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21st Century Copywriting: Website Marketing Strategies to Engage Your Clients

Oct 31, 2007
The new buzzword these days is "engagement marketing," which has replaced old-style "interruption marketing." Engagement marketing creates interactions and deepens relationships with your clients. Interruption marketing breaks into your client's life the way television commercials break into our programs.

When we engage with clients, they welcome us. When we interrupt them, they try to shut us out. And technology makes it easy to make unwanted sales pitches disappear.

Engagement marketing allows you to write long copy. In fact, it demands long copy. You need to connect with your customers They want more than a quick touch and go.

So how you do create long messages that engage your visitors and help them develop relationships?

1. Create a friendly conversation.

Let's face it: your website visitors want to connect you. They are sitting all alone with their computers and they want to feel somebody cares enough to talk to them. Reading pages and pages of copy should feel like getting a letter from a good friend.

Short copy (and short-short ezines) comes across more like a message left on an answering machine -- not a meaningful dialog.

Ever had a phone conversation with a friend or even a business relationship when you just enjoyed talking?

You were in no hurry to hang up. You were entertained. You felt affirmed. When readers feel this way, they will stay tuned all the way to the bottom of the page.

2. Maintain suspense.

Whether you're writing website copy or murder mysteries, keep the readers wondering what happens next. Each sentence should motivate the reader to move to the next sentence...and the next paragraph...and the next page, chapter and even book.

I amm not sure who first applied the term "bucket brigade" to copy. But here is the idea.

Before fire departments got organized, volunteers would fight fires by lining up and passing buckets of water from the nearest well to whatever was burning. Another line would pass empty buckets back for refills. Buckets moved from hand to hand fast, with no stops.

So think of each idea as a bucket you want to pass along, from one sentence to the next. Motivate the reader: "Keep going! Urgent! You need to reach the end before anything else happens!"

3. Ask, "Who is reading?" rather than "How long?"

Your target market really wants to learn what you have to say. They realize they'll learn from you, even if you're overtly making a sales pitch. So they keep reading....and reading.

What is your favorite personal interest? Dogs? Cats? Hiking? Basketball? Soccer? Music? Art? Real estate?

When you're passionate, you cannot learn enough. You hope the article, book or talk will go on forever. And if you have targeted right, your readers will feel the same way.

4. Encourage your readers to talk back to you.

Marketing researchers know: When we read any message, we tend to talk back! Sometimes we speak aloud (and even throw a magazine across a room (doesn't work with a computer).

But most often we engage in what psychologists call "counter-arguments." For example, you read, "This technique will transform your cat into an obedient pet who comes when called."

You think, "No way!" or, "You must be kidding."

We also affirm what we read.

"That's a great idea!"
"That sounds like something I would like to do."

And (especially if we're contemplating a big-ticket item) we're seeking more and more reasons to justify our buying decision.

So...you're probably ahead of me: Longer copy means more opportunities to say, "Yes, it's for me!"

5. Crawl out on the edge.

What television shows become mega-hits? You got it: the big HBO and Showtime series that go outside the networking programming box.

They're more like indie films than television and they attract audiences of millions. Just try to rent a DVD of past seasons: you get on a waiting list.

Marketing works the same way.

Whenever I take a risk with an edgy ezine article, a few readers unsubscribe and some even send a grumpy emails. But I always get a few e-book orders. That's when I get requests for Diagnostic sessions, too.

When I write reviews for amazon.com, I just say what's on my mind. And I get some of my best clients and subscribers.

One reader even wrote, "Do they call you Cantankerous Cathy? You never say anything nice!" But she signed up for my ezine and attended three teleclasses.

Edgy means just strong enough to resonate with your own target market. Some famous copywriters use strong, colorful language. My audience tends to prefer G-rated expressions. Adapt your edginess to your audience and your own style.

Bottom line: As long as you hook the reader, maintain suspense and tell a good story, your message can be as long as you want it to be. Keep doing this and you'll genuinely engage your audience -- the first step to turn them into clients in today's market.
About the Author
FREE 7 Best-Kept Secrets of Websites That Really Attract Clients: My Special Report gives you insider tips to convert tire-kickers to buyers and earn money while you sleep. From Cathy Goodwin, The Content Strategist, at Website Marketing Strategies
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