David Ogilvy, co-founder of Ogilvy & Mather (now Ogilvy) and the father of modern advertising, understood the importance of unforgettable copy. In 1957, his company won the Rolls Royce account. Ogilvy knew next to nothing about cars, so he spent three weeks straight researching everything there was to know about the luxury automobile, then considered the best car in the world.
While reading magazine reviews for the car – he came up with one sentence so powerful Rolls Royce saw a 50% increase in sales from 1957 – 1958.
What was this powerful, unforgettable sentence?
“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”
This seemingly simple ad ran from 1957 – 1962, becoming the longest running and most successful Rolls-Royce ad of the time.
Today, we’re going to talk about the subtle dynamics of effective messaging. To begin, let’s take a look at the 6-step process from CXL Institute you can start utilizing today to craft stronger copy, and more valuable messaging (regardless of the medium).
- Research (Audience, Product and Competition)
- Write An Outline
- Draft Copy
- Conversion Boost
- Revise, Rearrange
Understand The Product, But Speak To Your Audience
Great messaging is equal parts art and science. The best copy is often simple yet profound. The best copywriters understand compelling copy is often inherently contradictory. Copy that combines ideas that are common and familiar, juxtaposed against ideas that are unique and memorable. When I think of great copy – I often think of a quote from Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
The most time-intensive part of copywriting is research. Research is the time you spend understanding a topic. When it comes to brand research, this isn’t just time you spend understanding the product or service. But time spent understanding how customers describe a brand.
You see, in order to write brand copy that converts – you have to first understand what your audience cares about. Then you communicate your understanding in a way the audience can hear you. In other words, you have to speak their language.
A word of caution, research is not spelled G-O-O-G-L-E. Google can be a useful tool – but you aren’t marketing to Google’s algorithm, you are marketing to real people. Your most effective research tool is to listen – and then ask the right questions. Become an expert listener. Don’t just listen to words, listen to passion, excitement, doubts, fears, and even the tempo and phrasing style of your target audience.
Keep Your Friends Close, And Your Fr-enemies Closer
Here at Exceptional, we believe in Co-opetition. Collaborative Competition. But we also recognize how understanding the way our competitors present themselves – can help us to refine our own messaging, and better target the clients who are the perfect fit for our agency. We know marketing agencies are kinda like Starbucks. There is one on every corner. Case in point, we are headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado where a quick search shows there are over 11 pages of marketing agencies listed in the Google My Business directory. We know our potential clients are facing a paradox of choice. We also know, when they have too many choices to evaluate – they can become overwhelmed – or worse paralyzed. So, we spend time looking at our competition, so we can evaluate their messaging, and identify how they differentiate their offering vs. how we differentiate our offering. We are looking for ways to communicate our unique value proposition clearly, concisely – and impactfully for our target audience. According to neuromarketing research, it’s evident that the decision-making part of the human brain is impulsive. Offer your audience clarity, and a solid reason you (and only you) are uniquely qualified to solve their problems – and you’ll instantly be ahead of your competition.
Once we have completed our research (product, audience, and competition), it’s time to return once again to our 12th Grade English class and write an outline. It can be tempting to skip this step – but don’t. It’s a simple step, and we promise there is magic in the method. Here is what to include in your outline – in 3 parts.
- Headline (Grab Your Audience’s Attention)
- Sub-headline (Let Them Know What You Offer)
- 3 Bullet Points/List of Benefits (What Makes You The Right Choice To Solve Their Unique Challenges)
3. WRITE A DRAFT
One small step for your copy. One giant leap for your messaging…BA DUM TSS. (Now you know why I’m not being paid the big bucks to write for late night comedy shows).
But seriously friends, if you wrote your outline above – writing your draft copy is gonna be, as Lionel would say, Easy Like Sunday Morning. All you have to do, is take your 3-part outline, and fill-in-the-blanks.
Your goal is to connect with your audience and guide them towards a desired action. Remember to use the same language your audience would use. Too often brands make the mistake of speaking in official “corporate speak”. Fancy words may make you look smart, but won’t make the solution you offer any more valuable to your audience. Focus on clarity, and when in doubt skip the ten dollar words – and stick to five cent words. Your audience will thank you.
Be real, but also be specific. Avoid hype at all costs. Do you really have the world’s best cup of coffee? According to who? But if you won readers’ choice for Best Cup of Coffee in your city’s local paper – by all means – tell us!
4. CONVERSION BOOST
Let’s talk about the length of your copy. Which is better, short form or long form content?. Sometimes, short soundbites and clear calls to action are all you need. Since most people skim pages rather than reading them – quick and clear messages that are easy to comprehend will work in your favor. That said, it’s crucial you give enough information to answer the potential questions in your reader’s minds.
If you’re selling a technical product or service (for example, an Apple Watch) – the more information the better. Keep in mind, the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text – so when possible – use images to help your audience comprehend the features and benefits of your product. Here are some questions and tips to keep in mind to ensure you write enough copy (and the right copy) to give your messaging a conversion boost.
- Ask yourself, and hopefully someone else, if it’s plainly obvious what you sell, why it’s good, and who it’s for?
- Don’t leave any of those questions unanswered.
- Apply persuasion techniques to tweak the copy.
5. REVISE & REARRANGE
Now, go to sleep. No really. Save your draft. Close your computer. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Put on your jammies, and give that beautiful mind of yours a chance to “sleep on it”. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll be able to look at your draft copy with fresh eyes.
This is your opportunity to edit (revise) and rearrange your messaging. Once it’s polished, it’s time to begin what we call the enrollment process. Ask friends, colleagues, and current clients to weigh in on your draft copy. Does it answer their questions? Does it offer them a compelling reason to buy your product over your competitions? What is missing? Have them test your copy for VCC (Value, Clarity, and Credibility), get their feedback, and incorporate the suggestions you think might work. By making others a part of this process, you create another level of reciprocity (ps. this is a good thing).
6. TEST. TEST. TEST.
The day has finally come to publish your brilliant copy – and get all geeky and scientific. That’s the power of Conversion Rate Optimization. CRO incorporates science – so you’re never left guessing what is or isn’t working for your audience. Through testing, you will be able to clearly and quantifiably see which copy works, and which doesn’t.
A/B Tests, Functional Testing, Usability Testing, Cross-Browser/Platform Testing, there are tests for anything and everything you could possibly test when it comes to your website. Here, our concentration is on testing the copy/messaging. Whether you test your headlines and copy with a tool like Optimizely (AB Testing) or Crazy Egg (Heat Maps) – or using user flow charts on Google Analytics – get as much data as possible – and then make small tweaks and test again. Keep testing and making small incremental changes – until your conversions go up – and your bounce rate goes down.
Okay folks, that’s the 6-step process for writing effective copy that converts. If you’ve made it this far in our 12-part series, chances are you are starting to rethink your current website and messaging. Feel free to reach out if you need a quick brainstorming session – or specific tips on how to optimize beyond copy, including video and social media optimization