The Business of Rebranding in 2018; Is it Time?


Picture of company employees mapping out the process of their business re-branding plans.
Mapping Out our Business Rebranding; The Competitive Edge

 

As the title of this article implies, the question of if and when to rebrand out business entity looms large. Do you love your current business brand? Is your business flourishing, evolving, growing consistently? Today, I want to share with you ways in which we need to focus on our business entity and how rebranding can play a significant role in the sustained health of our business in 2018 and beyond.

Targeted Market Engagement

Over time, you may begin to notice subtle, or not-so-subtle changes in the level of your targeted market’s engagement in your business. Perhaps they are becoming less interested in what you have to offer, disengaged and tending to shop around more, connect in a more responsive way to your competitors. Is it all about price point, quality, less responsive to changing needs? It can be any of these issues and more.

Sometimes our customer’s perceptions of our company may change and at times not in a positive light. You should always anticipate changes in your competitor market and brand orientation as well. Let’s face it, if we and our competitors have done our homework, we know that we must always be acutely mindful of what we and our competitors are offering right out of the gate as a new startup and how we (and they) evolve over time.

Brand orientation and change can be hugely challenging and we need to refocus consistently on a changing, evolving marketplace and the model of our competitor branding. Do you have an edge in your industry, a unique product or service line that no competitor is offering? This is perhaps your most significant question as a business entity now and moving forward.

Is your business model and what it has to offer still fresh and offering great and essential customer solutions. That value cannot be understated. Our marketplace is ever-changing as are our potential and existing targeted market dynamics. Are we merely maintaining status quo with lackluster or are we consistently moving forward to meet changing customer needs head on? If we’re not doing so, it is more than likely time to shake things up and bear new fruit for a uniquely diverse range of products and/or services.

Is it time for a change, time to rebrand your business model, how it functions and distinguishes as unique and vital in an ever-changing marketplace? Is it time to infuse a new vision moving forward through a carefully conceived, designed and orchestrated design and rebuild process? These are heady questions and pose a considerable challenge for many companies. The anxiety of the very thought of ‘change’, by our very humanistic nature, imposes both positive and negative anticipation.

If your business is lagging, faltering, scaling in a downward direction with revenue expectations consistently diminishing, then the only option is to implement change. If your current approach to your business and how you reach and engage your targeted market is just not working, it’s time for a change, time to look seriously at rebranding.

I share the very same anxieties that any business owner or manager will face in the process of change; potential disconnect with our current clientele, an uneducated leap forward that may cause more harm than good. What if our new look and feel is a jumbled mess that our targeted market simply cannot relate to? Still, the even bigger and more important question should be: “what will happen to our business if we just lay back and wait and see”? That is a dangerous position to take for any business entity that is struggling and on the verge of failing. Complacency is another nail in the coffin.

Your fears about changing your business brand, its very platform, are real yet all you need do is look to the many successful corporate entities today who have gone through the same over the life of their brand, sometimes a multiple of times, who, with carefully researched analysis and planning, have overcome their adversities to move forward in a thriving revenue position, growing consistently through their perseverance.

Oftentimes, brand changes do not necessarily have to be major in scope. Sometimes it can simply entail the presentation of your product or service in a more pleasing, attractive manner, shedding competitive light on the enjoyment and benefits of what you have to ofter. We live in a solutions-oriented marketplace today where people want information fast and to the point that packs a commanding, engaging and compelling message that tells the consumer that you and your company, product or service solutions are the right fit for what they want and need.

Stay current with consumer needs. Recognize new consumer demographics with careful market research on how best to reach your best potential targeted market. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you through a highly visible website in terms of search engine visibility. Know current search engine optimization techniques (SEO) in keeping with ongoing algorithmic changes implemented by the major search engines, especially Google. You cannot wing it when it comes to website and marketing visibility.

Dispelling Product or Service Negatives

When marketing your product or services, make sure that you are acutely aware of and sensitive to any negative perceptions in the marketplace about specific aspects of what you, and your industry, offer. Such consumer sensitivities can have a significant impact on your consumer experience. Are their environmental concerns, ethical questions of product development, aesthetic appearance questions or public perception issues with a consumer’s association with your brand? Such issues can quickly become the difference between an excited, devoted customer to one who quickly looks to competitors for a more palatable solution for their needs.

Product or Services Diversification

This issue is two-sided and dimensional in nature. Trending thoughts on what a business entity offers have evolved over time. Not that long ago, the popular consensus was that we, as business enterprises, should be highly focused on one specific brand and related services. The whole thought process on that perspective was that if we were to offer too many types of our product and/or services lines, the consumer may question our level of actual expertise when addressing their problems or needs.

More recently, the growing consensus has been the lean toward a more expanded dimension of product lines and service levels, thusly satisfying a larger market, a one-stop-shop as it were, much as the benefits of the large shopping mall have been touted vs, the local corner store or strip mall/plaza.

As time-consuming as staying current with current market trends can be, market research on an ongoing basis is essential for a healthy, sustained and growing market revenue share. For the sole proprietor, extending one’s self to that higher level of market awareness is never easy. Many small business entrepreneurs often struggle along on their own devices in the hopes of somehow nailing it ad-hoc while their competitors, who are able to invest in the human resources necessary, sail ahead with a positive growth experience simply through being better informed of what the marketplace wants and demands.

We cannot be the little corner store barbershop that operates with a solitary human being providing the same old, same old to a fixed number of devoted customers and thrive perpetually; that is simply not realistic thinking in today’s marketplace.

Be Innovative, Take a Stand, And Stand Out!

If ever there was a time to grasp new and ever-evolving dynamics in the marketplace and business community, it is NOW! Some of the largest corporate conglomerates of today found out, sometimes the hard way, that we need to sit up straight and pay attention to a diverse and ever-changing consumer and marketplace or be left sitting at the curb with nowhere to go.

The name of the game today is to offer diversification and distinctively unique, exceptional products and services that our competitors simply have not or cannot offer to our huge and mutual consumers in waiting. It’s not just about satisfying a need or want; it goes way beyond that finite spectrum of consumer focus. The marketplace of today leaps at their purchases with emotional response and they are looking for what quickly grabs their attention, fits their solution-centric focus in the moment and turns their emotional crank up a notch every single time!

Standing out with products and/or services that are unique, brilliant in their conception, design, and delivery are essential factors for many in the marketplace today. Have we recognized and adjusted to the consumer’s own changing lifestyle dynamics and not only what they need in the current day but whether that product or service will satisfy their evolving solution-hungry wants and needs moving forward? It’s just not good enough anymore to simply run a supply and demand product line or service that won’t address an already changing marketplace need.

What we have to offer at any given time and place must be significant and diverse, standout and standalone in many respects. What we offer needs to speak to the people, and the more connected our business offerings are to significant community issues, the more closely connected the consumer will be. “Hey, this company has a conscience. They are making a statement and willing to stand out as an exception. I like this company’s values and their overall focus on their customers, now and moving forward. This is the kind of brand I can identify with in a positive way. They know us, understand us, want to reflect that awareness through what they offer us.” Just look at huge corporates like the McDonald’s food chain. Public outcry over what was or was not healthy and socially conscious became an enormous issue for them to address head-on or face serious repercussions from a wavering consumer at large; even the mighty fall…and fall hard.

Functionality, Relatability & Engagement

So much has been said over the past few years in terms of the consumer’s perception of a business entity; how we present ourselves, our vision and focus, our very product by design and customer delivery. Consumers of today are acutely aware of their own perspective on life and its living and they want to associate and do business with companies who share their perspective.

Be ever-conscious of the quickly changing demographics of the consumer and their product needs and objectives. Don’t distract them with a huge volume of web data that they really could care less about nor have any time pouring over. In your web content be concise, honest and straight to the point. Tell them what you have to offer, how it addresses their specific problems, needs and wants, and move them quickly to the means to connect with you whether in digital contact format or via phone, email or text. Don’t waste their time with superfluous fluff that is useless collateral and does not drive them quickly to where they want to go; their destination is the shortest and most direct route and through a clean, concise overview that speaks volumes to them in few words to the conclusion that “yes, this is exactly what I want”.

Any business entity that has a business model bent on deceit or slurry marketing jargon that aims to mislead or hustle the consumer into an unclear, murky decision to purchase has no place in today’s marketplace and the savvy consumer recognizes BS in a heartbeat. People relate to what they truly believe in and care about in life, personally and professionally; anything less is not worth their time nor attention and certainly not their investment.

At the time of this writing, Lasting Impressions Editing is undergoing a degree of rebranding and that will include considerations for a somewhat modified, expanded service line. To that end, our website is currently undergoing an exciting redesign over the next few weeks so stay tuned for updates in our newsletter (have you subscribed?) as we move forward with renewed vision and focus on our core customer services! We look to the future with excitement and optimism!

May 2018 be an outstanding year for each and every one of you. My best always,

 

Don MacIver, Owner, Editor, Writer

Lasting Impressions Editing

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© Lasting Impressions Editing 2018

Do I Really Need a Website & Blog for Business Marketing in 2017?


screenshot-donmaciverediting.wordpress.com , Blog on Website and Blog Importance-2017-10-02-18-12-01-006

WEBSITES & THEIR IMPORTANCE

  • The Lifeblood of Commerce: It has been long-established that small business entities continue to be the living, breathing life force of local, regional, provincial or state and national economies. Small business accounts for in excess of one-half of a country’s employment, a reciprocal value in terms of national sales revenues. Those very same small businesses are the force that builds and sustains communities across nations. There has been a substantial increase of self-employment startups nationally, a key indicator of economics-driven commerce yet to come.
  • Business Dependence on the Web: Small business enterprises have, over time, become increasingly dependent on the internet through their website marketing. Stores and new apps development is an integral part of the online equation. This total web dependence clearly illustrates the unquestionable importance and value placed on a website today. Nearly 100% of all small business revenue is now derived directly or indirectly through the internet medium. With the advent of e-commerce apps, the direct revenue stream through online and even inter-website apps has afforded business entrepreneurs that fully independent operational status all the more clearly and effectively.
  • Virtual Services-Based Business Delivery: Since websites became essentially a fully independent and functioning entity, especially where a business is service-based and has no physical product retail or walk-in customer services requirements, the totality of the independent online business has further become a reality. There is a host of cost and logistical savings factors which make online business ventures so appealing.
  • Industry Disruption: The onslaught of online business entities has had a significant and growing impact on the industries they are attached to. The means to remain competitive for non-internet based companies has been a tremendous issue for industry proponents to deal with. On the negative side, staffing is downsized dramatically, thereby creating challenges for those individuals displaced by the new business realities of today.
  • Consumer Value: A website is an essential part of doing business for today’s business entity whether a small startup or a large corporation. The benefits are many for not only the business but also for potential customers or clients who are searching for what a business has to offer. Immediate access to a business online around the clock has become an increasing aspect of a host of consumer demands as a viable services contender.
  • Website Functions: A website incorporates relevant product and/or services information platforms and serves as a marketing strategies vehicle. The business website is the ‘hub’ of all online marketing and advertising traffic channeling and backlinking.
  • The Website Advantage: Websites are a cost-effective means to get the business’ story out to the masses through a medium that is always accessible online where potential customers can browse at their own preferred time of day or night. Today, with technological advances, potential customers can access the internet even when they are out and about over the course of their day through any public location which has Wi-Fi internet services; coffee shops, cafes, libraries, even outdoor parks. Mobile phones are now a major mode of internet access even to the extent of requiring major web design considerations to accommodate the greatly reduced dimensions of the viewing screen.
  • Online Customer Testimonials: Customer/client testimonials on websites are a solid trust-building way to gain a potential new customer/client’s confidence in contacting the business owner to find out more.
  • Expanded Market Reach and Share: Websites affords a business greatly expanded, global customer reach beyond only local customer potential. The more potential customers that a business can reach online, the greater their capacity for increased sales volume through scale.

 BLOGS & CONTENT MARKETING

  • Customer Reach through Marketing Strategy: Affords visitors brand exposure and recognition through personalized content that is informative, entertaining and meaningful. The blog should be designed to provide content and perspective that will be of interest to the blog writer/company and the potential customer or client.
  • Brand Exposure and Recognition: The business owner can establish their own brand voice and personality through blogging. This aspect of marketing strategy is priceless as it builds trust and gains a business invaluable traction in terms of positive engagement of targeted customers.
  • Social & Pro Media Outreach: Share original content to social and professional media platforms through linking back to the original article (website) location. From there, the blog content can also link to other relevant blog content as a means to further enhance the visitor experience. Linking to other pages on the website which further support the blog topic is even further value-added engagement for blog readers.
  • Importance of a Blog: Is a blog really that necessary for a business? The main challenge is the time factor involved in effective research and writing of effective blog content, especially for a sole proprietor who does not have the staff to delegate this task to. Writing skills are a critical aspect of blogging. Can you effectively reach out and communicate in a way that informs and develops interest and the desire to find out more, to become a customer or client? The short answer to this question a resounding yes! A business blog attached to the business website is an essential component of the content marketing strategy as the singular vehicle to convey product and/or services essentials to a carefully targeted online audience.
  • Effective Blog Functionality and Purpose: Whether a small business startup or a large corporation, a blog is a website and business essential that establishes a level of authority or expertise and provides visitors and subscribers with valuable and readily usable information relative to the business’ products or services. A blog is an essential element of online marketing strategy.
  • An essential point of destination for visitors through the marketing funnel process, thereby channeling increased traffic to a business website.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Through effective blog content search engine optimization, including headings optimization, there is an opportunity for enhanced visitor engagement to attract new customers and increase conversion to sales.
  • Effective blog SEO helps to increase search engine page ranking and positioning in search engine results pages (SERP’s).
  • Lead Generation and Sales Conversion: A powerful tool for developing company brand recognition, lead generation, and sales conversions.
  • Provides an opportunity for potential and existing client relationship building through their engagement and interactive processes.
  • The Sales Funnel: Link back to your business website by linking your blog posts to all social and professional media platforms.
  • Add blog subscribing for convenience to your followers and also to establish a mailing list.
  • Blog content SEO helps increase exposure and interest through search engine results page listings.
  • Search Indexing and Site Visibility: The greater the amount of quality, informative and useful information a blog has, the greater the amount of indexing and search visibility your blog will generate and in turn the greater the amount of organic site traffic back to your website.
  • Blog Frequency: It is essential to update your blog with new articles on a consistent, scheduled basis. Subscribers come to anticipate new blog posts with regularity and a blog can help build brand loyalty through that ongoing informational connection that many subscribers grow to depend on.
  • Return on Investment: Businesses have done research on Return on Investment (ROI) from the blogging process and have found a conclusive and direct correlation of increased customer business activity in the way of purchases when quality blogging resources are consistently available and shared to its awaiting readership.
  • Inbound Link Generation: Online content marketing is a powerful way to attract quality, authoritative backlinking by industry professionals who develop an appreciation for a business’ blogging initiatives. Such inbound links is a key element of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This type of ‘referral traffic’ back to your website is invaluable in terms of increased web traffic and the trust and confidence visitors will have upon arrival to your site; they are warmer prospects for doing business with.
  • Long Tail Search Queries: Blog titles are automatically incorporated as an extension of your blog page URL (web address) which provides an immediate identification of a blog’s content for those using long tail search terms or ‘semantic’ queries as is increasingly popular today.
  • Increased Leads: Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between blog post length and lead generation. The more value-added a blog article is, the greater the perceived value to the prospective or targeted market that engages with those articles and in turn the greater the business activity that ensues.
  • Valuable Engagement and Conversation: Because blogs include the ‘Comment’ feature for readers, those comments, in turn, provide an opportunity for the business owner/writer to engage directly with each individual who is commenting. That is a powerful form of consumer engagement that is not found anywhere is in business marketing. That engagement further develops trust and confidence in the consumer and furthers the sales funnel process toward a decision to buy.
  • Content Freshness: Google loves fresh, highly informative content. This is the basis for their overall page/website ranking formula. The greater the search engine’s perceived value of the blog and site content to the benefit of the consumer, the better the page ranking and search engine results page positioning a blog and/or website will have.
  • Brand Differentiation: The whole name of the game on the internet today is how companies represent their brand in a way that differentiates or elevates them as a distinctive and better choice for the consumer. Through the production of original and highly meaningful, usable content, a business will realize increased search query traffic, prospective customer recognition, and trust and ultimately increased sales. There is a level of intrinsic value placed upon linking to authority content of other professional websites, however, to infuse highly topical, trending and informative, immediately useful information through blog content publication has value second to none.

 Connect with Customer Focus & Inclusion

In the final diagnosis and perspective, it is clear that the website and blog both have their equal and deserving prominence as essential tools in the business marketing process. From a new business startup and small business perspective, those two elements are the most effective means of audience connection and meaningful dialogue.

Above all else, remember that the current trend in business marketing today is to STOP the long-standing marketing approach of “Buy me, Buy me, and yet again buy me”. Our potential customers are sick and tired of blatant and unrelenting in-their-face selling. Our potential customers will NOT be treated like ‘targets’ and ‘prospects’ to be pushed or manipulated into a purchase.

Treating our audience with the respect and appreciation that they deserve is our first and ongoing priority. Let’s remember that we need to gain their respect and maintain that respectful confidence on an ongoing basis; after all, the life of a business is dependent on customer satisfaction and loyalty of repeat business.

The most significant burgeoning trend also addresses the matter of customer interaction. Talk to your ongoing and potential customers. Gain friendship and comfortable interaction. Show them through demonstration that you have the answers, the ‘solution’ to their problem through your product or services. AND, show them why they should pick you over all your competitors, why your solutions are better for their needs. Differential yourselves as exceptional with what you offer; don’t just say it, say why!

Marketing Content

Before you take your pitch live, remember to do extensive on and offline research. Study your website analytics data carefully; know your targeted market’s likes, dislikes, and needs, understand their problem and be absolutely sure of the ‘distinctive’ solution(s) that you offer to their problem. The next marketing solution is to present your product or services solutions as they are most relevant to your awaiting market.

Personalization is all over the internet at the moment as a key element of the sales equation. Take that time to know and understand the problems that your prospective consumer is faced with and you are already halfway to the solutions. Skip the preliminary research and understanding at your company’s peril.

Inflection of the Human Touch

Above all else, friends, in order to effectively connect with your marketing audience, shape your marketing content in a personal, human conversational format that truly speaks to your audience. Inject some humor into it! As long as you effectively deliver your message, why not put a smile on their face. That kind of emotional personal response is worth gold to any business owner and marketer and for the potential customer that feeling is the first step towards trust and a comfort level that says “let’s do business”!

 

LinkedIn, Marketing Quote, Jay Baer

Results Driven Customer Services Focus


Picture of a deeply inspired person focused on a starlit sky.photo c/o Steve Halama, Unsplash.com

Taking Your Content to the Next Level

↑  click heading for my brief customer focus presentation  ↑

When you have a special project that, first and foremost, absolutely must capture the attention of your targeted or intended audience, you want to make sure that your message does indeed reach that audience, right? How do you ensure that happens and once you have reached that audience, what next?

Marketing your content to reach the greatest potential number of your ideal audience online today is a complex and challenging prospect. On one hand, you feel that you have written exceptional content that millions will not only see but feel deeply compelled to click through to find out more. On the other hand, you feel that through your research on the subjects of ‘audience reach’ and ‘audience engagement’, you have mastered the technique of grabbing your readers’ attention. Still, you find that your results are minimal and perhaps even trailing behind your previous content publication.

So what on earth is going wrong? You’re frustrated that after endless hours of time and inspired effort you continue to struggle with reaching your audience, triggering their interactive responses to your content, clicking through to various pages on your website and advancing to the ‘shopping cart’ phase of purchasing what you have to offer.

Steps Toward Better Business Results

The process of marketing your business online today continues to be increasingly complex, challenging you every step of the way and you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Spending valuable hours of your business day focused on content marketing for the promotion of your business seems like a prudent and necessary activity right? It most certainly is important. 

Whether you have staff that can attend to effective website development and updates in conjunction with current day standards that must incorporate Google’s algorithm updates and web content standards, social media marketing, website blog content development, search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising copy (analytics data analysis, keyword research, ideal targeted audience demographics, and ongoing social media management),  or you are a one person operation and have to bring it all together on your own, be prepared for initial and ongoing research to make sure you stay abreast of best and preferred practices and schedule sufficient time to address those tasks.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive in terms of detail regarding each subject covered here. This will serve as an overview with touch points on key aspects of achieving greater audience reach, engagement and forward response to the purchase stages of your relationship.

Website Name, Registration & Development

Assuming that you have fully developed your ‘Brand Story’ and Business Plan in advance of your new business startup, determination of exactly who your targeted audience/customer/clients will be, and what financial resources you will have as startup capital to set up your business and get it launched, the next critical step is to set up your new website name and URL registration and plan for the physical development of the new website.

Website Name

  • Never decide on a website name in haste. Your business name must clearly define in a few well-placed words what you have to offer. The first instinct is often to come up with an artistic, catchy business name that may be unique and intriguing but does it immediately tell your potential audience/customers what product, services or cause you offer or represent? Don’t make people guess or you will lose them in a heartbeat; if in doubt, they click out! In advance, you need to determine what small group of core keywords represents your business.
  • While keeping your business name brief, make sure you incorporate a critical keyword or two which represent the primary service(s), product(s) or cause(s) of your focus. If you anticipate expanding your services, product line or cause focus, be sure to allow for that differential in your website name determination. 
  • Before formal registration of your business name and website, determine a second and third alternative business and website name as there is a possibility that your first choice may already be chosen and registered. Avoid potential legal challenges in future that may ensue because of a business or website name duplication with another legitimate business entity.
  • Research thoroughly in advance on best practices for the development of your business name. Draw from the experience of experts in this facet of your new business startup to ensure that your company name is effective in identifying what you have to offer and one that is unique to your competitors’ business names in a distinctive way. Your business name should also be easily remembered.

Website Registration

  • Once you have established your preferred website name, you need to secure that business name and website URL address as an exclusive business entity with sole rights to the chosen name/URL through official registration with the appropriate provincial, state or other local or regional authorities designated for legal website name and URL registration.
  • Do advance research to ensure that you understand critical issues and legalities surrounding the selection and registration of your new business website address/URL.
  • Website Domain:  Research the pros and cons of having an exclusive and primary website domain vs. a sub-domain. There is the argument that sub-domains will cause many to perceive your business as less professional/successful because you have not acquired your own domain. In the case of your own domain, you purchase the exclusive right to your own primary/proprietary domain. If you have a free hosted website platform where you have not purchased a domain, your website or blog URL will include the name of the site host in addition to your own chosen business/URL name. A sub-domain has a much longer/elongated URL address which is much more difficult for people to remember accurately.

Website Development

  • When looking at which website or blog hosting service you wish to acquire, pay particular attention to not only price (free/premium) but all conceivable aspects of functionality, what add-ons will be charged extra, domain stipulations, terms of use and so on. Also, check customer reviews in detail. Are there any highly negative comments that would cause you to raise a red flag? Be sure that in the event you wish to go to a different hosting service in future you are fully able to transfer your site content from the current to the new website.
  • Restrictive Functionality:  You will find that the level of site builder functionality varies between website hosting services. Are plugins included or are they a chargeable extra? What features are included (or not) i.e. shared or dedicated hosting, managed WordPress hosting, type of servers i.e. Windows/Linux, data storage and transfer limits, and more. Research hosting service reviews on sites like PCMag.com through searches i.e. “top website hosting services”.
  • Website Navigation: Plan for the website navigation menu and parent (primary) vs child (secondary/sub) pages in advance. Base your website pages and content on the purpose of your website and how it will best represent your company brand story development and core products, services or cause presentation and promotion. Assign easily recognizable web page names to avoid guessing or visitor navigational problems from occurring. If a visitor feels confused about where to go on a website and ends up struggling to find the desired page, they will click out in anger and never return.
  • Site Search Engine Optimization:  This aspect of website development remains an essential component and plays a critical role in how visible your website will be to search engines, how well-represented your core business focus is and the kind of content quality and user/informational value visitors will find when they arrive on your landing/home page. You should have determined your core set of keywords/keyword phrases in advance. 
  • Be sure to research in advance all current and relevant content requirements as defined by search engine algorithmic updates and related guidelines. Do NOT leave this to chance and attempt to determine on your own what is or is not critical in this regard. Google is by far the largest and most authoritative search engine on the internet today. Refer to Google Webmasters for support and tools/resources. Do NOT ignore the Google guidelines with respect to website content.
  • Take the critical time needed to research through industry experts like SiteProNews and Social Media Examiner to become aware and understanding of current SEO best practices. Google launches periodic and fairly frequent algorithmic updates and guidelines, therefore you cannot simply develop your new website or blog site based on guidelines at the time of your business website launch alone. Always stay up to date with frequency through research to avoid dismal website/page ranking and poor positioning in search engine results pages. If your site is placed beyond the first or second page of search results on the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask are currently the top 4) your site will be virtually invisible or ignored. Most people do not review sites listed beyond the second results page of their search.
  • Site Navigation:  Again, research expert articles regarding best practices for website development. Site navigation must be quick and easy for your site visitors. Statistically, new visitors to a website will spend no more than 7 or 8 seconds on the landing page to sum up in their mind whether they are on the right track for finding the information they want and need and if they cannot find that information fast they will click out and never return…another potential customer lost. Refrain from getting artistic about names you choose for your navigational (page title) tabs. If your visitors have to guess at which page tabs to click on and discover they have arrived at the wrong page, they will be frustrated and click out permanently.
  • ‘Responsive’ Website Design:  The number of internet browsers today are doing so via ‘mobile’ technology in addition to or instead of a desktop or laptop computer. The rising number of web browsers on mobile is staggering and increasing to eventually become the most common way to browse the internet while on the go. The portability of mobiles allows users to connect online wherever they are over the course of their day. As such, make doubly sure that your website is ‘mobile responsive’; critical to reaching a huge segment of the market who now opt for the portable online means to browse the internet.

Website Content

  • Once again, I cannot stress enough the importance of researching in advance to find best practices for your website content including your blog articles and your other primary pages where highly informative content tells your visitors/prospective customers exactly what services you provide or products you offer or what cause(s) you would like them to support.
  • Determine in advance how best to structure your page content, how much content is recommended, the type of visual elements that best represent what you offer and most relevant to the subject matter of each page, how to optimize images through “alt text”, best practices for search engine optimization in terms of content quality and practical usability, infusion of keywords and their density, the use of semantic wording, phrases and sentences vs keywords
  • Enhance user experience by linking from one of your website pages to another. Use ‘organic’ words and phrases that occur/read back naturally within the context of your content. This practice also helps to improve page/site ranking by the search engines. The more visitors click on such navigational linking, the longer they remain on your website, a key indicator of visitor engagement to the search engines.

Page Titles and Headline/Subheading Formatting/Tagging

  • As you can see from my article headlines and subheadings here, I have applied an alternative font color and font size in order that the headlines (or subheads when used) are readily visible. Stay as close to only two textual content colors only that tie in well with your website and logo theme colors. I have also formatted each of the primary article title (H1) and subheadings (H2) and by doing so, such formatting is a clear signal to search engines what the article entails as a whole and in part through the subheading and bulleted information throughout the article. This formatting of content supports the search engine bot scanning for page and site ranking and ultimate search engine results page (SERP) positioning. This type of formatting is a critical and powerful form of SEO that all website content writers need to implement to increase their overall site/page rank.

Website Content Quality & Informative Usefulness to Customers

As a business owner/administrator today who is reaching out to their potential/targeted audience for the purpose of attracting new customers, clients, or increased website traffic, engagement and purchase decisions, newsletter and blog subscribers, new leads generation, authority/expertise building and more, you MUST get away from pushing the sales element of your messaging to your reading/site visiting audience.

For years now, the consensus for web content best practices included heavy keyword and keyword phrase content (to the point of virtual keyword dumping or ‘spamming’). The major search engines no longer accept that type of black hat approach to website content development. Website browsers/users/searches are sick and tired of being constantly bombarded with nothing but heavy-handed sales pitches; “buy me, buy me, buy me”. 

Current expert consensus reveals that content marketers need to focus on what is best for their potential customers and develop their content accordingly. High-quality content that includes website content that is highly informative and immediately usable by our site visitors. Focus on your audience’ wants and needs through your content vs. that undesirable sales pitch.

Speak to your audience in a clear and concise content presentation that is easy to understand and identifies specific problems that your various customers experience, and identify how you and your products or services can solve those problems and make their life easier/better. Your readers should readily identify with the problems and solutions that you present as their own! Differentiate yourself from your competition by showing them why they should pick you or your products or services as the better choice, the better solution for them.

Specific Customer Problems & Solutions

To illustrate the foregoing, I will share with you who my typical and potential clients would be based on the services I provide and what solutions I offer that will help my clients realize best possible results with their textual content or copy. This is a general overview rather than an exhaustive itemization but the following will give you a sense of where your focus needs to be in terms of customer/client services or product development and sales and how you should represent them in your website content and online and offline marketing efforts accordingly.

Authors:

Whether a first-time publishing author or a seasoned pro in the publishing sphere, my author clients will approach me on several different fronts:

  • they want a solid start to their publishing endeavors right out of the gate with a clean, error-free, fluid, consistent, highly engaging and polished publication product that provides a first-rate reading experience for their potential customer market.
  • they want their readers to build in numbers through solid reviews, extensive sharing of their marketing copy and consistently growing readership through their product excellence, marketing and advertising efforts and consumer referrals.
  • they are experiencing difficulty producing unique and highly engaging content that differentiates them from competitor authors (of which the numbers of new authors has grown exponentially).
  • they have a general difficulty with the writing essentials of the English language including typos, spelling and syntax errors, incorrect grammatical applications, errors or oversights in capitalization, flagrant misuse of punctuation, poor structural/developmental or substantive content presentation that results in inconsistent, choppy, confusing storylines, inconsistent character development and more.
  • they have the drive and prolific writing dynamics which result in exceptional reader experiences and they have an unquenchable desire to reach the bestselling author distinction but need guidance in terms of how to achieve that desired and lofty level of publishing supremacy.

As a textual editor, proofreader, formatting and writing analyst, I provide the essential services which resolve the types of issues described above and/or help the author move ever closer to the bestseller circles through superior publications quality and reader experience. Be clear on this point: an editor or proofreading professional does NOT rewrite the author’s manuscript in part or whole. Our role is one of defining technical issues and suggested revisions to address those issues.

Editorial Services

Through a three to four-round content analysis process, it is my function to identify errors and omissions that are intermittently evident through my client’s book or novel manuscript and suggest correct applications and/or wording alternatives that would otherwise enhance the reader experience. The level of my participation in the overall editorial process depends on what my client is seeking as necessary from their perspective and/or my own perspective once I have had an opportunity to peruse the submitted manuscript copy.

In addition to the editorial aspects of publishing services I also provide manuscript formatting consultation and services to ensure that each manuscript submission is fully compliant with publisher guidelines. Where manuscripts are submitted with conflicting format issues that result in a poor reading experience, the publisher will reject the submission until such formatting issues have been fully resolved.

Copywriting Services

One of the critical elements of book or novel publishing is the ‘book description’ which is otherwise known in the publishing industry as a marketing tool known as a ‘sales pitch blurb’. This descriptive element on the author’s retail page is one of the first things a visiting consumer will review when determining whether to make a purchase. There is also opportunity within the ‘front matter’ and back cover for similar marketing copy which is designed to enhance and further the purchasing decision process. Where an author client does not feel they have sufficient skill in the marketing content writing side of publication, I provide copywriting services accordingly.

Business Professionals

Business professionals, whether a company owner or senior/marketing executive, will approach me to seek my advice and editorial/copywriting services for their communications and marketing content, advertising copy, website content, brand development, recognition, increased website traffic and engagement, enhanced marketing strategy for increased sales volume, optimized internal and external communications and more.

The challenges that business professionals faced can be multifaceted and not necessarily skills-related. Time restrictions for a company executive may ultimately be the biggest roadblock for them to effectively and efficiently produce the right type of copy presentation that drives business decisions, employee adherence to company models or guidelines, sensitive communications.

A business professional also needs to ensure that whether in-house or outsourced, the company’s marketing and advertising copy is exceptional in its delivery and revenues are enhanced as a result.

As a content/copy editor and writer/copywriter, I employ similar services as described above for author clients but more heavily focused on the textual content or copywriting disciplines to achieve mandated results for business professionals.

In closing, there are parallels to be drawn with my editorial and writing/content development services on behalf of clients. Each in their own way aspires to arrive at a superior product or service level which in turn helps them to achieve their own respective objectives in terms of product development and sales. 

Irrespective of overall project objectives, you will want to deliver the best possible product or services experience to your own clientele or customers. Maintain a clear focus on what the client wants and needs to resolve their problems whether specific to the individual or company you service or more industry centric as a whole. Develop your content, marketing and advertising copy and communications to the highest standard and presented to the client from their own perspective.

Effective Problem Solutions & Customer Trust

Offer highly relatable solutions to the problems specific to each client and you will see positive change in your overall customer experience and revenues. People respond to those product and service providers that they establish trust in and know will have their best interests at heart. Results driven customer services focus wins the day.

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© Don MacIver, Lasting Impressions Editing 2017; All Rights Reserved

How to Decide Between Self-Editing and Hiring a Professional Editor


Pen on white backgroundShould You Self-Edit or Hire a Professional?

As an author or writer, a business professional, marketing or advertising expert, you have created a book manuscript, document or promotional copy that will soon be published or otherwise distributed to its targeted audience. You have a daunting task: Do you perform the proofreading and/or editing exercise independently and release your content for public consumption/purchase or do you hire a professional textual editor/proofreader to execute this phase that will bring your content to its critical and polished best presentation?

Decision Factors

That is a loaded question and not one that you should take lightly. Consider these factors very carefully when making that decision:

  • Are you publishing your content for retail purposes?
  • Who is your targeted audience and does that audience include the potential for business revenue development?
  • Is this your first of such published/distributed materials or one of many and what has your audience response been so far? Has your content been response-driven? What is the metrics of reader response indicating to date? Have your documents or published materials performed as anticipated? Did your results meet or exceed your objectives?
  • Has your audience response in terms of actions taken been measurable and as intended? If not, what will you have to do to change your audience response?

When you are creating content for a company and/or client project or for direct revenue purposes, there is a considerable amount of pressure (internal/external) for optimum results in terms of the foregoing questions, how effective your content was in stimulating audience response and to what degree that response met or exceeded expectations.

Consider what is at stake if your content is not the best it can and needs to be. What efforts in terms of time, resources and investment have gone into the project? Has your return on investment (ROI) met and exceeded your expectations?

Objectivity

First, make sure that in making a decision your perspective is an objective one. Take an honest look at your content and be completely honest about self-assessing your capabilities with respect to your writing skills and equally as important, your level of knowledge and skills to effectively analyze and revise your work as necessary to bring it to a professional polish.

Seek an Outside Opinion

Have a colleague, family member, friend or other parties take your content for a test drive. Ask for their unbiased impressions of your work without any sugar coating thrown in…a straight up assessment or review, thumbs up or thumbs down! Avoid negative results by thoroughly examining your content before taking it to the next level. Beyond the surface level of the content and its delivery, are your reviewers finding a significant number of issues that require rewriting or correction?

Editing Decision Touch Points

The following is a series of keywords or phrases which need to be considered when deciding whether to engage a textual proofreader/editor for your content. These are the skills and expertise level indicators to consider as an expandable list (not all-inclusive) of the many elements of content development and revision that I do as a professional proofreader/editor:

authors               bibliography           book manuscript editing

bookmarks             border design          caption

change                markup charts          citations

clear formatting      cohesion               column orientation

columns insertion     content development    content layout

content sequence      copyediting            copywriting

cross-reference       developmental          document comparison

drop cap              editorial role         endnote

English editing       Flesch-Kincaid Standards

fluid progression     font face              font size

footnote              formatting             grammar

gridlines             headlines              hyperlinks

hyphenation           image alt text         image insertion

indentation           insert footer          insert header

line spacing          lower case             macro

margins               mark entry             mobile content

multiple page viewing outline level          page break

page breaks           page orientation       pagination

paragraph structure   postscript             problems

proofreading          publishing             punctuation

quick parts           readability           reader engagement      

reference navigation  references            review                 

reviewing pane        revision balloons     ruler                  

section breaks        sentence structure    signature line         

solutions             source management     special indents        

spelling              split window          storyline consistency

strikethrough         style guides          styles

subheads              subscript             substantive

symbols               table of authorities  tables

tables                text align            text box insertion

text wrap             thesaurus             track change review

trim size             typos                 upper case

watermark             web layout            word count

Common Misconceptions

A writer/author/creator’s greatest fear is that their content will be changed by the editor to the extent that their storyline, intent, meaning, and objectives could be seriously altered or compromised. Avoid such issues with a proofreader or editor before any editorial project gets under way.

The editor’s contract should clearly reflect that the integrity of their client’s work will be maintained during the process without clear and advance discussion and authorization from the client otherwise. The primary objective of the editor is to clarify any evident ambiguities or inconsistencies to content copy to enhance its delivery to the reader and to effect revisions that will correct typos, spelling errors, discrepancies in grammatical correctness, punctuation and sentence composition.

The ‘polish’ that an editor puts on a document, known as ‘proofreading‘ is meant to incorporate the correction of errors in spelling, grammatical and punctuation issues. More extensive ‘editing’ of a developmental or substantive nature is an analysis of the content through which to consult with the client to alert them that there are inconsistencies in the message delivery or storyline. The editor role does not incorporate re-writing of such content elements unless there has been an advance extension to the services agreement for the editor to do so. That kind of change, which involves greater involvement by the editor, will naturally add cost to the services agreement.

Good Story or Message Composition vs. Bad

As the writer, you need to be aware that if your storyline or copy content is mediocre in its development and does not pack the punch that it must have to achieve the desired results, resolving such issues is the responsibility of the author/writer/copywriter. I am writing this article for the various types of client projects I specialize in but the premise in this regard is the same. The writer of the content must develop their own individual skills in content development and delivery in order to realize the maximum possible success that they might achieve.

You may not possess the ultimate writing skills and technique to deliver that stellar content the first time around but if you are doing due diligence to do extensive research, studies and content refinement, your content quality and how it is received by your audience should improve as you gain experience. An editor or proofreader is NOT a ghostwriter. He or she will provide content analysis and revision. Writing better, more exciting or convincing/engaging content remains the job of the author/writer/copywriter.

Do Not Take Critique Personally

Repeatedly I have heard stories or, at times, experienced first-hand, that a client has taken an editorial comment as a personal affront. As the originator of that written content, own your responsibility as the content creator. Accept their role as editor for the objective analysis that they provide for the writer during the editing process. Do not allow that assessment to become personal or confrontational. The editor/proofreader is on your side! This seems a little off track for this article but the point is that you do not want to lose perspective to the extent that it dissuades you from engaging an editor for future projects. They are indeed there for a purpose.

Self-Editing Is Important

The first step to take once your content is completed, in a draft, is to set it aside for a few days, refresh and come back to your project to undertake a self-editing process. Take your time with this process. If you tear through the proofread at a break-neck pace only for the sake of meeting your publishing submission target date, the result is missed issues that require correction. Be very cautious about establishing hard deadlines for submission. Make sure that you have adequate time for the entire proofreading and editing process to be completed. That process is as important as the writing of the content itself.

Anticipate problems with the editing and polishing phases of your project. Base that anticipation of adequate time on the length and complexity of the project itself. Refer back to previous projects as a reference point and judge accordingly. If you do engage a professional editor to undertake the final analysis and revision process, establish a timeline that they anticipate they will require to do their part and wherever possible, keep your submission date a soft deadline.

I have seen clients get terribly anxious and stressed because they did not meet their original submission date. Maintain perspective on what is more important: a deadline for submission or the best possible quality content possible. In the case of a hard and fast deadline for submission in conjunction with a collaborative project involving a multiple of contributors, make sure that your advance lead time is more than sufficient for all of these processes to be performed thoroughly.

If issues of a more extensive nature arise such as storyline inconsistency, structural or copywriting revision is required, the time to do so is often greater than the original composition. Again, the priority has to be on the content quality first.

Multiple Round Editing Process

Be aware that the professional proofreading and editing processes involve several rounds of focus on specific elements of content analysis. Typically, that process, especially where the client elects both editing and proofreading services, are three or four separate rounds for complete, front to back content analysis and revision. The process is separated out into a multiple of rounds so that numerous elements of the analysis can be more effectively and efficiently addressed rather than an exhaustive all-in-one round which could result in issues being missed.

Type of Editing Services Needed

Editing can be considerably more extensive in the process that proofreading. They are two clearly defined and separate processes. Proofreading includes checking for typos, spelling errors, grammar, punctuation and sentence composition analysis. The author/writer needs to decide their writing strengths vs. what services they engage through an editor. If the author/writer were unsure of the extent of services required, the editor would most often seek a representative sample of the content to review in advance of starting a project. This advance review will give the editor some assurance that the content before him/her is consistent with the quality of content throughout the manuscript or document. Where the editor sees more than average issues in the sample they may ask for a larger sample or assess a greater fee structure that will reasonably meet the additional work that will ensue with the project.

If the author/writer were unsure of the extent of services required, the editor would most often seek a representative sample of the content to review in advance of starting a project. This advance review will give the editor some assurance that the content before him/her is consistent with the quality of content throughout the manuscript or document. Where the editor sees more than average issues in the sample they may ask for a larger sample or assess a greater fee structure that will reasonably meet the additional work that will ensue with the project.

Selection of an editor should be one of the first things the client determines so that they are comfortable with cost and can plan accordingly. There will still be a review of that representative sample to help alleviate any concerns on the part of the editor. It is not unheard of that extraordinary issues crop up well into a manuscript or document that was not evident in the initial review. In that case, there is usually a provision in the editor’s contract for a fee adjustment if deemed necessary.

Proofreaders and editors should always address any extraordinary issues as soon as they become evident by discussing those concerns with their client. The editor should never undertake to do extra work without first having obtained advance permission from their client to proceed. In doing so, the relationship between the editor and client does not become strained or compromised.

An author or writer can always obtain more than one content sample review before deciding on whom to engage if they feel the need to do so. Obtaining a referral from a fellow author or writer can also go a long way to minimizing any issues that might arise during the course of the editing process.

Research to Find Experienced and Highly Regarded Editing Professionals

Taking the time to locate successful and highly regarded proofreading and editorial professionals will pay huge dividends in the long run. Most often people conducting a search for products or services will seek to find local professionals, failing which they will expand their search. Remember that editing professionals provide their services for clients around the globe.

Essentially all services for document proofing and editing/publishing are currently completed electronically on a laptop or desktop computer, often including client communications by email or online video calls through Skype, Google Hangouts or Facebook Video Calling. When long distance separates the editor and their client, communication by telephone is much less frequent for obvious cost control.

Take advantage of resources that are typically found featured on editorial professionals sites. Familiarize yourself with these resources as a means to enjoy direct benefit when it comes to your content development, editing, marketing and where applicable optimizing for search visibility. There are many free and paid tools for writers and editors that greatly enhance organization, accuracy, innovation, presentation, formatting and much more.

Great examples of highly informative and resourceful editing professionals include An American Editor and Louise Harnby whose sites are richly enhanced through resource and industry links. Both of these seasoned editorial experts are outstanding writers whose on-site blogs are highly informative. They are well worth a visit to advance your practical knowledge base and writing/publishing objectives. Both editors have published as have I.

Self-Editing is an Important Phase of the Project

It is a highly recommended part of the writing and publishing process that the author becomes involved in the editing phase with every publication project. Developing improvement in your proofing and editing skills is important. It will actually help your writing process as you become more aware of your content quality as you write. To a degree, it will help reduce the extent of proofing and editing required by a professional. It will not necessarily result in dramatic savings though, especially if it is your first time working together.

Even when self-editing your work, it is highly recommended that you plan to engage a proofreader/editor for the final analysis. An external, professional analysis of your work helps to alleviate the possibility of issues occurring. Your objectivity can affect how well you proof and edit because the writer tends to be over-confident about their editing capability and thoroughness when self-editing. Your process can become a glaze over because of over-confidence and close familiarity with your work. At the end of a long writing project, the writer’s eyes will be fatigued and that ‘lazy eye syndrome’ results in skipping over content and missing important issues that require correction.

There is also the level of editorial knowledge and skill to consider. In addition, focus on what your overall objective is for your project. Keep in mind, too, that the publisher will also anticipate a quality content submission, as they will not publish inferior products to the buying public. Doing so affects their revenue stream as well as your own. If you begin to receive negative reviews about content quality, consider the valuable lost time to pull the project out of retail, go through another editing process, resubmission and further publisher review before the project goes is finally approved and goes live again for public purchase.

Effective self-editing and proofreading demand that you develop advanced knowledge and skills. The English language is complex and typical elementary and secondary school studies of the English language and grammar are not at the level that is required for content development. Take the time necessary well in advance of any content distribution at a professional or publishing level, especially when self-editing is the sole or only level of editing planned for your project.

My recommendation here insofar as hiring a professional editor reflects what this industry supports wholeheartedly and not in a self-serving way. Whether you are a publishing author, content writer or marketing, and advertising copywriter, if you do not have the in-house expertise, you will have to outsource your proofreading and editing needs. You have enormous competition out there vying for the same market share and anything short of the highest possible quality will fall well short in terms of your bottom line.

Testimonials and Reviews Speak Volumes

Seek out solid testimonials from any editing professional you are considering. Nothing is more powerful than the direct word of previous or ongoing clients of the professional editor under review. You can see examples of my own client testimonials which are featured on not only the Testimonials page but also the Home page. Be aware that even testimonials published online or in print may not be the real deal so be prudent in following up directly with the writer of such testimonials if at all in doubt. Editing professionals will usually be more than happy to seek the permission of their raving clients for prospective client contact provided their client’s wishes as to the means of contact is satisfied.

Not every editorial professional has a university degree in support of and relevant to his or her services. Through years of experience in various vocations, where they possess an exceptional command of the English language, they are solid candidates in their own right. To avoid frustration and disappointment, opt for personal and professional editing for optimum results. Editing takes tremendous commitment to ensure a consistent, painstaking focus and effective process. There is no room to leave your desired results open to chance.

My sincere best wishes go out to everyone in the pursuit of excellence; getting it right the first and every time will help make a significant difference in your bottom line.

How to Increase Your Blog Subscribers & Article Sharing


Frustrated that after spending hours of research and fine-tuning your blog articles, you are seeing very little, if any, reader engagement? The follower numbers just aren’t there and yet even as you reread your blog posts repeatedly you still have the impression that your content is exceptional and should be attracting new subscribers?

My focus here today will be on a number of ways you can draw attention to ‘subscribing’ by using specific techniques to keep subscribing fresh in your readers’ minds. The more visible and readily available your subscribe forms are, the greater the frequency that readers should be inclined to subscribe.

You’re certainly not alone with that frustration. Keep in mind that there are countless numbers of content bloggers out there doing the same thing and many of them sharing the same experience of a seemingly static reader response. The competition online today is staggering and we must consistently develop new and unique ways to not only attract new readers to our blog or website but also find effective ways to capture our readers’ attention with every single new post and compel them to ‘opt-in’ by subscribing to receive our new blog posts right to their email inbox!

Content Quality

First and foremost, your blog or article content has to be exceptional, high quality, fresh (current), engaging and sufficiently value-added with information that is easily actionable immediately, not to mention truly beneficial to your readers, to compel them to click that subscribe button and sign up! That does not happen by chance or with mediocre content.

A whole article can be dedicated to the subject of quality content alone. Once we have established that quality content we now need to transition our focus to providing ample opportunity on our website or blog for our visitors to clearly see the path to future engagement of our blogs; through clicking the featured opt-in subscribe button and provide their email address in order to receive all future posts directly to their email inbox.

Opt-in Blog Subscribe Forms

Make sure that you have several locations on your website or blog to strategically position your blog subscribe forms/widgets, plainly visible to your site visitors with adequate reference to remind your readers/visitors to follow your blog by subscribing. In most cases your visitors will have two options for direct transmission of each new blog or article by either an email subscription signup or through your site’s RSS Feed and their preferred reader.

Opt-in Form Locations

a) Home Page Opt-in Form:

Place your opt-in form as conspicuously as possible on your home page. Depending on your site theme allowances for content, if possible situate your subscribe form above the fold line on your home page. In doing so your conversion rates should begin to occur in the order of a 5%-8% increase in subscribers for a given period.

The textual content typically found in opt-in (subscribe) forms is fairly generic in nature and does not lend itself to compelling your visitors to subscribe. Revise the wording of the headline on the opt-in form with a powerful call to action. Use strong, persuasive words that prompt the sign-up and what new subscribers will receive in return i.e. “Sign up for Free Tips…” You could also offer any other value added free gift for subscribing like a free ebook or exclusive tips relevant to the article or blog post.

By offering that killer free gift in exchange for subscribing this approach can convert at a rage of over 30%! Keep in mind that the conversion rates (new opt-in subscribers) is only an approximation and much depends on the value and quality of your blog posts to begin with.

b) Blog Page Opt-in Form:

Again, place your blog opt-in (subscribe) form in a conspicuous location on the blog page, ideally as close to, if not the first level location at the top of the sidebar. Link to your blog page with call to action buttons, prominently visible with solid, bright color contrast, on other pages of your site so that visitors will readily see the link button and be prompted to go to the blog page to read your content and subscribe. This practice is important for page navigation as well.

c) Footer Opt-in Form:

Another effective location to position opt-in (subscribe) form is at the bottom of each website page so that for any visitor who scrolls right to the bottom of the page while reading, they will again see the convenient presence of the opt-in form and they will often feel compelled to enter their email address and click Subscribe right then and there! It’s a great reminder location to secure the new opt-in.

d) About Page Opt-In Form:

The ‘About’ page statistically experiences among the highest levels of on-site viewing as most visitors who decide they have an interest in reviewing more content on the site want to have a sense of trust and comfort level that you have the type and quality of service or product that they want to acquire and that you are, in fact, genuine or real.

As such, you don’t want to omit an opportunity to include an opt-in (subscribe) form on the ‘About’ page of your site. Typically, because blogs are most often continuous scroll, you will not have a page footer to position your opt-in form so in this case place the subscribe form as close to the top of the sidebar as possible so that it has the potential to be seen as soon as possible upon landing on that blog page. Failing to do so will mean considerable lost opportunity to secure new subscribers.

Remember the critical importance of a blog on your website (or blog site) from a marketing perspective. The blog is your most powerful tool on the site from which to foster strong awareness of who you are as a business proprietor and/or product/service provider. The blog is also the perfect place to expand on value added information about what it is you offer that you don’t have room to share on the other site pages. The blog is THE place to showcase, in a clear and concise way, what you have to offer and WHY the visitor should buy from YOU!

Be aware that by having a check box in your opt-in form that states “Subscribe to (blog name)” statistically increases new subscriber frequency substantially. It is a means to compel the visitor to affirm/reaffirm their desire/intention to subscribe and follow your new blog posts to come!

Opt-in Confirmation Page

Typically, most opt-in (subscribe) forms follow with an emailed confirmation page which is sent to the new subscriber’s email address (used for the opt-in) as a means to have the new subscriber confirm that they did in fact just subscribe to the blog. This is a way to ensure subscriber security is assured and that there is no fraudulent activity at play such as automated capture of subscriber information for illegal purposes.

Your subscriber confirmation page should be effectively worded to capture the new subscriber’s attention and prompt them to provide that confirmation that they in fact did opt-in through the double opt-in final step. If they skip over that last step they will not receive future blog posts from your site as intended.

Eye-Catching Opt-In Forms

There are a multiple of opt-in form styles to choose for the blog subscription ranging from a standard fixed-in-place form to an eye-catching popup or slider form and more. Run A/B headline testing to determine what style of form and headlines resonate best with your visiting guests to the blog and following readership as well. It is critical to understand what is working best with your various website or blog site elements. When you observe sluggish response change it up…have fun with it but stay focused on powerful, compelling nudges that prompt your site visitors to action. Get their mojo going with the blog content and zero in on the new opt-in presentation to see what lights their fire!

Website, Blog & Newsletter Marketing

As critical as each of these elements are in their own right individually and collectively, make sure that you are shouting to the rooftops to pitch/promote them on your social media, advertising spots, professional group forums; essentially anywhere that you can expand your exposure. Turn your website or blog site into the ‘hub’ location for marketing your online presence by channeling your targeted audience’ focus through the marketing funnel back to the hub location to engage, interact, share and ultimately convert to purchasing customers. That focused effort WILL pay off. THAT is the essence of blogging!

To explore and discover more content marketing essentials refer to Backlinko for much more on this and similar topics where their focus is not only on web traffic tips but critical information regarding the ever-changing dynamics of search engine optimization.

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Did you find this article informative and value added? If so please SHARE this post through the share buttons provided. Thank you for your continued presence here and the opportunity for me to inform and inspire!

© Don MacIver, Editor 2016; All Rights Reserved

Authors; The Editorial Services Decision


Are you an author struggling with who you will hire to edit your book manuscript? You’re not alone! In this article I will explore this critical decision process and how best to come to that critical decision. There have been countless resources published on and offline regarding this difficult author decision process.

Perhaps this is your first time engaging a proofreading or editorial professional and there is that element of unknown. Is this person competent, experienced and efficient with their work? Do they have the right perspective and work approach for your publishing needs? Is he or she a good fit overall for you to work with and will the results be as you had expected, better or worse?

The proofreading and editing processes are, to a degree, a consultative process, especially in the early stages. Periodic questions arise that require the client’s clarification and as such the author needs to be prepared for some interaction to that end. That consultative approach helps the editorial professional to establish a clear understanding of their client’s intentions and expectations from the beginning and helps to stream line the process to a more efficient conclusion.

How does all this relate to a decision on who the author should hire for their manuscript services? Quite plain and simply put, the more inclined the editor is to taking the consultative approach, the better the results upon completion of the review and revision process and the happier the client (author) will obviously be. The book editing process is not just a drop and run process and “I’ll see you when you’re finished.”

I have had clients who have had terrible experiences with editors they have previously hired and for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there was insufficient fact finding and discovery up front. Perhaps either party was in too big a hurry to get the job started and completed before taking adequate time to get a sense of whether they were right for each other to begin with. In the case of those bad experiences, my clients have on occasion approached me initially out of sheer frustration and anxiety because valuable time had been wasted and their targeted publishing date was drawing near.

The Editor Search Criteria

Authors may be unsure what criteria to use when selecting a suitable editor for their book manuscript analysis and revision. Quite often the author has undertaken to self-edit his or her own manuscript content and is unsure whether they even need a proofreader or editor in the first place despite colleagues’ urging to get that objective second look.

As a starting point, the author should assess a personal budget level for the editing services before even picking up the phone to contact potential editing candidates. How much can you afford comfortably? The basis for budget considerations should always be twofold; the affordability of the services for you alone and the value you place on that service to begin with.

Consider what importance you place on having error-free manuscript content, grammatically sound with an objective eye assessing the quality of the content and whether its storyline is consistent throughout. Has the content been structured effectively and with fluid continuity from one paragraph to the next and one page to the next and so on?

Is the editing services cost your sole factor rounding out your final decision on who to hire? Have you researched to determine what competitor fees are and why the differences in fee structure in the editorial industry? Each editorial professional, as independent business persons, will set their own fee structure.

Another important factor to consider is testimonial reviews published on the editor’s website such as those testimonials found here on the home and testimonial page and any other relevant information that might be found through internet searches. Art the website testimonials strictly quoted statements or are those statements qualified by the client’s name and photograph, perhaps even contact information?

Information for discovery:

  • Schedule a date and time to either meet in person over coffee, at the editor’s office or if they are more distant arrange for a telephone conversation/interview.
  • Has former/current client information been shared such as whether clients are primarily one-time arrangements or are there ongoing, longer term associations?
  • Seek referrals from other offers for suitable candidates to consider.
  • Review websites and professional editing/author communities online to see the kind of interaction that occurs between the parties and how they respond to each others’ perspective. What kind of impression are you sensing about the individual?
  • Refer to professional editors directories and association listings.
  • Scrutinize the editor’s website for client testimonials, a client portfolio and samples of editing project documents. Reading the editor’s blog articles will provide a good indication of their level of authority/expertise in various aspects of editing and proofreading services.
  • Does the editor’s services extend beyond proofreading or editing? Do they provide other publishing services i.e. manuscript formatting for print and digital media publishing? Do they provide manuscript interior and cover submission services to conclude the publication process?
  • What assurances does the editor offer regarding the maintaining of the stylistic integrity of your work including your own distinctive voice and style? Most authors develop those distinct writing characteristics that clearly define their ‘signature’ and ‘brand’ that their readers identify with strongly and favor as preferred reading.
  • As the author, be clear on the editor’s role and the scope and depth of services agreed upon in advance.
  • Many editors request a representative sample of the manuscript i.e. several pages in advance for them to provide a trial review and revision which serves to give the editor a comfortable sense of what level of editing to expect for the remainder of the manuscript and on completion a sample suggested change markup copy for the author’s perusal to gain a sense of what they can expect from the editor moving forward.
  • Query the editor on how they would address unexpected issues that might arise during the editing process. Might there be additional services in those instances and how the overall cost would be affected?
  • Does the editor provide a written services agreement which clearly stipulates what services are included, cost itemization for each separate service and other relevant terms and addendums. Service agreements are an important part of the author/editor relationship because it clearly defines services mutually agreed to and protects both parties as a formalized and binding document.

The Hiring Decision

Be careful not to be hasty with your hiring decision. Take as many advance steps in the discovery phase as you feel you need to be sure in your own mind which editorial candidate feels right for you. Don’t prejudge an editor or proofreader solely on the basis of what others have stated in reviews whether good, bad or indifferent. There are many dynamics at play between both parties to the service. Decide objectively what is best for you based on your own project needs.

Don’t forget to get acquainted and get comfortable with each other. Consider the following:

  • Have your questions been addressed fully and openly or were the responses superficial, vague or evasive?
  • Is there a genuine friendliness or artificial over/undertones to the conversation?
  • Does the editor appear engaged and interested in your project or seemingly in a hurry to disengage and end the conversation quickly?
  • Compare several candidates and in doing so be consistent with your line of questioning, topics covered and not bringing everything down to the cost factor alone. Consider very carefully what your objectives are for your publishing project including the potential results once the publication is released and goes live at the retail level.
  • Consider what merit and experience the editor will bring to the table as the project moves forward. Are you both receptive to the process as you understand it?
  • Remember that strict budget constraints can impose limitations not only on how much the editor can do for you but also that ultimately those limitations can affect the final product quality and overall results/performance of your publication upon its release. There is potential for disappointment if results are not as anticipated and the possible desire/need for further editing services at additional cost and the process of publishing a second edition of the book.

In closing I’ll leave with you publishing authority Jane Friedman‘s guest article by Stacy Ennis titled ‘5 Ways to Find The Right Freelance Book Editor‘. You will also see the host’s link to her guide for author publishing titled ‘Publishing 101’. I have been following Jane Friedman for years now. Her comprehensive volume of reference and resource material and her own perspective on the publishing industry and authoring process is valuable insight for all authors to engage in and consider in pursuit of a better publishing experience.

© Don MacIver, Editor, Lasting Impressions Editing 2016

Audience Centric & Letter Perfect


A photo by Alejandro Escamilla. unsplash.com/photos/y83Je1OC6WcReader engagement has never had greater focus and it all comes down to audience connection through line by line content and storyline development that resonates powerfully, stimulates appeal and leaves the reader with a highly impressionable and memorable experience.

Whether the written works of an author, poet, writer, business professional, marketing copy or a personal account, the composition must convey a compelling message that invokes reader response. The English language is for many an intricate, complex and confusing tangle of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions and adjectives…the list goes on and on and what it all comes down to is choosing the right words in a clean, concise presentation and in a distinctly characteristic way that bears the unique voice and brand of its author.

When clients come to me they do so because they have specific and varied needs relating to the final presentation of their written project. They want to put their best foot forward and rightly so. For the author, standing out means competing against a rapidly growing authorship community that has vastly greater publication resources and options than ever before. They can opt for traditional print or electronic formats through self-publishing or publishing house services in varied levels of content development, marketing and distribution. Choosing a proofing or editing professional to help ensure accuracy, error-free, polished conveyance of our story has become an integral part of the publication process.

The business or marketing professional can outsource the challenge and tedious, time-consuming process of transitioning a draft copy to an error-free, fluid, polished communication that compels the targeted audience to actionable, measurable response. The very business of audience engagement has evolved tremendously over the past few decades and very few individuals can take on the various elements of developing and fine tuning effective communications and authored works independently…it takes a team effort.

When the product is finally presentation or publication ready the next challenge is getting that product, that compelling story out to the masses, delivering the message to the right audience and marketplace, on or offline..and that takes expertise all of its own. That our written communications have to stand out above the rest is an understatement.

There are vast resources available for understanding best practices of the day in terms of content development, management and conveyance. The dynamics of website content, keyword and meta tagging selection and related applications are perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face in promoting our products and services online. Internet is the medium of choice as reaching a global audience for many is critical to the growth and success of their business or creative endeavors. I have favored numerous reference and resource providers over the years as an author, writer, poet and business person.

Amoung my favoured sources of current and ever-changing dynamics in the world of communications and publication are SiteProNews for breaking technological, social media and search engine news, one of the most-read sources of expertise in their field. As an author I frequent Writer’s Digest for its wealth of information author centric, Writers Market for author publication reference and resources.

For the author who needs a little help with the grammatical side of their storytelling a good reference resource is found in the Grammarly Handbook and whether wearing the hat of an author, writer, poet, editor or business professional I have an open resource such as Dictionary Reference at my fingertips while writing any creative or business composition. Having both dictionary and thesaurus components is critical in not only conveyance of error-free content but also to discover and implement alternative and unique ways of written expression through synonyms and metaphoric phraseology. It all makes for better, more compelling reading and response.

Last and perhaps most importantly of all, as communicators in whatever form of creative or business writing we need to ensure that we not only stimulate thought and response mechanisms in our readers’ experience…we need to connect with them through their emotional response to our message. Our content can be exemplary in its composition, highly informative and engaging but unless we can make a critical, personal connection with our readers in a way that they can relate we will never fully accomplish our publication objectives.

In terms of connection, ask yourself this…why do romance novels sell millions of copies annually, why do bestseller publications of any kind, whether mystery, fantasy, poetic, science fiction, motivational, historical, geographical, autobiographical or other blockbuster book, magazine or other published medium historically sell to the masses year after year, decade after decade in such huge numbers?

When we discover the key to touching the human spirit, mind, heart and soul, only then will we fully understand emotive writing, audience centric and letter perfect, for the ultimate reader and audience response…and that, my friends means powerful human connection.

© Don MacIver, Lasting Impressions Editing 2016

 

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