“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Likewise, in online world, if you create content that no one clicks on, does it exist?
If you ever do ANY kind of marketing… SEO, PPC, email, social media… anything where you are luring people to look at your message, you know that copywriting is probably THE #1 skill any one can have.
Sure, you can rank #1 for some intensely competitive keyword on SEO, but if your competitor in #2 is getting all the clicks, all your SEO investment just went to the toilet.
Yes, if you want to get clicks, you’re gonna have to work at it.
Here are some very practical things you can do.
1) Headlines is the King Kong
If you do ANYTHING, this is where you should be spending 70-90% of your time.
If you’ve never heard of UpWorthy, they basically “re-purpose” (*cough cough* STEAL) other people’s content like YouTube, wraps them in a new headline, and generates traffic.
How do they operate? (src)
- they mine the internet for emotional data (content along with subjects headlines)
- they write 25+ headlines PER article
They’re so good at this that they went from zero to 10.4 MILLION readers in 2013.
Here are some of the tactics they shared
- Don’t write about politics.
- Find story ideas on social media feeds, not other websites.
- Focus on Facebook, not Twitter
- Write 25 headlines for every article
- It’s ok to trick someone into reading an article IF you know they’ll love the content.
- Use A/B testing and analytics to juice content.
- Think about advertising differently.
- Don’t worry about keeping readers on your site.
- Being first doesn’t matter
- Mobile is important, but it isn’t everything
- Only write something 1,000,000 people would be happy to learn about
Now, what does this mean for you?
- Test headlines: They had about a team of dozen. That’s 2 per person per article.
- Use A/B testing: Men lie, women lie, governments lie, priests lie. Only the data tells the truth.
- “Borrow” from others, including UpWorthy/BuzzFeed (how hypocritical would it be if they frowned upon us copying their copy?)
2) Use people’s faces
Ever heard of Facebook? It’s literally about faces.
If you ever watch Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg’s interview on how or why he started Facebook, he mentions how people are genetically programmed to pay attention to other people’s faces.
It’s no different with any social network based on people’s real identity, like LinkedIn.
Here are some interesting case studies:
Miriam Salpeter at U.S. News & World Report says that not having a photo on your LinkedIn profile will make others assume that you’re either “really ugly” or “don’t know how to upload a picture.”
In a study conducted by TheLadders, an eye tracking heatmap shows that recruiters spend 19 percent of the total time they spend on your profile looking at your picture. Then, your current job position and education are glanced at, but not so much time is spent on your skills, specialties or older work experiences.
The “eye tacking” technique examined the eye movements of 30 professional recruiters during a 10-week period to “record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task.”
In fact, this concept is even picked in SEO with the concept of “authorship”.
In Google search engine results, if you have properly linked your content to your Google+ profile (i.e. your profile picture), your results will actually get higher number of clicks.
EVEN if your ranking is NOT #1. Take a look at this search results page and where people are looking at:
(Source: Justin Briggs)
3) Limit number of links
Have you ever received emails where the links are plastered everywhere, like this?
The CTR on these types of content has probably less than 1% CTR.
Why? It’s the good ol’ paradox of choice.
In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.
… sides with the opinion of psychologists David Myers and Robert Lane, who independently conclude that the current abundance of choice often leads to depression and feelings of loneliness.
Yes, too many choice makes you SAD. Sad people don’t take action.
If you want clicks.. or better yet, if you want people to take action, provide just ONE choice and ONE choice alone.
4) Use SIMPLE language
If you’re writing something where you expect people to read, for most people, their 8th grade English teacher pops up in their head.
Good grammar, nice structures, highfalutin words that no one says in real life..
No no no no.
Write as if you were writing to bunch of high school dropouts. Better yet monkeys.
It doesn’t matter if you’re targeting doctors, engineers, politicians, or better.. English teachers.
David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, gives these tips:
Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
Write the way you talk. Naturally.
Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
Never write more than two pages on any subject.
Check your quotations.
Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it.
Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.
Even Hitler knew about the power of simple words to get the masses into action.
I don’t recommend you become a genocidal dictator maniac, but do learn from the best.
5) In advertising, BENEFITS first. Features second.
Ever since my article on how I saved a dentists $250k, I managed to land a few dentists as customers.
Whenever I come up with a campaign, they would almost always ask me to change some of the wording.
I try not to argue with my local marketing customers, especially since it is their ad budget.
Almost always, their version tanks.
Why? They focus on FEATURES, not benefits.
No one wants “latest and best tech”. No one wants “friendly staff”. No one wants “friendly family dentists”.
No, they want THIS:
Yes, people go to dentists not because they have nice chairs and friendly staff.. they go because they’re in pain and want that pain removed.. NOW.
Focus on benefits, never the features.
Scary? Yea. But it works because it brings the point home.