In part two of our guide we show you how to set out and send email marketing messages, and the best way to acquire lists.
Email marketing can be an extremely cheap but powerful tool. In part one of our guide we show you how to plan an effective email marketing campaign.
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Unfortunately, good grammar simply doesn’t reflect the way people speak. That’s a real problem – even for good copywriters – who need to stimulate a primal urge to buy in the reader. Writing copy that grabs the reader’s attention and compels them to keep reading is an art. And like all artists, the copywriter knows the rules and ignores them when necessary. Here’s the Copywriter UK guide to the grammar rules you should be ready to break.
Grammar rule #1 −Contractions
Contractions are the essence of informal speech. We use them all the time in conversation. While it’s true that they may not be correct for formal writing, they can and absolutely should be used in most B2C sales and marketing copy. Customers do not want to be talked down to. Or rather they don’t want to be talked down to.
Grammar rule #2 − Fragments
Headline and strapline writing would often be impossible without sentence fragments. They convey an intimate form of shorthand between the brand and the reader, because the reader has enough familiarity or context to know what the fragment means. Fragments within articles and blogs allow readers to skim short sentences and pick up snippets of information without having to read all the body copy. And they create excitement and rhythm. So long as each fragment is a complete thought, they won’t disturb the flow. In fact they’ll just enhance it. Calls to action can also seem less intrusive and friendlier when presented in this way e.g. “Call today.”
Grammar rule #3 – Prepositions
The rule about not ending sentences with prepositions such as ‘with’ or ‘on’ is another which just doesn’t represent everyday speech. This comes from a desire to make English to conform to Latin standards. It simply doesn’t and is all the richer for it. Many famous writers have rejected this one. As Churchill, who wrote all his own wartime speeches, said: “This is the kind of impertinence up with which I will not put.”
Grammar rule #4 – Conjunctions
Starting a complete sentence with a conjunction like ‘and’, ‘or’ or ‘but’ is a useful way to draw attention to it. Or to remind the reader of a separate benefit. (See what I did there…?) Another reason sentences starting with conjunctions are so popular with copywriters is that they’re a useful way to break up overly long sentences. Most readers skim rather than read these days, especially online. We need to have a way to make long or complicated arguments without losing them.
Grammar rule #5 – One-sentence paragraphs
These are something print journalists have always relied on, especially in narrow columns. Often they’re the only way to break up large blocks of text. Besides, paragraphs should be used to make a single point or argument. Sometimes, one sentence is all that’s needed to do that, particularly if it’s a long one. They’re also a useful way to transition between sections, make a point, or give the reader a mental rest.
Grammar rule #6 – Slang
Copywriters have to be very careful when using slang. Get it even slightly wrong and your copy will fall completely flat. However, using slang or jargon can be very useful if you’re writing for a niche audience that you know well. It establishes the writer as an expert, or as being part of the right ‘tribe’ e.g. blogging for sci-fi fans.
Grammar rule #7 – Split infinitives
The trouble with never using an adverb before the verb is that it puts the emphasis on the verb. Sometimes what you want the reader to notice is the way someone did something rather than what they actually did. So with the now infamous ‘to boldly go…’ The point is not that the crew of the Enterprise went where no man had gone before. The point is that they did it ‘boldly’. And by putting the adverb ‘boldly’ before the verb ‘go’ that’s just the message the audience gets. This is a particularly important tool for copywriters, where they may be trying to generate new emotional connotations with mundane actions associated with the product we’re selling.
Grammar rule #8 – Passive voice
Breaking this rule may surprise you as all copywriters are told that the active voice is best. However, there are times when the passive voice is very useful. Using an active voice produces attractive, crisp, dynamic copy, but it’s only one tool in the smart copywriter’s tool-kit. The passive voice is just as useful if you know when and where to employ it. They put the recipient or receiver of an action first, and the performer of the action second. Passive voice can be used when you are trying to sound objective, when you are putting the benefit first, to enhance SEO and to slow the reader down so they actually read your copy.
By now you should be breaking the rules of grammar with confidence. But if not, our expert team of copywriters know just how to craft copy that speaks to your target audience. Give Copywriter UK a call today on 0845 2606 255.
The apostrophe is one of the most clever devices to signal meaning in the written English language. Yet for many it is seen as too complex to learn or, at worst, completely unnecessary. To that extent some local authorities banned the use of apostrophes on road signs, and caused something of an uproar from grammarians.
So, why are apostrophes seen as so difficult? Here’s a quick fire guide to getting them right.
Possession is 9/10s of the law
This is also true when it comes to apostrophes. When it comes to defining possession – that is, when an object belongs to a subject – most of the time there’s an apostrophe involved.
So we may have something like this:
The cat’s paws.
The paws belong to the cat – so we need an apostrophe.
When there is more than one cat, then we have this:
The cats’ paws.
The paws belong to the cats.
The most common mistake is confusing a plural with possession. If the cats are chasing birds… and take a pause… we do not need an apostrophe. It’s a simple plural. So…
The cats pause.
There are several other examples of simple plurals when apostrophes are not required. The common ones:
1970s. So… funk music started to become popular in the 1970s. It can help to spell out the word and see why it doesn’t need an apostrophe: seventies. If something happened in a specific year, then we may need an apostrophe. For example:
1976’s seminal disco funk classic Good Times was released. (So Good Times belongs to 1976).
Similarly if you learn your ABCs or enjoy BBQs, you do not need apostrophes.
The 1/10th that can be a bit confusing is the use of its.
If you have the cat’s paws, you have its paws. No apostrophe, even though it feels like we need one.
We’d only see an apostrophe in its when we contract ‘it is’ – so we may see:
It’s Paul’s cat. (It is Paul’s cat).
Other common contractions can include he’s and she’s; he is or she is.
So, remember our cat if you want to use apostrophes correctly – and avoid a grammar catastrophe.
Microsoft Word is the copywriter’s new best friend, automatically detecting your spelling, grammar and punctuation errors and correcting you where necessary – but what if we can’t always rely on Word to do the right thing? You can’t send out an SOS, so let’s see if we can help.
Word is fantastic at automatically detecting errors, but when it comes to dashes, dots and hyphens, it’s not so high-tech. Word will happily let you get away with using the wrong punctuation at the wrong time, and unless you’re keeping a careful eye out for it, you might find yourself using one, where you should be using the other.
Back to basics
When it comes to dashes and hyphens, you firstly need to make sure you understand the difference between them.
If you break up a sentence, then it’s a dash: –
If you break up a word, then it’s a hyphen: –
Secondly you need to find them on your keyboard. You can get a hyphen by just using the hyphen key, and to get a dash its alt-hyphen.
It’s quite simple, really, but an easy error to make if you are typing in a rush or not proofreading your work.
Then there are the dots.
Dotty for dots
When we are quoting, or want a sentence to trail off, we often use an ellipsis: …
However, Word has a fun little gimmick that will let you put in as many dots after a sentence as you like. This is despite the fact that typically an ellipsis consists only of three dots
Although we wouldn’t say it’s as much as a crime as the dash/hyphen ruling, it can look pretty peculiar when your ellipsis has more than three dots….
Make sure you pay attention to what you type, and maybe double check what Word decides to put in for you, otherwise you may find yourself in a sticky situation with your punctuation.