Have you explained the same thing to two different leads twice this week? Or, worse yet, have you explained the same thing twice to the same lead this week?
If that sounds familiar, you may want to evaluate your business’ online copy and traditional print documents to decide if it’s time to create new written copy or modify existing copy. Written documents, whether traditional print or online, can help you and your co-workers avoid tedious explanations and even more tedious “re-explanations!”
Well-written documents can serve as effective references 24/7 for co-workers. Some of that material, if properly formatted, presented, and voiced, might make engaging inbound marketing content for potential clients and educational material to delight your existing customers! They can also save you plenty of time with your co-workers.
Written Content that Saves You Time
Once you start using content to save you and your co-workers time, you’ll come up with plenty of ideas. Here are just 14 for starters:
Anything that you have to explain more than once or twice a year to clients, coworkers, onboarding employees, or visitors might make effective written content. I host one of my websites on Bluehost. They provide instructional pages that tell us (the customers) important things we need to know, like how to get started on Bluehost, how to install WordPress, and how to get started as a reseller. Can you imagine how much time that saves customer service staff who would otherwise have to explain all of this to first-time users?
2. About Pages
An “about” page tells the reader something about your business or employees. It helps website visitors understand your business as a group of experts, rather than just a point-of-sale. It also saves you time by giving your visitors an idea of who does what.
The makers of the Toggl Time Tracker and Timesheet app, has an “About Us” section on their website, divided into four pages: 1) Blog, 2) Team, 3) Jobs, and 4) Meet Toggl. Just glancing at these pages, I learn that there’s a lot more to Toggl than just a free app that I use to log my writing time. Toggl’s made up of a group of young, interesting people, who get out and interact with interested businesses and individuals. I learn that they’d be interesting to work with, and reading their page has made me more interested in a product that I’m already using.
They’ve saved a lot of time converting me to a lead because I subscribed to their blog, some time ago, and they’ve never had to spend time explaining their product to me. I found everything that I needed to know on their blog and website.
3. Landing Pages
Inbound marketers use written content as part of the landing pages that convert site visitors to marketing leads and sales leads. A landing page must be attractive and well-written to break the threshold at which a visitor transitions from a viewer or reader to a lead by providing his or her data and opening the door for more engaging, focused marketing.
For a good example of effective landing pages, take a look at some that Hubspot described. The company, which offers an inbound marketing software platform, as part of its own inbound marketing, posted “16 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See.”
I happened to like the one from Trulia, a company whose app and web page I use myself. It’s landing page simply asks, “How much is your home worth?” This question just somehow grabs me and, if I weren’t already registered, I’d probably be typing my address on the page right now. Imagine how many other real estate buyers and investors end up filling in their home address on that page!
4. Educational Texts
Today’s consumers do their own research on products and services before investing their time and money. By providing internet browsers with informative, well-written, interesting, entertaining, and convincing text, you’ve gotten them one step closer to your product or service. Inbound marketers know that this important tool can attract, hold, and convert visitors to leads.
Take a look, for example, at how Home Depot educates site visitors about “Why Fall Is the Best Time to Grow a Vegetable Garden.” The article not only discusses the advantage of fall gardens, but it provides tips and links to products that gardeners might use. By the time the customer comes into the store, he or she already has a list of gardening supplies, without ever having invested a minute of sales representative time making suggestions.
5. Bulletins, Newsletters, and Alerts
Providing website or brick-and-mortar site visitors with industry news may seem like piling on more work, but, by informing leads of industry updates, you can get information regularly to a large target audience. You may be able to keep your leads reading interesting, relevant material that gives them ideas that motivate them to use your goods or services.
For example, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services‘ National Institutes of Health have an Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) that provides the public with free electronic publications, including the ODS Update, about “ODS programs, staff publications, and presentations, dietary supplement fact sheets, databases, meetings, and exhibits.” These bulletins inform many people at the same time.
They save the ODS time by informing an entire industry, rather than trying to get information to just those individuals who happen to walk into their office. Likewise, because the information’s already online, employees of the ODS, upon receiving queries for information, can direct people to the ODS Update, where they’ll find relevant information.
Not long ago, just before the semester started, I walked into a local Walmart store and noticed a back-to-school themed stand with a whole packet of sheets of paper with a school supply list printed on it. Probably no one does this sort of time-saving marketing better than Walmart. It hits local consumers at a peak shopping time, when they’re really ready to buy.
I saw parents jammed into the school supply area, and many of them were glancing at the list and buying items they saw on it. No one had to follow them around and make suggestions, and employees concentrated on helping them find the items, rather than giving them ideas. That’s time and money saved, along with some extra income from sales.
7. Product & Service Descriptions
I do a lot of my shopping online, and I like the fact that I can get descriptions of most online items on the pages where they sell them. That saves me time, and I know that it saves companies time.
Years ago I had the opportunity to observe an expert time-saver, Cabela’s, at work, when I visited the area where its phone sales representatives worked. The company has, for many years, invested heavily in a catalog with detailed, compelling descriptions of products. I used to spend hours just leafing through its paper catalogs, looking at the photos and reading about the products.
Their online catalog now contains thousands of items, each with detailed descriptions. For example, I can go to its section on “Tents & Shelters” and see 147 different items, each with very detailed descriptions written specifically for the audience that might use these items. When customers call to make an order, many of them know exactly what they want. The descriptions and photos sell the merchandise, and Cabela’s has saved plenty of time by getting its customers all the information they needed before they every look at the catalog.
8. “How-to” Copy
Blog posts, social media posts, articles, pages, and pdfs that tell how to do something can save you and your co-workers time by showing clients how to use your products or services. They’ll find well-written and illustrated references much easier to follow than a phone conversation, and they can have them right at the work site, where they’re handy references.
Again, Home Depot takes the cake when it comes to the prize for “how-to” copy. This retail giant teamed up with Orbit Sprinkler Systems, providing informative and how-to copy within the Home Depot website. They provide enough information that a home or business owner can effectively design an automated watering system and select all of the components. How much time would that take a sales representative working on the floor of the brick-and-mortar store, and how many trips back-and-forth might it take the customer to get the little bits and pieces that just didn’t get in the shopping cart the first time?
9. White Papers
White papers report or guide readers on complex issues from the issuer’s point of view. It may help the reader understand an issue, make decisions, or solve problems. Today, it often consists of a marketing presentation used to persuade others or promote a product, service, or point of view.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, for example, offers white papers on a wide variety of investment instruments and other products. Its white paper on “Understanding FX Futures” describes the basics of currency futures trading. Similar white papers describing the basics of your products or services could save your business time by introducing prospective customers to the concepts associated with more complex aspects of your offerings.
I recently decided to switch to Google’s Project Fi, as my cell phone service provider. Before doing so, I went right to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to see in which countries I would get international data without roaming fees. The FAQ saved me time waiting on the phone while waiting for Google’s customer service representatives to answer my call, and I know that it saved them time because they didn’t have to go through their whole greeting, answer, and closing statement to get me informed and converted. Whatever your business or organization does, you probably receive quite a few routine questions that you could answer on a FAQ and save yourself some phone time.
Explanatory copy can save your business time by explaining complex or time-consuming concepts to visitors or leads. For example, one company that sells natural Amazon botanicals, Raintree Formulas, regularly posts explanatory information on its Facebook page. One such post, “Raintree’s Veg Capsules,” explains the benefits of the vegetable capsules it uses for its herbs. Such explanations make handy references that clients can send to customers with questions about their products.
As a client, I usually go to a forum when I don’t have a means to get to a good FAQ or a service representative, and, honestly, I don’t like them much. However, they’re a very popular medium in some areas.
For example, some time ago I used a Linux Operative System called Ubuntu. It’s open source, so most of the development is done by volunteer supporters. Ubuntu actually had quite a bit of good information online to get me started and teach me the basics, but I eventually had to go to a forum to answer more difficult questions.
A forum, if you manage it well, can provide a good place to help your customers find answers to questions that would take a service representative a relatively long time to answer. Be careful with this one, though. A poorly managed forum can give a really bad impression of a brand.
13. Guest Posts
Does your group or organization practice anything that might be useful to other groups or organizations? Perhaps you have an interesting subject that you’d like to get to an audience outside your usual target market, but cannot take the time to develop a whole new publication, website, or blog dedicated to that subject matter.
The author of The Wise Open Mind, Dr. Ronald Alexander, directs the OpenMind Training Institute. He occasionally posts to Psychology Today’s blog, with posts like, “4 Strategies to Mindfully Enhance Everyday Creativity.” The posts and his bio include links to his sites that may serve as an inbound marketing mechanism, but they can also save him time when he needs to provide a lead or customer with an explanation of how he uses mindfulness to enhance creativity.
14. Electronic magazines (eZines, Digital Magazines)
Electronic magazines, like The New Yorker, Mexconnect, and Bike Magazine all reach well-defined audiences. Publishing an electronic magazine can save you time by getting a lot of information out to your audience on a periodic basis, rather than addressing customers, leads, and internet users one-by-one. However, it’s a pretty big task.
If the audience of an already-existing electronic magazine corresponds to an audience that you would like to attract to your site, a guest article might be a way to reach that audience. Editors of many of these publications welcome guest writers and even regular columnists.
About a decade ago I published regularly in Mexconnect. The articles not only served to educate readers, but they helped me build my online portfolio, and a number of them, like a piece entitled, “Camping in Mexico,” also saved me time as references for business collaborators. Having camped frequently in Mexico, I received a lot of questions about camping from colleagues and co-workers in other countries. Usually, the information in the link was all they needed to answer their questions.
These are only a few written time-savers, and I bet you’re already using in your workplace. We’d like to hear about them or ideas that you would like to turn into projects. What kind of written copy could save you time?