Transcript of How to Create Ridiculously Good Content

Transcript of How to Create Ridiculously Good Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Ann Handley. She is the Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs. Also the co-author of “Content Rules.” I think I had she and C.C. on when that book came out, and she’s the author of a new book we’re going to talk about today called “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.” Ann, welcome back.

Ann Handley: Well, thank you John. I’m super excited to be here, so thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: So I’m going to start really early in the book. I’m going to start a sentence and you have to finish it, okay? You ready?

Ann Handley: Okay, I’m ready.

John Jantsch: “Spread your arms and hold your breath,” and?

Ann Handley: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

John Jantsch: Your dedication. You didn’t even know this probably, but your dedication is a line from a Guy Clark song, “Always Trust Your Cape.”

Ann Handley: Oh, I’m sorry.

John Jantsch: And the lead up to that, first mention of that in “Always Trust Your Cape” is “Spread your arms and hold your breath.”

Ann Handley: I can’t believe you knew that. This is like, I don’t think anybody knows that. I didn’t think anybody would. Yes, exactly. That is exactly from that. That’s an amazing song.

John Jantsch: I’m a music nut and so if you’re going to use music lyrics on me, you can expect I’m going to give you the history of the song or something.

Ann Handley: Oh, that’s awesome. I can’t believe I just blew that. Did you hear my stunned silence?

John Jantsch: Yeah, that was … We’re going to have to edit that out completely. All right, so no, you know it’s funny, though. Not everybody knows who writes books, but you write these books, sometimes two years pass before like you wrote the first chapter, and so sometimes I’ll get on and do an interview, and somebody will say, “On page three, you say this” and I’m scrambling like, “What did I say on page three?”

Ann Handley: “What did I say?” No, it’s funny. I mean, that Guy Clark song, that’s a seminal song in my son who I wrote the dedication to, in his childhood. Because he’s an artist, and he’s a little bit of a quirky personality, he especially was when he was a child, and so just that idea that always trust your cape, always trust your inner guide, your instincts, is just something that we’ve really talked to him about his whole life. That’s special.

John Jantsch: You know, the story that goes on in that song, too, of course, is he did not know he couldn’t fly and so he did, right?

Ann Handley: Right. I’m welling up just talking to you, John.

John Jantsch: Sorry, sorry.

Ann Handley: Because that is such an emotional thing for me. Ridiculous.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Okay. Well, I mean, let’s just talk more about the dedication, you know? People have to buy the book then. So, I would suspect, this would be for me, if I were to write a book about writing, I’m not sure I could hold myself to the standard that certainly people would start holding me to, but one of the things I really like in this book is you write early on, take away the stuffiness or the rules that we all sometimes feel constricted by. Was that obviously part of your intent, too, was to say, “Hey, this is a serious book. I’m on a mission from God,” because you say that several times as well, but it doesn’t all have to be eighth grade teacherish?

Ann Handley: Yeah, exactly. I mean, the whole idea that I think a lot of us have anxiety that we’ve carried over from our high school years or at least our school years somewhere along the way, and somewhere along the way we felt like there are two kinds of people. Those who can write and those who can’t. I think many of us have some anxiety about writing, and so what I tried to do was strip that away a little bit and let people know. I think we are all writers in this world, especially a social media content driven world, I think we are all writers, but more than that, I think that there’s a lot of fun that can come with writing. You can certainly learn a lot about yourself, your customers, there’s a lot of thinking that goes into writing.

I really wanted to deconstruct it and make it feel like it was something very doable, which is why I told that story early on about me going to a gym and doing a pushup for the first time in my life, which it’s a silly story but it’s a true story and it also has a lot of resonance, I think, for people who feel very awkward as writers. I think it’s inherently learnable and I think everybody can learn to be a better writer.

John Jantsch: Now, I know the answer to this but I still feel compelled to ask you this. In this Vine and Snapchat and YouTube world, does anybody really care about writing anymore?

Ann Handley: Yeah. I think so. I think it matters more than ever, really. I mean, I talk about this in the book quite a bit, but I think our writing matters more now. It doesn’t matter less. Because our words that we’re using really are our ambassadors. On your website, on your Twitter profile, on your Facebook page, on LinkedIn. Everywhere. The words you’re using are really your ambassador for yourself and for your business. I don’t think of writing as this ivory tower exercise. I think of writing as the everyday stuff of life, you know? It’s not just blog posts and eBooks and things that we typically associate with reading. I think it’s everything. It’s the words on our website, it’s our product descriptions, it’s our thank you page content. It’s everything.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I mean, one of the things you address a lot too is you don’t have to think of yourself as a writer or that that’s your profession, but the fact of the matter is you’re going to have to do it a bunch. I mean, it might just be writing two or three emails to start getting somebody interested in hiring you, and that could make the difference in whether or not you get hired, or how you get hired, or what you get hired to do.

Ann Handley: Sure, yeah. Exactly. I mean, we all are writing, we’re all trying to convince somebody of something. Whether it’s convincing somebody that you are the right solution to a problem that they have, that your business is the right answer, or whether it’s just a simple email to somebody. One of the things I talk a lot about in the book is really approaching any writer, or any writing that you do with a truly reader centric point of view. Really swapping places with your reader and thinking about what experience is this creating for them.

That’s helped me a lot as a writer, as a blogger, on all of my social content that I’m putting out there. Just really thinking about what effect is this having on the person? Am I wasting their time? Am I spending too much time on a setup at the beginning or can I just dive right into it? Just doing some really simple things to help you create a better experience for the people you’re trying to talk to.

John Jantsch: It’s funny. In one of my earlier books, an editor numerous times, and he was actually my favorite editor. I’ve had actually four different editors on my four-

Ann Handley: Wow.

John Jantsch: … books, but he was my favorite editor. He would quite often say, “Why are you doing so much throat clearing here?” The idea being that you’re talking about what you’re going to talk about. Just talk about it. I thought that was pretty interesting way to characterize that. But one of the things that I like about the book, quite frankly, is there are lots of short chapters. Was that your intent? Or, was that just a style decision on your part?

Ann Handley: Yeah, I mean definitely it was an intent. I like books that are very useful and that you can come away with a real sense of how to do something. So, I didn’t want to create this writing tomb that felt really heavy and felt really like, “Ugh, I could never get through this.” I didn’t want it to sit like a doorstep on somebody’s desk, you know? I wanted to create something that felt like you could pick it up, you could leaf through it, you could read a couple of chapters very quickly, very easily, and take away something. That’s my “how to” personality. That’s how MarketingProfs is geared. We’re very much about teaching people how to do things and not just why they should do things. That was very much by design.

But also, I mean, I think it goes along with what I was talking about when I was talking about my philosophy toward writing in general. I think it’s really important not to waste the time of your reader. You were mentioning your editor with your throat clearing, I talk about take a running start and then basically erase your tracks, right? It’s okay to do that sort of throat clearing warmup, but in the end, pair it down to the bare essentials. That’s what I tried to do in this book, as well.

John Jantsch: Well, and your writing is very funny. I think that really helps because you’re tackling grammar. I mean, oh boy. How boring could you be, right? Maybe, and it might help that I hear your bubbly little voice in my head when I’m reading, but I think people will really appreciate your somewhat dry and sarcastic style.

Ann Handley: I hope so. Either that or they get incredibly offended, but I hope they think it’s funny.

John Jantsch: Now, a drum that I’ve been beating for a number of years, and in fact it was even a subchapter in my last book called, “Why You Must Write,” and it is that, at least my contention is that I started out as somebody who wanted to write, but realized very quickly I wasn’t very … I just hadn’t been trained very well. I didn’t have a lot of experience. Apparently my grammar that I got in grade school didn’t hold or didn’t stick, but I continued to do it because I found that, again, part of it is I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to write, but I also found that it made me a better salesperson. It made me a better communicator in general.

I think it forced me to start thinking about things in different ways, and so I have this whole list … It made me a better public speaker. I have this whole list of things that I attribute to the fact that I’ve now written probably half a million words over the last few years.

Ann Handley: Yeah. That’s really interesting. Yeah, I think it’s absolutely true. I think strong writing is strong thinking. I think if you work on being a better writer, really what does that mean? That means that you are doing all kinds of things. From a psychological standpoint, but at the same time, you’re really making it extremely … You have a lot of empathy really for your audience. Whether that audience is somebody you’re trying to sell to or whether it’s somebody you are speaking to, you’re on stage delivering some sort of speech or presentation, or whether it’s the person who is reading the book that you just wrote.

I mean, I think ultimately what it does is it trains you to be very economic with the words you’re using, with a real sense of empathy for what they’re carrying, what messages they’re carrying to the people who are there to hear you.

John Jantsch: Let’s really get at the heart of why you wrote this book, and I’ve been giving it really all this positive spin, but there’s really a negative component to this book, and that is you were personally waging a war on mediocrity. That’s the part that I think is the sub-level part that people don’t pick up on right away. Tell me about that.

Ann Handley: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, that’s absolutely true. I mean, there’s a byproduct-

John Jantsch: So you are a snob? That’s what I’m really getting at.

Ann Handley: Oh, no. Not at all, no. I know you’re kidding because you know I’m me and you know I’m the furthest thing from that. No, I think that’s the … Mediocre content is the byproduct of our content marketing age. I mean, it used to be that writing and publishing was reserved for those chosen few who could afford a printing press and the distribution that went with it, but in a world where everybody is able to write and publish and email and create social media platforms, and everything. There’s a lot of noise out there, and there’s a lot of noise that’s poorly written, that’s incredibly useless, really, to the people that you’re trying to reach, that’s really clutter and is not valuable.

What I wanted to do was say, “Okay, let’s take a step back from this content marketing noise that’s out there right now and let’s go back to basics in a sense, and let’s look at how can we really improve the quality of what we’re doing?” My feeling is that in a world of democratized communication, which I think is wonderful. I mean, as somebody who’s been creating content for as long as I have, I love it, but at the same time, I feel like there’s also an imperative on all of us to really up our game. I take that very seriously. I really want those of us who have the power to embrace it as real power, real opportunity.

Don’t just publish anything because you can, but really take it seriously and try to create great experiences for our customers. Ultimately, published stuff that’s incredibly useful to them, and that is really inspired from not just a data sense, but also from a creative sense. Publishing things that are really good. In a way, it’s my personal charge, my personal mission to really just encourage and to try to get all of us to up our game. I include myself in here, too.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think that from a practical standpoint, I started blogging in 2003 and I think there were 12 or 13 other blogs, so people had to read what I wrote.

Ann Handley: Exactly, exactly.

John Jantsch: And now they don’t have to so much. There are millions and millions and millions of blogs, so I just think from a practical standpoint the stuff we want to read is the only stuff we’re going to have time to read anymore.

Ann Handley: Yeah, exactly.

John Jantsch: And I think that’s a big part of what you’re saying, as well.

Ann Handley: Exactly. I mean, that’s the other side of it. I mean, in a world where there is so much noise, you’ve really got to up your own game. Not only because you have a moral imperative to do so, but at the same time, you have a business imperative to do so.

John Jantsch: One of the things I’d love to hear your take on is I do believe that because we are so overwhelmed with content, a lot of it we feel compelled to at least consume in some fashion. I think that we certainly have shorter attention spans or don’t really feel like, “Okay, can I sit down and read that 2500 word piece?” And yet, that’s the stuff that I think in some cases is really the great stuff, but I think there’s also a real need to write much shorter content which I sometimes find is actually harder to do.

Ann Handley: Yeah, right. There’s that famous, was it Pascal quote? “I didn’t have time to write a shorter letter.”

John Jantsch: Yeah, exactly.

Ann Handley: It’s like that kind of thing. Yeah, but you know, I think what’s inherent with that-

John Jantsch: I always attributed that to Mark Twain. I thought that was Mark Twain.

Ann Handley: I think it was originally Pascal but I think Twain probably stole it from him, which was probably by him. I don’t know. You should probably look that up in case you link to it.

John Jantsch: I will, I will.

Ann Handley: Yeah, it’s definitely harder to write shorter, I think. I mean, I was not a great journalist because I had too much of a storyteller’s heart. I felt a need to give background on things and color and places that it really wasn’t appropriate. I was a terrible news reporter for that reason, so my editors when I used to work for the Boston Globe is where I started my career, they switched me pretty quickly over to features because I definitely had more of a storyteller’s heart, you know? I’m a much better storyteller than I am a news journalist, or news reporter.

But that said, I think that as content marketers, as marketers, as business owners, it is imperative that we think about brevity when we’re communicating with our customers, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be 300 words or less. It doesn’t mean that you should never communicate with anything that’s bigger than an Instagram post or something silly like that. I think really what it means is that you only use the amount of words that you need to use to tell a story. That’s where I think the editing process is really important. There’s a lot of writers out there who I found through the course of doing research for this book who just they’ll write a blog post and they’ll just put it up.

I don’t do that and I’ve never done that, and it fills me with fear a little bit, because like to me, letting it steep and then ferment a bit, and the going back and looking at it from the reader’s point of view, swapping places with your readers like I talk about in the book, and really taking a critical eye to it. “Is this the best way that I said this? Am I wasting somebody’s time? Is every sentence earning its keep?” I think that’s a really important part of the process and I think that’s ultimately what’ll get you to something that’s really brief and useful.

John Jantsch: Well, as long as we’re quoting writers, my famous … My favorite, should say, Hemingway quote, “Write drunk, edit sober.”

Ann Handley: Yes, yes. I ended up doing drink coasters with that. Did I tell you that?

John Jantsch: No, no.

Ann Handley: Yeah, I did. Because we had that conversation out in Denver, yeah.

John Jantsch: Let’s dive into a couple of … I think we’ve maybe talked to death the setup of why people should be writing and why this book’s important, but I do want to spend a little time on some of the book parts. The way you’ve broken the book up I think is great and I’m not going to go chapter by chapter, but I’ll just throw a couple of my favorites out there at you. I think we probably talked about this, too, because I tell anybody who would listen, one of my favorite books is “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott.

Ann Handley: Oh yeah. Mine, too.

John Jantsch: She has an entire chapter, I’m going to ruin my PG rating, but I’m going to read it directly. It’s shitty first drafts, and you talk about that idea of ugly first drafts, and I know that’s been a very powerful thought for me where you just let it rip first. Don’t edit yourself. That’s the “write drunk” part. Get it down.

Ann Handley: Yes. Yeah, Mark Twain has a saying about that, too. No actually, it’s not Mark Twain, it’s Stephen King. Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed, edit with the door open.” I really like that whole idea. First, you’re writing with the door closed, in other words, you’re just writing for yourself. You’re producing that ugly first draft, like I call it in my book, or Anne Lamott’s shitty first draft. But then write with the door open, so that’s the point where you swap places with your reader, and think, as I was just saying, “What kind of experience is this creating for them? Am I using the right words here? Am I indulging myself a little too much and not thinking too much about the reader and what they’re getting out of it?”

Because ultimately, you want to communicate with real clarity and so if it lacks clarity, then that’s the point where you can get to it. But I think that first step, the ugly first draft step, just letting it rip as you said, I think it’s great if you just let yourself off the hook. Write badly, but at least you’re writing.

John Jantsch: Yeah, because … I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s so hard for me to get started that if I just start writing nonsense, I will eventually get around to what I’m supposed to be talking about, and I think that’s part of it.

Ann Handley: Yeah. One of my tricks, too, and I talk about this in the book, but writing it like a letter. There are a lot of writers who write like, “Dear mom,” for example, as a way to start. For me, it’s a lot easier for me to write an email or a letter than it is to write just to sit at a blank page. I talked to Michael Brenner who used to be at SAP, and is now at Newscred, and he writes all of his blog posts as emails. In part, because it just gives him a cleaner interface, so it doesn’t get [jugged 00:19:32] up with lots of stuff, but it’s also just a nice way to think about that, right? If you’re just writing an email to somebody, no one gets email block. You don’t get shopping list block, or you don’t get-

John Jantsch: That’s right.

Ann Handley: … you know, that kind of block. But writer’s block feels like something that people struggle with. I know it’s great to just take the writing out of it and just make a list or write an email, or something like that.

John Jantsch: I’m guessing you’ve got shoe boxes full of diaries that you’ve filled out. Those little key locks. Did you have brothers?

Ann Handley: I had one brother, yes.

John Jantsch: Yeah, okay, so he was probably constantly digging for that key lock.

Ann Handley: I’ll tell you a funny thing, actually. I only have one diary and I really struggle to fill it up. Because to me, I never liked the process of just writing for myself. I mean, now I have a Moleskine that I keep as a journal but mostly what I do is I write down, I just jot down ideas. But what I did do as a kid, because I wasn’t a kid who kept a diary, again, because it felt useless to write for myself. I always wanted an audience of some kind, so what I did is I took out, I applied for all these pen pals all around the world. I don’t know if you remember?

John Jantsch: Yes.

Ann Handley: But it used to be like it was hard to get a pen pal back then. I mean now it’s super easy.

John Jantsch: Plus it took three weeks to get your letter to them.

Ann Handley: Yeah, exactly. I had about, I don’t know, seven or eight pen pals all around the world, from the time that I was eight years old until I was about … I don’t know. Until I got interested in other things, but I used to just write to them all the time. Interestingly, when I wrote to them I was always a different person and I had a different name. I was a very odd child as you’re getting out of this story, but the idea is that I used to keep basically notebooks full of details about my life that I was communicating to my pen pals all around the world.

It was David in Australia, there was somebody in Malaysia. I had them all over the place. If you think about that, it’s sort of funny. It ties exactly into maybe what marketers have to do these days with buyer personas and keeping a style guide.

John Jantsch: Personalizing your communication, right.

Ann Handley: Yeah, it was kind of weird.

John Jantsch: That might be a fascinating book all by itself, is pulling that together. We’ll call it-

Ann Handley: Yeah, I actually still have the notebook. It’s with my-

John Jantsch: We’ll call it “Sybil.”

Ann Handley: Oh, geeze. It was crazy. I mean, basically what it did is it allowed me to write and have an audience and just-

John Jantsch: I mean, it’s so different than fiction writing, right?

Ann Handley: Right.

John Jantsch: Exactly.

Ann Handley: Exactly, and just try on different personalities and essentially fictionalizing my life. Yeah, that’s basically what I was doing. One time I was a twin, another one I had a family of nine. One time I lived on a horse farm. I mean, all this crazy stuff.

John Jantsch: That is awesome. That’s awesome. So there’s a whole section on grammar, obviously, and I’m just, I’m not going to go into it other than to point out my biggest sin, and I’ll bet you this is really high up there. Once you get passed the theirs and there’s and yours and you’res, active versus passive voice. Now, does that creep in because people just aren’t thinking about it, don’t know any better? Or, does that creep in because they lack confidence in what they’re actually writing?

Ann Handley: Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting … I don’t know why people tend to use passive voice. I mean, if you don’t know, those of you who are listening to this, verbs in a sentence, they can either be active or they can be passive. So, passive voice means that something’s being done to something. So, it’s not wrong per se, but it tends to have a little bit of a stilted feel to it. I’m trying to remember the example in the book. I think it’s like, so passive voice would be, “The blog post was edited by a guy named John.” Active voice would be, “A guy named John edited the blog post.” It’s basically looking at where is the action happening? What is being done to something?

My feeling is that passive is generally something that you want to avoid. But it’s funny. The course of writing a book on writing, I’ve actually noticed that I tend to use passive voice quite a bit. It was sort of this moment of self-discovery that I realized like, “Wow, I do this a lot.” John, you shouldn’t feel bad that you do it, because I actually now edit that out of anything that I’m creating but I do tend to produce it, at least on the ugly first draft.

John Jantsch: Well I think sometimes it creeps into my writing when I feel like, “Well, I don’t want to tell you exactly what to do. I don’t want to demand that you do something. I want to give you some space,” and I think obviously that makes for weaker writing.

Ann Handley: Yeah. I think it does. It also makes it sound a little stilted and a little bit awkward, you know?

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Ann Handley: But I mean, I should say that I’ve been editing marketers, I’ve been editing business writers for about 25 years. First at ClickZ and now at MarketingProfs. I’m pretty familiar with some of the problems that tend to crop up time and again, so I’ve put this grammar section in here a little bit reluctantly, and I put it second on purpose because at first I started out. When I first had the book organized, I had grammar first, the first section. I was worried about that because I thought, “God,” you know? I imagined my reader opening up this book and reading it and then just hitting the grammar section and going, “Oh, my God, this is so boring.”

Grammar is not the most exciting thing but I put a little bit of grammar in this book to address the problems that I have seen repeated time and again over 25 years, and just to coach people through it. I don’t know.

John Jantsch: Well, it’s one of the reasons I think people really love “The Elements of Style,” which of course, nobody will ever buy again now because of your book, but it’s one of the reasons I think people love it. It’s not like every possible grammar mistake. It’s like, “Here are the biggies and here are the things that you need to avoid.” That’s why I love it. It’s like a list of eight things. “Okay, yeah, okay, right. I do that, I do that” and I think that that’s what you’ve done, too, is you’ve made that section very practical.

Ann Handley: Yeah, thanks. Don’t you reread the “The Elements of Style” every couple of years or so?

John Jantsch: Oh, yeah. All the time, yeah.

Ann Handley: Yeah. I do the same thing. I remember you and I talking about that once. Yeah, I mean, “The Elements of Style” is a fantastic book and it was completely, it got me through college for sure. At the same time, I mean, E. B. White, I was obsessed with him. I have been obsessed with him as an author for a long time, and I have great affection and affinity toward him. He’s in the epilogue of my book for that reason, because he’s just a fantastic writer and just somebody who … You know that question, “Who would you have dinner with?”

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Ann Handley: Dead or alive, it’s always E. B. White for me, because I just think he’s, I have such admiration for the guy and what he’s done. Yeah, but thank you. Very honored to hear that comparison, even in passing.

John Jantsch: So the last section of the book and for those of you that hung on this long, here’s the payoff, finally. Very practical stuff that marketers write, and I think that it’s great that you … I think everything could be implied to that point, but I think it’s great that you went landing pages, and email copy, so that anybody who was having trouble trying to figure out how to apply it could say, “Oh yeah, I do that for a living. Let me read that.”

Ann Handley: Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly right. I mean, honestly, you don’t really need this section. I could have lopped off part five completely, because everything in the previous three sections really does make you a stronger, more hailed writer, but at the same time, there are things that marketers tend to be charged with writing. Things like Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles, and emails, and headlines, and homepages, and about us pages, all those things. I really wanted to give them a little bit of guidance about that. At least where to start, and anything that might be idiosyncratic to those particular tasks.

John Jantsch: So we’ve exhausted our time together today. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts and wisdom. Where can people find more on the book? Obviously it’s available to be purchased anywhere and all the various formats we get books in these days, but anywhere else you want to send people to connect with you?

Ann Handley: Yeah, well certainly, yes, the book is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any bookseller of your choice. You can go to There’s lots of other information there about where to buy, as well as a little bit more information about the book itself. Or, you can catch up with me at

John Jantsch: Is there an audio version? Are you going to do an audio version?

Ann Handley: I don’t have one planned right now. I did the audio version for “Content Rules.” C.C. and I each read a chapter, so we alternated. It was a bit of a painful experience for me.

John Jantsch: Yes, it is. Yes, it is.

Ann Handley: I don’t know. Do you do your own audiobooks?

John Jantsch: I have done all of mine and it takes 14 to 16 hours each, in the studio. It’s tough.

Ann Handley: Well, you have a great radio voice. I don’t feel like I do have a particularly strong radio voice, especially when you stack me up against C.C. who has a fantastic radio voice.

John Jantsch: Very deep.

Ann Handley: I feel a little bit lacking in that department, so I don’t know. We haven’t actually talked about an audio version yet.

John Jantsch: Well, there are people I hear from all the time. There are people out there that that’s the only way they’ll consume a book, so that’s why I feel compelled to do it, but I will concur. It’s pretty tough week when I’ve done them in the past, because I can only focus on the page for about three hours. I break it up and do it over the course of an entire week. Well, Ann, thanks so much for joining me. I know that we’ve got a couple of times where we’re going to see each other out there on the road. Best of luck with the book. I think you’ve got a real winner.

Ann Handley: Hey, thank you so much, John. I really appreciate you having me on.

from Duct Tape Marketing

from Blogger

9 Mind-Bending Ways to Use Psychographics in Your Marketing

To the uninitiated, the field of psychographics may sound a little like a debunked “scientific” principle such as phrenology, but actually, it’s one of the most exciting developments in psychological analysis that marketers can leverage in their campaigns.

 Psychographics in Marketing

But what is psychographics? Why should you care? How can you use it? These are all questions we’ll be answering in this post. We’ll explore what psychographics is, what makes it so valuable to digital marketers, and nine amazing ways you can apply it to your campaigns.

Before we begin in earnest, though, let’s run through a quick primer on psychographics as a scientific discipline.

What is Psychographics?

Psychographics is the study of people’s attitudes and interests, often studied in conjunction with typical demographic data to build more complete profiles of target markets and audiences.

Psychographics in marketing concept illustration 

Although psychographics is used in a variety of applications, its primary use is in market research. We can tell a great deal about a person simply by examining the demographic data about their life – their age, income level, education, occupation – but by itself, this data is only of limited use. It tells us nothing about their aspirations, their beliefs, their attitudes, or any other subjective psychological measure.

That’s what makes psychographics so powerful; by combining demographic data with psychographic data, we can build much more complete, sophisticated profiles of consumers based on a much richer picture of who they really are.

Now that we know a little more about what psychographics is, how do you go about gathering this invaluable data?

How Can You Gather Psychographic Data?

Although many of the metrics favored by digital marketers are quantitative, psychographics is more qualitative. Yes, psychographic data can and should be appropriately categorized, but psychographic data can be significantly more subjective and nuanced in comparison to traditional quantitative research methodologies.

Market Research Firms

If you’ve ever conducted market research, you probably already know what a tremendous pain in the ass it can be, particularly if you’re a freelance marketer or working as part of a smaller team with limited resources. That’s why many companies turn to dedicated market research firms to do the legwork for them. This offers several benefits, such as scientifically rigorous data collection methods and proper vetting to ensure integrity of the data.

Psychographics in marketing market research concept 

It also presents a further budgetary consideration, as market research data – even generic white papers and reports – rarely comes cheap.

Focus Groups

Conducting focus groups can be an excellent method of gathering psychographic data. It allows you to create testing audiences that adhere to your specifications (including your business’ ideal customers and established buyer personas).

The major drawback of focus groups is actually assembling them and gathering the data. Putting together a focus group can be a significant time-sink, and that’s before you even ask your first question. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that the information you gather will be actionable or even reliable.

Customer Surveys and Questionnaires

Another method of psychographic data collection at your disposal is customer surveys and questionnaires.

This approach has many benefits, including the fact that surveys and questionnaires are relatively inexpensive to produce, can be distributed electronically for ease of completion by participants, and general consumer familiarity with this method of market research.

Psychographics in marketing customer survey concept illustration 

Image via Help Scout

Surveys and questionnaires do have their drawbacks, though, including few solid ways to overcome low respondent participation, and the potential unreliability or inaccuracy of the data itself – many people answer questionnaires in an aspirational way, meaning they may not respond completely truthfully to certain questions, especially questions on more contentious topics. 

Detailed Analytics Data

Perhaps the most time-efficient means of gathering psychographics data is using detailed analytics data.

Psychographics in marketing Facebook interest targeting 

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are arguably better suited to the gathering of psychographic data by virtue of the wealth of personal information these services possess about their users. In particular, an individual’s personal interests can be immensely valuable psychographic data points, as can data that some individuals may not be as truthful about in a real-world setting like a focus group, such as their political beliefs.

9 Ways to Use Psychographics in Your Marketing

As we mentioned above, psychographics is most commonly applied in the field of market research, specifically in the creation and development of detailed buyer personas. However, this is far from the only potential application of this fascinating data.

Let’s take a look at nine applications of psychographics you can use in your next campaign.

1. Create More Refined Social Media Audiences 

If you’ve ever run a Facebook Ads campaign, you’ll know how granularly you can target prospective customers. Targeting relevant audiences by interests is a viable strategy, but if you dig a little deeper into what really makes your audience tick, you’ll find a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

Psychographics in marketing Facebook interest targeting options branded terms 

Once you’ve identified and refined your core audience, look for the psychographic commonalities that your target market shares. Are their political beliefs relevant? Does their affinity for certain brands or even specific products suggest wider underlying attitudes? (For example, mothers in their thirties who are also into yoga may be interested in broader health-related topics.) How do these consumers see themselves? These are all questions you can ask as the starting point for psychographic targeting research that could yield new opportunities you may not have considered previously.

2. Write More Emotionally Compelling Ads

We know that leveraging emotional triggers can be amazingly effective in online advertising. If we can write emotionally compelling ads using the bare minimum of information, imagine how much more effective your ads could be if you knew more about your target market.

Psychographics in marketing top 10 emotional triggers in online ads 

Using emotional triggers in ad campaigns is always a tentative balancing act, as what one person finds fascinating and enticing may be morally repugnant and utterly repellant to someone else.

However, psychographic data can reveal a great deal about your target market, allowing you to write emotionally powerful ads – negative or otherwise – that may improve your conversion rates considerably.

3. Enhance A/B Tests

Hopefully, you’re already A/B testing most of your marketing collateral. However, incorporating psychographic data into A/B tests can result in even more revealing and accurate results.

Psychographics in marketing A/B test concept illustration 

Image via VWO

It’s important to note that when I say psychographics can be used to enhance A/B tests, I don’t necessarily mean the tests themselves. It’s very difficult to segment an A/B test by psychographic dimensions, simply because there’s no reliable way to determine or define a visitor’s psychographic profile at the moment they visit your site. I am, however, saying that psychographic analysis may yield valuable insights into why your visitors responded to the A/B test in the way they did.

Psychographics in marketing calls to action examples 

For example, does a specific landing page you tested perform strongly because of something as simple as a design element or the wording of a call to action, or are there more complex underlying reasons that could have shaped visitors’ behavior? The main image on your landing page might resonate differently depending on your audience’s psychographic makeup.

Only you can decide whether this data is actionable, but the more you know about why visitors interacted with your site in the ways they did, the more accurately you can target your ideal prospects in the future.

4. Identify New Content Topic Areas

One of my favorite content marketing concepts is what Larry calls “land and expand,” the process of broadening the breadth of your content topics to include tangentially relevant topics that are beyond your immediate business interest but are still relevant – and interesting – to your primary audience. This is an application of psychographic data that can really shine.

For example, here at WordStream, we know that many of our readers work in digital marketing – gasp! – but we also know that many are interested in broader trends in the technology industry, as we determined by analyzing analytics data from our social media accounts as well as our website.

Psychographics in marketing Google Analytics affinity categories 

Affinity categories in Google Analytics let you explore your site visitors’ interests

If we were to dig a little deeper into psychographic research, we could then ask more detailed questions when devising our wider content marketing strategies based on those interests. For example, we could investigate whether our readers’ interest in technology stems from an aspirational view of the world and how technology can solve urgent social problems, or whether this interest in tech is from a purely consumptive or entrepreneurial standpoint.

Psychographics in marketing Twitter Analytics screenshot 

Twitter Analytics is an excellent source of psychographic data such as
personal interests

Once you start to learn who your audience really is, you can “land and expand” much more effectively – a real boon for established blogs that may be experiencing difficulty in finding new topics to cover.

5. Improve Your Conversion Pathways

If you’ve set up custom conversion pathways in Google Analytics to measure the success of specific goals and objectives, incorporating psychographic data can be remarkably effective at identifying why people fail to convert and explaining more fully why people drop off at the point in the funnel that they do.

Let’s say you have a custom conversion pathway established in Google Analytics, and that this conversion pathway is tied to a specific business objective (which it should be, by the way). You may know that many prospects fail to convert on a specific landing page – but don’t know why.

Psychographics in marketing Google Analytics conversion pathways 

A visualization of conversion pathways within Google Analytics

By applying the psychographic data you’ve gathered to a specific problem (i.e. why you’re losing people at a specific point in your funnel), you can examine the problem with a great deal more focus. Is the language of your landing pages turning off prospects because they perceive your business differently than you do? Does your brand messaging reinforce beliefs your audience already holds, or does it stand directly at odds with their perceptions of themselves as consumers?

The more you know about your target market, the more confidently you can hypothesize why the most vulnerable points of your sales funnel are failing – then shore them up.

6. Reinforce Your Brand Values

We’ve talked about the importance of cultivating brand advocacy in the past, and for good reason. Brand evangelists are your most hardcore fans, and one of the best ways to encourage people to become loyal brand ambassadors for your company is to put your brand values on full display in everything you do. An easy way to do this is to compare the psychographic profiles of your most fiercely loyal followers and ensure that your wider messaging reflects these brand values.

Psychographics in marketing Baileys brand values daybook illustrations 

Illustrated examples taken from Baileys’ brand value daybook. Original art by Serge Seidlitz.

The Lush cosmetics company is an excellent example of this principle in action. Obviously I don’t have actual psychographic data for Lush’s target market to hand, but the company makes sure that its commitment to ethically produced, environmentally friendly products made without the use of animal testing is front-and-center in its messaging. I’d bet my last dollar that this messaging strongly reinforces the personal values of Lush’s ideal customer.

Psychographics in marketing Lush cosmetics brand values 

How can you reinforce your brand values as part of your wider marketing messaging?

7. Create More Targeted, Relevant Email Marketing Blasts

One of the great things about psychographics is that it gives you so much clearer an idea of not only who your target market is, but also what they want and how they feel. This, in turn, allows you to tap into your audience’s doubts, fears, and questions to create highly relevant and targeted email blasts.

Psychographics in marketing email subject line open rate comparison chart 

We know that creating highly personalized email blasts is a great way to improve your open rates. Tapping into psychographic data allows you to do precisely this. You can also cross-reference existing analytics data from your email marketing campaigns to gain greater insight into why your most popular email blasts resonated so strongly with your readers – then replicate it.

Email marketing allows for certain concessions that other marketing campaigns may not, such as the use of using hypothetical questions as enticing subject lines, tying your company’s brand values to current events, and other creative techniques, all of which can be deepened by a greater understanding of your audiences’ psychographic profile.  

8. Use Aspirational Imagery and Messaging

One of the most revealing things you can learn about your prospects through the application of psychographics is not only who they are, but who they want to be. Aspirational messaging can be extraordinarily effective, and the more you know about your market, the more effectively you can leverage these aspirational desires in your campaigns.

Psychographics in marketing aspirational marketing pyramid diagram 

At WordStream, we frequently remind our readers that people don’t buy products for its own sake; they buy things to solve their problems. As such, aspirational messaging can be amazingly powerful. It allows prospective customers to envision how your business can not only improve their lives in an immediate, problem-solving sense, but also how your business can help them become the people they want to be – a powerfully persuasive technique.  

9. Revisit and Update Buyer Personas

Our last tip might not be as exciting as the preceding tips, but it’s no less important.

Once you’ve gone through the trouble of gathering psychographic data about your target market, it’s vital that you either update existing buyer personas and message matrices to include this new information, or create new ones entirely.

Psychographics in marketing buyer personas demographics 

Many companies use multiple buyer personas for each stage of the conversion funnel, and incorporating psychographic data into your existing personas is crucial to ensure your campaigns hit the mark. This also offers a range of other benefits, including the potential for more personalized messaging, a clearer and more comprehensive profile of your ideal customers for new hires, and ultimately, more effective marketing campaigns overall.

Psychographics, Qu’est-ce Que C’est

Psychographics is an exciting and fascinating field of study that can be immensely beneficial to marketers hoping to gain greater insight into what makes their target markets tick. Combining more subjective psychographic data with traditionally empirical marketing metrics can be tricky, but the potential gains make it well worth exploring.

If you’re using psychographics in your campaigns, I’d love to hear your experiences – get at me in the comments with ideas or suggestions! 

from Wordstream Blog Feed

from Blogger

How to Create Ridiculously Good Content

How to Create Ridiculously Good Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Ann Handley
Podcast Transcript

The simple answer to the promise in today’s title is this – get Ann Handley’s lbook – Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.

Ann HandleyHandley is my guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast and she knows a thing or two about writing. She’s a former writer for the Boston Globe and was the co-founder of early web news provider, Clickz. She currently acts as the Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs.

By keeping an eye on the types of content people love to consume and share as well as the typical mistakes many first time and long time writers make, she’s gained a pretty keen insight into what works and what doesn’t.

In Everybody Writes, she makes the case for the fact that writing is inevitable to success in business and that in some form or another we can all stand to get better at this most basic form of communication. She also sticks a flag in the sand and takes a stand for better writing in general.

The great thing about Handley, and you can hear in the interview, she’s serious about better writing, but doesn’t take the notion too serious at all. In fact, her writing style is down right humorous at times.

In Duct Tape Selling, I suggested that writing may be the master skill for anyone that needs to communicate an idea. Even if you don’t write for a living, but developing a writing practice you will become a better salesperson, speaker, thinker and communicator.

Everybody Writes is jammed packed with ideas, stories and great advice as well as simple practical tips that every writer can use to improve their written communication. I love the last section of the book that breaks down how to write better landing pages, video scripts, emails and on and on – very practical stuff that everybody writes!

from Duct Tape Marketing

from Blogger

This Is Why You Should Be Testing Your Headlines

It’s all about that click.

headline analysis and testing

This is true whether you’re writing headlines for PPC ads or content that’s meant to earn organic search traffic, links, and social media shares.

You can’t honestly call your content “high quality” if it isn’t getting read. And if your headline is boring, people won’t click. They’ll ignore you.

That means lots of bad things for your business and brand. For instance, you won’t:

  • Grow your audience.
  • Attract links naturally.
  • Generate qualified leads.
  • Boost your social media engagement and shares.
  • Make enough money.

Oh, and if we’re talking paid search? You’ll pay more for your ads, since Quality Score heavily rewards a high click-through rate.

If only there were a way to know in advance whether that headline you’ve been writing will generate tons of traffic or be ignored…

Well, there might be one way – headline analyzer tools. But do they actually work?

What Are Headline Analyzers?

Headline analyzers are free tools that score your headline, giving you some sense ahead of time as to whether people are going to want to click on your headline.

Here are three headline analyzer tools you can test drive:


headline analyzer tools

This headline analyzer is my personal favorite. I’ve been using it for a couple years. It analyzes and scores your headline based on factors like your word balance, length, keywords, and sentiment. Plus, CoSchedule’s tool will show you what your headline will look like as a Google search result and an email subject line.

Advanced Marketing Institute

headline testing tools

This headline tool analyzes the “emotional marketing value” of your headline and also gives it an “emotion classification.” They say that most headlines should have between 30 and 40 percent EMV words at minimum, but ideally should be in the 50 to 75 percent range.


headline analysis tools

I’m least familiar with this tool. It uses an algorithm that analyzes your headline based on 300 variables. It provides some feedback on your strengths and also points out a few areas where you can potentially improve (e.g., mention a brand, body part, or celebrity… Um, seriously?)

So if you’re looking to craft that perfect headline, problem solved, right? Surely one of these will do the trick.

Or will they?

Analyzing the Headlines in Google Search Results

We know that Google will sometimes reward posts that generate more clicks with higher search positions. And it makes sense for them to do so.

headlines and click through rate

Think about it:

If a page Google has ranking in Position 1 gets 10 percent of clicks while a page ranking in Position 3 gets 30 percent of clicks, that would clearly signal to Google that something may be wrong. Perhaps the page in Position 3 is the better answer for a given query (as long as users aren’t immediately bouncing back to the search results) because it aligns with the user’s intent.

That means a more clickable headline could be the difference between ranking in Position 1, 2, or 3 in the SERPs.

So is there any correlation between the headline score and ranking positions?

Anecdotally, at least with CoSchedule, it sometimes seems so. But this could be an exhaustive study on its own.

For now, let’s just look at one search. Fittingly: [how to write headlines].

Here’s what you get, along with their scores from the three headline analyzers (CoSchedule / AMI / ShareThrough):

  1. Headline Writing 101: How to Write Attention Grabbing Headlines That Convert (Quicksprout) (52 / 18.18 / 73)
  2. How to Write Better Headlines [Infographic] (HubSpot) (73 / 16.67 / 65)
  3. 5 Easy Tricks to Write Catchy Headlines (Goins, Writer) (62 / 42.86 / 65)
  4. How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Copyblogger) (63 / 20 / 65)
  5. The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines (Neil Patel) (63 / 14.29 / 69)
  6. 10 questions to help you write better headlines (Poynter) (67 / 25 / 66)
  7. 9 Tips for Writing Great Headlines in 2017 (WordStream) (63 / 0 / 61)
  8. 17 Easy Tricks How to Write Catchy Titles and Headlines (DreamGrow) (70 / 30 / 67)
  9. 55 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Will Reach Your Readers (CoSchedule) (75 / 36.36 / 63)

I know what you’re thinking. CoSchedule, the creator of the headline analyzer, ranks ninth?

Well, I never said your headline was the only – or even the most important – Google ranking factor. But it definitely is one of your most important content elements.

So what does this one analysis teach us?

There is absolutely no correlation between headline analyzer scores and ranking position – at least on this one query.

Honestly, it’s pretty much impossible to draw any significant comparisons from this one example. After all, it’s just one search out of trillions of searches that happen on Google every year.

All we know is that, according to CoSchedule’s headline analyzer, the CoSchedule post has the best headline; Goins, Writer has the best headline according to AMI’s tool; and QuickSprout has the best headline, based on ShareThrough’s headline analyzer.

So is there any value in these headline scores?

Can Headline Analyzers Actually Predict a Winner?

Which one of these articles will get the most clicks?

That was the name of the game for the last month for me at Search Engine Journal (full disclosure: I am Executive Editor of SEJ).

For this particular test, I relied on CoSchedule’s headline analyzer when writing headlines.

Typically, my goal is to write headlines that score 70 or higher. But sometimes, depending on the topic, it’s surprisingly hard to get a score of 70. A score of 80+ is even rarer. Forget about a score in the 90s let alone a perfect 100 (I’ve yet to achieve either).

At SEJ, we use a custom-made headline A/B testing tool (well, technically A/B/C tool). Why custom?

  • We tried using the King Sumo WordPress plugin. However, this causes issues for cached sites (the same headline would end up being shown repeatedly, resulting in flawed tests).
  • We also tried the Title Experiments Free WordPress plugin. However, this one was bad news for SEO. Basically, the H1 tag would look empty to Google whenever it crawled and indexed the page because Google still has problems with JavaScript. Plus, if you have a high traffic day, your server could quickly get overloaded because this plugin sends an AJAX request for every page load.

During our headline test, we wrote three headlines for every new post published. Then, for 120 hours, a test ran. During this time the three headlines were shown an equal number of times to our website visitors.

Our headline A/B testing tool has one constraint worth mentioning. Our “A” headline can be any length we want, but our two alternative headlines (“B” and “C”) must be less than 50 characters total.

7 Things I Learned From 31 Days of A/B Headline Testing

OK, let’s talk results.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the following about CoSchedule’s headline scores:

  • 100 = Perfect Headline
  • 80-99 = Great Headline
  • 70-79 = Good Headline
  • 60-69 = Average Headline
  • Poor/Bad (59 or lower)

Here’s what I found in the past month.

1. Headline Analyzers Can’t Actually Predict the Winning Headline

In total, 50 articles and 150 headlines were tested.

During these 31 days of headline testing, the CoSchedule score matched the most clicked headline only 40 percent of the time.

The other 60 percent of the time, a headline with a lower score actually got more clicks.

Here’s one example.

One of these three headlines got clicked on 37 percent of time. Which one?

headline testing

You would think the “A” headline should win since it has a score of 80, but actually the “B” headline (with its score of 70) got the most clicks.

Why? My best guess, based on using CoSchedule’s tool for a while now, is that they heavily weight the word “things,” whereas readers of SEJ might be more inclined to click on “tips” than “things.”

So if you think that a great score on a headline analyzer is a reliable indicator of whether your headline will actually be successful, think again.

2. A Great Score Doesn’t Guarantee Lots of Clicks

If you get a great score (between 80 and 99), you’d expect to get lots of clicks, right?


The best score I managed to get for the month was 84 for this headline: This Is the Most Important Aspect of SEO.

This was the “B” headline. It got 35 clicks. That was good enough to come in second place, but it was a loser nonetheless.

As for that previously mentioned headline, How to Rank for Featured Snippets: 9 Things You Need to Know? It got a great score as well – 80.

That was good for last place. Third out of three. Worse yet, it was beaten handily by headlines that had scores of 70 and 66.

This is a perfect example of why you must A/B test your headlines.

3. The Most Clicked Headline Had a Good (Not Great) Score

One headline dominated all the others. Your Rankings Have Dropped – 10 Things to Do Now earned 192 clicks during our testing period.

What score did it get from CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer?

A 71.

That means 33 out of the 150 total headlines we wrote that month had a better score from the headline analyzer.

headline testing tools

That said, any headline over 70 should do well. But if one headline with a lower score can outperform 33 other headlines, this is yet another reason not to completely trust a headline analyzer.

Surprisingly, the headline that got the second most clicks was actually the “C” headline for that same article (What to Do When Google Rankings Drop Dramatically). It got 181 clicks and had a score of 68 from CoSchedule’s tool. That means it outperformed 51 other headlines with higher scores – and we didn’t even end up using it!

4. A Headline With a Good (or Even Average) Score Can Drive More Clicks Than a Great Score

In looking over these 150 articles, there are numerous examples of great headlines generating less clicks than good or average headline scores.

how to analyze headlines

For instance:

  • A Simple Guide to Smart Social Media Aggregation scored 73, but got just 36 clicks.
  • Misrepresentative Content: What You Need to Know scored 79, but only got 20 clicks.
  • How to Filter Referral Spam in Google Analytics scored 72, but got 29 clicks.

On the other end, there are numerous examples of average and good headlines generating more clicks than posts with a great score:

  • 3 Ways SEO & Content Work Better Together scored only a 54, but it got 110 clicks.
  • 8 SEO Tips to Optimize Your URL Structure scored just 59, yet it got 139 clicks.
  • Hiring an SEO? Don’t Ask These 13 Dumb Questions got a score of 64, but managed to get 131 clicks.

Bottom line: Some “how to write headline” posts try to make the process sound easier than it actually is. The truth is you really can never know with 100 percent certainty that your headline will click with readers – and get their clicks.

5. Your Content Is Only as Good as Your Headline

Spending hours writing what you consider “high-quality” content is essentially all time wasted if your headline is boring.

Don’t just spend 2-3 hours writing a post and slap some lazy headline on it. You’re sabotaging yourself.

While some people might argue that you should write dozens or even a hundred headlines for every piece of content, that’s nonsense.

If you can’t write at least an average-good headline for an article within 30 minutes, maybe there’s something seriously wrong with the content.

6. Your Headline Is Only as Good as Your Content

You can write the greatest headline in the world. But if it’s on a topic your audience doesn’t care about, it’s simply a headline wasted.

A topic that is of great interest ­– even if it has an average headline – will almost always outperform a brilliant headline on a piece of content that is more niche or simply is off-topic to your core audience.

Sometime we tend to overthink things during the content research and ideation stage. It’s really not rocket science – identify topics your audience is interested in and find new and interesting ways to talk about them.

7. Headline Analyzers Can Help You Write Better Headlines

Despite all their flaws, the process of testing your headlines with an analyzer will help you write better headlines. The secret of any kind of writing is to do it more. That’s the only way you’ll improve.

For instance, I pretty much confirmed one thing that I’ve been suspecting lately – that question headlines are losing their effectiveness. In fact, I believe that question headlines can sabotage your content.

seo headline analysis

We tried out nine question headlines on SEJ. Only one attracted any significant engagement (Hiring an SEO? Don’t Ask These 13 Dumb Questions). However, this headline doesn’t fall into the trap that many question headlines do – you can’t answer it with a yes or no (a.k.a., Betteridge’s Law).

Data vs. Creativity

i'm going to try science

Sometimes you just “know” a headline is going to be awesome. It’s perfect. It’s catchy. It’ll grab all the attention and convert like crazy.

Except, if you don’t test it against any other headlines, how do you truly know you couldn’t have had an even better headline?

If there truly is a “perfect” headline for every piece of content you create, you won’t find it unless you’re testing.

The only limit to your headline is your own creativity – and your ability to admit that you might be incredibly biased about how awesome that headline you wrote is.

Be creative. Just let the data be the final decider.

Data always wins.


Can you trust the scores of free headline analyzers to accurately predict which headline will get the most clicks? Nope. You’ll be wrong more than half of the time.

Are headline analyzers worth your time anyway? Yes. Although you’re really writing your headline for one tool’s algorithm, it forces you to re-examine every word you choose carefully.

The more headlines you write and test, the more chances you have to discover the right headline. If you aren’t testing, you’re potentially missing out on traffic, rankings, leads, shares, and revenue.

The more data you collect, the more you’ll know about what YOUR audience responds to. Ultimately, this is why you need to A/B test your headlines.

from Wordstream Blog Feed

from Blogger

5 Copywriting Tips That Will Explode Your Sales

5 Copywriting Tips That Will Explode Your Sales written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Regardless of size and stature, all businesses have one thing in common: they all rely on words to sell.

No matter what your product or service is (or how good it is), you’ll need to communicate the value of what you’re selling effectively if you are to make money.

Ultimately, that’s never going to change so. Get the message across well and you’ll thrive. If you don’t, then you’re going to have a problem sooner or later.

The funny thing is, you don’t need a writing background in order to write well. Not in my opinion, anyway. Therefore, if you’re a busy business owner who has no writing experience or qualifications, you can still create influential content.

So, what is required in order to create copy that engages, entertains, influences and motivates?

Here are 5 essential copywriting tips:

1. You must be a bit of a detective.

It’s important to know as much about your target audience as possible. The more details you have about your potential readers, the better.

Ideally, that means understanding their fears and desires. It also requires an overview of demographical information.

Is your ideal customer a man or a woman? Are they young or old? Do they speak formally or informally?

The answers to these questions will help you shape your copy and essentially spit back language that’s both familiar and comforting to the consumer.

2. You must understand and embrace human psychology.

We’re all individuals, but the weird thing is, the human brain is pretty predictable. So obviously as marketers, this is pretty helpful.

People tend to react in certain ways when confronted with particular phrases, colors, images, and instructions.

Knowing what makes people tick is a huge skill when it comes to penning persuasive business copy. Big, successful brands manipulate the way we think about the stuff that they sell all the time.

Sometimes you might not even notice what they’re doing.

But behind the scenes, there’s usually a team of copywriters, marketers and brand experts who are cleverly shifting around commas and silently tricking us into feeling something.

You can do the same.

3. Leverage the power of stories.

In years gone by, marketing was often pretty unsophisticated. Companies would shout at us. But things have changed. Huge, clever brands now use stories to sell.

The reason why? Because stories make us feel things. And when we’re emotional, this propels us to take action.

Marketing can make us feel happy, sad, worried, angry, confused, satisfied or any other type of emotion. And this is a pretty powerful thing.

The next time you create some content for your business, try to do so in the form of a story. You’ll find that your marketing resonates with your audience on a much deeper level.

4. Always remain honest and authentic.

There are many different types of marketing, but when all’s said and done, people always buy from people. Therefore, your writing must convey trust and integrity.

A common mistake amongst entrepreneurs is to act and speak like someone else. Either someone they aspire to or someone that they think the consumer wants to hear.

The trouble is, people aren’t stupid. They resent insincerity and they’re much more likely to respond positively to an entrepreneur that is communicating in a normal, everyday way than someone who’s putting on a show.

5. Remember that choosing the right words is only half the battle.

The fact is, people only tend to read 20% of content on a web page and there’s actually a lot of science behind the way we read copy.

Technology is great but it’s made us lazy and as a freelance writer, your job isn’t just to convince and convert. In fact, your primary role is to keep people hanging around as long as possible.

For starters, remember that every sentence has just one purpose: to get the next one read. Be ruthless with your words.

In addition, the way your words appear will play a huge role in the success of your work. If you really want to impress your audience, then look at the design of your website, your adverts and all of your marketing collateral.

Look at the size and type of fonts that will be used. Examine the quality of any supporting images. Space out your paragraphs so that your copy doesn’t appear too intimidating.

Want better sales?

Essentially, you can eliminate a lot of hard work, time and money by putting yourself in a reader’s shoes. User experience is everything these days, so think about what they need to hear and see.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell insurance or insulation; successful sales copy is about connecting the dots and removing barriers. And that starts with putting the customer first. As always.

Matt PressAbout the Author

Matt Press is an experienced copywriter who has written words for some of the UK’s top brands, such as Sky, Three and Vodafone. He now helps copywriters find work.

from Duct Tape Marketing

from Blogger

Why Podcasting Is Still a Great Way to Grow Your Business

Why Podcasting Is Still a Great Way to Grow Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The term podcasting is quite buzzworthy these days and interest in this medium is on the rise and in my opinion, rightfully so. Not only is it convenient for listeners who want topics that they’re interested in on demand, it’s also valuable for the person or business hosting them. As the host of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, among others, I can say that I find it an immensely valuable form of content and connection for my business.

While some may argue that the world doesn’t need another podcast, I say, if it brings value and opportunities to you, your customers, and your business, why not give it a go?

Now before I give you my reasons why I think podcasting is a great idea, I will say that like with any content, you need to approach podcasting with a strategy and you need to have answers to the questions below before you jump in.

  1. Why do I want to podcast?
  2. Do I understand my audience and can I give them what they want?
  3. Do I have the time and resources for this?
  4. Do I have a process set up to streamline these efforts?

Having a clear vision of where you want your podcast to go and what you’d like to get out of it is key. Once you have that in place, dive in and start receiving the benefits of this medium.

Reasons to start podcasting

1. Getting started is easier than it looks

The secret’s out, podcasting really isn’t that difficult to get started. People often assume that podcasts require a lot of fancy equipment and a large investment, and while you certainly can get to that point, you definitely don’t have to start there.

As long as you have a microphone that works, a way to record a conversation with guests (if you have guests), and a way to share the content with your audience, you’re really all set. A few of the tools I use are below:

2. You can repurpose episodes into other forms of content

Since podcasting is audio-based, repurposing the material into other forms of content, such as video, a blog post or a series of blog posts, is a great way to create content without reinventing the wheel. Additionally, it helps to further expand your reach because part of your audience may not be podcast listeners, but they may be blog readers, and vice versa.

3. Podcasting is great for networking and building referrals

Reaching out to others to have them as a guest on your show is a great way to build your network and will also give you more chances to be asked to be a guest on other podcasts, furthering your connections even more. The more people you can connect with, the more you’ll increase chances of referrals, leading to more opportunities and business for your company.

Along with networking and building referrals, podcasting can expand your public speaking skills as well which can lead to in-person speaking events (a great way to establish authority and credibility in your field).

4. It establishes an emotional connection with your audience

The format of a podcast allows you to develop a deeper relationship with your audience. You’re not hiding behind words on a page. Hearing your voice on a frequent basis makes your audience feel like they actually know you, and the more likely you are to establish an emotional connection with them, the more likely they’ll be to follow your brand and buy from you.

5. You can make money from it

Not all podcasters want or need to monetize, but if you are interested in making money from your show, there are a number of ways to do that, including:

  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Product promotion (be careful with how you go about this, your podcast should be entertaining and educational, not “salesy” if you want it to truly be effective)

6. You can increase traffic to your website

The audio portion of your podcast can drive traffic to your website simply because it helps to build your credibility and authority on your topic which often makes your audience want to visit your website to learn more. Another way this boosts site traffic is that podcasts often come with show notes (at least they should) that people can review for resources and an outline of the show. If people are on your site reviewing the show notes, or even the episode transcript, they’ll be more likely to visit other areas of your site, which will increase the odds of them converting to customers.

Another way podcasts boost site traffic is that they often come with show notes (at least they should) that people can review for resources and an outline of the show. If people are already on your site reviewing the show notes, or even the episode transcript, they’ll be more likely to visit other areas of your site, which will increase the odds of them converting to customers.

7. Podcasting is a type of long-form content that people actually pay attention to

I hate to say it, but our attention spans are fading. We live in a world of information overload where we only have the time to consume small bits of information at a time. With podcasts however, you can consume them at times when other forms of content are unavailable (hopefully you’re not reading a blog post while driving to work in the morning). Whereas with a podcast, you can sit in traffic for an hour and consume valuable information. Since people are engaged with podcasts for longer periods of time than other content, this gives you opportunities to showcase your knowledge and expertise in a way that you’re unable to with other formats.

Have I convinced you to try podcasting? If you’re considering starting a podcast but haven’t yet, what’s holding you back? If you’ve started one, are you experiencing any other benefits that I didn’t mention?

from Duct Tape Marketing

from Blogger

From Facebook Advertising – Reach Your Marketing Goals with Ad Objectives

Why You Need Facebook Advertising?

Why FB Advertise ReputationLoop

If you want to grow your business, you have to reach new customers. You can bet that a large cross-section of your customer base is using Facebook and Instagram every day.  To effectively market your business and increase awareness among the audience that matters to the growth of your business, effective Facebook Advertising needs to be a priority.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Facebook Advertising Objectives

Benefits of Facebook Advertising

Highly Targeted Audience Selection with Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising makes it easy to target very specific audiences with targeting features built into the Facebook Ad Manager and Power Editor.  This means more effective marketing and a higher return on your investment. You can choose who sees your ad by demographics, contact information, location, behaviors, or interests.

There are three audiences you can choose from with Facebook Advertising:

  • Core Audiences where you select your audience manually based on characteristics, like age and location.
  • Custom Audiences where you upload your contact list to connect with your customers who use Facebook.
  • Lookalike Audiences where you use the information you have about your current customers to find similar people on Facebook.

facebook advertising objectives screens

Easy and Affordable Facebook Advertising Budgeting

With the ability to drill down to a highly targeted audience you get more for your buck with Facebook Advertising.  You create your ad, set your budget and then bid it in the ad auction.  You can start low, and set or edit your ad budget at any time.  Your ad budget will be the total amount you want to spend daily or over the course of the ad campaign. You also set a bid—the maximum amount you’re willing to pay when someone sees your ad or takes your desired action.

There are two specialty buying options with Facebook Advertising for advertisers used to purchasing brand awareness and television ads:

Reach & Frequency

  • When you want your advertising campaign to reach more than 200,000 people, reach and frequency buying gives you predictable, controlled ad delivery at a locked price.

Target Rating Points

  • If you’re used to purchasing TV ads through Target Rating Points, you may be interested in purchasing video ads for Facebook, Instagram or the Audience Network in the same way.

The ad auction determines which ads should be shown to which people. Base on the information used creating your ad, the auction shows your ad to the people most likely to be interested in it.

facebook advertising objectives reputation loop

Extend Your Reach Running Ads on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network

One of the best things about Facebook Advertising is that you can create your ad once and with a few clicks run it across Facebook, Instagram or Audience Network.  One ad can reach your selected audience where they hang out on their favorite apps and websites, on mobile and desktop devices, with no resizing or reformatting is required.

Supported Facebook Advertising formats include:

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Carousel
  • Slideshow
  • Canvas (mobile only)

Available Placements are:


  • Feeds
  • Instant Articles
  • In-stream videos
  • Right column


  • Feed
  • Stories

Audience Network

  • Audience Network lets you extend your ad campaigns beyond Facebook to reach your audiences on websites and apps across devices such as computers, mobile devices and connected TVs (this feature may not be available to everyone yet.) It uses the same Facebook targeting, measurement and delivery to make sure each ad on Audience Network helps you reach your campaign goals at the most cost-effective price.


  • Home
  • Sponsored messages

Reach Your Marketing Goals with Facebook Advertising

With Facebook Advertising, businesses just like yours are capturing the attention of interested customers.  They are showing off their products, highlighting their services and collecting leads right where people are spending their time online.

Find your next customer easily with a simple 3-Step Facebook Advertising plan:

  1. Choose your audience based on demographics, contact information, and behaviors.
  2. Create eye-catching ads that automatically resize and reformat to work on different platforms and every device.
  3. Use ad reporting tools and study ad channel behavior to see how your ads impacted your business and pinpoint when, where, and how to connect to your audience.

Extending the advertising reach for your business can be as simple as adding Facebook Advertising to your marketing plan.  Build your presence and create awareness for your business while driving discovery and generating leads.  With deeper engagement and a higher return on investment than less targeted digital marketing Facebook Advertising can be the key to increasing customer loyalty and boosting sales.

Don’t forget to download your copy of FACEBOOK ADVERTISING OBJECTIVES above!

Facebook Advertising Objectives PDF Graphic

Free Demo RepLoop

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Facebook Advertising – Reach Your Marketing Goals with Ad Objectives appeared first on Reputation Loop.

from Reputation Loop
via IFTTT From Our Associates at Reputation Loop

The post Facebook Advertising – Reach Your Marketing Goals with Ad Objectives appeared first on RepPilot.

from RepPilot

from Blogger