Surprising facts showing why eyeball-grabbing content matters 7 days ago

Grammar, punctuation, schedules…they make up the skeleton of great content, but not its heart. Just producing content isn’t enough any more – even grammatically correct, easy to digest copy. As I’ve written before, there’s a great deal more to an effective copywriting strategy than simply following a set routine of blog posts, newsletters, website updates and the rest. The rules of marketing are morphing all the time, so why does so much business content still trail behind? Content needs to go far beyond being palatable, jargon-free or pleasant to read. It’s a whole new world out there. Enticing content matters. I’ve shared just a few reasons why in the infographic below (just click on it to view a larger version).

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, July 2015

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Why the unstoppable rise of emoji is good news for written content 22 days ago

Does the sight of emoticons or emoji make you :(?

Whatever your reaction, it’s impossible to ignore the rise and rise of the little icons. Now they’ve come to marketing. According to this very recent Adweek article, “Brands have hit peak emoji mania”! So why on earth would a copywriter (and long-time lover of words, if my worn-out library card is anything to go by) suggest that those strange little winky faces are of similar value to words? The popularity of the emoji seems to have accompanied the recent surge in visual content. While on a superficial level, it looks as though emojis are replacing the written word, it’s more complex than that in marketing terms.

Smiley face?

First of all, if you’re wondering about the difference between emojis and emoticons, here’s a helpful guide from the Guardian.

I know it may seem strange to hear a copywriter say that emojis matter. After all, words are what I do. But I’m a copywriter who wants her clients to keep up with the changing world of marketing. That means staying in touch with what’s new and relevant. Which is exactly what emojis are. Whether they’re growing in profile by helping New Yorkers to commute, looking like a new way for you to get to your cash or even helping a tennis star earn some extra kudos, emojis are well and truly here.

Faster than the speed of words?

But how did we get here in the first place? This article from the Guardian takes an interesting look at the phenomenon:

“The figure that caught my eye was the dramatic drop in our average attention span, which is now only around eight seconds. This may explain the meteoric rise of another digital phenomenon: the emoji.”

Emojis reflect the changing way people respond to what they read (or rather, scan) online and elsewhere. Those little icons are a kind of emotional short-hand in a world crammed with written content. So the business using emojis effectively could actively distinguish itself from its competitors. I’m not advocating replacing all written content with emojis, but I am suggesting taking a judicious look at how emojis could enhance your content and copywriting strategy.

The disturbing truth about the psychology of emojis

The emoji is a lot cleverer than it first appears. Apparently it reflects our need to connect with others. This fascinating article talks about the psychology behind emojis:

“Scientists have discovered that when we look at a smiley face online, the same parts of the brain are activated as when we look at a real human face. Our mood changes, and we might even alter our facial expressions to match the emotion of the emoticon.

What’s really interesting is that this is not something we’re born with as babies. It’s something our brains have developed in the last few years with the emergence of emoticons and emojis. Essentially, social media culture has created a new brain pattern within us.”

The article suggests that emoticons and emojis are taking our hard-wired response to faces to a whole new level! As my favourite science aficionado would tell me, it’s always worth considering this kind of thing with a large pinch of sodium chloride, but even so, it does seem to fit. The visual image has power. The image of the face has even more power. And who doesn’t want to evoke this kind of positive emotional response in their customers? Conclusion: our brains are being rewired by social media. The way people perceive products and services is changing, but are companies keeping up?

A visual tone of voice

Does this all mean the death of the written word? Of course not. But as I’ve written before, visual content is on the rise – and written content should work alongside it. Tone of voice is a big part of great marketing content. You could argue that emojis are a tone of voice all of their own, indicating immediacy, accessibility and friendliness. It’s a language more and more people are talking.

Stay relevant

For the right kind of audience, using emojis in your content can immediately signal your relevance. However, I can foresee a time when they’re over-used in marketing in the way that hashtags are starting to be.

Get noticed quicker

As humans, we can’t resist the visual. Using emojis alongside written content could help to get your message out there with more immediacy.

Access all areas

It’s sad that accessibility is still something many companies downplay in their content and copywriting strategy. On a related note, my Twitter friends will probably be aware that I have a near pathological hatred for Comic Sans. Yet, it has been suggested by many that this much-maligned font makes content easier to read for people with dyslexia.

While this isn’t the case (as far as I know) for emojis, there is definitely an argument for it helping to make content more accessible for all kinds of audiences. A few years ago, I was involved with developing an online resource for young people. One big aspect of the design was an emphasis on icons. When they’re well-chosen and well-placed, icons simplify content and strip away confusion. I’m all for written content doing this, so why not make the most of other ways of achieving it?

Think user-friendly

Accessibility also links with another advantage of emojis: usability. A cleverly applied emoji can make content more usable and immediate.

But no, all this doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about written content…

With all these advantages, it makes sense to use the emoji in a way which is relevant to your business – alongside written content! Embracing visual content effectively can also strengthen your written copy. The essential thing here is relevance. Is the emoji right for your audience? Potential uses include:

- Text messages: alerts for appointments, updates
- Social media: sharing good news
- Printed content: direct mail postcard for reminders or updates
- Blog posts: headers, routes to your main messages.

A word of caution

That’s not to say that using emojis is completely risk-free. Shortening and simplifying any kind of message can create room for confusion. We’ve probably all experienced the issues caused by misinterpreting a text message! Scroll down the page on this light hearted analysis to see a humorous take on the potential misinterpretations caused by emojis. Another possible danger is that of coming across as too casual. Like all content – visual and written – your use of the emoji needs to be considered, appropriate and strategic, rather than just done for its own sake.

The emoji as disruptor

It won’t be long before the emoji becomes commonplace in marketing, but right now, using it cleverly could mark you out as a disruptor in your industry.

Copywriting blasphemy?

So, have I committed one of the biggest copywriting crimes – promoting images over words? No, because I think the positive values of the emoji are in tune with those of effective copywriting: accessibility, immediacy and emotional connection. Don’t we all want to create content that makes people :)?

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, July 2015

Image credit: Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

5 of the world's most embarrassing content errors of 2015 (so far) 42 days ago

Ah, the error – that tiny detail which can send an entire marketing message crumbling down. Now that it’s easy to share content, whether it’s in tweets, app notifications or blogs, the humble typo can really do dreadful things for a brand. As we’re halfway through the year, it’s time to take a look at some of the most embarrassing content mistakes of 2015 so far…

1. The amphibious sportsman

No wonder this newspaper error went large both in social media and in the press. It’s a classic.

2. A world of confusion

While not strictly a marketing content mistake, this erroneous airport sign caused a great deal of amusement. It has since been taken down.

3. An unfortunate slip

It was just a slip of the keyboard in a marketing notification from a dating app. Yet the public response shows the potential offence which can lie within one content error.

4. “And the award for embarrassment goes to…”

Red faces must have abounded when this widely publicised medal mistake went viral!

5. A bit of a boob

This well intentioned tweet from O2 gained lots of attention for all the wrong reasons, thanks to just one extra letter…

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, June 2015

Image courtesy of Raumrot

3 marketing facts showing that the way we consume content is changing 42 days ago

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We all know that marketing never sleeps, but these new facts and stats give a great insight into what’s happening with content right now…

1. One in every four online minutes are spent on social media.

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The shift has happened. Social media – not so long ago the niche playground of early adopters and the curious – is now mainstream. So what does this statistic tell us about the changing way in which people consume content? Social media relies on the powerful heading, the punchy one-liner and a content destination strong enough to attract clicks. Online explorers are hungry for content which answers their questions quickly! Another big content driver for social media is opinion. As I blogged recently, User-Generated Content is here to stay. Customer opinion on products and services matters more than ever. Savvy businesses are already using customer feedback to create more connections with their target audience. The message is clear: any company underestimating the impact of social media – and of content within that – is underselling itself.

2. Mobile apps now account for more than half of all time spent on digital media.

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According to this infographic sourcing research by Go-Globe, mobile apps now account for more than half of all time spend on digital media! There’s no doubt that branded content is growing in popularity. This statistic also suggests customers are willing to invest time and energy in the brands they trust. Looks like content will continue to play a key role in nurturing relationships between companies and their audiences for a long time to come! Another message from this statistic is that customers are more and more comfortable using branded channels to access the information they need. Again, great content (both written and visual) is an essential factor in both establishing and maintaining these kinds of connections.

3. Companies with an active blog generate 67% more leads per month.

Blogging is big. It’s been clear for some time that an active blog is an effective lead generator, but this latest statistic shows just how far people have come in actively consuming blog content. Of course, it all depends on the quality of your content, but again the stat speaks loudly: by answering the concerns of your audience, you create trust which then creates buy-in.

The bottom line? The growing appetite for content across different channels is generating interesting new opportunities for proactive businesses.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, June 2015

Why the perfect time to review your content is now 54 days ago

Image for copywriting blog post by Camilla Zajac

Holidays, time away, staff off… summer stretches ahead of us! At first glance, the season of breaks and uncertain sunshine may not seem like the right time to review your marketing content or copywriting strategy. But there are actually some great reasons why now is the perfect time of year to do just that!

1. Clients away?

Clients gone quiet? No wonder, with work holidays, school holidays and people taking time off pursue their passion for llama racing. Make the most of it and look at what’s working (and what’s not) for your communications! This is also a great opportunity to set new approaches in action. While your clients are off, you can start putting your new improved communications plan into place!

2. Left behind by Mobilegeddon?

Were you too busy to prepare for Mobilegeddon? Now that the rumblings of worry about Google’s algorithm changes are dying away, this is a great time to look at what you’re planning to do with your website. As this post wisely points out, Mobilegeddon is a sign of things to come rather than just being a one-off phenomenon. So there’s all the more reason to use this summer as a valuable time for updating your content.

3. Ready for a break?

This may well be holiday season for a lot of people, but the next season is only just around the corner. Now is the ideal stage to get ahead with a review of your marketing content so that everything’s set up once the “new term” starts. Can you believe that we’re already halfway through the year? Content-wise, what has really worked for your business so far? How can you make the most of successful approaches and adapt the ones that just aren’t winning the response you want?

4. Quiet news season?

Is this a quiet news month for you? Why not take this time to look at your content strategy rather than at the detail and identify new ways to reach your customers? One example of this is spending a little less time on your regular blog and considering how to make more of all of your blog content through email marketing and social media. A quiet time for news can be a great time to look at your long-term plans. So sit back, relax and start seeing even more potential in your marketing content!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, June 2015

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