IMC: Expert Panel Tips on Writing for the Web

It’s Day 2 at the IMC and we were graced with a panel of five experts on writing for the web. You can check out the highlights from each of the panelists below!

Crawford Kilian, author of “Writing for the Web 3.0”

Make it quick, and make it count. That’s the key to good online writing according to Crawford Kilian. Now if only it was as easy as it sounded! We all know it’s not, so here are some quick tips he gave out:

Avoid exformation – Information you don’t need to write because your readers already know it. Example: If you write an opt-in technology newsletter, you don’t need to waste time explaining that IT means Information Technology.=

Know your reader base – Tech people like fancy long complicated Latin words, not regular folk. So make sure you understand who your reader base is. If it’s mixed think about creative ways point your readers to the right kind of text.

Short sentence and paragrpah structure – No sentances longer then 20 words, and aim for a max of 6 lines of text. Note that says lines, not sentances. Paragraph breaks are like mini coffee breaks for our eyes! Everyone likes a nice break.

Don’ waste hot spots – In other words don’t bury info in middle of your paragraph. Try your best to keep important points at the start and end of your paragraphs. Avoid starting paragraphs with words like “that’s, then, and the.” If you use one of these you wasted your prime paragraph real estate. Try to put a compelling power word at the start when possible.

Elizabeth Southall, Powerhouse Copy

“Create killer landing pages that pull leads and sales from the Internet like a vacuum cleaner on steroids.”

With an awesome title like that how can you not check this out? So without further delay here is a quick overview of Elizabeth

Six main elements every landing page needs

Your website is top of your online sales funnel, and just like real life “You don’t get a second change to make a first impression,” says Elizabeth. So to help you make a good first impression make sure you have these six things on your landing page:

  1. Headline
  2. Sub headline
  3. Product shot
  4. Body copy
  5. Opt-in box
  6. Call to action (Avoid a simple “submit” button)

Jim DeLaHunt, Jim DeLaHunt & Associates

Jim is an expert on websites in multiple languages. His presentation revolved around awareness of multi-language issues. Many people don’t consider how later implementing multiple languages causes a lot of problems. What happens to your site design? Does our Japanese market care about the same things as your English market? What about your SEO?

Don’t think you need to consider multi-language for your site? Well in a domestic based seminar here in Vancouver we had 9 prime languages and 6 sub languages among the 30 attendees. The world is closer then ever.

Tom McNamara, McNamara Communications

Who are the decision makers among your clients and are you speaking to them? Tom McNamara’s job is to make sure you can confidently say yes to that question. For example, a business to business website that sells software needs to appeal to the money holders and the IT department. You might have a great money saving program, but if you can’t impress the IT department odds are it’s going to be shot down.

Tom’s solution? In this situation you might want to consider directing people to specific landing pages designed just for them. Buttons labelled “IT Professionals click here,” are great ways to drive traffic right to what they need to see.

Monique Trottier, Boxcar Marketing

As a local online writing expert, Monique gave us 5 quick common news letter taboos that are all too common.

  1. Avoid automatic computer generated and anonymous email addresses (
  2. Use catchy subject lines that are short and descriptive (Avoid spam triggers like “free” and using ALL CAPS)
  3. Missing headings and subjet headings – If you talk about it in a heading, make sure you deliver inside the email
  4. Scanablity – Use, headings, sub headings and bulleted lists
  5. Don’t be a more-on. Avoid using “Click here for more”, “more here”, “Read more”, “more more more”. Use call to action!

In closing she left us with the quote, “be brief, brilliant and gone, don’t waste peoples time!”