April 25, 2005
Blog Entry

Why Every Marketing Department Needs an Official Keeper of the Words

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, President

"Congratulations," I told June Holaday our marketing projects manager. "You're now our official Keeper of the Words."

She replied, "Ok great. What the heck does that mean?"

Internet marketing has begun to make me incredibly aware of the importance of *exact verbiage*. As a former copywriter, I always knew words were important -- but when you see big response variances from seemingly tiny copy changes in email subject lines, search keyword choices, landing page headlines ... it shakes you.

As one marketer told me recently, "I learned 'Bike' and 'Bicycle' are not interchangeable words, even though they mean the same thing. One works a lot better than the other in copy depending on the situation."

Which precise words work best for your market is a moving target. The staff at iVillage have held a meeting every week for three years now to dissect which words are working for them. They track:

-- Words frequently used by visitors on message boards -- Phrasing of unusually high and low-clicked text-links -- Copy tests in sponsors ads -- Subject lines for emails -- Internal site search terms most used -- Search engine terms used to reach iVillage

However, in the normal course of our own marketing department's day, there's no time to thoughtfully review wording. We've got newsletters, ads, flyers, on-site site promos, search campaigns, SEO meta tagging, email, postcards, and a whole bunch of other campaigns to get out the door ... quickly before deadline!

It's remarkably (sadly) easy to slam some copy up based on what you're pretty sure is working and keep moving. That's why I gave June her new formal assignment, Keeper of the Words. And yes, I'm taking some other work off her plate so she has the time to really do it properly. Every month from now on she'll present an iVillage-style report to all of us here who write anything seen by the public.

We'll discover what exact words are working for SEO, paid search ads, email subject lines, etc., etc. We'll also learn what words you guys use when you answer open-ended items in editorial questionnaires, talk to customer service, or email us feedback.

I'd like to suggest you start a similar position in your own marketing department. The key is, unlike traditional brand marketers who set strict rules and regs about wording to reflect the brand's persona, now you're tracking words from the customer's point of view.

That's a profound difference. How you marry the two -- stable brand messaging versus consumer-driven wording -- is the next challenge.

I'm looking forward to it!

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