The Right Words Matter

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Most of us probably don’t think twice about the exact words that appear on our website, our landing pages, our emails and ads. But ask any copywriter whether or not words matter, and they’ll tell you they do. Of course they do.

The right words and phrases can make a difference at every stage of the conversion funnel. Whether a prospective customer is only just being exposed to your brand for the first time, or they are in the final stages of research before they commit to your product or your competitor’s, the right piece of copy can make or break the sale.

The best writers seem to have an uncanny ability to find the right word to express the exact sentiment they want to represent at any time. They have a strong knowledge of the English language (or any other language) and investigate the intricacies in the meanings of each and every word.

That’s because there are countless different ways to phrase something. And that matters in marketing.

Does your company offer “one-to-one support” or “personalized service”? Some people may claim that it doesn’t matter, since both of those could potentially mean the same thing. But if you test one versus the other, you are likely to find that one of them two phrases outperforms.

3 Ways to Examine Your Words

Many people assume there is just one way to understand and choose which words we use. In fact, there are three distinct lenses with which your marketing team should look at word choice:

  1. Meanings – this is the most common understanding. Does the word mean what we are trying to say?
     
  2. Association – the second way to understand and interpret words is to consider groups of words together. Will people associate this word or phrase with something else that they have seen or heard in the past? Does it have the right connotation? What emotional feeling is provoked by this word vs. an alternative?
     
  3. Sound – sometimes a word just doesn’t look right. Even if it means the right thing, it might not sound right. This is a valid concern. When choosing words for your marketing materials, read them out loud. This simple act will clue you into problems with certain phrasing and may make it easier to simplify phrasing and readability for consumers.

Words, Words Everywhere

The average ecommerce website contains something like 10,000 words. The average email contains approximately 500. The average online advertisement contains roughly 10.

All of those facts are 100% made up. But the truth is, marketers of all stripes use lots and lots of words. One can argue we often use too many words, and that consumers are not interested in reading.

But the more we pay attention to the details, the more we can connect with potential customers. Good copywriters learned this long ago, and that’s why they are in such demand.

If you want to see for yourself, run a test. Take the headline on your homepage, or the subject line of your email, or the call to action on your sales page, and have someone re-write it. Send half of your prospects to the old version, and half to the new version. Odds are the performance will vary between the two.

And that’s because the words we use matter.

The Power of Asking a Question

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When you see a question, do you like to answer it? Even if it’s just in your own head? Even if your answer is sarcastic or humorous?

I bet the answer is yes. It’s true that people like to answer questions. And that’s why questions are so powerful in marketing. When you ask a question, you’re engaging potential customers.

So how can you use questions?

  1. Ask questions in your ads – ask a question that might point out a consumer need you can fill.
  2. Ask questions on your landing pages – a good question at the top of a page will get someone to read the rest of the copy below.
  3. Ask questions in your direct mail – a provocative question on the envelope or at the top of a letter will immediately attract your prospect’s attention.
  4. Ask questions on your sales calls – telemarketers can use a series of questions to get a good conversation going.
  5. Ask questions in your email subject lines – a leading question in a subject line is more likely to get someone to open the email in search of an answer.

How else can you use questions in marketing? Share your thoughts and keep the conversation going in the comments section below.

 

5 Landing Page Elements to Test Today

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Someone clicks on your ad or visits the special URL provided in your campaign and they get to your landing page. What they do next can make or break your marketing plan.

Will they take action? Will they hit the back button? Will they get bored and fall asleep?

To increase the percentage of people that take action, I recommend testing various elements of your landing page on an ongoing basis.

Here are 5 key landing page elements worth testing:

  1. Images. Change up the photos that you use on the page. Try a man instead of a woman. Try someone older or younger. Try using more or less images. A strong graphic captures a visitor’s eyes and could draw them in to read the text on the page. A weak one might turn them off right away.

  2. Headline. Change up the text in your headline. Try one that makes a special offer, or one that promotes the benefits of your product. Try one that matches the headline of the ad they likely clicked on to get here. The headline is the first thing most people will read and it should wet their appetite for the rest of the page.

  3. Call to Action. Change up the wording on the link or button you want people to click. If it’s a checkout button, try “Buy Now” instead of “Checkout”. If it’s a general form submission, try “Go” instead of “Submit”. Try an orange or a green button instead of a red one. Try a bigger button, or a different shape.

  4. Colors. You most likely match the colors of your landing page to your brand or website. But you should treat a landing page as an independent entity. Whatever you can do to increase conversion is worth trying. Test a white or grey background. Test varying the colors of form fields or text. The general color pattern on a page will give people an impression like they either want to be there or don’t.

  5. Length of Text. Generally, less is more when it comes to text on a page. But that rule does not apply 100% of the time. Test a page with more text on it, giving you room to provide more details to those people who are looking for them. If your text is already long, use bullet points and lists to shorten it.

The key is, keep testing, and keep measuring performance. When the conversion rates start to rise, you’ll be happy you did.

For more tips on creating landing pages, read my landing page handbook.

 

How to Create Marketable Headlines

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Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post or article, copy for a web page, or an advertisement, you’ll likely need a headline. And if you want to attract readers, your headline is crucial.

Your headline acts to catch the eye, to draw someone in, get them interested, and lead them forward to read the rest of the copy. And thus, it’s vital to put as much thought into your headline as you did into the rest of your piece, if not more.

Good headline writers get paid a lot of money, but here are some secrets you can use to help you write more marketable headlines:

  1. Use numbered lists, such as “7 Reasons You Need to Visit Florida” or “Top 10 Ways to Save More Money”
  2. Teach something, such as “How to Generate More Sales” or “How to Take Better Photos”
  3. Ask a question, such as "Are You Missing This Exciting New Opportunity" or "Is Content Marketing the New Lead Generation"
  4. Make a wild claim, such as “Everything You Know About Your Cell Phone is Wrong” or “The Death of Facebook”
  5. Present an offer, such as “Learn Professional Copywriting Techniques” or “Cheap Travel Opportunities” 

A good headline “sells” the content that follows it. It gets someone to keep reading rather than look (or click) away. Master the art of writing headlines and the results will follow!