It’s no secret that, in a quest to feed the social media platforms, “website content” has become a huge buzz in marketing circles. Straight up ad copy on a website that pushes a product is no longer acceptable as consumers are getting used to being talked to rather than being talked at. They want a conversation online with takeaways and they want the web research they’ve done to be validated by the brand. The content marketing revolution brings with it better copy, yes, but your prose has plenty of competition from other brands, social media, and all of those personal and work emails that are coming in on a variety of devices. This means that the act of choosing the right words to get people to pay attention and incite action is a top priority online.
It’s essential to understand that, with so many distractions, consumers don’t read through everything that is presented to them online. Evidence does suggest that people will read in-depth articles about a topic they are deeply interested in, but otherwise they just don’t have the time or desire to process a lot of information. What happens is that they skim content, especially on websites, just enough to gather important points and then they move on. User Advocate Jakob Nielson, who has been dubbed the “guru of web page usability” by the New York Times, says that the average web page visitor reads about 28% of the words on a web page during an average visit, and he says that 20% is probably a more realistic figure. This statistic may be disheartening given all of the work that is put into writing content, but on some level we probably know that audiences aren’t reveling in our carefully crafted copy. Having this knowledge, however, helps us to understand why we need to choose the right words that will spark an emotion and lead the audience to take an action.
Think about someone visiting your website during the day. They are probably working on a computer, charging their cell phone next to them, listening to music on their earbuds, talking to people who are popping in and out of their office, and they may even be tending to a dog at their feet. So how do you nudge them to do something that may benefit them? You do this by writing concisely and tapping into their emotions. Do you want them to be curious about a new product, make them take an action immediately, feel the need to be part of a group, or surprise them? Once you determine what you are trying to do, consider incorporating these power words that move audiences to action (courtesy of SmartBlogger):
Give Them Energy
- No Risk
- Cancel at any Time
Get Them to Buy
- Limited Time
Make Them Curious
- Behind the Scenes
A deeper look into emotional appeals shows that, not surprisingly, men and women respond differently to certain words. In one study, a nonprofit found that women donated an average of $17 more when the organization appealed to their compassionate side by using the words “caring, helpful, friendly, and kind” in a phone call. The organization, however, saw no such effect on male donors. Men tend to decide on and complete transactions quickly, so they respond more to terms such as “buy now” and “limited time.” So as we can see, understanding that your audience is probably going to skim your copy and that you need to appeal to them on a deeper level in a short amount of time is a huge part of getting them to stick around a bit longer. Do some testing on a select group of words and see how eye-opening the experience can be. The next thing you know you’ll be adding more value, reducing wasted time, and creating an authentic experience.