Last updated on June 18th, 2013
We’re back for part II of Copywriting on Tight Deadlines – just in time for the 4th of July!!
In part I, we looked at the basis of story and how human thoughts tend to organize. Understanding these principles is central to being able to craft clear, compelling landing page copy under tight deadlines. The big take away from the first half of Marketing Experiments’ webinar is that clarity always trumps persuasion.
Understanding how human thoughts unfold and applying it to your landing page copy can help you dramatically boost conversions…to learn more about the 3 acts of story and how they relate to landing page copy, read part I of Copywriting on Tight Deadlines.
It’s vitally important – to understand how you craft clear copy under tight deadlines, you must first understand the guiding principles of story
For part II, we’re going to dig more into how you craft effective copy that achieves high conversions. In their example page (…which achieved a 103% boost in conversions), Dr. McGlaughlin explained how the writers cut “power” copy words in order to better communicate the offer’s value proposition.
Rather than optimizing words, you optimize thought sequences.
At its core, there are 3 steps to crafting this clear, compelling copy. However, there are several things you need to consider within each step. Probably the most important thing to understanding how this works for landing pages – the most important work will occur in the headline, sub-headline and first paragraph – within the first 4 inches and 7 seconds.
3 Steps to Creating Clear, Compelling Copy under Tight Deadlines
Step #1 – Create your Exposition
Your exposition is probably the most important part of your landing page. It’s where you identify the problem and setup what comes next. Within your headline and first paragraph, the reader needs to have answered 3 critical questions: Where am I? – What can I do here? – Why should I do it?
In movies and stories, exposition does two things – it captures the audience’s attention (1) and sets the stage for the rest of the story by achieving “story click” (2), which is essentially the point in the story where the reader or audience gets the basic context.
Star Wars was used as an example to illustrate “story click” – when Luke realized his destiny as a Jedi knight, story click was achieved. Keep in mind that story click needs to happen much quicker on a landing page.
To achieve story click in landing pages, you need do essentially two things:
- Create a clear headline that arrests the reader’s attention
- Include an obvious “story click” in your first paragraph
According to testing by Marketing Experiments, there are two effective strategies for arresting attention and converting it into interest – make a promise or identify a problem. Once you’ve done that, you can start explaining your value proposition.
Story click is achieved when you have answered those 3 questions mentioned above – you essentially answer the “where” and the “what” in your headline and answer the “why” in your 1st paragraph.
Step #2 – Create your Rising Action
Once you’ve established your problem and ‘story click,’ you now must create your rising action, which essentially means intensifying your problem. In movies, this can include things like fight scenes or similar emotionally charged situations. The vast majority of your copy (…as you will see below) will in fact serve to intensify your problem and solution.
Essentially, there are 5 element copy elements, known as “intensifiers,” at work here.
- Proofs – specific statements usually backed by proof helps bring credibility to your value proposition
- Benefits – specific statements that show how your main value will benefit the visitor’s current situation
- Features – specific statements that provide concrete details of your offer. You have to help the reader imagine what they’re getting, or conceptualize your offer
- Incentive – appealing elements you introduce to stimulate a desired action (…example: “All attendees will receive…).
- Urgency – any element of “constraint” you introduce to motivate the reader toward a desired action within a specific time frame (example: “…receive your ticket today and save $200”)
There is flexibility within these 5 elements in that they can appeal to both the external and internal challenges and triumphs of the character, or reader in our case.
Step #3 – Create your climax/resolution
In story, the climax is the single event that everything before it has built towards and is where the rising action is at its highest intensity.
On your landing pages, this will consist of your main call-to-action. The goal here is to lead the visitor to the pivotal decision of buying, subscribing, downloading or otherwise providing information.
Like we explained in part I, the climax is the decision to purchase, not the actual purchase or conversion. You will have further steps like a form to submit payment/information and a quick thank you page to reassure the customer after they’ve made the decision to buy – but these will be on separate pages.
When thinking about your call-to-action, there are 4 questions you need to consider:
- Is your call-to-action clearly visible?
- Do you give your visitors a reason to click by implying value, immediacy or urgency?
- Does it come at the right time in the story?
- Does your call-to-action ask or assume?
For question 2, whatever language you have on your highly visible call-to-action buttons, make sure it’s value positive. Saying “submit” or “register” are considered value negative while “click here” is generally considered value neutral. Have language that casts your call-to-action in a positive way.
Dr. McGlaughlin provides a wonderful summary at around the 54 minute mark of the elements of story and human though sequences and how you can apply it to writing landing page copy on tight deadlines.
One thing is absolutely true – we all have deadlines!
Applying these principles in your writing though may help you develop clear copy that yields good conversions.
And to learn more, we of course recommend watching the full webinar (…or taking a look at the presentation slides here). If you’re taking careful notes, it can take quite a bit longer than the 1-hour runtime. Having this summary in-hand can hopefully help you pick more gems out of this jam-packed webinar.
If you’ve seen Copywriting on Tight Deadlines, let us know what you thought about it and if you’ve applied the principles of story to your site’s landing pages.