What Is Your Marketing Message? (And is it the right one?)

How many times do you read a newspaper headline and cringe at the spelling mistakes, or marvel at the fact that typos and punctuation errors made it past the editor? Of course, we expect the news to be presented to us in impeccable English. But what about the marketing communication we receive on a daily basis? The blogs we read? The social posts? Is it okay for your marketing message to be any less impeccably presented?

The quick answer is a resounding NO! Because if your communication is anything less than exemplary, then you’re sending the wrong message. Sure, these are high standards, especially for the globalised world we live in. But why shouldn’t your customers expect the best? Especially if you expect them to purchase your merchandise, use your service, or buy into whatever it is you’re selling.

Where It Counts

Newspapers, magazines and other such publications are placed on a language pedestal. They employ trained, professional writers and editors. So we expect them to be able to deliver a story in decent English. But I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t also expect decent English from any professional communication.

And yes, this should apply to any platform of communication. If you’re sending a marketing email or communicating with your clients (or potential clients) in any way, use good English. From Facebook and Twitter to blogs, emails and even WhatsApp messages – your engagement with your clients sends a message. You need to make sure it’s the right one.

The Right Marketing Message

But how do you ensure this? Especially when English isn’t your native language, or simply isn’t your strong suit. Here are some common mistakes you don’t want to make, and some suggestions for how to improve your communication.

Spelling errors

It happens – you type too quickly and don’t notice the typo. Even when you read through what you’ve written, you might miss the mistake. The big problem here is consistently misspelt words – if you don’t how to spell a word, Google it! You can be sure that at least some of your readers will know how to spell it, and they’ll be wondering why you didn’t take the time to find out.

Words that shouldn’t be there

You read through your work, think ‘Oh, let me change that line’ and you forget to delete something else. Or you start to write something and change your mind, leaving half of the original sentence behind. Sure, it happens. But it can create a bad impression – it is a little sloppy, after all.

Poor punctuation

You don’t need an exclamation mark after every sentence. If you must use them, do so sparingly and where it counts. You do need full stops though. At the end of every sentence. Punctuation can change the meaning of what you’re communicating to your audience, so it needs to be done properly. I bet you’ve seen this one before, but it makes my point:

“Woman: without her, man would be lost.” or “Woman without her man, would be lost.”

Double meanings and Innuendos

In the marketing business, getting your meaning across is key. The wrong meaning can be detrimental to both your campaign and your product. Ambiguity, double meanings and innuendo need to be used with extreme caution.

Insinuating that a certain skin color, or gender, or religion is better (or worse) isn’t acceptable. Derogatory sexual connotations, or any belittling of someone else, isn’t acceptable. After all, can you afford for your marketing communication to send the wrong message?

We often wonder how big products can make these mistakes. Surely someone, somewhere along the marketing chain, realized the message could be misinterpreted? But smaller companies and products, or individuals working for or associated with a company or product, also need to practice caution. You can’t take to Twitter with inappropriate jokes or statements and hope that the world won’t take notice.

Things that just don’t make sense

Have you ever had to read a line, then read it again, and again, until you think you understand what it means? Giving your readers a brainteaser can be an effective tool to engage them. But not when it comes to communicating your message.

Personally, if I have to read something more than once, just to figure out what it means, I tend to move on. This leaves me feeling frustrated – why over-complicate something? Why use so many words when one would do? I simply don’t have the time to wade through long-winded overly-technical explanations when they don’t add anything meaningful.

Solutions

Creating the right marketing message is what we’re after. But how do we go about avoiding these common pitfalls? To start with, it helps to have someone else read your work. Of course, this may not be possible for things like social media posts. But it’s a definite must-do on your blog posts, webpages and any other long-form content. Ask someone to check for basic errors, but also to read deeper, looking for comments that could be misinterpreted.

Then correct your mistakes. If you don’t pick them up before you publish, don’t panic. You can always fix something when you do notice it. If it’s a Tweet (which you won’t be able to edit) and you’ve just published it, delete and repost. If something that you’ve published has caused offence, own it and (if you need to) apologize or explain. You may also want to remove the offending post.

Creative license

Using words like ‘And’ to start a sentence, or getting creative with your punctuation, really isn’t the norm, but it can be effective, or just sound right. Playing up double meanings and innuendos is another effective creative tool. Personally, I don’t like it when words are misspelt on purpose (I don’t think it’s gr8) but again, it can make an impact. But if you’re going to employ these tactics, do it sparingly and save them for when you want to make a point.

Remember, for the most part, readers don’t want to wade through long, complicated sentences. They don’t want to see glaring errors. They don’t want to have to figure out whether they should be offended or not. The essence of effective online communication is ease: easy-to-read, quick-to-understand, simple but powerful communication. So make sure your marketing message says the right thing.

Featured image by Marcus dePaula on Unsplash

Marketing Email Tips You Can’t Do Without

Once you’ve got your Marketing Email list ready to go, you’ll need to start sending newsletters. Regular newsletters or marketing emails can improve your communication with your customers and help you build good relationships. The tips below will show you just what you need to do to create an awesome newsletter.

Marketing Emails Should Be Consistent

Whether you send once a week or once every two months, your newsletters should go out regularly. When someone signs up for a weekly mail or a monthly newsletter, that’s what they expect. They don’t want to wait three weeks for their weekly news, or conversely, get mails every week instead of once a month.

Regular communication also helps build your relationship and lets your customers know that you’re still around and still relevant.

Craft Your Subject Line Carefully

The first thing someone will see in your newsletter is your subject line. For Email Marketing to be successful, you need a good open rate (among other things). So your subject line has to entice people to open the newsletter.

To this end, subject lines should be relevant and interesting. HubSpot says your subject line should include “actionable language” such as verbs or something that implies action. Something like ‘Don’t Miss out on Opening Day Specials’ implies action: you want to make sure you buy items on Opening Day.

HubSpot also recommends creating relevance by personalizing your subject line. You can use the person’s name, but this tactic has been done before. Rather try segmenting your lists and using language that speaks to each groups’ location, gender, or age, for example. Most importantly, maintain relevance by ensuring that the subject line conforms to the body of the email. Don’t promise one thing and deliver something different.

Catchy subject lines are a great idea, but they first need to be clear. If someone doesn’t know what they’re going to get, they’re unlikely to open their email. So begin by writing a clear, interesting subject line. Then if you can, tweak it to make it catchy.

Preview text, the copy which appears after your subject line in the inbox, can also be used to your advantage. Use it to amplify the message of your subject line, or add something humorous here.

Write Compelling Copy

Once you’ve convinced someone to open your email, you now have to entice them to read it. Hopefully this will also result in click throughs to your site, thereby driving traffic and helping you convert this into revenue. This is why you need compelling copy.

Your choice of words is important. If you sound too much like spam, or you use over-exaggerated, too-enthusiastic marketing lingo, you’ll lose your readers. The same is true for copy that is boring. A conversational tone, with easy-to-read language should be your goal.

You also want to avoid overloading the newsletter with cluttered content. It’s easier to focus on one specific topic says HubSpot, and include a mix of educational and promotional content (with the emphasis being on educational). Use white space to help avoid the feeling of a cluttered newsletter.

Besides, your copy should offer a taste of your site’s content. Use compelling wording to entice your readers to click through to longer blogs and articles. This way you can keep the newsletter content short, sweet and to the point, while driving traffic to your site.

Remember to read through your copy! This applies to anything you write, whether for your newsletter or your site. Your content may include all the right keywords, but if your spelling, grammar and general language is poorly written, your readers won’t stick around for long.

Add a Call To Action

Email marketing can be used to inspire and motivate your readers to take action. But you need to tell them what action they need to take. This is where your CTA (Call To Action) comes in.

You can use a CTA to encourage people to buy your product or try out your service. But it’s also handy for building your social media following, or getting people to rate your service, or asking for a donation. The possibilities are many.

But your newsletter should only contain one main CTA – there can be others, but you should only really focus on one. Make your Call To Action clear, to-the-point and simple to do. Use links, use active language, and create a sense of urgency. OptinMonster says that people really do have FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – so use this to your advantage.

Make Use of Images Wisely

Visual aids can go a long way in helping you communicate with, and appeal to your subscribers. Images can brighten up your newsletters, draw attention to promotions or new articles, and help you get your message across without being too wordy.

But you need to practice caution. Too many images can be as distracting as text-heavy emails. Try to avoid adding clutter to your newsletters with lots of little images, and rather select just a few to convey your message.

Also remember that not everyone will download or open your images. So you need to include Alt Text (the text you see when an image doesn’t open) with your images. You also need to ensure that your email can be understood without having to see the image.

And Remember…

You need to give people the option to unsubscribe. Be sure to include an Unsubscribe button or link, and make it obvious. There is little more frustrating than searching for an Unsubscribe link that’s been hidden in complicated language in tiny print at the end of a very long email.

Finally, test your campaigns. Use an A/B split to find out what appeals more to your readers. See what works, and learn what doesn’t.

Using a marketing email is an effective way of communicating with your readers, and it’s essential for building your community. But everything from your subject line to your Call To Action needs to be carefully thought out, drafted and tested.

Featured Image by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash