Tag Archives: Online Marketing

How to Spot Online Propaganda

You can’t believe everything you read—especially online.

As content marketing professionals, this is something we’re uniquely sensitive to. We believe strongly that there’s value in companies providing good, substantive, valuable information as a way to build their brand and establish thought leadership.

And yes, the content marketing model does blur the line between information and advertisement—but it’s only effective if it’s ultimately truthful.

By contrast, a lot of the content out there is outright propaganda—designed to misinform, to mislead, and to obscure the truth.

To be a responsible online citizen, it’s important to know the difference. That’s what we’re going to look at today.

Where You’ll Spot Propaganda

The first thing to be aware of is that propaganda can come from almost any source. Some common examples:

  • Brand/company pages on Facebook. Note that Facebook doesn’t regulate these pages and doesn’t have any standard of transparency or veracity in place. Maybe one day that will change—but for now, public pages are all potential breeding grounds for propaganda.
  • Twitter accounts. We’re mostly thinking of bots here—fake accounts that usually have a highly political slant. Be careful; not every social media user is a real person!
  • A lot of the memes that come across as good-natured and funny are actually made by marketing companies and have an insidious agenda—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to be aware of!
  • News items. A lot of the links that look like real news could in fact be—we hate to say it—fake news. You can usually tell by looking at the URL; anything lacking a good, clean URL (like nytimes.com, washingtonpost.com, bbc.com, reuters.com, economist.com etc.) could potentially be a propaganda site.
  • Photo editing tools have become truly advanced and sophisticated—and sadly, you just can’t take every online photo you see seriously.

Steer Clear of Propaganda

That’s just a cross-section of some of the places you’ll find propaganda—and our point really is that you can find it anywhere. So the question is, how can you protect yourself?

Some tips:

  • Be a skeptic. Simply having a discerning mindset, and realizing that what you’re reading could be propaganda, is a good first step.
  • Google around. If you find a news story that seems hard to believe, use Google to look for other sources. If you can’t find them, it may very well be phony. One of the first things taught in journalism school is that all facts in any story should be confirmed by two reliable sources. In today’s day and age, finding two or more sources that share a story’s detail is not overly taxing. Real news stories are picked up by multiple outlets—even if a single platform breaks the story.
  • Avoid interacting with unvetted sources. Liking and commenting on a public page can suck you into the web of propaganda—unless you know the brand in question and trust them.
  • Take reviews with a grain of salt. Online reviews are sometimes fake—and you can usually tell which ones lack credibility. Fake ones won’t be very long or specific.
  • Read widely. Don’t rely on a single platform or website for your news. Try to be a curious and voracious reader.
  • Learn what fake ads look like. It’s helpful to know how you can identify paid content—and there are usually some giveaways. On social networks, as well as on Google, these ads will be labeled as “sponsored.” On Instagram specifically, sponsored posts must carry the hashtag #ad.

The bottom line: it takes some effort and some deliberation to tell which online content you can trust—but it’s worth it to not get snookered by the propaganda machine.

We’d love to tell you more about honest and authentic content creation. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to learn more! Call 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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

4 Reasons Your CTAs Are Falling Flat

Every piece of marketing content you write—every blog post, every email, and every Web page—should have a clear call to action. The CTA serves a simple yet pivotal role in telling your readers what steps they should be taking next—whether that means buying a product, calling for an appointment, signing up for your email list, or simply sharing your post with their friends.

But not all CTAs are created equal—and if your calls aren’t generating action, it could be for any number of reasons. Here’s a quick troubleshooting guide.

You forgot the action part.

This is more common than you might think. It’s common to assume that the CTA is any short, snappy wrap-up to your content—but the goal of the CTA isn’t to summarize; it’s to encourage your readers to take the next step. So if your CTA doesn’t include a clear verb, calling your readers to action, then it’s simply not doing its job.

Some examples of basic, effective CTAs:

  • Call today to schedule your appointment.
  • Download our free e-book right now.
  • Sign up for additional updates.

Notice that each one starts with a verb, and each one leaves little doubt as to what you want the reader to do next.

Your verb choice is weak.

Speaking of verbs, it’s important to pick some really evocative ones—yet all too often, we see CTAs written with bland, boring verbs like these:

  • Enter
  • Continue
  • Click here

Though these technically qualify as action words, they’re hardly motivating. Aim for something a little more exciting! Some of our favorite CTA verbs include discover, explore, and start your journey—e.g.:

  • Discover the secrets of content marketing by joining our email newsletter.
  • Explore your financing options by calling a loan specialist today.
  • Start your journey with meditation today; download our free guide!

You forget about benefits.

It’s not enough to tell people what to do; you also need to tell them why they should do it. In other words, what’s in it for them?

A good CTA conveys real value—like in these examples:

  • Save money on your monthly utility bills by downloading our energy efficiency e-book.
  • Get one-on-one content marketing assistance when you call one of our consultants.
  • Increase your sales numbers by up to 20 percent when you download our program.

Your CTA is too long.

Finally, remember that the hallmark of a strong CTA is that it’s short and snappy. You don’t need to rehash your entire sales pitch; just get to the point. There’s no reason for your CTA to be any longer than one to two sentences, clearly laying out the invitation and the benefits, then moving on.

Though a CTA is brief, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into writing one—and that’s where we come in. Our writers have ample experience crafting CTAs that generate measurable results. Learn how our team can make your CTAs exponentially more effective; contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content

How to Prepare Your Business for Cyber Monday


Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s—for most of us, these and perhaps a few others are the main holidays to focus on at year’s end. If you’re a business owner, though—and an ecommerce merchant in particular—then there’s one other day you should mark on your calendar: Cyber Monday. The Monday following Thanksgiving is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, a day on which many of your regular customers and clients are going to be in a holiday shopping state of mind. You ignore this day at your own detriment; hosting some Cyber Monday specials and promotions is a great way to seize some of this traffic and generate some real business.

But there’s not that much time until Cyber Monday gets here—so if you haven’t planned your promotions, the time to do so is now!

Allow us to offer a few pointers.

Getting Ready for Cyber Monday

You need to start building buzz now. Trust us: Your audience is already thinking about the holiday season, and many brick and mortar stores have had their holiday promotions and displays running for several weeks already. You’ve got to compete with that, so set the details of your Cyber Monday promotions and start hyping them on social media and on your website soon.

Make sure customers can browse your features products/services now. Long before Cyber Monday arrives, many shoppers will be doing online research to scout out the best deals. Whatever items you are going to promote, make sure your website showcases them well, including a note about any Cyber Monday discounts or specials.

Begin the process of creating content. You’ll want to promote your Cyber Monday offerings with images, ads, blog posts, and more—and you don’t want to have to create all of that content at the very last minute. Start compiling some of it today.

Be meticulous and thoughtful in creating ad copy. On Cyber Monday (and really for the entire holiday season), your audience is going to be inundated with sales copy. Yours must stand out. Brainstorm email marketing subject lines, blog headings, and effective tweets now. Engage a writing team, like Grammar Chic, to help make your words memorable.

Tap into your existing customer base. Cyber Monday can be a good season for new customer acquisition, but it can frankly be an even better time to re-engage with previous customers. Make sure your Cyber Monday marketing efforts include some emails targeted to the folks who are already on your mailing list.

It won’t be long before the big day is here—so are you prepared? If not, get with Grammar Chic today to find out how we can help you. Reach out at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.


Filed under Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media

5 Reasons You Should Still Be Doing E-Mail Marketing

close up of hands typing on laptop computer blogging

Think that e-mail marketing has fallen out of favor, or become old-hat when compared to modern advances like social media and SnapChat?

Think again.

Many marketers still count e-mail among the very best, must lucrative marketing channels in existence. We’d tend to agree. Not only do we send regular e-mail blasts on behalf of our own brand, but we strongly recommend it to all of our clients.

If you’re skeptical of e-mail’s potential impact, we invite you to consider a few counterarguments. Hopefully, these will convince you that e-mail is still a platform your marketing team should be implementing!

Why E-mail Still Makes Sense

  1. It’s simply the easiest way to reach consumers on their phones. We don’t have to tell you that we all live in an increasingly mobile world, and you probably won’t be surprised to know that, statistically, most people check e-mail from their mobile phones at least once daily. By contrast, SMS tends to be unwelcomed by most consumers, and in some cases actually costs recipients money. Not a good way to make a positive impression.
  2. You can send customers mobile offers. With e-mail, you can easily send your customers coupons or discount codes—offers they can store on their phones and pull out when they come into your store or meet with your sales representative.
  3. E-mail is an invaluable content delivery vehicle. Want to get more traction on company blog posts? More downloads on your latest white paper? E-mail the link. Let people who may not follow your company website know that there’s some fresh content waiting their review.
  4. E-mail doesn’t cost much money. Even if you pay for a premium e-mail distribution service and hire a company like Grammar Chic to do the content writing, you’re still looking at a few bucks per month—a pretty small investment, in the scheme of things, with the potential for significant value.
  5. E-mail is actually a lot more effective than social media. Bottom line: If you’re looking to do just one thing to increase conversions, this is the one thing you need to do.

Invest some time in e-mail marketing—and be strategic about it. You’ll find that it’s well worth it—and if you need any assistance, just give Grammar Chic a call. You can reach us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Content Marketing, Email Writing, Social Media

7 Online Reputation Management Guarantees


You know what they say about sure things—death and taxes and all of that. Guarantees and certainties are especially hard to come by on the Internet, where the rules change every day and there are always exceptions.

Yet, when it comes to building and protecting a sterling reputation for your brand, there are a few things that can be said without hesitation.

  1. You will get Googled.

By now you shouldn’t doubt it: Consumers who have easy access to the Internet, on their smartphones or tablets or PCs, will absolutely use search engines to research your company. And how many consumers do you know who don’t have Internet access through their smartphones or tablets or PCs?

People want to know that they’re spending their hard-earned money on something reliable. And for better or worse, they trust Google to tell them that.

  1. Your Page 1 Google results matter.

Not so much page 2, and definitely not page 7, but that first page of Google… that’s the one everyone’s going to see. And what it says will set the first impression of your business. In a very real way, those first ten or so search results will determine whether people feel confident doing business with you, or otherwise.

So what’s on your first page of search results? The company website, Facebook page, and LinkedIn profile? Great! Some competitor sites, bad news headlines, or negative Yelp reviews? Not so great.

  1. You can sort of control what’s on your first page of Google results.

It’s not precise and it’s not guaranteed—Google’s algorithms work in mysterious ways, after all—but there are certainly actions you can take to ensure that solid, strong, brand-enhancing content shows up for your business. The first step, of course, is to actually create content, and plenty of it: Blogging, robust evergreen Web content, and even press releases can be beneficial. Also make sure you’re cognizant of SEO concerns—though we’ll let you in on a secret: If you focus on quality branded content that your human readers will use, you’re probably going to be okay.

  1. Regular social media posting is vital.

You’re not just going to undergo Google scrutiny. You’re going to get checked out on Facebook, too, and perhaps also LinkedIn. We’re not saying you have to post ten times a day to every single social network in existence. We’re just saying that online reputation management is proactive. It’s about going out of your way to demonstrate thought leadership. And social media offers you a perfect platform to do so.

  1. Listening is key.

Don’t just talk at your social media followers. Hear what they have to say—and, unless you’re dealing with trolls and flamers, respond in kindness. Remember that online reputation management and social media marketing are both flipsides to customer service.

  1. Reviews matter.

Truly. What your Yelp page or your Google rating says about you goes a long way toward building customer confidence—or not. Directing your customers to leave reviews, perhaps even offering some incentive for honest feedback, can be a huge way to bolster online reputation.

A caveat here: Reviews really do matter, though not necessarily to the point some ORM firms would have you believe. A hundred nasty reviews can sink your business; one or two negative reviews, amidst 30 positive ones, aren’t going to ruin you. Don’t freak out.

  1. Messaging is Job #1.

The secret to protecting your online reputation, in a nutshell: Ensure that everything your brand says on Twitter, Facebook, the blog, etc. is on-message, aligned with your corporate values, mission, and voice. Choose the kind of brand you want to build, then stay true to it.

For all of this, content creation is critical—so don’t mess around: Contact the Grammar Chic content writing team today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Brand Management

How to Make This Year’s Content Marketing Better than Last Year’s


More than two weeks into 2015, most of us are starting to settle into a groove. We’re out of the holiday hangover. We’re back on our grind. We’re either steadfastly clinging to our New Year’s Resolutions, or else we’ve ditched them completely and are just trying our best to plow forward.

But hear us when we say this: It’s not too late to fine-tune your 2015 content marketing initiatives. It’s not too late to make this your best, most effective content marketing year yet.

At the very least, you can make it demonstrably more effective than last year. We’ll even tell you how.

Think in Terms of Goals

We’ve said it many times before, but setting goals is an essential part of content marketing. You need some benchmarks by which to measure your progress and determine your true ROI—likes, Web traffic, engagement, conversions, or whatever else.

It’s not only important to set goals, but to reflect on them. Think about last year’s goals. What were they, and how did you succeed in meeting them? Were they realistic? Too hard, or too easy? What do last year’s goals tell you about where you need to be, and where you can reasonably expect to be, at the end of 2015?

Audit Yourself

Another way to improve your content marketing performance is to conduct a content audit. Go back and read through as much of last year’s content as you can—Web pages, blogs, and on down the line. Be honest with yourself about how good it is, and how it could be improved. Remember: If your content doesn’t resonate with readers, you’re not going to get much of anything out of it.

Think not just in terms of quality, but also category. Are you covering all the bases of your business and niche—or are there topics you need to be hitting on more?

Organize Your Approach

Finally, you can get a leg up on your content marketing just by getting better organized. We recommend two tools, in particular. Start with an editorial calendar. At the bare minimum, spend some time brainstorming possible blog topics, and create a schedule of posts that will last you for a couple of months.

In addition, we recommend implementing buyer personas. If you haven’t created these, use our guide to help you. Getting to know who you’re marketing to can go a long way toward making your efforts more successful!

The Grammar Chic team can help you with any of these things, of course, and we can also assist with content development, distribution, and analysis. Contact us today for a free consultation: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Content Marketing

Preparing for Your Content Marketing Consultation


Last week, the Grammar Chic blog outlined five reasons to outsource your content marketing in 2015. Among them: Outsourcing can save you time; it can give you better bang for your buck; and it can provide both the perspective and the expertise needed to make your marketing endeavors effective.

Frankly, we feel like it’s a pretty sound argument—so we hope some of you will take us up on it! This will bring with it a whole new set of questions, though. Many small business owners have never worked with a content marketing professional before, and you may have some questions about what the process entails.

Generally speaking, content marketing professionals want to make the process as low-intensity as possible for you. One of the reasons to outsource, after all, is to free up some of your own time. Working with a company like Grammar Chic, then, you can expect the process to be fairly hands-off, while still offering you control over the process whenever and wherever you’d like it.

With that said, you should plan on spending some time on an initial consultation call—likely no more than an hour or so—to provide the content marketer with some insights into your brand. This is an important call, setting the stage for your content marketing strategy as well as for your working relationship with the marketer. As such, it is worthwhile to take some time to prepare for it.

Here’s how:

  • Think about what your brand really stands for. What are the values, vision, and mission of your brand? Spend some time pulling together any sales copy you have—in particular About Us pages, Mission Statements, and the like—that reflect your brand.
  • Consider your brand distinctive. What sets your company apart from its competition? Jot down some ideas.
  • Consider your customer base. Who are the people who do business with you? Do you have buyer personas, or any demographic information? If so, compile it to provide to the marketer. If not, simply brainstorm some basics about who buys from you. Use our buyer persona guides to help you.
  • Define your goals. Hopefully, your content marketing vendor has provided you with some insights as to what goals are and are not reasonable for you to pursue; think through what matters most to you in terms of increased website traffic, online authority, and so on.
  • Think about your own involvement. How much control do you want to have over the process? Do you want to arrange weekly calls with your content marketer? Do you want to ask for approval of all materials before they are published? Do you want to provide the content marketer with more flexibility than that? Think about how much time you really want to invest in the process.
  • Think about your budget. Finally, make sure you have a good sense of how much you are able to invest in content marketing at this juncture. It is always best to think about this in advance.

These bullet points should provide you with some direction—and a high level of preparedness as you think about your content marketing consultation call.

To learn more, or to set up a call with the Grammar Chic team, contact us today: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.


Filed under Content Marketing