October 2008
Copywriting Curiosities
Write Better Marketing Copy Now!
In This Issue
Is Your Copy's Tone Consistent?
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On My Book Shelf

Wordtracker's 50 Kick-Ass Keyword Strategies
by Aaron Wall

Google Analytics
by Mary E. Tyler
& Jerri L. Ledford

We Need to Talk About Kevin
by Lionel Shriver

My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult

Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson with David Oliver Relin
A Few of
My Favorite Things

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Blue Acorn is an eCommerce development firm based out of South Carolina. I highly recommend them if you're looking to develop an eCommerce site that will be found by search engines. I contribute regularly to the Blue Acorn blog.

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You communicate with your customers through more mediums than you may realize. You have your website. And from there, your website might generate further communication, such as registration forms, order forms, order confirmation emails, lost password/login information emails--well, you get the idea. 

Then there are invoices and "regular" emails, not to mention advertising, like print ads. No doubt, you've probably spent a fair amount of time getting the tone of certain marketing materials "just right." But is this tone consistent in all other forms of communication that go out under your company's name? 

In this month's issue of Copywriting Curiosities, we're going to look at a company that does a great job "talking" to its customers on its website: Comcast. Then we'll look at some ways Comcast could improve its tone in some of its other forms of communication.

As always, I welcome your feedback:
robyn@etrobbins.com. And be sure to scroll to the bottom of this email to check out the special on email marketing that I'm offering this fall. Enjoy!
Robyn Bradley 
Is Your Copy's Tone Consistent? 
Comcast's site is fun and hip. It appears geared to the 18- to 49-year-old crowd. When I sign in, it immediately welcomes me back:

Nice to see you again, Robyn. It's simple to view current and past statements, make payments, update your information, and lots more. So, go on. Take control.

Notice how it's talking to me. The short, punchy sentences like "So, go on" and "Take control" work for the cool, hip, almost irreverent tone that Comcast is trying to convey. Comcast is also big on giving the customer choices--from choosing paperless bills, to choosing how you want to pay (recurring credit card or recurring bank account payment): Want to save some trees? Change your statement delivery preferences today and say goodbye to your monthly paper bill.

The tone is conversational, like two friends talking to one another. And it's incredibly effective for this reason. I never mind logging into the site, because I really feel like a valued customer, and I know that if I can't find my answers to what I'm looking for, I'll be able to access some friendly-written FAQs or interact with a Comcast customer support person through live chat.

Now, let's talk about Comcast's other online communications. Whenever you change your profile or payment method, Comcast sends you email notifications. It also notifies you when your bill is ready for viewing online. Unfortunately, the hip tone that Comcast has on its site gets lost in the sterile atmosphere of "auto responders." Here's one such email:


Your Jun 23, 2008 Comcast billing statement is ready for viewing. To view your bill, go to http://www.comcast.com/payonline. Enter your User Name and Password, and from the next screen select GO from the VIEW YOUR BILL option.

If you would like to discontinue receiving a hard copy billing statement in the mail, you may do so by selecting the UPDATE STATEMENT METHOD link once you have logged into your account. From there, simply select the option for Electronic Statement Only.

Comcast Customer Care

What happened to the friendly conversational tone that greets me every time I log into the Comcast website? Considering that the purpose of this email it to direct me to the Comcast site, the tone should mimic what I find on the site.

Here's how I'd rewrite it:
We're glad you want to view your bill online. Saving trees is important to us, too! So, here's how to access your Jun 23, 2008 Comcast billing statement: http://www.comcast.com/payonline. Enter your User Name and Password, and from the next screen, select GO from the VIEW YOUR BILL option. And if you've forgotten your User Name and Password, no problem-we can help you with that, too.

If you'd like to stop receiving a hard copy billing statement in the mail, you may do so by selecting the UPDATE STATEMENT METHOD link once you've logged into your account. From there, simply select the option for Electronic Statement Only. Thanks for choosing Comcast, Robyn.

Have a Comcastic day!
Comcast Customer Care

PS--By the way, have you heard about this cool new Comcast product? Check it out here.

So what did I do to this email to make it more like the tone of the actual ecommerce site? First, I made it more personal and conversational by changing the overly formal "dear" to "hi." I continued to use the friendly tone in the first line, while also emphasizing an important Comcast message: it cares about the environment. I used contractions ("you'd" "you've") to help achieve that conversational tone. I use a word--"Comcastic"--that's been appearing in a lot of the company's commercials.

Finally, I eliminated what I refer to as a "missed opportunity." If someone receives an email from a vendor that he or she does business with--especially when said email has to do with billing--the person is likely to open it. Talk about a captive audience! What a great place to promote a new product or a sale.

Even though these emails are auto-generated, there's no reason why someone on the back end couldn't update the auto-responder text once a month with information and links to the latest products or sales.

So how can you ensure that the tone of your copy is consistent across all forms of communication? Here are some tips:

1. Be a customer yourself. Go through the process of signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form on your website (or if you have an eCommerce site, go through the process of buying a product). Carefully review all correspondence that you receive and ask yourself if it matches the tone of, say, the marketing brochure you use as a leave-behind when you meet prospects. Do you have missed opportunities where you can market other products or services?
2. Who's your audience? Yeah, you've no doubt heard this gem before, but let's talk about how knowing who your audience is should influence your copy's tone. Comcast sounds hip because it's banking on the fact that people who use their site--overall--are hip. If your copy requires a more sophisticated tone for your audience, that's fine. Just make sure the tone is consistent across the board: website, marketing brochures, emails, etc.

3. Is your logo and tagline on every form of communication? Seems like a simple thing, but any time you touch your customer--even if it's through an email password reminder--it's a chance to market and to brand your company.

Remember, your copy's tone matters. Don't neglect yours.**
**Parts of this article appeared on a post I wrote for Blue Acorn's blog. Blue Acorn is an eCommerce development firm based out of South Carolina.

Robyn Bradley
E.T. Robbins Productions 
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Save on your email marketing! 
Email marketing is a great way to stay in front of your customers, and now's the perfect time to create an editorial calendar and get your email newsletter in tip-top shape for 2009.
If you need someone to guide you with your email marketing, give me a call at 508-561-4543 or email me: robyn@etrobbins.com. If you call before November 30, 2008, and if you decide to hire me to write your first six months of email newsletters, the first newsletter will be half price.  
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