by Bryan Eisenberg ::
Being data-centric with
the ability to use that data
to communicate to your
customers effectively and
in a human way is an
important way companies
will differentiate themselves
in the decades to
come. The job of copywriter
will be a sexy one in the
Copywriters in the 1960s
used to say that copy
needed to be like a lady’s
skirt: long enough to
cover the essentials and
short enough to be interesting.
But as my brother
Jeffrey recently observed,
“The skirt seems to be getting
shorter and shorter.”
AdWords, Twitter (microblogging),
text messaging, Google’s
seeming preference for
pages 500 words or less and the continual assault of data on
our senses is raising the bar.
Until recently, the copy challenge was mostly about
providing relevance. Now, it’s about providing the same or
even higher relevance but in fewer words. In Frank Luntz’s
book, “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What
People Hear,” he writes:
It is no accident that the most unforgettable catchphrases of
the past fifty years contain only a single- or at most two-syllable
words. And when they initially haven’t been so simple,
someone inevitably has stepped in to shorten them. Just ask the
makers of Macintosh (“Mac”) computer. And when was the
last time you used the words “International Business Machines”
rather than “IBM”? Federal Express is now officially “FedEx,”
Kentucky Fried Chicken is now “KFC,” Oil of Olay is just
“Olay,” and Dairy Queen now refers to itself as “DQ.”
“Power equals work, divided by time,” says my fellow
copywriting trainer Jeff Sexton. “Your copy’s persuasive
power equals its emotional credibility divided by the time
required to read it. The trick isn’t just to say more with fewer
words — it’s to say it more credibly with fewer words. That’s
much harder to do but anything less usually fails. Unread
copy is infinitely unpersuasive.”
To write great copy, you must adhere to three principles:
• It must be relevant.
• It must be credible.
• It must be as short as possible (not just short).
Notice how the word “creative” is absent. People don’t
have time for you to be cute, play tricks, or gimmick them.
They want the facts, and they want what they’re looking
How to Write Better Web 2.0 Copy
Newspapers have long employed people to write nothing
but headlines. This skill is desperately needed online. And,
it’s very attainable using the power of the Web, and analytics.
The Huffington Post uses A/B tests on multiple versions
of its headlines to see what one will get the most clicks, then
defaults to the winner after the first few minutes (it has that
much traffic). Copywriters must get in the habit of creating
multiple versions of their headlines (and sub headlines) to
find those that work best. This is a great example of improving
creative communication by being data centric. This
will be a must needed tool for copywriters.
Kill the jargon, fluff, and hype. Not everyone can be the
number one, premier, most trusted, scalable, most robust,
and leading vendor. But if you do make a claim, make sure
you can validate it immediately. Customers are more sensitive
than ever to shoddy sales pitches and false claims.
Speak to customers in an authentic, human voice. Embrace
transparency and authenticity and, wherever possible,
embrace the voice of the customer. While you’re at it, make
sure your copy has a voice that matches your brand; a voice
that people will remember.
Stop haggling over copy length; customers don’t care.
They care about getting the information they need from
your copy, quickly. Make sure you answer their questions
and close the loopholes in as few words as possible. Asking
a copywriter what he thinks of an editor is much like asking
a fire hydrant what it thinks of a dog — but editors who
can slash copy to its meaty essentials are invaluable. Learn
to trust their instincts, but feel free to test the edit with an
Lastly, be sure to format your copy for reading online.
Use headlines and sub headlines, bullet points and lists,
short paragraphs. Use bolding and linking effectively and
keep the reading around the eighth-grade level.
About the Author:
Bryan Eisenberg is an internet marketing pioneer and is
professional marketing speaker. Bryan is the recognized authority and pioneer in improving online conversion rates and was recently recognized as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus. Eisenberg is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and The New York Times bestselling books “Call to Action,” “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and “Always Be Testing.”
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