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Digital Direct: Old Rules, New Rules

The Queen B recently told us, "The other day, I took a survey about media consumption. Among the several dozen questions was one about how much time I spend online for business or pleasure. When I did the math, I was fairly stunned. Granted, I'm in the communications industry. But, I'm also middle-aged; I'm definitely a digital immigrant, not a native. Nevertheless, I spend about XX hours online."

(If you care to guess, feel free to post a comment.)

Obviously, the web is an important tool for building and sustaining a marketing conversation. In fact, it's arguably the most important medium for which we write copy these days. Luckily, many of the old rules apply, but there are new rules too.

In cyberspace, the user — your prospect or customer — is in control of when and how much information they get. The web is the only marketing medium in which the most significant portion of the audience seeks out the marketer. Not the other way around. On the one hand, that's pretty exciting. On the other hand, if your audience is in the driver's seat, they can exit at any time. 

Here are some things to keep in mind as you develop copy for the web:

• Attention spans are diminishing – digital media make this even worse

• You have to get to the point faster than ever

• Users are looking for something specific

• Users expect choice, selection, an opportunity to specify preferences, and to "drive"

• Digital can — and should be — two-way communication

The Internet is a user-driven medium. That distinction is important. Your audience is made up of "users," not "readers," This means:

• They are looking to do something, to act, to click
• You need to give them content in quick, digestible bites and keep them wanting more

And, you need to remember that one-size does not fit all. You have to accommodate a variety of different types of users:

• Information gatherer — they're still in the research mode
• Comparison shopper — they might buy, but maybe not from you
• Town crier — they like to be in the know, and they want everyone to know they are
• Ready to buyer — they want to say "yes;" make it easy for the to do so

These days, people don't want to engage with institutions. They want to connect with a person. Fortunately, the web can be the most personal of communication channels. It may be enabled by technology, but your digital communication needs to sound and feel conversational.

Remember to sound like a real person. Let your prospect or customer participate — and steer — the marketing conversation Demonstrate that you want to listen to them and help them solve problems.

Be honest, personal, and authentic. Most of all, be human. 

Even if you're digital.

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