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About Leslie O'Flahavan and Marilynne Rudick

Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O'Flahavan are partners in E-WRITE -- http://www.ewriteonline.com, a training and consulting company in the Washington, D.C. area that specializes in online writing. Rudick and O'Flahavan are authors of the book Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents.

Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O'Flahavan Answer Online Writing Questions: Click Here For Free Answers
Six Steps to Selling By E-mail

Free. . . Sale. . . New . . . Hot. . . Act now! These words announce yet another e-mail sales message. We’re inundated with e-mail pitches and wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. So, how do you write your e-mail sales messages so customers will open, and most importantly, act on them?

Site Content Review: Organization That Sells

Dear EWRITE,
I’ve been reading this newsletter for some months now and it’s helped me to produce my site at www.cotswoldinternet.com. I’d welcome any feedback and critique on the site especially regarding writing to sell. It’s early days but I’m concerned that my copy doesn’t sell the site benefits well enough.

Site Content Review: Boosting Sales With Simple Moves

Dear EWRITE,
I have started an online art gallery selling ceramic art. I am concerned that the writing on the website may not tell the customer enough, excite them enough. Content may not be on the correct pages or I may not say enough. I wonder if the site is not clear and easy to use. I have received enough hits on the site but not even 1 enquiry or comment. The art is great and exciting but maybe I am not getting the right content.

Mini-Quiz: Select the Correct Word and Spell It Right
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Misspellings and incorrect word usage are the most common errors in customer service e-mails. How is your spelling? Do you confuse common “sound-alike” “look- alike’ words, such as accept and except?

Mini-Quiz: Punctuate Properly

Punctuation seems easy. Use a period at the end of a declarative sentence; use a question mark at the end of a question. But where do you put a comma? What’s the difference between a colon and semi-colon? As for the apostrophe, is its or it’s correct? Test your knowledge of the most common types of punctuation used in customer service e-mails: period, comma, apostrophe, semicolon, colon.

Mini-Quiz: Change Run-ons into Full Sentences

Clear sentences are the building blocks of clear messages. Because customers use the information in your e-mail to decide or do something, they like concise, definite sentences. One common sentence error is run-on sentences. Run-ons are usually two or more sentences patched together with commas.

Mini-Quiz: Use Plain Language

Do your e-mails sound like they were written by the same person who writes tax forms? They shouldn’t. Your customer service e-mails should be written in plain, easy-to-understand language.

Mini-Quiz: Write for Global Customers

The web and e-mail now enable customers to reach you from any part of the globe. It is estimated that 510 million non-native English speakers–global customers– will be online by 2003. And even your nearby customers may not be native English speakers. Idioms, such as spread ourselves too thin or think outside the box, may be unclear to global customers who are confused by the expression’s literal meaning.

Six Suggestions for Improving the Readability of TheHomeSchoolMom.Com Newsletter

TheHomeSchoolMom.Com meets the first test of an ezine with flying colors: it provides plenty of useful content for Moms who are homeschooling their children, and updates and expands the Web site. The newsletter has a personal voice and an enthusiastic “can do” tone. The newsletter would be welcomed by any homeschooling Mom.

The newsletter has a nice, uncluttered design that contributes to readability. The newsletter’s tag line: “Bringing you the best free homeschool resources” clearly identifies the purpose and scope of the newsletter. The newsletter does a good job of separating content from advertising, and of letting the reader know what is advertising.

Web Writing for the World: Five Tips On Writing For Global Readers

They’re on the web in great numbers, they are your users, and American English is not their first language. They may be across the world or across the street. Who are they? They are global readers, and if you’re doing business on the web, you can’t afford to dismiss them. Global Reach at http://www.glreach.com/globstats/ estimates that 510 million non-native English speakers will be online by 2003. That’s more than half the online population! How can you welcome these global users and make your site easy for them to use? Here are our five writing tips for making your web site universal.

Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan Answer Online Writing Questions

We’re interested in all aspects of online writing-e-mail marketing, online newsletters, web-writing, customer service e-mail and Web self-service. And we’d like to hear from you about your concerns and experiences.

  • Are you interested in developing a new online newsletter but can’t decide on format or frequency?
  • Do you have print publications you’d like to “repurpose” for the Web?
  • Are you thinking about an e-mail sales campaign and need advice on killer copy?
  • Do you want to use your customer service e-mail as a marketing tool?
  • Do you want to write effective FAQs for your Web site to free your staff to answer IAQ’s (infrequently asked questions!)?
  • How to Write E-Mail Sales Messages That Get Results

    Free. . . Sale. . . New . . . Hot. . . Act now! These words announce yet another e-mail sales message. We’re inundated with e-mail pitches and wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. So, how do you write your e-mail sales messages so customers will open, and most importantly, act on them?

    Answering Customer Service E-mail: Five Errors to Avoid

    We’re turning our focus this new year to customer service e-mail messages, those “answers” we receive in our inboxes when we write to customer service representatives (CSRs) for help. Our research method: Send hundreds of customer service questions and requests via e-mail. We’ve e-mailed everyone — from Fortune 500s to ma-and-pa companies, from public corporations to nonprofits and government agencies. We’ve solicited customer service e-mail from clients and colleagues. What we’ve learned so far: (1) Lots of customer service representatives lack the basic writing skills they need to communicate with customers. (2) Lots of companies are sending out embarrassing, inaccurate, business-damaging e-mail disguised as “help.”

    Putting the A in FAQs

    You’ve hunted and clicked your way through the Web site, but you can’t find the information you need. So you go to the FAQs. But the FAQ section is like a vast junk drawer, filled with a jumble of information. Thirty-nine questions organized alphabetically by the first word in the question, not the topic?! Questions arranged chronologicallyin the order they were asked?! Maybe the answer to your question is in there somewhere, but you’ll never find it.

    Five Questions to Help You Decide if the Content is Worth the Effort

    “Repurposing” is a great term, isn’t it? When it comes to web writing, repurposing sounds much better than rewriting, redoing, reorganizing, or transforming-print-into-readable-web-text. But unlike most buzzwords, repurposing contains the essence of what good web writers do when they adapt a print document to the web: they change the document substantially so it fulfills a purpose on the web. They alter the print original so it communicates to web readers who read in different ways and for different purposes than print readers do.

    How to Feed Content-Hungry Site Visitors

    Writing good web content is a lot like planning a big dinner party. You’re looking forward to having lots of guests, but you’re not sure about when they’ll arrive or how hungry they’ll be. You know Deborah will only nibble on the salad, Laura will snack on the chicken, and Dan will cheerfully devour everything you serve. As an experienced party planner, you’ll accommodate your guests’ diverse appetites. A good web writer does the same thing – accommodates the appetites of all content-hungry visitors by providing different amounts of content for different users.

    Home Page Essentials: Five Questions Every Home Page Should Answer

    We’ve noticed a disturbing trend in home page design — information overload. Web designers and developers seem to have resolved the “to click or to scroll?” controversy by loading everything onto the home page. “More and more and more is better,” they seem to be saying.

    Two Alternatives to a Full-Scale Re-do

    This issue is our second one dedicated to the topic of repurposing print documents for the web. In How To Repurpose Print Documents For The Web (archived at http://www.ewriteonline.com/newsletter/issue10R.html), we offered these five questions to help you decide whether your print content is worth the effort repurposing requires: