Why You Should Seriously Consider Rerunning Your Best Web Content

website content rerun

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. It’s something I quietly learned as a 15 year veteran of online content marketing but also as a longtime TV viewer. It is this: rerunning web content (articles, infographics, videos, etc) is one of the best but lesser-known ways for you to extend the interest, reach, and ultimate reception of your online content marketing. Better yet, it requires significantly less time (if any) to reproduce.

It works like this. Using your web analytics, personal favorites, or even detailed content audit, first identify the pieces of content that have best served you or that have previously resonated with audiences. That might be your most popular blog post, a reoccurring how-to video, or an often reached for infographic.

Once you have that list, review the individual items to see if any of the copy (or images) need to be updated. If you’re already in the habit of writing good evergreen content, this shouldn’t be an issue—certainly no more than a few words here and there. If not, you’ll probably need to spend a little extra time on updating. That’s okay, however, as you’re still probably be spending less time than developing something from scratch.

Once you have that step completed, login to your content management system (i.e. WordPress, YouTube, or your social media manager), then strategically space out or group your rerun campaign in a way that best suits the timing of your rerun. For example, if you have a really strong motivational new year’s piece from a few years back, consider rerunning it this January.

When it comes to my personal blog, I try to do this several times a year. In truth, I could probably do it a whole lot more often. In the five years I’ve been regularly rerunning both web content and newsletters, not once have I encountered an angry, annoyed, or even knowing reader that was upset by my sending something they may have already seen. Chances are, with house busy life gets, they probably didn’t see the rerun the first time you ran it. And even if they did, it’s your content or your right to decide what’s worthy of a second, third, fourth, or even fifth run.

Either way, I cannot stress how helpful this strategy can be when it comes to regularly publishing good content without spending days on the task. Not long ago, I was in a pinch with my publishing schedule and knew I needed to share something with my newsletter audience but I didn’t have a lot of time. I did a quick scan of my blog, and spotted a piece on how to stay focused in a 24/7 world.

I re-read it, quickly determined that it didn’t require any updating, copy and pasted it into my newsletter software, and hit send. Within minutes I had two subscribers thank me for the advice, one of which admitted he saw it the first time I published it but still enjoyed it anyways, calling it “one of his favorites.”

Old doesn’t necessarily mean no longer valuable to today. So use rerun content to your advantage. If it’s good enough for television, it’s good enough for you.


ABOUT Blake Snow

Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a seasoned writer-for-hire. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and loyal dog and is thrilled you read this far.


When It Comes to Internet Privacy Policies, Honesty Is Not Enough

When’s the last time you read an internet privacy policy or a terms of use notice? If you and your users are like most people, the answer is likely never—despite their presence in nearly every website and app. Most people are in a hurry and know the terms are non-negotiable. So, they click the ‘agree’ button and hope for the best. But people shouldn’t have to wish they’re dealing with a decent company.

Online businesses should earn their users’ trust—and loyalty—on every single page, including the ones driven by a legal team.

“But why care about fine print if people are going to agree without reading it anyway? Seems like a win, right?” Until it isn’t. Even if users seem unconcerned up front, they may still care later on. And when they do want to read the fine print—whether it’s their first visit or the one following a negative experience—what they see should be clear and user-friendly (not to mention accurate and transparent).

Here are some best practices for online policies that give users the information they need to understand what’s happening while they interact with your site.

Give users control
The best websites offer clarity and choice, so it’s easy for users and customers to make decisions and pick what they want to view or buy. Terms and Conditions (aka T&Cs), privacy policies, and data notices are all ways to give your users the same type of control.

– Make them feel like they’re in charge when they access your website, download your app, and provide their information.

– Use it as an opportunity to help avoid potential backlash if anyone ever finds something that does seem onerous.

Offer simplicity
Giant walls of text aren’t just daunting to look at, they’re boring to read. Instead, give users a way to get in, skim the text, and get out. That way, even if they only read a portion, they’ll still be able to glean a few key elements.

– Offer users a glimpse into what’s to come by offering a table of contents that highlights the various sections of your policies.

– Provide subheads and plain English wrap-ups or summaries that allow them to click through and see the more detailed policies. And give users a way to print or download a PDF of your policies so they can more easily read them offline if they prefer.

Instill confidence in them and in you
When it comes to data, tell site visitors why you need their information, how you intend to use it, and what it’s going to help you deliver for them. Taking such a straightforward approach may give them the confidence to share even more data with you by filling out forms or accepting requests to access other data (such as their location).

– Let them decide what information they give you, then give them tools to view what you’ve collected and make changes to their data access settings.

– Reassure users that their data is protected by telling them where it is, how it’s stored, and how long you intend to store it. If you share data with third-parties, disclose this as well.

When things change, tell folks
When you change your policies, be sure to post a prominent alert that tells users where they can read the latest updates.

–  Include an explanation of policy changes at the top of your policy page so people don’t have to guess what’s different.

– Date your policy pages so users can tell when they were originally written and most recently updated.

Follow the leaders
Take a fine print hint from some of the companies and organizations that are already doing it well.

Apple’s website has a huge amount of policies, but they do a good job using subheads to make everything easier to peruse.

– The Children’s Commissioner for England advocates for children. To that end, they’ve created child-friendly policy examples to help guide online companies.

Tumblr uses callout summaries in certain sections that turn the legal mumbo jumbo into language that just about anyone can understand.

– Photo-sharing service 500px puts the fine print on the left, but includes friendlier, readable text on the right.

While policies are never going to be exciting, they can be more engaging and easily absorbed so users know what you intend to do with their data. Start empowering your users by putting your UX, design, copy, and legal teams in a room. Together, they can figure out how to develop fine print that’s good for your business and your users. Doing that may not mean everyone is going to read your policies, but it may mean that those users who do will gain enough trust in your brand to stick with you over time.


ABOUT James Scott

For more than 20 years, James has helped global brands get results with award-winning copy. As a writer and creative lead, he’s worked with clients in a broad range of industries, from technology and pharma to retail and luxury services. Though he's also an attorney, James realized early in his legal career that he preferred crafting websites and ads far more than writing legal complaints and briefs. When he’s not developing blog posts, editorial content, or ad slogans, he spends his time writing short stories and perfecting his voiceover talent.


Tips for Working with a Creative Agency

Congratulations! You’ve taken the big step of hiring a team of creative strategists to up your content game—but you might be wondering, now what? Partnering with an agency is a surefire way to boost the success of your business, but you’ll save yourself (and the creative team) a lot of headache by following a few simple tips from yours truly. Get ready, set, GO: Here’s everything you need to know about working with a creative team to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Share your vision—in detail.

Listen, we can’t read your mind. (And even if we could, we’d probably opt not to.) But that doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in what you have to say, especially when it comes to your vision for your company. Any agency worth their salt will want to know exactly what your wants, needs, and thoughts are going into the process, so don’t hesitate to speak your mind. Not only does this give the creative team a chance to get to know you and your business, but it also paves the way for clear and open communication from the get-go—something that’s of the utmost importance in building a solid brand-agency relationship (which we’ll get to later).

Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself before meeting with an agency:

1) Who is your audience?
2) Why should they care?
2) How will you measure success?

Having a good idea of what your company’s all about—and what makes it stand out—will help us come up with a message unique to your business that’s begging to be shared with the rest of the world.

Remember: we don’t make your bottom line, we just get you there.

Check in regularly

Relationships take effort, and the client-agency relationship is no different. Collaboration is key! Don’t wait until the last minute to provide feedback: Pose your questions, set your expectations, schedule regular meetings, and voice your concerns as we go. Silence on the client end not only delays a project (or pushes us into crisis mode as the deadline gets squeezed), but also makes it harder for us to schedule resources and keep costs in check. If the project owner has trouble getting sign-off or consensus from senior management (which is not uncommon), at least keeping us in the loop is helpful. The more transparent you are on the spot, the less often changes will have to be made—and the less time wasted—later on. Always expect a revision to deadlines if the feedback cycle gets lengthy.

Streamline the communication process

While it may be tempting to get your whole team involved in the creative process, things can easily become confusing or fall through the cracks when more than two or three people are communicating at a time—especially in the digital space (e-mail, we’re looking at you). Collaborative documents can get particularly murky and counterproductive, so make sure the agency knows who all the people are that will be commenting, as well as their relationship to the project owner. (We don’t want to be guessing which comments came from the VP versus the intern.) When it’s okay for us to begin addressing the comments, the project owner should give the green light—or, better yet, aggregate all of the comments and resolve internal discussions first.

There’s a lot of value in creating personal connections, though, so if there is a desire for some old-fashioned team-building, set aside a time to have a few members of your agency drop by your office or plan an after-work activity for both sides to get to know one another. Even just one face-to-face brainstorming session can promote authenticity, build trust, and convey the essence of your mission. Not local? No problem. Thanks to technology, connecting with virtual agencies has never been easier.

You make the final call

This goes without saying, but an agency is there to serve you. This means you get the final word on every decision. But just in case you’re wondering, there are a few simple things we kindly recommend you don’t say.

Trust in the process

By now, you should have briefed your agency on your company’s needs, outlined a budget, set a deadline, and provided as much feedback as you see fit. The rest is up to your creative team, and if they’ve done their part to earn your trust (like any good agency will), you can rest assured that everything will come together in due time. Your account manager will keep you in the loop on project drafts, timelines, costs, and the whole editorial process from start to finish, so you never have to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. Prepare yourself for a kickass marketing strategy and materials that are sure to propel your business to new heights.

Your Virtual Editorial Desk

Here at Wordsmithie, we pride ourselves on giving our clients direct access to dedicated talent. We can complement your team structure and scale to grow or shrink to fit, according to your team’s needs, and the scope of your project. And if a little more guidance is what you’re after, we’re happy to be of service: Our “At Your Service” Bureau option gives you your very own on-call creative services department, providing your team or entire company with flexible and fast turnarounds on new editorial or quick edits and rewrites, plus killer brainstorming sessions and content strategy—all at your fingertips. (Seriously, it’ll seem like we’re one desk down.)


ABOUT Emily Blasik

Emily Blasik is a freelance writer and Nutritional Therapy Consultant in training from Dallas, TX. When she’s not blogging or practicing yoga, you can find her hanging out at a local coffee shop—nose-deep in a good mystery novel, snapping photos of her extra frothy cappuccino or planning her next travel adventure.


VUI and Travel

VUI and travel

“Computer!” VUI (Voice User Interface) has been likened to all kinds of futuristic pop references from Star Trek to KITT, David Hasselhoff’s smart, talking car from Knight Rider. The concept is a simple—yet tech disruptive—one: Ask a question to your home assistant device (or phone interface) and get a spoken-word answer in real time. And thanks to the advent of home-use-specific devices—Amazon Alexa/Echo, Google Home/Mini—millions (nearly 26 million homes, to be exact) are now using the interfaces. Mobile devices are also in on the ask-and-response party with programs like Cortana (Microsoft), Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), and Google Assistant. All can be accessed by voice; some via typepad (the benefit being texted links). However, some industry watchers predict the type interface will go the way of the rotary phone. Banks including Capital One and Bank of America have spearheaded branded VUI services, and now the travel industry wants in. From booking to alerts, here’s how the future-is-now tech tool may be changing the way we see the world.

Booking

Fact: Mobile devices are increasingly used to research travel. Also fact: Direct hotel bookings don’t often happen on mobile or online. (Some stats put it at just 30%.) OTAs (Online Travel Agents, such as Priceline and Expedia) own the digital booking market, with sales projected to be as high as $81.4 million gross in 2020. And OTAs have already begun to roll out VUI partnerships. Kayak (owned by Priceline) gives Alexa users access to room rates and airfares; Expedia allows users to check on flight reservations and rent cars. Currently, neither has the capability to book air travel.

Specialized agents also have a strong appeal for travelers, especially those seeking a curated, authentic and immersive experience. In fact, 60% of millennials say they’d use an agent to craft memorable, niche adventures. And 33% already use such services, according to research by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). With agents saving consumers four hours of research on average, and nearly $450 per transaction, there is opportunity for travel specialists to develop sophisticated VUI interfaces with great impact. Curiously, Lola, a VUI-only travel provider helmed by Kayak co-founder Paul English, recently pivoted exclusively to business travel bookings. In tandem, the outfitter, which launched in 2016, partnered with American Express Global Business Travel to both increase the amount of agents and curate bespoke experiences.

While OTAs own online hotel bookings—thanks in large part to packaging—VUI may give properties more immediate reservation market-share. Industry experts cite leisure travelers’ interest in price above other needs. Smart interfaces can speak to personalization needs, prior search history, and preferences. Answers and options may be more readily available based on system history. Streamlined data feedback can promise great messaging impact, especially for a powerhouse brand such as Marriott that has hotel extensions for literally every kind of traveler.

Experiences and Activities

Speaking of the hospitality giant, Marriott announced an Echo partnership with Amazon this summer. The primary roll-out is for the devices to be placed in guest rooms. Requests—more towels, room service, room temperature—can all be conducted via the in-room speakers. Dazzle, a startup specializing in travel VUI, spearheaded the tech support. Possible wider roll-outs for the company may be more traditional concierge requests—restaurant, theater, excursion requests and bookings—via in-room devices or personal ones. According to research conducted by Google, two in five bookings don’t occur until a few days before travel. Google Assistant would be able to extend available travel options via VUI. The promise is for answers that can be personalized based on search history and spending habits, as well as geotagging.

Airlines

One of the benefits of VUI is the real-time response. Unlike customer service lines and online chat interfaces, there is no wait time. Airlines have excelled at moving customer service to social media, then to their branded apps. Delta  airline’s app upped the ante with real-time baggage tracking, among other services including delay-needed rebooking. When VUI technology becomes even more interactive, it may enhance airline service for on-the-ground customer concerns. And travel snafus may be easier to overcome.

Advisories

“Insufficient facts always invite danger,” warns Spock. Travel and weather advisories are fluid. Now, some VUI travelers have access to the State Department’s travel warnings and advisories system. Alexa, with code parsed from GitHub, can be programmed to deliver the official State Department information, including local embassy and consulate locations, via its RSS feed. At this time, requests should be pointed and direct: “Alexa, is it safe to travel to Canada?” However, in the future, mobile users may be able to get real-time, geotagged info about safety, weather, and other issues.


ABOUT Jenna Mahoney

Writer and magazine editor Jenna Mahoney’s work has appeared in Shape, Self, Allure, Redbook, and New York Magazine, as well as in numerous online publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.


How to Ask Case Study Interview Questions

case study

“Sure, sure. But why should I believe you?”

This is the perfectly fair question that marketing and advertising professionals dread from customers. Because it’s a very good one!

Why should customers believe someone who they know is trying to sell them something?

That is exactly why case studies are so powerful, and why knowing how to ask the right questions to get the right information can mean the difference between a game-changing new piece of marketing collateral, and just another forgotten PDF.

Here at Wordsmithie, we’ve taken a look before at how to conduct great interviews. Now let’s break down how to ask the right questions to make your next case study a home-run!

Know the story, and lead them where you want to go

“Well, we don’t want to lead our customers into giving the answers we want…”

Pardon my French, but that’s bull hockey.

In this situation, you are not a journalist. You are not the final brave paragon standing between journalistic integrity and a world of cable-news agendas. You’re just not. You’re a marketer.

Which is why it’s perfectly fine—and indeed, extremely wise—to lead your subject into telling the story you want to hear.

Whether it’s your customer or the customer of a client on whose behalf you’re acting, get together with anyone familiar with the account beforehand and discuss why this particular client’s story is so compelling. Perhaps they switched from your primary competitor? Maybe they’re getting a ton of value out of a brand new feature?

Whatever kernel of information is the golden nugget for you, guide the questioning in that direction, linger longer on that topic, and ask lots of focused follow-ups to fully flesh out your subject.

After all, it’s your case study.

 

In your case study, you should design the questions to milk the maximum information—and value—out of the topics you care about.

Not every study needs to tell the whole story

Similar to the above, not every case study needs to tell your whole story.

Yes, you’ll want some case studies to be grand, sweeping, 30,000-foot views of everything you can offer a customer. Those have value. But, eventually, they will all start to tell the same narrative. And then you’ll run into diminishing returns as customers grow weary of reading the same exact story over and over again.

But just like in football, where some players are experts at throwing the ball, while others can catch it better than anyone alive, while still others are just really good at smashing the poor guy holding the ball, so too should your case studies specialize in whatever that client is good at.

Say your client is a content agency (never heard of ‘em!). You’ll want a few of those case studies to highlight how they delivered a massive portfolio of varied content for a particular customer, from blogs to videos and everything in between.

But the rest should focus. “Our case studies, thanks to our highly-trained interview team, yield better results like XYZ,” or, “Client Q struggled with low email open rates, so our team split-tested over ten design and copy variations and analyzed the results, optimizing the process.”

In these situations, forgo the usual boilerplate questions you have about all their other offerings and services, and instead focus, dig into to, and spend your time on that one juicy area.

Look: it’s fine to have your case studies tout that your client can do it all.

But you’ll want many to specialize, so that at least one of them is bound to ring that one, specific bell in the mind of your reader and make them give you a call.

Don’t take “No” for an answer. Don’t take “I’ll check and get back to you,” either

As we mentioned in our first point, you should enter the interview with an expectation of what you want to hear. Know which quotes you need to get to support that story, and keep asking questions until you get them.

Often, that will mean asking essentially the same question several different ways. But that’s okay! Because your language and terminology are not necessarily what your client uses.

For example, take the question “Have you noticed any improvements in operational efficiency since using our product?” That may yield a low-effort, but sincerely honest, “No.”

But, if you ask, “How has your performance in your job improved since using our product?” Or, “How is your daily routine different now since using our product?” you are much more likely to get an answer. Clients don’t always think in terms of ROI or your own internal messaging pillars. They think in terms of themselves. So ask about them, and how your product affects them.

Another pitfall that many good interviewers fall into is the old, “I’ll check on that and get back to you” diversion. Don’t fall for it, friends! Sure, perhaps Jerry in Accounting really will look up those answers on his own, take time out of his day after he’s off the phone, and remember not only to send them to you, but what you asked and what your email address was, too.

But just as often, “I’ll check on that” is an evasive tactic to either get off the phone faster or avoid having to search for information.

So instead, find different ways to ask the question to get the information you need, right then and there.

“I’ll check on that and get back to you”? That’s okay, you have another question you can ask instead!

Conducting a client interview for a case study doesn’t need to feel like wrestling a bear.

Ultimately, you are on a mission to get the information you need. And you are allowed to ask whatever questions, in as many different ways, as you need to in order to get that juicy money quote from your subjects.

So don’t be shy, and be persistent. You’re in charge, you’re running the show, and you call the shots.

So…any questions?


ABOUT Jason Rogers

A graduate of the College of William & Mary and La Sorbonne, Jason has worked in content marketing all over the world, serving as Director of Digital Marketing for the Chinese Language Institute in Guilin, China. Based in Washington, D.C., Jason covers the National Hockey League as a credentialed reporter and television analyst; he has wordsmithed for high-visibility institutions and companies from the United States Congress to Google. He loves hockey, hip-hop, and original hyperbole.