We’ve all heard the ubiquitous phrase, words matter, of course they do. In the online world, words matter because they can elicit emotions that trigger people to take specific actions, which may translate into shares, visits, downloads, subscribers, sales.
In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 2009 social psychology classic “Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,” he describes one study in which waiters increased their tips 23% just by changing a few words in the way they hand you the bill.
On our A Place for Mom websites, we test everything from our tagline to the bulleted benefits on our lead forms – one phrase can impact conversion rate by as much as 3%. Whether you’re writing Google AdWords copy, Facebook headlines or a long form article on decorating assisted living apartments, these tenets hold true.
1. Use the Language of Your Audience
Before you start writing, identify your audience for this piece of content. Don’t try to address your whole audience or more than two psychographic segments, just choose one type of reader to write for. Go deeper than “potential residents” or “adult children who are looking for senior housing for their parents” or “women between the ages of 50-65 who have an income of x per year.” Dive into the customer journey by questioning:
- What she is looking for
- Where she lives
- What features she cares about
Talk to your sales team about which details have driven the decision making process (e.g. didn’t want a shared bathroom, wanted western light), however idiosyncratic. Interview residents and their families to capture their word choice and values, discover hidden benefits and gather testimonials.
2. Tap Into Your Empathy
What are your reader’s top concerns? In what ways do you empathize with your reader? Tap into the questions and “what ifs” that keeps your reader up at night. Your copy should directly answer one of these concerns. Again, use the precise words of your customers and include the question in your copy. Bonus: the natural language of a complete question is an SEO benefit, in that it helps Google understand how the article is useful. In Cialdini’s “6 Principles of Persuasion” he states,
“One of the things that marketers can do is honestly report on the extent to which the product or service – or the people who are providing the product or service – are similar to the audience and know the audience’s challenges, preferences and so on.”
3. Use a Benefit Driven Headline
When writing, always ask yourself, “Why should I care?” We’re all busy. And you can assume your audience isn’t interested in reading your article on “New Apartments Now Available in Kent.” Every reader wants to know, “What’s in it for me? Why should I take the time to read this?” Your headline and subheading should make it unmistakably clear what the reader gains by investing time in your content. Every page needs a big headline and must have a single topic. People are looking for informative content, something they can take away from the words and apply to their life. A study from MarketingProfs, featured on Ion’s Best of A/B Testing series, used A/B testing to show that benefits-driven headlines increased conversion rates by 28%. Make sure your copy delivers on the promise; click bait (You Won’t Believe….) will cost you in the long run.
4. Inspiring People to Take Action
What is the one thing you want people to do once they’re on your page? Prioritize your call-to-actions: share, call, fill out a form. Or do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Tweet a particularly insightful quote? Like your site on Facebook? Forward the article to a friend? The highest priority CTA should be above the page. Make it easy. Make it clear. Most of all don’t make them think. Tim Ash of Site Tuners conversion rate optimization, evangelizes the belief that every CTA button on a site should not only be big and colorful, the text should fill in the phrase “I want to_____.” I want to “submit.” Hmm. I want to “next.” Nope. I want to “learn more.” Better. I want to “schedule a tour.” Now you’re talking.
How do you want your reader to feel during and after reading your copy? Words can comfort, reassure and inspire, or they can elicit disgust, distrust or complete disinterest. How does your copy sound when you read it out loud? How does it sound to someone who isn’t in the business? Put your headline into Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer, which will give you a percentage score of the emotional value. As for my score, I know you can do better! Add your emotionally engaging headline rewrite and score in the comments below.
What words emotionally resonate with your readers?