There is no greater blow to a writer— be it a copywriter, a journalist, or whomever – than when only a handful of people or worse — no one reads their work. That’s right, it isn’t writer’s block, but a scanty readership that poses the biggest roadblock to us writers.
This rings especially true for copywriters and content marketers; we’re trying to gain as much traffic for our clients as possible and if no one reads our work, we’re in deep shiz! When you write copy for the wild, wild west that is the internet, you’re not only competing against your clients’ competitors, you’re also squaring off with all internet content creators for attention.
But the challenge that copywriting poses gets a little tougher than just meager views.
Copywriting doesn’t just call for clicks or page views. In order to get a strong, persuasive message across of the company you represent to potential customers, the customers need to imbibe as much of the copy as possible. Otherwise, they won’t grasp the full picture, i.e. the benefits of the company, which is doubly bad because it shows that they’re just not that into it. The copywriter thus falls flat in seducing them with their words.
Unfortunately, substantial readership doesn’t happen much online. According to research/consulting group Nielsen Norman, online visitors read a meager 28% of copy per page. Just imagine the bounce rate this incurs. Not a pretty picture.
While there’s no quick fix to people’s reading or internet browsing habits, there are a few psychological factors to take into consideration that can enhance your copywriting and results thereof. You have to know your target audience and besides knowing their interests, you have to understand what turns them off.
I’ve identified 4 major personality traits that come into play online. Tapping into how to write copy for each is a gateway for netting a larger audience and readership. Here are a few insights into each personality/behavior, how to overcome them and lure in the people behind them, with specific tactics for effective copy.
Short Attention Sam
Short Attention Sam has a short attention span. A typical scanner, he is not prone to exhaustive reading and tends to stay on a web page for under 3 minutes. The Seminal Web Usability Study found that 79% of online users are Short Attention Sams. These people tend to be in the low stage of awareness of their “problem,” and their need for your company’s “solution”, i.e. service or product. Unless of course they know your company exists, but since they’re too low on attention they don’t notice any news or call to action you may be using.
The good news is that Short Attention Span Sam may skim to specific parts of a page. As copywriters, we can use this to our advantage by making the copy super organized, so the scanner can easily find info that interests them.
• Use bold headlines, which call for a strong premise — the topic that drew them in to begin with
• Subheadings and bullet points are good section indicators to intersperse amid body copy
• Don’t saturate the page with copy, use brief and to the point paragraphs
• Lure them in with catchy zingers, i.e. one-liners and succinct witty phrases
• Don’t write in detail, instead use solid, persuasive tid-bits about your topic, i.e., write in chunks
The gist of the solution shows the importance of breaking down copy into readable bits. As copywriters, we can use this to our advantage, in that it makes our copy super organized, so Short Attention Sam can easily locate the info that interests him. Cutting up your content into easily-scannable chunks is perfect for those who tend to be frequently distracted. When they skim to a desired part, they’re more likely to stay, rather than if there was a huge swath of copy with poor textual breakups.
Bored Brent is a tough cookie to please. He is not inclined to click on either your blog or a landing page from a CTA he found on his Facebook feed or elsewhere. He may or may not have a short attention span. His defining trait is a deficiency of interest; it’s a stubbornness to elicit attention to your content due to being difficult to lure in. So even if the tricks for Short Attention Sam work, he may not stay on a page if the overall content doesn’t spark his interest. He may not even click on your page, depending on the magnitude of his indifference.
Bored Brent needs to be stimulated far more than other online reading personalities. He is the type of person who won’t read content without a “wow” factor. Reeling him in requires:
• Content with strong emotional undertones; this case study showed a positive correlation between emotion and web virality
• Taking an unusual path with a commonplace product. Ex: Will it Blend was one of the most prosperous marketing campaigns in the 2000s, in which a boring topic– blenders took an unusual path. The same can be done with copywriting.
• Vary your copy, relying on one vertical like blogs will easily get uninspiring, especially for a Bored Brent. Mix up your content to harvest curiosity. Create whitepapers, eBooks, look books, video content, etc.
• Humor; everyone loves a good laugh, injecting it into your copy will make it that much more interesting
• Storytelling; sales pitches and unique selling points alone won’t jive with Bored Brent
Bored Brent represents much of what we know in psychological studies of web usage, that copy with a high emotional weight outperformed static and rational content, 31% to 16% in an IPA dataBANK study. The copy must elicit an emotive response and the proof is in the pudding. Create content with unusual findings or high emotional weight, as mood determines judgment. Boredom has never been linked to inciting sales, instead it brings apathy, something you want to stray far from if you want to get your readers to eventually convert.
Cynical Cindy just ain’t buyin’ it. She won’t get bored easily, but she is not keen on buying whatever it is your company is selling due to misgivings and a perceived suspicion of your copy. Thus your company’s credibility isn’t something she’s easily buying into. She is the doubtful type, wary of unique selling points and unlike Bored Brent, she focuses more on the rational than the emotional. For Cynical Cindy, your copywriting must do what it originally is set out to do: persuade. Here’s where you up your salesman ante. According to Bruce Bendinger of the Copy Workshop Workbook,
Make Cynical Cindy read your copy by:
• Avoiding large masses of copy, i.e. long paragraphs, dense language, etc., keep your message to the point in a clean-cut way
• Frame your brand in the best light, Cynical Cindy isn’t here for the thrills, she needs convincing that what you’re offering is worthy
• Hyperlink your web copy to other pages that show your product/service is awesome without saturating them on one page
• Capitalize on competitors’ weaknesses, faults and blunders
• Admit your own company’s drawbacks. A psychological study found that companies who admit to their own faults instead of making excuses had higher engagement and ROI
Cynical Cindy represents not just online users, but tightwads in life, the kinds of folks who feel buying pain at the most necessary things, much less who would trust a company’s promises. One of their biggest fears is bowing out to the mighty dollar. We’ve all got a little bit of Cynical Cindy in us whether it is doubt, logic or fear behind the misgivings. Tailoring copy towards Cindy should not be done by way of editorial amusement but cold hard facts that frame your brand in the best light.
The copy must show all the benefits of what you’re selling. If you are discussing one benefit of your service/product per page and don’t want to stuff it with ALL the things about what makes your company awesome or all the services/discounts you order, don’t sweat it. Just mention them extremely briefly and hyperlink to their respective pages. That will keep Cindy interested, not because the links lead to copy that prevents boredom, but because they sum up what more the company can do for her.
Rushed Randy ain’t got time for that; he is in a hurry. Although similar to Short Attention Span Sam in that he’s a scanner, Rushed Randy is not to be confused with him, otherwise, you’ll miss out on some great readership opportunities. The keyword here is “rushed,” he is not inherently uninterested in web copy or easily distracted. He may be on his way to work and has very little time to browse the net, let alone dedicate much of his scarce time on reading copy. Besides external forces like work or family obligations, Rushed Randy may intrinsically rush through reading copy on the web. It is no surprise that Rushed Randys exist, since people value time as a resource more and more over the last 40 years.
Another attribute that makes up this reader is a great thing: he may have a high awareness of your company and products and may have even come upon your copy by searching for you directly. He may be looking for more information about you or seeking out new deals/discounts. For this user, you should:
• Focus on SOME of the copy practices for Short Attention Span Sam, an organized page with divisions like subheadings, visuals, bullets, numbers, etc.
• Write copy that is both interesting and rational– ie, like for Cindy. What’s great about a user with a high level of awareness and is short on time, is that he may be quicker to convert.
• All the copy should have an urgent call to action, enlarged and emboldened, whether it is for social or web copy.
• Pay specific attention to how a page or social media post would look like on mobile, as a hasty person is likely to be viewing content from a phone
Think of someone highly lacking in time. You wouldn’t bombard them with voluminous copy and you surely wouldn’t beef up your language. Your copy has to invoke urgency, partially imitating Rushed Randy’s mood and state. Make it quick!
Summing it Up:
The short of it is, when you study your audience, you’ll find that it’s divided into different personality types, four of which are not conducive to reading your copy, much less diving into the sales funnel. To steer clear of missed opportunities with the people behind these personalities, adhere to the above best practices. But the question remains: how do you know which of these personas sees your copy?
79% of online users are Short Attention Sams. As for the others, you can make inferences based on their age and hobbies. For demographics, refer to Google Analytics, (it’s free!). Most digital marketers agree that a business should have its own Facebook page.
Reading into Your Customer’s Minds:
Facebook provides metrics analysis that digs deep into demographics. Since visitors have profiles on Facebook, you have access to more insight as to who they are with their likes. From there, you can make inferences.
Does your customer (or a Facebook user that likes your page) seem materialistic or careful with their finances? If the latter, they fall into the Cynical Cindy category. Do you see a customer posting/sharing highly emotive material?
They may have Bored Brent characteristics. As for Rushed Randy, it’s a bit murkier to track down. You can use your data or profiles to determine this with user age and career. Senior citizens are more likely to have more time on their plates, as well as those with “freelance” in their job position.
Can it be possible that these tips can be used interchangeably? That depends on your audience. After skimming through your analytics and customers’ social media profiles, you may find you have a combination of some or all of them. In those cases of multiple, reluctant personality types in your audience, create multiple pages and ad campaigns that adhere to the classified tips. In short, you should combine these tactics. If you’re writing for personalities that conflict, create separate pages for one campaign and run an A/B test to see which works better.
While beneficial, these solutions won’t reap results as optimal as those you’ll gain from iPullRank. As part of our market research effort, we delve deeply into audience research and surveys. Our data-driven agency scopes out all the relevant metrics and information on your niche(s) and audience(s). You’ll get an overall insightful view into how your audience ticks. This is a crucial step to take before your copywriting endeavors. Thus, take this advice accordingly, but before you do so, you must identify who truly makes up your audience—and this goes beyond these four personality types.