At the end of the day, though, we are not writing here for fun or to show off, but to have impact.
We have already tackled the 5Ps of personalisation, but there is much more than that. The content itself must be digitally ‘smart’. It must fit the precise dialogue or the value exchange that’s intended. There are therefore five more rules to bear in mind: the 5Cs of content management.
6. Write to connect
Job 1, in writing, is simply to be read. These days that means knowing how content will manage to cut through the clutter of the reader’s inbox or their host of open tabs to become ‘the thing that commands attention’.
There are several factors that dictate this today. One is to choose words with high emotional marketing value. Words like ‘new’, ‘free’ and so forth. Another is the sort of pithy structures we explored at 5 above, and yet another is to use the sort of context-specific copy we’ll explore at 9 below. But most important of all, the priority is to focus on experiences that that are universal by their very nature. Did you know that 52% of the best performing blogs with the most shared headlines refer to FOOD! There can surely be nothing more universal. As Alan Bennett said:
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”
7. Write credibly
Always strive for authenticity. In the quote above we’ve seen how we can aim to make our communication about one person communicating to another. But we must also understand the doubts and barriers that will emerge. Writing credibly includes writing about concrete things (which is something I often fail at quite dismally!). It involves using verbs that make action seem for practical and more personal for example. And it also includes, to attempt to remove doubts when writing by acknowledging them up front. For example:
“I absolutely recognise that in using 5Ps and 5Cs to simplify these thoughts about coptywriting, I have strained your credulity to the limit. You may well be concerned that a superficial neatness of presentation has taken precedence over truthful explanation of the issues. But let me reassure you, a) that shoehorning the content into these two C-shaped and P-shaped shoes was the work of a moment, and b) that the advantage of memorability in the image of having ‘5 PCs’ for web copywriting will more than outweigh any scepticism. In fact, this item, number 7, was the only one that took any real effort, as it happens…”
8. Write for the channel
Every channel today has unique features. Different vocabulary ‘scores’ differently depending on whether it’s inside the smart-casual business context of Linkedin or the diverse leisure dome that is Facebook. Specifically, you should consider how to write for each channel. On Twitter, for example there are a number of simple ways to multiply the effectiveness of your tweets. Including images, writing shorter tweets; asking for retweets and so many more approaches. To misquote Marshall McLuhan
“The channel IS the content”
9. Write to convert
The fourth C is the need to convert. Arguably this is the purpose of the any copywriting, but it’s especially so when it comes to a web-page. Over time, many web-sites become like cities – full of roadworks.
They sprawl with road narrowings, blockages and cul-de-sacs. Pages get left stranded or buried within the site with no clear call to action and nowhere to go.The lesson is simple. Every page must do its job. Always.
You should build web-page mindful that the visitor is coming from somewhere (often directly from Google) and that they are going on somewhere (hopefully to take an action). If your copy doesn’t take account of basis search engine optimisation, emotional conversation triggers and calls to action, you should question the value of the page.
10. Write for your culture
The last of our rules of personalised content is to write for your own unique organisational culture.
Despite the general lessons above, there’s a reason IBM doesn’t write like Apple. And a reason Coke doesn’t write like Cancer Research. And the different is not just the substance of what they write. What matters is that you find your own unique brand tone. There are lots of way to do this, but in essence it comes down to deciding which words, phrases and turns of phrase are and aren’t ‘on the same page’ as your brand. It’s then about establishing a clear red line between:
“The things we write round here vs the things we don’t”.
So there we have it. 5Ps of personalisation. 5Cs of content. Making 5PCs worth of writing for the web.
If you have a particular content planning or copywriting problem, please do get in touch. We’d be delighted to discuss it with you and help your brand culture take flight.
Tim Kitchin is client service director and director of consulting at Copper, the digital marketing agency.