Writing copy is evolving more and more into being a science, rather than an art. Capable of instantaneously testing and tweaking content, marketers can speed up the learning curve and immediately see results after making one small variation in a piece. Marketers sharing and learning from others is widespread, making the learning curve for newcomers higher than ever. Consumers have changed even more rapidly. Browsing on the Internet has trained consumers to quickly ignore meaningless or empty words – fluff doesn’t cut it in today’s sales environment, making relevance more important than repetition in catching consumers’ attention (yes, repetition is still important).
Copywriting legend Bill Bernbach says it all: “Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage. It can only convey it.” Discovering which advantage best connects with your reader is the art; conveying it with proven, tested methods and formatting is the science.
Five copywriting trends for the new-age marketer This is where copywriting has taken us today. Let’s take a look at where we’re going in the next 10 years.
1. Less formal, more conversational tone.
The rapid shift in advertising from traditional to “alternative” media means less formal writing. Connecting with readers, especially the growing number of younger buyers, has increased the demand for a more conversational tone in writing. Copywriters have long been taught not to write formally, but this guideline has taken on an entirely new meaning when they post on blogs or develop content for videos on Web sites. According to a study done by Forester Research, interactive marketing, such as e-mail, search engine optimization, online video ads and social marketing, will reach $61 billion by 2012. Right now, interactive spending is estimated at 8% of marketers’ budgets; in five years, it’s projected to be 18%. The trend of writing less formally is only going to continue in the decade to come.
2. Highlighting benefits vs. features.
With less than two seconds to grab a reader’s attention, demonstrating “what’s in it for the reader” (WIIFM) is more important in today’s advertising age than ever before. Immediately connecting with a pain the reader deeply feels, such as being sick of not having dates on Friday nights and being stuck at home, again, catches their attention and entices them to continue reading. Having their problem solved is what they are looking for – not how you can do it.
3. Relationship-building and permission-based marketing.
Consumers are leery of being sold to at the turn of every corner (and with good reason – this is really happening), but if they are interested in your product, they will take the time to learn more about you and your offerings. And once consumers do learn to trust you and your brand, they are more likely to subscribe to e-zines, read free reports, download podcasts, and so on – thus, the term “permission-based marketing” was born. Because consumers are so bombarded with offers and overwhelmed with information, copywriters who have the ability to condense useful, needed information into a usable, easy-to-read format can be key to businesses interested in developing a relationship with target markets. Providing electronic newsletters, free reports, white papers and podcasts are just a few of the many ways businesses build relationships and get permission to market to consumers.
4. Proof and validation.
Guarantees, testimonials, earned awards and company history are definite must-haves for every company. Fly-by-night businesses, the Enron and Arthur Anderson scandals, spam e-mails from Africa and the fall of even long-time giants, like Wards, leave consumers wary of newcomers and fearful of losing money. Marketers should create strong guarantees and include widespread use of testimonials to demonstrate happy buyers and powerful results. Including information about the company’s long-standing history or its founders gives readers a sense of familiarity and confidence in their purchases. Staff photos, the story of how the company was founded and information on the company’s awards or relationships with other proven companies validates a company’s reputation and permanence.
5. Promise of action.
Instant gratification is expected in today’s Web 3.0 world. Will readers lose weight at once? Can they download the product right now? Will their back stop hurting or their headache disappear instantly? Is the information they need to finish their product available immediately? Consumers expect it. Companies provide it. All of this information should be included in your copy.
Bron: Kelly Robbins, Founder of The Copywriting Institute