Archive for the 'Web copywriting' Category

United Airlines Online Satisfaction Survey – a Study in How Not To Do It?

I have to admit that I often rant about airline Websites, especially in my “Emotional Connections” program – in fact, the whole idea for my “How Does Your Website Make Me Feel?” schtick was sparked by a page on US Airways’ site back in 2001.

This morning hit a whole new low when I received an invitation to complete an online survey about the Mileage Plus program from United Airlines in conjunction with InsightExpress, LLC. Since it promised all of 250 miles if I complied, I decided to give it a go.

Why was I so irked? Let me count the ways:

  1. In order to access the survey, I needed to enter my Mileage Plus number. That’s OK, but the first question in the survey was: “What’s your Mileage Plus number?” Wait, didn’t I just tell you that?
  2. The survey seemed to run incredibly slowly – I frequently had to reload pages, and every time I had to re-enter my response. I don’t know if this was my connection, or if they underestimated traffic levels . . .
  3. There was only one question per page, and no indication of how many questions there would be in total, or how far along I was in the process. Every time the page hung, I thought about giving up, but continued in the hope that it would soon be over (and that I’d get my 250 miles).
  4. Every question required a checked radio button, or a rating on a scale of 1 to 5. There was no free input anywhere, and no place that asked why I responded the way I did. Which made me even more frustrated – don’t they want to know what about the program makes me “Strongly Dissatisfied”, and more so than last year? How can they fix anything if they don’t know what the problem is – or maybe they don’t really want to know what the problem is?

There’s an art to conducting online surveys, both in keeping people engaged and on track, and in designing the questions so that you get quantifiable and useful feedback. I’m sure there’s plenty that I don’t know about what United were trying to achieve here, but as a customer being asked about my satisfaction levels, it left me even more unhappy.

Oh well, hopefully I’ll enjoy spending the 250 miles!

Social Media Mentions: Do Negative-Seeming Words Harm You?

I was listening to an excellent Webinar last week with Jennifer Laycock of MarketMotive. Jennifer was discussing tools that measure positive and negative mentions of your brand in social media.

So I idly went over to SocialMention, and did a search for myself (ego is a wonderful thing!) And I found that there are more actively negative mentions of me than actively positive ones.

Why is this? My assistant has been sending out my article on “Leaky Boat Websites” and it’s been included in a number of places online. Trouble is that an automated tool like SocialMention can only follow the rules it’s designed with – and so it sees “leaky boat” and classifies those words as negative.

Of course, this is a problem with any automated tools – remember years ago when AOL decided to clean house, and closed down a breast cancer support group because their name included a “naughty word”?

So I’m asking myself: “Does this matter?” Is it really important to us to get a positive rating from sites like SocialMention? And if so, does that mean that we can’t write any online copy that’s positioned to say “we can fix your problems” because the “problem” words can trigger the negative scores?

Writing Great Web Copy – it only Takes a Cup of Tea!

I’ve been working for a little while now with Easthaven Group, an IT consulting company based in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sheryl Newman, one of the Co-Founders, has been working on wording to define her company’s uniqueness for the value proposition that will go on their new home page. To be honest, she’s struggled a bit to get beyond the usual bland, generic “anyone could say this” platitudes.

Yesterday, she sent me an e-mail with some “thoughts” she’d been mulling. What she wrote was excellent, edgy, direct, and clearly stating how Easthaven’s approach is different from the competition. We can easily take this great start and polish it for publication.

Here’s the key – I asked her if she’d written this just “off the top of her head with a cup of tea” (she’s also a Brit!), and she said “Yes”.

I consistently find that writing in this way – just start by putting down what you’d like to say without judging or polishing it – really helps to get beyond the writer’s block issues.