Breathing life into your marketing language
We hear loads of advice today about the importance of optimizing online content and copy for search engines. But what about the little words and phrases that entice real readers to keep reading and respond once they find you? When a simple word change can double the impact (and conversion rate) of your online offering, why not use it to your advantage?
For example, in sales copy, is it better to use “if” or “when?”
Can the words “value,” “quality,” and “service” work against you?
Should you ask customers to “purchase” your product or service?
Let’s say you’re selling spinning bikes or home gym equipment with a nice warranty — a great feature. Do you write it like this: “a 12-month service warranty.” Or like this: “One full year of free service?” Forget what it says on the spec sheet. You tell me which sentence offers more comfort and emotional reward. Find the mystery — the life force or power in words — and you dramatically boost your marketing response rates.
Borrowing a few techniques from the veterans can pump new vitality into your e-commerce communications. But before word choice, before technique, the secret to success stems from this principle: believe in your message. You have to write from your gut to hit your target audience in theirs — especially when your content and copy affects something as personal as people’s health and well-being. As in all effective writing, you wield the real power by breathing your own genuine enthusiasm for your subject into your copy.
Believe it or not, your readers bring their own meaning, power and experience to your message. They do all the work. Otherwise the words just sit there. Think about it. You get people to respond — to see, hear, taste, feel, experience what you’re writing about — by putting yourself in your customers shoes, as if you’re having that experience. Don’t just deal, once removed, in ideas or concepts. Readers — your prospects — need to feel your energy and want to share it.
Peter Elbow, professor of writing and author of Writing with Power, believes beneath most cases of word failure lies an act of refusal by the reader.
Every reader is engaged at every moment in choosing whether to invest the energy required to have the actual experience implied in your words, or merely reading the directions for constructing the experience.”
According to Elbow, it’s up to the readers to see or experience something in your words, supply the psychic energy to form that image in their minds. If the writing is powerful enough, it won’t feel like any effort at all. The reader feels as though he can just relax and say:
Yes, I love it, do it to me again.”
But really, the reader gave both the consent and the energy. Remember when you enjoyed reading something, even though you thought you weren’t interested? What the writer gave you was like a set of directions that made it seem fun and easy.
When you add that energy to the new Internet marketing techniques, you galvanize readers into action and lead them gently and inevitably to your door.
Happy Health Writing,
To find out which words to use in the examples above, read Part 2: 7 Keys to Powerful Copy and Content
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NOTE: An earlier version of this article was published a while back in my Business Journal column “The Smart Side.”