Ginny Redish, the author of Letting Go of the Words, says Good Web Writing is based on usability and:
- is like a conversation
- answers peoples questions
- lets people grab and go
Using this as a base, let’s look at an email alert I received this week and determine if it was successful in its digital writing to get me excited about a new product.
Who am I?: I signed up for this newsletter because I love coupons. It’s true. No shame.
(Lesson: A pay-off will get someone to sign up for a newsletter. Coupons, recognition, additional secret information that no one else could get… If you’re creating a persona around people who sign up for your newsletters, be sure to include one who is in it to get something)
Their latest newsletter featured a link to coupons, but also prominently featured a new product. I thought maybe I’d get another pay-off if I clicked on “check it out” to learn more about the product. Why else would they want me to click on it? The newsletter blurb gave me all the information I need… why would I need to know more?
(Lesson: Don’t automatically assume your users are as excited about your new product as you are – if you want visitors to read more on the product, provide a reason to click on the link other than ‘to provide more information.’ Also, stop using “check it out” online. Just. Stop.)
So, I clicked on the “check it out” to enter the site. It featured lots of information about the product (which I didn’t read), rollovers on a graphic (some of which didn’t work) and links with animations to show the razor’s different features (of which I clicked on one).
(Lesson: *If good web content is like a conversation, this one was one-sided. It successfully answers questions a user may have about the product, but doesn’t answer: why am I here?*
The website also featured a “love it, pass it on!” link, which I thought – ok – maybe sending info will also provide a coupon. So, I clicked on it.
Who in their right mind would send their friend an email about a new razor? Really think about this… What is interesting about this?
(Lesson: Including interactivity and opportunities to share content is great – but not all content is worth sharing. Adding a pay-off “send to 5 friends for a free sample” would encourage more use of this form)
I clicked on this “buy it now” link, thinking it might be good to find out where to buy one – and maybe I’d find a deal:
So, I click Buy It Now, and the following pop-up appears:
Wait… wha? Why is it even an option?
(Lesson: Anticipate what the user will do when they come to the site. Good web writing answers a visitor’s question – not make them ask more. Also, if you offer something on your site, such as “Buy it Now!” or “See the video clip now!” it’s in your best interest to make sure the content exists every time. Also, avoid industry speak. Rather than partner online retailer, try “online shops” and let the user know where they can find it in the real world, if that option is available)
How Did This Email Campaign Do?
- the web writing was like a conversation – not really. While there were efforts to share the information, there was no anticipation of the user’s part of conversation when they would open this site.
- the website answered questions – the campaign answered questions the who, what and how about the razor, but did so in the well written introductory paragraph on the newsletter. It didn’t effectively anticipate the where and why questions a visitor would ask, such as “where can I buy this?” or “why am I here?”
- the website let me grab and go – since the campaign didn’t answer real user questions, there was nothing to “go” with on this site. I could grab the link to the site and send it to a friend, but what am I grabbing and why would I share it?