Category Archives: Writing

This is How to Write a Compelling Email Subject Line—and Boost Your Open Rates

email-marketing

Report after report and study after study suggests that email is the most effective digital marketing tool.

So if you’re not seeing much of a benefit from your email marketing program, you’ve gotta wonder why.

Maybe the reason people aren’t responding to your emails is because they aren’t even opening them in the first place. Obviously, that’s a problem. A low open rate means your email marketing strategy is dead in the water.

Your open rate is even more significant than your total subscriber number. Think about it this way: Having 1,000 subscribers who all open your emails means much more exposure for your brand than having 6,000 subscribers but only a 2 percent open rate.

No question: You’ve got to get your emails opened. And the best way to do that is to tweak your subject lines—but how?

Tip #1: Make your subject lines longer.

Both the conventional wisdom and the natural instinct is to make your subject lines short and snappy. We’ve offered that very advice in the past. But one new study suggests that maybe longer—like, 60-70 characters, if not more—is the way to go.

Perhaps the rationale is simply this: When you’re working with just a couple of words, it’s hard to offer more than salesy platitudes and generalities. But if you give yourself more space, you can actually convey value and specificity to your readers.

So maybe it’s worth trying long subject lines for a while, just to see how they work.

Tip #2: Write in all lower case letters.

All caps screams of desperation, and can be pretty annoying. Mixing upper and lower case—you know, like you would in normal, everyday writing—is fine. But consider: a lot of the emails you get from your friends and family members probably come with all lower case subject lines.

Writing an all lower case subject line can convey intimacy and familiarity, then—and that’s not such a bad thing for your brand!

Tip #3: Provide value—but don’t give everything away.

As for the actual content of your subject lines, something we recommend is focusing on the value you offer—the benefits your email will provide—without getting into the specifics.

Show your readers what’s in it for them to open your email, but not necessarily how they’ll get it.

Example: Try a subject line that promises something like this: “Drive traffic to your website… and turn it into paying customers!”

You’re showing your readers exactly what they stand to gain from reading the email—but to learn how they’re going to gain it… through SEO, email marketing, or whatever else… they’ve got to open the email and read it.

Try some of these tips in your own email marketing—and see how your open rates improve. Talk with us about it by calling 803-831-7444, or visiting www.grammarchic.net.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Email Writing, Writing

4 Things That Will Guarantee your Emails Don’t Get Opened

newsletterBUTTON

Email marketing can pay off big time—but only if you do it right. And obviously, if you’re spending a lot of money on emails but not getting any of them opened by your target audience—if those emails go directly from inboxes to trashcans, contents unseen—then you’re doing little more than wasting money.

So what can you do to ensure that those emails get read? We’ve shared some email marketing best practices before. Today, what we’ll offer is a set of don’ts—some common email marketing elements that are sure to get your messages promptly deleted.

In other words, these are rookie errors—boneheaded mistakes—that will basically squander whatever effort you put into your email marketing campaign. Naturally, we recommend avoiding them at all costs!

Email Elements it Pays to Avoid

  1. Spelling and grammar errors. Yes, it sounds like common sense—but you’d be amazed at the number of business owners who take time to proof their messages but not their subject lines. If somebody receives an email from you and it’s got a glaring error in its subject heading, that immediately undercuts your authority—and all but guarantees your email gets rejected.
  2. Impersonal greetings. Here’s something else that can wreck your subject line—and thus, your entire email: A greeting that’s obviously impersonal and unspecific. Any message that comes with a title like Dear Sir or Madam will look like spam, and likely be treated as such.
  3. Spammy words. Along the same lines, spammy buzzwords located in your subject line will get your emails buried and your servers blacklisted. Avoid saying click here, % off, order now, sale ends at midnight—anything that clearly marks your marketing email as cheap or salesy.
  4. Bombast. Finally: Remember that a subject line is meant to be short and snappy. If your subject line lacks brevity, it may turn off busy readers who’d rather you get straight to the point.

There is plenty you can do to make email marketing a more effective tool for your business—but also plenty you shouldn’t do. Keep these tips in mind as you strive to achieve email marketing success.

For help crafting an effective email marketing campaign, contact the Grammar Chic team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

2 Comments

Filed under Email Writing, Writing

5 Signs You’ve Hired a Bad Writing Company

caution-bad-hire

More and more small business owners are outsourcing their content writing needs to the pros—which is smart and sensible, but also potentially dangerous. There are multiple writing companies out there but not all are created equal. It’s important to know some of the signs of a less-than-reputable writing company so that you can avoid getting burned.

To some extent, of course, these things will be obvious: A company with a real office and a full staff of salaried writers—like Grammar Chic!—is going to come with a bit more prestige, professionalism, and reliability than a lone guy who operates a freelance company out of his mom’s basement. (With no offense intended to anyone who writes in his mom’s basement.)

Beyond that, consider some of the telltale signs that the writing company you have hired is less than legitimate.

#1. There’s no consultation.

Our basic philosophy at Grammar Chic: We probably know more about writing than you do, and you probably know more about your business than we do. To facilitate a strong working relationship, we need to spend some time talking with you, learning your story and your values so that we can put them into words and make your content shine.

A writing company that thinks this step is somehow unnecessary, or that the entire process can be done over a couple of bare-bones e-mails, is frankly delusional. Great, value-adding written content takes some perspective and some depth, and a consultation is non-negotiable.

#2. There is a one-size-fits-all mentality.

All businesses are different and have different needs with their written content. Your content should reflect your goals. If the writing company tries to put you into a box—a standard-issue word count, structure, or aesthetic approach—without hearing what you’re looking to accomplish, well, that’s trouble. You’re just not going to get a very effective piece of writing from a company like that.

#3. Revisions are not included in your balance.

Even great writers may need a second or third attempt to get the content exactly the way the client wants it. A writing company that makes you pay for revisions is cheating you, plain and simple.

#4. You’re not offered a proposal.

It’s amazing how many writers seem averse to writing out their proposal—but as with any professional service, your writers should offer you a full, written account of the work they propose to do: Basic word count ranges, turnaround dates, revision policies, consultation policies, and, of course, charges and fees.

#5. You’ve never actually seen their writing.

What’s the one thing that all professional writers do? They write—but how are you supposed to know your writing company can deliver the goods unless you’ve seen some of their written work? Reputable writing companies should have their own blogs and they should also be willing to furnish you with some written samples, upon request.

Learn more about what a reputable writing company looks like by calling the Grammar Chic team today at 803-831-7444; or, by visiting us online at www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer

iStock_000004792809XSmall

As a writer, you might sometimes feel like you’re on top of the world—like you’ve just authored something that’s genuinely good, worth being proud of. Most days, you’re probably going to feel a lot less confident, a lot less secure. The writing life exists between those two extremes, and so long as you don’t spend too much time at either end of the spectrum, you’ll likely be alright.

No matter how good you think you are—or how bad—there’s always room for improvement, always an opportunity to get better. Whether you’re working on a full book manuscript or simply some company blog posts, it’s worth taking some time to hone your writing craft, to become more skilled at conveying your point and shaping your words.

And the good news is, you don’t have to enroll in a creative writing course to do so. Here are a few quick exercises that will boost your writing acumen and perhaps even build your confidence:

  1. Read a lot. This is the #1 piece of advice that writing instructors tend to give, and not without reason. The more you read, the more natural and intuitive you’ll become as a writer, and the better able to conjure evocative words and sentences while mastering the mechanics of sentence construction. Read voraciously—books, blogs, magazines, whatever interests you today.
  2. Impose some limitations on yourself. Force yourself to write in certain forms or to adopt certain restrictions. Write a few tweets; practice some 100-word short stories; try your hand at a long-form blog, maybe 1,000 words or so; do something very formal, than tackle the same topic informally.
  3. Write in specifics. Writing about abstract concepts can be a dead end; instead, write about some specific stories or people in your life. Master the art of concrete details.
  4. Write in different settings. If the only way you ever write is sitting in your office at the laptop, don’t be surprised when you find yourself feeling a little stagnant. Avoid this by taking your notepad to the park or to the coffee shop. Write in different environments to stimulate creativity.
  5. Work with an editor. Working with an experienced, professional editor will provide you with a fresh perspective and some specific ways in which you can improve your writing—things you might not think of on your own.

Pursue mastery of your craft each day; you may never reach the point where you have that top-of-the-world feeling every day, but you can rest assured that you will get better over time!

To speak to one of Grammar Chic’s editors, call us at 803-831-7444, or visit www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

What Should You Pay Your Professional Writing Team?

Pay-Key-e1368190509599

Working with a professional writing team may not be something you do every day—and in fact, it may be something you’ve never done before at all. Whether you’ve got a new website to write or brochures to develop—a Facebook page to maintain or a company blog to create—a time is likely to come when you need a first-rate wordsmith. When that time does come, you need to know what to expect—particularly in terms of compensation.

Degrees of Quality

So what should you expect to pay your professional writing team? Frankly, it all depends on how good you want the writing to be. There are companies out there that will charge less than a penny per word; meanwhile, here at Grammar Chic, Inc., we strive to offer competitive and affordable rates, but we also value the hard work and skill that our writers bring to the table, and just don’t think it makes sense to have them work for fractions of pennies.

In other words, the old expression you get what you pay for is very much pertinent here. When you’re hiring a team of writers, the amount of money you pay will be—to some extent—reflective of the quality of the work you’re going to get. We’re not saying you should expect writers to break the bank, but if you pay basically nothing, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get basically nothing in return.

The Problem with Cheap Writers

There are a couple of problems you’re going to run into when you pay the lowest possible bid for a professional writing team. One of the most common occurrences among low-grade writing companies is that they outsource projects to writers in other countries—writers who may be able to string together a few words but don’t necessarily grasp the cadence of the English language. This is just going to drive up your own costs, as you’ll likely have to pay a second writing team to clean up the work done by the first!

And really, this is the problem in a nutshell: Low-paid writers aren’t going to provide quality work, plain and simple. For most of your business writing projects, you’re going to need more than a few tweaks to an existing document; you’re going to need brand new copy, written from scratch—and by the way, it also needs to be written to engage readers, to appeal to search engines, and to comply with all of your marketing goals. Only true professionals can accomplish this, and true professionals are seldom available for mere pennies.

Again: You get what you pay for, and quality writing is very much worth the slight added expense. To learn more about what a quality writing consultancy looks like, check out Grammar Chic, Inc. today: Visit www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

2 Comments

Filed under Ghostwriting, Writing

Writing for the Robot | Word Analytics Explained

WritingRobot-med

*This article has a reading ease of 66.9 and a grade level of 7.2. More than 11 percent of the words are considered “complex.”

Readers judge writing all the time. They take content, purpose, delivery, word complexity, length, and format into consideration. But while we nitpick and reason with ourselves, there has been a major trend sprouting up in the world of online marketing.

Known as The Flesch Reading Ease Test (or the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level), a method exists that pushes word length, sentence length, and syllables through a formula to determine a piece’s comprehensibility. Out of 100, here are what the scores mean:

  • 90+ An article is written for the everyday 11-year-old
  • 60-70 Easily understood by students aged 13 to 15
  • 0-30 Written for college graduates

These numbers are calculated by taking a piece’s words, sentences, and syllables into account. For the extensive formula, check out the Flesch Wikipedia entry.

Put simply, the more words in a sentence and more syllables in the words make writing less readable. Scores are higher when sentences have fewer words and caveman syllables. Curious what this all means in terms of online content, blogging, and social media?

Go to Google, type in a website, click “Search Tools,” “All Results,” then “Reading Level.” This will break down results based on the scaled reading level and allows Googlers to limit searches to basic, intermediate, or advanced results. Google runs a Flesch-type algorithm and takes readability (i.e. spelling and grammar) into account when it ranks popular articles and websites.

The “KISS” Conundrum

Every student heard an English teacher say, “Keep it simple, stupid,” before assigning a paper. When writing for the Web, though, does this mean keeping sentences snappy and stocked with monosyllabic words is the best way to communicate a message to readers? Let’s take a look at a pair of examples that pertain to blogging. Pretend that these are pulled out of longer articles written in the same style.

“To blog well, you need to write lots of stuff that has to do with your business. Write what you know. For blogs, spell words the right way. Next, post blogs on websites. All said and done, your blog should be great.”

“Blogging is more than spamming daily articles into your followers’ newsfeeds; you need to actively pursue topics that interest your readers and pertain to your industry. Write what you know, for starters, and double-check for grammar, spelling, and readability. Link your blogs through your other online assets (i.e. websites) for the best results.”

Ran through Read-Able.com, these two paragraphs (that say pretty much the same thing) score a 107.7 (grade level of 3, understood by 8-9 year olds) and a 63.4 (grade level of 9, understood by 14-15 year olds), respectively.

Honestly, though, which is more engaging, informative, and easier to read? Just because a paragraph has shorter and simpler words doesn’t make it more effective. The first paragraph is clunky, boring, and readers would assume the writer is a third grader.

Here’s how marketers should approach this:

Readability comes into play on page rankings and the likelihood people will find articles and blogs. This factor, however, is minor. It is much more important for Web writers to focus on increasing “readability” by informing and entertaining an audience.

That audience, of course, does come into play. By researching Flesch analytics, you can marry your content to robot readability to encourage certain types of readers.

Google a few press outlets and see the range of results you get. The New York Times has an overwhelming number of basic/intermediate results while ESPN’s “basic” rating pulls ahead. Immanuel Kant, however, has a 51 percent “advanced” rating. What’s your Flesch score?

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

Why The Dying Art of the Thank You Note Is Crucial For Job Hunt Success

modernthankyounote

As a kid, you were probably forced to spend time writing up thank you notes after you received birthday presents or graduation gifts. While the chore may have seemed unnecessary at the time, it’s a skill that you shouldn’t abandon as you get older and begin a job hunt. Though thank you notes (and snail mail in general) are on the decline, in business, thank you notes are still alive and well.

Why send a thank you note?

It’s likely that a hiring manager is interviewing anywhere from a handful to dozens of other candidates for a job. As time passes, your own interview conversation may begin to blend in with the others, preventing you from sticking out in that individuals’ mind. However, when the interviewer receives a thank you note or thank you e-mail from you, it helps to remind them what they found impressive about you during your talk. It also further emphasizes your interest in the position, and reinforces the positive impressions that you earned during your interview.

The dos and don’ts

Now that you know the importance of the thank you note or e-mail, it’s time to get writing. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you put pen to paper:

  • Don’t treat it as a requirement: The point of a thank you note is to show your interest in the position, while helping to reinforce the positive traits you illustrated during your interview. Writing a note that seems as if your mom is over your shoulder nagging you does neither of these things. Instead of writing a generic “thank you so much for your time” and signing off, make reference to the conversation you had. This shows that you were really paying attention and were engaged. While you technically are thanking the interviewer for their time, the purpose of the note is also to show how a business partnership between the two of you would be beneficial. If the individual informed you of something about the company that you didn’t know before, bring this up again. You can also reinforce the traits you feel you could bring to the position. Make sure to list the exact position you’re applying for too, in case the person reading needs some help jogging their memory.
  • Don’t send gifts: Some candidates believe that a bouquet of flowers or a fruit basket will put them at the top of a hiring manager’s list. In reality, this creates an awkward situation that should be avoided. A well-written thank you note is sufficient.
  •  Do wait before sending it: If you drop the note off with the receptionist as you leave, it’s clear you just fired it off quickly before the interview because you felt it was something that had to get done. Instead, wait until after the conversation, incorporate details from the discussion, and mail it later.
  • Do proofread carefully: Just like your resume and cover letter, your thank you note must be flawless. Even though it’s a more casual form of correspondence, if you’re blatantly mixing up your “their” with your “they’re” and “there,” it shows that you don’t take time to carefully edit your work. This can lead a hiring manager to worry that the same mistakes could happen during important proposals and presentations. Check over your thank you note carefully before you send it. You may even want to ask someone else to review it for you too.

While getting snail mail is a rare occasion these days (why can’t the same be said for bills and junk mail?) taking time to write a thoughtful, carefully crafted letter can help you to stand out in the running for a competitive position.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing