. The amazing Knowledge Hunter, Geoff McDowell, taught me so much about this subject.
Adding more copy material
From the wider reading I copy/paste and add in more themes, concepts, nuance, examples, phrases and keywords. I also look out for no-nos. These are things I want to avoid.
Sometimes images, colours, layouts and other visual elements present themselves from this research too. That can be very helpful as my brain often leaps forward towards the end result WAY earlier than it’s supposed to. To avoid distraction, I save and note these ideas back in the research document. By noting them, I have preserved the idea; but I’m not focusing on them at this stage. It means I don’t lose the inspiration – I can revive that thought later just by re-reading my notes.
This all contributes to a second draft. This is when I decide the overall frame for the project and HOW does this translate into the copywriting. This could be storytelling, it could be demonstration, case study, questioning, educating. There is a lot more information added, there are more concepts and overall I just write freely incorporating the research information and framing arguments, emotions and logic into one long piece of writing.
This is the place where context comes to the fore. How will the message be delivered, what will the recipient be doing or not doing? Where in the customer journey will they be? What is the outcome or next step goal in this campaign?
Editing and refining copy
This is the part I love.
Precise and concise are watchwords which I hope any client applies to a testimonial about my business copywriting.
Taking what I wrote and simplifying, cutting, removing extraneous information and honing it down into a tight, precise and well-organised message is a repetitive task and it gives me so much pleasure. Sometimes I use a technique of adding in sub-headings (as in this blog) because it helps me to organise and find the big messages in the very long copy.
Often I leave the first opening paragraph until last because it’s so hard. Sometimes I switch the first and last paragraphs – try it!
Headlines and calls to action are a separate challenge and I may do a couple of different versions or give options and let the client choose. This is because they are mostly better-informed about their product or service than I am. Teamwork helps work out what will resonate and achieve the goal.
And then I sleep on it
Yes this is really the final step before showing it to the client, adding it to a mock-up or an EDM. This is important and is one reason why planning at the first step needs to include deadlines and allowances for sleep time.
7 things I’ve appreciated after sleeping on my work
My brain is fresher in the morning
I process ideas while resting
Better re-writes are (nearly always) possible
I can check that I haven’t missed anything out [done this MANY times – but rescued the situation before the client read it]
Reflect on alternative approaches which I earlier discarded
Opportunity to print it onto paper and read out loud
Check grammar, punctuation, capitalisations and links all working and correctly placed
And that’s it. The whole creative writing process for B2B copy.
About the picture illustrating this article.
That’s really my pen and my notebook, photographed this morning as I got a tiny bit of inspiration for a client as a result of doing some research for a different client. It’s odd the way my brain works. And I have learned to respect my brain process and to always seize the moment and make the notes when they jump into my mind. I don’t have to use them – but I’m sure I will lose them if they aren’t captured.
I do not have the neatest handwriting, yet using blue-black ink in an old-fashioned fountain pen gives me both pleasure and the chance to read my words again without guessing what I meant to write. Someday I’ll photograph some of my notes which turn out to be illegible even to me. Generally when I rush to write, legibility suffers.
The unknown part of writing inspiration
The pen also lives in a leather case. My ritual of opening the case flap and flicking back the long cover, unsheathing the pen and unscrewing its lid before writing still gives me a frisson. I never know exactly what will come out of the inky nib onto that pristine sheet of paper, onto the next empty line, or inserted between the paragraphs of print.
And the pen – a birthday gift chosen with care while on holiday. I got the nib re-surfaced by this amazing pen expert who recommended not using ink cartridges. He also explained a lot about the issues of ink/paper and my unique hand/pressure and what a converter is, not a bladder. There is a distinction between them.
So now you know my B2B writing process. What will you do with this knowledge?
Take a look at your most recent email marketing campaign and review where people clicks and how many people clicked on each link.
I found that we were getting a lot of clicks in an unexpected place and we were able to correct that in our next campaign iteration. I also recommend a chrome extension which will help you appraise your website clicks.
https://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Click-analysis.png4241384Rebecca Caroehttps://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2020-05-19 16:41:092020-05-19 16:41:09Click Analysis to raise ROI
How frequently should you message your customers during the Covid-19 lockdown?
Google my Business has a new tab with Covid19 status for your business – useful to update folks if you are open or not.
And the new Facebook layout seems to have relaxed flood control for messenger.
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https://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttps://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2020-04-01 09:00:422020-03-30 18:15:20Messaging frequency in Covid19
https://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttps://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2020-03-26 15:30:382020-03-26 15:30:38Anatomy of a list building campaign
Today I received a GDPR email message from a LinkedIn connection – we are 1st degree connected. But because he’s in Europe, all his written electronic mass communications are now governed by GDPR – the European Union legislation General Data Protection Regulation.
The full email is reproduced below. Here is my analysis of why it’s such a nicely composed text. If you are in B2B marketing, I recommend taking a close look and deciding if this sort of annual review of your mailing list is appropriate.
Because we pay (mostly) for our email mass communications in a monthly fee calculated on the size of our mailing list, it’s worthwhile doing a “cull” to remove people who are either not reading your messages (since Gmail introduced the tabbed viewing this has increased for my list) or those who are no longer relevant to you or vice versa. It keeps your messaging tight and focused.
6 direct mail copywriting tips
The opener explains why – in large font. The subject line is “Why did we connect in the first place?” so I was intrigued to open it.
The addressee (me) is personalised.
The four points summarise Paul’s brand offering and gives me more reason to check out his current work.
Then he justifies continuing to mail me post-GDPR (not sure I buy this – but points for trying)
He gives permission to unsubscribe and suggests reasons why I should do this.
Lastly, in the footer he reminds me to update my LinkedIn contact preferences – a very nice touch
So here’s his article in which he explains what IDK means and here’s the list management options for future communications showing my selections.
I think this is clear and totally appropriate. Get in touch if you’d like me to review your mailing list strategies.
Email list marketing permission options
The Full Email Text
Rebecca, You are receiving this email because we are 1st. grade connected on LinkedIn.
“I did not have time to write a short note” sic. Mark Twain The words appeared in a letter [JRMT] 1871 June 15, Letter from Mark Twain to James Redpath, Elmira, New York
Was it because my profile caught you attention, or was it something in my Company page which appealed to you?
All good reasons and fine with me…, as these are my reasons too.
By connecting 1st grade you signed-in = pre GDPR opt-in – when accepting the connection request.
Your connection is as valuable to me as exchanging a business card containing all contact data during a life network event. A licence to contact… by phone, fax (I still remember), mobile phone (now WhatsApp), mail … This in order to set-up a business deal, meeting (now virtual) and social event… stay in contact.
And which is more, exchange or reach out for knowledge, an introduction, bring articles, whitepapers, books – all now with e- extension – which added to our success to each other’s attention and use. Shortcutting the learning curve, avoiding pitfalls, grow faster.
It is cumbersome to maintain contact with your network (it contains the verb …work) so here is how I do it: I am a giver – the golden rule in networking: give and not expect to be given – by sharing courtesy content, summits, introductions…. Proper GDPR set-up in place to safeguard and cherish our contact.
When your interest, position, business evolves, it is okay to: * Unsubscribe * or hit the * No longer interested *, * Unspecified * , * Other * (a reason appreciated) tab. No hard feelings!
But don’t throw * Did not sign up * back at me because you did – pre- GDPR – check your linked-in connection list.
It gets worse with * Inappropriate content *: how am I supposed to know things changed when you are not telling me, your once 1st linked-in chosen contact, what changed, what your interests are today… so Update your preference.
Having said this, I rest my case with respect for your decision and the consequence that our 1st connection will be discarded.
Best Personal Regards,
Paul Van den Brande
—We Never Forget You Have A Choice —
You are receiving this email because we connected on LinkedIn.
Our mailing address is:
Noble House Group
Max Hermanlei 74a
Add us to your address book
–We Never Forget You Have A Choice! —
Your GDPR safety requires you to update your preferences
GDPR Contact Paul Van den Brande – email@example.com
Your data will never be shared without prior information.
You can change your mind at any time using the unsubscribe from this list
No hard feelings!
I am a fan of email auto responders that send a pre-determined email reply out from your address. They can be very helpful for new business development as an information tool for prospective customers.
As ever, there are good and bad examples of automatic emails. Here are four examples we have received recently that can show you the best and worst examples. Most are from marketing and sales agencies / organisations and so the bad examples make me cry with shame….. there’s so much to improve.
Let’s get to work.
Example 1 – Failure Message
We got this after trying to email J Walter Thompson in Houston, TX. Their website didn’t list the office contacts so we used a directory called MacRae’s Blue Book. This is what came back from our email:
Directory Listings fail message
A request for contact that failed.
Check and update all the free listings services that have your company and office.
Create a unique email address so you can track effectiveness e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org would have worked here.
Contact yourself through them as a mystery shopping exercise at least once a year, preferably 6 monthly
Where do email enquiries go? Which phone number do they list and who answers it?
Email effectiveness 4/10
Example 2 -Zero Information
Membership organisation NYAMA (New York American Marketing Association) whose membership-based services are surely the profit engine for the organisation. But hey, send them a membership enquiry on their auto form and one week later [hardly an automatic response] this comes in:
Thank you for submitting this form
“Thank you for submitting this form.” Great – send me what I already know I sent you
What happens next? No mention of next steps towards becoming a member
Timeliness – this reply came back 5 days after we completed the online form
Email effectiveness 2/10
Example 3 – Inbound Emails
When you send an enquiry in to a company’s ‘general’ email whether by form on the website or direct, what happens to that email?
Everyone knows that spammers and malcontents will be using it too – so what reassurance can you give people that their message has got through?
Great information auto-response
This one came from a retail marketing agency fronted by a TV celebrity.
They have good information about what to expect from the agency, the celebrity and where to get more information free / cheap and also training
But the email came from one general email address – they need to split the contact so people interested in the celebrity and people interested in the agency are directed to different places.
We wrote back to confirm our interest in the agency and received the same auto-response again. Irritating.
Example 4 – the perfect first reply
And finally, a look at a nice, short friendly reponse from a media agency.
Perfect auto response email
The message gives a real person’s name as a point of contact
Sets clear expectations about what the agency will do next
Sounds genuinely friendly
Copy this one.
Autoresponders are a good tool to kick off your online marketing.
Simple. How many emails do you write daily? How many blog posts? You only have to write an autoresponder once. It will then go to as many new recipients as activate the trigger. Forever. It will always go out in the same time format that you set up at the start. It’s easy. You don’t have to think about it. And all the while it keeps up a relationship with your readers. Voilà.