App review: Touchnote

When I was looking at Deloitte’s annual “Fast 50” 2015 winners, I saw that Touchnote, was ranked 9th, based on a 2312% growth rate (!). Touchnote was described as a “postcard sending service” on Deloitte’s listing, which made me curious to learn more about how a postcard sending service can enjoy such phenomenal growth. Let’s have a look at the app in more detail:

My quick summary of the app (before using it) – I expect an app which makes it easy for me to create and send postcards.

How does the app explain itself in the first minute – As soon as I open the app, a modal appears with a picture of a smiley couple wearing Santa hats. The description on the modal screen reads “Christmas cards – Turn photos into beautiful Christmas cards.” It’s clear that the app lets me take my pictures and convert them into postcards.

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Getting started, what’s the process like – By clicking “next” on the modal screens, I get a good flavour of the different cards and frames I can create through Touchnote. However, once I’ve seen the last modal screen and land on the main screen of the app, I’m not entirely clear about how Touchnote works. For example, I’m not quite clear about how Touchnote’s credit packs work and what the benefit is of buying credits instead of buying per card or set of cards. Also, I’m wondering whether I need to sign in or create a Touchnote account to use the service. However, it’s clear where I need to click to create a (Christmas) card or a framed picture.

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After indicating that I’m happy for the app to access the pictures on my phone, the process feels very intuitive and straightforward. For example, changing layouts felt very simple. As a user, the last thing I want to do with an app like this is fiddling endlessly with layouts and customisation.

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Again, selecting, rotating images, adding a caption and selecting an address – it all feels very easy and I end up with a postcard that I’m happy with.

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I’m now told that I need to buy 1 credit to buy (and send?) the card, but it looks like I need to sign up with Touchnote to be able to do that. Why can’t I use Touchnote as a guest? It would be great if I could sign up at a later stage when I’m clearer about the quality of the service and about how Touchnote works.

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Payment through Touchnote feels very easy, even though I would have liked to have know about the price of 1 credit prior to arriving at the payment screen. All in all, a very easy and seamless purchase process, followed by a nice confirmation email in my inbox.

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How does the app compare to similar apps? – Out of the similar apps that I looked at, Postdroid felt the least elegant. Apart from struggling to manipulate images, the thing that struck me most is that the first screen on the Postdroid app is a login one, which doesn’t make me feel particularly welcome to say the least. In contrast, creating a postcard through Postino felt just as easy as doing it through Touchnote, the main difference being that Postino lets you choose from a number of borders to add to the picture, so that you don’t have to have to worry about empty spaces or padding.

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Did the app deliver on my expectations? – The whole process of creating a postcard through Touchnote felt incredibly easy, and I wondered whether Touchnote are looking to apply this seamless experience to personalising and sending other items such as mugs or plant pots (yes, plant pots). Given how easy the Touchnote app was to use, I was wondering why the app doesn’t work harder on explaining early on how pricing works or why it doesn’t let customers purchase cards as a guest. But yes, all in all, the app definitely did deliver on my expectations.

Learning more about EdTech (1)

I’m currently doing an online course, learning more about UX design, and I’ve already provided my course provider some feedback on how they can improve their online course experience … I guess I can’t help myself. This experience prompted me to look into the education tech or the “EdTech” space a bit more, starting by checking out both popular educational apps and technology trends within this space. In this post, I’ll have a closer look at three popular educational apps in Udemy, Lynda.com and Khan Academy.

Udemy

Udemy’s motto is “Online Course Anytime, Anywhere.” It’s a purely online service, offering over 32,000 courses on any device to over 8 million students. For example, I’m currently learning about creating prototypes using Axure, and Udemy offers an online course on how to best use this tool (see Fig. 1 and 2 below). Compared to some of the online courses which I’ve done previously – on design thinking and gamification for example – the Udemy approach feels quite interactive, offering more opportunities for students to interact with their instructor (see example in Fig. 3 below).

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of “Mastering Axure RP 7: UX Design Prototyping” by Udemy on iOS

 

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of “Mastering Axure RP 7: UX Design Prototyping” by Udemy on desktop

 

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of Discussion about “Mastering Axure RP 7: UX Design Prototyping” by Udemy on iOS

 

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Lynda.com

Earlier this year Lynda.com got acquired by LinkedIn and it felt like a significant acquisition. Similar to Udemy, Lynda.com enables “On-the-go learning”, making it easy for students to switch between devices and operating systems. The two features I like on Lynda.com is that one can preview a specific course (see Fig. 4 below) and the way in which related or suggested courses are displayed, both on desktop and on mobile (see Fig. 5 below).

Fig. 4 – Screenshot of  “Google Analytics Essential Training” by Lynda.com on desktop

 

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of suggested courses to look as part of the “Web” Category on Lynda.com on iOS

 

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Khan Academy

Whereas Udemy and Lynda.com are aimed at slightly older audiences, the mission of Khan Academy is to offer “A personalised learning resources for all ages.” The story of Salman Khan who started out by posted his math video tutorials on YouTube in 2004 is well published. This eventually turned into a well established platform which teaches maths and other topics to kids from a kindergarten age and beyond. For example, when I watched a video about the basics of adding and subtracting, it felt very intuitive and I could see how I could use this video to teach my two young boys (see Fig. 6 below).

Fig.6 – Screenshot of “Addition and subtraction” video on Khan Academy iOS app 

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Main learning point: Even by just looking at these three apps, Udemy, Lynda.com and Khan Academy, I feel that there’s so much opportunity for educational providers to create new digital products and services, offering students personalised learning experiences.

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/schoolboard/2015/05/11/the-only-metric-that-measures-the-success-of-education-technology/
  2. http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/trends/2053-trends-in-educational-technology
  3. http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2015/06/iste-2015-6-tech-trends-educations-horizon-2015-2020
  4. http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/03/teachers-will-embrace-students-smartphone-addiction-in-2015/
  5. http://blog.capterra.com/best-elearning-apps-businesses/
  6. http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/
  7. https://press.linkedin.com/site-resources/news-releases/2015/linkedin-to-acquire-lyndacom
  8. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2015/04/28/what-linkedins-acquisition-of-lynda-means-for-talent-management/

App review: WeSwap

It’s all about the “sharing economy” these days. Think Uber, Airbnb and JustPark. Sharing is starting to become a ‘thing’ in the finance sector too; TransferWise is a good example in this respect. I recently came across WeSwap, which is a peer-to-peer travel money exchange service founded two years ago. I decided to review the WeSwap app and these are some of my findings:

  1. How did the app come to my attention? – I recently read an article in the Financial Times, titled “Travel money venture cashes in peer-to-peer cash.” WeSwap got quite a lot of coverage in the article and that’s how I found out about it.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it)? – Similar to the model behind TransferWise, I believe WeSwap helps people to exchange currencies without having to pay hefty bank fees.
  3. How does the app explain itself in the firs minute? – Before entering the actual WeSwap app, I see a screen which states “WeSwap helps you save on your travel money.” This is followed by the explanation “by swapping your money with other travelers, travelling in the opposite direction (see Fig. 1 below).”
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like (1)? – Despite the app being a bit slow to load, the account creation process felt very intuitive, clean and nicely laid out (see Fig. 2 below). I did feel a little bit of confused as I thought account creation was going to be a 1-step process (see Fig. 3 below). However, after I’d submitted my email and and password, I got a screen which showed a 3-step account creation progress bar at the top (see Fig. 4 below). I then had to give up on the the account creation process, as I was doing this on the go and didn’t have personal ID files that I could upload, nor was I fully clear on why this was necessary to create an account (see Fig. 5 below).
  5. Getting started, what’s the process like (2)? – From the screenshots that I’ve looked at (see Fig. 5), the WeSwap interfaces and interactions feel very clear and intuitive. What I couldn’t test, however, was how self-explanatory the “swaps” and “loads” are. I believe that the ability to explain the currency ‘swaps’ to casual users will be critical to the success and adoption of WeSwap.
  6. How does the app compare to similar apps?Currencyfair and Kantox offer a service similar to WeSwap. However, they don’t seem to have a mobile app. Transferwise, another WeSwap competitor, do offer a mobile app. The TransferwWise app feels very accessible, and is focused on being easy to use.
  7. Did the app deliver on my expectations? – I feel I can’t really answer this question, having given up during the account creation process. The way the app presents itself in the first few screens feels very intuitive and simple, but I hadn’t expected the sign-up process to feel as onerous as it did. That could just be me and not the app, but it did stop me from using the app on the go.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of WeSwap opening screen (when using the app for the first time)

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap 

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap – Step 1 

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap – Step 2

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of account creation process in WeSwap – Step 3

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Fig. 5 – WeSwap screenshots – Taken from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.weswap.app

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App review: Amazon Seller App

How do the likes of eBay, Amazon Handcraft, Notonthehighstreet, Rakuten and Etsy go about supporting the small businesses who sell products through their platforms? What are some of the typical data and customer insights that these sellers benefit from and why? Amazon recently launched its Seller App aiming to “help grow and manage your selling business on Amazon.” I had a quick look at the Amazon Seller App and these are my initial thoughts:

  1. How did the app come to my attention? – Since I’ve started working on online marketplaces I tend to keep an eye out for new technology and tools available to the sellers on these marketplaces.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it) – I expect a mobile app, which helps sellers to keep a close eye on their sales figures and manage their orders.
  3. How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – The first screen of the app asks me to select my marketplace (see Fig. 1 below). It doesn’t provide any further context but I presume that if you’re an active seller on Amazon you might not need any further info.
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like? – I’m not a seller on Amazon, but looking at some of the screenshots and the data provided, I can imagine that sellers will find it relatively easy to use the app (see Fig. 2 and 3 below). What I’m curious about though is the data syncing between devices, making sure your sales data is as ‘real-time’ as possible. I also couldn’t get a sense of whether (and how well) the Seller App integrates with Amazon’s Mobile Credit Card Reader.
  5. How does the app compare to similar apps?  The Amazon Seller App feels very similar to the Sell on Etsy app and SellerMobile. For example, the Etsy app enables sellers to manage their open orders and revisit completed ones on the go (see Fig. 4 below). The Etsy app also offers sellers the opportunity to check their Etsy shop and product views, but I’m not sure whether this analytics feature is included in Amazon’s Seller App.
  6. Did the app deliver on my expectations?  Yes, based on what I could tell from the screenshots and app description. The app looks the provide the key stats and insights that marketplace sellers tend to be interested in. What I could not tell from the screenshots is how the app facilitates sellers who sell on multiple marketplaces, for example in the UK and the US. I know this is a reality for lots of small businesses and it would be good to find out how the user interface of the Amazon Seller App accommodates for this use case.

Main learning point: The Amazon Seller App looks fit for purpose, providing sellers with key sales information that’s visual and easy to manage on the go. Analytics and multiple marketplaces are two areas where I’m not sure how (well) they are covered by this app. However, if you sell products through Amazon and want to keep a close eye on your orders and sales, then this app should give you the key information to help you manage your activities on Amazon’s marketplace.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of opening screen on Amazon Seller App (iOS)

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Fig. 2 – Screenshots of Amazon Seller App (iOS) – Taken from: http://www.allmediatalks.com/amazon-in-launches-its-seller-app-in-india-amazon-online-selling/

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot order detail view on Amazon Seller App (iOS) – Taken from: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amazon-seller/id794141485

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of the ‘Sell on Etsy’ App – Taken from: https://blog.etsy.com/news/2014/introducing-new-mobile-app-just-for-sellers/

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://tamebay.com/2015/06/amazon-marketplaces-eu-release-seller-app.html
  2. http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/06/amazon-debuts-an-official-mobile-app-for-amazon-sellers/
  3. http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/18003/its-good-to-be-an-amazon-marketplace-seller
  4. http://www.fiercewireless.com/europe/story/mobile-app-helps-amazon-sellers-shift-2b-items-2014/2015-01-05
  5. http://www.allmediatalks.com/amazon-in-launches-its-seller-app-in-india-amazon-online-selling/
  6. http://www.wired.com/2014/08/amazon-mobile-credit-card-reader/
  7. http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/23/etsy-moves-further-into-the-offline-world-with-launch-of-card-reader-for-in-person-payments/
  8. https://blog.etsy.com/news/2014/introducing-new-mobile-app-just-for-sellers/

App review: “audioBoom”

I love listening to podcasts and therefore regularly use platforms like iTunes (not the best user experience) and TuneIn (lots of choice). Although I’d heard of audioBoom, I haven’t used it yet. Let’s give it a go and see what the product is like:

  1. How did the app come to my attention? – I think it must have been one of my colleagues in the digital music space who mentioned audioBoom to me.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it) – I expect a platform which both enables people to upload their audio recordings and provides easy access to these recordings.
  3. How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – The first screen of the app displays a video without sound, showing two different people using audioBoom (see a screenshot in Fig. 1 below). Each video segment mentions a different element of audioBoom’s proposition: “Welcome – The best in spoken-word audio”, “Trending – The biggest stories as they happen”, “Curate – Build your listening playlists”, “Trending – The biggest stories as they happen”, “Discover – Explore unmissable audio content”, “Record – Record, upload and edit on the fly”, “Follow – Don’t miss your favourite posts” and “Download – Listen offline no internet need.”
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like (sign up and choose a category)? – I’m not looking to record anything at this stage, I’m just looking to discover new podcasts to listen to. The signup screen and related steps are very straightforward. The second screen of the onboarding looks great and again, feels very intuitive; I can select the categories that I’m interested in (see Fig. 3 below). The overlay message explains this in two easy to understand messages (see Fig. 3 below) after which I tick the categories that I’m interested in.
  5. Getting started, what’s the process like (choose a subcategory)? – Per category that I’ve selected, I then get to choose a subcategory. For example, for the “Sport” categories I can choose from subcategories such as “Football”, “Rugby Union” and “NHL” (see Fig. 4 below). Once I’ve gone through the different subcategories, I’m then presented with “Recommended Follows” (see Fig. 5 below).
  6. How easy to use was the app? – Once I completed the onboarding process, the app explains how to navigate between different pieces of audio (see Fig. 6 below) and how to follow a specific user or to download audio for later. When you get into an actual piece of audio, the interface is clean but has all the info and calls to action necessary to listen to the audio (see Fig. 7 below). Navigating between the different pieces of audio on audioBoom felt very easy and intuitive.
  7. How does the app compare to similar apps?  TuneIn Radio is one of audioBoom’s main competitors. TuneIn’s iOS app has a similar feel to audioBoom. However, I feel that TuneIn currently has more to offer when it comes to audio to listen to. For example, in the “Sports” category there’s more content to explore than on audioBoom (see Fig. 8 below). However, from a pure design and visual perspective, audioBoom looks a lot nicer and feels like a more ‘delightful’ experience.
  8. Did the app deliver on my expectations?  Yes, easy to find and use audio content, presented in a way that feels very intuitive. The only thing I’m hoping for is that audioBoom will be able to further grow its content portfolio. This way the app will no doubt get more sophisticated in the personalised recommendations that it can provide me.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of audioBoom’s opening screen

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of audioBoom’s signup screen

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of audioBoom’s “Choose your preferences” screen

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of audioBoom’s “Choose a subcategory” screen

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of audioBoom’s “Recommended Follows” screen

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Fig. 6 – Screenshot of navigation messaging on audioBoom

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Fig. 7 – Screenshot of audio interface on audioBoom

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Fig. 8 – Screenshots of TuneIn’s sports category screen

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How to create copy that works well for search engines?

Previously I’ve been learning about writing effective copy. I now want to learn more about how to best write for search engine optimisation. I used a great ebook titled “How to Create Compelling Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines” by Copyblogger to help me with this.

One of the first aspects raised in “How to Create Compelling Content” is a basic understanding of the three major components that power search engines:

  • Crawling – This is all about search engine “spiders” that crawl the web for content. These are actually bits of computer code that find information on a web page, “read” it, and then tirelessly continue along their journey by following links from your page to other pages. The spider will return from time to time to look for changes to the original page. This means that there will be opportunities to change the way a search engine sees and assesses your content.
  • Indexing –  The spider is not just casually browsing content, it’s storing the content it finds in a giant database. This is called indexing. The spider’s goal is to save every bit of content it crawls for the future benefit of searchers. It’s also gauging how relevant that content is to the words that searchers use when they want to find an answer to something.
  • Ranking –  Ultimately it’s about how the engine decides to deliver the most relevant results to searchers. The search engine algorithm which decides on the results follows a very complex set of rules. Copyblogger explains these rules as “the ground rules for a duel between your content and other content that might satisfy a searcher’s keyword query.”

Copyblogger then goes on to explain the importance of doing some keyword research upfront. What are the words and phrases that people use to find the information that they were looking for? These are the five key things to bear in mind in relation to keyword research:

  • Research tools – Google has a good, free keyword tool and there are similar tools out there such as Keyword Tool and Ubersuggest.
  • Get specific – Even though we often talk about keywords, in most cases it will be specific (short) phrases that are relevant. For example, “new car deals” or “best car discounts”.
  • Strength in numbers – It’s important to look at the relative popularity of a specific keyword among search terms. You want to make sure that enough people use your phrase or keyword when thinking about a specific topic. If you’re trying to rank in a very competitive sector, a keyword combination that can rank for an easier phrase might be preferable.
  • Highly relevant – This feels like the main point when doing keyword research: “Make sure that the search terms you are considering are highly relevant to your ultimate goal.”
  • Content resource – The key question here is whether a particular keyword phrase can support the development of content that readers perceive as value-adding. Copyblogger breaks this down into the following aspects: (1) satisfies the preliminary needs of the site visitor (2) acts as the first step in your sales or action cycle and (3) prompts people to link to it.

The book then goes into the more of the nitty gritty by highlighting “Five SEO copywriting elements that matter”:

  1. Title – With the title of your content, the critical thing is to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting are included in your title. Also, the closer to the front of the title your keywords are, the better. I’ve included some more points on how to best optimise your title in Fig. 1 and 2 below.
  2. Meta-Description – Copyblogger makes a good point by stressing that SEO copywriting isn’t just about ranking. It’s also about what your content looks like on a search engine results page (“SERP”). The meta description of your content will generally be the “snippet” copy for the search result below the title, which influences whether a person decides to read your content (and whether she clicks). Like with the title, the best would be to lead the meta-description with your keyword phrase. Also, you want to try and keep the meta description under 165 characters so the full description is visible in the search result. See Fig. 3 below for some examples of effective meta-descriptions.
  3. Content – For search optimisation purposes, your content should be on topic and strongly focus on the subject matter of the desired keyword phrases. It’s generally accepted that very brief content may have a harder time ranking over a page with more substantial content. So you’ll want to have a content body length of at least 300 words.
  4. Keyword frequency – There’s a clear difference between “keyword frequency” and “keyword density”. Keyword frequency is the number of times your targeted keyword phrase appears on the page. In contrast, keyword density is the ratio of those keywords to the rest of the words on the page. Copyblogger explains how keyword frequency affects ranking and that keyword density might not. I guess it’s a case of using common sense when writing content, checking the frequency of your keywords against the rest of the content. A keyword density greater than 5.5% could find you guilty of what’s called “keyword stuffing”, which tends to make Google think you’re trying to game their system.
  5. Linking out – Search engines are keen that your content is well connected with other content and pages, hence why linking out is important from an SEO perspective. Copyblogger provides some good tips with respect to linking out (see Fig. 4 below).

Main learning point: I’ve learned that getting your copy right is extremely important from an SEO perspective. This starts with being clear about the ultimate goal that you’re trying to achieve through your content, making sure this is reflected in your keyword phrase and, subsequently, in the title and body of the actual content.

Fig. 1 – Optimising the title of your content for SEO – Adapted from: http://www.copyblogger.com/seo-copywriting/

  • Have an alternative title in the title tag – It’s important that your CMS or blogging software allow you to serve an alternate title in the title tag (which is the snippet of code Google pulls to display a title in search results) than the headline that appears on the page.
  • Try to keep title length under 72 characters – Keeping your title length under 72 characters will ensure the full title is visible in a search result, increasing the likelihood of a click-through.

Fig. 2 – Sample titles, optimised for SEO:

For example, let’s say the keywords or phrases that I’m looking to target are “Ford Focus discounts”, then sample titles could look something like this:

“Three ways to get the best discount on your Ford Focus”

“Why getting an incredible discount on a new Ford Focus is easy”

Both titles contain my keyword phrase, but the keywords might not be in the best location for ranking or even for quick-scanning searchers compared with regular readers. By using an alternate title tag, I can enter a more search-optimized title for Google and searchers only, such as:

“Ford Focus: 3 ways to get the best discount”

“Getting discounts on a Ford Focus is easy”

Fig. 3 – Examples of effective meta-descriptions – Taken from: https://econsultancy.com/blog/62553-33-examples-of-great-meta-descriptions-for-search/ 

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 Fig. 4 – Best practices with respect to linking out – Taken from: http://www.copyblogger.com/seo-copywriting/
  • Link to relevant content fairly early in the body copy
  • Link to relevant pages approximately every 120 words of content
  • Link to relevant interior pages of your site or other sites
  • Link with naturally relevant anchor text

Learning to write copy for the Web

Copy. Words. We all need them. On a piece of paper. On your phone. On the Web. I recently decided to learn more about writing copy, particularly aimed at writing for the Web. The first question that I asked myself was “what makes effective copy?”

From The 5P Approach to Copy that Crushes It by Copyblogger I learned that:

“The most important aspect of copy that works is how well your message matches up with the way your prospective customer views things.” 

UK based copywriting expert Andy Maslen explains that before you do anything else, it’s important to think about your answers to these three questions:

  1. What keeps your prospect awake at three in the morning?
  2. What can you promise them to ease that pain?
  3. Why might they not believe you?

Andy then goes on to explain how answers to these three questions will help you create effective copy:

  • Answer question one and you have psychological insights into your prospect’s needs, desires and motivations.
  • Answer question two and you translate the features of your product into its deep underlying benefits.
  • Answer question three and you identify their objections, which you can then start to overcome.

I then delved deeper into Copyblogger’s 5P approach:

  1. Premise – The emotional concept that not only attracts attention, but maintains engagement throughout every element of your landing page copy and imagery. The ultimate outcome of the premise is the desired action that you would like the reader of your copy to take (see Fig. 1 below). Copyblogger explains this as follows: “The premise connects you to the emotional centre of your prospect’s brain, stimulates desire, maintains credibility, and results in the opening of the wallet. It’s the unification of the prospect’s worldview + the market + the benefits + the proof + a call to action into one simple, compelling message.”
  2. Promise – Using the so-called “Pyramid of Benefits”, you can come up with numerous befits of your product or service (see Fig. 2 below). However, it’s the ultimate benefit you discover by working through the benefits pyramid that equates to your premise.
  3. Picture – The picture phase is all about using images, storytelling, and tangible language as a way to hold the reader’s emotional interest while you nudge them down the path to acceptance. I’m learning that the way to best retain the reader’s attention is to get her to imagine herself enjoying the ultimate benefit or desired outcome. Then you get very specific about how your proposed solution or idea makes that benefit happen. A great example is “The Man in a Hathaway Shirt” by advertising guru David Ogilvy (see Fig. 3 below). The key aspect of the “picture” element is that the reader has to tell herself their own story based on the picture you create in their head with the elements of your landing page or imagery.
  4. Proof – Statistics, studies, graphs, charts, third-party facts, testimonials, a demonstration that the features of your product deliver the benefits you’ve promised—these are all part of the “proof” section of your piece. The main thing to remember here is to ensure that your premise (see Point 1. above) shines through every bit of your copy and is also reflected in the proof that you provide.
  5. Push – The “push” phase is more than just a call to action. It’s about communicating an outstanding offer in a clear, credible, and compelling way, and then asking for action. Persuasive writing begins with the desired outcome in mind, so during the push you’re tying the beneficial premise and the vivid picture to solid acceptance and concrete action.

Main learning point: I found it really helpful to learn about the “5P” approach to writing copy on the web. It may sound obvious to some, but thinking about the reader of your copy, their needs and objectives, is an easy thing to lose sight of. Considering the 5Ps before, during and after writing your copy will no doubt help to get your content read or applied more widely!

Fig. 1 – Elements of a Premise – Taken from: http://my.copyblogger.com/basic/5p-copy/

  1. Be unpredictable – The first thing you absolutely must have is attention. Without initial attention for your content, nothing else you’ve done matters. And nothing kills attention faster than if your prospective reader, listener, or viewer thinks they already know where you’re going. Beyond curiosity, a great premise delivers an unpredictable and unexpected element that makes it irresistible. It all comes back to knowing at an intimate level who you’re talking to and what they’re used to seeing in the market. What messages are they getting from your competition? This is what you must use as the benchmark to create your own unique and unexpected angle that forms the foundation of your premise.
  2. Be simple – Because a premise by definition is an unprecedented and grand idea, sometimes boiling it down to its essence is difficult, or worse, neglected. However, it’s important to always to try and keep your premise as short and powerful as possible.
  3. Be real – ‘Keeping it real’ in the copywriting sense means a couple of things. Firstly, by making sure that your premise is highly relevant to your intended audience. For example, when I write copy as part of my day job at carwow, I’ll need to make sure that my copy is perceived as relevant in the eyes of my target audience, i.e. buyers of new cars. The aim here is to inspire a desirable reaction from your target audience before triggering a desirable action. Secondly, your message must communicate meaningful benefits that are also tangible. In order to create a sense of “instant understanding” with your audience, you need to tell the story in a way that conveys information in a way that’s likely to resonate with your prospect.
  4. Be credible – If you’re writing to persuade, you have to hit the gut before you get anywhere near the brain. The part that decides “I want that” is emotional and often subconscious. If your premise doesn’t work emotionally, logic will never get a chance to weigh in. Credibility or “proof” needs to be baked into the premise as much as possible.

Fig. 2 – The Benefits Pyramid – Taken from: http://www.somethinggreat.com/promotion-events/

Benefits-pyramid-pic

Fig. 3 – “The Man in The Hathaway Shirt” ad by David Ogilvy – Taken from: http://www.directmarketinginstitute.com/HathawayShirtAd.htm

hathaway shirt ad

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.makepeacetotalpackage.com/archives/make-your-products-benefits-sparkle/