Posted Monday, November 8, 2004
The key to transforming your website into a serious income generator that consistently converts visitors into cash customers is right in front of your nose. Without beating around the bush, the often overlooked secret ingredient is, quite simply, to pay very close attention to the proper use of language on your site. As a professional marketer, you can't afford to undermine your own image, or tarnish your good reputation, by using imperfect ad copy anywhere on your website.
It's plain and simple, words sell!
You have to choose them wisely -- and "package" them correctly. They're the only vehicle you really have for making the sale. Everything else is just fluff along for the ride.
Recognizing the importance of this key ingredient, which costs you nothing, and taking appropriate action as suggested below, will set you apart from the millions of other webmasters who are just spinning their wheels...and making no sales!
Negligence on your part in this department, on the other hand, will cast all your marketing efforts into an uncontrolled tailspin, and turn your visitors away faster than if you stood before them wearing a big sign around your neck reading: "Danger - Infected With Contagious Disease"
This key ingredient is all the more critical on the Internet because it is, and I think we can all agree, a text driven medium: words are its fundamental building materials.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROBLEM
All the fancy pictures in the world, even with just the right combination of colors, in the most imaginative layout, along with the most creative use of pop-up and pop-under windows, cannot help your marketing efforts one iota if you use the wrong words in an incorrect manner. Meaning, do not expect miracles if, to use common street vernacular, "You're just trying to get over."
These props can only enhance, but never replace, your fundamental written message. Dignified, careful use of the English language is a prerequisite to successful online marketing. But, many marketers are blatantly disregarding many, if not most, of the basic rules of English usage. Sad, but true, just about everywhere you look online, the English language is suffering a fate worse than death.
Now, please note, I'm not suggesting that before you design your website you'll need a Ph.D. in English literature, or be a noted, prize winning author. But, what I am suggesting is that you should be as careful as you possibly can with the contents of your website if you wish to attain recognition as a professional marketer. A professional marketer makes every effort to show his/her target audience that their approval, and their respect, are valued.
A shabbily written website conveys just the opposite sentiment. In fact, poor grammar, sloppy punctuation, and misspelled words galore tell the reader that they are not worthy of your very best effort; you are saying, "Here's the best I could muster under the circumstances. Take it, or leave it. Pay me the $29.95 on the way out for taking a look." How inconsiderate!
Of course, this is not to suggest that all, or even most, sites are carelessly and sloppily contrived. Quite obviously, most webmasters invest a great deal of attention in all aspects of their creation. And, let's face it, web design is a creative process.
ELEMENTS OF THE UNPROFESSIONAL SITES
At one end of the spectrum, there are enough 'bad pennies' around to keep any surfer busy for hours rinsing out the bad taste from their mouths after a visit.
At the extreme end of the same category, encounters with sites where the choice of vocabulary is not in the best of taste, where reasonable attention to grammar and spelling have been grossly disregarded, and where simple English been battered beyond recognition, may leave an uprepared visitor with permanent, debilitating, psychological damage, such as a hard to diagnose speech impediment, or maybe an involuntary nervous twitch across one cheek.
In my personal case, after so many chance meetings with disastrous, unacceptable sites, I'm left with a uncontrollable, drooping eyelid over my left eye which makes Bank tellers stir nervously whenever I announce a withdrawal. : )
Sites that have been compiled irresponsibly indicate a questionable professional intent by their owners, and a lack of interest in putting forth their best effort. Not only would I not buy anything from them, but you can bet your bottom penny that I'll never revisit.
SOME SHINING EXAMPLES
At the opposite end of the spectrum, among the most professionally done websites I have visited are those belonging to Corey Rudl (this is not a plug, the man makes enough money without my help.)
Obviously, his sites are carefully reviewed for grammatical errors, punctuation is exemplary, spelling mistakes are usually nonexistent; they're, all in all, a clean, crisp, professional rendering - truly worthy of their creator's pride.
Two other marketers whose websites are a joy to visit, given their fastidious attention to the proper use of language - in the manner described throughout this article - are Bryan Winters, of (http://www.pushbuttonpublishing.com), and Chris Carpenter, of (www.googlecash.com). Again, as in the case cited above, both these gentlemen care enough about the impression they make on prospective customers to always "put their best foot forward."
Their websites' content has been double checked for common usage errors, relieving the reader from any undue distractions; their sales messages come through as clear as a bell. Like Corey Rudl, they leave you with the image of a polished and sophisticated marketing professional. Your ultimate buying decision is based solely on the merits of their products, not on whether they botched up their sales pitch with carelessness.
Please note, my mention of these three particular marketers should not be considered endorsements of their products. I am a happy customer, but they are simply being singled out in this article as prime examples of how, in my modest opinion, one should handle the use of language as a skilled, responsible, Internet marketer.
SUGGESTIONS AND RESOURCES
A professional looking website, within the parameters I have pointed out, is not that hard to achieve. There are inexpensive, easy to use tools and aids to help you accomplish this indispensable goal.
For example, if, like most of us, you have a tendency to misspell words, take advantage of the Spell-Check feature built right into most word processor programs to double check your work. Or, better yet, since you'll be actively engaged in the process, buy yourself a pocket Dictionary for about six bucks to look up words. Personally, I own several of these, with a few foreign language versions for both Spanish and French.
If punctuation and grammar give you migraines, buy yourself a College level English Usage or Style handbook at any used bookstore in town. Then, when in doubt about any facet of your written work, leaf through it to find an acceptable solution. In no time at all, with just a little effort on your part, you'll gain mastery over any aspect of the English language which previously derailed you.
Personally, I use one, or both of the following when I run into a grammar roadblock: William Strunk's Elements of Style, and American Heritage Book of English Usage.
And, if you're fortunate enough to have, either a member of your family, or as a friend or neighbor, an educator who teaches English and whose expertise you trust, ask them to review your written work prior to publishing it as a website.
You'll receive invaluable insights and suggestions from a specialized professional, at zero cost to you. Naturally, for your own peace of mind, refrain from taking their suggestions personally; it might be helpful to pretend that the work being reviewed by them is not your own.
Additionally, should be inclined to doing your revisions online, I offer up this list of grammar related resources with accompanying descriptions. They're all fr*ee:
1. (http://www.chompchomp.com/terms.htm) Grammar terms are listed and each is linked to its own page of explanation and examples of correct and incorrect usage. There are also online exercises. By one Robin L. Simmons.
2. (http://www2.ncsu.edu:8010/ncsu/grammar/) Home of the Grammar Hotline. Has tips and links. From North Carolina State University.
3. (http://www.well.com/user/mmcadams/words.html) Glossary of grammar terms and their meanings. From magazine-editing guru Mindy McAdams.
4. (http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/errors.html) Paul Brians of the Department of English at Washington State University talks about common mistakes and about perfect English that is often changed in error by well-meaning editors.
5. (http://www.worldwidewords.org/) All the pieces here are about English words and phrases—what they mean, where they came from, how they have evolved, and the ways in which people sometimes misuse them.
Thankfully, for the kind of writing that we do for the Web, you will not have to become adept at unraveling such mysteries as: What emotions dictate the use of the Subjunctive voice? Or, define a prepositional phrase. How about, what is the difference between a definite and an idefinite article? Or, can a personal pronoun be used in the possessive form? Better still, how would you indicate possession for a noun ending in the letter "s?" Last but not least, does the English language have a future perfect tense?
Cast all your fears aside, because not only would answering those questions be beyond the scope of this narrative, they would surely be well beyond my own limited and flawed intelligence, as well! For website publishing, we only have to concentrate on writing clearly, sharply, and concisely; clean, simple, and well thought out copy is all we're after. A basic common sense approach. Pulitzer prize winning authors are bred elsewhere.
You'll find that, by taking the simple precautions and suggestions I have oulined here to spruce up your website, your professionalism will shine through, making you feel proud and empowered, your feelings of self worth will rise dramatically, giving you added confidence to tackle more and more written projects, praise from others will allow you to recognize your dormant talents, helping to fuel your creativity to a higher level...and your bottom line will inevitably soar as a result!
Copyright 2004 Jorge M. Vega - After struggling for years trying to figure out what worked and what didn't work online, the author has started to "bring home the bacon" marketing on the Internet. See the few select, sure-fire ways he has found that anyone can use to begin making a comfortable home-based living, starting today: (http://www.earnlarge.com/pbi)
About the Author
Jorge M. Vega is foreign-born, and thanks God daily for the privilege of living in the land he loves, the good ol'USA. Taming the Internet beast took several years, but he's found several easy ways to online profits which he gladly shares.