Video scripting: Xylem case study

Xylem video screenshot

Here at Copywriter UK we get to work on a range of exciting projects from across the globe, and in different formats. As copywriters we can write something for web, print or even scripting for video, which is what we did for one client based in Italy.

Xylem is a market-leading provider of water technology solutions, operating in more than 150 countries around the world. We have worked with them for several years, and they asked us to script a series of short videos used to promote the Xylem Learning Center. It’s a new resource to help professionals such as installers and retailers learn about pump technology, and using Xylem products.

We wrote the scripts in clear, American English due to the international nature of the audience. The professionals who voiced the scripts came from different nationalities, and they were addressing a global audience – cue the need for a simple, universal script that could be understood easily by everyone. A good example of this is the general introduction video, which can be viewed here:

We scripted and captioned 14 videos in total, which were then uploaded to YouTube and embedded on the company’s website. The videos have generated thousands of views in total, and are still heavily used by Xylem to promote the learning center. You can view all of the videos on Xylem’s YouTube page here:

If you need a video scripting, call Steve at Copywriter UK on +44 (0) 845 2606 255 to see how we could help.

Putting ‘magic words’ into your copywriting

copywriter uk magic words

We all learned the magic word for getting our way when we were children. But copywriters learn that there are several. Cleverly placed, they increase conversion rates exponentially. Here’s a Copywriter UK guide to the magic words to pepper your copy with.

Magic word #1 – ‘You’

This is the number one magic word. It’s far more important than any of the others. Even ‘money’ and ‘sex’. Most of us know the secret of being popular. It is simply to get people talking about themselves. And it’s no different with copy. Customers don’t want to hear about you, your company or your product. They’re busy people and are bombarded with hundreds of advertising copy every single day. No, what they’re interested in is how your product or service will benefit them. Make them feel that you understand their problems, and have the solution, and you cannot fail. Peppering your copy with the word ‘you’ reminds you to focus on your customer and their needs.

Magic word #2 – ‘New’

Humans are curious creatures. It’s what led us to to fly to the moon. We’re constantly learning and adapting and that drive is fuelled by our curiosity. Social media researchers have recently discovered that it’s this insatiable urge which drives our addiction to Facebook and blogs because the thrill of finding something new triggers a dopamine rush in our brains. Even the mere promise of something new will do this – which is why the word ‘new’ is so powerful. What you’re writing about doesn’t have to be new. It only has to be new to the reader. Using the word, ‘announcing’ or ‘discovery’ will do the same thing. Place the word ‘new’ in a headline and you’re far more likely to get them to read on.

Magic word #3 – ‘Easy’

Humans are also lazy. This is also what drives our ability to learn and innovate. We’re never satisfied until we’ve made life as easy as possible. And we’ll invent gadget after gadget to take the toil out of things. Your customers are busy, tired and frazzled. They want you to make things easy, from the shallowness of the navigation on your e-commerce page, to the simplicity of the product itself. But they’re never going to find out how you’ve spent hours making your product or service easy to use if you don’t tell them. ‘Quick’ and ‘simple’ are other words which will have the same effect.

Magic word #4 – ‘Guaranteed’

When it comes to committing to buy, your customer becomes acutely aware of the possibility of loss. For as start, they’re about to pay money over to you. That is a form of loss. And they don’t want to make a mistake or be made a fool of. That’s why the word ‘guaranteed’ can make the world of difference at the point where they’re committing to a sale,. After all, you’ve made it so that they have nothing to lose. To make this work however, you must honour your guarantee promises. Other words which build trust in your customer are ‘safe’, ‘results’, ‘proven’ and ‘approved’.

Magic word #5 – ‘Now’

When your prospect reads your copy, there’s every danger that they’ll get distracted or simply forget to act. You have to provide some sort of urgency or there’s every chance they won’t act at all. Words like ‘now, ‘quick’ and ‘hurry’ all inject pace and encourage the customer to act promptly. These are even more powerful when used in conjunction with a limited offer.

Magic word #6 − ‘How to’

Life hacks never lose their appeal. As we’ve already worked out, your customer is busy and probably tired. Anything which gives them the information they need fast and all in one place is welcome. That’s why the phrase ‘how to’ will grab their attention. Smart copywriters manipulate the ‘how to’ format to convey the information they want the customer to hear.

Magic word #7 − ‘Free’

All of us like to get something for nothing. Whether we want the item or not, it just feels good to our hunter-gatherer instincts. People will buy more just to get free shipping or choose a free gift over and extra that costs them a nominal amount, even if the latter is worth many times as much. Crafting a good offer around the word ‘free’ is a great way to grab attention. Just be careful that you don’t trigger spam filters by using a spam check tool before you hit send.

Sadly, making your copy magic isn’t just a case of re-arranging the magic words. If you’re still stuck for copy that gets results, give Copywriter UK a call today on 0845 2606 255. We’ll give your copy the magic touch.

8 grammar rules that all good copywriters break

copywriter uk guide to copy rules

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.

copywriter uk rules

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.

How to find your brand’s social media tone of voice

social media tone of voice image

Before social media existed, brands simply worked out who their customers were together with their brand values and communicated them appropriately. But Facebook, Twitter and the other 500 forms of social media changed all that. Suddenly brands were required to have a very public form of conversation with their customers. And making the transition proved to be tricky.

Companies are not people. But social media has been created largely for individuals, and demands real interaction on a more personal level. Today, companies are finding they can no longer just put out passive messages or completely dictate the conversation. And some struggle with developing a conversational tone of voice that’s approachable and expressive enough.

Because social media requires your brand to converse, it’s really important to think about how your brand would sound actually speaking to a customer.

So how do you find a social media tone of voice that’s right for your brand?

Start with the basics. Describe your brand’s personality in three words, and try to make them as distinctive and non-generic as possible. Are you young? Smart? Witty? Geeky? Sophisticated? Sassy? Warm? Translate those qualities into speech.

How will you attract customers into conversations on social media?

Bruce Daisley, UK Twitter VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, recommends three qualities, at least two of which your brand’s social media tone of voice should possess. He says an effective marketing social media tone of voice can be either fun, helpful or informative in any combination.

You can use social media as a form of customer service in order to be ‘helpful’, and blog posts or tips in order to be ‘informative’. Ideally ‘fun’ should relate to your brand values and the thinking you did about your brand personality. It should permeate real life conversations with your followers.

Thinking about your company’s culture can also be useful. What does your organisation stand for? What do you talk about? What are your unique stories or activities? Let customers in on the brand experience.

Positive social media tone of voice perceptions are enhanced by listening and responding

It’s not enough to decide who you are. It’s important to think carefully about how your customer speaks to you. Be aware of the kind of language they use, and match it. Sainsbury’s has done this exceptionally well on a number of occasions, most noticeably when a customer tweeted about some fish they tried to purchase, and more recently when a customer posted to Facebook about finding a worm in her lettuce. And O2 once went so far as to adopt Jamaican patois to respond to a customer.

Find out what your customer community is talking about and what their concerns are. Some scheduling is useful, but relying too heavily on it can make your brand sound fake. Encourage customers to talk to you by asking questions and responding with authentic, non-automated answers in real time.

Don’t forget your social media call-to-action

Effective social media writing means bearing your end goal in mind. What do you want your customer to do? Keep it simple and stick to one call-to-action per post, status update or tweet. Sometimes the straightforward approach works best e.g. ‘like this if you want to show your support’ or ‘please retweet’ and this is what’s likely to get the greatest response.

Still struggling with a social media tone of voice that’s right for you? Let our copywriters help. We can draft your social media tone of voice guidelines, or build your social media networks for you. Call Copywriter UK’s team today on 0845 2606 255.

Duplicate content – illegal, immoral and ill advised

duplicate content and seo

A pair of words that copywriters will know well is “duplicate content”. Sadly it’s a bit of web jargon, but if we said the word “plagiarism” you might start to recall the risks of copying other people’s work from school or university days.

It’s interesting in our modern age that students’ assignments at university are now compared by their lecturers to Google’s search results to see if they have stolen people’s work from the web. And if you’re creating a website then be warned. Google will be doing the same to your site.

How to avoid duplicate content

Google calls it “duplicate content” and since it aims to provide quality, relevant results it frowns on sites that share the same content. At the risk of putting duplicate content in this blog, let me tell you what Google says on this:

“Something like 25-30% of all the web’s content is duplicate,” says Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam. He goes on to say that Google accepts that it’s something that happens, “for example if you were to quote a paragraph from another blog on your website”. He adds that Google does not automatically assume that your website is spam unless your website is composed mainly or entirely from content found elsewhere. But if your website is not the first to publish content, Google ‘groups’ duplicate content together and will only show the original version in its search results.

So, by copying other people’s copy and content you risk not being displayed in search results. At worst Google will delist your site altogether.

Of course stealing another writer’s content is not morally right. Worse still, there’s copyright in the words someone uses, and you may be breaching the law by copying.

That’s where Copywriter UK comes in. We can help you write fresh, appealing content. This not only reflects well on your business, but will appeal to Google.