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The art of the message: do’s and don’ts

July 17, 2015

jessonline

Copy sells.

Great copy can do amazing things. It stops you, even if you weren’t interested in stopping. It elicits an emotional response. Gets your attention. Draws you in. And can close the sale. Here, 3 key principles for creating effective copy online: what to do, and what not to do.

1. Get them in the door.

Copy is critical to communicate your message and to engage people with your brand. When it’s effective, it drives action- clicks, sign-ups, and ultimately, purchases. It will get them in the door.

Good copy gets your attention.

Good copy gets your attention and makes you smile.

Brevity is key. The goal is to get your customer to the next step, not to tell them everything they’d ever need to know. You have to prioritize your message. Keep it simple and uncluttered, if you want your message to resonate.

  • Good copy: FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50
  • Bad copy: FREE SHIPPING ON BOOKS IN THIS CATEGORY + SHOES BY THIS DESIGNER + OTHER STUFF SO EXTENSIVE AND LONG-WINDED THAT I DON’T CARE OR BELIEVE YOUR MESSAGE ANYMORE.

It’s tempting to include lots of things to try to hit the right trigger points for everyone. Don’t. You’ll end up saying nothing to anyone. Too many messages become noise.

2. Explain and engage

It’s all about contextual information. Pacing is key. Providing the right information in the right places along the journey, to keep your customer engaged- and on a path towards what you want them to do. On each page, think about what you want your customer to know (and what he or she will want to know), to reinforce your brand, your product, or your offer.

  • Do provide social proof. What are your customers or media saying about it?
  • Do make it clear how to get there or what to do next.

3. Deliver on it

Tell the truth. Don’t over promise and under deliver. If you say FREE SHIPPING on the homepage, but don’t show it on the cart and checkout, your customers will feel duped. If it’s only FREE with a myriad of exclusions or conditions, and comes via pony and takes a year and a day to get there, your customers will feel duped. You might get the sale today- but they’ll think twice next time (if there is a next time).

Amazon claimed Prime Day would be the biggest sale event since Black Friday- and has declared it a success, but customers disagree. Disappointed Prime shoppers were all over twitter complaining that it was impossible to shop and that it was only the drek on sale. The Kindle was on sale- but only the base version- not the Paperwhite or the Voyage. It wasn’t the ‘good stuff’.  See “It’s not living up to the hype” on CNN Money.

Amazon prime day

A few choice tweets on Amazon Prime Day

  • Don’t over promise. If it truly is the biggest sale ever, say so.  Then prove it. If it’s not- think of something else to say that reflects your reality. It doesn’t have to say, ‘BIG SALE: all the stuff left over that’s not selling and we need to get rid of’– it just has to be true.
  • Do make it fun. Anthropology has a clever way to make further markdowns compelling- they’ve said, “Our sale is on sale”. That’s tempting. It doesn’t yell or scream, or promise rainbows and unicorns, but it does get my attention if I care about getting a great price, without sounding bargain-basement. Moo.com is having a sale- the homepage says only “SALE”, with a little 25% off dot whack and a fun little animated confetti gif. Simple- but effective. Moo Sale

It’s tempting for your writers to overstate to make something sound great- but it’s only great if you can deliver on it. You may get people in the door with a hyperbolic message, but if you’ve over promised, they’ll be less likely to respond to it next time.

The lesson in all of this? Put yourselves in the shoes of your shopper. How will the message make them feel? Are you telling them what they need to know to make a decision? Are you delivering on the promise? How will they feel after they experience it? Emotions drive action- whether they come back to you, or not. It’s up to you.

Does the scroll still matter?

May 22, 2015

jessonline

Does having content above the scroll matter anymore? We know that consumers will scroll to see what’s on the page when they’re shopping. But where should we draw the line when it comes to content? What standards should we be following?

Taking a look at a few popular content sites, it seems many publications value highlighting something visually compelling vs. the actual story that consumers are linking to. When a customer is linking from a headline to see a story, should we make them scroll to see what the ‘story’ is about? To even see the headline to confirm they’ve landed where they intended?

Above is the Fast Company homepage- and below, a landing page for a story. Would a consumer landing here have any idea what the lead story is going to be about? Have they given us any incentive to scroll? The key factor to consider when designing landing pages is to provide at minimum:

1. A visual confirmation that I’m landing where I’ve intended.

2. Enough content above the scroll to generate the consumer’s interest and curiosity to keep going.

Interestingly, Fast Company’s mobile experience is much better- I can see the headline above the scroll. This is perfect.

Let’s take a look at TechCrunch. In this case, we have an image that relates specifically to the story (vs. Fast Co’s more esoteric images), and 2+ story leads above the scroll. This may be less dramatic visually- but it gets me to the stories.

Below is the landing page for a specific story on TechCrunch. I can’t see the story, but I do, at least get the headline I clicked on, to validate I’m in the right place.

The key consideration is: what are you trying to do? What do you want the consumer to do when they land on the page? What do you want people to remember you for? If it is about the story, Tech Crunch is doing a better job here. I can at least see the headline that enticed me in the first place.

Fast Company, in designing for online, is making the decision (whether intentional or not), that the photography is the most important thing they want consumers to see. As a consumer, it makes me nuts that I can’t see the story- or even the headline, above the scroll. Not on my laptop, nor my 22″ monitor- though the experience on the iPhone is much better. As a consumer, I like having a meaningful image, but find it irritating when I’ve clicked on a link from Facebook or Linkedin to land on a page where that’s all I see. I clicked because I was interested in the story.

Just give me the story.

Give me the text

April 18, 2015

jessonline

There is such a thing as overdoing your video content. When there’s a message I could just as easily (or more easily) scan via text- just give me the text. I can’t even count how many times I’ve clicked on an interesting link from Facebook, Linkedin or news media sites only to find that it’s a video link, and I can’t get to the content of the message unless I’m willing to wait through the ad, then sit through the video.

Video has it’s place- for entertainment, or education. But for news or content, give me text. I don’t want to have to go through it at a video’s pace- I want to see what it’s about and quickly move on.

What’s the best practice?

First, your link or image should clearly show that it’s a video- or you’re misleading me.

Second- provide the text transcript as an option.

Let the user have control over the experience.

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