Category Archives: Writing

5 Ways to Earn Links in 2018

When other websites or blogs link to your content, it feels really good; it’s flattering to think that one of your readers enjoyed the content enough to share it with others.

But earning links is about more than just good feelings. It’s actually an important part of effective content marketing. Consider:

  • Backlinks lend prestige and respectability to your content; they make it more likely for other readers to find and to trust
  • Backlinks also enhance your online brand. They cast you as a thought leader and an industry expert.
  • Finally, backlinks are critical SEO ranking factors. As you accrue links from authoritative websites, it helps your standings in Google.

Building backlinks should be a priority in every content marketing strategy—but it’s important to note that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it.

Black Hat and White Hat Approaches

In fact, all link building efforts can be boiled down to two basic categories—black hat and white hat.

  • Black hat tactics ignore Google’s stated guidelines; the most common black hat tactic is buying links outright. This is dishonest and can actually lead to SEO penalties.
  • White hat tactics consist of actually earning your backlinks through valuable content and real relationships. These tactics comply with Google’s stated guidelines.

As you consider link building strategies, remember that there are no short cuts—not really. Buying backlinks will cause your SEO rankings to take a dive. The best way to pursue backlinks is by earning them, fair and square. The question is how.

5 Tips for Earning Backlinks

We recommend a few simple tactics:

  1. Write content that’s worth linking to. Make sure you’re producing high-quality content that offers helpful, practical information to your audience. If the content is flimsy, irrelevant to the target reader, or overly promotional, nobody’s going to want to link to it—plain and simple.
  2. Don’t stop at written content. Written content, like blogs, is incredibly important—foundational, even. But as you create this content, spin it into infographics and video content, as well. A broader, richer content profile can help you attract more backlinks.
  3. Ensure that some of your content is evergreen. It’s fine to write about industry trends or headlines, but also make sure you’re producing some content that won’t age or become obsolete—such as glossaries, guides, and compendiums. This is the kind of content that tends to win links most readily.
  4. Engage in influencer marketing. Using social media, form relationships with some of the key influencers in your industry, including prominent bloggers or social media personalities. If you can get their attention, and in turn they share some of your content, that could be huge for your link-building efforts.
  5. Don’t forget about press releases. Sending out regular press releases helps keep your content in front of local or industry-specific publications, which can often win you the links you’re seeking.

These simple tips provide the basis of a sound link building campaign—but of course, they are easier said than done. Building the right kind of content takes time and skill, but Grammar Chic, Inc. can help. Our writers have ample expertise writing across myriad industries, and we know how to create content that’s link-worthy.

Schedule a consultation with our writing team today. Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Press Release Writing, Social Media, Web Content, Writing

Nobody’s Opening Your Marketing Emails. Here’s Why.

Email marketing is growing in its popularity and in its prevalence—but that doesn’t necessarily mean that marketers know what they’re doing. It’s as possible as ever to sink a lot of money into an email marketing campaign and get nothing out of it whatsoever.

This can happen for a few different reasons—poor tracking and lead capturing, unclear goals, or email content that doesn’t deliver any benefit to the reader. An even more fundamental and common problem is that marketing emails never get opened in the first place, either winding up in spam folders or in the trashcan.

Of course, a marketing email that’s never opened is a total waste of your ad dollars—so if you find that your open rate is criminally low, it’s good to ask yourself why that might be.

Here are some of the most common reasons.

Mysterious Subject Lines

Have you ever received an email from an unknown sender with a vague or cryptic subject line, and opened it out of pure curiosity? Probably not. Most of us only take the time to open emails when we know there’s something inside that we need to see. Your email’s subject lines should promise clear value; they should spell out what the email is about and why readers should care. A mysterious subject line is almost never a good one.

Wasting Space and Wasting Time

Do you reveal your business name in the sender line, the subject line, and then the opening sentence of each email you send? That’s redundant; it’s a waste of space; and, most critically, it’s a waste of your reader’s time. People don’t have a lot of time to read emails that don’t offer immediate value, so use your space wisely. Avoid vain repetition.

All About You

We’re constantly seeing emails with an opening sentence like this: “I wanted you to be the first to know about the new business I’m launching.” Or: “We have a new e-book on the way, and I wanted you to be the first to hear about it.” Look: Nobody really cares what you want. Your email readers want to know what’s in it for them. Marketing emails should focus on benefits, benefits, and benefits—period. Get to those benefits right away.

Names in Subject Lines

Have you ever received an email with your name in the subject line? If not, it’s because such emails have all ended up in your spam folder. Because only spammers use this tactic. Again, don’t waste space in your subject line with things your reader already knows. Get straight to the point, and to the value.

Write Emails That Get Read—and Get Results

Value-focused subject lines are an important start if you want your marketing emails to be read—and our team can help you create them. Grammar Chic, Inc. offers a full range of email marketing services, from content development to execution to tracking and reports. We’d love to talk with you about the value we can offer. Contact us today to schedule a consultation: 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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10 Calls to Action That Will Get People Clicking

Every page of your website should have a call to action on it—whether it’s the home page, a blog post, or a product landing page.

There are a few different reasons for this. One, it helps with the user experience; you can effectively guide your site visitors through the sales funnel and help them reach their destination. Two, it helps boost conversions. You can’t simply assume people will know to call you and schedule an appointment or click a link to buy your product; you’ve got to ask them to do it. That’s what the call to action is all about.

The Elements of a Strong Call to Action

It’s important to note, however, that not all calls to action are created equal. In most cases, a good CTA will have each of these components in place:

  • Brevity; most calls to action are just a sentence or two.
  • Strong action words; generally speaking, you’ll want your CTA to begin with a forceful verb.
  • Value proposition; explain the reasons why your reader should take the desired action. What’s in it for them?
  • Contact information; assuming you’re asking someone to call you, make sure your CTA gives them the phone number!

With that said, what are some examples of good, compelling, persuasive calls to action that you can use as models? Here are some tried and true CTAs that are worthy of emulation.

Steal These Calls to Action

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Master the Art of the CTA

A strong call to action is the perfect capstone to your online content—and when done right, it can help you move the needle and generate more and more conversions. And if you’re still not sure how a CTA fits into your content equation, don’t fret. Get the help you need writing CTAs that convert; contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net.

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3 Ways Google’s SERP Changed Last Year—And What It Means for Your Business

Google is constantly tweaking its search engine algorithms—and often, those changes are plainly evident from the search engine results page (SERP) itself.

Why is the SERP such a work in progress? Simple: Google wants to provide its users with the best product possible—that is, quick, relevant, practical answers to their search queries. And it’s constantly devising new ways to make that product just a little bit more appealing.

The downside for business owners is that there’s a lot of fluctuation to keep up with. The SEO efforts that worked in years past may not work as well today. In fact, 2017 saw a few significant changes to the SERP—and those changes all have some implications for small business marketing efforts.

PPC ads take up more of the SERP than ever before.

There was a time when the SERP was occupied mostly by organic search listings—the kind of listings you could attain through the right mix of content marketing and SEO. But today, paid ads are placed more prominently than ever before. Users have to scroll further down the SERP before they even arrive at organic listings; meanwhile, PPC ads have infiltrated parts of the SERP they never appeared previously, such as the Google Map Pack.

Does this mean SEO and content marketing are dead? Far from it. It just means that a comprehensive approach is needed. If you want to blanket as much of the SERP as possible, you can’t rely solely on organic listings or on paid ads. You really need a strategy that encompasses both, and balances them appropriately.

If you’re not already augmenting your content marketing efforts with PPC, make 2018 the year you really get a handle on ad bidding, targeting, and copywriting.

Featured snippets occupy prime SERP real estate.

Another important change? Google wants to empower users to get the answers they seek from the SERP itself—without actually having to click through to a link. One way this is evident is in the rise of featured snippets.

You’ve probably seen these before, even if you didn’t realize what they were called. Have you ever done a Google search, and had the SERP give you a direct answer, in the form of a little “answer box” appearing just above the organic search listings?

These are featured snippets, and they occupy the “zero position” on the SERP—coveted online real estate. Getting your content to rank in the zero position can be a major boost to your brand visibility.

This is a tough thing to attain, but not impossible. The best bet is to format your content in the form of a bulleted list, a table, or a Q&A—especially when it comes to more fact-based and objective subject matter. Remember, Google wants to provide quick, clear, authoritative answers to its users, and it’s in your best interests to help it do so.

More people are arriving at the SERP through voice search.

We’ve blogged before about voice search, which is quickly becoming the most popular way to search for content on Google. But as more and more search engine users arrive at the SERP via Siri or Alexa, it’s important for your content to accommodate them.

Again, a lot of it comes down to formatting—with bulleted lists and Q&A formats being especially useful. Also remember to write your content in a conversational style that reflects the way real voice searches are done. A traditional Google search might be phrased like this: Jimmy Kimmel age. But with voice search, you’re more likely to ask: How old is Jimmy Kimmel? For content to rank well for these voice-based queries, it’s important to emulate that casual style.

Making Sense of the New SERP

As you seek to get your content ranked on this new and ever-changing SERP, don’t hesitate to seek guidance. Grammar Chic, Inc. has diverse experience in content marketing, and we always have the latest SEO strategies in mind. We’d love to consult with you about your content marketing and Google search needs. Reach out at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

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How to Write Emails That Move the Sales Needle

It’s easy to send an email—and it can cost you basically nothing. Your company can send a limitless number of marketing emails, hoping for the best—but if that’s the approach you take, you’ll find that your emails fall on deaf ears. In fact, you’ll probably find that they never get opened at all.

Just because emails are perceived as cheap and mundane doesn’t mean you should be careless in how you send them. With the right approach, marketing emails can be more than just inbox filler. They can actually move your sales needle and improve your bottom line.

How? By accomplishing a few things:

  1. First, your emails actually have to be opened and read.
  2. Your emails need to go to the right people.
  3. Your emails need to offer something of value.
  4. Finally, your emails need to earn the trust of each recipient.

Maybe that sounds like a tall order, but with the right email marketing strategy, these goals are totally attainable. Here’s how.

Get Your Subject Line Right

Remember, your marketing emails won’t accomplish anything if they don’t get read. And that largely comes down to the subject line. Your subject line sets the tone and establishes the first impression for each email you send—and a good subject line will entice the recipient to explore your message. That’s how you get your emails to be opened and read.

So what does a good subject line look like? For one thing, it’s succinct. According to one study, the best length for an email subject line is four words. Does that mean every email you send needs to have a four-word subject line? No—but you should definitely shoot for brevity.

As for the substance of your subject lines, make sure you avoid clichés. Emoji and overtly salesy language tend not to grab anyone’s attention. Instead, convey the value of your message. What does it say, or what kind of offer does it include? How will the recipient be better off for opening your message?

That’s what you should convey in your subject line—in as brief and punchy a way as you can.

Send Your Emails to the Right People

Another key to getting your emails opened and read is to make sure they go to the right people. Before you hit send, know who you’re sending to.

Accomplish this by keeping a well-curated email list. There are different ways to do this. Maybe you have lists for low-quality and high-quality leads; for returning customers and new leads. At Grammar Chic, Inc., we have distinct aspects of our business—resume writing and content marketing, for example—where the subject matter overlap is pretty minimal. Thus, we maintain separate email lists, only sending resume-related stuff to jobseekers, not to our friends who work in marketing.

Well-curated email lists are key for ensuring that, when someone receives your message, it contains something that speaks to them.

Make Your Emails Valuable

Finally, your emails must earn the trust of each recipient. To put it another way, you need to show that you respect your recipient’s time. Remember that the people who receive your emails probably receive a ton of messages over the course of the day. They have little patience for something that simply hogs space in their inbox. Rather than sending them a bunch of cursory messages day in and day out, send messages judiciously—and make sure each one really counts.

And to make a message count, you need to make sure it offers something of value. Value, of course, can come in many different forms—among them:

  • An offer for a white paper, guide, or other downloadable offer
  • A discount code or coupon
  • A first look at a new product or service, before it’s been unveiled anywhere else
  • Carefully curated, value-adding clips from your company blog

The bottom line? Don’t waste anyone’s time. Give them something that speaks to their needs and shows that you’re looking out for them—not just trying to hock your wares.

Write Emails That Improve Your Bottom Line

Good emails don’t just get read; they convert, in one way or another. As such, they can actually move your sales needle. We’d love to show you more about how that’s done. Reach out to Grammar Chic’s email marketing experts for a consultation. Call us at 803-831-7444, or visit our website at www.grammarchic.net.

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The Bride’s Guide to Thank You Notes

We recently made our case for thank you notes—arguing that, far from being antiquated or out of date, thank you notes remain vital ways of extending gratitude and friendship. They are especially relevant during this, the season of giving and receiving gifts.

Of course, Christmas is not the only reason why you might pen a thank you note. Another reason? You’ve recently gotten married, and have a whole stack of notes to send out for all those wedding gifts you received.

This can be daunting. Let us say from the onset that we do not recommend skipping out on thank you note writing. When you get a gift, you should take the time to write a brief note; failure to do so is just rude.

As for the nuts and bolts of post-wedding thank you notes, here are some quick tips and pointers.

Writing Thank You Notes After Your Wedding

Don’t be late! The good news is that you have plenty of time to get all your wedding thank you notes written; etiquette dictates that, so long as you get them all mailed before your one-year anniversary, you’re in good shape. Why not set aside one evening a week to write thank you notes, and write maybe 10 in each sitting? You’ll blaze through ‘em in no time!

Get the names right. There’s nothing more awkward than botching the name of a wedding guest who you really don’t know very well. If you’re not sure about the spelling of a name, always check with a friend or loved one who knows the person better!

Include the children. If someone brings their kids to the wedding, and the gift is said to be from the whole family, the kids need to be included in the thank you note. Again, double check spellings if you’re unsure.

Try to remember who was actually at your wedding. “Thank you for your presence on our special day” is an odd thing to tell someone who wasn’t actually at the ceremony, and simply mailed you their gift. If you’re at all unsure about whether the person was present on your big day, skip this part of the card.

Personalize! A thank you note doesn’t need to be more than a few short sentences, so don’t feel like you have to write a book within each one—but do go into some specifics. “Thank you for the wonderful gift” feels generic. Make note of what the gift is, how you’ve used it, what it reminds you of, etc.

Don’t mention dollar amounts. Phrases like “thank you for the $200 Target gift card” are just not necessary. Focus on people and on gratitude, not on money.

Don’t show favoritism. Don’t slip a wedding portrait into one card if you can’t do it for all of them.

Don’t type your cards. Handwritten is always the way to go.

As we said in our previous post, the real focus should be on sincerity. Take just a couple of sentences to express your deep, personal thanks; that’s all you have to do!

For help with any writing needs, reach out to the Grammar Chic team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Are Thank You Notes a Thing of the Past?

Pretty soon, you’ll be unwrapping boxes and reveling in gifts—but as you do so, don’t forget to thank the gift giver. There is no better way of doing so than by penning a thank you note.

Yes, the thank you note—once a staple of American social etiquette, today relegated to history books and Jimmy Fallon bits. According to recent research, some 75 percent of Americans believe thank you notes to be antiquated and obsolete—though it’s worth noting that this leaves a full quarter of Americans who still expect a thank you note when they give a gift.

At Grammar Chic, we are decidedly pro thank you note. Speaking personally, my mother always carved out time for thank you notes in the aftermath of Christmas and birthdays, and would stand looking over my shoulder until the notes were completed.

They may not be “necessary,” according to most Americans, but they are polite—and what’s more, they are simple and easy ways to show kindness, to express gratitude, and to help gift givers know that they affected you in some way. People won’t always remember how you thanked them in person, but they will remember a sincere and well-constructed note of gratitude.

Consider thank you note writing this holiday season—and as you do so, use these tips to ensure that your thank you notes resonate.

Writing the Perfect Thank You Note

  • A thank-you note should always be handwritten. Remember that the whole point of this is to provide personal expressions of gratitude, and something you type loses some of that human touch.
  • Generally, it’s good manners to mail your thank you note within a week of receiving a gift. The exception is a scenario where you receive a lot of gifts at one time, like a wedding or a baby shower, in which case more time is permitted.
  • The stationery you choose matters! A nice piece of writing paper adds panache to your thank you note, and turns it into something the recipient will truly treasure.
  • Begin your note with a greeting, conveying who you’re thanking.
  • Start your message with “thank you,” and keep things fairly brief from there. Convey a few specifics if you can, making it clear that the message is personalized—not boilerplate.
  • End your thank you note by telling the person you look forward to seeing them again soon, and state your thanks once more before signing your name.

Above all, be sweet and sincere—and if you have any specific questions about proper thank you note form, reach out to our team! Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. for any of your seasonal writing needs: www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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