Connect with Patrons Online
"Connect with customers by listening to their needs, saying something worthwhile, and having a creative dialogue."
- Christopher Elliot, 5 Tips for Communicating with Your Customers Online

Keys to Success

1. Talk Benefits
Emphasize how a particular program, material, or service will make your patron's life better, easier, or more interesting rather than simply describing it.
2. Appeal to Emotions
Determine emotions/needs you can appeal to and then utilize words and phrases that will evoke it. One bank used this approach effectively by saying "We don't sell mortgages, we sell homes."
3. Take a Personal Approach
Make your web content less informational and more conversational. According to Eisenberg and Davis (2002), "The web isn't very personal. Make it comfortable for your reader by writing as you would speak."
4. Challenge customers with information that provokes a response: actionable site content is critical to connecting with customers. (e.g. take a poll, give a quiz, cause a little controversy etc.)
5. Customize the experience: Customization and personalization are underutilized...try giving your users the ability to make your site, their site. Lose a little control in the process.
6. Refresh your content periodically, test new approaches, and stay fresh and creative.

Basic Online Writing Tips

  • Use short sentences. Be direct and use 15-20 words maximum.
  • Use simple sentence structure. Avoid long phrases with lots of detail, as you will often lose your reader's attention.
  • Use an active voice. This makes your writing more straightforward, energetic, and appealing.
  • Use common words with clear meanings. When targeting a particular audience, intersperse words and phrases that are familiar to them.

Creative Writing Techniques

  • Focus on Verbs. This engages the reader and moves them along. It encourages action. Some examples: Click. See. Go. Use. Connect. Join.
  • Use Alliteration. (This is best saved for titles and content headings.) Alliteration is repetition of a similar letter or sound, like "March Madness." The sound is appealing and often grabs the reader's attention.
  • Consider Repetition. Ex. "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs." This technique helps to emphasize a particular point.
  • Engage the Senses. Use descriptive words that create a strong mental image in the reader's mind. A thesaurus can be a helpful tool in identifying words that will create a sensory experience.
  • Create an online personality. Make your writing interesting and inviting by establishing a distinct voice.


5 Tips for Communicating with Your Customers Online

Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank
/ Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa T. Davis, 2002.

Have more ideas? Please share them with us!

This toolkit was created on behalf of the 2007-2008 Building Your Base (BYB) project. BYB is funded by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds,
awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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