Connect with us

MARKETING

How to Create a Writing Style Guide [+Free Guide & Examples]

Published

on

A writing style guide is essential for any business — especially if there are multiple content writers on the team.

As you create more and more content on your website and blog, inconsistencies are bound to creep in. One reason? Lack of clarity about the style in which you’d like to write in. Disjointed communication across the multitude of content creators in your organization can be a culprit, too.

Either way, failure to decide upon accepted editorial guidelines is a recipe for inconsistent messaging. That’s why at some point, most companies will need to develop a writing style guide.

A writing style guide indicates the basic rules of writing everyone agrees to follow to ensure consistency across all content, like whether you should capitalize the “a” after the colon.

Note: If you write content for HubSpot, you should not capitalize the “a.”

But wait… if that’s the case, why would I capitalize the “If” in that last parenthetical? Because “If you write content for HubSpot, you should…” is a complete sentence, thus warranting the capital “If.”

Advertisement

These conventions are specified in our writing style guide.

If you found that train of thought terribly banal, you might think writing style guides are the most boring things in the world and have a burning desire to click away right about now. Au contraire, mon frère.

Why Writing Guides Are Important

A writing style guide saves you from finding yourself embroiled in a debate about whether there should be spaces before and after an ellipses, whether you capitalize “for” in a title, or when a number must be written out in full.

If the writing style guide bores you, just imagine how insipid that debate will be. The existence of a style guide means you can simply have the style guide handy as your little writing rulebook without having to sit through debates about blockquotes.

Both guides are different in content but the same in function. They play an important role in how potential consumers view, interact, and remember your company.

In an effort to help you get started with your own style guide, this blog post will walk you through how to create a writing style guide and which essential elements you’ll need to include.

Before we dive into the important elements you’ll need to include in your writing style guide, let’s talk through the steps of creating one. Your guide should reflect your business, its goals, and your target audience. To start, you’ll need to:

Advertisement

1. Review your brand’s mission and values.

Why did you start your business? What is its purpose? These are two important questions that you ask yourself when you start planning and building your company. If you didn’t, ask them now. Define your mission statement. Outline your brand’s core values. This information will guide how you form your connections with your audience. It will allow you to develop an idea for how you plan to communicate with them.

Your brand’s mission and values should guide your decisions and ensure that you’re actively working towards your goal. They define and influence company culture by guiding your business to make decisions that are beneficial to the company and your customers.

It is important to note that this information can change. In fact, it should. As time goes on and your company evolves, it is necessary to review and update your brand mission and values to accurately reflect your current business model and operations.

2. Create buyer personas for your target audience.

To create your writing style guide, you need to know who you’re talking to. Imagine having one conversation with a baby boomer and another with a millennial. The way you communicate with them will likely be different. Those nuances speak to the importance of creating buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional, research-based representation of your target customer. This information should come from market research as well as actual data from your existing customers. When creating your buyer personas, envision your ideal customer. What are their days like? How do they make decisions? What challenges do they face? Ultimately, your buyer persona should look at customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.

Once you identify your target audience and their buyer personas, you will have a better idea of how to approach communication.

Advertisement

3. Define your company’s voice and tone.

Establishing your company’s voice and tone can be challenging because the two concepts are easily confused.

Your company voice is how you want to be perceived by your audience. It encompasses how your brand messaging will be delivered. Do you want to come across as witty or friendly? For example, while Starbucks’ brand voice is expressive, Coca-Cola’s is positive. When defining your voice, remember that this will not change throughout your writing. If you establish your company as “friendly,” it should be incorporated into all of your messaging.

Although your brand voice should stay the same, your tone might change. The brand tone refers to how you plan to express your voice. The subtleties in tone lie completely with who your audience is. Imagine a friend asks if you want to join them for dinner, and you reply “Okay.” Cultural cues would likely have them thinking that you’re not too keen on attending. However, if you responded with “Definitely!” they might think you’re excited to go. Even though both responses show that you are willing to eat dinner with them, the connotation changes between words.

As you build your voice and tone, decide what emotion you want your writing to take on. Will it be positive, neutral, negative, or something in between? Again, your choice should mirror your target audience.

4. Outline branded words and phrases.

What are the keywords and phrases associated with your business? To keep consistency throughout your business, identify these words for your style guide. This should include specific spellings and capitalizations.

Take MSNBC for example. The cable channel has two logos, one with lowercase letters and another with capitalized letters. However, when the channel is written in copy form, it is always fully capitalized. This would be something to note in a writing style guide.

Advertisement

This should also carry into any slogans or phrases associated with your company. For their slogan “Betcha can’t eat just one,” Lay’s would need to make sure that their guide specifies the spelling of “Betcha” and that there is no ending punctuation. To look cohesive and professional, it is crucial to keep this consistency throughout all messaging.

5. Establish guidelines for formatting.

In addition to focusing on what is written in your style guide, you will also have to focus on how it is written. Your writing style guide should include guidelines for:

  • Headers
  • Hyperlinks
  • Bold, italicized, and regular text
  • Bullet points versus numbered lists

Formatting will allow your readers to skim and digest your content quickly. In addition, as they become acquainted with your style, they will come to expect your company’s organizational breakdown. Every business has the autonomy to choose how it formats its content. Make sure you develop a format that flows effectively for your readers.

6. Use a style guide template.

how to create a writing style guide: hubspot template

Download Your Free Starter Template

As you work through the above steps to build your writing style guide, you might draw a blank on how to format it. Use a template. Many companies have their style guides available to the public. Find a company that you’d like to emulate, use them as a starting point, and customize the guide until it becomes a representation of your business. See the “Writing Style Guide Examples” section below for style guides from companies like Mailchimp, Google, and NASA.

What to Include in Your Writing Style Guide

There are a few key sections to include in your style guide.

1. Style Manual

Style manuals are reference books that tell writers how to handle grammar, punctuation, and any special use cases. Most businesses adopt either the AP Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style. It’s up to you to decide which manual you’d like your company to follow.

Advertisement

what to include in writing style guide: style manual

You can purchase online subscriptions to these manuals for your employees to reference, the login for which you should also include in this section of the editorial style guide to make access simple. You might find employees are more likely to reference these tools when provided with an online subscription that contains a search function instead of a paper book through which they have to flip to find their answers.

While these style guides provide a good reference point for basic grammar rules, you’ll probably want to make some exceptions to the rules for the sake of branding, tone, and style.

Use this section of your editorial style guide to outline those exceptions and also to highlight some of the rules that commonly arise when writing for your company. Ideally, your writers would commit these rules to memory, regardless of whether it is aligned with or against house style. For example:

  • What do you capitalize? Do you capitalize the name of your product? Are there certain prepositions you want capitalized in your title despite your stylebook’s recommendations?
  • What do you abbreviate? How do you punctuate those abbreviations? Would you type “a.k.a.” or “aka”? “Okay” or “O.K.”? Or “OK”?
  • Do you use an Oxford comma?

Listing answers to common questions like these in the first part of your editorial style guide will give people an easy resource to reference that will save you time and encourage consistency. Feel free to continue adding to this list as more confusions arise and get resolved during the content creation process. You’re creating your own style guide, so feel free to borrow different rules from different style guides. The important thing is that you use the same rules consistently throughout all the content you create.

2. Commonly Troublesome Words

what to include in writing style guide: troublesome words

Image Source

Most companies have terminology that’s specific to their industry, and not all of those terminologies have a universally agreed-upon spelling. For instance, if you write a lot about digital marketing like we do here at HubSpot, you’ll find a lot of inconsistency around the spelling and capitalization of words like these:

  • ebook vs. Ebook vs. e-book
  • ecommerve vs. e-commerce
  • internet vs. Internet
  • website vs. web site
  • Facebook Like vs. Facebook like
  • Retweet vs. re-tweet vs. reTweet vs. ReTweet

Instead of debating how to spell, capitalize, or hyphenate these words, include a section in your style guide called “Commonly Troublesome Words” so writers can easily look up the proper spelling of these words according to your house style guide.

Advice for Global Companies

If you have global readership and create content for specific, same-language markets, you should include notes on whether you change spelling for those markets or retain your house style.

Advertisement

For example, if marketers from HubSpot’s Dublin office write a blog post, should American editors change their spelling of “favour” to “favor”? “Internationalise” to “Internationalize”? These questions should be answered in your style guide, and the “Commonly Troublesome Words” section is a logical location to do that.

Similarly, if you are creating content in various languages, style guides should be created for each language.

3. Voice and Tone

what to include in writing style guide: voice and toneImage Source

This section of the editorial style guide should address something less concrete than grammar rules but arguably more important, and that is how your content should sound to the reader.

Can writers use the first person? How do you feel about the use of industry jargon? Think about the words you would use to describe your content in an ideal world. Which adjectives do you want your content to evoke? Conversational, educational, academic, funny, controversial, or objective?

You might think you want your content to be all of the above, but force yourself to prioritize just a few. Explain why it’s important to achieve this style and tone in your content, and provide examples of content (excerpts are fine) that are successful in doing so, particularly if those excerpts exist on your own site already.

If there are stylistic characteristics your content absolutely should not have, include that information, too. Again, examples of what not to do are helpful here for the sake of comparative illustration.

Advertisement

When deciding on style and tone, be sure to consider your target audience and buyer personas in the process. Which style and tone would resonate best with them? This brings us to our next section.

4. Personas

what to include in a style guide: buyer personas

Buyer personas are inextricably tied to style and tone, so it’s important to include this section either before or after the “Style and Tone” section of your style guide. Why is it so important to include personas? Because the style and tone you adopt should be informed by your target audience, i.e. the people that will be reading all this stuff you’re writing.

That being said, the personas in your editorial style guide don’t need to go as in-depth as the personas created by your sales and marketing teams. (Those might include detailed information like objections that arise in the sales process and how to overcome them, or tips on identifying these personas “in the wild” or when you get them on the phone.)

The personas in your editorial style guide should be more brief, simply pulling out the highlights that concisely explain who your target audience is, their pain points, how they like to be communicated with, the value your company provides, and a picture to give writers a visual to keep in mind when creating content.

Including personas in your style guide really comes in handy when you’re working with freelance writers. If you’re doing a good job with freelance writer management, you’ll provide ample context to inform the content they’re writing. A persona, and how that informs tone and writing style, should always be included when kicking off a new freelance writer project.

5. Graphics and Formatting

what to include in writing style guide: formatting

Image Source

Advertisement

I know, I told you earlier not to get into the nitty-gritty with visual guidelines. This is still true. Your design team or agency should create a separate brand design style guide that addresses more nuanced visual things. (Can you tell I’m not a designer?)

You should, however, add a little information to your written style guide if your writers are ever responsible for creating visual assets and/or copyediting visual assets created by designers. Here are some common questions that may come up that will impact writers or editors:

  • Where can writers source images, and how do they properly attribute them?
  • When should images align to the right, to the left, or in the center?
  • Should text wrap around images?
  • What are the RGB and hex codes for your text and headers?
  • What typefaces can be used?
  • Can writers use italics, bold, or underlining? If so, is usage limited to certain occasions, like bolding headers and hyperlinks?
  • Which kind of bullets should be used (square, round, or other), and how should they align with the rest of the text?
  • How should numbered lists appear: “1”, “1.” or “1.)”?

Many of these graphical elements can be present in your content management system, but they can be easily overridden when writers copy and paste content from elsewhere with formatting attached, or by an overzealous writer with a flair for design. Outline these expectations in your editorial style guide, and refer those with more advanced needs to your brand style guide.

6. Approved and Unapproved Content

Great content often cites research and data from third party sources. Make your writer’s job easier by providing approved industry resources from which they can draw, and even more importantly, resources from which they cannot draw. Break up this section of your editorial style guide into two sections: recommended and approved industry resources, and “do not mention” resources.

The information in the “do not mention” section should include competitors and unreliable resources, and it should also mention controversial topics and opinions that should be avoided at all costs. For example, many companies strictly prohibit any mention of politics or religion in their content, or have provisions that explain when it is acceptable to include and how to frame the discussion. Similarly, many companies work within certain legal restrictions, in which case this section of the style guide might provide instructions for receiving legal approval before publishing a piece of content.

This is the section of your editorial style guide to explain the intricacies of such controversies as they relate to your brand so you can prevent reputation management catastrophes.

7. Sourcing

what to include in writing style guide: sourcing guidelines

Image Source

Advertisement

With great research comes great responsibility… and a lot of choices, unfortunately. Clear up the confusion around how to properly cite research by deciding on one methodology and documenting it in your editorial style guide. Explain how to create footnotes, references, links to external sites, or even bibliographies if they are relevant to your company.

This section of your editorial style guide doesn’t need to be long. Just write down the rules and provide some examples of proper citations so writers can easily attribute their sources properly.

8. Examples to Show What’s Right and Wrong

what to include in writing style guide: right vs wrong examplesImage Source

Every section of your editorial style guide can benefit from real life examples of the concepts you’re explaining, whether you include those examples on the same page or as an appendix at the end of the guide.

For example, when talking about proper formatting, include a visual example of a well-formatted blog post with callouts that detail why the elements are successful. If you’re discussing grammar usage, provide an incorrect example, and then mark it up to show how a writer could fix it to align with your editorial style guide.

Bridging your requirements with proper executions from your actual website will help illustrate these concepts more clearly and cut down on follow-up questions and instances of exceptions to the rules you’ve laid out.

What Not to Include In Your Style Guide

It can be tempting to create the most comprehensive style guide of all time. But when documents get incredibly long, it can become a little hard to use on a day-to-day basis. Aim for “comprehensive, yet usable” by intentionally cutting some sections. Common sections you should omit from your style guide include:

Advertisement

Content Operation Notes

While content operations are the backbone of your content creation process, detailed information on the processes should not be included in a writing style guide. The action of submitting content to your editorial team is an irreplaceable step in getting content published; however, this does not add value to the style your writers will use in creating. Additional content operation notes that can be left out of your style guide include requesting slots on the editorial calendar or revision cycles.

Minor Visual Style Recommendations

Many teams fail to realize that a brand’s logo can affect SEO. For those who know this information, you may be tempted to include rules around logo usage or other visual style guide elements in your writing style guide. Don’t. With some basic exceptions, these would be saved for a separate brand or visual style guide.

Design Elements

As previously mentioned, writing style guides have little to do with the visual design elements of the brand. They affect how the writing looks, but they don’t serve your writers as they create. The following design elements should be left out of your writing style guide.

Typography

This section lists the fonts your brand will use and where they can be accessed. Typography sections also provide detailed information on when and where to use different fonts, as well as acceptable sizes and variations.

Logo & Variations

As important as your logo is to your brand identity, it holds little to no importance in the eyes of your writers. Providing an image of your logo to your writers may help them connect with the look and feel of the brand; however, extra details about variations and when to use them on print or digital content is inconsequential.

Color Palette

When choosing brand colors, they typically align with the feel of the brand. Bright colors are used to symbolize ‘happy’ or ‘fresh’ brands, while darker colors can make a brand seem bolder and more daring. While the color palette can help solidify the tone of the brand to the writer, it is still unnecessary. Everything they need to know should be expressed when you define your company’s voice and tone.

Advertisement

Your editorial style guide will simply guide writers by providing a set of standards to which they must adhere when creating content for your website. It eliminates confusion, guesswork, and debates over what boils down to a matter of editorial opinion among grammar and content geeks.

If you’re ever unsure whether something should or should not exist in your written style guide, fall back on usage to inform your decision. If it’s too long to be usable, cut it down; if it’s too short to answer the most common questions, beef it up.

How to Get Others to Use Your Style Guide

If you put in all this work to create a comprehensive style guide, it’d be a real bummer if no one used it.

Here’s the truth: Some people just aren’t going to use it, no matter how easy you make it for them to do so. So, just accept that. But after you’re done grieving, there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of adoption:

1. Involve other people in its creation from the get-go.

Instead of mandating the rules your entire company must use when writing, get a few people together to help create the style guide as a group. Ideally, this little committee will span more than one department to increase the likelihood of widespread adoption.

2. Make it easy to find and use.

Our style guide is available on our internal repository, so it’s easy for people to find, bookmark, and Ctrl+F to get answers to questions quickly. Make yours similarly easy to access and use.

Advertisement

3. Keep updating it.

Your style guide is intended to be a living document. As new questions arise, make it easy for writers to ask questions about proper usage and get a resolution, and make sure that resolution is reflected in an updated version of the style guide.

Writing Style Guide Examples

If you want to see a writing style guide in action, check out the examples below from well-known companies like Apple, Shopify, and Intuit.

1. Google

writing style guide examples: google

In Google’s style guide, they are very explicit with its principle to create clear, accurate, concise text. The company offers clear directives to write simply and directly, address users clearly, and more.

They also skillfully demonstrate examples of what employees should and should not do. For example, instead of saying, “Consult the documentation that came with your phone for further instructions,” their writers should write something similar to “Read the instructions that came with your phone.” With this guide, Google ensures that its text is inclusive to anyone, regardless of their cultural or language differences.

2. Intuit

writing style guide examples: intuit

You likely recognize Intuit for programs like TurboTax and Quickbooks. While some companies have their writing style guide formatted as a formal document, Intuit takes a different approach. Their guide appears as a message board.

On one of their most recent updates, they shared new guidelines on when and how to celebrate customer wins. As you scroll through their guide, you will find voice and tone examples, word list updates, and principles on how to identify and replace harmful language.

3. Shopify

writing style guide examples: shopify

The eCommerce platform, Shopify, has an extensive content style guide that walks its writers through voice and tone, accessible and inclusive language, grammar and mechanics, and naming. As it elaborates on its voice guidelines, it reminds writers that when speaking as Shopify’s voice, they should “be real, but not too tough or overly familiar.”

It directs writers to be proactive without being pushy by offering their customers sincere encouragement and practical advice. In addition to these guidelines, Shopify has created a list of acceptable vocabulary and abbreviations to ensure its messaging is consistent and clear for its merchants.

4. Microsoft

writing style guide examples: microsoft

Warm and relaxed, crisp and clear, and ready to lend a hand: That is Microsoft’s approach to writing for its customers. Microsoft is another company with a different take on how it presents its writing style guide. With one webpage at the center, it links out to valuable information, including its “Top 10 tips for mastering Microsoft style and voice.”

The page lists other recommended content, such as information on bias-free communication and directives on how to write step-by-step instructions. Whether the content is for an app, website, or white paper, this guide keeps all Microsoft communication clear, concise, and consistent.

Advertisement

5. Apple

writing style guide examples: apple

In Apple’s writing style guide, they immediately express their mission. Reflecting on the diversity of its customers, they stress the purpose of the guide — to write consciously and inclusively.

The setup that Apple uses is also very on-brand. Its style guide has “previous’ and “next” buttons, which mimics a step-by-step tutorial that one is familiar with if they’re acquainted with Apple products. Apple also encourages its writers to return for updates. Writing changes over time, so its writers need to adapt to the changes Apple makes to its writing style guide as they happen.

6. Mailchimp

writing style guide examples: mailchimp

Writing copy for a brand can be confusing. As you switch between media, there are certain nuances that you might have to take into account. Mailchimp does a great job breaking down these components in its style guide. It includes principles for writing technical content, legal content, email newsletters, and social media.

To facilitate the process for its writers, the Mailchimp content style guide has a hyperlinked section that allows users to quickly navigate through the webpage.

7. NASA

writing style guide examples: nasa

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is known for the complexities of outer space. In its style guide, it mentions that its purpose is to be consistent in its writing style and usage, so its readers avoid distraction from confusing terms and concepts.

The guide directs its writers to use The Chicago Manual of Style but also provides specific topics, including an overview of their editorial style as well as sections on gender-specific language, abbreviations, and figures and tables.

8. Yokel Local

writing style guide examples: yokel local

This example comes from HubSpot Partner Yokel Local. Their writing style guide keeps both their in-house contributors and their freelancers on the same page when writing and editing marketing content for clients.

You’ll notice that they didn’t go too far in the weeds, either. The whole guide is 15 pages in large, attractive lettering, and anything not explicitly stated in the guide is left up to the AP Stylebook and the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The simplicity is effective, and they clearly had fun designing the document to be cohesive with their brand guidelines.

Advertisement

Polish Your Editorial and Content Style

When it comes to running your business, you might assume that your words hold little weight when compared to your products or services. You’d be mistaken. While your products are central to your business, how you share information — the words you use — is critical to gaining new customers and maintaining existing ones.

Consistency is an important factor in managing a successful business. With a writing style guide, you will decrease inconsistent content and communication. You will equip your team with the tools and resources to deliver a strong, cohesive message that draws in your target audience. As you work to create or polish your writing style guide, this article will serve as your guide to get there.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

brand style guide

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

MARKETING

Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

Published

on

Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

Advertisement
Screenshot 2024 02 27 140015
Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952

Methodology

The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).

Advertisement

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing

Published

on

Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

1709033181 790 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 790 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing
  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

1709033181 656 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 656 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing
  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.


Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

The Current State of Google’s Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

Published

on

The Current State of Google's Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

SEO enthusiasts, known for naming algorithm updates after animals and embracing melodrama, find themselves in a landscape where the “adapt or die” mantra prevails. So when Google announced the launch of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in May of 2023 at Google/IO, you can imagine the reaction was immense.

Although SGE has the potential to be a truly transformative force in the landscape, we’re still waiting for SGE to move out of the Google Labs Sandbox and integrate into standard search results. 

Curious about our current take on SGE and its potential impact on SEO in the future? Read on for more.

Decoding Google’s Defensive Move

In response to potential threats from competitors like ChatGPT, Bing, TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, Google introduced SGE as a defensive maneuver. However, its initial beta release raised questions about its readiness and global deployment.

ChatGPT provided an existential threat that had the potential to eat into Google’s market share. When Bing started incorporating it into its search results, it was one of the most significant wins for Bing in a decade. In combination with threats from TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, we see a more fractured search landscape less dominated by Google. Upon its launch, the expectation was that Google would push its SGE solution globally, impact most queries, and massively shake up organic search results and strategies to improve organic visibility.

Advertisement

Now, industry leaders are starting to question if Google is better off leaving SGE in the testing ground in Google labs. According to Google’s recent update, it appears that SGE will remain an opt-in experience in Google Labs (for at least the short term). If SGE was released, there could be a fundamental reset in understanding SEO. Everything from organic traffic to optimization tactics to tracking tools would need adjustments for the new experience. Therefore, the prospect of SGE staying in Google Labs is comforting if not entirely reliable. 

The ever-present option is that Google can change its mind at any point and push SGE out broadly as part of its standard search experience. For this reason, we see value in learning from our observations with SGE and continuing to stay on top of the experience.

SGE User Experience and Operational Challenges

If you’ve signed up for search labs and have been experimenting with SGE for a while, you know firsthand there are various issues that Google should address before rolling it out broadly to the public.

At a high level, these issues fall into two broad categories including user experience issues and operational issues.

Below are some significant issues we’ve come across, with Google making notable progress in addressing certain ones, while others still require improvement:

  • Load time – Too many AI-generated answers take longer to load than a user is willing to wait. Google recommends less than a 3-second load time to meet expectations. They’ll need to figure out how to consistently return results quickly if they want to see a higher adoption rate.
  • Layout – The SGE layout is massive. We believe any major rollout will be more streamlined to make it a less intrusive experience for users and allow more visibility for ads, and if we’re lucky, organic results. Unfortunately, there is still a decent chance that organic results will move below the fold, especially on mobile devices. Recently, Google has incorporated more results where users are prompted to generate the AI result if they’d like to see it. The hope is Google makes this the default in the event of a broad rollout where users can generate an AI result if they want one instead of assuming that’s what a user would like to see. 
  • Redundancy – The AI result duplicates features from the map pack and quick answer results. 
  • Attribution – Due to user feedback, Google includes sources on several of their AI-powered overviews where you can see relevant web pages if there is an arrow next to the result. Currently, the best way to appear as one of these relevant pages is to be one of the top-ranked results, which is convenient from an optimization standpoint. Changes to how attribution and sourcing are handled could heavily impact organic strategies. 

 

On the operational side, Google also faces significant hurdles to making SGE a viable product for its traditional search product. The biggest obstacle appears to be making the cost associated with the technology worth the business outcomes it provides. If this was a necessary investment to maintain market share, Google might be willing to eat the cost, but if their current position is relatively stable, Google doesn’t have much of an incentive to take on the additional cost burden of heavily leveraging generative AI while also presumably taking a hit to their ad revenue. Especially since slow user adoption doesn’t indicate this is something users are demanding at the moment.

Advertisement

While the current experience of SGE is including ads above the generative results now, the earliest iterations didn’t heavily feature sponsored ads. While they are now included, the current SGE layout would still significantly disrupt the ad experience we’re used to. During the Google I/O announcement, they made a statement to reassure advertisers they would be mindful of maintaining a distinct ad experience in search.  

“In this new generative experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. And we’ll continue to uphold our commitment to ads transparency and making sure ads are distinguishable from organic search results” – Elizabeth Reid, VP, Search at Google

Google is trying to thread a delicate needle here of staying on the cutting edge with their search features, while trying not to upset their advertisers and needlessly hinder their own revenue stream. Roger Montti details more of the operational issues in a recent article digging into the surprising reasons SGE is stuck in Google Labs.

He lists three big problems that need to be solved before SGE will be integrated into the foreground of search:

  1. Large Language Models being inadequate as an information retrieval system
  2. The inefficiency and cost of transformer architecture
  3. Hallucinating (providing inaccurate answers)

 

Until SGE provides more user value and checks more boxes on the business sense side, the traditional search experience is here to stay. Unfortunately, we don’t know when or if Google will ever feel confident they’ve addressed all of these concerns, so we’ll need to stay prepared for change.

Experts Chime in on Search Generative Experience

Our team has been actively engaging with SGE, here’s a closer look at their thoughts and opinions on the experience so far:

Advertisement

“With SGE still in its early stages, I’ve noticed consistent changes in how the generative results are produced and weaved naturally into the SERPs. Because of this, I feel it is imperative to stay on top of these on-going changes to ensure we can continue to educate our clients on what to expect when SGE is officially incorporated into our everyday lives. Although an official launch date is currently unknown, I believe proactively testing various prompt types and recording our learnings is important to prepare our clients for this next evolution of Google search.” – Jon Pagano, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

“It’s been exciting to watch SGE grow through different variations over the last year, but like other AI solutions its potential still outweighs its functionality and usefulness. What’s interesting to see is that SGE doesn’t just cite its sources of information, but also provides an enhanced preview of each webpage referenced. This presents a unique organic opportunity where previously untouchable top 10 rankings are far more accessible to the average website. Time will tell what the top ranking factors for SGE are, but verifiable content with strong E-E-A-T signals will be imperative. –Kate Fischer, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“Traditionally, AI tools were very good at analytical tasks. With the rise of ChatGPT, users can have long-form, multi-question conversations not yet available in search results. When, not if, released, Google’s Generative Experience will transform how we view AI and search. Because there are so many unknowns, some of the most impactful ways we prepare our clients are to discover and develop SEO strategies that AI tools can’t directly disrupt, like mid to low funnel content.” – Brandon Miller, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“SGE is going to make a huge impact on the ecommerce industry by changing the way users interact with the search results. Improved shopping experience will allow users to compare products, price match, and read reviews in order to make it quicker and easier for a user to find the best deals and purchase. Although this leads to more competitive results, it also improves organic visibility and expands our product reach. It is more important than ever to ensure all elements of a page are uniquely and specifically optimized for search. With the SGE updates expected to continue to impact search results, the best way to stay ahead is by focusing on strong user focused content and detailed product page optimizations.”  – Kellie Daley, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

Navigating the Clash of Trends

One of the most interesting aspects of the generative AI trend in search is that it appears to be in direct opposition to other recent trends.

Advertisement

One of the ways Google has historically evaluated the efficacy of its search ranking systems is through the manual review of quality raters. In their quality rater guidelines, raters were instructed to review for things like expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) in results to determine if Google results are providing users the information they deserve. 

In 2022, Google updated their search guidelines to include another ‘e’ in the form of experience (EEAT). In their words, Google wanted to better assess if the content a user was consuming was created by someone with, “a degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person has experienced. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has firsthand, life experience on the topic at hand.” 

Generative AI results, while cutting-edge technology and wildly impressive in some cases, stand in direct opposition to the principles of E-E-A-T. That’s not to say that there’s no room for both in search, but Google will have to determine what it thinks users value more between these competing trends. The slow adoption of SGE could be an indication that a preference for human experience, expertise, authority, and trust is winning round one in this fight. 

Along these lines, Google is also diversifying its search results to cater to the format in which users get their information. This takes the form of their Perspectives Filter. Also announced at Google I/O 2023, the perspectives filter incorporates more video, image, and discussion board posts from places like TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Quora. Once again, this trend shows the emphasis and value searchers place on experience and perspective. Users value individual experience over the impersonal conveyance of information. AI will never have these two things, even if it can provide a convincing imitation.

The current iteration of SGE seems to go too far in dismissing these trends in favor of generative AI. It’s an interesting challenge Google faces. If they don’t determine the prevailing trend correctly, veering too far in one direction can push more market share to ChatGPT or platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

Final Thoughts

The range of outcomes remains broad and fascinating for SGE. We can see this developing in different ways, and prognostication offers little value, but it’s invaluable to know the potential outcomes and prepare for as many of them as possible.

Advertisement

It’s critical that you or your search agency be interacting and experimenting with SGE because:

  • The format and results will most likely continue to see significant changes
  • This space moves quickly and it’s easy to fall behind
  • Google may fix all of the issues with SGE and decide to push it live, changing the landscape of search overnight
  • SGE experiments could inform other AI elements incorporated into the search experience

 

Ultimately, optimizing for the specific SGE experience we see now is less important because we know it will inevitably continue changing. We see more value in recognizing the trends and problems Google is trying to solve with this technology. With how quickly this space moves, any specifics mentioned in this article could be outdated in a week. That’s why focusing on intention and process is important at this stage of the game.

By understanding the future needs and wants SGE is attempting to address, we can help you future-proof your search strategies as much as possible. To some extent we’re always at the whims of the algorithm, but by maintaining a user-centric approach, you can make your customers happy, regardless of how they find you.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending

Follow by Email
RSS